Ames Free Library

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Staff Picks

A Glimpse of Nature -- Have You Heard?

It began with the tufted titmouse.  As I crossed the library’s parking lot, the bird’s voice caught my attention, which seemed odd knowing that titmice live year-round in Massachusetts.  I probably hear them every day, but this was February 2, the day when winter-weary humans pin their hopes on groundhogs.  With no rodents in sight, I was listening to a “spring” song:  “Here, here!”  The bird wasn’t forecasting the weather.

A Glimpse of Nature - After Dinner

Several readers identified “What Is It! #8” as an owl pellet.  I expected this, but the discovery of a pellet gives me an excuse to delve into a fascinating topic.  

Last April I found this particular pellet under a large pine between Queset House and the garden.  It was 1 ¾ inches long by ⅞ inches wide, compact and lightweight, with a surface layer of gray fur.  Before we look inside, let’s review what pellets are and why birds produce them.  

A Glimpse of Nature - Contest Winners & More


“How lucky are we to have received so many amazing submissions!” exclaimed Megan Tully, Head of Reference & Adult Services at the Ames Free Library. The staff had just voted for their favorite “Picturing Winter” entries . . . and it wasn’t easy! Twenty-seven photographers submitted 108 photos that reflected many ways of seeing winter, especially our theme of “Ice & Snow.” Thanks to all for participating and sharing your talents and perspectives. What fun!

A Glimpse of Nature -- Seeing Patterns

Now that you’ve had some practice finding crustose, foliose, and fruticose lichens, it’s time to fine-tune your observations. Let’s begin with patterns. I urge you to spend some time during the next few weeks learning a few of the most frequently-seen lichen families and familiarizing yourself with their general forms. This post will offer several local examples and two online resources to get you started.

A Glimpse of Nature - In the Bag

There was a time, not so very long ago, when gardening consumed most of my free time and creativity. This was especially true when I first moved to a tumbledown-but-promising homestead in Pembroke in 2010.  I eagerly established shrub borders, a butterfly garden, walkways, a patio, vegetable beds, container plantings, new trees, an apple orchard, a wildflower meadow . . . and looked forward to the shade and wetland gardens, when other interests and responsibilities lured me away.  Neglect has, once again, taken hold.


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