Dispatches from the Forest

Dispatches from the Forest

Dispatches from the Forest is all about nature and the natural world. Hosted by Tim O'Hara, Dispatches from the Forest explores the curious, the interesting and the surprising world of nature - often found right in your own backyard!


January 25, 2023 20 min

What's black and white and red all over?  A penguin with a sunburn!  Learn more about these flightless fowl of the south on this week's episode of the Dispatches from the Forest Podcast!


To support future episodes please consider becoming a patron at Patreon.com/dispatchesfromtheforest.  Individual donations are also accepted via PayPal at Dispatchesfromtheforest@gmail.com.

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Sea turtles are amazing creatures!  The largest species, the Leatherback Sea Turtle can grow to be over 1000 pounds.  Learn more about these ocean-dwelling reptiles on this episode!

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December 28, 2022 25 min

I know plenty of people that would hibernate through the winter if they could.  For the last episode of the year, we take a closer look at those iconic hibernators (or are they?) black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears.

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December 14, 2022 22 min

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and all the rest, but do you know all the amazing features that make Reindeer the perfect animal to pull Santa's sleigh?  Learn all about these amazing and unique members of the deer family!

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November 30, 2022 21 min

What's the difference between a native species, a non-native naturalized species and an invasive species?  Good question!  Listen to this week's episode and find out!

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November 16, 2022 19 min

I frequently find cool stuff that I want to talk about that just don't warrant their own episode, so this episode is dedicated to some of those critters.  Crayfish, dusky salamanders, ground beetles and a parasite that drives its host to drown itself.  Dig through the junk drawer of my observations!

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November 2, 2022 24 min

On this episode we'll take a look at 3 "Non-placental" mammals from Australia: Wombats, Platypuses and Tasmanian Devils.  2 marsupials and a monotreme.  There's cube-shaped poop, butt slams, egg-layng, venom and a whole lot of teeth!  If you need a conversation starter for Thanksgiving dinner - this is the episode you need!

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October 19, 2022 24 min

Continuing with a Halloween theme, this episode takes a closer look at some "Halloween adjacent" arthropods - the crawliest of the creepy crawlies: Centipedes and Millipedes.  Some of the first land animals on earth, Centipedes and Millipedes don't just have a lot of feet, they can perform a lot of feats - including glow in the dark - how cool is that?


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Welcome to spooky season!  In ancient Greece owls were associated with protection and wisdom, but sometime in the Middle Ages in Europe they became associated with witches - probably owing to the fact they were nocturnal and mysterious.  Learn about how these amazing birds and how they have evolved to be masters of the nighttime hunt!

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Meet the toads and frogs that are commonly found right here at Dispatches HQ: American Toads, Fowler's Toads, Green Tree Frogs, Cope's Grey Tree Frogs, Cricket Frogs and Pickerel Frogs.

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Wasps get a lot of hate - primarily because we are afraid of getting stung.  But did you know that of the 4000 species of wasp found in the United States, only 30 - less than 1% - are capable of stinging.  And in addition to being pollinators, wasps provide natural pest control.  Learn more about the fascinating world of wasps on this episode of the Dispatches from the Forest Podcast!

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August 24, 2022 32 min

I know I said I was going to talk about wasps, but I had another idea - come along with me as I take a hike at Crow's Nest Natural Preserve Area - a 2872-acre peninsula situated between two tidal creek tributaries of the Potomac River in Stafford County, Virginia.  This property has been used by humans for the last 11000 years and with its mature hardwood forests and freshwater marshes it has a fantastic amount of biodiversity!...

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August 10, 2022 22 min

About 80% of flowering plants rely on living pollinators to move their pollen between flowers.  In this episode I'll tell you about just a few of those - Honeybees, Bumblebees, Carpenter Bees and Mason Bees.  Fascinating insects that have incredibly important jobs!

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August 3, 2022 44 min

What's this?  Bonus content?  That's right!  I had a chance to go on the radio "Town Talk" hosted by Ted Schubel last week (News Talk 1230 WFVA) here in Fredericksburg, VA with my friend and opossum rehabilitator Karen Brace (check her out at awesomepossumz.com and on Instagram @awesomepossumz1).  We talked about what's involved in becoming an animal rehabilitator and why wild animals should not be kept as p...

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Snakes are one of the most feared and misunderstood animals around.   But snakes, venomous or not, generally just want humans to leave them alone.  Over half of all bites from venomous snakes in the United States are completely avoidable.  Snakes occupy a very important place in the ecosystem.  In this episode I'll tell you why snakes - even the ones with medically significant venom - are not nearly as dangerous and scary as mo...

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July 13, 2022 28 min

When we think of deserts, we tend to think of them as being dry, hot and devoid of life.  But a surprising number of plants and animals are adapted to these harsh conditions.  Learn more about the deserts of the United States, and just a few of the amazing plants and animals that call them home.

Includes the song "Saguaro" by the Austin Lounge Lizards (used with permission).  Check them out at Austinloungelizards.com.

If yo...

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June 29, 2022 23 min

Nothing beats a perfect summer evening.  Learn more about 2 of the most iconic insects of summer nights: crickets and fireflies - including the dark side of fireflies!  

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June 15, 2022 19 min

A micro-animal that can go into suspended animation and survive extreme conditions.  A venomous snail that hunts fish by smell using a poison harpoon.  Another snail with an iron shell.  A crustacean that can punch through aquarium glass.  Sounds like science fiction, but all these animals actually exist!  Come learn about some amazing animals with abilities that will blow your mind!

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June 1, 2022 21 min

Turtles have long been associated with longevity due to their long life spans.  They are also the only animal whose pelvic girdle is on the inside of their ribcage.  Learn more about these heroes in a half-shell (turtle power!)

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May 18, 2022 23 min

Birds of Prey, or raptors, and humans have a long history together.  Learn about 4 common species of hawk: Red-tailed hawks, Red-shoulder Hawks, Cooper's hawks and Sharp-shinned hawks.  I'll also tell you about the Sparrow hawk and the River hawk - common names for a couple of raptors that are not, in fact, hawks at all.

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