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Coyotes-Wolves-Cougars.blogspot.com

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One of these days I would like to purchase an existing home in the woods,,,,,,,,,,,Have my square mile( one square mile=660 acres or 267 hectares) of woodland, meadow, stream and pond, donate a conservation easement on the property so that it would never be further developed than it already is,,,,,,,,,,,,Then, install a half dozen TRAIL CAMERAS at points where game trails exist,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,And chronicle the comings and goings of the creatures who share the land with me.................The Trail Camera is being used more and more by biologists to supplement GPS collars, and hair DNA snares as viable means of studying animal populations...........Should you be thinking that you would like to become a WILDLIFE AUTEUR, note that your camera(s) should sit lower than you might think, at the height of the core body mass of the animals you’re most interested in photographing or filming – not more than a foot or so off the ground, if you want to get fishers as well as moose..........."Leaves or tall grass growing in front of the camera can twist in the breeze and trigger thousands of empty photos or videos, so clear out these plants and loose branches after you’ve mounted the camera"............... "Even the rising or setting sun can cause false triggers; avoid pointing the lens directly east or west"............"If you’re trying to get the most pictures of wildlife, point the camera down the trail at an oblique angle, which gives the subjects of your photographs more opportunity to trigger the camera"..................."To avoid a gigabyte’s worth of pictures of deer munching twigs in the same spot, set a delay between photographs"............... "Even five seconds between shots can prevent a flood of images representing slight variations on the same theme"..............."Speculating about why the animals behave as they do might be the most interesting part of camera trapping".............. "The photographs offer more than simply an inventory of what animals live on our land; they give us insights into animal behavior"



2
A Summer’s Worth of Shots
The game camera location.
The fisher darted through the trees from one overgrown field to another. The narrowest sliver of moon had set: a perfect night for hunting. Three hours later, just before midnight, it bounded back the way it had come, fresh prey dangling from its mouth. Two hours after that, a coyote trotted over the same path, sniffing the ground where the fisher had passed. The time was 1:45 a.m. on September 1, 2016. One hundred miles away, I was sound asleep.
So how do I know all of this? Because I’d tied a game camera to a tree in just the right place.
Last summer, as a graduate student researching 130 acres of privately owned land in southern Vermont, I got to peer into the lives of the animals on the property – in one spot, at any rate.
 On a warm, sunny day in midsummer, a bobcat strolled to the edge of the field and paused, perhaps eyeing the farmhouse in the distance where I stayed during my site visits; then it changed course to follow the band of trees along an ephemeral stream edging the meadow. 
A black bear turned up with her cub on the fourth of July and snuffled around for a few minutes. A fisher, a rare visitor for the first two months of camera trapping, became a regular in the fall, appearing on 24 different days: bounding, sniffing, pouncing. Between June and October, the camera took over 800 photographs of wildlife, capturing 18 species of mammals and birds, from an elusive long-tailed weasel to a wide-eyed American woodcock.









Use of camera traps, as biologists call them, for wildlife research has exploded in the last decade or so, and they have become far more reliable and affordable, even allowing video footage. Still, a high-end Reconyx camera used by scientists with plenty of funding might cost over $500. I didn’t have access to fancy equipment. I borrowed a friend’s $100 Browning camera instead, and it worked fine. In fact, it succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.
I set my camera up at the intersection of two habitat types: a trail between meadows running through a wooded corridor. An obvious north-south path through a gap in the band of trees – actually an earthen bridge over a culvert – was appealing to animals cruising between the two open fields, as a predator on the move might do. 
The band of trees itself, a hedgerow running east-west, offered cover to other animals who were journeying from one swath of forest to another. I recorded the same species using both these routes throughout the season – bear, raccoon, fisher, and bobcat sometimes sped through the gap, other times crossed it as they traveled along the stream.
Surprisingly – given that, as my department chair likes to say, “ecologists quantify the obvious” – very little research has analyzed exactly where best to place a camera in order to maximize the number of species detected. Biologists seem to pick locations based on common sense – not typically a trusted commodity in science. Research on camera placement has instead focused on determining the best way to mount a camera at a chosen spot.

