Watch for Snowy Owls in Kansas, Missouri this winter

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Snowy owls - known to Harry Potter fans and birders alike - are making an appearance in Kansas and Missouri this fall and winter.

The owls, which reside most of the year in Canadian tundra and arctic environments, periodically move south in search of food. Their main food source, lemmings, is more scarce this year. At least 8 of the two-foot-tall iconic birds have been spotted in Kansas so far.

Rainforest Observations

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Coming from South Korea and this being my first South American trip, I expected to see many scary animals such as alligators and snakes. I did see several snakes and I will never forget the shape of the green viper which surprised and jumped away from me as I jumped the other way. I also to expected to experience the type of “jungle” where we would use machetes to hack our way through, like Kungfu boys. But in a primary rainforest, it is actually quite dark, with very impressive massive trees that form a canopy, where you might expect to see dinosaurs.

Hymenoptera Impressions, part II

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Other obvious hymenopterans at our field site include the eusocial wasps of the family Vespidae. Sure, in the temperate regions we have our hornet nests and paper-wasp nests, but these types of wasps really become conspicuous in the tropics. There are just so many more elaborate mud and paper domiciles hanging about trees, bushes, and buildings built by a number of interesting genera that are sadly missing from higher latitudes. In fact on one cool day, when few insects were flying about, I took the opportunity to collect these nests and their occupants.

Monkeys vs. Birds

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A very nice colony of oropendola birds was nesting outside our lab. We became accustomed to their comings and goings and admired their long, basket-like nests and gargling calls. They always seemed to come and go together and did so with much fanfare. One afternoon however, while the birds were away, three capuchin monkeys raided their nests, and we were lucky to see it. The capuchins systematically went to each one, inserted their heads and torsos into the long nests, pulled out the oropendola eggs, and ate them right there in front of us. It was quite shocking.

In View of the Madre de Dios River

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We awoke to rain....heavy rain..…that kind of Amazon rain where you can’t keep your eyelids open and that promises to last all day. And we are in the middle of the dry season!  Well, this is time to recover from hectic preparations in Kansas, the long journey here, and to orient to our new home. This field station’s set meal schedule (6 am, 12 noon, 6.30 pm) allows all the current station residents to meet. It is a great opportunity to learn about other exciting research going on here.

Hiking, KISS and Projects for Graduate Students

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Yesterday I got up early and hiked up into the hills outside of town with one of the professors. We found a beautiful pond at the top and were at last greeted with a view of the elusive Mallard. Still, it’s the first one of the trip. Yay! Then a pair of Phalaropes then came around the corner to smooth things over--that was a nice treat.

Ungulates and Undulating Ice

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Today was full of wow! It was another day of driving, hiking, sun, and awe in the vicinity of Russell Glacier.

Ambassador, Engineer, Musk Ox

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This morning getting up early to look for birds, this time down by the rapids at the bridge, proved sadly fruitless. Except there were rapids, which was in itself neat.

Species of the Month: July

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The Gyrinidae are a family of charismatic aquatic Coleoptera commonly known as whirligig beetles, for their gyrating swimming style. Gyrinids are peculiar for having completely divided eyes giving them the appearance of having four eyes: two that peer above the water and two that peer below the water. They swim about on the surface tension of the water kicking with two pairs of paddle-like legs.

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