Late Winter and Early Spring (05:01)
The story of New England's fall colors begins in March, when moose eat twigs to survive. As trees thaw, their sugar rich sap fuels growth; looper and tent caterpillars come to life and feed on buds.
Buds race to open before being consumed. Trees need a constant supply of sap, which attracts yellow-bellied sapsuckers from Mexico. Males build nests and ruby-throated hummingbirds "steal" sap from their wells.
Late Spring (03:23)
In May, the forest floor comes alive. Hummingbirds feed on nectar, pollinating flowers, and looper caterpillars disguise themselves with petals. Building sap forces leaves to unfurl and produce chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
Trees defend themselves from moose by flooding leaves with tannin; a mother must leave the forest cover to find food for her twin calves. They feed on water plants rich with nutrients from leaf litter. Learn about courtship behavior.
Beaver dams protect against predators but require constant maintenance. Beavers fell trees at night and use mud to seal cracks. In spring, babies practice using their teeth. By removing trees, they create meadows for red maple saplings to thrive.
New England's Changing Forest (03:58)
Beginning in 1620, British settlers felled old growth trees to build community infrastructure. As they moved west, fast growing maples and oaks reclaimed the region—contributing to colorful falls and allowing wildlife to flourish.
A timber rattlesnake hunts rodents in a decomposing log; watch as he strikes a mouse.
Leaf Eaters (03:54)
At the height of summer, trees increase tannin concentrations to repel caterpillars. Leaf miners tunnel through leaves, consuming chlorophyll. Several caterpillar species mimic predators or use camouflage to deter birds.
Late Summer (05:48)
Yellow-bellied sapsuckers feed their chicks twenty times per hour. Summer sap attracts insects to their tree, providing a constant protein supply. In August, female rattlesnakes shed their skins and give birth—the only snakes to carry their babies inside.
As the weather cools, male moose use their antlers to court females. Shorter days inhibit leaf sugar production; trees store sap for the winter and chlorophyll turns to yellow.
Forest Heroes (03:19)
New England trees drop winged maple seeds and acorns. Chipmunks store acorns to survive the winter; some will germinate and sprout saplings.
As temperatures drop, maple and oak trees produce red anthocyanin to keep sap flowing and extract maximum sugar from leaves. Forests display red, orange and yellow. Caterpillars race to eat leaves before they drop for the winter.
Credits: Seasonal Wonderlands: New England (00:39)
Credits: Seasonal Wonderlands: New England
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