W. Brooks Paternotte | WYPR

W. Brooks Paternotte

Host, The Nature of Things

W. Brooks Paternotte took the helm of Irvine Nature Center as executive director in July 2013 and immediately began building on the strong 35-year foundation.  Brooks is a Baltimore native who was a teacher, coach, advisor, dean and Head of the Middle School during his 13 years at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore.  He is also an instructor and ambassador of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and is a Leave No Trace Master, as well as an avid outdoorsman and a features writer for FlyLife Magazine.

Ways to Connect

Glenn Fleishman/flickr

 

Pollination is something that’s happening in the natural world 24 hours a day. Its ordinariness might be why we forget how vital it is to our everyday lives.

The transfer of pollen from the male part to the female part of a flowering plant is essential to life on earth, for without pollination we would not have enough food. Over 90 percent of all known flowering plants, and almost all fruits, vegetables and grains, require pollination to produce crops. And since one out of every three bites of food we eat each day requires pollination to make it to our plate, we are indebted to the creatures that perform this critical service.

This segment originally aired in August 2016. 

Ticks

May 17, 2017
Ted and Jen/flickr

 

There may be no bug creepier than a tick.

These sesame-seed-sized parasites crawl slowly and silently up our bodies, surround their mouth-parts in our skin, and then casually slurp their fill of our blood until their bodies expand like tiny water balloons.

So as you carefully pluck a tick from your skin, you may undoubtedly wonder: what purpose could they possibly serve? What good are ticks, exactly?

This episode originally aired on May 3, 2016.

Chesapeake Conservancy

I don’t watch a lot of TV. But I do watch a lot of animal webcams. And one of my favorites is the Chesapeake Conservancy’s osprey cam, which has had a lot of activity lately.

Mitchell Orr/Unsplash

 

On weekends, I love to play with my three, big Labrador retrievers. Homer, Fletcher and Violet are great dogs, and they live for the days when we’re all outside together. They get really excited when I hide a spoonful of peanut butter in our neighboring field. All three dogs sprint to see who can track it first. Other times, I’ll play “red rover” of sorts with signal sounds. And on hot summer days, I’ll offer them big ice blocks with frozen meat inside to encourage them to use their instincts to solve an icy puzzle. I call these games, “enrichment activities,” after the kinds of work I see Irvine’s animal care staff doing every day.

Enrichment activities improve the lives of animals in captivity. It’s a way for animal caretakers to encourage and stimulate natural behaviors in captive animals through sight, smell, taste, touch and interaction.

Zachary Bedrosian/Unsplash

With its intimidating yellow-eyed stare and deep hooting voice, the great horned owl is the quintessential owl of storybooks. In fact, one of my daughter’s favorite picture books was Jane Yolan’s timeless story Owl Moon, featuring a great horned owl with cat-like eyes and tall, earlike tufts.  

Bird Nesting

Apr 18, 2017
slgckgc/flickr

Spring is officially here, and I’m starting to notice the days feeling longer. For me, the increased daylight is a signal that it’s time to break out the camping gear. I feel ready to hit the trail with each uptick in sunshine hours. Birds, too, are noticing the difference.

Throughout the year, most birds use day length to tell what season it is. When daylight extends, the change triggers physiological transformations. It’s how they know it’s time to breed and nest.

Because of its history as a game bird in North America, the northern bobwhite is one of the most intensively studied bird species in the world. We know tons about them, especially with regard to human activities like pesticide application and prescribed burning.

The bobwhite is a small, rotund, ground-dwelling bird. Adults are about the size of a large grapefruit and weigh roughly as much as a baseball. They have an intricately patterned, multi-colored body with feathers in mottled-brown, rufous, buff, white, black and gray. Males have a bold, black-and-white head, a white throat and a white brow stripe. Females have a buffy throat and brow. Both sexes have short, dark tails.

From my description, you might be sure you haven’t seen a bobwhite quail in our listening area, but you have probably heard one before.

Pillbugs

Apr 4, 2017
Michel Vuijlsteke/flickr

I recently had the chance to join some of the students from the Nature Preschool at Irvine on an early spring walk. It was beautiful out, and we stopped near some decomposing tree stumps to look for insects. The quietest boy in the class suddenly got really animated, and all the students gathered around to see what he had found.

I joined in on the enthusiasm, peering over the heads of many murmuring and excited kids. The little boy gently opened his hand to reveal a tiny, grayish-brown pillbug. As if on cue, and a little like magic, the pillbug froze, then curled up into a perfectly round ball. The students cheered!

VIRGINIA STATE PARKS

 

Just imagine this.

There. At the bottom of the river.

There’s a 7-and-½-foot-long, 170-pound, armor-covered behemoth. Its brown, sandpaper-like hide has sharp bony plates along its back. Its fins are large, and its tail is just like a shark’s. And its dark eyes regard you suspiciously as it flexes its blubbery, sucker mouth and the catfish-like whiskers on its chin. The giant prehistoric-looking animal uses its snout to root around the sandy Chesapeake Bay bottom before lumbering away.

Salamanders

Mar 20, 2017
marylandbiodiversity.com

One of the more peculiar native animals in our listening area seems like it could have come from the inspired imagination of a Hollywood director.

This segment originally aired on March 17, 2015.

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