Strange but True


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

  • To attract mates, woodpeckers drum loudly on hollow trees. Typically, the smaller the woodpecker, the faster it drums. Sparrow-sized downy woodpeckers hammer in bursts of 17 thumps each second.
  • One big honking family: Canada geese that flock together in winter are often related. Goose couples usually stay together for life, and young geese stick with their parents through their entire first year or longer.
  • In winter, painted turtles hibernate underwater. Their heartbeats and breathing slow waaaay down, but they still need oxygen. They get it from water using a body part biologists call the cloaca. Most people have another name for it: rear end.
  • River otters typically talk to each other with chirps, chuckles, grunts, and growls. But when one is angry or scared, it can let loose a blood-curdling scream that can be heard across water from a mile and a half away.
  • Most critters don’t have time for fun. They’re too busy trying to survive. But not prairie falcons. These birds of prey like to play by dropping dried cow manure from high in the air and then swooping swiftly down to catch it in their talons.
  • First place for funkiness: According to scientists who study such things, the spray from a spotted skunk smells even worse than the spray from its much larger and more-common cousin, the striped skunk.
  • An eastern chipmunk often sleeps atop the pile of nuts it gathered for winter. In the fall, its bumpy bed is near the roof of its burrow. But by spring, the hungry ’munk has eaten its stash, and the bed has dropped to the floor.

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