Every winter I get letters and emails from readers asking why they are seeing fewer birds at their feeders. For example, Sheryll Jameson, from Parkersburg, W.Va. writes, “I enjoy reading your column and wondered if you could answer a question for me. I have been feeding birds for several years and am disappointed by the […]
Ask any wildlife biologist to name an important professional influence, and most will say Aldo Leopold (1887-1948). His textbook, Game Management (1933), essentially created the profession of wildlife management. Aldo Leopold. Leopold, however, is better known to the general public for his book, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. It is nature […]
It’s time for another season of Project FeederWatch, Cornell University’s premier citizen science opportunity sponsored by the Lab of Ornithology.
Every December I get requests to reprint my take-off of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, first published in 1988. Read it aloud to the kids after opening presents. Merry Christmas! The Morning of Christmas (with apologies to Clement C. Moore) ‘Twas the morning of Christmas, And all ‘round the house, The feeders were empty, Not […]
Nothing gets birders more excited than widespread reports of unusual birds. They jump in their cars, drive hundreds of miles, and hope to spot a “life bird.” Sometimes they are successful; sometimes they are not. It’s all part of the thrill of birding. Reports of snowy owls Right now much of the northern U.S. is […]
Many predators seek deer — not just humans.
Every fall I hear about a big buck someone has been tracking and watching for weeks. But when the gun season arrives, that big buck vanishes, only to reappear a few weeks later. Are deer really that smart? Deer intelligence Keen senses of smell, vision, and hearing have a lot to do with deer “intelligence.” […]
Turkeys and deer must prepare for winter before it gets here.
Sometimes wildlife seems as curious about people as we are about them. I often spot deer watching me from the edge of the woods. When I see a fox, it’s usually watching me from a thicket of dense vegetation. Once I was fishing and, between catching fish and watching a belted kingfisher patrol up and […]
Call them juncos or snowbirds, their return means temperatures are dropping and snow will soon fly.
If you’ve ever suspected there was a big buck roaming your favorite hunting grounds, you probably wished you could monitor the area 24/7. But that’s virtually impossible unless you use a trail cam. Trail cams are motion-activated, weather-proof cameras that can be strapped to trees or posts to monitor wildlife activity. Many uses Hunters, birders […]
When morning low temperatures dip into the 30s, I know it’s time to get serious about filling my bird feeders. Here’s a guide matching desirable birds to specific foods and feeders. The single food that attracts the greatest variety of feeder birds is sunflower seed in tube or hopper feeders. Black-oil sunflower is appealing because […]
If your backyard plans include adding new plants for next year, get a head start this fall. Just be sure to get started before the ground freezes.
The year I turned 12 I got my first hunting license. It was my first chance to hunt ring-necked pheasants. My father brought birds home every fall, and I wanted to join the hunt. My dad taught me to shoot with a used, single shot, 12-gauge shotgun. It was a lot of gun for a […]
Fall is also migration and molt season, for birds.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, everyone knows squirrels. “Squirrels,” however, is a generic term. I use it here to refer to game species — gray, fox and red squirrels. These are the three species of tree squirrels that most eastern state wildlife agencies recognize as game species. To confuse the issue just a bit, some […]
Recently Tennessee’s Fish & Wildlife Commission approved the state’s first modern day sandhill crane hunt. It will run from Nov. 28 through Jan. 1. A drawing for 400 permits will be held Oct. 19. Sandhill cranes are a large (4 feet tall and 6- to 7-foot wingspan, 7 to 10 pounds), charismatic species that birders […]
My first night at Boy Scout summer camp many years ago, I was rousted from my sleeping bag to go on a snipe hunt. It was just a ploy to get first timers lost in the woods at night. Older scouts oversaw the event to be sure no one really got lost, and I learned […]
At $15, a “Duck Stamp” is arguably the best investment a conservationist can make. More formally called the “Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp,” the Duck Stamp was created in 1934. Hunters lobbied for this “tax” on themselves to ensure that waterfowl would forever fill the skies. A supplement to a state hunting license, […]
Recovering an endangered species requires legal protection, habitat, motivated staff, funding and time. Sometimes it can take decades for a species to recover. When a species has an extended reproductive period and breeds only once each year, time will be the limiting factor in the species’ recovery. Consider, for example, bald eagles in Pennsylvania. In […]