Photo Gallery--CLICK ON LINK ABOVE TO GO TO ARTICLE-AT BOTTOM 

OF ARTICLE ARE THESE AND MANY OTHER PHOTOS OF THE WILDLIFE MENTIONED
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung
  •  Photo: Sonia DeYoung










Some general rules: A stout tree trunk, one that will not sway in the wind and set off the camera, makes a good mount. In a place without a mount, use a pole or stake, but keep in mind that some animals could be wary of obvious foreign objects. The camera should sit lower than you might think, at the height of the core body mass of the animals you’re most interested in photographing or filming – not more than a foot or so off the ground, if you want to get fishers as well as moose.

Leaves or tall grass growing in front of the camera can twist in the breeze and trigger thousands of empty photos or videos, so clear out these plants and loose branches after you’ve mounted the camera. Even the rising or setting sun can cause false triggers; avoid pointing the lens directly east or west.
Aiming the camera matters as much as locating it. Scientists trying for individually identifiable images of animals’ bodies, say to capture a distinctive stripe or scar, must face their camera traps perpendicular to the trail. If you’re trying to get the most pictures of wildlife, point the camera down the trail at an oblique angle, which gives the subjects of your photographs more opportunity to trigger the camera. Most cameras have a “walk test” feature, so you can get down on your hands and knees and pretend to be an animal walking past; a light flashes when you’ve triggered the sensor. These infrared sensors aren’t perfect. Pictures of canine rear ends crop up throughout my collection, because coyotes and foxes sometimes trot by too fast for the camera to respond in time. Even so, I enjoyed learning to identify animals by the tips of their tails.










Some animals overstay their welcome, triggering many hundreds of photos. To avoid a gigabyte’s worth of pictures of deer munching twigs in the same spot, set a delay between photographs. Even five seconds between shots can prevent a flood of images representing slight variations on the same theme. Although a memory card can record thousands of photos or hours of video, looking through all of them can be daunting.
As I sorted through my images, I searched for patterns. I wondered about that fisher who appeared over and over in the same spot. A state biologist who looked at the pictures identified it as a male. Why did he suddenly show up and stick around in the fall? Young male fishers disperse in autumn to claim their own territories. Perhaps this fisher settled in the area and made the path between the fields part of his hunting routine.
Speculating about why the animals behave as they do might be the most interesting part of camera trapping. The photographs offer more than simply an inventory of what animals live on our land; they give us insights into animal behavior.
But the camera does not record such behavior entirely passively. I haven’t addressed baits or scent lures here, mostly because I believe that the right location beats an artificial attractant for the most natural photos. But remember that, even without bait, photographing wildlife remotely is like measuring an elementary particle: you can’t observe the animals without the risk of changing their behavior.
The camera is an unfamiliar object in their territory, and they usually know it’s there. Again and again, as I scroll through the 800 photos I obtained at my study site, I see animal faces staring into the lens: a fox dashing past, looking back over its shoulder; a family of turkeys gathered around the camera, then one chick lingering behind in apparent fascination after the others have moved on; 64 pictures in a row, over the course of seven minutes, of a doe walking back and forth in front of the camera, approaching it, bending down to peer at it closely, leaving, circling back for another look, clearly baffled as to what this strange contraption could be. Her bewilderment makes for some entertaining photos. But it’s not just an event I’ve recorded; it’s one I’ve created.
Sonia DeYoung is a recent graduate of the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist program.  She currently works for the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
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Finding the Best Trail Camera In 2017 – Reviews and Comparison of the 14 best cameras available today(click link above to review all of them)


#1 choice-Stealth Cam G30 Triad Armed 8mp Trail Camera

The Stealth Cam G30 is one of the best trail cameras you can go for and it gets our highest rating with an impressive 4.7 out of 5. The camera has great video quality, is durable and it amazing when it comes to performance and battery life.

