Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Episode 465 (3-25-19): Snakes in Legend, Perceptions, and Virginia's Ecosystems


Click to listen to episode (4:25).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Images
Extra Information
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-22-19.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 25, 2019.

MUSIC – ~13 sec

This week, that excerpt of “Baldcypress Swamp,” by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Va., opens a revised 2013 episode on a group of animals whose Virginia habitats range from still-water swamps to rocky ridges.  These animals generate an equally wide range of human reactions, including, for example, their supposed removal from a large island by the namesake of a just-celebrated holiday.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds to the following mystery sound, and see if you can guess this group of elongated, limbless creatures.

SOUND - ~11 sec

If you guessed snakes, you’re right! You heard the distinctive sound of a rattlesnake.  Legend has it that St. Patrick drove snakes from Ireland in the Fifth Century, although a prominent Irish natural history expert has maintained that snakes never existed at all on the Emerald Isle. In any case, an absence of snakes is certainly not true of Virginia.  The Commonwealth has 34 snake species, some preferring dry, upland areas, while several other species inhabit semi-aquatic areas like streamsides, lakeshores, wet meadows, and areas around swamps and marshes.

Virginia has three venomous species of snakes: the Timber Rattlesnake, including a Coastal Plain subspecies called the Canebrake Rattlesnake; the Northern Copperhead; and the Eastern Cottonmouth.  The Cottonmouth is often confused with the widespread but non-venomous Northern Water Snake, with both having the common name “water moccasin.”  Such cases of mistaken snake identities, along with misunderstandings of snake behavior, help cause widespread human fear and dislike of snakes generally.  In contrast to those perceptions, snakes play an important ecological role as predators and as prey, with feeding upon rodents often providing a direct benefit to human properties; in medicine, snake venom has been used in research into cardiovascular diseases and cancer; and most Virginia snake species generally seek to avoid humans.

Even if snakes give you the creeps, learning about their behavior and ecological roles can increase your appreciation for these adaptive reptiles of various land and water environments.

Thanks to Timothy Seaman for this week’s opening music and to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the rattlesnake sound.

We close with another musical selection, with a title that, if snakes could talk, they might take as a slogan for their valuable role in ecosystems.  Here’s an instrumental part of “All Creatures Were Meant to be Free,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, Va.

MUSIC - ~18 sec

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 151, 3-4-13, which has been archived.

“Baldcypress Swamp,” from the 2004 album “Virginia Wildlife,” is copyright 2004 by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Timothy Seaman is available online at http://www.timothyseaman.com/.  The “Virginia Wildlife” CD was a collaboration between Mr. Seaman and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The rattlesnake sound was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Digital Library, http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/cdm/ (specifically at https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/audio/id/61).  This sound was also part of Virginia Water Radio episodes 322 (6-27-16) and 371 (6-5-17).

“All Creatures Were Meant to Be Free,” from the 1995 album “Mostly True Songs,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at https://www.bobgramann.com/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

IMAGES


Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in Georgia, 2008.  Photograph by Pete Pattavina, taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library, http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/cdm/, accessed 3/4/13.


Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon), photographed in Pulaski County, Va., August 16, 2015. Photo by iNaturalist contributor Shaun Hayes, made available for use on iNaturalist.org, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0), accessed online at https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/5324615, 3/25/19.

EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT SNAKES IN VIRGINIA

Following is general information about snakes and how to respond if snakes become an issue around a residence or other property.  The information is from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Nuisance and Problem Wildlife/Snakes,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/nuisance/snakes/.

On Possession of Wildlife Generally

“[One] may keep up to 5 individuals of any species of reptile or amphibian for personal use, except [for the following]:
*no threatened or endangered species, and
*there is a ban on collecting northern diamond-backed terrapins, spotted turtles, and eastern hellbenders (even though these species are not threatened or endangered, there is a specific regulation banning their collection).

When keeping venomous species for personal use, check with [the] locality’s (city or county) ordinances regarding keeping such species.

“Virginia Administrative Code Section 15-30-10, Possession, importation, sale, etc., of wild animals, states ‘Under the authority of 29.1-103 and 29.1-521 of the Code of Virginia it shall be unlawful to take, possess, import, cause to be imported, export, cause to be exported, buy, sell, offer for sale, or liberate within the Commonwealth any wild animal unless otherwise specifically permitted by law or regulation.’”

