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A Christmas Eve to remember

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It was the night before Christmas about 15 years ago. Nora was barely 10, and Emma was still dreaming of kindergarten. We had just gotten home from a Christmas Eve church service. About two inches of snow had fallen the day before, and it was cold, about 25 degrees, so a white Christmas seemed assured. […]

You’ll want to find these books under the tree

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If you’ve got some avid readers on your holiday gift list, here are some titles I enthusiastically recommend. The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with America’s Most Iconic Birds by Paul Bannick (2008, $24.95, Mountaineers Books) is my book of the year. Stunningly illustrated with more than 130 color photographs by the author, this book […]

A flock of tundra swans is an impressive sight

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Last week as I traveled across the southern tier of New York, V-shaped skeins of Canada geese crossed the sky from north to south. It was a vintage November day — cold, gray and damp. At a rest stop near Jamestown, another flock caught my eye. But these birds were bigger and pure white. Tundra […]

A few tips on avoiding squirrel-induced insanity

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A few days ago, while listening to Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt on ESPN radio, Van Pelt broke out laughing in near hysteria. Tirico asked him to explain himself. It turned out Van Pelt was broadcasting from his home, and he was watching a bird feeder as he worked. The distraction was a squirrel […]

Be on the lookout for kinglets this time of year

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November is usually a dismal month, thanks to cooler temperatures, gray skies, rain and mud. But not this year. The first week of November has been perfect — bluebird skies and 70 degrees. It has felt like spring. But weather forecasts report more seasonable weather will return; I doubt we’ll see such mild weather again […]

Tips to discourage unwanted wildlife guests

Thursday, October 30, 2008

With bird seed prices at record highs, resentment toward unwanted visitors at backyard feeders is likely to increase this winter. Who wants to spend nearly a dollar a pound for seed to feed deer, squirrels and pigeons? If you’re willing to pay any price to feed any critter that visits the backyard, you can stop […]

Design a cozy roost site for your favorite birds

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whenever I get a series of letters asking the same question, it’s time to address that issue in a column. Over the last few weeks, a handful of readers have asked about winter roosting boxes, so here goes. Bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches nest in cavities and readily use nest boxes, but did you know […]

Hummers, those mighty migrants, can still show up in winter

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mid-October marks the end of the ruby-throated hummingbird migration season, so it’s time to take down nectar feeders, clean them thoroughly, and store them until April, right? Generally, that’s good advice, but if you’re a hopeful birder, keep one feeder filled all winter. You may get to see a wandering hummingbird from the west. Hummingbird […]

Advice for feeding the birds this season

Thursday, September 25, 2008

With the official start of fall and chilly morning temperatures, it’s time resume feeding backyard birds. But if you haven’t purchased any bird seed since spring, you may experience sticker shock when you return to your favorite seed supplier. I feed birds year-round, so I’ve felt the pinch over the last 12 months. The price […]

Late summer brings all sorts of interesting critters

Thursday, September 4, 2008

As summer winds down, here are a few observations I’ve made or expect to make over the next few weeks. Purple Traps As I’ve traveled in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia this summer, I’ve noticed strange purple objects hanging in tree tops along major highways. They suggest a purple box kite. In fact, they are […]

Exhibit honors man who created field guide concept

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Roger Tory Peterson died July 28, 1996 at the age of 87. On Aug. 28, the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. The spotlight will be focused on Jamestown, N.Y., Peterson’s birthplace and home to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. In a recent phone conversation, Jim Berry, president of RTPI, explained that […]

End of summer signals new faces in insect world

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer’s nightly music festival began a few weeks ago. As daylight dims, I enjoy sitting on the back porch waiting for the concert to begin. Male katydids sing from early evening well into the night. The song is harsh and burry and sounds something like “Ch-ch” or “Ch-ch-ch” or “ch-ch-ch-ch.” The phrases are repeated about […]

Life on a beach: There’s more than meets the eye

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Few habitats seem as sterile as a sandy New Jersey beach. Waves of salt water constantly wash the shoreline. The only obvious indicators of life are pieces of broken shells washed ashore by the last high tide. But appearances can deceive. Plenty The biota on a sandy beach can’t compare to a tropical rain forest, […]

Opportunity to observe osprey on the Ohio River

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A coal-fired power plant seems an unlikely location for a wildlife refuge, but that’s exactly what I found on the second Sunday in July. Monty Mason, a friend and a heavy equipment operator at the AEP Kammer-Mitchell Plant south of Moundsville, W.Va., invited me to join him for a few hours in a blind near […]

Snorkeling provides a close view of aquatic life

Thursday, July 31, 2008

As summer temperatures rise, spring-fed streams are great places to stay cool. With just a face mask, a snorkel and an old pair of sneakers, you can observe aquatic life on its own terms — under water. Snorkeling opens a whole new world to the curious naturalist. Snorkeling is usually associated with tropical locations. While […]

The Galapagos Islands adventure continues

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A cruise of the Galapagos Islands takes on a life of its own. Each day is a series of highlights that satisfy even the most expectant traveler. Many visitors, including me, arrive with a mental list of species they hope to see. On this trip, I checked off every species on my list. Awesome The […]

Creatures under rocks and in the skies: Help for hellbenders and birds

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Here’s a question for the anglers in the family: Have you ever hooked a long, slimy, four-legged creature while fishing on a clear, cool, cobble-bottomed stream or river? It was an eastern hellbender, the largest salamander in North America. Hellbenders spend most of their daylight hours under large flat rocks on rocky stream bottoms. At […]


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