Critter Chat - Our New Radio Broadcast/Podcast

Critter Chat

In our new radio broadcast/podcast, hosts Susan & Marney talk with experts about the amazing wild critters that live in the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills.

Critter Chat is sponsored by KVMR 89.5 FM and Rational Animal.

closeup photography of leopard lacewing butterfly perched on fern plant

Critter Chat Hosts

Marney Blair & Susan Brandt

Marney and Susan are life-long friends having met in kindergarten and now living as neighbors in Grass Valley, California. Together their friendly banter and infectious enthusiasm for the critters among us merges facts and fun to engage the community to learn more about the wildlife in our area.

Marney Blair is a biologist and farmer. She is a leader in biodynamic composting and blind farming. She is a member of various writing and poetry groups. Marney has a degree in Biology and a Masters in Psychology from UC San Diego.

Susan Brandt is a communication specialist, grassroots organizer and founder of Rational Animal. She is a producer and host of multimedia projects and special events. Susan did her undergraduate work at UC Santa Cruz and received her Masters degree in International Communication and Development from Ohio University.

Episode 1: Acorn Woodpeckers

Known as the "clown of the forest," the Acorn Woodpecker is an essential species in the Oak and Pine forests of  the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills. In this show we will talk with some experts who teach us some great information about these beautiful birds.

Photo: Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus bairdi) holding a nut in its beak on the campus of California State University, Chico.  © Frank Schulenburg

Thanks to our guests on the show:

Nancy Barbachano,
a 25 year veteran of bird rehabilitation,  Nancy has rehabilitated hundreds of birds as well as teaching and advising the wider rehabilitation community. She has worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on an important study about the release of rehabilitated Acorn Woodpeckers and contributed to Hand-Rearing Birds edited by Rebecca S. Duerr, Laurie J. Gage.

Nathan Pieplow, teaches first-year writing and rhetoric, an upper-division writing course for engineers and science majors, and an upper-division writing course on the rhetoric of humor. Nathan has been fascinated by birds since his childhood in South Dakota, and has intensively studied bird sounds since 2003. He authored the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds Western North America

Linda Tuttle-Adams, is a biologist and wildlife artist. She works as a wildlife rehabilitator and as an advocate for conservation of wildlife through public education. Linda is also a talented artist, creating over four hundred original watercolor paintings and an illustrated glossary for her seminal book: Baby Bird Identification, an invaluable resource for wildlife rehabilitators, those who find baby birds in their yards or recreational places, and anyone who enjoys watching or studying birds in the wild.

Our thanks to  the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for Acorn Woodpecker sound recordings.

References & Resources:

eBird, a project of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Why Do Woodpeckers Like To Hammer On Houses? And What Can I Do About It? , The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Story of Woody Woodpecker inspiration and more. Birdnote, October 14, 2020.

Walter Koenig, University of California, Berkeley | UCB · Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Ph.D. Fungal communities associated with acorn woodpeckers and their excavations
Article Apr 2022 Michelle A. Jusino Natasha D.G. Hagemeyer Mark T Banik[...] Eric L Walters.  "Wood-decay fungi soften wood, putatively providing opportunities for woodpeckers to excavate an otherwise hard substrate..."

Episode 2: California Newt

Join Marney and Susan as the get to know the California's newt.

Photo: Connor Long, January 2015. California newt (Taricha torosa) from Napa County, California.

Upcoming Episodes: Pallid Bats

"Pallid bats are as diverse as Californians – living in various ecosystems from California’s deserts, oak woodlands, coastal redwood forests, and high up into the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains." - Naomi D'Alessio

Join Marney and Susan as the get to know California's new official state bat - the Pallid bat! 

Photo: Pallid bat SOURCE: USFWS