Strange but True

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From Xplor: May/June 2018
  • Great crested flycatchers weave snakeskins — left behind by the original owners, of course — into their nests. Biologists believe the skins scare away egg-eating animals such as squirrels. Or maybe flycatchers just like shiny, crinkly building materials.
  • Young opossums leave their mom’s pouch when they’re 2 months old. But the pouch potatoes can’t yet fend for themselves. So mom becomes a four-legged minivan — a mamavan. The youngsters ride on her back, learning to survive as she gathers food.
  • Channel catfish are protective parents. Males guard their nests and chase away egg-eating predators such as sunfish. To make sure the eggs stay clean and get plenty of oxygen, the whiskery dads even swish their tails over them.
  • Neither yucca moths nor yucca plants could survive without the other. Baby yucca moths eat only seeds from the spiky plants. And yucca flowers — which make the seeds — can be pollinated only by the tiny white moths.
  • No bones about it, belted kingfishers have tough guts. Baby birds swallow fish whole and rely on strong stomach acids to digest bones and scales. When they grow up, their stomach chemistry changes, and they cough up pellets of undigested food.
  • Carpenter bees are the drill bits of the insect world. Mama bees use their burly jaws to chew tunnels up to 18 inches long into dead wood. The buzzy builders lay eggs inside the tunnels and seal up the exits with spit and sawdust.
  • Need a new nose? No problem. New arm? Coming right up. That is, if you’re a newt. The tiny salamanders have an amazing ability to regrow new body parts if they’re damaged — even eyes, hearts, limbs, and tails.

Also In This Issue

Robin Nest with Eggs
Check out the many ways and out of the way places birds build their nests.
birds of the prairie
Let’s dive in to a prairie and see who lives among the waves of green.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White