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.
The first day of spring always reminds me that it’s nest box season. It’s time to build and place a few more nest boxes for my favorite birds — the cavity-nesters. This group includes bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, house wrens, tree swallows, screech-owls, kestrels and wood ducks. Most people love bluebirds, but they nest only in […]
When I was a kid, one of the things I learned on television was that, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Apparently, however, it’s OK for Mother Nature to fool me. Blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the 50s put a smile on my face March 2 and 3. Robins, bluebirds, cardinals, chickadees and […]
More than 30 bird identification guides line my book shelves, so I guess I’m a collector. Most are very good. Some even include CDs. But they all follow the same basic format — artwork or photos of a few individuals along with a range map and brief written description. Which guide is best is an […]
The 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count takes place Feb. 18-21. A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, this popular citizen science project is an opportunity for all to discover the wonders of nature we call birds. Begun in 1998, the GBBC enlists birders of […]
If you’re enjoying a cup of coffee while you read the morning newspaper, you’re in good company. Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee every day. That’s 146 billion cups per year. It gets us going in the morning and gets us through the day. We are the leading consumers of coffee, but coffee is […]
Bigger is always better, right? Cities and countries compete to build the tallest buildings. Gardeners vie to raise the biggest pumpkin. Anglers long for that monster bass. In the February 2011 issue of Pennsylvania Game News Mike Raykovicz writes, “The emphasis today seems to be on antlers, and the bigger they are the better.” s […]
Shortly after my wife and I moved to the ridge back in the summer of 1985, we began exploring the surrounding woods. On one of our first outings, we took separate paths. When we met back at the house, Linda was bursting with excitement. “I got a quick look at an animal I didn’t recognize,” […]