Nature of Things

Archived weekly essays from naturalist John Weeks. Originally broadcast from 1984 to 2006 on WRVO.

Talking About Spring

Feb 20, 2014

In this archived broadcast, Talking About Spring, John Weeks talks about how the weather is becoming nicer and all the snow is beginning to melt. He mentions that the rapid disappearances of snow is causing green brown pasture and weed fields all over. He also talks about how flooding can occur due to the amount of snow melting and he talks about different questions that he has received about the spring weather.

In this broadcast, The Invasion of Snowy Owls, John Weeks sits down with his friend Jerry Smith at Rice Creek discussing the snowy owls in the area. Weeks talks about how the snowy owls appear every few years when the population is up and they usually nest on the arctic tundra. He also mentions that the owls are large and white but sometimes they appear with black spots on them. In this broadcast, Weeks and Smith discuss where the best place is to see the owls and information about them.

More About Recycling

Feb 13, 2014

This archived broadcast, More About Recycling, is from September 28, 1990. John Weeks talks about recycling in Onondaga County. He noticed that people who were paying weekly for the removal of their garbage were only filling it halfway or not at all. He did notice some overfilling bins on his way home one day though and it made him wonder some questions about recycling. He talks about a meeting that he attended about waste in his area and he found out that newspapers are recyclable and there was 1500 tons in just July.

This archived broadcast, Phantoms of the Marsh, is from October 4, 1990 by John Weeks. In this broadcast Weeks talks about when he was at Cornell he would make frequent trips to a marsh south of Ithaca. He would go during all different seasons and he described the marsh as a dark, mysterious jungle. In this broadcast he talks about the different animals that he see's especially during May and June when there are plenty of birds around.

Reading The Message

Feb 6, 2014

This archived broadcast, Reading the Message, John Weeks talks about a trip that he took and he talks about all different things that he saw that were changing depending on the season that it was. Weeks talks about a 5 pointed star that one of the cities brought in that they placed on a hill. The star is impressive and it is surrounded by a park but in the evening the city is very impressive. He also talks about the community of nature.

This archived broadcast, Like A Cock Grouse Drumming In An Open Field is from November 4, 1988. It talks about how nature is a complex energy system but it is also interesting and beautiful. Everything flows from quirks of energy. It talks about the landfill problems and how communities notice the landfill that is in their backyards and what they need to do about these problems.

Storms and Wildlife

Dec 17, 2013

John Weeks tells us about the signs of winter we can find so early on. Sitting at the shore on Lake Ontario he is able to define trends with only one week of winter to go by. Wildlife is remarkably good at giving signs of the weather that will soon approach and John Weeks discusses them.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired December 23rd, 1990.

John Weeks discusses deep winter weathers that arrive around times of the year like this one. Animals have to face severe conditions to survive in these cold harsh winters. The sub-freezing temperatures characterize the weather conditions upstate New York. Seasonal shedding is an annoyance to pet owners but it is an adaption to this weather. Wild animals find way to adapt to the weather too. Just like we have clothing that helps us adapt to weather, animals too have natural adaptions to weather that help them prepare for the seasons to come.

John Weeks talks about bellwethers. In previous episodes he used the term, but never actually defined it. He reveals that term refers to a sheep, usually a gelded male. He wears a bell around his neck and is a leader for a flock of sheep and an indicator for the whereabouts of the flock in extremely foggy weather conditions. This was all he could find about the term and it was not even in the encyclopedia or other resources he looked in for the term. He had to “wing it” from there and elaborated on the definition based on his own experiences.

This is an archived broadcast from October 28, 1988. John Weeks talks about where insects go in the winter and he talks about how he use to teach a class in CNY and every year he would explain to the students where the insects go in the winter. He talks a lot about butterflies and some other insects hibernating.

John Weeks talks about his knowledge of the opossum. During an early morning road trip he saw an opossum about to cross the road where cars were steadily driving and quickly turned around to avoid getting hit. Anybody that drives and has seen a possum on the road knows that there slow pace makes them vulnerable which increases their rate of road kill. At one point they were so rare that people did not believe he actually saw them, but that has changed now.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired December 12th, 1991.

In this, broadcast from 1988, John Weeks talks about how insects act during the winter. He mentions that some insects hibernate during the winter while other insects do not. He talks about the different bugs and then he tells a story about when he used to occasionally teach in Central New York and talked about some things that he asked his students. Weeks goes into detail about some of the insects especially the caterpillar.

