Nature

What Is Your Yard Care Personality Type?

What is your yard care personality type? Are you a Naturalist? A Perfectionist? A Moderate? No matter your type, there is a way to incorporate watershed-friendly practices into your routine and still maintain a yard that you can be proud of! Why is it important to use ...

‘It Was Amazing’

There was an odd scraping sound coming from the creek that was twenty feet from where I was standing. The noise was unmistakable, but impossible to describe. It sounded like a cross between chewing and the harsh grate of a rusty metal file. That description made no sense to most people, but ...

How To Handle Earth Day Concerns

There are plenty of reasons to despair these days — mass shootings at public events and schools (from elementary schools to universities), plastics polluting oceans and killing whales and seabirds, communities that lack safe drinking water, and increasingly common catastrophic weather ...

The Palms of Palm Sunday, The Pussy Willows of Dyngus Day

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week in Christianity. It honors the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem. Palm branches were waved in triumph at his presence and then placed along with cloaks in his path. In ancient times, palm branches were a symbol of goodness, well-being and victory. ...

A Silent Spring

I don’t think I really appreciated how still and quiet winter was until spring has arrived. Suddenly, without fail, the world explodes with life — children run around their yards screaming or bouncing their basketballs while birds buzz and chirp in the trees nearby. Overnight the world ...

The Buzz Of Hummingbirds Is Back Again

At 6:30 p.m. on April 10 Linda and I sat on our patio enjoying a chorus of mockingbirds and song sparrows. Suddenly a familiar buzz caught our attention. The first ruby-throated hummingbird of the season stopped at the nectar feeder. One of the perks of living in North Carolina is that we ...

Water Quality Through The Eyes Of The Walleye

It’s the beginning of April, and most fish species in Chautauqua Lake are preparing for the spawning season. Black and white crappie, yellow perch, walleye and bass are all beginning to stage at the mouths of Chautauqua Lake’s tributaries. Many fish species will “run” into the ...

‘Try This Adventure’

As a naturalist at Audubon, I work with kids often. And I hear them say some pretty cool things. I enjoy hearing comments about how cool nature is or about learning something new. But a child saying “I didn’t think I could do that” is my most favorite by far. In that one comment, I ...

Good-Bye BT3 And His Birding Adventures

Some things are just plain wrong, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. Last fall my friend, Bill Thompson III, editor and co-publisher of “Bird Watcher’s Digest” (BWD), began feeling poorly. In mid-December he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 57 ...

Imagine Living Without Sky Puppies

Bats are among the world’s most unique and important groups of species. Over 1,330 species of bat have been identified globally, and more species are described by taxonomists annually. This means that bats make up around 20 percent of all mammal species. They provide key ecosystem services, ...

Spring Is A Naturalist’s Crunch Time

Starting just about now, the landscape begins to change dramatically from week to week. You walk the same trails, but new things emerge and appear. The spring season is a naturalist’s crunch time – there is so much to learn in such a short span. That little plant you walk by week after ...

Cowbirds Are Stealthy Nesters

Many biologists have a love/hate relationship with brown-headed cowbirds. We love their ecological and behavioral ingenuity, but we hate the impact they have on a variety of native nesting song birds. Cowbirds are stealthy nesters — they lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. Biologists ...

Intricate Nature

One of the things that I find fascinating is how little we know about how nature works. To be sure, there is a lot of information out there that we do know, but so much more is unknown. Some things are pretty basic. Many people know that a food chain consists of a plant that gets energy ...

Plant Upgrades Substantially Reduce Lake Phosphorous

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just flip a switch on some new high-tech invention and … voila! … no more algae or weeds in Chautauqua Lake. Unfortunately, no such quick and easy “fix” yet exists. As we all know by now, excessive nutrient and sediment loading to the lake are ...

Fishers

There are some animals that are familiar and often seen. Canada Geese, White-tailed Deer, squirrels, just to name a few. Other animals are more secretive; more leery of human presence. They almost seem like myths. One of these animals is the Fisher (Martes pennant). Despite often being ...

Spring Is Just Ducky

If you’re new to identifying birds, you might want to begin with waterfowl. They are large, conspicuously marked in breeding plumage, and relatively easy to spot. Though songbird migration peaks in May, early spring is a great time to learn ducks and other waterfowl. Binoculars and a field ...

Mother Nature’s Clean Up Crew

They are big. They are ugly. They grunt and hiss and dine on the most disgusting fare, but without them, our world would be a lot less enjoyable. Hail to the vultures and their trashy ways. Vultures are scavenging birds of prey, who play a fundamental role in the food chain. There are two ...

The Unexpected Visitor

When I think about animals that I see during the winter, there are a lot of animals I think of — deer, chickadees, Red Foxes, even squirrels. The one animal I never think of? Opossums. For some reason the thought of seeing a little opossum waddling through the snow with its naked little ...

Vernal Pools Are Essential To Amphibians

If late winter cabin fever has you down, wander the woods in search of vernal pools - small bodies of water that collect in depressions in the ground. Melting snow and late winter rains fill these shallow depressions, which can be as small as a plastic swimming pool or as large as an acre. ...

Snow Creates Perfect Tracks

For a few nights, the coyotes had been howling and yipping close to the house. We’d even heard foxes barking much closer than usual. One morning, after the evening snow had created perfect tracking conditions, we wandered down to see what we could find. First, a lone coyote’s tracks ...