This past autumn, Northern Woodlands circulated a “woods savvy” quiz, with the promise to announce the winners today. The quiz featured 10 multiple choice questions, and we had a lot of fun making up wrong answers. My personal favorite is 9. (D), “chisel chinned fairy fleas.” You can see a copy here.
Many readers participated in this year’s contest. Our review process was scrupulously fair. As in years past, we hired an outside, objective authority to grade answers. He then – from the small pool of perfect scores – made a random selection of two prize winners. Here’s an action shot of the judge, fully engaged in the deliberative process.
Congratulations to this year’s winners: Patricia Liddle, and William and Lynn Fitzhugh. Each of you will receive a copy of our Season’s Main Events phenology calendar, and we’ll send an additional calendar to the library or school of your choice.
Here are the answers:
1. (E) When a chickadee says, “chick-a-dee-dee,” it’s probably announcing the presence of a slow-moving predator. Read this article to learn more about decoding chickadee vocalizations.
2. (C) Yellow jackets are the least likely factor to affect tick activity. Shrubs, leaf litter, and humidity – including fog – help ticks stay moist and avoid dessication. Small rodents, such a chipmunks, serve as blood hosts, and therefore help boost tick populations. (If you want to explore this topic further, a good place to start is Richard Ostfeld’s book, Lyme Disease, The Ecology of a Complex System).
3. (B) An example of a filter area is a gently sloping forested area bordering a stream, pond, or other water body. A filter area can absorb runoff and retain sediments that might otherwise degrade water quality.
4. (C) Coyotes are not immune to rattlesnake venom (although they have been known to eat rattlesnakes). Check out these articles for information on coyote howls, and the presence of wolf DNA in eastern coyotes.
5. (C) There’s no such thing as a “chip skipper.” We made that up. (Although there is a restaurant just south of London named “Skipper’s Fish and Chips.”)
6. (A) If you encounter a stagnant-year-round, highly acidic wetland with poor nutrients and lots of sphagnum moss, chances are it’s a bog. Seeps and marshes aren’t stagnant. Vernal pools are ephemeral – they dry out. Fens aren’t reliably acidic – they can be pH neutral or alkaline – and tend to have more nutrients than a bog, which also means that they have a greater variety of plants. Still confused? See this article.
7. (E) What will shrews eat? Just about anything, including other shrews. With their fast metabolisms, they can’t afford to be picky eaters.
8. (A) A dibble is a hand tool used for making holes in the ground; it can be used, for example, to prepare the ground for planting tree seedlings.
9. (B) If you find a tiny, round hole in an acorn, you’re most likely viewing the work of an acorn weevil. Ichneumon wasps also drill holes, but they prefer more grisly sites, such as the backs of caterpillars. There have been no confirmed sightings of chisel chinned fairy fleas. Yet.
10. (C) Tree swallows, those iridescent acrobats of summer, nest on the edges of fields, in marshes, along shorelines, and in other places that offer cavities for nesting and open air for hunting flying insects.