Falling Trees

The main reason for falling trees during storms is the phenomenon known as wind-throw which uproots a tree. The tree trunk acts as a lever and so the force applied to the roots and trunk increases with height. Taller trees are more susceptible to wind-throw.

The roots of trees can extend 1-2.5 times the radius of the branches and many urban areas do not allow this needed and extensive development, The problem of trees falling lies mostly with trees that have been developed around and had roots cut, crushed or torn in the process.

Wood is a very strong and wonderful structural material. Wood, however, is not homogeneous or consistently strong at all places in the trunk. Wood decay caused by fungi can weaken wood structure. However, the mere presence of decayed wood or even a hollow does not mean that the tree is more vulnerable to failure. Strength comes from the quality and quantity of wood that is present, not what might have been degraded.

An equally big factor in tree falls is bark between two trunks or between branches and the trunk, and wounds from past injuries which make a tree vulnerable when high winds bend its branches or even cause the trunk to sway. Generally trees tend to uproot more than break off during wind events, although poor structure in the crown will result in limb breakage, splitting and tearing as well.

115th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Prior to the turn of the century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt”: They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a “Christmas Bird Census”-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined.

Ice Fog

Cloud droplets and liquid precipitation can remain liquid even when the air temperature surrounding the suspended or falling liquid is below freezing. This occurs because the liquid needs a surface to freeze upon. The liquid droplets will freeze without a nuclei surface if the temperature drops low enough. As a general rule, liquid cloud or precipitation drops between freezing and -10 C (14 F) will remain liquid. When the temperature drops to below -40 C, all liquid droplets will solidify. Droplets that are liquid and are below freezing are referred to as super-cooled droplets.

Suppose it is foggy outside and the temperature is 30 F. Fog tends to not produce measurable precipitation by itself but it can still wet and moisten objects. In the case of freezing fog, the fog cloud droplets are super-cooled. When a droplet contacts an object below freezing it will turn to ice. When only freezing fog occurs, there will be just about as much freezing of the fog droplets onto surfaces as there will be sublimation from the surface, resulting in not much accumulation of ice. Often freezing fog will be accompanied with freezing drizzle. In that case, a film of ice will coat surfaces.

Ice fog is a fog composed of tiny ice crystals. In the ice fog situation the temperature is becoming too cold for only super-cooled water to occur. Ice fog will only be witnessed in cold Arctic / Polar air. Generally the temperature will be 14 F or colder in order for ice fog to occur.

Why We Garden

For safe and healthy food – Reports of food-borne illnesses and contamination regularly appear in the news media. Growing concerns about pesticides in our food supply have led to an increased interest in organic gardening and availability of organic produce. Processed foods contain additives and preservatives that many consumers want to avoid. The National Garden Bureau believes an easy solution is to grow your own vegetables. It’s estimated that during WWII, 20 million homeowners had Victory Gardens that produced close to 40% of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States. Start your own garden and know the food you’re eating is fresh and safe with fantastic flavor not always found in grocery store produce.

Exercise – Tired of the gym routine? Get a good workout without even thinking about it. Gardening activities provide both cardio and aerobic exercise. Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 300 calories for women, almost 400 calories for men. For older people, especially women, gardening can help reduce osteoporosis. Mowing the grass is like taking a vigorous walk, bending and stretching to plant a garden compares to an exercise class, while hauling plants and soil is similar to weightlifting. Adaptive tools help those whose physical limitations prevent some activities. And after you’re finished, you see immediate results in your garden even as your physical health improves—without being bored.

Beauty – A house with a nice yard is a pleasure to look at and satisfying to live in. Your home can be made more inviting simply by adding a container of colorful flowers near the front door. Herbs in the kitchen add freshness to the room, as well as flavor to daily meals. Trees and shrubs not only provide color and shade, but shelter for birds and wildlife. Think of the garden as another room to be enjoyed whether you are inside or outside the house.

Learn – Gardeners find that the more they learn about plants and gardening, the more they want to know. Problems with insects or spots on leaves provide the opportunity to find out the cause and understand how to keep plants healthy. Moving to a new house may mean leaving favorite plants but also provides the opportunity to discover new plants and growing conditions. There are a variety of ways to increase gardening know-how such as seminars, Master Gardener programs, vo-tech courses and formal degree programs at a college or university.

Money – For some people gardening is a lifelong hobby. For others, the love of plants can lead to a rewarding job at a local garden center, a large global company, or even owning their own business. A garden can be a source of flowers, vegetables, herbs, and other crops that can be sold at local farmer’s markets and roadside stands. And whether you live in your dream home or plan on moving soon, gardening adds value to your property. Real estate agents estimate that attractive landscaping increases a home’s value by as much as 15%. It also creates interest in the house and can mean the difference between a potential buyer simply driving by or stopping to take a closer look.

