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Ask the Naturalist

A bird? A bug? Something strange in the natural world nearby? Ask us and we’ll find the answer! And check here for answers to great questions you didn’t even know you had. Top questions find their way to top naturalist Michael Ellis, who writes a column for our print magazine.

Ask the Naturalist: How Does a Spider Make Silk?

August 15, 2017 by R.J. Adams

How spiders create protein-rich liquid and turn it into silk.

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Ask the Naturalist: Can Hummingbirds Taste Their Food?

August 01, 2017 by Marc Badger

What does a hummingbird taste in a flower?

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Ask The Naturalist: Why Are There Humpback Whales In the San Francisco Bay Right Now?

July 18, 2017 by Bill Keener

Good news: there are likely more whales in the Bay because there are more whales overall.


Ask The Naturalist: How Do I Know If a Lizard Is Male Or Female?

July 03, 2017 by Tony Iwane

While there are few hard and fast rules in the natural world, here are a some things to look for when trying to determine the sex of a lizard.

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Can You Take the Temperature By Cricket?

June 28, 2017 by Michael Ellis

Is it true that some crickets can tell us the temperature? If so, how does it work and what are the Bay Area species to listen for?

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Is This the Worst Flooding Year Ever?

March 28, 2017 by Michael Ellis

Was this year's flooding the worst Northern California has ever seen?

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Ask The Naturalist: Do Badgers Hibernate?

February 22, 2017 by Bay Nature Staff

Do badgers hibernate during the winter? And if not, when *do* they emerge from their burrows? Guest naturalist Susan Kirks answers.


Why Do Tule Elk Drop Their Antlers Every Year?

January 01, 2017 by Michael Ellis

Ask the Naturalist: Why do tule elk drop their antlers every year?

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Are Bay Area Bats Threatened With White Nose Syndrome?

October 28, 2016 by Michael Ellis

Ask the naturalist: Bay Area bats and white-nose syndrome.

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Ask the Naturalist: What’s with all the squirrels in Marin?

October 27, 2016 by Bay Nature Staff

A reader asks: Are there more squirrels running around this fall than in years past?

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