66 episodes

Nature nerds rejoice! The Field Guides is a monthly podcast that will bring you out on the trail, focusing on the science of our North American wildlife.

The Field Guides The Field Guides

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 348 Ratings

Nature nerds rejoice! The Field Guides is a monthly podcast that will bring you out on the trail, focusing on the science of our North American wildlife.

    Ep. 52 - Who's Your Daddy (Longlegs)?

    Ep. 52 - Who's Your Daddy (Longlegs)?

    This month, the guys set out to discover if daddy longlegs really are the most poisonous spider in the world, but, along the way, they uncover a fascinating array of arachnids and adaptations in the group known collectively as harvestmen. Join them for some mythbusting and a deep dive into the little-known order of arachnids called Opiliones.

    • 1 hr
    Ep. 51 - Flickers Fooling Around: Sex Roles in a North American Woodpecker

    Ep. 51 - Flickers Fooling Around: Sex Roles in a North American Woodpecker

    The northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a common bird that has some exceptionally uncommon behaviors. Unlike most bird species, male flickers take an equal share of egg incubation and feeding, and, in up to five percent of females, a lady flicker will take up with two mates - an older male and a younger male - raising young in two different nests at the same time. In addition, flickers will sometimes lay their eggs in the nests of other flickers, a behavior called intraspecific brood parasitism, another habit rarely seen in birds. Join the guys as they delve into studies exploring the wild and swinging world of northern flicker reproduction.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Ep. 50 - Antifreeze Fleas: Winter-Active Insects (Feat. Dr. Wayne Gall)

    Ep. 50 - Antifreeze Fleas: Winter-Active Insects (Feat. Dr. Wayne Gall)

    Spring is here! So, what better time to talk about winter-active insects?

    Steve recorded this one in February with entomologist and all-around-great-guy Dr. Wayne Gall, and there was no way we could wait until next winter to share it!

    Join Steve and Wayne as they head into the winter woods, peeling back the snowy curtain that conceals the ecology of these fascinating invertebrates.

    This episode was recorded in February 2021 at the Deer Lick Conservation Area, a Nature Conservancy property, located in Gowanda, NY.

    Thank you Patrons!
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    Ep. 49 - Whither the Snowy Owl? (Part 2)

    Ep. 49 - Whither the Snowy Owl? (Part 2)

    This winter (2021) marked the first time a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) was spotted in New York City’s Central Park in 130 years. Why was it there? Where did it come from? Since 99.9% of the population immediately just thinks of Harry Potter when Snowy Owls are mentioned, the guys wanted to cast the proverbial “Lumos!” and shed some light on the subject.

    Join them and guest Daniel Mlodozeniec (photographer and naturalist) as they delve into the Snowy Owl’s ecology in part 1. Then, in part 2, come along as they look into the research behind what drives Snowy Owl irruptions, those irregular migrations that cause Snowies to end up in Central Park and even in places like Bermuda and Hawaii!

    This episode was recorded on February 1, 2021 in Buffalo, NY at the Erie Basin Marina (part 1) and Tifft Nature Preserve (part 2).

    Special thanks to Dan for getting up early and joining us for a cold, cold four hours! Check out the link to his work below.

    Episode Notes

    For items mentioned in part 1 of this episode, please see the episode notes page for part 1.

    Bill mentioned Frank Chapman as the originator of the Christmas Bird Count, but he failed to give any context. Here’s an excerpt from the Audubon Society’s “History of the Christmas Bird Count”:

    Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt."* They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

    Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition—a "Christmas Bird Census" that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

    *As a side note, Bill wonders if these “side hunts” really occurred. The only reference to this tradition he has ever seen is in articles talking about how the Christmas Bird Count got started. This raises his “skeptical spidey-sense”. Did these side hunts actually take place? Is this just an apocryphal idea that has been repeated and spread over the last century because of the Christmas Count? Bill would love to get to the bottom of this, and he asks that if any listeners have or could find any accounts of these “side hunts” (apart from references related to the Christmas Bird Count), he would be very grateful if they would pass them along.

    Links / Picture Credit

    Dan’s Instagram: into_the_wild_photography2018 / This episode’s cover photo is also by Dan!

    Click here to find out more about Springtails.

    Watch Steve’s old YouTube show: Lookin’ At It: A Nature Show. This link will take you to the episode focused on Snowy Owls, but there are several other episodes to enjoy!

    Matt Candeias’s book, In Defense of Plants, is available here.

    Nature Out Loud! plays upbeat, fun, family friendly tunes inspired by the wild world all around us. Check out their website and their YouTube channel.

    Support

    The Field Guides Patreon

    Make a onetime Paypal donation.

    Our Sponsor

    Gumleaf Boots, USA

    Thank you to Always Wandering Art (Website and Etsy Shop) for providing the artwork for Part 1, as well as the art for many of our previous episodes!

    Works Cited

    Snowy Owl sounds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology / Macaulay Library

    Chang, A.M. and Wiebe, K.L., 2018. Habitat selection by wintering male and female Snowy Owls on the Canadian prairies in relation to prey abundance and a competitor, the Great Horned Owl. Journal of Field Ornithology, 89(1), pp.64-77.