On Snakes around Properties

“Most snakes are harmless and, much like bats, provide a valuable service around your home in the way of pest control (snakes control rodents, bats control insects).  In fact, the presence of snakes around your property or in your house may indicate a rodent problem.  There are only three species of venomous snakes in Virginia.  The copperhead (found statewide) is the most common; and while it is usually not found inside homes, it may be common in gardens and woodlots. Timber rattlesnakes are common only in the mountainous regions of western Virginia and a small area of extreme southeastern Virginia where they are known as canebrake rattlesnakes; they are a state endangered species. Water moccasins, also commonly referred to as cottonmouths, are found to the south and east of Petersburg and are common only in wet areas.

[If confronted with a snake problem around a home:]
“Eliminate habitat near your home. Remove all rock and brush piles and keep grassy areas mowed short near the house. This will eliminate attraction for mice and cover for snakes.

“If a snake is known to have entered the structure, examine the foundation of the house thoroughly. Seal all areas around pipes, vents, or other places that may provide small openings both for rodents and snakes.  Also, check the roof for overhanging vegetation.  Snakes are good climbers and can also enter through the attic where trees or shrubs provide access.

“If a snake is found in the house, identify the snake (a Snakes of Virginia guide is available from the Department).  Once it is known to be non-venomous, carefully place a bucket or wastebasket over the snake.  Then slip a board carefully under the bucket or basket and carry the snake outside and release it.  Remember, if you have not sealed the holes in the foundation, the snake may return.

“Have your house checked for rodent problems.  If you can eliminate the food source, the snakes will go elsewhere.

“Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries staff do not come to your home or property to remove snakes.  If after all mentioned measures have been taken to discourage snakes from your property and/or home, they are still a problem, or if one is inside a structure that you are uncomfortable trying to trap and remove yourself, the only other alternative is to contact a pest control company that advertises handling snakes.  Such a pest control company should have a permit from us to allow them to remove snakes.”

SOURCES

Used for Audio

Maru Jaime Garza, “Snake venom used in medicine development,” Johns Hopkins University Newsletter, 2/14/13, online at https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2013/02/snake-venom-used-in-medicine-development-49746.

Donald W. Linzey and Michael J. Clifford, Snakes of Virginia, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 2002; information online at http://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/2509.

Bernard S. Martof et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980.

Erin Maurer, “What is the ‘Emerald Isle?’” USA Today, 3/15/18, online at https://traveltips.usatoday.com/emerald-isle-34850.html.

Joseph C. Mitchell, “Snakes of Virginia,” published in 1974 in Virginia Wildlife, online (as PDF; 8 pages) at http://www.people.vcu.edu/~albest/troop700/documents/TheSnakesOfVirginiaO.pdf.

Joseph C. Mitchell and Karen K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles of Virginia, Special Publication No. 1, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, 1999.

James Owen, “Did St. Patrick Really Drive Snakes Out of Ireland,” National Geographic, 3/15/14, online at https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140315-saint-patricks-day-2014-snakes-ireland-nation/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Title=VaFWIS+Species+Information+By+Name&vUT=Visitor. Snakes species known from Virginia are listed at this link.

Virginia Herpetological Society, online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/. (Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles.)

For More Information about Snakes or Other Reptiles

Julia Johns, “Virginia snake ID 'hotline' helps spare harmless snakes,” published by The Wildlife Society, 5/23/17, online at https://wildlife.org/virginia-snake-id-hotline-helps-spare-harmless-snakes/.

Joseph C. Mitchell, The Reptiles of Virginia, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., and London, England, 1994.

National Estuarine Research Reserve System, “Estuary Education” video series, online at https://coast.noaa.gov/estuaries/videos/, has several short videos on reptiles that live in or near water, including the following: American Alligator; Freshwater Turtles in an Estuary; New Jersey Terrapin Close-up; Texas Alligators Q&A; Totally Turtles; Tracking Turtles; Turtle Hospital; Turtle Tales; and Turtle Trails.

Smithsonian Institution, “Bibliography on the Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles,” online at https://www.si.edu/encyclopedia_si/nmnh/reptshrt.htm.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/.  From this link, one can access information about individual species of reptiles or other wildlife groups.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Reptiles” subject category.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
3.4 – behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 – food webs.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
4.5 – ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystem.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.6 – ecosystem interactions, including the water cycle, other cycles, and energy flow.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS.9 – adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Biology Course
BIO.4 – life functions (including metabolism and homeostasis) in different organism groups, including human health, anatomy, and body systems.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Episode 464 (3-18-19): Calling All Virginia Chorus Frogs


Click to listen to episode (4:14).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Images
Extra Information
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-15-19.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 18, 2019.

