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Scott Shalaway Results

This year’s waterfowl survey is all good news

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The results of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2009 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are in, and the news is good. The preliminary estimate of total ducks in North America was 42 million, up 13 percent from last year’s estimate and 25 percent greater than the 1955-2008 average. The survey samples more than […]

A very good year in my backyard

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It’s been a banner year for wildlife in my backyard, and each evening my wife and I enjoy the show from the back porch. Pairs of bluebirds, robins, phoebes, chipping sparrows and Carolina wrens tend to their second nests of the season, while the young of their first broods search the backyard for insects and […]

Noodlers reach where sane men fear to trod

Thursday, July 9, 2009

There are a few outdoor adventures I’ve never tried and never will. Skydiving, rock climbing, and bungee jumping come immediately to mind. Noodling is another. I try to avoid activities that put my life or body parts at risk. Noodling, also called hand-grabbing, is a form of extreme catfishing that’s popular and legal in some […]

Recommended summer reading

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whether you’re planning a stay-cation in the backyard or a getaway to the shore or mountains this summer, a good book makes a great companion. Here are a few titles you might enjoy as you settle into a favorite reading chair. – Birdsong by the Seasons: A Year of Listening to Birds by Donald Kroodsma […]

Bullfrogs are the victims of ecological chaos

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Visit a farm pond ringed with dense vegetation this month, and you’re sure to hear two distinctive sounds. A booming “Jug-o’-rummm!” signals the presence of bullfrogs. The sound of a loose banjo string comes from an amorous male green frog. Though similar in appearance, bullfrogs can reach a length of seven inches; green frogs top […]

Another citizen science opportunity — Firefly Watch

Thursday, June 18, 2009

About a week ago while sitting on the back porch watching night fall, I saw the first golden flash of summer. Soon a dozen fireflies, or lightning bugs as they are often called, patrolled the backyard. Another handful flashed from perches in the tall grass on the edge of the yard. Flashing fireflies mean summer […]

Eastern wood-pewee sings its own name best

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Of all the birds that sing their own name, the eastern wood-pewee does it best. Every morning as I lie in bed just before dawn, I hear the usual spring chorus dominated by robins, cardinals and Carolina wrens. In the background, from deeper in the woods, comes the pewee’s plaintive, two-part song — “pee-a-weee,” followed […]

Ruffed grouse, masters of disguise

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Finding an ovenbird nest is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Unless you follow this drably colored warbler to its domed, oven-like nest on the ground, you’ve got to be lucky. As I pressed my luck a few days ago, I followed an ovenbird with binoculars as it moved along the forest floor. […]

Meet the thrushes: Their singing is impressive

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The sight of four fledgling American robins on the lawn reminded me that robins are thrushes, a family of birds that has a handful of representatives likely to be seen in spring. Most familiar members Most have spotted breasts and most sing impressively. Robins and bluebirds, both plain breasted as adults, are probably the most […]

The return of the vireos is as notable as other birds

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nothing excites birders like the month of May. Spring migration peaks. New birds arrive almost every day. Colorful warblers and tanagers monopolize the attention, but several groups of less spectacular birds are equally interesting. Escape the spotlight A red-eyed vireo, for example, is a drab tree top dweller, but its return is just as notable […]

May is the best month of the year

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May brings the best transitions of the year. Neotropical migrants return, wildflowers bloom and butterflies emerge. It’s my favorite month. I find it hard not to smile all month long. Only get so many But each year also reminds me that we get only so many Mays. The older I get, the more precious each […]

Spring migration and its parade of color are under way

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A flash of red signals the return of a male rose-breasted grosbeak. A lemon drop bouncing across a country road means yellow warblers are back. And a patch of deep blue atop a withered snag tells me indigo buntings have arrived. Spring migration and its parade of color are under way. The colors of birds […]

Nature’s colors mean so much more to birds

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring equals color. Wildflowers bloom. Butterflies appear. And, of course, neotropical migratory birds return. Though migration is well underway, the brightest and most colorful birds have not yet arrived. Give them a few more weeks. But get your hummingbird feeders up today; they’re coming back early this year (www.hummingbirds.net/map.html). To most of us, nature’s colors […]

Get your chimney capped soon to avoid swifts

Thursday, April 16, 2009

To avoid having chimney swifts invade your home this spring, get your chimney capped — as soon as possible. Swifts usually return in mid-April, but precise arrival dates are tied to weather, particularly temperature, which determines the activity of flying insects. Swifts eat flying insects exclusively. You can check their northward progress at www.chimneyswifts.org. Chimney […]

Sandhill cranes perform a courtship to remember

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Platte River flows past Kearney, Neb., and in March it can be a cold, inhospitable place. It certainly was back in 1982. I was there for a professional meeting, but I spent my first afternoon shivering in a blind overlooking the river. Waterfowl, mostly Canada geese and mallards, covered the shallows and sand bars. […]

Wildlife law violators pay the hefty price

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crime stories make national headlines every day, but violations of wildlife law usually escape the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean federal conservation laws are ignored. Recent stories Here are just a few recent stories featured on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Web site. In Florida, two Georgia-based construction firms were fined $70,000 and put […]

Homeowners making mountains out of moles’ hills

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mounds of fresh top soil and ridges from tunnels just under the sod mean one thing — moles. Have to offer But before you succumb to the pest industry’s annual campaign against moles and rush to the local home improvement center for traps and poison, consider what moles have to offer. The presence of moles […]

Update: Big news about some pretty big predators

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Large predators are difficult to study because they’re relatively uncommon and they roam widely, so I was thrilled when I heard two good news stories about big predators. Lost and found Back in November 2006, Dr. Todd Katzner, Director of Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, and biologists from the Pennsylvania […]

Wood frog’s voice is not frog-like

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It may seem a bit early to be listening for frogs, but wood frogs rush the season. They emerge from beneath forest leaf litter in late winter, and as soon as the ice melts, they sing. A wood frog’s voice is hardly frog-like. One field guide describes a wood frog chorus as sounding, “like a […]

Stinky skunk cabbage is actually a sign of spring

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If your daily commute takes you along a stream that meanders through a wet meadow, watch for early signs of life as spring approaches. Skunk cabbage Even as snow or ice still covers the ground, skunk cabbage begins to grow. I first noticed skunk cabbage while riding the school bus many years ago. Every day […]

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