Where to go, in real life or online, for best nature facts

  • By Sharon Wootton
  • Friday, July 26, 2013 2:52pm
  • Life

If I lick a frog or toad, what will happen? What happens if you freeze a frog? Why do frogs pee on you when you pick them up? How did bullfrogs get to Washington? What are caecilians?

To find the answers to these and many other questions in the herpetology field, go to www.burkemuseum.org/herpetology/question, where Burke Museum experts have posted the answers.

If you can’t wait to find out the answer to the last question, caecilians are long, slender limbless amphibians that look like a cross between a worm and a snake.

Still one of my favorite websites is www.sciencedaily.com. Recent headlines: Current Efforts Will Not Save the World’s Most Endangered Cat, Common Stem Cell in Heart and Lung Development Explains Adaptation for Life on Land, Purple Sunlight Eaters, Best Romantic Singers are Male Bats, and Shorebirds Prefer a Good Body to a Large Brain.

How can you resist?

Closer to home, the Slater Museum of Natural History in Tacoma has a great nature blogger in Dennis Paulson, its former director and an expert on biodiversity and biology of dragonflies and birds, and who is researching Northwest and neotropical butterflies.

His Northwest Nature Notes blog (latermuseum.blogspot.com) is a visual walk through nature, a combination of many photographs as well as text on a broad set of topics, including accipiters, alder, antlers and ants; chlorophyll, coots and crabs; eggs, feathers and goldeneyes; lava, lek, and lemmings; taproots, tiger beetles and toads.

His latest blog is “‘Tis the Season to Eat Ducklings.”

Or check out Living Wilderness (www.livingwilderness.com) for Kevin Ebi’s nature photography. He occasionally posts on his blog; the most recent ones are on teleconverters, manual exposure and “one scene, infinite possibilities.”

Hooks and bullets, plus: The 16th annual weekend workshop for women interested in a variety of outdoors skill will be held Sept. 13 to 15. The workshop is coordinated by Washington Outdoor Women, an outreach program of the Washington Wildlife Federation.

Instructors will lead 20 different classes on skills such as archery, fly fishing, kayaking, big-game hunting, map and compass reading, survival skills, and outdoor photography.

Workshop participants must be at least 18 years old and must have a current Washington recreational fishing license to participate in the fishing and fly-fishing sessions.

The workshop fee of $250 includes the weekend’s instruction, lodging, meals and use of all necessary equipment. Partial scholarships, provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, are available for first-time participants.

To learn more or to download the registration form, visit www.washingtonoutdoorwomen.org or contact Ronni McGlenn at CQ425-455-1986.

On the bookshelf: “The Life of a Leaf” ($35). Readers rarely see do-it-yourself experiments in a book written by a professor emeritus, but that’s what Steven Vogel surprisingly offers in “Leaf.”

Vogel’s premise is that if leaves could talk, they’d tell us much about our immediate physical environment and what leaf designs have parallels to our own architecture.

How does a leaf stay unfrozen? How does a tree raise water or sap without any moving parts? How does a leaf stay outstretched, and why do dead trees retain their leaves for months? How does an object get hotter than the air during a warm day yet cooler than the air temperature with a clear night sky?

The answers are here.

Go to www.press.uchicago.edu/sites/vogel/index.html for some companion demonstrations.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword@rockisland.com.

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