What's Your Nature?

Become a Nature Up North explorer to share your encounters with wild things and wild places in New York's North Country. Post your wildlife sightings, landscape shots, photos from your outings, and even you organization's events!

Ask A Fairy

By Thimble & Blossom
June 9, 2017

The wait is finally over! The fairies are so happy that you found their houses, and they said the questions you asked this year were especially thoughtful. Thimble Hickory and Blossom Dewdrop are your fairy experts on North Country nature and fairy culture again for this round of questions. They’re on their way to their northern summer nesting spot, but they already can’t wait to pass through the North Country again in the fall!

 

Are the fairies real?

I get this question a lot. Many people, mostly adults, don’t believe that we are real. Us fairies are extremely shy, and we never like to be seen. Some people have trouble believing in something that they can’t see. But, I assure you, we fairies are real!

 

Why don’t fairies let people see them? -Olivia, 8

Hi there Olivia!

Fairies tend to be on the shy side, and we don’t like to be seen by people. We prefer the quiet of the woods, and we like hiding among the leaves and in tree stumps more than coming out in the open.

 

What kind of food do you eat? -Hanley, 1.5

Oh, where to begin! The forest provides so many delicious options for us to eat. We love eating pine nuts with drops of dew sprinkled on top for breakfast, a wild mint and wood sorrel salad with berries for lunch, and some wild mushrooms and acorns with a tall glass of flower nectar on the side for dinner. The best thing about a fairy diet it that all our food can be found in the woods! We never buy, grow, or raise our food. We just look for it, kind of like a scavenger hunt!

 

Hi, we are from Virginia Beach and Florida. I was wondering how many and what types of bears are here. Thank you, -Elliot, 9; Owen, 3; Keayan, 3; Lucus, 6

Hello there, Elliot, Owen, Keayan, and Lucus! You all traveled just about as far as we did to get here!

In Northern New York, the only type of bear that lives here is the black bear! There are about 7,000 black bears who live in this state. Black bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Black bears are also very smart. I have been friends with many black bears before, and they tell me that food is very important to them, and they can learn how to get food from the wild and from humans. When people leave their food out when they are camping, black bears can figure out how to eat it, even if it is in a special bear-proof container!

Why does moss grow on the roof of houses?

Moss grows best in shady, moist, and cool places. Roofs can be shaded by trees, and if it rains, the roof gets wet! If the roof gets a lot of sun, it is less likely that moss will grow there. It also matters what the roof is made of. If you have a metal roof, moss probably won’t grow on it because it is very flat, and there are no grooves or pores for nutrients and moisture to collect in. Asphalt and shingle roofing has lots of cracks and grooves for stuff to get stuck in, which makes it easier for moss to grow!

 

Why don’t butterflies stand still to get their picture taken? -Sophia, 3.5

Great question, Sophia!

Butterflies are extremely active, and seem to be fluttering all the time. This can be frustrating if you want to get a photo! But, they do it for a reason. Butterflies have humongous wings compared to other insects, and their wings let them fly in crazy patterns in all directions. They could fly in a straight line if they wanted to, but they fly up, down, back, and forth because it makes it harder for predators (other animals who want to eat them) to catch them! This also makes it harder for us to get a picture of them, even if we don’t want to hurt them. If you are patient and wait near a nice patch of flowers, I bet you could still get a good picture!

If Jack Frost brings frost in winter, do fairies bring dew in summer? Wade, 4; Hillary, 2

Thanks for your super question, Wade and Sophia!

While Jack Frost does help bring frost in winter, fairies don’t do much to bring the summer dew. We arrive in the North Country right around the time that dew starts showing up on the grass in your yard, but the dew shows up because of some changes in temperature. At night, the sun fades behind the horizon and is replaced by the moon and mostly darkness. When the sun leaves, the air cools down, and the teeny tiny water droplets that live in the air cool down so much that they collect on grass, leaves, and windows as dew! Frost in the winter is the same thing as frozen dew!

 

What is the biggest animal that lives here? -Genevieve, 5

Hello Genevieve!

Black bear and moose are the biggest animals that you might see here in the North Country. Black Bears can weigh up to 275 pounds and be 6 feet tall, and moose are even bigger. A fully grown moose can be 10 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds!

What kind of tree is the fairy house hanging from? -Evangeline, 6

 

Hello there Evangeline!

The tree that our gourd house was hanging from is an Eastern white pine. This one is hard to identify at first because it is dead and the bark has gotten old, but look at the way the bark is cracked and the branches near the top seem to spiral around in a circle.

Thank you for your question!

What do birds eat? -Cat, 4

Hi there Cat!

Birds eat mainly seeds, fruits and nectar from plants, as well as insects and other small animals. Different kinds of birds eat different foods. Hummingbirds have long, slender beaks, allowing them to sip nectar from deep within flowers. Woodpeckers drill holes into the trunks of trees to find insects. Eagles eat mainly fish that they swoop down and catch in bodies of water. Birds have special diets depending on how their beaks are shaped.

 

Should we pick leaves from the trees? -Sophia, 3 ½Leaves are an important part of the tree! Sometimes we pull a leaf off a tree to get a closer look at it. A tree can survive just fine if a f

ew leaves are missing. However, picking too many leaves will hurt the tree so it is best to let the trees keep their leaves whenever possible.

What is your favorite tree?

Eastern white pine trees are one of the tallest tree species in this region! During our migration, I love to stop and perch on the tip top of these trees. From up there, I can see everything for miles; the hills, forests, rivers, and distant mountains. I can truly appreciate the beauty of our earth from a different perspective. 

 

What are all these caterpillars? -Ryan, 8

The caterpillars you are seeing are called Forest Tent Caterpillars and you’re right, they are everywhere this year! The last infestation of Tent Caterpillars in this region was 10 years ago. The caterpillars like to eat the leaves from trees and in many cases, won’t stop eating until all of the leaves are gone. Even if they are destructive, they still have amazing color and patterns on their little furry bodies. Next time you see one, take a close look!

By Thimble & Blossom

Thimble and Blossom are two traveling woodland fairies who love to migrate through the North Country on their way towards the tropical forests where they spend their winter. Thimble loves spending his time exploring the tops of trees and enjoys surfing down the falling leaves in autumn. Blossom likes to spend many of her afternoons befriending bees and butterflies in the forest. She also loves to take dewdrop baths every morning while listening to morning birdsong. Because they live in the woods, Thimble and Blossom have learned a lot about North Country plants and animals throughout the years. They're very excited to share their knowledge with you!