John Weeks informs us about one of the most intelligent bears, the black bear. This bear was known to pioneers as attacking their mammals and taking them as food. He talks about fear he felt while in the woods. While making his way back home on a camping trip he heard a lot of noise, and thought it was a pig. Only the end trail of a bear was left behind when he went to the location where the scuffling was heard. He describes bears as a big appetite wrapped up in a powerful body. He found that even a dead bear is hard to handle because of its weight.

Just One Move Road Trip

Nov 14, 2013

John Weeks discusses the change in a duck’s body from season to season. He recognizes the differentiations between female ducks and male ducks. He observes ducks playing in a pond before these ponds freeze due to the cold weather. He observes other animals that will be in hiding very soon as winter is approaching rapidly.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired November 21st, 1991.

John Weeks discusses reliving taking trips down roads to see the wildlife we will not see until next season as the weather gets colder.  Stopping at major vistas he has previously visited he can always predict what he is going to see. As the hunting season carries on there are more white tail deer seen during the day. Deer are most interesting during these days as winter sets in. There is always a tad bit of new learning or reinforcing of something he thought he knew at these vistas. Weeks tells us of his interesting findings.

John Weeks looks back on an old Nature of Things program where he reviewed an old past time he calls cruising for wildlife. He's been cruising for wildlife for the past 50 years and talks about the number of kills he found while on the road. He was so interested that he was able to find out the reason for the casualty by observing the animal. Though it may sound gruesome it was yet very educational and he takes us down the evolution of that journey.

This episode was originally aired October 25th, 1991.

John Weeks recalls his trip to Skaneateles Lake. He describes to us what the lake looks like and the troubles he endured during this venture. He tells us about the mountains he climbed and the magnificent red and white oaks he saw while trying to his way back until a motorist rescued them and returned them to the doorstep they started at.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired on November 8th, 1991.

The Legend & Audubon

Oct 29, 2013

John Weeks discusses his reaction to an article in The National Inquirer about Audubon. The article talks about pioneer Audubon killing thousands of birds for sport. Many were shocked by this startling revelation but because Weeks has read portions of Audubon’s diaries in the past he was not surprised at all. It is hard to put ourselves in the lives of a pioneer during hunting season in the 1780s. Living in an era where hunting skill was vital to successful living Audubon’s actions were typical of his day though.

John Weeks discusses the richness of virgin lands and forests. In the turn of a century the removal of forests have reached the point where the lands no longer supported the pigeons. It is a sobering thought that today our land can not support what it has in the past virgin years. The land was once in a virgin condition and has permanently lost important species of food producing trees. But the land is resilient and can rebuild it's rich potential if allowed to.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired on November 6th, 1987.

John Weeks talks about the many messages from the wildlife that are written directly in the snow. Future growth can even be seen in fruits like berries and in vegetables. Promises are found in blood streams and generative tissues in mammals. The promise of future growth is in wildlife, we just have to dig a bit to find those relationships.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired on October 2nd, 1987.

John Weeks discusses the significance of road names. He talks about which road names really reflect the natural history of the area and which reflect the names of residences or simply reflect uncoordinated labels applied to housing develops. Different areas of Central New York have different names and we are going to find out how these roads got their names and the stories behind them.

This episode of Nature of Things was originally aired on September 23rd, 1988.

John Weeks discusses the commonality of the red tail hawk and the open territory to hunt for these birds in the wild. His continues to talk about his personal observation of the red tail and hunting for them.

This episode was originally aired on September 16th, 1988

John Weeks revisits some of his favorite wide open vistas for the first time in 20 years. He explains to us what he saw when he revisited what he thought was still going to be the beautiful vista he last remembers. Weeks discusses the history of our relationship with the lands in Onondaga and Oswego counties.

This episode was originally aired on September 4th, 1987.

Fifteenth Anniversary

Jun 17, 2013

John Weeks reflects of the previous fifteen years of this program. He shares his experiences along his journey and responds to negative criticism.

John Weeks reveals how he spent his not so typical Fathers Day! He also explains the importance of paying attention to nature.


Four years after their first interview, John Weeks sits down with Douglas Whitman again to discuss the research and purpose behind Bird Banding.

The Calico Fields

Jun 10, 2013

John Weeks explains the significance of plant life within the Calico Fields.

John Weeks talks with his guest Douglas Whitman about the process of banding birds.

John Weeks gives a brief explanation on the history and lifestyle of the Honey Bee.


John Weeks explains his reaction his the previous Essay "A Word For The Golden Dandelion". He goes into great detail about his perspective on lawn/garden care.

Pages