SOUNDS – ~4 sec

This week, that raspy call opens an episode about several species of small frogs that share a common group name but differ in sound and distribution.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds to two species recorded simultaneously, and see if you know the name of this frog group.  And here’s a hint: to get the key word, gather a lot of harmonious singers, or skip over a song’s verses.

SOUNDS - ~11 sec

If you guessed chorus frogs, you’re right!  You heard the creaky call of Mountain Chorus Frogs along with the single notes of Spring Peepers, two of seven chorus frog species in Virginia.  The other five are the Little Grass Frog and four more species with “chorus frog” in their name: Brimley’s, New Jersey, Southern, and Upland chorus frogs.  As a group, they’re noted for their choruses of calling males advertising for mates in breeding season.  Those calls vary among the species in pitch, tone, and how quickly sounds are repeated.  The species also differ in their distribution in Virginia: Spring Peepers occur statewide, and Upland Chorus Frogs are found in much of the state, but the other five occupy narrower ranges in the Commonwealth.

The Mountain Chorus Frog, which in Virginia is found primarily in the southwestern corner, is getting special scientific attention in 2019.  Scientists Kevin Hamed, at Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, and Wally Smith, at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, are leading a project this year to learn more about that species’ distribution.  Collaborating with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and funded by the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, they’re inviting other Virginians, especially K-12 students, to look and listen for this species and to submit information on any encounters.  To learn more about the project, or to submit Mountain Chorus Frog observations, go online to vhcc.edu/mtchorusfrog.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and to Lang Elliott for permission to use this week’s sounds, from A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia.  We close with a medley of calls from the seven chorus frogs found in Virginia, in alphabetical order. Have a listen for about 20 seconds, and see if you can recall their names.

SOUNDS - ~ 22 sec – Short call segments of Brimley’s Chorus Frog, Little Grass Frog, Mountain Chorus Frog, New Jersey Chorus Frog, Southern Chorus Frog, Spring Peeper, and Upland Chorus Frog.

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The frog sounds in this episode were from “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Lang Elliott/NatureSound Studio, used with permission.  The CD was included with the 2011 VDGIF publication, A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia.  For more information, see http://www.shopdgif.com/product.cfm?uid=1928838&context=&showInactive=N, or contact the Department at P.O. Box 90778, Henrico, VA 23228-0778; phone: (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); e-mail: dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov.  Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

Thanks to the following people for their help with this episode:
Carola Haas, Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Blacksburg;
John Kleopfer, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond;
Kevin Hamed, Virginia Highlands Community College, Abingdon;
Wally Smith, University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

IMAGES

Poster being used for the Mountain Chorus Frog monitoring initiative being conducted in 2019 by Virginia Highlands Community College, University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Poster accessed at http://web.vhcc.edu/mtchorusfrog/index.html, 3/14/19.


A chorus frog (possibly Southern Chorus Frog) in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. Photo made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov, accessed 3-14-19; specific URL for the photo is https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/natdiglib/id/12030/rec/1.

EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT CHORUS FROGS IN VIRGINIA

Below are Virginia county occurrence maps for the seven chorus frog species found in Virginia, all except Upland Chorus map from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Wildlife Information,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/, accessed 3/12/19.  Map for Upland Chorus Frog accessed from VDGIF, “Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service/Upland Chorus Frog, online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?Menu=_.Occurrence&bova=020018&version=17967.  The maps show the scientific names for each species.















SOURCES

Used for Audio

AmphibiaWeb, https://amphibiaweb.org/index.html.

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toad of Virginia, Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, 2011; purchase information available online at https://www.shopdgif.com.

Bernard S. Martof, et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1980.

J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (1999); available online (as a PDF) at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/atlases/mitchell-atlas.pdf, courtesy of the Virginia Herpetological Society.  (Herpetology refers to the study of amphibians and reptiles.)

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/.  This site has summaries of characteristics, distribution, and foods for a list of species.  The summary information for the seven chorus frogs found in Virginia is at the following links:
Brimley’s Chorus Frog;
Little Grass Frog;
Mountain Chorus Frog;
New Jersey Chorus Frog;
Southern Chorus Frog;
Spring Peeper;
Upland Chorus Frog.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://www.vafwis.org/fwis/?Menu=Home.Species+Information. This site has detailed information on life history, distribution, habitat, and other aspects of species. The detailed information for the seven chorus frogs found in Virginia is at the following links:
Brimley’s Chorus Frog;
Little Grass Frog;
Mountain Chorus Frog;
New Jersey Chorus Frog;
Spring Peeper;
Upland Chorus Frog.