    Curk, T., McDonald, T., Zazelenchuk, D., Weidensaul, S., Brinker, D., Huy, S., Smith, N., Miller, T., Robillard, A., Gauthier, G. Chamberlin, M.L., 1980. Winter hunt

    • 47 min
    Ep. 49 - Whither the Snowy Owl? (Part 1)

    Ep. 49 - Whither the Snowy Owl? (Part 1)

    This winter (2021) marked the first time a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) was spotted in New York City’s Central Park in 130 years. Why was it there? Where did it come from? Since 99.9% of the population immediately just thinks of Harry Potter when Snowy Owls are mentioned, the guys wanted to cast the proverbial “Lumos!” and shed some light on the subject.

    Join them and guest Daniel Mlodozeniec (photographer and naturalist) as they delve into the Snowy Owl’s ecology in part 1. Then, in part 2, come along as they look into the research behind what drives Snowy Owl irruptions, those irregular migrations that cause Snowies to end up in Central Park and even in places like Bermuda and Hawaii!

    This episode was recorded on February 1, 2021 in Buffalo, NY at the Erie Basin Marina (part 1) and Tifft Nature Preserve (part 2).

    Special thanks to Dan for getting up early and joining us for a cold, cold four hours! Check out the link to his work below.

    Episode Notes

    During the episode, Steve wondered if it’s illegal to use rat/rodent poison. The answer is mostly no; here in the US, certain types have been banned.

    When discussing if lemmings actually run off cliffs, the guys mentioned a Disney film that is likely the origin of that myth. The film is called White Wilderness, and you can read this great article from Snopes to find out more.

    Bill wondered, “Is a Red Phalarope a shore bird?” Yes, it is.

    The guys said they thought the Great Black-backed Gull is the largest gull. Turns out they were right!

    Check out this macabre shot of the lemmings a Snowy Owl arranged around its nest!

    Dan was correct in saying that the barn owl family is Tytonidae.

    Bill mentioned how the temperature in Siberia reached over 100 degrees F during the summer of 2020. Read more about it here.

    Shortly after we wrapped, the Snowy Owl in Central; Park reappeared. Read about it here.

    Links

    Check out Dan’s work:

    Dan’s Instagram: into_the_wild_photography2018

    Partners in Flight

    The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

    Project Snowstorm - uses innovative science to understand snowy owls, and to engage people in their conservation through outreach and education.

    More info about Lemmings:

    Brown Lemming (Lemmus) species: Find out more about the Norwegian Lemming (Lemmus lemmus), and other members of this genus

    Collared Lemming (Dicrostonyx) - Check out this overview of the genus

    Support

    The Field Guides Patreon

    Make a onetime Paypal donation.

    Our Sponsor

    Gumleaf Boots, USA

    Picture Credit

    Thank you to Always Wandering Art (Website and Etsy Shop) for providing this episode’s artwork, as well as the art for many of our previous episodes!

    Works Cited

    Snowy Owl sounds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology / Macaulay Library

    Chang, A.M. and Wiebe, K.L., 2018. Habitat selection by wintering male and female Snowy Owls on the Canadian prairies in relation to prey abundance and a competitor, the Great Horned Owl. Journal of Field Ornithology, 89(1), pp.64-77.

    Curk, T., McDonald, T., Zazelenchuk, D., Weidensaul, S., Brinker, D., Huy, S., Smith, N., Miller, T., Robillard, A., Gauthier, G. Chamberlin, M.L., 1980. Winter hunting behavior of a snowy owl in Michigan. The Wilson Bulletin, pp.116-120.

    and Lecomte, N., 2018. Winter irruptive Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) in North America are not starving. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 96(6), pp.553-558.

    Fuller, M., Holt, D. and Schueck, L., 2003. Snowy owl movements: variation on the migration theme. In Avian migration (pp. 359-366). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

    Gessaman, J.A., 1972. Bioenergetics of the snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca). Arctic and Alpine Research, 4(3), pp.223-238.

    Gross, A.O., 1947. Cyclic invasions of the snowy owl and the migration of 1945-1946. The Auk, 64(4), pp.584-601.

    Heggøy, O., Aarvak, T., Øien, I.J., Jacobsen, K.O., Solh

    • 1 hr
    Ep. 48 - Eat Sh*t and Live, Bill (Part 2)

    Ep. 48 - Eat Sh*t and Live, Bill (Part 2)

    Now that Bill’s done droning on about animals, we can finally talk about PLANTS! and CARNIVOROUS plants at that. Steve reviews carnivorous plants in general and then breaks into examples of carnivorous plants that have evolved to eat poop: Roridula spp. in South Africa, Sarracenia purpurea in North America, & Nepenthes spp. in Southeast Asia.

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
348 Ratings

348 Ratings

CeceD. ,

Who’s Your Daddy (Longlegs)

I mostly listen for the episodes about birds, but really enjoy learning about other flora and fauna. Thanks for all I’ve info and facts! Including your daughter in the podcast made it even better!

BioNerdBritt ,

Quirky, interesting, and educational

I love The Field Guides. We listen to their podcast on a daily basis as part of our wind down routine. They are quirky, interesting and educational. Despite having listened to every episode many times I still find myself learning more and laughing at their jokes. Being a biologist myself, I greatly enjoy the nerdy humor and the scene they set. It does feel like you’re right there on the trail with Bill and Steve. My only complaint is the irregularity at which they post new episodes.

PeteRyan04106 ,

This is THE Podcast

Just found The Field Guides when searching on the topic of goldenrod, as one does, and I got the goldenrod gall episode. I have been binging ever since. I do need to slow down because I’m going to have a hard time waiting a whole month for new episodes to come out. The information is great, I love the structure (not a lot of idle banter or inside jokes that a lot of podcasts between friends fall into) and the personalities. I would change nothing. Thanks for this great resource!

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