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.

Latest from Ask the Naturalist

Should I Plant Milkweed to Save the Monarchs?

March 03, 2015 by Alison Hawkes

The road to hell is paved with good intentions — or sometimes, with milkweed.

7 Comments

Ask the Naturalist: Do pelicans carry their babies in their pouches?

January 09, 2015 by Bay Nature Staff

A first-grade teacher asks: Do pelicans ever carry their young in their pouches? We asked International Bird Rescue for the answer.

No Comments

Ask the Naturalist: Where do birds go when it rains?

December 11, 2014 by Josiah Clark

Guest naturalist Josiah Clark reveals how birds cope with stormy weather.

3 Comments

What To Do When Ladybugs Make Your Home Theirs?

December 04, 2014 by Alison Hawkes

Question: I have a lot of ladybugs in my living room and kitchen. Should I take them outside?

No Comments

Ask the Naturalist: Should I Be Afraid Of This Spider?

November 07, 2014 by Bay Nature Staff

Q: I've heard of a very large and scary-looking spider that can be found in the Santa Cruz mountains. Should I fear it if I encounter it in the wild?

No Comments

Ask the Naturalist: Young Bald Eagle at Palo Alto Baylands?

October 27, 2014 by Bay Nature Staff

A possible young bald eagle sighting intrigues a South Bay park visitor.

1 Comment

Ask the Naturalist: Shady Bay Area Hikes?

September 19, 2014 by Bay Nature Staff

Where to find some shady hikes in our state parks on sunny fall days? Guest naturalist - and BN publisher David Loeb - had some suggestions.

5 Comments

Ask the Naturalist: Best spots to photograph Bay Area butterflies?

August 21, 2014 by Liam O'Brien

Doesn't get much better for eye candy than a butterfly on a flower, right?

No Comments

Bear, Elk and Talking Ape in Post-Apocalypse Muir Woods: What Are the Chances?*

August 14, 2014 by Sabine Bergmann

A herd of elk and a grizzly bear make an appearance in Muir Woods in the opening scene of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Would such megafauna stage a comeback 10 years after humans are mostly killed off?

2 Comments

“By the Wind” Sailors: Seasonal Velella beaching mystery solved

July 30, 2014 by Michael Ellis

Recently, Bay Area beachcombers have been spotting dozens of mysterious blue jelly-like creatures littering the beaches. What are they, and why are they here? Bay Nature naturalist Michael Ellis explains.

12 Comments