Below you'll find the answers to my New England Nature Quizzes. Newer quizzes (76-current) have answers within the posts themselves. If you have any questions about a quiz (or an answer), please Contact me.
These are fruits of a Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) tree. The green husks enclose black nuts, which contain edible kernels. A rodent-opened nut is visible in the upper right corner of the photo, and several bare leaf stems are visible throughout.
This is Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), a well-known medicinal mushroom.
This is a Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly.
These are Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) seed cone cores. Prior to being opened by a mammal (likely a Red Squirrel), these cores were covered with overlapping bracts, each of which covered two edible seeds (pine nuts). Due to their small size, human foragers typically ignore this wild food, but other creatures happily strip them clean. Here's what a partially dismantled cone looks like (click to enlarge):
This plant is called Downy Rattlesnake-plantain (Goodyera pubescens) and is a member of the Orchid family.
The bird located left of center is a Piping Plover. Click on the image below for a larger version.
Here is a photo of the bird standing up.
This short tree (or tall shrub) is Glossy False Buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
This butterfly is called a Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala).
This thin-billed bird is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the only type of hummingbird who breeds in New England.
This is a shelf, or bracket, fungus known as Violet-toothed Polypore (Trichaptum biforme).
This is part of the tail of an Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
These are the leafy fronds of Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis).
The white objects are the remains of Snapping Turtle eggs (see close up below). This nest was dug up by a local mammal, likely a Northern Raccoon, and must have made for a rich feast.
This is the unripe fruit of a Mulberry (Morus sp.).
As a commenter correctly explained, this is a type of Damselfly. The large size and all dark wings point to the Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata), and we can further say that this is a female based on the presence of conspicuous white wing-spots. I found this creature near the Ten Mile River perched on Glossy False Buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
The snake was an Eastern Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum s. triangulum).
The bird is a Killdeer. The distinctive double breast bands and orange rump help to confirm the identification. Here's another look at the same bird.
If you guessed Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor), you are correct.
The shrub pictured is Coastal Sweet-pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia). The bird is a migrant Palm Warbler.
This is a Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) -- a species who can show significant color variation. They typically feature 3 yellow stripes (one on each side and one on top); the top stripe of this individual is quite faint.
The recording contains the voices of at least the following species: Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Flicker, Pine Warbler, Ring-necked Pheasant (the outburst near the end) and American Robin. The pictured species is an American Robin.
This is a European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula). According to the BugGuide, this wasp is the only member of the family Vespidae with mostly orange antennae. The straight antennae further distinguish this wasp as a female; males have hooked antennae.
This is lichen called Smooth Rock Tripe (Umbilicaria mammulata). Although leathery when moist, this lichen is quite brittle when dry. Nearby boulders (see photo) were covered with this distinctive lichen, which is tar black on the rock-facing surface and tan colored on top.
This is a Diurnal Firefly (Ellychnia corrusca). Other common names for this species are Winter Firefly and Day-flying Firefly. These creatures lack light organs, and therefore don't glow like the familiar night-flying fireflies.
You may recognize this shadow as belonging to Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). This plant is commonly found along roadsides (like the plant pictured), and cultivars are frequently fostered in flower beds.
This is an egg case made by a Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis).
This crab-eater is a Common Loon.
This is the trunk of an Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana).
Both birds are woodpeckers. The bird on the left looks much like a Downy Woodpecker, but notice that the outer tail feathers are white and unmarked (Downy would show black bars on white). This bird is a Hairy Woodpecker and a female given the absence of a red head patch. The bird on the right is a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. A female head would show red only on the back. It is often difficult to see the red-belly in the field, but this photo captures it nicely.
The photos are of Red Maple (Acer rubrum, also called Swamp Maple), a common tree of both wetlands and uplands. The first photo shows the end of a twig with clusters of reddish flower buds. The second photo illustrates the opposite arrangement of leaf buds. The third photo shows a bark pattern that, according to Michael Wojtech in his book Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast, is the result of a bullseye canker specific to Red Maples.
The tracks in this video were made by a Raccoon (Procyon lotor). Each pair of tracks consists of a short front track and relatively longer rear track.
These tracks were made by a House Cat (Felis catus).
The cold leaves in this photo belong to Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).
I'll give the answers to this quiz in reverse.
(3) The front track is the larger track, which is located on the right, in the second photo.
(2) This track pattern is referred to as a side trot. As far as I know, only Canines use this gait.
(1) I believe (though I can't know for sure as I didn't see the maker) that these tracks are those left by a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes). The length of the tracks appears too small for Eastern Coyote (though the snow depth may have resulted in a smaller than normal impression), and the overall neatness of the track pattern makes Domestic Dog an unlikely choice. The heel pad in the front tracks also appears to have the characteristic bar or chevron shape typical of Red Fox.
These tracks were left by a Great Blue Heron.
This is a male Downy Woodpecker clinging onto a Cat-tail (Typha sp.) stalk.
