September 2012

The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.

Sept. 17, 2012


Q: How will the dry conditions we experienced this summer impact fall colors? What will the colors look like?


A: Fall colors vary from year to year and place to place for several reasons. Weather is most critical in determining the colors displayed each fall. Colors are best when high quality foliage – a product of a warm, moist summer – is exposed to sunny, cool fall days. Light frosts may also help, but hard freezes can ruin the display. Physiological stresses placed on trees can impact fall colors. Cool, wet summers can cause premature displays of color. A mild summer drought may actually increase the display, but severe drought usually dulls colors noticeably. In some cases, foliage may die early and turn straw-colored due to a lack of water. Because it is too dry to produce the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges, the severe summer drought will create a landscape filled with the subtler colors of tans, bronzes and auburns.

- Jana Albers, DNR forest health specialist, Grand Rapids


Sept. 24, 2012

Q: Although the loon is a bird, it differs from songbirds and waterfowl. How?

A: The bones of most birds are hollow and light in order to maximize the efficiency of flight; loons, however, adapted to life in the water, have several large solid bones that make diving easier but flying more difficult. This extra weight enables them to dive deep – in excess of 100 feet – to search for food. Once underwater, loons can remain there for several minutes. Even though loons are capable of diving deep and for long periods, most dives are shallower and shorter. Because their bodies are heavy relative to their wing size, loons need a runway of 60 or more feet in order to take off from a lake. When airborne loons can fly more than 75 miles per hour. Another unique characteristic of a loon is its legs. These extremities are set far back on its body, which means a loon cannot walk like other birds. If on dry land, a loon must push itself along on its chest.

- Kevin Woizeschke, DNR Nongame Wildlife specialist, Brainerd


DNR Question of the Week Archive