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Energy & Environment

  •  Brown bird on a branch
    Some birds are known to lay their eggs in another bird’s nest. They then go off while the “host” parent, or parents, get stuck with all the parental care of these young, often at the expense of their own offspring. And brown-headed cowbirds are notorious for this practice, called brood parasitism.
  • Wood warblers are known for their bright and interesting colors. They’re a bit smaller than the sparrows we commonly observe. Most are on their way north to the coniferous forest to nest, but some species will stay and nest here in North Dakota. If you have noticed one of these small birds has a prominent yellow rump patch, it is a yellow-rumped warbler. They are one of the more commonly observed wood warblers we see during the spring migration.
  • We had a new moon earlier this week, on April 20. So, with the darkened night sky, it is a good time to do some stargazing. Plus, we have the Lyrids Meteor Shower running through April 25.
  • Have you heard of snow fleas? When I first heard of them, I thought I was being set up for a joke. But they are for real! Snow fleas are small, about a tenth of an inch long. And because they are small and dull colored, they are seldom observed even though they are active over much of the year. But it is around this time of year that they are perhaps the easiest to spot.
  • The heavy snow this winter has led to lots of speculation of spring flooding on rivers and streams across the state. Floods, of course, can cause horrendous damage to property within the floodplain. That aside, many among us may have never learned that flooding is a natural process, and seasonal floods that inundate the floodplain are a natural part of healthy rivers.
  • With all the snow this winter, there is increasing speculation about spring flooding, as well as winterkill in some of our lakes — particularly some of the more shallow lakes. Winterkill occasionally occurs in some North Dakota lakes. Some people will blame thick ice for winterkill, and that may be a factor, but the most common cause of winterkill in North Dakota lakes is too much snow on the ice for too long a time.
  • The sun has some power these days. And it will come as no surprise to some of you that the spring equinox and the first day of spring is coming up on Monday, March 20. That day, and during the fall equinox in September, the sun will pass directly overhead on the equator.
  • Spring might seem a long time away, so it may come as a surprise that Great Horned Owls are likely already nesting near you!
  • In 1908, a railroad station in McHenry County, North Dakota, was platted and incorporated. We know the town as Upham, located about 50 miles northeast of Minot. But, unlike many towns that were named for the founder or early settler, Upham was named in honor of geologist Warren Upham.
  • Have you ever noticed how the hilly topography of Turtle Mountain is much the same as the Missouri Coteau, that band of hills that runs along the north and east side of the Missouri River? If so, it is because they are the same geological landform — largely dead-ice "moraine," or collapsed glacial topography.
  • The Orion Nebula is the closest and most active area of star formation in the Milky Way. It is often compared to a stellar nursery or maternity ward. The dimensions of this thing are mind-boggling -- it is around 1,300 light years away and about 30-40 light years across. In terms of actual miles, a light year represents 6 trillion miles.
  • It happened six miles northeast of Williston.