There is something to be said about Minnesotan grit—or at least the motivation that a good donut and a bold cup of coffee can provide. Half a foot of snow fell on Central Minnesota this past Saturday, bringing the weekend total to just under 11 inches. The roads were slick, visibility was low, and the roads were indistinguishable from the not-roads. Nevertheless, the long awaited Tim Horton’s had finally opened that day and my wife and I weren’t going to be deterred by a mere dusting. The next day, the roads were clear-ish and, while the sky was residually overcast, it was a perfect day for a family sledding trip.
It was the snow we have been waiting for all winter. After the holidays, a winter with no snow is just plain depressing, but a fluffy-fresh blanket of snow goes a long way to sugarcoat the cold and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Monday morning, after struggling to make up my mind over the last 24 hours about whether or not physical activity and a mental break would be good for my health, I decided to finally use the snowshoes I have been waiting 3 years to break-in. So I headed down to the river for a much-needed walk in the woods.
I stepped out of my car, strapped on my snowshoes, and put my camera around my neck—and then, after angst sighing at the sky, frustratingly back in my bag.
(Side note: Always check to be sure you have A) your memory card and B) your battery. There is nothing like getting amped to take some cool pics and then realizing that you left one of the aforementioned behind.)
The fog was rising from the Mississippi, the air was calm, and the sun was beaming through the glistening rock candy branches. Every surface was covered in a shimmering glaze, but this was not your standard frosting—this frost was something special. Here’s a closer look.
A few weekends ago, my family and I went hiking at one of our favorite spots in Central Minnesota, Quarry Park and Nature Reserve, an old granite quarry turned park in 1998. It truly is a wonderful place for day hikes and birding—boasting woodlands, wetlands, prairie, exposed bedrock, a Scientific Nature Area, and a surprising amount of prickly pear cactus within its 650+ acres. Of course, its most popular attractions are the two swimming quarries and rock climbing opportunities.
On spring and summer evenings, a constant amphibial chorus carries in the wind, wild turkey maneuver through the thick understory, deer dart across paths, and the drumming of Pileated Woodpeckers (aka, Minnesota Monkeys [here’s why]) echoes throughout the trees. The winter (as would be expected) isn’t nearly as lively.
On this day, we didn’t anticipate seeing much or being out for long—just a quick 3/4 mile loop. There is a spot near the prairie with a bunch of peculiarly round rocks covered in moss all piled near one another. Normally we walk right by them, but we have a toddler now which means those rocks are “trolls” and passing them is a sin. If you don’t understand how these rocks have suddenly become trolls, you clearly haven’t seen Frozen as many times as I now have—for that, I envy you.
In this episode, Devon and Richard find out how to resolve conflicts peacefully, answer the age old question “Do dogs really see in black and white?”, explore vision in the animal kingdom, and tell you all about the most amazing animal ever: the mantis shrimp.
A second question we received that we didn’t have time to answer was “Are cephalopods colorblind?” The answer, put simply, is yes. Most cephalopods have a single photoreceptor making them pretty much completely colorblind. If this doesn’t make much sense to you, then you haven’t listened to the episode yet. (Do it.)
Below is a pretty cool video of a mantis shrimp that goes over some of the same information, but gives you a chance to see just how stunning (pun-intended) they are.
As 2018 gets going, so are we, and we need your help! Part of our show is answering questions from our listeners— anything from “what’s up with worms?” to “how are snakes so fast?”, or “how come penguins can’t fly but Porgs can?!” — usually with the help of an expert. In order to do that, we need your questions.
You can submit your questions by sending us a message on Facebook. Score bonus points and have the chance to have your voice heard on an episode by sending us a voice message via Facebook Messenger or attaching a recorded voice memo from your phone.
The Wild Life is a show that embraces curiosity, answers your questions, and reveals exciting discoveries through humor, story-telling, and interviews with leading experts.
The Wild Life is hosted by brothers Devon and Richard Bowker. Here’s what to expect: we’ll start off each episode with the latest wildlife related news and discoveries, answer a question from our listeners, and blow your minds as we explore an entire planets worth of wildlife, natural history, and stories behind amazing discoveries and the fascinating people who make them. We’ll end each episode with a new “Animal Sound of the Week”. Send us your guesses on Facebook for a chance to win a prize, maybe not a great prize, but a prize nonetheless.
The Wild Life is listener, reader, and viewer supported. If you believe in what we’re doing, you can show your support by becoming a patron here. When you become a patron, you’ll gain exclusive access to content and have the opportunity to appear on our show to ask us your questions or help read the credits!
Meet Devon Bowker. Devon founded The Wild Life in January of 2017 with a mountain of a goal: to build a community that reconnects people and the natural world in meaningful ways. He’s an ardent naturalist with a degree in wildlife biology, a sci-fi fanatic, science writer, and curator of all things geekery. Devon is currently working towards achieving licensure to teach Life Science for grades 9-12. Devon lives with his wife and son in the central Minnesota.
Meet Richard Bowker. Richard is a film student, video game connoisseur, and a technological guru. He has been making films since he was 10 years old and has several years of broadcast and production experience under his utility belt. He is a lifelong outdoors enthusiast with a casual interest in geology that continues to grow with his increasingly impressive collection of rocks. Like Devon, Richard is a proud geek. Richard lives in Southeast Texas.
The first season is currently in production. While you wait, here is Devon’s first ever podcast in which he interviews Dr. Tim Caro of UC Davis, revealing the truth behind the mystery of Zebra stripes. The podcast is available on SoundCloud and iTunes.