Michael Ellis

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

Photosynthesis in Leaves That Aren’t Green


Q: How does photosynthesis occur in plants that are not obviously green, such as ornamental plum trees with deep purple-colored leaves? [Paul, Santa Cruz] A: Photosynthesis (which literally means “light put together”) is that very elegant chemical process that jump-started … Read more

Do local breeding birds mate for life?


Q: Do any local breeding birds mate for life? Why? [Leo, San Francisco] A: Some local birds do form long-lasting pair bonds of several different kinds. Ravens and scrub jay pairs hang out together all year, not just at breeding … Read more

Is it OK to catch crawdads?


Q: A group of families goes out every year, catching up to 300 crawdads for a big feast, releasing those with eggs. We often wonder if we’re depleting the supply. How long do they live? Are they native to the … Read more

What were those fins off Ocean Beach?


Q: Off San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, I saw dorsal fins beyond the surfers. After 20 minutes, I saw two bearers of fins breaching the water. What were they? [Claire, San Bruno] A: Congratulations on being very observant. The animals you … Read more