The Nature of Things | WYPR

The Nature of Things

Tuesday at 4:44 pm

The Nature of Things is a weekly broadcast about our area’s native flora and fauna, hosted by Irvine Nature Center’s Executive Director Brooks Paternotte.  At the start of each week, The Nature of Things offers an eco-friendly perspective on everything from our changing seasons to the sounds of our migrating birds to the plants invading our yards, fields and forests.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 4:44 pm. as Brooks inspires us all to explore, respect and protect nature.

Pet Turtles

Apr 29, 2015

  Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic turtles that get their name from the small red dash by their ears. They are the most popular pet turtle in the U.S., and are also the most popular type of turtle rescue organizations receive calls about.


Apr 22, 2015
The Bay Journal

Fishing for American shad, the largest member of the herring family, off Deer Creek was a spring rite of passage for me as a boy. My grandfather and I would spend hours catching the thin, metallic fish with dark spots on its shoulder.


One of our listening area’s coolest native wildflowers comes with many names. Memory root. Brown dragon. Bog onion. Indian turnip. Pepper turnip. Cobra lily. American wake robin. Cuckoo pint.


Apr 8, 2015
Fairfax County Public Schools

Skunks are legendary for their powerful predator-deterrent – an oily, hard-to-remove, horrible-smelling spray.

  With the arrival of spring’s warmth, buds and blooms begin to develop. Beauty blankets the floor of the deciduous woodlands in our listening area. The native wildflowers that come first known as spring ephemerals.

Project Clean Stream is a wonderful opportunity to learn, pick up litter and help everyone better understand their connection to the Chesapeake. Every day, our decisions affect the health of the Bay and its watershed.


Mar 17, 2015
New Hampshire Wildlife

One of the more peculiar native animals in our listening area seems like it could have come from the inspired imagination of a Hollywood director.


Mar 11, 2015

The quintessential early bird, robins are North America’s largest thrushes. They are distinctive for their warm orange potbellies, long legs and fairly long tails. Does their presence finally mean that spring is in the air?

The value of the honey bee's pollination services is commonly measured in the billions of dollars. That's because the bees from each hive pollinate and collect roughly 60 pounds of pollen per year – that’s about the same weight as your average 7 year old.

The kestrel has a cool, 'hipster' vibe, with pairs of black vertical slashes on its pale face – referred to as a "mustache" and "sideburns."

  Knowing that I can make a difference through my food choice has led me to become a 'locavore.'  That is – I'm committed to eating meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, honey and other food products that are produced at farms in my local community.

Irvine Nature Center

The process these farms follow to tap maple trees, collect the sap and make maple syrup is actually quite simple. It does, however, take lots of time and a willingness to get outdoors in the cold and experience this miracle of nature.


Feb 4, 2015
Photo via North American Bear Center

Of all the adaptations employed by our local animals to deal with our winter climates, true hibernation is definitely the most drastic.

Aspen Nature

This time of year, the night sky tends to be the clearest and there’s less light pollution. Though the evenings might be cold, in winter constellations like the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia, are easier to see and identify.

Gray Squirrels

Jan 13, 2015

Five species of squirrels can be found in Maryland. There’s the red squirrel, the southern flying squirrel, the eastern fox squirrel and the Delmarva fox squirrel.


Jan 6, 2015
Photo from Eat the Weeds

I have a secret snack. When I’m hiking in damp, forested areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, I don’t look to my backpack for a granola bar or trail mix. Instead, I look to the trees for a pawpaw.

Stink Bugs

Dec 30, 2014
Rutgers University

Unfortunately, not many predators are interested in eating the ubiquitous brown marmorated stink bug we see so much of in our listening area. That’s because it’s not a native species.

West YellowStone Montana

Need another reason to exercise outside? There’s nothing like returning to the warmth of indoors, pink-cheeked and tired, and sitting by a warm fire or sipping a mug of hot cocoa. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!

A light dusting of snow is an optimum time to look for signs of our native cottontail rabbits.  When hopping, rabbits' long hind feet come down in front of the smaller front feet – making them incredibly easy for kids and adults to spot.


Dec 9, 2014

 Kudzu grows extremely quickly. Under optimal conditions, it can grow a full foot per day. This fast growth combined with its climbing nature allows kudzu’s hairy vines to swiftly cover other plants, vehicles, utility poles, even whole houses when left unchecked.

Five species of squirrels can be found in Maryland. There’s the red squirrel, the southern flying squirrel, the eastern fox squirrel and the Delmarva fox squirrel.


Nov 26, 2014

Wild turkeys, once nearly extinct in Maryland, are back, and at least one wild turkey roams the property at Irvine.

Did you know that over 95% of the insects are not really pests? That means that the great majority of creepy crawlies we swat, squash and flush are actually beneficial.

Emma – ever the curious 4-year-old – showed me a rainbow of red, orange and yellow leaves and asked a simple question. "Why do leaves change their color in fall?" Hard as it is to confess, I had no idea.


Oct 28, 2014

Commonly known as striped bass and locally referred to as rockfish, this anadromous or migratory fish spends the majority of its time in salt water returning to brackish estuaries and rivers to spawn each spring.

Stuck in a Rut

Oct 21, 2014

Right now, white tailed deer hunters all over the state are talking about the deer "rut."

Walking Stick

Oct 14, 2014

As its name suggests, the curious-looking walking stick or “stick insect” resembles the twigs among which it lives, providing it with one of the most efficient natural camouflages on Earth.


Oct 7, 2014

Through all the autumn hype about pumpkin-spice lattes, pumpkin-chocolate muffins, spooky pumpkin carving and picking from pumpkin patches, it seems the origin of all our orange finery – the humble pumpkin plant – is forgotten.

  At the Conowingo Dam, you can find bald eagles year round, but the largest population of them hits in September and October when northern birds arrive in search of water sources that have not frozen over. Some reports say that more than 200 of the large raptors visit the area each autumn day.


Sep 23, 2014

Coyotes are a relatively new addition to our local ecosystems, and were first documented in Maryland in 1972.