Ask a Naturalist: Evening Wonders
Waldo Emerson writes, “Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.” Regardless of your take on this quote, either literal or metaphorical, a new set of drama unravels in nature before the new dawn gets a chance to begin.
Summer gives plenty of time to enjoy the wonders of nature brought on and unraveled by the setting sun. Whether you are contemplating nature, taking a casual stroll or actively searching for flora and fauna, there’s plenty to discover about the world around us. As the flora and fauna that are active during the daytime settle, the transition to evening time brings different, and at times drastic sets of life to explore and enjoy.
As the sun sets, the first thing to look for is the change in the color of the sky painted by the setting sun, along with the evening breeze and the cooling temperature. As the dusk reactivates the time, evening light paints the sky in dazzling colors. Birds hurry to their evening grounds; insects settle in the brushes, and other animals wait for the evening to wear on. For nocturnal animals, evening time means getting to business. The business for animals is using all their available strategies to find food and avoid being prey. It is a matter of survival for nocturnal animals such as bats, owls, and rodents, including some frogs, toads and insects.
As the evening matures, bats take advantage of the emerging insects that have evolved to navigate in the evening or under the moonlight. There are several ways that you can tell bats from birds. While birds may fly in flocks, bats have acrobatic fluttering motions and have a knack for beating the complex flight patterns of insects and finally turning them into tasty morsels for the evening.
Owls, on the other hand, are formidable stealth hunters capable of spotting and capturing the smallest movements from rodents and other prey on the ground. Their special wing anatomy and sensitive hearing makes them master gourmet hunters.
Other animals to look for are frogs and toads that announce their presence from their favorite hideouts. Thus, the symphony and synchrony of eating and being eaten takes a different shape, recommences, and carries on until finally, the dawn opens up.