It can take great pictures of either 2, 4 or 8 megapixels and can take an HD video with sound from 5-180 seconds.
Its 30 IR emitters which have a reach of 80 feet and its reflex trigger of half a second along with its advanced blur reduction technology give this camera the ability to capture images or video in amazingly fine details at any lighting condition (e.g. daylight, low light or at night) without any issues or problem.
The camera is even secured in its shell that is both sturdy yet easy to open. The port and SD card slot is strategically positioned, too, to allow easy and convenient access. It can support an SD card of up to 32GB of capacity and features password encryption to protect your data.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Any of us who live in Suburbia, Exurbia or rural America know immediately when we see a "McMansion" being built in our community or carved into surrounding woodland and/or farmland...............Usually an oversized compound, many times out of place and yet occasionally(like in the pictures below), quite grand in appearance, these mega-homes are carved into what was open space.................. 15, 20 or 25,000 square foot "castles" they almost always are, with multiple acres surrounding the house denuded of original plant cover............These housing paradigms might not have too negative an impact on the biodiversity of their surroundings if there were just a few of these scattered over many square miles..................However, with 320 million of us now living in the USA, a larger and larger percentage of people have the resources to buy a "piece of paradise" .................As the quantity of these "personal paradises" increase in our woodlands and farmlands, the fractionalization of open space changes the dynamics of predator and prey as well as the compostion of the flora................ It is a scientific fact that this type of land alteration leads to a slippery slope of species eradication, exotic introductions and increased homogeneity of species--------And thus, another "hammer-blow" to the land encouraging the HOLOCENE EXTINCTION, otherwise referred to as the sixth extinction or ANTHROPOCENE EXTINCTION, the ongoing elimination of species and biodiversity mainly due to our human activities, such as building MCMANSIONS


The McMansionization Of America’s 

Forests Is Hurting Rural People



But one group is fighting to conserve working forests and keep rural economies alive: 

 8/1/2017

By Alexander C. Kaufman



ALEXANDER C KAUFMAN/HUFFPOST





Tony Gale, 47, of Petersburgh, New York, has watched as the woods he’s hunted and logged in for most of his life are being developed into expensive homes.
GOOGLE EARTH
 Satellite images from 1984 to 2014 show the rapid graying of the Rensselaer Plateau as development moves eastward from Albany. 
ALEXANDER C KAUFMAN/HUFFPOST
A new home appears in a clearing near beside a small pond.
ALEXANDER C KAUFMAN/HUFFPOST
A new home under construction near the Rensselaer Plateau.
ALEXANDER C KAUFMAN/HUFFPOST
A HuffPost reporter joined two Conservation Fund officials as they surveyed the new property from the air 









The Rensselaer Plateau is a small plateau located in the central portion of Rensselaer CountyNew York, just east of the state Capitol of Albany.
 It generally encompasses significant parts of the towns of BerlinStephentownSand LakePoestenkill, and Grafton, along with small sections of several other nearby towns. 
Many glacial lakes, including Big Bowman PondLittle Bowman PondRound Pond and Spring Lake are located on the plateau. Elevations on the plateau range from 1,000 to 2,000 feet (305 to 610 meters) above sea level
Vegetation on the plateau is more similar to that found in the Adirondack Mountains to the northwest, with abundant Eastern White PineEastern HemlockRed Spruce, and Balsam Fir, along with more limited occurrences of Red Pineand Tamarack. 
While most to all of the plateau was logged late in the 19th Century and early in the 20th Century, little farming was undertaken afterwards due to extremely poor and rocky soils, allowing much of the forest to regenerate.
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http://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/forest-fragmentation

What Is Forest Fragmentation and Why Is It A Problem?


