This post contributed by Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs In a few days, many of us will partake in the American tradition of Thanksgiving Day. Declared a national holiday in 1863 by President Lincoln, this annual feast with family and friends more often than not features a turkey. Most American Thanksgiving dinner platters feature a domestic turkey, a descendant of the wild turkey. Habitat loss and overhunting drove wild turkey (Meleagris galloparo) populations to dangerously low numbers in the early 1900s and efforts to transplant game farm turkeys into the wild failed. In the 1940s, wild turkeys were caught and successfully introduced to new areas where they thrived. Some 7 million birds now live in 49 states, with Alaska the sole state sans wild turkey. Unlike its domestic descendant, Meleagris galloparo can fly. Wild turkeys are omnivores and their diet includes insects, acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, fern fronds and salamanders. The bird was a favorite meal in eastern Native American tribes who made use of its eggs, meat and feathers and created additional habitat for turkeys by burning sections of forest to create meadows. A male turkey sports a wattle, which is the fleshy growth that hangs from the underside of its beak. On the top of hisbeak is a snood – a fleshy protuberance. The wattle and snood figure in turkey mating rituals, when the male’s face and throat blushes red and blue during mating displays. The gobble sound we all associate with turkeys is used by the males to catch the attention of females during mating season. As wild turkey populations continue to flourish, springtime mating season brings a bounty of stories about turkey-human run-ins. Male turkeys, in their quest for females, venture into cities and suburbs, sometimes actually breaking into human domiciles. In one example, mentioned in a USA Today article, a man in Wenham, Massachusetts returned to his home one spring day to find that a wild turkey had smashed through his living room window: The turkey was patiently sitting on the couch like he was watching TV,” says Wenham Policy Officer William Foley. But he got angry when he saw us. The bird was eventually captured and released in nearby woods. In addition to these unexpected turkey-people encounters, some one million wild turkeys are legally killed each year by hunters. Hunting organizations are supportive of keeping these wild gobblers around and are eager to point out that wild turkeys make “good neighbors,” as a press release from the National Wild Turkey Federation pointed out. When wine growers in several states became concerned that rafters of wild turkey were eating their grapes, the...
A satellite view of Baltimore, Maryland, would show plenty of abandoned buildings and parking lots, with parks—such as Patterson and Gwynns Falls parks—scattered throughout. However, while there is an abundance of concrete and asphalt within the city limits, Baltimore is not a city in isolation. Like Washington, D.C. and other nearby urban areas, Baltimore lies within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Many animals migrate in the fall to exotic locales and warmer, more abundant southern climates. Among the more famous migrating winged species are monarch butterflies, but there are several species of birds that also migrate during the fall. Some of these birds, such as hawks, rest and “refuel” in the Gulf region of the United States as they traverse southward.
Twenty-five years ago on October 18, Nintendo launched its Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States and—depending on your point of view—began a video game revolution that has taken entertainment technology to previously unfathomable heights. Or it has captivated the attention and interest of millions of children and adults, in over two decades of software and console development, prompting Americans to stay indoors and avoid exercise. Perhaps you see it both ways.
According to the Obama administration, for the first time since the creation of the Chesapeake Bay Program in 1983, the federal government is using its full force to prioritize restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Speakers met on September 10 for a briefing in Washington, DC to discuss the government’s significantly expanded role in preserving the Bay and its watershed.
Imagine a small town where everything is uniform—a tiny community of individuals who eat the same meals and pair up with people with similar qualities and traits. The scenery is stripped down: one church, one pub and cookie-cutter houses. Now add in social interactions. Greetings occur but they have few variations; life is routine. And just a few miles over in a town with the same layout, similar individuals are interacting, eating and greeting, in all the same ways.
“Menopausal” aphids sacrifice themselves for the colony, Gulf oil spill myths debunked, the benefits of (and new considerations for) hiking, bee hives add to sustainable cuisine in San Francisco and the masters of disguise in the animal world—photos included. Here is the latest in ecological science from the third week in June.
Earlier this month at the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Scientific Symposium at Louisiana State University (LSU), scientists emphasized the importance and urgency of consulting with researchers during the remediation of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. The meeting pulled together more than 200 attendees, including officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).