Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature
To get a girlfriend, American Woodcocks spiral hundreds of feet up in the sky and then dive straight down. Moments before they go splat, the chubby daredevils pull up and land gracefully at nearly the same spot where they took off.
Baby river otters can’t swim. So when they’re about 12 weeks old, mama otters start swimming lessons. The pups aren’t enthusiastic students — most are scared of water — so mom often has to drag them in to teach them how to float, paddle, and dive.
Eastern whip-poor-wills are hard to see but easy to hear. On moonlit nights during mating season, the camouflaged, big-mouthed birds belt out their name — whip-poor-will — 60 times a minute. Some may call more than 1,000 times without stopping.
Alligator gar are the battleships of the fish world. They’re freakishly large, and they’re covered in armor-like scales. The scales, which are made of a substance similar to tooth enamel, are so hard and sharp, Native Americans used them for arrowheads.
Great blue herons like to raise their families close to other herons. This behavior leads to nest neighborhoods, called rookeries, that can contain 500 or more nests at a single site and dozens of nests crammed into individual trees.
Glass Lizards slither, but make no mistake, they aren’t snakes. The legless lizards have eyelids and ear holes, two features snakes lack. And when attacked, a glass lizard can shed its long tail, a freaky feat no snake could pull off.
The feathered world is full of master builders, birds such as orioles who weave elaborate hanging nests. Then there are mourning doves, who often nest atop nothing more than a few flimsy twigs balanced carelessly in the fork of a branch.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill