Wild About Utah

Wild About Utah is a weekly nature series produced by Utah Public Radio in cooperation with Stokes Nature Center, Bridgerland Audubon Society, Quinney College of Natural Resources, Cache Valley Wildlife Association, Utah State University and Utah Master Naturalist Program - USU Extension. More about Wild About Utah can be found here.

Utah is a state endowed with many natural wonders from red rock formations to salt flats. And from desert wetlands to columns of mountains forming the basin and range region. When we look closer, nature is everywhere including just outside our door.

Hear the wonders of Utah: plants, animals, geologic formations; ancient, present; terrestrial, avian and aquatic. Brought to you by the Moab Area Travel Council

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Bears In Utah

May 19, 2020
Mary Heers

 

As I hopped out of my car to take a short hike up Cache Valley’s Dry Canyon Trail I was surprised to see the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources had posted a picture of a black bear. “Bear Country,” it said. “Store food safely and keep campsites clean.” I’ve never seen a black bear in Utah but a quick check of the DNR website confirmed that as of last count, July of last year, there were 4,000 black bears in Utah. In winter the bears stay out of site. But by May they are coming out of hibernation looking for food and very hungry.

Evening Grosbeaks

May 11, 2020
George Gentry / US FWS

The stunningly beautiful evening grosbeaks are mystery birds that come pouring from the canyons to invade our urban areas on a daily cycle- an eruptive population here in Cache Valley. I always hear their loud chirp notes high above, often beyond sight. They alight in towering trees where they feed and converse with chirps and trills all the while. Highly social, evening grosbeaks are unlike their four solitary grosbeak cousins.

Rae Robinson stands in the wetlands at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area
Rae Robinson

The Great Salt Lake provides approximately 75% of Utah’s wetlands, and is a resting area along the Pacific- Americas flyway.   Migratory birds rely on the lake as a stopping spot for rest and nutrition which they obtain from the variety of native plant communities.  These communities are at constant risk from the invasive reed Phragmites australis which is taking over native wetland plant communities.

Spring's Way

Apr 29, 2020
mountain river with melting snow
pixabay.com

 

Springtime in Cache Valley is marked by many events. It is a seasonal turn full of unrelenting life. The signs and the emotions they revive are marked by the beauty found in every hour of the day, from the day’s first bird songs reviving the world from slumber to their last evening’s lullaby.

 

You Too Can Teach Outside

Apr 20, 2020
children exploring outside
Josh Boling

 

 A few months ago, I shared a piece on this program called “Why I Teach Outside.” In it, I discussed the academic research and my personal anecdotes that reaffirm the education community’s movement toward experiential learning and learning beyond the four walls of a classroom. 

Nature Sings To Assuage Our COVID-19 Fears

Apr 17, 2020

 

 

Robins, house finch, and lesser goldfinch singing with gusto! Dippers on the stream blasting their melodious notes from watery perches on Summit Creek. An eastern bluejay bopps out to wish me good morning in a nearby Park, its rarity always a treat, instantly teleporting me back to earlier days in Michigan. Meadowlarks reveal their hearts in song in fields below as I work my way up a canyon ridge. A fox sparrow with ear shattering song competes for “America’s Got Talent”.

A family enjoying the Logan River
Frank Howe

 


In 2011, extensive flooding in Cache Valley caused widespread damage to both buildings and land along the Logan River.  This led to the formation of the Logan River Task Force; this group of Utah State University scientists and other experts in riparian and river restoration worked with Logan City and Bio-West, Inc. (a local consulting firm) to develop a long-term restoration plan that prevented flooding while balancing both social and ecological values of the river.  

 

Hope

Apr 1, 2020
Pixabay

It feels odd to be denning in the spring. Our usual season to escape back into the out of doors has shifted radically for society at-large. It is odd because all the world around us is still warming, flying a little further each day, and here we are, humanity, digging in. It is for the best, for our own survival, but it is still not easy to go against the natural grain.

A Nuthatch In Three Varieties

Mar 24, 2020
A red-breasted nuthatch hangs on a tree
National Audubon Society

This episode of Wild About Utah originally aired in March 2019.

Inverted woodpecker, a phrase I use to describe the feeding habits of the amazing nut hatch family. I first became aware of this lovely little songbird growing up in Michigan, where the white-breasted nut hatch was common fare in the north woods. Their little laughing notes were most welcome as I sat on my deer stand where I would watch them search bark crevices for yummy morsels of grubs, insect eggs or seeds they had wedged in for tomorrow's snack.

Imaginary Wanderings

Mar 18, 2020
Mountains in Utah with blue sky and clouds
Josh Boling

 


I’ve fancied a certain type of wandering lately—to grab my pack and boots and walk the lines of Utah’s political border—a trail made not of dirt and stone, but of imaginary lines of latitude and longitude. But, as of yet, I haven’t found the time or resources to do so beyond my own imagination and the 3 or 4 minutes I have with you now. Come join me in a stroll around Utah, at least the way I’ve imagined it. 

 

 

 

Eating Crow: The Gray Crown Rosy Finch

Mar 10, 2020
A gray crown rosy finch in the snow
Jack Binch

Eating the “humble crow”! Not literally- I hear they are rather tough and stringy. In my last reading titled “Wren Love”, I was confused by a flock of birds acting much like canyon wrens, but exhibiting a most unusual communal behavior. A later visit to the same ice covered cliff, only this time with optics, revealed them to be the gray crown rosy finch. I apologize for my carelessness!

As recompense, I must give this beautiful finch its due and to repay you, dear listener!

Logan River’s Evolving Geomorphology

Mar 4, 2020

 


Logan River’s geomorphology, or landform, has changed very little over the past 150 years in the mountain canyons.  But where the river leaves the mountains and drops down onto Cache Valley’s floor, its geomorphology has changed dramatically.

Bird TV

Feb 24, 2020
Pixabay

There are some days that I just don’t have it in me to get outside. Maybe it’s the winter blues; maybe it’s exhaustion from a full day’s work. Either way, there are days where all I want to do is sit in the shelter of my home next to the heat ducts, or under the shade of a porch, and just exhale for hours. Sometimes, getting into the thick or exploring one of the many unmapped nooks of Utah’s majesty just isn’t happening.

Winter Adaptations On Wild About Utah

Feb 24, 2020
pxfuel

 


 

 

“No, no, no! Don’t try to help me up yet,” I instructed, choking back laughter through a face full of snow. 

 

Third graders teetered in their snowshoes on the edge of the tree as well with mixed emotions written on their faces—equal parts concern and confusion. I was sunk to my armpits in snow, insisting that they not help me out of it. The learning had begun. 

 

A Love Letter To Wrens

Feb 24, 2020
A picture of a Pacific Wren.
Eleanor Briccetti

 

 


 

With Valentine ’s Day imminent, I must profess my love for wrens.   

 

A recent snowshoe slog with friends in a nearby canyon brought us face to face with a glorious panel of 30-foot ice colonnades running down quartzite cliffs. We stood in awe of their crystalline beauty. Near the ice wall, small birds were flitting in and out of vertical crevices. I began counting- a dozen or more. 

Freedom In The Land Called Utah

Feb 3, 2020
skeeze/pixabay

I am sitting next to friends on top of the skeleton of an excavator from the 1950s at an abandoned uranium mining site. All around us are tamarisk chokes, red rock fortifications, and the bleached steel bones of Pittsburgh’s former glory. We descend off of what we imagine the remains of a great steel Minotaur which used to rule this dead tributary, and head up the wash into a side canyon. Following old trails and roads, we find stone sculptures pitted and bored by wind, scorpions avoiding our misunderstood company, and the remains of camps left by those the scorpions take us for.

Morning Routine

Jan 30, 2020
Patrick Kelly

Every morning, me and my dog Sable go on a hike. It’s not a trek, but just an early morning walk up our favorite hidden canyon which lies in plain sight. We set off from our house right about 8 o’clock and drive up the hillsides to the canyon mouth. We weave out of our little town and into the next, winding up and up, past the houses that weren’t here 15 years ago, then 10 years ago, then 5. We rise higher than any business, home, or other building as we approach our morning trailhead. It’s good, that above all of the buildings we’ve constructed over the years, still lies the land eternal. I like that.

The Henry Mountain Bison on Wild About Utah

Jan 30, 2020
Pixabay

This a rebroadcast of a program from Nov. 30, 2018

The Henry Mountains of southeast Utah are famous for being the last mountain range in the contiguous United States to have been officially mapped. Indeed, before they were mapped, they were often referred to as the “Unknown Mountains.” Another relative unknown detail about this range is that it harbors one of only five genetically pure, free-roaming bison herds on North American public lands.

Parker Hellstern

 

 

A mighty tree has fallen- but its seed has been cast far and wide through his great works. I speak of a frequent WAU contributor, educator, and conservationist. On January 3rd, 2020, Ron Hellstern left us for the great beyond. He was the personification of WAU. 

Benefits of Being Wild

Jan 10, 2020
Matthew Wickenhiser

 

 

Imagine a place devoid of randomly constant dings and dongs, a place with no artificial lighting or insistent clicking of keys or ticking of screens. Maybe even a place where one no longer has to think about the persistently pressing matters of politics for even just a brief moment.  

Legacy Beyond Memory

Jan 3, 2020
The sun setting over a field of wilderness
skeeze/pixabay

 

My mother’s father died of cancer three months before I was born. From his memory, I carry his first name as my middle: Orville. 

 

For most of my life, this was all I had of his. Others had stories of him, photos, old reels of film. Through these means, I began over the years to better understand, perhaps not my grandfather as he was, but certainly as he was remembered. I began to see the meaning of my name but only within the memory of others. 

 

Winter Bird Feeding on Wild About Utah

Jan 3, 2020
a line of bird feeders and bird seed on the ground.
Ron Hellstern

 

This a rebroadcast of a program from Nov. 30, 2018.

Most people enjoy watching birds, except for their occasional deposits on cars or windows.  In an earlier program, I mentioned at least fifteen benefits that birds provide to humans and planet Earth. But as human population and developments increase, the survival of many bird species becomes threatened. 

A Solstice Vingette on 'Wild About Utah'

Dec 20, 2019
The sun rising over a snowy landscape with pine trees
pixabay.com

 


In the frigid dark of long winter nights, we tell stories—stories of thievery, heroism, and light. Raven, Maui, and Koo-loó-pe, the hummingbird. They are all said to have taken back the sun from too much darkness for their people, and their deeds remain the whispered subjects around campfires that lead up to the winter solstice. I’d like to tell a story of my own about our calendar’s longest, darkest night and our relationship with it.

 

Climate Change And Birds on 'Wild About Utah'

Dec 12, 2019
Irene K-s / Pixabay

On December 14th, I will join several others for an exciting day of counting bird species and numbers in our lovely, snowy valley. The numbers will be entered on a database that will be shared globally.

Diane Renkin / NPS

Logan River ecology is about connections between highlands and lowlands, water and land, life in and around the river, and resources that support that life. 

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