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What Is Forest Fragmentation and Why Is It A Problem?
Photo by Blake Gardner.
Forest fragmentation is the breaking of large, contiguous, forested areas into smaller pieces of forest; typically these pieces are separated by roads, agriculture, utility corridors, subdivisions, or other human development. It usually occurs incrementally, beginning with cleared patches here and there – think Swiss cheese – within an otherwise unbroken expanse of tree cover.
Over time, those non-forest patches tend to multiply and expand until eventually the forest is reduced to scattered, disconnected forest islands. The surrounding non-forest lands and land uses seriously threaten the health, function, and value of the remaining forest.
Any large-scale canopy disturbance affects a forest, but it is important to distinguish between a forest fragmented by human infrastructure development and a forest of mixed ages and varied canopy closure that results from good forest management. The former is typically much more damaging to forest health and habitat quality, usually with permanent negative effects, whereas the latter may cause only temporary change in the forest.
The effects of fragmentation are well documented in all forested regions of the planet. In general, by reducing forest health and degrading habitat, fragmentation leads to loss of biodiversity, increases in invasive plants, pests, and pathogens, and reduction in water quality. These wide-ranging effects all stem from two basic problems: fragmentation increases isolation between forest communities and it increases so-called edge effects.
When a forest becomes isolated, the movement of plants and animals is inhibited. This restricts breeding and gene flow and results in long-term population decline. Fragmentation is a threat to natural resilience, and connectivity of forest habitats may be a key component of forest adaptation and response to climate change.
Edge effects are even more complicated. They alter growing conditions within the interior of forests through drastic changes in temperature, moisture, light, and wind. Put simply, the environment of the adjacent non-forest land determines the environment of the forest fragment, particularly on its edges. This triggers a cascade of ill effects on the health, growth, and survivability of trees, flowers, ferns, and lichens and an array of secondary effects on the animals that depend on them. Ecologists suggest that true interior forest conditions – you know, where it’s hard to hear cars and lawnmowers and it remains cool, shady, and downright damp even during a three-week drought – only occur at least 200-300 feet inside the non-forest edge.
And so a circular forest island in a sea of non-forest would have to be more than 14 acres in size to include just one acre of such interior forest condition. Put differently, reports indicate that the negative habitat effects of each residential building pocket within a forest radiate outward, affecting up to 30 additional acres with increased disturbance, predation, and competition from edge-dwellers. This may not matter to generalist species like deer, raccoons, and blue jays, which may actually benefit from fragmentation, but it is hell on interior-dependent species like salamanders, goshawks, bats, and flying squirrels. The smaller the remnant the greater the influence of external factors and edge effects. A wise person once likened it to ice cubes: the smaller ones melt faster.
Moreover, as forest fragments become ever smaller, practicing forestry in them becomes operationally impractical, economically nonviable, and culturally unacceptable. In turn, we lose the corresponding and important contributions that forestry makes to our economy and culture. The result is a rapid acceleration of further fragmentation and then permanent loss.
Here is the tricky part: when fragmentation occurs in a heavily forested region like ours, at least in the early going we are still left with a largely pleasant condition. We sense that we still have lots of woods where we can work, hunt, ski, and walk the dogs. And to most of us, this seems good enough, even when the perforations expand and those woods are the scattered remains of a fragmented forest.
But is it enough? At some point when the larger forest is highly fragmented, the size, integrity, and connectivity of those wooded remnants deteriorate beyond recovery and they are no longer adequate for native forest plants and wildlife. After all, when the Swiss cheese has more holes than cheese, the whole sandwich suffers.

Michael Snyder, a forester, is Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"More than 3,000 years ago, the Chinese believed that a dragon ate the sun during a solar eclipse, so they gathered outdoors to drive away the beast by beating pots, pans and drums"........ "Some 500 years later, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that Zeus had turned day into night".......... "In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Earth basked in the sun-woman’s heat and light as she traveled across the sky"................. "When the dark orb of the moon-man mated with the sun-woman’s bright circle of light, her fire was temporarily obscured"................. "Traditional Navajo belief holds that anyone who looks directly at an eclipse not only damages their eyes, but also throws the universe out of balance"................ "Humankind witnesses many dazzling astronomical events, including comets, lunar eclipses and the Aurora Borealis, but nothing inspires the imagination quite like a solar eclipse—those times when the moon’s path across the heavens brings it directly between the sun and earth"................."Despite all of the mythology surrounding Solar Eclipses, there is not evidence that they have any type physical effect on us human animals".........."Yet for many birds, a solar eclipese causes them to retire to wherever they normally sleep, perform their typical dusk serenade and then quiet down for the night"................. "When the eclipse ends a few seconds or minutes later, they interpret it as morning and respond with a dawn chorus"............ "This disruption is brief, though, and reportedly doesn't throw off the birds' internal clocks or the broader patterns that dictate things like migration" ......................"Crepuscular animals(those active at dawn and dusk like Coyotes, bocats, bears, skunks, jaguars, Ocelosts, deer, moose) often mistake solar eclipses for twilight, too"............. "Crickets and frogs may jump into a dusk chorus, and mosquitoes and midges may start their evening swarms".................. "And in the midst of a total solar eclipse, it can be dark enough not only to quiet down diurnal animals(active during the day like squirrels), but also to lure out the night shift".................. "There are many reports of nocturnal animals being active during totality, including bats and owls"

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/how-does-solar-eclipse-affect-animals


How does a solar eclipse affect animals?

Birds may go quiet, bats may fly around and pets may become uneasy, but it's difficult to predict exactly how non-human animals will react.


