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A day in the life of an incubating hen turkey

Thursday, May 2, 2013

At about 7:15 Monday morning I settled into a comfy spot about 20 yards from the edge of the woods. My intent was to experience the migration, by sight and sound, from a single spot. It was chilly, about 42 degrees, but I was dressed for it — polar fleece jacket and wool cap. With […]

Listen: Spring migration is finally underway

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finally, spring has arrived. Forsythias, hyacinths and daffodils are blooming, lilacs are budding, and the grass soon needs mowing. And of course, spring migration is under way. And my email box is filled with notes from readers who love warmer days, blue skies, and sunshine. Let’s compare notes, and see how our observations compare. Typically […]

Cabela’s: A retail store and a destination

Thursday, April 18, 2013

When the Cabela’s store in Wheeling, W.Va. opened in 2004, it was billed as a “destination.” Give it a few months, I thought, and it will be just another outdoors store. I could not have been more wrong. Four million shoppers. According to Cabela’s retail marketing manager, Bud Forte, four million shoppers visited the Wheeling […]

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will soon be back

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Their tiny size, acrobatic flying ability, and eagerness to use nectar feeders make hummingbirds one of America’s favorite backyard birds. This fascination always triggers a flurry of mail, so let me anticipate the most common hummer questions I will get over the next month. Q: How many species of hummingbirds live in the east? A: […]

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 […]

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 […]


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