Spidey’s Tighty Whities

True Believers! Once again, Kelly Rypkema, our unabashed advocate for nature, jumps boldly into the wilds of New York. In today’s episode, Kelly tests the superhero strength of spider silk and shares the answer to one of life’s greatest questions. But remember Faithful Friends, with great power comes great responsibility. Excelsior!

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Kelly’s been AWOL, but she’s not been idle.

You know how you get those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that require a huge leap of faith, and a complete change of lifestyle? Well, that happened to me back in December. I was offered the chance to develop a nature center from soup to nuts…. Introducing the brand new Tulpehaking Nature Center! And meet its Manager – moi!

I headed out to Trenton, New Jersey and this amazing marshland right in the middle of the community. So I’m still located in a metropolitan area. There’s just not so many skyscrapers around – but there are eels!

Rostrata” by Uwe Kils – Photo by Uwe Kils. Licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

And in case you’re wondering, Tulpehaking is a Lenape Indian word meaning “land of the turtles.” The area is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Northeastern US, with artifacts dating back over 13000 years(!). Okay, putting my PR hat aside and back to the issue at hand….

Nature Minute will be back, although maybe in a slightly different form or title. A new and improved version. But – between getting programs together for the nature center, creating a team of volunteers, and developing exhibits – it might take me a while.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you who are taking this ride with me to explore the nature of the city. We will continue! My gift to you is one last episode before our hiatus, coming soon. For this one, we unveil yet another talent of our illustrious editor, Laird Ogden, to tell the story as we’ve never done before. Stay tuned!

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A Falcon Perches in Soho

Think there’s no wildlife on the city streets? Look up! This Peregrine Falcon hung out in Soho for an entire afternoon last week, taking in the sights (of pigeons? of starlings perhaps?) along Broadway.

New York City is home to about 32 falcons who live here year-round. To find out why NYC is such a prime spot for this endangered species, check out this episode of Nature Minute.

Posted in Animals, Birds, Habitats of City Wildlife, Nature by the Seasons, News, Photos, Predators and Prey, Winter | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Take the Spider Web Challenge

I wasn’t kidding when I filmed this spider episode. Go out there, find a spider web and see if you can find out which silk fibers are sticky and which are not. (Adults, I’m talking to you too. Why should kids have all the fun?)

Not all spiders spin orb-webs. Some make sheet webs, cobwebs, funnel webs, you name it. If you find something different, see if you can figure out which parts of those webs are sticky. With a light touch, you can satisfy your curiosity without harming the spiders or their webs. When you’ve done it, leave your comment here about your experience. What was it like for you? Did you discover something that surprised you?

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Why don’t spiders stick to their own webs?

Is the thought of walking face first into a spider web enough to make you scream? In this episode of Nature in a New York Minute, biologist Kelly Rypkema shares a little experiment to help you face your inner demons and answers the age-old question “Why don’t spiders stick to their own webs?”

Trouble viewing? Watch on YouTube instead.

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How to Build a Web Site – Nature Minute style

One lucky Autumn morning, I awoke to find this Argiope spider gracefully spinning the sticky part of her web. In the process, she might thrust her legs on that sticky silk more than 1000 times…. So why don’t spiders stick to their own webs? Find out in our upcoming episode of Nature in a New York Minute.

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9/11 Tribute in Light Attracts Many Eyes…and Birds

The “stars” in this photo are actually migrating birds circling around the 9/11 Tribute in Light memorial. The lights appear to draw the birds off their course, but thankfully the Municipal Art Society, which produces the memorial, is cooperating with NYC Audubon to minimize impact on these birds. When there’s too many birds circling the beams, the MAS turns the lights off. This year (2013) the beams were turned off four times to allow the birds to reorient themselves and continue on their migration journey.

The twin beams shine a spotlight on a larger issue – the effect that city lights have on migrating birds across North America. Birds appear to be attracted to light from skyscrapers and lit windows. One theory is that this artificial light mimics features in the night sky that birds normally use to navigate, like the stars and the moon. The result is that, for the many species of birds that migrate at night, city lights could distract them from their journey and increase their risk of collision with buildings.

Conservation groups across North America are partnering with businesses to find a solution. In New York, NYC Audubon has started the Lights Out NY program and has fostered agreements with corporations behind major buildings, like the Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Building, to turn their lights off at night during migration season. To find out how your company or building could join in this effort, check out Lights Out NY.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Animals, Articles, Birds, Fall, Nature by the Seasons, News, People and Nature, Spring, Wildlife Conservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Got No Milk on this Farm…

…for humans anyway. To update you on one of the stars from a past episode, Clover the Cow has given birth to a cute little calf. For the time being, she’s on vacation from the milking demonstrations she does for children and the public, as officials at the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm, where Clover lives, are letting her reserve all her milk production for her baby.

These days Clover can be seen grazing the fields of the Remick Farm with her calf close behind, much like her pasturemate, pictured here, with baby in tow. Looks like the calf is trying out a new ‘do with the help of mother’s tail.

In case you missed it, check out our episode MILK to see Clover in her glory, and to see how I did in my first try at milking a cow. It’s not as easy as you might think.

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Brick in a Stick

Tree trunks grow out, not up, and sometimes engulf whatever might have been resting on them. Someone must have placed this brick in the fork of the tree some time ago. Examples of this kind of “tree hugging” can be seen all over the city, reminding us that trees, which might seem dead, are indeed alive and moving!

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Video: Cicadas – Tiny Tymbals, Big Sound

Have you ever wanted to ask Cicadas why they’re so loud, but thought it would be Brood 2 ask? Biologist Kelly Rypkema ventures into the thick of the 2013 appearance of Periodical Cicadas to answer the questions of why, who, and what body parts they use when they raise the roof after taking to the trees.

Special thanks to the Staten Island Museum. See their special exhibit “They’re Baaack! Return of the 17-year Cicadas” on display through Spring 2014.

Trouble viewing? Watch on YouTube instead.

Posted in Communication, Mating and Courtship, Spiders and Insects, Summer, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments