Posts Tagged: Wisconsin

Science, You’re Super: Bird Migration

Geese

By Aryn Henning Nichols • Photo by Joyce Meyer Photography
Originally published in the Fall 2012 Inspire(d)

It’s a familiar fall scene: you hear the honking first, then see the v-shaped flock fly over – geese heading to some exotic locale for the winter. It’s obvious why “snow birds” – ironically human – head to warmer climes to avoid the frigid Northern winters, but what about these birds? Why do they migrate back and forth each year, and how do they even know where they’re going?

Approximately 1,800 of the world’s 10,000 bird species take this annual, large-scale movement between their breeding or nesting (summer) homes to their non-breeding (winter) homes each year. (1) Like many things in life, food is the main motivating factor. Birds that nest in the northern hemisphere hang out in the spring to take advantage of the plentiful insect populations, budding plants, and large quantity of places to set up “nest”. As winter sets in and the availability of insects and other food options declines, the birds head south – simple as that. (2) Many of these birds that breed in North America migrate to areas south of the Tropic of Cancer (Southern Mexico, Central and South America and the Lesser and Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea) in the fall (August-October) and then winter there until April when they head back to their old stomping grounds up North to breed and raise young. (3)

There are three different types of bird migration: short (moving from a higher to lower elevation on a mountainside), medium (moving a distance that spans several states) and long-distance (generally moving from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere). For short-distance migrants, the reason really is as simple as a need for available food. But the origins of long-distance migration are a little more complicated. What “tips” the birds off that it’s time to get moving varies – days getting shorter and colder, dwindling food supplies, or it even something in their genetic predisposition. (2)

In the period before migration, many birds display higher activity or Zugunruhe – German for “migratory restlessness”. Even cage-raised birds with no environmental cues (e.g. shortening of day and falling temperature) show signs of Zugunruhe, further leading scientists to believe migratory tendencies might be genetically predisposed. (1)

Birds also eat more food pre-migration, storing it as fat. Fat is normally three to five percent of the bird’s mass, but some will almost double their body weights as they pack it on for the trip! The ruby-throated hummingbird, for example, weighs only 4.8 grams but can use stored fat to fuel a non-stop, 24-hour flight across a 600-mile stretch of open water from the U.S. Gulf coast to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico! But most songbirds don’t fly to their non-breeding grounds non-stop. They stop a number of times to rest and feed in places called stopover sites. Some birds stop only one day to rest and feed, and then continue their migration. Others will remain at stopover areas for weeks, storing up more fat. The arctic tern may hold the longest distance migration, made possible because they stop over various places to eat fish and feed along the way. The tern migrates about 18,600 miles each year! Amazing! (3)

It’s not just the distance traveled that is amazing, though – the “how” of the travel is pretty wild too. They don’t come equipped with GPS, but somehow migrating birds can cover thousands of miles, often on the same exact “bird highway”, year after year. Even first year birds may migrate – without a guide – to a winter home they have never before seen and return in the spring to their birth land. (2) They use the age-old compasses in the sky to navigate the way – the sun and stars – and also something really cool: the Earth’s magnetic field! Yes, you read that right! Birds apparently have tiny grains of the mineral magnetite just above their nostrils, which helps them find what direction is true north by using the Earth’s magnetic field.

Beyond that, day flyers navigate using the positions of the sun and night flyers find their way by following the patterns of the stars. And – get this: In their very first year of life, those birds memorize the position of the constellations in relation to the North Star! Some birds can also use their sense of small to help find the way. (3)

Many, if not most, birds migrate in flocks, which for larger birds, can conserve energy. Geese save from 12 to 20 percent of the energy they would need to fly alone – and some even fly faster in flock formation! (1)

In the spring, we’ll see them heading back up the “road” home, and now, when you gaze up at the first honk, know it might even be the same exact birds you saw this fall!

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Aryn Henning Nichols was constantly amazed as she researched this Science, You’re Super. How cool are migrating birds?!?

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_migration
  2. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/migration/
  3. http://www.zoosociety.org/conservation/bwb-asf/library/BirdMigrationFacts.php

 

November 2015 Calendar

November! Get a head start on your fun-planning with this handy-dandy November 2015 calendar (and you can download the pdf here). Enjoy! XO, Inspire(d)

Nov15_Calendar

LOOKING FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT EVENTS ON THE CALENDARS?
Check out these great fall activities!  In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

24: November 5: “Taste of the Holidays” food pantry fundraiser/holiday meal at the Co-op. Register by calling563-382-4666. $15 suggested donation. New take-away option available this year. www.oneotacoop.com

25. November 7: Swingsation! LANESBORO ARTS’ Gala Fundraiser: Scrumptious tapas food, lively music featuring blues & more, art & other auctions, cash bar, fun ambiance. $65. www.lanesboroarts.org.

26. November 13: Poetry Slam presented by ArtHaus, Sponsored by Dragonfly Books. Doors open at 7:30pm, event starts at 8pm. Decorah Elks Lodge. $5 adults / $3 student admission. www.arthausdecorah.org

27. November 14: Compassion Calligraphy Workshop with Daishin McCabe at ArtHaus. 1-3pm. $50 per person open to ages 16+, Register online at www.arthausdecorah.org

28. November 21: Harmony Holiday Fest! Get a jump start on holiday shopping with 40+ vendors showcasing a variety of arts, crafts, foods, & more! Fillmore Central High School Harmony, MN www.exploreharmony.com

29. November 26: Earn your 2nd piece of pie on the Decorah Bicycles 2nd Annual Cranksgiving Ride! Casual & No-drop Mountain Bike Ride – starts from Decorah Bicycles (College Drive next to Whippy Dip) 2pm. Fat bike rentals available. www.decorahbicycles.com

30. November 28: ElfFest begins at The Rustic Corner! Beat the big box and enjoy small town shopping at it’s best in Charles City. Details: www.FaceBook.com/TheRusticCorner

31. November 28: Gena Ollendieck Art opening, 1pm – 3pm at Agora Arts in Downtown Decorah. Come experience American Craft and this unique art opening! www.agoraarts.com

Coming Up:

32. December 16: Wednesday Wine Down at The Rustic Corner in Charles City 4pm-8pm! Wine & holiday snacks to help you unwind from the hustle. More info www.FaceBook.com/TheRusticCorner

Driftless Art Tours + More!

StudioTourSign

Driftless Art Tours and Festivals are coming up!

By Sara Friedl-Putnam • Originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Inspire(d)

Ahh…fall!

For some it means once again watching football Friday nights and sending kids off to school in the mornings…seeing leaves change color on the trees and pumpkins ripen on the vine.

But the season also signals the start of a whole OTHER season – art tour season! Area residents and visitors alike get the opportunity to experience behind-the-scenes magic of many talented artists in the Driftless Region.

“It’s fun to see how artists work,” says Darla Ellickson, an accomplished Decorah-based jewelry-maker and the cofounder of the Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour (NIAST), the largest and longest-running artist studio tour in the state. “NIAST and other area studio tours present great opportunities to see not only what’s involved in the creative process but also how accessible making art really is.”

Curious how Ellickson crafts her stylish, metal, no-piercings-required “ear loops”? Wondering what constitutes a “fiber farm”? Seeking to purchase a one-of-a-kind gift for a family member or friend – or treat yourself to something funky and fun? Looking for that perfect excuse to head “over the river”? Or perhaps just itching to take in the natural beauty that defines fall in the Driftless Region while traversing roads less traveled?

Then you’re in luck.

The fun starts with the Driftless Area Art Festival (Sept 19-20) in Soldiers Grove, WI. And the first weekend of October – which just happens to be national arts and humanities month – kicks off three straight weekends of Driftless Region art tours. Artists open their studio doors to visitors just for these events. (Cameras strongly recommended – all tours showcase some of the most stunningly scenic areas the region has to offer!)

“One of the great things about NIAST and other studio tours is that they feature artists in their working environments,” says Ellickson, herself one of the 50+ artists who will take part in NIAST 2015. “There’s really no substitute for that.”

Curiosity piqued? Then plan for a peek into area artists’ creative worlds on these tours this fall.

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Driftless Area Art Festival
Where: Beauford T. Anderson Park, Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin
When: Saturday, September 19 10:00-5:00
Sunday, September 20 10:00-4:00
www.driftlessareaartfestival.com

DriftlessAreaArt Festival Logo_Web“Celebrating the visual, performing, and culinary arts of the Driftless Area”. From painters and potters to musicians and brewmasters – Soldiers Grove comes alive each fall with big tents and beautiful art. The offerings are as exquisite as they are varied, and all in a setting replete with the hills and valleys that define the Driftless Region. Soldiers Grove, in Crawford County, WI, hosts the eleventh annual Driftless Area Art Festival. No matter what direction you are coming from, you’ll enjoy a scenic, meandering journey through wooded hills and deep valleys of the region to arrive at the inspirational setting of Beauford T. Anderson Park and the Soldiers Grove community. Kick off “Art Season” with this great FREE festival!

Admission and parking are free. Handicap parking is available, and entrances have curb ramps. Socialized dogs on leashes are permitted.

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Bonus! If you’re looking for more fun – also check out the Taste of NE Iowa Farm Crawl Sept. 26-27!
Taste of NE Iowa Farm Crawl
Where: 6 communities in NE Iowa
When: September 26-27, 2015
www.iowafreshfood.com/site/farmcrawl.html

BuyFreshBuyLocalHow do local farmers successfully grow fruits and vegetables, produce flowers and herbs, make ice cream and butter, and even bottle wine? Find out during this great event, which offers a glimpse of the day-to-day workings of several Northeast Iowa farms.

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Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour
Where: Decorah, Iowa, and 35-mile surrounding region
When: October 2-4, 2015
www.iowaarttour.com

2015 niast poster.inddThey may be conveniently clustered within a 35-mile radius of small-town Decorah, but many of the dozens of artists taking part in the 2015 Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour (NIAST) have long traveled throughout (and well beyond) the United States to exhibit their works.

“There were so many artists doing high-caliber shows throughout the country, but people in and around Decorah didn’t know that they were here,” says Ellickson of the main reason she and Margaret Davis of the Decorah Regional Arts Council (now Driftless Art Collective) decided to launch the first Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour in 1998. “We honestly didn’t know how that first tour was going to turn out, but it was well enough attended that we decided to keep on going.”

And going. And going.

This year will mark NIAST’s 17th tour. Sculptors? Yep. Oil painters? They’re on the tour too. So are jewelry-makers, ceramicists, potters, fiber artists, wood-workers, basket-makers, silk painters, photographers, quilters, and, yes, even kaleidoscope-makers. Where will you find them all come the second weekend of October? Nestled in and around the lush hills and vales of Decorah and its environs, of course!

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Fresh Art Tour
Where: Lake Pepin and the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin
When: October 2-4, 2015
www.freshart.org

FreshArt15Never heard of “fresh art”? Broaden your artistic boundaries as you learn why Wisconsin has much more to offer than dairy farms, cheese curds, and Badgers and Packers games. Witness art-in-the-making during discussions and demonstrations by the varied artists (more than two dozen in all) taking part in this year’s Fresh Art Tour, a unique opportunity to experience the eclectic galleries and studios sprawled throughout the Mississippi River town of Lake Pepin and its surrounds. Marvel at the rich colors of autumn in Wisconsin (not to mention the Chippewa Valley’s rolling hills) while witnessing the diverse talents of painters, potters, scultors, and other skilled artists at work.

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Sheep and Fiber Farm Tour
Where: Southeast Minnesota
When: October 10–11, 2015
www.naturalfiberalliance.com/sheep_fiber_farm_tour
or (Facebook has the 2015 latest info!)

FarmFiber15What’s a “fiber farm”? Find out as you spend a weekend exploring four scenic farms in Southeast Minnesota. All are dedicated to promoting the fiber arts and raising animals that produce yarn (think yaks, alpacas, and Shetland sheep) and other materials used in fiber-art products. Discover what’s involved in raising “fiber” animals. View the fiber-milling process in action. Be inspired by the softness and intricate textures of homespun yarn and other items crafted by local artists.

“Visitors will gain a better understanding of how ‘fiber’ animals – including wool-breed sheep, yaks, and alpacas – are raised and why natural fiber is good for ourselves, our children, and the world we want to leave behind,” promises Jean Mueller, tour director. “They will also see firsthand how fiber is transformed into a medium artists have used for centuries to make blankets, throws, and various other items.” Cool! Er…warm!

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Fall_Art_Tour

Fall Art Tour
Where:
Southwest Wisconsin (Baraboo, Dodgeville, Mineral Point, and Spring Green)
When: October 16–18, 2015
www.fallarttour.com

More than 50 artist studios in unique locations ranging from restored breweries to one-room brick schoolhouses. Rolling hills spruced with trees in vibrant fall foliage. And the distinct friendly flavor of small-town Wisconsin. Once again this fall, painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, jewelers, woodworkers, and mixed-media artists in four small Wisconsin towns will open their studios to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how (and why) they create their art.

And the artists aren’t the only draw of this popular tour. Visitors also have the opportunity to soak in the sites of Mineral Point, the first Wisconsin city placed on the National Register of Historic Places; visit Taliesin, the Spring Green-area home and studio of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright; and experience the dramatic natural beauty (500-foot cliffs, anyone?) of the Baraboo-area Devil’s Lake State Park.

Now get out there and enjoy these amazing beautiful fall weekends!

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Author Sara Friedl-Putnam has thoroughly enjoyed learning about the artistic endeavors of some of the region’s most talented individuals during past NIAST events and looks forward to experiencing even more tour stops this fall!

Looking for some tips to get the most out of your tour? Check out our handy self-guided art tour infographic for ideas!