Virginia Herpetological Society, “Frogs and Toads of Virginia,” online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/frogs_and_toads_of_virginia.htm.

Virginia Highlands Community College and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, “Mountain Chorus Frog,” online at http://web.vhcc.edu/mtchorusfrog/index.html.  This is the Web site for the Mountain Chorus Frog monitoring initiative being under taken by these two colleges and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

For More Information about Frogs or Other Amphibians

Donna Morelli, Catch the spring action at a vernal pool near you, Bay Journal, 2/8/18.  This article on amphibian breeding in spring temporary pools, known as “vernal pools,” includes a list of local parks and other areas in the Bay watershed areas of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania that sponsor amphibian monitoring or viewing events.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative, online at https://armi.usgs.gov/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia Frog and Toad Calling Survey,” online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/frogsurvey/; part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, online at https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/naamp/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia is for Frogs” Web site, online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/virginia-is-for-frogs/.

ADDED 7-12-21:
Sarah Wade, “UVa-Wise team hunts for amphibians in SW Va.'s high-altitude wetlands,” Bristol Herald-Courier, 7/4/21.  This article describes research in 2021 by Wally Smith, at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, who is mentioned in this episode's audio.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Amphibians” subject category.

The Spring Peeper was featured in Episode 105, 4-2-12.

A monitoring initiative for the Eastern Spadefoot was featured in Episode 357, 2-27-17.

The Mountain Chorus Frog’s call was also part of Episode 408, 2-19-18.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Theme

1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1 – Gathering and analyzing data. 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1 all also include “Current applications to reinforce science concepts.”

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decision, hazard mitigation, cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 – life cycles.
3.4 – behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.1 – understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science, including current applications to reinforce science concepts.
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
BIO.6 – bases for modern classification systems, including structures, biochemistry, and developmental stages.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Government Course
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Episode 462 (3-14-19): The American Woodcock is an Inland Sandpiper with a Spring Evening Spectacle


Click to listen to episode (3:52).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Images
Extra Information
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-1-19.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 4, 2019.

SOUND – ~9 sec

Those were sounds from a streamside park in Blacksburg, Va., on the evening of March 24, 2017.  Amidst the loud Spring Peeper frog calls, could you hear a short, buzz-like sound?  That’s this week’s mating-bird mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds to a clearer recoding of that sound, this time provided by Lang Elliott from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, and see if you know what makes the sound.  And here’s a hint: anyone who could guess this really would rock.

SOUNDS - ~ 7 sec

If you guessed an American Woodcock, you’re right!  The buzzing sound, called a peent, is part of the species’ male courtship display, a springtime evening and night ritual occurring in moist woods and fields across the eastern United States, including all of Virginia.  The male birds make the peent sound on the ground, then make a spiraling upward flight for about 200 to 300 feet, chirping and using their wings to make a twittering sound, before descending to the ground to start the pattern over again.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, at its “All About Birds” Web site, has described the American Woodcock as a “plump little shorebird [that] lives in young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America.”   This bird is an inland species in the bird family of sandpipers, whose members more typically are coastal shorebirds.  The woodcock uses it long beak—a characteristic sandpiper feature—to probe the soil for water and for the earthworms and other invertebrates it eats.  Its preference for evening and night activity, its habitat, and its behaviors have generated a number of nicknames for this species, including night partridge, bog borer, mudbat, whistler, and hokumpoke.

Referring to the American Woodcock’s mating ritual, the Cornell Lab has said, “The male woodcock’s evening display flights are one of the magical natural sights of springtime in the East.”  If you’re fortunate and attentive, those sights and sounds might greet you on a moist meadow walk some springtime evening or night.

Thanks to Lang Elliott for permission to use this week’s sounds, and we close with the wing-twittering and chirping sounds from an American Woodcock’s courtship flight.

SOUND - ~ 7 sec

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The first American Woodcock sound in this episode was recorded by Virginia Water Radio at Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va., on March 24, 2017, about 7:45 p.m.

The second and third American Woodcock sounds were from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott, whose work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

IMAGES
American Woodcock, 12/20/16, location unidentified.  Photo made available for public use by the U.S. Geological Survey, online at https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/american-woodcock-scolopax-minor.

