From campfire stories, movies, and friendly advice to the ever convincing stories from our parents, we've all received some sort of "wisdom" about the great outdoors. Misconceptions about the outdoors are about as common as backpacks and compasses. Everyone has an opinion, an anecdote, a theory, or a myth about what to do in certain instances present while in the woods. So, how do you tell the difference between what is true and what is false? We’ve found out the truth on some of the most amazing outdoor myths out there.
Dehydration isn’t limited to hot weather and you can still get dehydrated in cold weather. In cold weather, you may not notice how much water you lose. And if you don't feel thirsty, which is often the case, you may not feel the need to drink more.
In cold weather, thirst is reduced by up to 40 percent even when dehydrated. This happens because our blood vessels constrict when we’re cold to prevent blood from flowing freely to the extremities. This enables the body to conserve heat by drawing more blood to its core.
The body is fooled into thinking it’s properly hydrated. So in cold weather, athletes are less likely to drink water voluntarily, and additionally, their kidneys aren’t signaled by hormones to conserve water, and urine production increases, a condition called cold-induced urine diuresis.
This is another myth that any veteran storm observer or researcher has seen nature defy. Lightning can strike any location more than once. It may take as little as less than five minutes within a single thunderstorm, or longer than a million years, but lightning will eventually strike the same spot again and again.
Lightning is the discharge of electricity that has built up in a cloud, which is so strong that it breaks through the ionized air. A single lightning bolt can heat the air around it to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heating causes the air to expand explosively fast. The expansion creates a shock wave that turns into a booming sound wave, known as thunder.
The myth that moss only grows on the north side of trees was likely created as a way to help people navigate in a forest, using the mossy trees as a natural compass. For decades natural navigation has been treated as a skill that is only likely to be used in an emergency. But if you let that myth serve as a map through the woods, you're likely to get lost. That's because, in reality, moss can grow just about anywhere. Although it is most likely to grow on the north side of trees, rocks, and other surfaces, it doesn't grow there exclusively.
Moss will grow anywhere that has enough water, whether it’s trees, fallen logs, roots, walls, buildings, or rocks. It will thrive in shady areas that are moist or humid. The shade often occurs on the north side of trees and rocks. However, in a forest or woodland where sunlight peeks through the tree canopy, these growing conditions can be met just about anywhere no matter which direction the surface faces.
Contrary to what our parents may have told us, most birds are unlikely to abandon their chicks over a little human interaction. No matter how erratic birds appear, they don’t easily
abandon their young, especially not in response to human touch. The young birds found on the ground are usually fledglings, and these birds have left the nest on their own. Sometimes people do find nestlings on the ground. These are very young birds that aren't ready to leave home, and their nest is probably in a nearby tree or bush.
The myth derives from the belief that birds can detect human scents. In reality, birds have relatively small and simple olfactory nerves, which limit their sense of smell. There are very few birds with an extraordinary sense of smell and these represent specialized adaptations.
The real issue is the disturbance, not smell. Birds that have been flushed from a nest by humans or other predators sometimes abandon their eggs or young. It is never a good idea to disturb any wildlife and in most cases, it is also illegal. The best rule of thumb if you find a baby bird or any animal infant is just to leave it alone. In most cases, the parents are nearby and maybe waiting for you to leave the area.