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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: Is This a Turkey’s Tail Mushroom? How Do I Tell?

December 05, 2017 by Christian Schwarz

What kind of mushroom is this?

2 Comments

Why Do Turkey Vultures Have Red Heads?

November 21, 2017 by Tony Iwane

A few ideas.

1 Comment

Where Do Shorebirds Sleep at Night?

November 07, 2017 by Clayton Anderson

Where do shorebirds sleep? Hint: it's not always at night.

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How Vulnerable Are Other Parts Of The Bay Area To Wildfires?

October 24, 2017 by Sasha Berleman

The devastating North Bay wildfires have raised questions about how vulnerable we all are to fire and what we can do about it. Fire ecologist Sasha Berleman answers.

7 Comments

What Is This Moth That’s Almost as Big as a Hummingbird?

October 10, 2017 by Tony Iwane

Moths often get sidelined as the country cousins of butterflies. But they have their own beauty and utility as some of the best pollinators around.

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Why Did I Hear Popcorn Sounds In the Recent Extreme Heat Wave?

September 26, 2017 by Trent Pearce

When temperatures crank up, an unusual ecological adaptation begins to play out among our native Monterey pine. We explain why in our latest installment of our reader-funded Ask The Naturalist column.

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Ask the Naturalist: What Do Hummingbirds Taste?

September 25, 2017 by Michael Ellis

How do hummingbirds experience sugar?

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Ask The Naturalist: Why Are There So Many Birds On the Beach At One Time?

September 12, 2017 by Donna Pomeroy

Head to the beach on one of these late summer days and you're liable to come across a wonderful spectacle of nature: the feeding frenzy.

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Ask the Naturalist: Where Can I Find Old Growth Redwoods in the Bay Area?

August 29, 2017 by Mia Monroe

Crowded Muir Woods isn't the only place in the Bay Area to wander amongst old-growth redwoods.

2 Comments

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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