Every weekday, we feature a photo from our Flickr group, where readers submit their best nature photography — everything from landscapes to wildlife large and small. Every photo tells a story, or sets the scene for a larger conversation. This fall we have seen some truly spectacular photos, and we're taking a moment to celebrate the 10 most-loved images from our Photo of the Day series.
A sleeping saw-whet owl steals hearts
This has been our most popular Photo of the Day in recent months by a landslide. The little owl's delicate feathers over its eyes look like snowflakes, and the sweet pose captured by the photographer has everyone saying, "Awwwww!"
When temperatures drop, warm your heart with this
Speaking of the "awww" factor, this little musk ox calf has it in spades. These calves are born in April when there is usually snow still on the ground. They stay warm with their extraordinary undercoat, which is famous for its softness and is about eight times warmer than sheep's wool. Just looking at the sweet fluffball is enough to warm even the coldest hearts.
Taking the road less traveled is healthy
This road leading into a mountain paradise got us thinking about all the ways in which escaping into nature is beneficial for our health. For decades, studies have shown that being in nature, or even being around the color green, calms our minds and relaxes our bodies, leading to reduced stress levels that have long-term mental and physical benefits. So if you've been thinking about getting away for a weekend of camping, science says it's time to get up and go.
A destination for the Arctic traveler
This gorgeous image of an island in Svalbard, one of the northernmost land areas in the world, inspired a whole list of why you want to put this incredible location on your bucket list for traveling, including seeing polar bears and visiting the world's northernmost post office to mail out your post cards.
Why spiders put designs in their webs
Halloween was a great day to explore just why spiders make their webs so intricate. The science behind the webs, including just how designs add strength and durability to the sticky nets, is fascinating. Plus, who doesn't love a dew-covered web against a gorgeous background?
Why the sky turns orange at sunset
Orange is the iconic color of the fall season, so we took a look at why the sky turns such brilliant colors at sunrise and sunset. What is really interesting is the part about how color is such a subjective experience. This dazzling photograph is the perfect example for the discussion.
A changing of the seasons, a changing of the coat
Autumn is that transitional season between the heat of summer and the freeze of winter. For many species, that means a change in their coat (or feather) colors. This photo of an arctic fox shedding its white winter coat for its brown summer coat earlier this year highlights the stark difference between the two coats, and between the different needs of the animal during the two seasons.
Every morning matters
Having a great morning routine is the key to starting the day on the right foot. This tropical sunrise on a beach in Kauai was a great backdrop for a discussion about how to improve the habits at the start of the day to have a more productive, less stressed rest of the day.
Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch/MNN Flickr Group
Is sea foam something to worry about?
A bit of froth washing up toward a chunk of coral on this tropical beach led us to wonder about sea foam. What is it, how does it form, and when do we need to worry about it were all covered in this Photo of the Day. In short, sea foam is of course totally normal and typically a sign of a healthy ocean. But there are times when you want to steer clear of foam, especially during algal blooms or if there is polluted water from a storm drain flowing into the ocean nearby.
Gather the harvest, feast and be merry!
One of the most popular images from the season is also one of the most iconic parts of autumn: gathering food for winter. This little squirrel has the right idea as it makes off with a walnut to store for later. Rolling into the holiday season, it's time to enjoy all the bounty of summer and fall harvests, to make cozy comfort meals and feasts for the family, to be grateful for what we have and to be generous to those who are in need.
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