March 12, 2017 • 8:30 am

We’ll have an eclectic selection today, with the first photo from reader Christopher Moss. His notes are indented:

In the tradition of a letter to the editor of The Times documenting the first cuckoo of spring, I have the honour to report that the first chipmunk to emerge was spotted today. They disappeared rather early, around the end of October as far as I recall, and this one is brave as it was -15ºC this morning with a chilly wind. I can’t tell for sure which one it is, but if he spent the winter in that wall, he isn’t my main man Chippers, who lives down the side of the house. He’s in no hurry to come to my calls (they would come running last fall whenever I went out with a handful of food), so I may have to re-train them.

Another month should see the first crop of babies born, and I’ll be busy keeping them all full!

The rest of the photos are from reader Nicole Reggia. The sunflower in the first photo apparently opens its petals in a counterclockwise direction, one by one. The seeds are also usually arranged in a Fibonacci sequence, as the quote from Science notes below:

Mathematical biologists love sunflowers. The giant flowers are one of the most obvious—as well as the prettiest—demonstrations of a hidden mathematical rule shaping the patterns of life: the Fibonacci sequence, a set in which each number is the sum of the previous two (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, …), found in everything from pineapples to pine cones. In this case, the telltale sign is the number of different seed spirals on the sunflower’s face. Count the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals that reach the outer edge, and you’ll usually find a pair of numbers from the sequence: 34 and 55, or 55 and 89, or—with very large sunflowers—89 and 144. Although the math may be beautiful, plant biologists have not worked out a mechanistic model that fully explains how the sunflower seed patterns arise.

Box turtle (Terrapene carolina):

Nicole keeps four hives of bees, and here you can see the open cells containing larvae, which are fed by the workers:

## 7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos”

1. Great photos. I saw an interesting exhibit about math and nature at the Museum of Science and Industry in December. Thanks for the nostalgic moment!

2. Richard Jones says:

I saw the first robin yesterday, looking very grumpy as the grass is still covered with a foot of snow. He seemed to be eating the crab apples that the waxwings had knocked off the tree.

Hope he (she) makes it.

1. jeffery says:

Here in Central Illinois we often have sizable populations of Robins that “overwinter”, and one wonders how they survive: I’ve seen them eat bird seed on only a few occasions, but I’ve read that their “trick” is to eat berries on shrubs that are toxic until AFTER they are exposed to below-freezing temps. I’ve seen up to fifty Robins “swarming” shrubs with these types of berries on them. I’ve also seen them eating apples that I’d thrown out for the squirrels.

3. rickflick says:

“plant biologists have not worked out a mechanistic model that fully explains how the sunflower seed patterns arise”

Ah ha! Checkmate atheists! That only leave one explanation. The maths God.

4. Diana MacPherson says:

I think I missed the explanation of the handsome tortoise picture – that tortoise is cute!

A chipmunk came out a couple days ago for some seeds but as the temperature dipped, took off back to torpor!

5. jeffery says:

I have a special place in my heart for toads, and the photo of the one in the log got a big, “Dawwwwwwww…” out of me.

6. Mark R. says:

Nice snaps.

Love the box turtle! Can’t wait for bright green grass again.