Fish can be a real pain in the neck! Great blue herons have no trouble snaring fish in their bladelike beaks. But swallowing their catch can be a different story. Herons have choked to death by gulping fish too big to fit down their skinny throats.
Chanterelles pop up in woods across Missouri in July. The tasty yellowish orange mushrooms contain carotene, the same chemical that gives carrots their signature color.
Bad hair day: During summer, you might spot a bare-headed northern cardinal. In most cases, the bird has simply molted all of its head feathers at once rather than a few at a time. The bald bird’s “hair” will usually grow back within a week.
When a Walnut sphinx caterpillar gets pecked by a bird, it lets loose a loud shriek. The caterpillar's cry sounds like the call birds use to warn each other of danger. And it usually makes the bird drop the wailing worm and fly for cover.
Insects known as sharpshooters fling their pee using a catapult on their tails. The insect’s tail-apult launches tinkle faster than a cheetah can accelerate. Trees infested with these sap-sucking pests rain a pitter-patter of pee.
On a summer afternoon, a large shade tree may lose more than 50 gallons of water from its leaves each hour. A forest the size of a football field may lose 8,000 gallons of water per day — enough to fill a small swimming pool.
Life for prairie voles has its highs and lows. Numbers of the stubby-tailed, hamster-sized rodents go up and down about every four years. When their numbers peak, a meadow the size of a soccer field may contain 800 voles.