About

Send your questions to atn@baynature.org.Santa Rosa-based naturalist Michael Ellis leads nature trips throughout the world with Footloose Forays (footlooseforays.com).

Contributions

Ask the Naturalist: Where Are the Chorus Frog Babies?

October 10, 2013 by Michael Ellis

Q: I collect rainwater to use on my garden and I’ve found Pacific chorus frogs in the black garbage can that collects the rainwater, but I’ve never seen eggs or tadpoles in there. I wonder why not; would they be too small to see? [Marian, San Jose]

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How can you tell male vs female lizards?

July 07, 2013 by Michael Ellis

Q: Is there a way to tell the difference between male vs female lizards? How do they attract their mates?

3 Comments

How do barnacles make baby barnacles?

April 03, 2013 by Michael Ellis

Barnacles are hermaphroditic – they contain both male and female sex organs. You’re thinking, “Well, they always have a date on Saturday night.” No, it’s a really bad idea to self-fertilize: Inbreeding results in little genetic diversity. Worms, slugs, snails – slow-moving animals with low rates of encounter – are all hermaphroditic. And you could not get any slower than an adult barnacle!

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Should we be worried about asbestos in serpentine rock?

January 31, 2013 by Michael Ellis

Should we worry about asbestos in serpentine rock? Yes, a bit. In California, we have North America’s largest exposures. It’s even our official state rock.

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Biggest Local Land Invertebrate? The Tarantula

July 01, 2012 by Michael Ellis

Q: What’s the largest underground-dwelling invertebrate in the Bay Area? How does it live?

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Why do pelicans fly so low?

June 12, 2012 by Michael Ellis

Learn a few secrets of efficiency from the majestic pelican.

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What’s the secret of nectar?

January 01, 2012 by Michael Ellis

Q: When I see bees and hummingbirds feasting on even tiny flowers, I wonder if each flower replenishes the nectar supply, or is it a one-time offering?

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Can bees see more colors than we can?

October 01, 2011 by Michael Ellis

Can bees see colors that people can’t? What about birds? How do scientists figure out what can be seen by other animals, especially small animals like insects?

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Top Shark: This One Goes to Seven!

July 01, 2011 by Michael Ellis

The biggest shark in the Bay is the seven-gill–with two more gill slits than the average shark. Why the extras? Well, turns out they’re probably an evolutionary accident, but these are still fascinating animals–up to 10 feet long, and swimming right out there in the Bay!

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Why are barn owls dying on the road?

April 01, 2011 by Michael Ellis

Bay Nature reader Rich saw a number of dead barn owls along I-5. What’s going on? Turns out barn owls may be the most widespread birds in the world — and they may be the original ghosts!

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