Solar Eclipse Behaviors

Solar Eclipse-The Diamond Ring, Courtesy Pixabay, Buddy Nath, Contributor

Solar Eclipse-The Diamond Ring
Courtesy Pixabay
Buddy Nath, Contributor

I believe we’re all aware that the amount of light has major influence on wildlife activity, as it does our own, triggering everything from breeding and feeding activity and various behaviors in general. Thus the very short period of light variation during a solar eclipse has piqued my interest.

When a total eclipse crossed over New England in 1932, researchers put out a call for people to share their wildlife observations probably the first study to intentionally track animals during an eclipse—people reported owls hooting, pigeons returning to roost, and a general pattern of bird behavior that suggested “fear, bewilderment, Purple Martins pausing their foraging and nighthawks flying in the afternoon. Whooping cranes dance shortly after the eclipse, and flamingos congregate. For many birds, it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A citizen scientist watched a yellow okra flower close during totality, just as it would at night—a favorite observation of Alison Young, co-director of the Center for Biodiversity and Community Science at the California Academy of Sciences and lead author of a paper describing the findings. The flower’s response was unexpected, she says in an email, since totality wasn’t very long.

During the 2017 eclipse, more than 600 observers submitted their findings to iNaturalist” a community science effort where observations described an absence of wildlife during the eclipse’s peak: busy bird feeders clearing out, insects going quiet, flowers closing up. Other community scientists noted bees quieting their buzzing in flower patches, zoo animals going through their nighttime routines, and Chimney Swifts swooping and twittering like it was dusk

The Eclipse Soundscapes project is also looking for observers to record and share “field notes” of the changes they see, hear, and feel during the eclipse, whether they’re in the total path or not. By going beyond the visuals, the Soundscapes team hopes to make the big day more accessible for blind or low-vision people who are often left out of astronomy, and to help everyone have a deeper experience of the rare event. “What we’re trying to do is have people be very mindful during the eclipse, and actually use all of their senses to determine what changes. Their resulting study found that as the moon started to cover up the sun, there was a drop in biological activity in the air—suggesting that day-flying birds and insects were coming down to rest.

Countrywide, people noticed swallows and swifts flocking as darkness fell. Frogs and crickets, common elements of an evening soundscape, started to call, while diurnal cicadas stopped making noise. Ants appeared to slow down or stop moving, and even domestic chickens responded—hens gathered together and got quiet, while roosters crowed.

Even in the partial zone, you can still pay attention to how nature responds—and contribute to science. Sending in your observations through a platform like iNaturalist or eBird can help provide valuable data for future research,

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon, and I’m wild about Utah!


Images: Eclipse Pixabay, AlpineDon, Contributor,
Featured Audio: Courtesy & © Anderson, Howe and Wakeman,
Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver,
Also includes audio Courtesy & © J. Chase & K.W. Baldwin
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Ohio Wildlife Observations: Solar Eclipse 2024


The Eclipse Soundscapes project

2024 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA

EarthSky: How Will Animals React During the Eclipse?

Watch Videos from EarthSky Countdown to Eclipse 2024:

Whitt, Kelly Kizer, When is the next total solar eclipse? April 9, 2024,

Mallard Musings

Mallard Musings: Fall Migration at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Courtesy & Copyright Brian W. Ferguson, Photographer
Fall Migration at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Courtesy & Copyright Brian W. Ferguson, Photographer
The Bear River Mountains near the Utah/Idaho border are the headwaters of the Logan River, which flows southwest through Logan Canyon, works its way westward through Logan, and converges with the Little Bear and Bear River about 5 miles west of town. All three rivers are halted by Cutler Dam to form Cutler Reservoir. The Bear River exits the dam which continues southwest and drains into the Great Salt Lake. The portion of the Great Salt Lake where the Bear River drains is managed by the federal Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge which holds spectacular opportunities to view some of nature’s most stunning birds. With a lovely visitor’s center and an auto tour route, even an inexperienced outdoorsman is likely to have a magnificent adventure observing birds interacting in an unmolested manner, unpressured by many elements of human development. If you haven’t ventured there, I recommend doing so and I suggest starting your journey at the visitor’s center near Brigham City. However, this segment is not about the fantastical birds at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Instead, it’s about a bird that many people see daily, and like me, have drifted through years of life without appreciating their beauty or their behavior.