Russell McLendon; August 3, 2017, Mother Earth Network



A total solar eclipse will soon sweep across the United States for the first time in 99 years, providing a rare spectacle for millions of people. Among the many human onlookers in the path of totality, however, will also be countless wild animals, pets and other creatures with a much looser grasp of what's happening.




Seeing the moon block the sun should be amazing even if you're expecting it. It's presumably a little disorienting if you're in the dark about why you're in the dark.
Our own species was long confused about the nature of eclipses, but the experience must still be very weird for other animals, especially within the path of totality. This is likely a once-in-a-lifetime event for them, too, and while few scientific studies have thoroughly examined their reactions, there are many anecdotal reports of wildlife, farm animals and pets seemingly duped or bewildered by a solar eclipse.
If you're planning to watch the Great American Eclipse this month, here are some things to look for from any non-human animals who might be watching with you — including a new effort to help you share your observations with scientists.

Wildlife

Many wild animals have been known to treat a total solar eclipse like an abrupt midday night. "The birds behave as if the disappearance of the sun means evening, and the return of the sun means morning — in time-lapse, of course," Max Planck Institute ornithologist Wolfgang Fiedler tells German news outlet Deutsche Welle.




That means many songbirds retire to wherever they normally sleep, perform their typical dusk serenade and then quiet down for the "night." When the eclipse ends a few seconds or minutes later, they interpret it as morning and respond with a dawn chorus. This disruption is brief, though, and reportedly doesn't throw off the birds' internal clocks or the broader patterns that dictate things like migration.
Although most reports of eclipse-confused animals are informal observations, there have been some scientific studies on the subject. During a total solar eclipse in June 2001, for example, astronomer Paul Murdin observed how various wildlife reacted at Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. He saw doves and other songbirds act out bedtime routines, briefly going silent before singing when the sun reappeared.
"Egrets, oxpeckers, ibis, trumpeter hornbill and geese stopped feeding and set off for roosts," he wrote, noting that only some returned to feed after the eclipse. A pod of hippos dispersed into the water during totality, as they do at dusk, but then "showed nervousness for the rest of the afternoon" and took a day to get back to normal.
A sun squirrel stayed in his hole on the eclipse day, Murdin wrote, "apparently having concluded from the eclipse that he had overslept into nightfall." Bees withdrew to their hive in the late stages of the eclipse, he added, then tried reconnaissance: "Two scout bees left the hive after the eclipse and returned later, but whatever they reported, the swarm of bees did not leave the hive again that afternoon."
During a total solar eclipse in July 1991, researchers studied responses of orb-weaving spiders in Mexico. The spiders acted normally until totality, when many took down their webs — only to rebuild them when the sun reappeared.
Crepuscular animals often mistake solar eclipses for twilight, too. Crickets and frogs may jump into a dusk chorus, and mosquitoes and midges may start their evening swarms. And in the midst of a total solar eclipse, it can be dark enough not only to quiet down diurnal animals, but also to lure out the night shift. There are many reports of nocturnal animals being active during totality, including bats and owls.
Reactions vary widely by species, though. Baboons recovered quickly from the 2001 eclipse, Murdin wrote, and he saw little effect on crocodiles, lions or zebras. Solitary male elephants "appeared sanguine about the eclipse," he added, "although two did join up and stand passively side by side for the period of greatest darkness."

Pets

With daily routines influenced by human schedules as well as sunlight levels, pets and other non-wild animals often have relatively mild reactions to an eclipse.
Dogs and cats may be confused by a total solar eclipse, or in some cases even frightened, but probably less so than with fireworks or thunder. Totality only lasts a few minutes at most, and an eclipse itself is silent, causing none of the noise that typically scares pets during storms and fireworks. Still, it's generally a good idea to keep pets leashed if they're outdoors with you during the eclipse.
As one Illinois animal-control officer recently told the Southern Illinoisan, pets are more likely to be spooked by crowds of people than the eclipse itself, so their reactions could depend largely on your surroundings. "It's sort of like the Fourth of July, but tripled," he said. "We are going to have concerts, people shooting off fireworks in the dark of the midday sun, loud noises and strangers."



