Turkey Tail is a bracket fungus which grows on the sides of logs or trees. It’s easy to see how it gets its common name. The fan-shaped fruiting bodies have the same kind of concentric banding and roughly the same palette of colors as an actual Wild Turkey’s tail.
Fungi are recyclers. By digesting dead organic matter, they release carbon bound in plant cells. To do this they secrete digestive enzymes to chemically break down food into a form that they can absorb. Eventually, due to this process, nutrients are returned to the soil to be used again.
Turkey Tail is spoon-shaped, up to four inches wide, and can be very colorful. Its colors can range from brown, white, tan, orange, red, or purple – or all of these colors at once. They often overlap each other and feel leathery to the touch.
Like other fungi, Turkey Tail is the name for the part that you see. Most of the fungus is inside the bark of the log. The “tail” that you see is like the “flower” of the fungus.
Turkey Tails are among the most common and most beautiful fungi in the woods and on a dreary November day, finding and photographing them can make for an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.
Third Eye Herp
These small, but colorful spiders make circular webs often positioned horizontally (rather than vertically, like most orb weavers) the ground. They tend to hang out in the middle of their web.
Orchard Orb Weavers can be variably colored with silver, green, yellow, red and blue. They have long and slender legs. These creatures provide a valuable service to humans by eating small insects like flies and mosquitos.
Although this one was photographed in my yard, I have often seen them in low bushes in damp woodlands. They usually build their small webs in low vegetation and occasionally in small trees.
They can be somewhat common in wooded areas with dense undergrowth, but they are not easily noticed because of their habit of quickly dropping into the leaf litter when disturbed. Its scientific nomenclature has the distinction of being only spider name created by Charles Darwin himself. Its species name, venusta, is Latin for “charming, elegant, or beautiful.”
Third Eye Herp
The Eastern Chipmunk is a brightly colored, conspicuously patterned rodent averaging 9-10 inches in total length. It is easy to identify, due to its two white stripes bordered by black on its sides.
This mammal lives in open woods, rocky habitats and brushy areas, including suburban backyards. It is most abundant in mature hardwood forests containing Sugar Maple and Beech Trees, with a relatively open understory.
It digs a burrow for shelter with cavities for storing food. The burrow is often an elaborate maze of inter-connecting tunnels, some tunnels serve as drains to minimize flooding. It also stores large amounts of food in chambers constructed in the burrow and spends much of its time running back and forth from trees to its subterranean home.
Eastern Chipmunks eat a wide variety of foods, especially acorns and nuts. Their feeding habits reflect the seasonal supply of seeds, fruits, nuts, fungi and roots that are available. They can be observed stuffing their two internal cheek pouches as they gather food.
This animal doesn’t truly hibernate, but it does spend a lot of time sleeping in the Winter. It may wake up every few weeks to eat the food it has stored. It communicates with other chipmunks by chattering. Eastern Chipmunks help many plants and fungi by spreading seeds and spores as they travel the forest floor.
Third Eye Herp