Labs Alert by Passing Mallards, Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer
Labs Alert by Passing Mallards
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Perfectly Camouflaged Pair, Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer Perfectly Camouflaged Pair
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Ready for Takeoff, Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer Ready for Takeoff
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Game of Tag, Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer Game of Tag
Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

My back yard abuts the Logan River as it gently meanders through Logan, UT and my two Labrador Retrievers and I spend many sunny hours sitting in a lawn chair by its banks, enjoying the sound of water and wildlife that call this riverway home. Along with the typical presence of the Black-Capped Chickadees, Belted Kingfishers, American Robins, and Mourning Doves, the stunning green-headed Mallard Duck is a daily companion; one I have grown quite fond of. Often moving in pairs, these boisterous ducks go up and down the river. Sometimes they are flying, one way or the other, wings gliding but six inches off the top of the water. My wet tongued friends are always first to alert me of the flying passers when their heads pop up and ears prick alert. It seems like a dance for the ducks, as one launches from the water for no apparent reason, luring the others to follow. They fly but 50 yards up or down and raucously splash back into the water. No doubt, it seems that a hen is always leading the charge with one, or multiple, green heads following her around. Other times these ducks are bobbling along on the water this way or that. On their way downstream, they seem to stay in the middle and just bounce in the current like a bobber bobs on windy ripples. But on their way upstream, the perfectly camouflaged birds blend into the twigs and boulders on the bank as they pick their way along the side eddies and dabble as they go, heads down and butts erect, foraging for any aquatic insect or vegetation they may find nestled in the stones and debris along the riverbed.

These ducks don’t just stay in the waterway, and often frequent the yards along the river. When on land, these Mallards engage in a game of tag that seems both exhausting and exciting. The drakes seem to chase anything that comes their way, whether it is another drake or a hen. With obvious intentions, the game seems to escalate in the late winter/early spring months as the greenheads become vehemently passionate. These courtship rituals are quite a fascinating site to behold.

So thank you Mallards, for my time by the river just wouldn’t be the same without you to keep me company, and to stir observation and reflection.

This is Dr. Joseph Kozlowski, and I am Wild about Utah!


Images: Fall Migration at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-Courtesy & Copyright Brian W. Ferguson, Photographer, Used by Permission
All other images, as marked, Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller,, Kevin Colver and J. Chase and K.W. Baldwin.
Text:     Joseph Kozlowski, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University
Additional Reading Links: Joseph Kozlowski & Lyle Bingham

Additional Reading:

Joseph (Joey) Kozlowski’s pieces on Wild About Utah:

Mallard, Ducks Unlimited,

Mallard Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior,

About Logan, Logan City, UT,

Leavitt, Shauna, The Ecology in and around the Logan River, Wild About Utah, December 2, 2018,

Water Inspires Writing & Drawing to Learn

Water Inspires Writing & Drawing to Learn: The first reach of the Little Logan River at River Hollow Park. This is the river’s connection to the Logan River, and in the proposed Logan River Watershed Plan it will be an excavated to bury piped water, severing the historic Little Logan River from the Logan River forever. Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer
The first reach of the Little Logan River at River Hollow Park. This is the river’s connection to the Logan River, and in the proposed Logan River Watershed Plan it will be an excavated to bury piped water, severing the historic Little Logan River from the Logan River forever.
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer
Water Inspires Writing & Drawing to Learn: The Little Logan River Anabranch & the PBS Utah Writers & Illustrators Contest for youth from Kindergarten through 6th Grade

Throughout history, cities and towns have often been established along the banks of rivers, because these waterways provide a source of drinking water, power, and transport links to other communities. The City of Logan, Utah, is no exception – in fact it was just over a century and a half ago, in the Spring of 1859, when the first white settlers chose to camp on the banks of the Little Logan River in what is now named Merlin Olsen Central Park. Right away, they began building mills and farming the fertile Island between the rivers. Our natural and cultural heritage are linked to water, so it’s an exciting opportunity to be inspired by the PBS KIDS Utah Writers & Illustrators Contest theme of “Our Water, Our Future”. Children in Kindergarten-6th Grade are invited to participate, and stories are accepted in English and Spanish, can be fiction or nonfiction, may be about your very own neighborhood or faraway lands. Anyone can take a look at the PBS Utah activity sheets and printable resources online.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood park where you go wading and tubing? Did you know that the Little Logan River flows through half a dozen beloved parks, including River Hollow Park which was established at the source, where the Little Logan River branches north from the Logan River. The Little Logan meanders through town where it used to power multiple mills, including Central Mills, established in 1867 and considered to be the oldest continuously-run business in the state. The river is an anabranch of the Logan River, a diverging branch of the river which re enters the main stream at the west edge of town. Fun Fact: In Australian Public Works Departments* an anabranch is called a billabong!

Speaking of water, if you put a shallow bowl of clean water out for birds you might see them flock to your little oasis for a drink and a careful Tai Chi-like bathing ritual, and with a heated bird bath in winter, you might witness a fascinating meeting of a variety of species gathering around the warm watering hole, perhaps sharing a quiet appreciation for the nutritious seeds in the nearby dried Sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans, and Indian Rice Grass.

