Photo from my travels: Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve
Photo by Alice Henderson
LATEST PUBLISHING NEWS
A GHOST OF CARIBOU IS 50% OFF ON BARNES & NOBLE AND AMAZON
Right now the gorgeous hardcover of my latest thriller, A Ghost of Caribou, is 50% off on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It is also available as an ebook and an audiobook.
Building upon the highly acclaimed debut of A Solitude of Wolverines and its follow-up thriller A Blizzard of Polar Bears comes the eagerly anticipated and electrifying third installment, in which wildlife biologist Alex Carter encounters an unsolved murder and a town in turmoil while in search of a majestic, all-but-vanished animal.
For more information, please click here.
You can order the book from a variety of sites:
Q&A WITH DEBORAH KALB
I was delighted to do a Q&A with fellow author Deborah Kalb. She always asks such great questions! I talk about mountain caribou, the dynamic between my characters, and the joy of finding animal tracks in snow.
You can read the Q&A here.
WILDLIFE IN THE NEWS
CALIFORNIA INCLUDES INSECTS UNDER ITS ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
Four species of bumble bees were just listed under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). This invaluable listing happened despite pressure from commercial agriculture and pesticide groups. These groups sued the state, stating that insects should not be listed on the CESA. Originally, a court ruled in favor of the industry groups. But after an appeal, the California Supreme Court ruled that insects could indeed be listed on the CESA.
The species that got protection are the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee, Crotch’s bumble bee, western bumble bee, and Franklin’s bumble bee.
It’s a huge win for invertebrate conservation.
To read more about this decision, click here.
Photo by Léon McGregor on Unsplash
NATIVE U.S. BEES
When we think of bees, we often picture the domesticated honey bee, which is actually from Europe. But the United States has many fascinating species of native bees.
The spring beauty mining bee, for example, forages along the forest floor. It’s a solitary species, not living in a hive. It builds small chambers underground where single baby bees feed off piles of nectar left by the adult.
Bumble bees pollinate our many native wildflowers. Sometimes after drinking nectar, they grow sleepy and will nap on flowers.
Some bumble bees, such as the rusty-patched bumble bee, are in drastic decline. You can help by planting native plants in your yard and providing valuable pollinator habitat. Check out the Green Tip section of this newsletter for ways you can help pollinators.
To learn more about our wonderful native bees, click here.
Photo by Victoria on Unsplash
INTERESTING WILDLIFE FACT
WINTERTIME FOR FROGS AND TOADS
Ever wonder how amphibians survive bitter winter temperatures? While all of them bulk up before the winter, they have different survival strategies.
Aquatic frogs will swim down below the freezing layer in water. There they float at the bottom of the lake or pond.
Toads will burrow about three feet underground, hunkering down below the frost line in the soil. They’ll use rodent burrows sometimes, or crawl down under logs. Sometimes they gather in a communal setting, snuggling up with other toads.
Tree frogs are actually freeze-tolerant and will hide beneath leaf litter. Some can be frozen for eight months out of the year and rebound when the spring thaw happens.
Frogs that live in warmer climes do not hibernate. Instead they estivate, going into a state of dormancy during the dry season.
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
MAKE YOUR YARD WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY
A fabulous way to help wildlife is to wild up your lawn. Americans spend an inordinate amount of time watering, tending, and weeding their lawns, which unfortunately results in a monoculture that does not support wildlife. But if you’re ready to make your yard into a more wildlife-friendly space, you’ll be providing valuable habitat for pollinators and many other species.
Some ways to make your yard more wildlife friendly is to provide native plants. The Xerces Society has an excellent resource for finding appropriate plants for your area. Just click here.
Not raking up leaves in the fall is an invaluable thing you can do. Fallen leaves provide winter cover for butterflies, bumble bees, tree frogs, and many other species.
Provide a water source such as a bird bath, a small upside down container with a hole to welcome frogs and toads, and even a bat house.
Reducing pesticide use is also important. Pesticides work their way into our environment, contaminating water and poisoning animals as they work their way up the food chain.
You can also reduce the use of outdoor lights, which are intrusive to wildlife. Many birds use the stars to navigate, which can be difficult in light-polluted areas. Place decals on the OUTSIDE of your windows to reduce bird strikes.
With these steps, you’ll end up with not only an attractive, flowering yard, but a welcome haven for wildlife.
Photo by Charlie Wollborg on Unsplash
GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT
The Great Backyard Bird Count is happening this year from February 17 – 20.
You can participate by going to your favorite place to watch and listen to birds. Just count and identify them, then submit your findings via your computer or mobile device. You can even share any photos you take.
This is a great activity that doesn’t take a lot of time if you are very busy. You need only spend as little as 15 minutes listening and looking for birds.
People contribute from all over the globe. Last year observers from 192 countries contributed data. You can see the global results here and look at the results for your own local area here.
Once the bird count starts in February, you can watch live results roll in.
Your data will help researchers around the world better understand current bird trends.
For more information and to sign up to participate, click here.
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
EXPLORE THE WORLD
We may think of winter as a time when it is too cold to go outside.
But it’s an amazing time of year for nature. Some of the most brilliant objects and constellations hang in the winter sky, such as vivid Orion, stunning Sirius in Canis Major, Taurus, and the twinkling Pleiades.
Get out a pair of binoculars and check out the sweeping Orion Nebula in Orion’s sword, then scan over to the star cluster the Pleiades, which lies 444 light years away. See that V formation in Taurus? That’s a star cluster, too, the Hyades, only we are so close to it (only 153 light years away!) that it doesn’t look like a cluster.
And during the day is a great time to venture out into the snow and look for wildlife tracks. I’ve often delighted to the tracks of black bears, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, snowshoe hares, and the tiny little pattern of flying squirrel feet bounding across the snow.
Photo of black bear tracks in snow by Alice Henderson
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Copyright © 2023 by Alice Henderson. All rights reserved.