Stories by Scott Shalaway

Red-backed salamanders rule Appalachian forests

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vertebrate animals are those with backbones — fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. As a group, they are much less abundant than invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and mollusks. But there is one vertebrate that occurs in stunning numbers, often quite close to home. Among common vertebrate species, chipmunk population densities can range from 10 […]

Rabbits or rodents? Meet the lagomorphs

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thanks to cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, the rabbits we see in our backyards, eastern cottontails are familiar to almost everyone. And yet I suspect most people think they are rodents. They are not. Rabbits and hares are lagomorphs, members of the mammalian order Lagomorpha. The confusion is understandable. Both groups are herbivores, and […]

How can we get more interested in fishing?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

According to statistics from the National Surveys of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, which are published every five years, the number of anglers in the U.S. is in a steady decline. Over the last 20 years the number of anglers has dropped from 35.6 million in 1991 to 33.1 million in 2011. Fishing trends Though […]

Don’t count on robins to herald spring; they tend to winter by food sources

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Darleen Flaherty of Taylor, Mich., writes, “Several Michigan friends and I spotted robins in various locations in the lower half of Michigan’s lower peninsula in February. “We saw them when the temperature was in the 40s, but then our weather turned colder and snow returned. How do robin’s survive winter conditions? I’ve never seen a […]

Sky dance: The woodcock’s courtship routine

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In his classic, A Sand County Almanac (1949), wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold described the male American woodcock’s courtship display as a “sky dance.” I call it my favorite harbinger of spring. A few nights ago, as I watched the February full moon rise in the east, a familiar sound caught my ear. “Peent!” A few […]

It’s time to hang spring nest boxes, and here’s how

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last week, a day after the morning low temperature plunged to nine degrees, the sky cleared and the thermometer rebounded to 45 degrees. That balmy afternoon, bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and Carolina wrens sang with spring-like enthusiasm. It reminded me to get my nest boxes ready because all four species use boxes within 100 yards of […]

It’s mating season for mammals in North America

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It’s common knowledge that wildlife breeds in the spring. When it comes to medium and large mammals, however, common knowledge is often wrong. Mating season peaks in mid winter for many mammals, and some species actually mate a year in advance of giving birth. Baby fisher The fisher, for example, is a large member of […]

The fox is definitely an intriguing predator

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Last week I described the wary nature of the wily coyote. I hear coyotes often, but very seldom see them. The same can be said of red and gray foxes, though they are even more elusive. I never hear them, and only occasionally do I see a red fox trotting along the edge of the […]

It truly is ‘survival of the fittest’ when it comes to coyotes

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It truly is ‘survival of the fittest’ when it comes to coyote populations. A few nights ago at 9 p.m., the thermometer on the back porch read a spring-like 60 degrees as I stepped out to listen for a few minutes.No owls on this night, but soon I heard a “yip.” And then another The […]

How chimney swifts’ diet affects population size

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In April, chimney swifts will return, but every year there seems to be fewer. One reason chimney swift numbers are down is we cap chimneys to keep them out. No one wants a chimney full of birds, nests and droppings. And no one wants live birds flying around the living room. A recent study in […]

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About Scott

Scott Shalaway, who holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Michigan State University, writes from his home in rural West Virginia. A former faculty member at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma Biological Station, he has been writing a weekly nature column for newspapers and freelancing for magazines since 1986. He can be heard 3 to 4 p.m. Sundays on 620 KHB Radio or online at www.khbradio.com. Visit www.drshalawaycom or contact him directly at sshalaway@aol.com or 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033. Send questions and comments to scottshalaway@gmail.com. You can also visit his Web site, http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com.