Hearing the birds brings to mind the insightful observations by Terry Tempest Williams, that “Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”

Now is the time to celebrate the biodiversity supported by our rivers and lakes, and each and every life-sustaining drop of water in our watersheds.

I’m Hilary Shughart with the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I am Wild About Utah!

Images: Courtesy & Copyright, Hilary Shughart, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver, AND Friend Weller, Retiring Engineer, Utah Public Radio,
Text: Hilary Shughart, President,
Additional Reading: Hilary Shughart and Lyle Bingham,

Additional Reading

WildAboutUtah pieces by Hilary Shughart,

Full Power Flour: The relationship between the farmer, the miller and the baker are key to the success of Central Milling’s organic mission. By Darby Doyle

Little Logan River Topo Map

An anabranch is a channel of water that leaves a river or stream and then rejoins again further downstream. An anabranch is considered to be part of the river or stream that it comes from.
An anabranch can be nearly half of a river’s flow of water. When there is an island in the river, an anabranch is created as water passes around the island. The smaller channel of water passing the island is an anabranch of the river.

PBS KIDS Utah Writers & Illustrators Contest: Our Water, Our Future

“Unlike Main Street, or Center Street, or 400 North Street, which are streets of commerce, the Little Logan River is the raison d’etre of the City of Logan. “
A History of Logan Island, by Virginia C. Parker, Logan, Utah, 2007,


Working Water in Cache Valley, Cache Pioneer Museum, Cache Chapter of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers,

Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, Sarah Crichton Books; First Edition (April 10, 2012)

ECONET April 2, Proposal to sever the Little Logan River from the Logan River, 5:30 p.m. Logan City Hall, 290 N 100 West Logan, UT, Bridgerland Audubon Society, March 29, 2024,

Delta’s Snow Goose Festival

Delta's Snow Goose Festival: Snow Geese at Gunnison Bend Reservoir, Delta Utah Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Snow Geese at
Gunnison Bend Reservoir
Delta Utah
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Every Spring the city of Delta, Utah puts out a call to come on down to the annual Snow Goose Festival.

Right on schedule thousands of snow geese fly in from as far south as Mexico to fatten up on the spilled grain in the local farmer’s fields, and rest a bit before continuing their migration to the far north.

I arrived at about noon and sure enough found a few hundred of the white geese bobbling peacefully in the reservoir just outside of town. Then came a great crescendo of geese calls and I looked up. A couple hundred more geese were flying in like a precision jet team. They lowered their feet and waterskied to a soft landing, somehow managing not to bump into each other. And then the scene quieted down. It was time for a long afternoon nap.

Perhaps these geese wondered why so many spectators had come to the reservoir to watch them nap on their day off. But we had come to marvel at their ability to catch the slow rising tide of lengthening days and ride it to the north, timing their arrival to the melting of snow and greening of the arctic tundra. In the far north, the snow geese will split off into pairs, build their nests, and raise their young.

But in the fall, they will form up in large flocks once again for the return trip because they know flying together is far more efficient than flying alone. People that study the physics of flying tell us that birds can get an energy savings of 65% from the free lift of upward airflow around another bird’s wing tips.

A few years ago, I had read a book about a man in Ontario, Canada, Bill Lishman, who had carried out a migration experiment with geese. I dug out my copy of his book, Father Goose, and reread it.

Bill had hatched some Canada goose eggs in an incubator at his home. The geese followed him everywhere, toddling across his lawn, swimming in his pond, and going airborne while chasing him on his motorcycle. One goose liked to fly inches above his head, looking a lot like the bill of an amazing baseball cap. Eventually Bill coaxed the geese into the air behind his ultralight plane.

Could these young geese, raised without adult geese role models, be able to migrate? Bill launched his trial – a 400-mile fall journey from Ontario to a nature reserve in Virginia. The geese flew with Bill’s plane for 7 days, overnighting along the way, and settled down for the winter.

The next big question lay ahead: would the geese be able to find their way home unaided in the spring?

Unexpectedly, on April 1, the geese took off under cover of night. For two weeks, Bill and his team searched for them to no avail. Then Bill got a phone call from his wife. The geese had returned and were waiting for him on the lawn in front of his house in Ontario.

Did they remember landmarks in the terrain they had crossed on the way south? Did they navigate by the sun and stars?

Bill had shown that young geese could find their way home. But just exactly how they did it is still a very well-kept secret.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
Text: Mary Heers,
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

See thousands of geese migrating through Utah during the 2024 Delta Snow Goose Festival, Feb 1, 2024,

Snow Goose Festival, Delta Area Chamber of Commerce,

Snow Goose Festival, Millard County Tourism,

Snow Goose Festival Video, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources,

Snow Goose | Canada Goose Comparison, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University,