Category Archives: Biology

Where’s the Red Tail….Hawk?

not all red-tail hawk tails are redHere at The Edge of the Wood we have come to understand that bird plumage descriptions can be confounding. The male Redstart is…orange. The red-bellied woodpecker’s head is brighter red than its belly. And, with that giant blue bill, why is it called a ruddy duck? Here we have the classic red tail of the red-tailed hawk, but you won’t find it on all of these fine raptors. Most juveniles have yet to grow one. Some morph in and out of rusty colors, and the western version of the species may not have it at all.  What’s a bird lover to do?

Who’s Brain is Better, Yours or a Squirrels?

Squirrel and Pepper BerryProfessor Kelly Drew of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks has discovered that  arctic squirrels lose synapses in their brains when they hibernate. What is remarkable is that when they wake up, the synapses grow back. “Synapses sprout when the animals re-warm. Indeed animals learn better after they come out of hibernation,” she states. Understanding how the squirrels do this could be the watershed moment for Alzheimer’s patients. We at The Edge of the Wood wish Dr. Drew much luck with her ground squirrel…oops we mean ground breaking discoveries.

Do Squirrels Like Soccer?

squirrels and soccerHere at the Edge of the Wood we are not sure if the residents organize into pee-wee soccer leagues when our backs are turned, but we do know they are extreme parkour practitioners. Squirrels have padded feet that cushion jumps from up to 20 feet and can run 20 mph. So next time you are choosing up sides for soccer, you might want to look up in a tree and ask a squirrel. Just make sure the ball isn’t made of peanuts.

We Now Praise Cheek Pouches

cheek pouches are awesomeCheek pouches are pockets on both sides of the mouth. They allow for rapid collection of food, but also serve as temporary storage and transport.  Some hamster moms can hide their young in their cheek pouches to carry them away from danger. Other species are known to fill their pouches with air to make them more buoyant while  swimming. Clearly everyone would be better with a cheek pouch, as this amazed song sparrow seems to express.