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Archive for December, 2021


Merry Christmas!

Family Update

Naturally Curious readers who have followed my intermittent family posts over the years have been incredibly supportive of my daughter Sadie and her two little ones, Otis (6) and Lily Piper (3).  I have received numerous inquiries about them recently and thought I would share a recent photo of them with you.  They are well (Lily Piper has survived swallowing five potentially harmful magnetic buckyballs and a broken leg in her three short years) and Otis is (somewhat naturally) curious beyond belief and a lover of all things robotic.  I want to express my continued gratitude for the support many of you provided in their behalf four years ago.

A wonderful holiday season to all Naturally Curious followers. In order to fully enjoy these munchkins as well as my dear sister and friends I will be on a short hiatus over Christmas and New Year’s. May 2022 be kind to us all.

Raccoons Still Active

Due to the warm fall and early winter we’ve had this year, raccoons are still out and very active.  They spent the fall building up an extra layer of fat – about one third of their total weight. This layer provides insulation and sustenance when the weather gets seriously cold and they seek dens (hollow trees, underground burrows, etc.) in which to sleep away the harshest winter days. 

Although they do not hibernate, raccoons can sleep for up to a month at a time and escape the inhospitable conditions of winter in the Northeast.  When the weather eases up, they become active again and their tracks are evident in the snow. Although solitary most of the time, raccoons have been known to participate in group denning during the most bitter cold spells. 

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Red-tailed Hawk Winter Population in New England

Red-tailed Hawks are “partial migrants” – some are migratory and some are not.  Most Red-tails living and breeding in the northern portion of the species’ range (southern Canada and northern United States) migrate to more southerly locations for the winter and are absent for three to five months.  However, some are year-round residents, remaining near their breeding territories even in severe winters with extensive snow cover. In northern New England the Red-tailed Hawk winter population consists of breeding birds that don’t migrate as well as Canadian birds that migrate south for the winter months. (Photo: juvenile Red-tailed Hawk)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

Thank You For Sponsoring No Ads On The Naturally Curious Blog!

Many thanks to John Snell and all the other very generous donors who noticed that ads were being inserted into my posts (unbeknownst to me) and provided me with the means to put a stop to this practice that WordPress initiated recently. Your support is very gratefully accepted. A happy holiday season to all!

Beavers & Pounding Headaches

Beavers will do their very best to secure fresh cambium as long as they have access to land.  Even when thin ice starts to form, they are undeterred.  You can hear them as they use the top of their heads to bump up against the ice in order to break through and create a pathway to shore.  Thanks to Kay Shumway, a beloved friend, I had ten good years of observing this behavior every late fall/early winter.  Eventually the thickness of the ice confined the beavers to their lodge and the surrounding water beneath the ice, but until that happened you could count on seeing the sun glinting off the ice shards that inevitably ended up on top of the beavers’ heads.

Acorns A Wildlife Magnet

Acorns are loaded with fats and carbohydrates, making them a perfect way for wildlife to put on pounds that will carry them over the winter.  They are also easy to open and to digest, making them significant food items for more than 96 species of birds and mammals. Among the highest consumers are White-tailed Deer (acorns are 50% or more of fall and winter diet), Wild Turkeys (up to 38% of diet in winter and spring) and Black Bears.

The impact these nuts have on the species that depend on them as a significant portion of their diet is great: Squirrels, mice and jays store them in the fall and this supply is critical to their winter survival. The geographic distribution of many animals coincides with or depends on the range of oaks, and biologists have linked acorn crop failures to poor Black Bear reproduction and meager antler growth on White-tail bucks.

(Photo – Signs of two acorn hunters. Prior to hibernation, a Black Bear (tracks down center of image) has been looking for leftover acorns in a patch of forest floor that has been scratched up by White-tailed Deer feeding on acorns.) 

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.