Here at The Edge of the Wood we want to send a special New Year’s wish to FOTW (friend of the woods) Matilda and we wish everyone a joyous 2016. In the words of the luminous Albert Einstein, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” So give yourself a treat…. go to a park, walk around for a bit or sit under a tree for as long as you like. Just like Einstein, you never know what you’ll discover.
Here at The Edge of the Wood…. well, we didn’t do so well on our SAT’s. But squirrels know how to ace it. A new study has shown that grey squirrels are quick learners capable of adapting tactics to improve efficiency and reap the best rewards. Pizza Ka Yee Chow of the University of Exeter, explains, “The results are quite remarkable – the squirrels made a decreased number of errors as they learned and progressively changed their tactic to increase efficiency and obtain the hidden rewards.” We would personal love to see study halls abounding with squirrel coaches… I hear they don’t mind getting paid peanuts.
A woodpecker’s beak is tough…and innovative! The spongy bones and nail hard beaks of woodpeckers are inspiring a new generation of shock absorbers, potentially shielding airplane black boxes, football players and other valuable materials from the forces of impact. Woodpeckers hammer their beaks into trees at the astonishing rate of 18 to 22 times per second, subjecting their brains to deceleration forces of 1200g’s with each strike. This is more than 100 times the g-force required to give a football player a concussion, according to research conducted by the NFL. Want to learn to be tough and beautiful? Talk to a woodpecker.
Here at The Edge of The Wood we noticed that chipmunks can talk up a storm. They can sound alarm calls for as long as 30 minutes but what are they saying? Scientists noted three distinct alarm calls, one of which is called a “cluck.” It is a very specific warning of an aerial threat like a red-tailed hawk. So if you hear a cluck, don’t think chicken…a chipmunk might be warning you to duck!
Here at The Edge of the Wood we noticed that in urban areas there are more black squirrels than gray squirrels. Biologists believe that black squirrels may have been the norm several centuries ago, before large-scale deforestation. Today’s woodlands are much less shady than forests used to be, and cities, with their tall buildings, may mimic the darker environs of the early continent. In environments with more sunlight, “squirrel gray” can offer better camouflage. In New York City black-coated squirrels blend in perfectly with the urban human population. … after all, a little black dress is always in fashion.
Professor 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.
Here 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.
To become a city squirrel of course. “As we rapidly increase the spread of urbanisation around the world, urban areas may end up being important places for some wildlife, so it would be good to know what they like about those areas, what allows them to do well.” says Dr Bill Bateman, “We need to know how we can help their continued success, and perhaps encourage other animals to share our urban spaces.” It seems squirrels are brilliant at living in cities as long as they can find a wide varied of foods to eat, and green spaces to chill in. Here At The Edge of The Wood we wish our city cousins the best…but the porch light will always be on.