It’s #FunFactFriday ! I have always liked ravens. I like crows too, but ravens more. So, here’s a few interesting facts about ravens. These birds are super smart and very curious. They are also quite acrobatic when flying, turning somersaults mid-air. They’ve got a vocabulary of about 30 calls (including flight calls, hunger calls, and danger calls) in addition to non-vocal communication (like snapping their beaks). Once mated, it’s for life, and they usually nest in the same location year after year.
You can tell the difference between ravens and crows in that (among other things), ravens are larger, have uneven tail feathers (which you can see when they fan them out) and have curvier beaks. Ravens usually travel in pairs while crows travel in larger groups (called “murders” as in a murder of crows).
When I stayed for a couple of days at the North Cascades Institute back in 2019, they talked about a pair of ravens they’d named Bonnie and Clyde. These ravens could unzip backpacks in their efforts to get at hikers’ food. I believe I actually met this pair one day while photographing at the Diablo Lake Overlook. They had landed on the fence railing and were eyeing my camera pack, then hopped down next to the pack. I had a feeling they were trying to figure out where the zippers were, so I had to shoo them away.
The one raven with its mouth open in the top photo is doing something you’ll see other birds doing: it’s called gular (goo-lur) fluttering and they do it to cool down on a hot day since they cannot sweat like humans do.
Oh, and while I am on the subject of fun facts, my latest quiz and trivia piece has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about “August notables.” To read the article, click on either of the images above.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! So, here are a few facts about Denali Mountain and Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Did you know that only about 30 percent of people visiting the park ever get a glimpse of the mountain? Like Mount Rainier, Denali Mountain makes its own weather and these conditions can hide the 20,310-foot tall mountain behind a wreath of clouds and fog most of the time. The first climb to the top of this tallest peak in North America was done in 1913, and a member of the climbing party – Harry Karstens – would later become Denali’s first superintendent.
There’s an interesting article in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler about Denali Mountain. Climbing rangers out there are voicing concerns about inexperienced climbers trying to summit the mountain, and after reading the article, I see there is very good reason for them to be concerned. To read that article, click on the image above.
I visited Denali National Park and Preserve for five days several years ago, and was lucky to have been able to see Denali every single day I was there. This image is the result of one such day of clear viewing.
Here’s something interesting you might or might not have known about life in Denali National Park and Preserve, in Alaska. There are 39 species of mammals in the park, including the Big 5 (moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, grizzly bears), and 139 species of birds. But, only one amphibian has managed to adapt to life under the harsh conditions of the park’s landscape. The wood frog can actually freeze itself solid during the winter! It’s heart stops, it doesn’t breathe, but there are cryptoprotectant chemicles that keep the frog’s cells alive, and when spring arrives, the frog thaws out and starts searching for a pond and a mate. Pretty cool, huh? (pun intended).
As for this image, it was captured during my 5-day stay at Camp Denali, located near the end of the one and only road through the park. There’s a little pond right outside of the main camp building called Nugget Pond, and on this particular day, I captured three different shots of it as the morning lightened up. The first shot you can see if you look at a previous post. This is the second shot, captured a little later during sunrise, and I’ll post the final shot later on.
Ever heard of “mud season?” It’s a term used in northern climates and starts around the end of March, lasting through the beginning of May, more or less – it starts when the weather becomes warmer, snow and ice melt, and the rains begin. It can really, literally, muck up roads and trails, creating potholes, ruts, and exacerbating erosion of those roads and trails.
Right now, it’s the start of mud season at Acadia National Park, so park staff are closing the carriage roads until things dry up a bit. There’s even an article about this in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.
To read the article, click on the image above.
The image above was captured many years ago. I was telling my sister the other day that someday, when I actually feel like flying and cramming myself in with a jillion other coughing, sneezing, hacking people on a plane, I may take another autumn trip out to that national park. And while I’m there, stuff my face with as many lobster rolls as I possibly can.
It’s #FunFactFriday so I thought I’d write about the geology seen in Big Bend National Park (Texas). The Chisos Mountains (part of which you see in the image above) are volcanic in origin. One of those volcanic things you’ll see while driving the road through the park are intrusive dikes. Igneous means the rock is volcanic in origin. Dikes are igneous, and they are called “intrusive” because the magma intrudes upon and into the existing rock layers above it. You can see a long stretch of dikes exposed and sticking up out of the ground in this shot. The rocks around the dikes eroded away, leaving those flat-looking walls of rock, sort of like a zig-zaggy-edged rock fence running over the hillsides and up into the mountain flanks.
I’m looking through past Big Bend (as well as other parks) images to see if there are shots I have not edited, or – at the time – didn’t do as good a job of editing. I honestly can’t remember if I ever posted this image or not, back in 2013 (can it be 7 years ago??) captured during my December visit to this national park in southwest Texas. It was my first (out of four) trips there.
Our neighbor to the North sure has some pretty national parks of its own, don’t you think? And since it’s #FunFactFriday here are some pieces of trivia about Banff National Park:
Banff National Park was Canada’s first national park. The mountains in this park are believed to be between 45 and 120 million years old. Before Europeans came into the region, this area had been inhabited by the Peigen, Kootenay, Stoney, and Kainai aboriginal peoples, to name a few.
This image was captured off of the Icefields Parkway, while on my way from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. Even in April, when it’s spring in the lower elevations, it’s still winter in the higher elevations of the mountains.
Did you know that Grand Teton National Park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem? You can read more trivia like this and test your knowledge about this national park with the latest quiz and trivia piece penned by yours truly and published in the National Parks Traveler. If you’ve visited this park, then see how much you really know. If you’ve not yet visited, then this should encourage you to put this place on your bucket list of parks to see.
To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.
As for the image above, I captured it one lovely summer morning during my 1-1/2 day stopover in the park while making my Big Move from Texas to Washington state. Summers are hideous in terms of crowds here, but if you get up early enough, you can stake out a spot with ease for lovely sunrise shots like the one here, along the banks of the Snake River at Oxbow Bend.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that coast redwood trees have a very shallow root system? When I saw these and other downed trees while wandering the Stout Grove Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, it brought to mind the downed oak trees I’d seen after hurricanes while living in southeast Texas. I asked a park ranger about this and she said yes, coast redwoods have shallow root systems that only go about 3 feet down, but the roots migrate outward around the tree for quite a distance, some as far as 80 feet from the tree. And, studies have indicated that one coast redwood tree’s root system can communicate with another redwood tree’s root system, providing nutrients and water to that other tree if it needs them.
According to the National Park Service, there are over 5,000 miles of paved roads through the National Park System. Park roads (paved or unpaved) allow us to reach amazing vistas we might not otherwise see within a national park, national monument, or national recreation area. These roads are marvels of construction and merit a nod of appreciation to those builders who may have risked life and limb to ensure completion of that navigable ribbon of gravel or pavement.
So, my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is all about National Park unit roads, paved and unpaved, and what you can see along those roads. Why not test your knowledge of these roads by clicking on any of the photos. If you take the quiz, try to answer them first before looking at the answers at the bottom of the piece.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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