With daily routines influenced by human schedules as well as sunlight levels, pets and other non-wild animals often have relatively mild reactions to an eclipse.
Dogs and cats may be confused by a total solar eclipse, or in some cases even frightened, but probably less so than with fireworks or thunder. Totality only lasts a few minutes at most, and an eclipse itself is silent, causing none of the noise that typically scares pets during storms and fireworks. Still, it's generally a good idea to keep pets leashed if they're outdoors with you during the eclipse.
As one Illinois animal-control officer recently told the Southern Illinoisan, pets are more likely to be spooked by crowds of people than the eclipse itself, so their reactions could depend largely on your surroundings. "It's sort of like the Fourth of July, but tripled," he said. "We are going to have concerts, people shooting off fireworks in the dark of the midday sun, loud noises and strangers."
Humans should definitely wear eye protection to watch the eclipse (except during the brief period of totality, when the moon is fully blocking the sun). There are mixed opinions, however, about whether we also need put eclipse glasses on pets.
"On a normal day, your pets don't try to look at the sun, and therefore don't damage their eyes. On this day they're not going to do it, either," said Angela Speck, director of astronomy at the University of Missouri, at a recent news conference with NASA about the August 2017 eclipse. "I'm not going to worry about my cat."
Still, it is possible that some pets could harm their eyes by looking at the eclipse. Cats may be more aloof, but since dogs can follow a human gaze and pointing, it's conceivable that people looking and pointing at the eclipse might tempt dogs to do the same. And thus many people do equip their dogs with eclipse glasses.
Animals on farms and in zoos have been known to act strangely during a total solar eclipse, or to retire as if night has fallen. And when a partial eclipse occurred over Germany in 1999, zoologist Lydia Kolter also noticed a different response from some animals at the Cologne Zoo. "Even if there is no solar eclipse, it can get very dark, very suddenly — for example just before a thunderstorm," Kolter tells Deutsche Welle. "Then, the animals hide in protected areas, because they expect it to rain."
A group of captive chimpanzees showed an eerily relatable response to an annular solar eclipse in 1984. "[W]hen the sky began to darken and the temperature began to decrease, solitary females and females with infants moved to the top of a climbing structure," wrote researchers who studied the chimps' behavior. "As the eclipse progressed, additional chimpanzees began to congregate on the climbing structure and to orient their bodies in the direction of the sun and moon."
"[D]uring the period of maximum eclipse, the animals continued to orient their bodies toward the sun and moon and to turn their faces upward," they added. "One juvenile stood upright and gestured in the direction of the sun and moon."

'Life Responds'


For anyone lucky enough to see the Aug. 21 eclipse, the stars of the show are obviously the sun and moon. But without distracting from the main event, some scientists hope the public will help with a little data collection. Because total solar eclipses are so rare, most of what we know about animals' reactions is still anecdotal


The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) is organizing a citizen-science project, called Life Responds, to document how North American wildlife reacts to the eclipse. Once the eclipse is over, anyone can submit data using the iNaturalist app.
"We're just hoping that people who are watching the eclipse, in places of differing levels of totality, will take some time and observe the animals around them and see how they respond to the eclipse," says Rebecca Johnson, citizen-science lead for the CAS. "A lot of people are interested in studying how animals respond to an eclipse, but as you can imagine it's not a super easy way to set up a research project."
So rather than chasing eclipses around the world to study wildlife, scientists can crowdsource data from hordes of people who will be out observing anyway. If possible, Johnson suggests scoping out your viewing site in advance. "We're asking people to be curious and pay attention, and ideally get out before the eclipse and figure out what animals you might watch and what might be around," she says.
Even if you don't take your eyes off the eclipse, you could keep an ear out for which animals are (or aren't) singing, like songbirds, insects and owls. And beyond animals, Johnson notes that some plants may curl up or unfurl during totality.
As much as humans may understand what's happening during a solar eclipse, we shouldn't feel too smug about the confusion seen in other species. As Johnson points out, we still have plenty to learn about the natural world around us. "There's a lot we probably don't know," she says. "There's a lot we know we don't know."
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http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001aux1egFrHO1cO9vkGrVbWjQJko47Yv3mvCz-PG2Hc9AJE8PGITXkFMpd9kns1kJZ_U2KJDdmxgmZDbD5OzwSGMr7rS5a2mRvRQ_oEk2kPxYJgIaTt7cODEw_U9z7Y3jEmh8_oFiJyBoX0iNXWbUumIuLbItyKtwsGYoyM7v8Khzl3zfvujFJxuoaXj1YuCopwyDkVaX6eB_K5_8iuh8cEdJKkK9lDtNkF_Oi2ut9cY0=&c=xlD3UFTIQfWKgghSVBS7jPolb4mzRQdvuy-lN5PYmFMhGTWh8sbAeA==&ch=jN-PZEnO19gGPX-RDDT89Xe5zCjKMSw9NLAI1aMhyr07JNWNJ511fQ==


