About a year ago, when I heard Hollywood was making a movie of Mark Obmascik s 2004 book, The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, I worried. I feared it would make a joke of birders and birding. Remember Jane Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies? When I heard the three stars […]
If you have trees in the backyard, value and protect them. Trees filter and transport water through forest ecosystems. Their roots reduce erosion by binding the soil.
October brings two wildlife concerns to mind — feeding birds and avoiding deer on the highway.
Among hunters and anglers a trophy is the mount that hangs on the wall. It is the memory of a conquest. Controversy It can also be a source of controversy. To kill something just to put its head on the wall or its pelt on the floor seems wasteful and unsporting. That’s why the ethics […]
Over the last several weeks I’ve received many emails and letters from readers reporting large aggregation of dragonflies, usually hovering above the grass in wet meadows and hayfields.
Children are never too young to develop an interest in birds. By age three, my daughters could identify towhees and cardinals by sight and sound. Watching birds at feeders helped them learn colors, numbers and how to observe and describe behaviors. They learned art by drawing pictures of birds. But even they never got excited […]
Ten years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, I wrote about nature’s September highlights. I touched on fall colors, shorter days, cooler nights, and the migration of birds and monarch butterflies
On Aug. 25 at a high school football game on Wheeling Island in the Ohio River, a flock of high flying birds distracted my attention from the game. Shortly before sunset, I counted about 50 common nighthawks swirling and feeding above the stadium lights. I watched until they disappeared in the darkening night sky.
On hot summer days, the pulsing drone of dog day cicadas reminds us that outside temperatures flirt with 90 degrees. It’s also fair warning to be on the lookout for a monstrous insect, the cicada killer.
For the next few weeks fresh sweet corn will be available at roadside stands, farmers markets and even grocery stores. When the corn is fresh and sweet, it can set off a buying frenzy among shoppers. Everyone wants a dozen ears of corn when it’s fresh and sweet. Ancient origins A taste for sweet corn […]
Since 1989 I have written several times about domestic cats and the havoc they wreak on native wildlife populations. On July 11 cats made the national “fake” news on John Stewart’s The Daily Show.
House wrens are extremely territorial and aggressive. While most birds limit their aggression to members of their own species, house wrens are interspecifically antisocial.
Everyone knows the ox-eye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum). The flower’s bright yellow central disk is surrounded by white petals. It grows almost anywhere brightening hayfields, rural road sides, and even my gravel driveway. It’s almost as ubiquitous as dandelion. Definition of summer To me, ox-eye daisies are the wildflower that defines the beginning of summer. There […]
I’m not an avid angler. It’s probably because I’m so easily distracted. Dragonflies and damselflies patrol their territories along cattail-lined shorelines. Bullfrogs bellow from the shoreline, and there’s often at least one snapping turtle coming up for air or a water snake swimming toward me. Attention getter More often, however, it’s the machine gun-like rattle […]
“Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!” The song wakes me at first light. It’s why I keep the bedroom windows open. The song of the whip-poor-will is my favorite alarm. I suppose I value it because I hear it so rarely. Over the last 25 years, I’ve heard it just a handful of times, and just for a […]
A good book can make or break a summer vacation. Whether under a beach umbrella or in a comfortable easy chair, any curious naturalist will enjoy these recent titles. Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler (2011, William Morrow, $25.99) is the latest book by Jessica Speart. For more than decade, […]
Like most birders, I keep a life list. It is simply a list of the first time and place I saw any particular species. Compared to some, I’m a casual lister; my U.S. list is 500-plus, but I don’t know the exact number. It’s not that important. But I still get excited when I add […]
Biologists love to see species they have never seen before. The best places to see endemic species (those that occur only in isolated geographic areas) are islands. Remote islands far from mainland areas are often most famous for their endemic species. For example, 13 species of Darwin’s finches, 15 other birds and giant tortoises are […]
I haven’t played a round of golf since college, but each spring I try to catch a few hours of the televised weekend portions of the Master’s golf tournament. The competition can be dramatic, but I tune in to hear bird song. The Master’s takes place at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, so spring […]
Want to know what bird’s singing beside you in the park? Yep, there’s an app for that.