I watched the solar eclipse on my parents' farm in Wisconsin and got a front-row seat to wacky animal behavior during the celestial event of the century.
At the eclipse's peak, when the moon was covering about 83% of the sun, chipmunks popped their heads out of their burrows, and a pheasant started squawking incessantly. (My dog also briefly ran away, but I think that was mostly because of a scary garbage truck.)
Most of the evidence we have of animals behaving differently during an eclipse is anecdotal, however. On Monday, zoos, national parks, and science centers across the US encouraged people to report their observations of animals to get more information.
On the iNaturalist app, owned by the California Academy of Sciences, people reported that at totality, fireflies emerged, crickets chirped, and cows mooed. But most of the observations submitted noted that animals didn't do much of anything.
Business Insider's Lauren Lyons Cole, who experienced 100% totality in South Carolina, said dragonflies in the area went nuts during the peak, then disappeared once the sun emerged from behind the moon.
And a Business Insider editor in Los Angeles reported that a swarm of bees hit the office window after the eclipse passed — potentially because the brief darkness confused them.
At the Memphis Zoo, which experienced 93% totality, the Nile crocodiles were more active than one curator had ever seen.
Visitors and staff also observed black bears running around during totality then calming down after the sun returned, giraffes moving toward the barn as though it were nighttime, and African black-footed penguins vocalizing.
At the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York, which experienced 72% coverage, an "eerie" quiet fell over the National Recreation Area, Fox 5 reported. The crabs came to the edge of the water, probably thinking it was night and that there wouldn't be any birds around to eat them.
Finally, many human animals in the path of totality hooted and hollered when the moon covered the sun, donning special glasses to observe the event.
Hopefully, the contributions of citizen scientists and the connections researchers could make using new technology will yield more reliable explanations. If so, we'll know more about what animals do during eclipses when the next one rolls around.
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