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A view from above shows the true landscape

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Last week I flew from Pittsburgh to North Carolina via New York City. I took the scenic route and got to see lots of Pennsylvania and southern Appalachia from the air. It’s a vantage point that reveals much about man’s impact upon the land, especially large tracts of forest. From 30,000 feet towns, farms, schools, […]

Attention birders: Fall migration is beginning

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The fall bird migration actually begins in July. Along East Coast beaches, shorebirds that nested in the Arctic begin showing up along coastlines in mid-July. August arctic snowstorms happen, so arctic migrants fledge their young as quickly as possible to get an early start south. Closer to home, male ruby-throated hummingbirds begin heading south in […]

Outdoor wildlife recreation is worth big bucks

Thursday, September 6, 2012

According to the results of the recently released 2011 National survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, more people than ever (16 and older) participated in wildlife recreation. Hunter numbers (13.7 million) grew 9 percent from 2006 to 2011. The number of anglers (33.1 million) increased 11 percent during the same time period. And the number […]

Gray tree frogs can be noisy masters of disguise

Thursday, August 30, 2012

July was too hot and dry for man or beast. One of the consequences is that evenings were quiet. I don’t think I heard a frog or toad the entire month. The gray tree frog Then the rains came, and the temperature dipped. Toads began to trill each evening, and the nightly chorus of crickets […]

2012 waterfowl survey results look good

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The results of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2012 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are in, and the news should please duck hunters. Based on aerial surveys over more than two million square miles, the estimate of total ducks in North America was 48.6 million, up from last year’s of 45.6 million and […]

Wildlife netting can do far more harm than good

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three years ago my wife found an opossum in one of our sheds with a plastic six-pack ring around its neck. I immobilized the ‘possum with a towel, and we cut off the ring. The critter toddled off without even playing ‘possum. No harm, no foul, just a reminder of the harm that such plastics […]

Shooters compete for marksmanship honors

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Port Clinton Camp Perry is alive and well. It’s media day and opening day for this summer’s annual National Matches, the Super Bowl of rifle and pistol shooting. And it’s a good media day because it isn’t just about seeing what others are doing. A bunch of us are hunched over our rifles and going […]

The bane of every summer — stings and bites

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A few weeks ago my wife called from upstairs. There was an unusual urgency in her voice. When I found her, I understood. She had been stung by a bald-faced hornet. It got her right by her eye, and her face swelled up immediately. Within minutes, hives covered much of her body. Linda has been […]

Bald eagles are coming back in a strong way

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thirty years ago the sight of a bald eagle got people excited. In Pennsylvania, for example, only three nesting pairs were known in 1982. In the lower 48 states, there were probably fewer than 500 nesting pairs. Today bald eagles are back. It’s no longer unusual to see a bald eagle. In fact, if you […]

Pollinators wildly interesting this time of year

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A few days ago my eyes began to itch. Grass and tree pollen trigger allergies that will continue until the first frost. But pollen is a necessary evil. It is essential for the reproduction of flowering plants. Pollen originates in the stamens of flowers. It is essentially the sperm that must reach another flower’s pistols […]

Search for a ‘holy rail’ reveals a mockingbird

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A report of a rare bird captures the attention of birders within a few hours drive of the observation. So in late May, when a black rail was reported just north of Capon Bridge in Hampshire County, West Virginia, birders flocked to the site. Few saw it. Some heard it. Several even reported hearing the […]

Thank a hunter for 75 years of conservation

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Later this year, the conservation community will celebrate the 75th anniversary of federal legislation that keeps state wildlife agencies afloat. On Sept. 2, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. More commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Act, it honors its chief sponsors, Sen. Key Pittman of Nevada and Rep. […]

New field guide rekindled my moth-er instinct

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I wear many hats as a naturalist. I enjoy learning about all aspects of nature. Recently, I added mother to my list of interests. Let me rephrase. I’m now a moth-er. Just as birders enjoy and study birds, moth-ers enjoy and study moths. My interest in moths is not new. I’ve often noticed the tremendous […]

Boat safely with proper care, preparedness

Thursday, May 17, 2012

If you are a recreation boater, May marks the beginning of the most dangerous time of year. The sultry days of summer make cool lakes and rivers an inviting refuge, but they can be deadly. Last year in Pennsylvania, for example, recreational boating accidents claimed 22 lives. That almost doubles the last 10-year average of […]

Wild turkey nesting doesn’t stray off schedule

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A recent discovery put me in a turkey state of mind. While on my knees photographing wildflowers, I noticed a bone a few feet away and found a turkey skeleton concealed by the thickly growing grass. The skull was broken into pieces, though I could still detect the huge eye sockets. Sometime last summer or […]

Words of wisdom for Earth Day, and every day

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Words can change the world, but only when they lead to action. Earth Day is a great time to remember this. Here are some of my favorite words. Share them at work, at school, and at the dinner table. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s […]

Selecting the best optics, by the numbers

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The spring migration of birds is a good time to buy or upgrade binoculars. That’s why I wrote a brief primer on binoculars about a year ago. I explained, for example, that every pair of binocular is described by two numbers, which are usually found on the center focus wheel. For example, 8×42 and 10×42 […]

Preparing seedlings for wildlife

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shortly after noon on the last day of February, the thermometer on my porch read 62 degrees. It s no wonder I’ve been thinking of gardening. But I had trees on my mind, not vegetables or wildflowers. Planting woody vegetation is the best, though not the fastest, way to improve habitat for wildlife. It’s a […]

Bird count might explain lack of blue jays, juncos

Thursday, February 23, 2012

With more than a month until April arrives, it may be premature to proclaim the end of winter. But since it never arrived, why not? So far this winter I’ve seen less than six inches of snow, and temperatures have been incredibly mild. Only twice has my thermometer dipped to 10 degrees. We did have […]

Ecuador trip gives fodder for ‘It’s a Small World’ file

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The second day of my trip to Ecuador found me at Mindo Loma, about two hours northwest of Quito. I was the only person there, so I was treated well. And dozens of hummingbirds constantly darted among the many nectar feeders.

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