252
A Dragon Devours the Sun
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
More than 3,000 years ago, the Chinese believed that a dragon ate the sun during a solar eclipse, so they gathered outdoors to drive away the beast by beating pots, pans and drums. Some 500 years later, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that Zeus had turned day into night.
In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Earth basked in the sun-woman’s heat and light as she traveled across the sky. When the dark orb of the moon-man mated with the sun-woman’s bright circle of light, her fire was temporarily obscured. Traditional Navajo belief holds that anyone who looks directly at an eclipse not only damages their eyes, but also throws the universe out of balance.
Humankind witnesses many dazzling astronomical events, including comets, lunar eclipses and the Aurora Borealis, but nothing inspires the imagination quite like a solar eclipse—those times when the moon’s path across the heavens brings it directly between the sun and earth.  
On August 21, 2017, for the first time in nearly a century, a total solar eclipse will travel across the United States, making a 1½-hour trip that begins at 10:18 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time near Salem, Oregon, and ends at 2:48 p.m.  Eastern Daylight Time around Charlestown, South Carolina. The total eclipse, which will last about 2½ minutes in any given location, will be visible to those who live in an approximately 70 mile wide band along this route: the path of totality. Even in places where the solar eclipse is in totality, the sun’s corona (outer atmosphere) will still be visible beyond the edge of the moon’s obscuring disk.
The farther one lives from the path of totality, the less of the eclipse one will see. From northern to southern New England, the amount of the sun’s disk that is covered will vary from about 50-70 percent, respectively. Over much of New England, around 60 percent of the sun will be masked during the height of the eclipse.
The math that we use today to calculate the path of an upcoming eclipse is based on the same formulas worked out by two mathematicians in the 1800s, Wilhelm Bessel and William Chauvenet, who first predicted the extent of the shadow and duration of an eclipse at sea level. During the past decade, these calculations have been refined to correct for the irregular shapes of the surfaces of both the earth and moon, as well as how the eclipse’s shadow is impacted by elevation on earth. Features on the moon’s surface, such as mountains and craters, create irregular edges to the shadow that is cast on earth, which can alter the length of the eclipse by one to three seconds and cause the width of the path covered by the total eclipse to vary by as much as two miles to the north or south.
During the coming eclipse, scientists supported by NASA will fly two specially-equipped jet planes 50,000 feet into the stratosphere, where the sky is up to 30 times darker than it is at Earth’s surface and images are not distorted by the atmosphere. The eclipse offers an opportunity to obtain more data about the corona, and how this outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere, where temperatures reach millions of degrees, differs from the lower photosphere layer, which is only several thousand degrees.
For the rest of us, observing the eclipse will be relatively simple. When viewing the eclipse, however, do not ever look directly at the sun, which even partly obscured, can still burn your retinas and cause blindness. One way to view an eclipse is to remove the eyepiece from a telescope and point the wide end of the telescope at the eclipse, without looking through the telescope. Hold a piece of white, non-reflective poster board in the focal plane near the opening where the eyepiece was. Adjust the distance of the poster board from the telescope until the image of the eclipse comes into focus.
Or, hold a pair of binoculars about 12 inches above the poster board, with the eyepiece facing down and the far end directed toward the sun. Position the binoculars so that the image of the eclipse appears on the poster board.
Anticipation has been intense as the 2017 eclipse approaches, and coincidentally our popular culture’s fascination with dragons is on the rise. But don’t be too disappointed if clouds appear overhead on August 21. When the next total eclipse of the sun comes around on April 8, 2024, the path of totality will pass directly over northern New England. The appearance of a ravenous dragon, however, is anyone’s guess.

Michael J. Caduto’s most recent book is Through a Naturalist’s Eyes: Exploring the Nature of New England.