American Woodcock painting originally published between 1827 and 1838 by John James Audubon in Birds of America (plate CCLXVIII [268]), as reprinted in 1985 by Abbeville Press, New York. Photo taken March 7, 2018, from the reprint copy (no. 6 of 350 copies printed in 1985) owned by Special Collections of Virginia Tech Libraries.  Virginia Water Radio thanks Special Collections for permission to photograph their copy and for their assistance.  Information about Birds of America is available from the National Audubon Society, online at http://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america; the American Woodcock entry is online at https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/american-woodcock.

EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THE AMERICAN WOODCOCK

The scientific name of the American Woodcock is Scolopax minor.

Here are some points about the American Woodcock, excerpted from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040140&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=17955.

Nesting and Mating Behavior

“The breeding season is from late February to mid-May.  The earliest known incubation dates in Virginia are January 14.  This species is polygamous and promiscuous.   During migration they move south after the first heavy frost, then north between February and March  The home range has approximately 100 acres for the brood, several square miles in the summer and winter, and is variable for mating.  This species is crepuscular [active in the evening].  The males migrate before the females to set up singing grounds, and courtship only takes place when there are scattered woody plants one to two feet high.  The male gives off a peenting sound in a vertical flight to attract the female.  After copulation, the female leaves the male to build a nest and the male may continue to attract other females.  The nest is a cup-like depression on the ground with a few twiqs around the rim.  The hen will stay on the nest even when threatened.”

Habitat

“This is a shorebird that never lost the vestigial requirement for open space for courtship and breeding.  In the spring they use areas that contain gray birch, aspen, white pine, alders, red maple, dead grasses, red cedar, juniper, black cherry, dogwood, shrubs and young trees.  Singing grounds are in this type and nests are found in areas of mixed hardwood growth of birch, aspen, conifer and alder.  In the summer they use permanent wet spots with alder, dogwood, crab apple, and hawthorne.  They also use dry fields for insects. In the winter they use agricultural fields, bottom land and other upland fields with various species of pine.”

Feeding and Predation

“Feeds at twilight or night by probing damp ground in fields or woods for earthworms and larvae. …This species eats mainly earthworms, but also grubs, slugs, insects, larvae, beetles, locusts, grasshoppers, and occasionally small seeds.  Predators include: crow, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, skunk, weasel, bobcat, great horned owl, long-earred owl, house cats and dogs, pilot black snake, and shrike. …They suck up water with their bills (bills are prehensile [that is, adapted for grasping and holding].”

Nicknames

“This species is also known as timberdoodle, bog sucker, night peck, night partridge, mud snipe, blind snipe, wall snipe, whistler, brush snipe, owl snipe, bog borer, [and] hokumpoke.”

SOURCES

Used for Audio

John James Audubon, “American Woodcock,” from Birds of America (1827-1838), Plate 268, accessed at the Audubon Web site, online at https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/american-woodcock.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “All About Birds/American Woodcock,” online at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Woodcock/.

Chandler S. Robbins et al., A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2001.

Timberdoodle.org, “The Woodcock Management Plan/Natural History,” online at https://timberdoodle.org/biology.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service/American Woodcock,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040140&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=17955.

Woodcock Limited, “What is an American Woodcock,” online at http://woodcocklimited.org/what-is-an-american-woodcock/.

For More Information about Birds in Virginia or Elsewhere
Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, “Merlin Photo ID.”  This application for mobile devices allows users to submit a bird photograph to get identification of the bird.  Information is available online at http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/.

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists’ Union, “Birds of North America Online,” online at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna (subscription required).

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, “eBird,” online at http://ebird.org/content/ebird/.  Here you can find locations of species observations made by contributors, and you can sign up to contribute your own observations.

Virginia Society of Ornithology, online at http://www.virginiabirds.org/.  The Society is non-profit organization dedicated to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of birds in the Commonwealth.

Xeno-canto Foundation Web site, online at http://www.xeno-canto.org/.  The site provides bird songs from around the world.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Birds” subject category.

Following are links to other episodes on sandpipers.
Episode 411, 3-12-18 – on the Killdeer, another inland sandpiper.
Episode 264, 5/4/15 – on the Spotted Sandpiper along the New River in southwestern Virginia.
Episode 315, 5/9/16 – on sandpipers generally.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2010 English SOLs

Reading Theme
8.5, 9.4, 10.4, 11.4 – symbols, imagery, figurative language, and other literary devices.

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Theme
2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 – life cycles.
3.4 – behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 – food webs.

Life Science Course
LS.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
BIO.6 – bases for modern classification systems, including structures, biochemistry, and developmental stages.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.