This trail was made by a Virginia Opossum. The close-up photo contains imprints of two tracks – the front foot was placed first with the hind foot (featuring opposable thumb) then coming down just behind and to the left. The narrow trail width suggests that this animal was trotting rather than walking.
This plant is Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), one of the few evergreen ferns in New England.
This is a broken up seed catkin of Gray Birch (Betula populifolia). Here is a photo of what one looks like on the tree:
The bird who made these tracks spends a great deal of time feeding on the ground and prefers hopping, instead of walking or skipping. You won't find a Dark-eyed Junco in my yard in summer, but they are common during the white season.
I watched the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in this photo eating the fruit of Asian Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata). The native American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) would show fruit clusters only at the ends of branches, rather than the numerous axillary clusters shown here.
This American Goldfinch is perched on a dead stalk of Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis). I've watched American Goldfinches feeding on the seeds of this plant on many occasions.
As both Dave and Laura correctly guessed, this is a photo of a Wild Turkey. Here's the photo prior to being cropped:
This is an immature Cedar Waxwing feeding on the red rosehips of Rambler Rose (Rosa multiflora). Unlike adults, juveniles have streaked chests, but waxwings both young and old have tails tipped with yellow. The following photo shows a different angle.
This bird is feeding on the berries of Poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). The yellow side patch and yellow rump (barely visible between wings) on this small bird point to Yellow-rumped Warbler. By late October, Yellow-rumps are among the few warblers likely to be encountered in Massachusetts.
This tree was marked by the antlers of a male White-tailed Deer.
The fall flowering shrub is American Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).
This is a Downy Woodpecker. She is the same bird featured in Right Up Close: Downy Woodpecker.
The vine with palmately compound leaves and blue fruit is Virginia-creeper (Parthenocissus sp.), the shrub with red berries and pinnately compound leaves is Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), and the shrub on the right side of the photo with smaller simple leaves is Small Bayberry (Morella caroliniensis). All three plants were featured in my Wild Bird Food post.
As several commenters correctly guessed, these seeds belong to Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Here's a photo of the plant with seed pods that have not yet released their seeds.
This is a tail feather of a Mourning Dove. Check out this page at The Feather Atlas for comparison.
The plant is called American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) or Poke for short. I noted that the berries are not edible for humans (though some birds consume them), but in spring the young shoots can be gathered and eaten if properly prepared. But be sure to consult guide books or experienced wild food foragers before consuming this plant.
These rows of holes were made by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
This is Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), also called Queen Anne's Lace.
As a commenter correctly guessed, this is a Common Raven, a large member of the Corvidae family.
The snake is a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). Visit Snakes of Massachusetts for more info on this species.
The bird in the photo is a Green Heron. While fairly common and widespread in New England, the Green Heron can be quite tricky to find. They spend a great deal of time nearly motionless, as they hunt in wetland areas. They use their dagger-like bills to catch fish, frogs, insects and more. About the size of an American Crow, they are significantly smaller than the Great Blue Heron.
The creature in the photo is an American Toad (Bufo americanus). The similar Fowler's Toad differs by having three or more warts on its largest black body spots.
I hear at least six birds in the recording:
American Robin sings a phrase about every 5 seconds.
Northern Cardinal sings at marker 2 and 14.
Northern Waterthrush sings at marker 12 and 28.
Blue Jay calls at marker 2, 7, 12, 15, etc.
Eastern Kingbird call notes are heard at marker 1, 3, 7, 11, 14, 16, etc.
Common Yellowthroat sings at marker 5 and 24.
A commenter suggested a Black-capped Chickadee may be heard – leave a comment in the post if you hear someone else.
The butterfly is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) -- quite possibly the most familiar swallowtail in the eastern part of the country. In northern New England, this butterfly is replaced by the smaller, similar-looking Canadian Tiger Swallowtail.
The shrub that made these leafy-husks which enclose ripening nuts is an American Hazelnut (Corylus americana).
The plant is called One-flowered Indian-pipe (Monotropa uniflora). Often growing in clusters, this individual popped up alone.
The bird is a Northern Flicker. Unlike most woodpeckers, they spend a fair amount of time on the ground, digging for insects. The crescent shaped, black bib, visible in the photo, is distinctive.
This is a non-flowering stem of Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis). Note the white bloom on the stem. In the field, older canes with developing fruit make for nice confirmation.
This is an Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta). Good field marks for this turtle include the red and black margins of the shell, the yellow markings on the head, and the light colored bands that go from one side of the shell to the other and form almost straight lines.
These are the fluffy seeds of a Necklace Poplar (Populus deltoides)tree. You may also know it as Eastern Cottonwood.
This is a day-flying moth, known as Heliomata cycladata or the Common Spring Moth. According to my research, the larva feed on Honey Locust and Black Locust trees, and in fact, I found this moth just a few feet from some Black Locusts.
The tree is Betula lenta, commonly called Sweet, Black, or Cherry Birch. Saplings of this species can resemble those of Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), but the older bark easily separates the two, as a commenter noted. Scratching the twigs of either species will reveal a wintergreen scent.
The following Quizzes have answers in the posts themselves.