Monday, September 27, 2010

Nature’s Villains and Heroes

033 (For pictures: click HERE. For video of Ranger Tim talking about turkey vultures: click HERE.)

Hello everyone. I’m Olivia the Owl coming to you from National Wildlife Radio. If you missed our weekly show last night, I’m posting the transcript of the interviews that took place. I had a wonderful time interviewing many villains and heroes that you might encounter in nature. I hope you enjoy them. Stay tuned next week because I will have another great show!


Olivia: Welcome to the National Wildlife Radio. Tonight I will be interviewing a lot of interesting guests who have an impact on the world around us. Our first villain tonight is Wilma the Wooly Adelgid. Welcome Wilma!

Wilma: Thank you Olivia for having me here tonight. You picked a great time actually because I had just finished some tasty hemlock when you called me.

Olivia: Hmmm. Yes, well, Wilma, please tell us more about the wooly adelgid and your life. Our guests are very interested in why you are destroying their forests.

Wilma: Well, I don’t really consider it destroying because I see it as my way of life. I don’t mean to be the villain because I can’t help it if I love those hemlocks! First of all, let me tell you how we arrived here. My ancestors arrived in the 1950s in the Shenandoah Valley on ornamental hemlocks from Asia. They loved it here so much that they headed north and spread out. Of course, they didn’t get really established and noticed until the 1980s when we started cleaning out all of the hemlocks in our path. We lay eggs in this wooly waxy stuff to protect them. If something tries to eat them, they will spit them out. We can lay two generations of eggs in five months around March to May. In June and July the eggs are laid but stay in hibernation. By the end of November, those developed from larva become adult and start feeding. Temperature drops, light changes, moisture changes are signals to become adults and begin feeding so more eggs can be laid in March.

Olivia: How do you move from tree to tree?

Wilma: We move on small mammals or catch a ride on the wind or raindrops. Sometimes birds will give us a lift without knowing it too. Of course we don’t let them know we are catching a ride because we are usually eating away their home.

Olivia: So, you think that you cannot be stopped. Is that true?

Wilma: Yes. Scientists are introducing some beetle from Japan that will take us out but we will find ways to outmaneuver them. Our families are banding together to find a way to wage war against them and no one will know how we will do that.

Olivia: Well, thank you Wilma for coming on our show. Hopefully one of our staff will show you out. (whispers: And hopefully that beetle from Japan is waiting for you outside that door!) Our next villain is Cindy the centipede. Welcome Cindy!

Cindy: Thanks Olivia. I’m glad to be here.

Olivia: Tell us about your day yesterday. You had some excitement?

Cindy: Oh yes. Ranger Tim brought a group of students out to find invertebrates on the forest floor. They sifted through the leaf stuff on the ground and found lots of interesting things such as ants, spiders, millipedes, snails, slugs, worms, red velvet mites, yellow jackets (and their nest), and earwigs.

Olivia: It sounds wonderful. Now, would you tell us the difference between you and a millipede? You both look so much alike to me.

Cindy: Well, centipedes are venomous and we kill our prey. Plus we have one leg per segment. Millipedes are poisonous and have 2 legs per segment.

Olivia: Well, thanks Cindy for being here today. One of the staff will show you the way out. And please don’t kill Millie the Millipede. She is quite frightened of you. Now our next guest is a good friend Teddy the Turkey Vulture. Some people think he is a villain and others think he is a hero. Hello Teddy!

Teddy: Thank you Olivia. I’m so glad to be here. Yes, some people feel that I’m a villain because I’m not as pretty as other birds and because I find eating dead stuff delightful! Hmm, is that a dead rat over there in the corner?! Oh, sorry, I get so easily distracted.

Olivia: Ummm, oh yes, well Teddy, let’s leave lunch for later, okay? Will you share with us some information about the area where you live?

Teddy: I live in the Blue Ridge Escarpment which is an abrupt change in elevation from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the piedmont. As the temperature changes, so does the flora and fauna. Moisture increases. Right now in the fall you will see a lot of blooming asters including White Snakeroot, New England Asters and Goldenrod.

Olivia: It seems like there are a lot of visitors at Caesar’s Head State Park right now. Can you tell us why they are there?

Teddy: Yes, they are there to see the Hawk Migration and many are volunteers to count how many hawks go through here.

Olivia: And how do you feel about this hawk migration?

Teddy: Well, a lot of us local birds have mixed opinions. Many feel aggravated because these hawks come in and take over the best homes and eat a lot of the food that is available. In fact, some may even bully the locals and eat them for dinner. The songbirds usually fly about early in the morning before the hawks get lively so they don’t get eaten. Others like me are just used to this happening and don’t let it bother us. Usually during this time, I find lots of extra food and even invite the relatives to visit to help eat on the buffet.

Olivia: Why do these hawks come here and how do they know where to go?

Teddy: This area is famous for the thermals that occur and make it easy for birds to get lift in order to fly longer distances. In fact, this area is well advertised in many of our aviary travel magazines! It is kind of nice to live in a tourist attraction I guess. Now, when migrating, the hawks have an internal compass, use the sun and light, as well as follow their buddies so they know which direction to go. Of course the ones that are too old, too sick, get lost, or give up and die become dinner for me! Yummy.

Olivia: Well, we appreciate the information you gave us Teddy and we hope to see you again soon (but hopefully not as dinner). Now our last guess is Penny the Praying Mantis. Hello Penny. Where did you encounter a group yesterday?

Penny: Hi Olivia. The same group that Cindy saw came over to Bald Rock Heritage Preserve to look at the area. I guess I surprised them when I hopped on Ranger Tim’s shoulder to get a better look at what he was talking about.

Olivia: Oh, and what did he share with the group?

Penny: He showed them different types of lichens (crustose, foliose, fruiticose, squamulose), citrus grass, and Appalachian Fame Flower. The group seemed very interested in the things they saw here. Of course some were fascinated by seeing me even though I’m not native to this area. Ranger Tim was glad that I wasn’t choosing him for a mate since I’d have to kill him! LOL

Olivia: Yes, I’m glad you didn’t have to kill the ranger Penny. Rangers are our friends and seem to understand our role in nature. I’m sorry to say we have run out of time for this show. I want to thank all of our villains and heroes for joining us. And until next time, have a great week!

(Having students act out different characters is a great way to learn information. Writing the character’s script would be a great way to improve reading and writing as well as integrating content. Have you ever done this with students? If so, how did it work? What advice would you give?)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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