Strange but True

By MDC | July 1, 2023
From Xplor: July/August 2023

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

Chimney swifts use saliva to glue twigs together for a nest and keep it stuck tight to the inside of a chimney, hollow tree, or cave. Now that’s some sticky spit!

Female plain pocketbook mussels wave body parts that look like small, swimming fish. When a big fish strikes at the “lure,” the mama mussel squirts out a cloud of tiny babies. The baby mussels attach themselves to the fish for a free ride.

Temperature determines whether eastern snapping turtles will be born boys or girls. Turtle eggs kept at lower temperatures hatch as mostly males. Eggs kept at higher temperatures hatch as mostly females.

Mmmm, crunchy! Purple martins gobble gravel and eggshells. The gritty bits stay in the birds’ guts to help grind up the hard skeletons of insects that martins eat.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds normally beat their wings about 50 times a second. That’s fast, but it’s a bummer compared to a lovestruck hummer. When trying to impress a mate, males flap their wings 200 times a second.

Eastern fox squirrels have sweat glands between their toes. When a squirrel gets excited or hot, its paw prints become wet from sweat.

Monarch caterpillars munch milkweed, a poisonous plant. The caterpillars store the poisons in their tissues and aren’t harmed. By the time they turn into butterflies, they’re so toxic, birds that eat them throw up.

This Issue's Staff

Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Designer – Les Fortenberry
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber