A Walk in the Woods at Tin Mountain Conservation Center
A Walk in the Woods is curated from Tin Mountain Conservation Center's extensive collection. It highlights the natural history of the northern forest, including its birds, mammals, wetlands, geology, and human history. These photographs represent a small portion of the exhibit, which can be viewed in full during business hours at the Nature Learning Center in Albany, New Hampshire.
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Heavy-bodied common loons (Gavia immer) have solid bones, whereas most birds have hollow bones. They are awkward on land, only climbing ashore to nest, and require a long stretch of water on which to run and take flight. In the water, however, they dive deep and maneuver quickly to pursue fish and other prey items.
Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) have hinged shells which they can seal shut. These terrestrial turtles are endangered and without any known populations in the state of New Hampshire. Among their greatest threats are habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and road mortality.
Woodpecker tail feathers are rigid. Woodpeckers can therefore use their tails to brace themselves against the sides of trees, especially when hammering into the wood.
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) have a diverse diet, including terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, nuts and berries, and occasional vertebrates. They prefer food that is easy to obtain. However, they have sensitive, dexterous hands that allow them to grasp objects, climb, swim, and open garbage cans.
Smoky quartz, the official state gemstone of New Hampshire, is a dark quartz found locally at the Moat Mountain Mineral Site (Conway). The color is a result of natural radiation, which occurs in low levels within granite. This sample was collected in nearby Ossipee.
All of the items in the "Human History" section, hinting at everyday life in the 19th and early 20th centuries, were uncovered during the restoration of the Rockwell Sanctuary barn (c. 1820). Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, sold from 1849 to 1930, was a morphine-based blend that claimed to “soothe any human or animal.”
Hemlock varnish shelf (Ganoderma tsugae) is a fungus commonly hosted by hemlock trees. Fungi accelerate decay, making them important nutrient cyclers in forest ecosystems.
Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are important prey items for a number of species, particularly bobcat (Lynx rufus), coyote (Canis latrans), fisher (Martes pennanti), and great-horned owl (Bubo virginianus). Hares avoid predators with their large ears and excellent hearing, eyes on the side of the head to provide a wide range of view, and camouflage.
Hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) nest in tree cavities. Ducklings leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, leaping up to fifty feet to the ground and walking to nearby water. Ducklings and adults both dive to capture fish and other prey items.
There are an estimated 100,000 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgianus) in New Hampshire. Bucks (males) grow antlers annually for the purpose of battling over does (females). They breed in November or December and shed their antlers in February.
White clay tobacco pipes emblazoned with “TD” are a generic product imported from the United Kingdom. Dated from the mid-18th to early 20th century, they have been excavated throughout the United States.
Rattlesnakes are distinguished by their rattles, hollow structures at the end of the tail. A snake vibrates the rattle to warn predators. Although these venomous snakes once ranged into the White Mountains, New Hampshire’s timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) population is now limited to less than thirty snakes on a single property in southern New Hampshire.
When hunting, great blue herons (Ardea herodias) stand motionless until a prey item moves within striking distance. Then, they quickly grab or impale the prey with their sharp bills.
Tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are cavity nesters. Although not all cavity nesters will utilize bird boxes, tree swallows sometimes do so. Their nests are often made of grasses and lined with numerous feathers.
Luna moths (Actias luna) are common but seen infrequently. As adults, they are most active at night, lack mouthparts, and live less than a week. Females lay over 400 eggs on the undersides of leaves, especially birch leaves.
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a native holly that grows in wetlands. Its bright berries provide an important food source for winter birds and other wildlife.
North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) are powerful swimmers able to stay submerged for up to four minutes. They can close off their ears and nostrils while chasing prey (primarily fish) underwater.
Yellow-bellied sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius) and other woodpeckers search for food by drilling into tree bark. They also excavate nest cavities in decaying trees. They may use the same cavity over multiple nesting seasons.
In the spring, common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) dig out nests in which they lay twenty or more eggs. They cover the nest and leave it unattended. Eggs incubated at or below 68°F produce only females, while those incubated at or above 73°F produce only males. If they are not predated, eggs hatch in the fall.
Galls are swollen growths caused by the invasion of a parasite. Many galls develop when an insect lays an egg within plant tissue. The resultant gall provides food and shelter as the insect grows before hatching out. Galls generally do not pose a threat to the health of the host plant.
Black-throated blue warblers (Setophaga caerulescens) build tightly woven nests held together with spider webs and saliva.
An owl's eyes are not round but rather tubular. This improves focus and depth perception but renders the eyes immobile within the owl’s skull. To compensate, an owl can rotate its head up to 270 degrees.
The short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea, also known as ermine), is brown with white underparts in the summer but white in the winter. A true carnivore, it feeds mostly on small rodents, which it hunts under the snow in winter.
Color bands can be applied in unique combinations to identify individual birds. Tin Mountain Conservation Center color bands black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), red-breasted nuthatches (Sitta canadensis), tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor) and white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis), many of which are resighted on the property year after year.
Gray tree frogs (Hyla versicolor) spend most of their lives in high treetops, descending only to breed in vernal pools or other shallow water nearby. A single tree frog can lay over 2000 eggs.
North American beavers (Castor canadensis) are the largest rodent on the continent, weighing up to 100 pounds. They use their strong teeth (which are orange due to high iron content) to fell trees and build dams. They thereby increase water levels, dramatically altering their surrounding plant and animal communities.
The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is the only breeding hummingbird in New England. Weighing between 2 and 6 grams (the equivalent of one or two pennies), it is the smallest bird in the region. Only males have iridescent, ruby red throats.
Wasps of the Vespid family construct nests out of a mixture of wood pulp and saliva. Northern paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus) build nests with open combs. Each cell in the comb contains a larval wasp.
Dragonflies lay their eggs in plant tissue. The eggs hatch into aquatic nymphs. The nymph stage may last a few months or up to five years depending on the species. When nymphs are ready to metamorphose, they climb out of the water onto exposed vegetation, crawl out of their larval skins, leave behind their exoskeletons, and take flight as fully formed dragonflies.
Owls capture prey with their sharp, powerful talons. Once an owl grasps its prey, it can lock its talons in place, keeping a tight grip without continued muscle contraction. The rough undersurface of the foot also aids in grip.
Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are large members of the weasel family. Although they may feed on fruit, nuts, and carrion, they are also fierce predators. They are one of the few animals able to prey on porcupines, attacking through the porcupine’s quill-free underbelly.