Meet people – Gardening is a great way to expand your social circle. Whether it’s with someone who lives down the street or halfway around the world on the Internet, gardeners love to talk about plants. Surplus tomatoes, a bouquet of flowers, or an extra plant, are gifts to be shared with friends and neighbors. Meeting other gardeners through garden clubs, plant organizations, and gardening websites is an easy way to share information, ask questions and get involved.

Creative – Gardening provides an outlet for creative and artistic expression. A garden’s design can reflect a personal sense of style such as a romantic cottage garden or a peaceful Japanese garden, as well as provide a showcase for art and sculpture. Like to try something new? With the wide variety of seeds and plants available in garden centers, it’s easy to experiment with new plants or change a garden’s color scheme every year.

Win – For people with a competitive streak, gardening is a friendly way to show off their skills. Garden clubs regularly have shows that highlight the best flowers grown by local gardeners. County and state fairs provide an opportunity to show everyone the giant pumpkin, beautiful beans or luscious tomatoes harvested from the garden. Competitive gardening is not only fun and interesting, there can even be national recognition and financial rewards.

Emotional needs and spiritual connections – Gardens play an important part in our well being. A garden might serve as a tranquil retreat or private escape from the demands of everyday life. The beauty of flowers can lift spirits, while pulling weeds can be a great release for stress and excess energy. A harvest of colorful flowers or tasty vegetables provides a sense of achievement and feelings of success, while neighbors and visitors often express their appreciation of those efforts.

On a higher level, gardening provides a spiritual connection to life. It’s a miracle to take a tiny seed, nurture it, and watch it grow into a beautiful flower or delicious food for your table. Tending a garden also contributes to improving your own living space, the environment and our planet.

Lasting memories – Yards that once grew gardens have been replaced with hot tubs and driveways. Today’s kids are missing the joy of cutting a bouquet of flowers for their mom or tasting the sweetness of a cherry tomato picked right from the plant. Gardening is a fun activity that can be shared with children and grandchildren, even if the garden is a single container or small spot in the yard. And a garden provides a beautiful way to remember a special person or time of life.

Winter Cluster

Honeybees head to the hive when temperatures drop into the 50s. As the weather becomes cool, the honeybees gather in a central area of the hive and form a “winter cluster.” A winter cluster is much like a huddle, except it lasts all winter. Bees have one main job in the winter, to take care of the queen bee. This means they must keep her safe and warm.

In order to do so, worker bees surround the queen and form a cluster with their bodies. The worker bees then flutter their wings and shiver. This constant motion and continuous use of energy is how the bees keep the inside temperature of the hive warm. In order to keep shivering, the bees must have enough honey. This is how they get their energy. One of the most important jobs of the beekeeper in the winter is to make sure the honey supply stays full so the bees can keep shivering.

Though the queen is always at the center of the cluster, worker bees rotate from the outside to the inside of the cluster, so no individual worker bee gets too cold. The temperature of the cluster ranges from 46 degrees at the exterior to 80 degrees at the interior. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes.

In order to produce body heat and stay alive, honeybees must rely on honey for energy. Some studies have found that hives of honeybees will consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey over the course of a single winter. Keep in mind that bees must visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey. And the average worker bee produces only 1/12 teaspoon of honey over her lifetime.


Suet is a high energy formulation of animal fat and other ingredients to attract insect eating birds. Suet is a quick source of heat and energy for birds, who’s metabolisms are set on fast forward. It traditionally has been used as a good substitute for the insects that birds usually feed upon but are not plentiful in cold weather.

Offering suet in a wire cage or suet log is a low-maintenance bird feeder. You refill only once every week or so, you never need to scrub the feeder, and you can leave it in your yard year round. Presenting suet in your backyard will also attract a greater variety of birds for your enjoyment. Some of the backyard birds that enjoy suet include: Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Warblers, Kinglets, Titmice, Nuthatches, Jays, Robins, Starlings and Wrens.

Presenting suet to your backyard birds can be as easy as putting a suet cake in a mesh bag or smearing it into the bark of a tree or log. Specially designed suet feeders are available which are attractive and easy to fill. These feeders usually provide a wire cage to hold the suet cake. Since most of the birds that are attracted to suet, usually cling to the bark of trees in search of insects, suspend your suet feeder in a tree close to the trunk, approximately 5 to 6 feet from the ground.