Nature

What’s That Good For?

It’s a question I get all the time, especially when showing people something about nature. What’s that caterpillar good for? Why is that mushroom important? What is good about that insect? Why does it matter if I kill that? Sometimes, if I am honest, I just want to say “ . . .. and ...

What’s That?

I don’t always look for scientific names when I’m learning about plants and animals, but when I stumbled across meaning of the Eastern Newt’s scientific name while working on my last article I had to see what else I could learn about scientific names. I have to be honest, I didn’t ...

Introducing The ‘Social Climbers’

Mixed flocks of gregarious, acrobatic, arboreal (tree dwelling) birds frequent feeders during the fall and winter. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, creepers and woodpeckers make up the group of birds I call the “social climbers.” Offer suet and sunflower seeds and learn to identify this ...

Problems Of Productivity

In addition to my usual fishing and boating on Chautauqua Lake, over the last few weeks I have been invited to visit several lake sites where the astoundingly high biological productivity of the lake was evident. One such visit was with a homeowner in Burtis Bay to view the conditions in that ...

Nature’s Scratch ’N Sniff

Spicebush is a non-descript plant. There seems to be very little that makes it stand out when you first look at it. It is a medium-sized shrub. The leaves are an oval shape with smooth edges. They are an average green color and blend in with other, similar, green shrubs. This plant is only ...

Get Ready For FeederWatch

In 1987 a group of volunteers launched Project FeederWatch, a citizen science program to study winter bird populations across North America. Last year FeederWatchers submitted 156,076 checklists, a new record. They reported a total of more than seven million birds. Since the count began 31 ...

The Spirit Of Bentley Sanctuary

Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s new Bentley Nature Preserve embodies an extraordinary legacy of local environmental stewardship and an enduring love of nature, thanks to generations of foresight which have conserved and protected a much-beloved wetland forest rich in history and lush with ...

Phragmites

Peace and mud surround me as I stand in the middle of Audubon’s Big Pond. A Northern Harrier, also known as a Marsh Hawk, dips and glides over the cattails. Rails call like monkeys from the reeds. The water and mud come up to my thighs as we walk, plop, and sink through the pond to get to ...

It’s Time To Molt

Birds face three major energetic challenges over the course of a year. Nesting and all its associated behaviors dominate spring and early summer. Parents must build nests, defend territories, and feed their constantly hungry broods. Migratory species travel great distances, often over ...

The October Skies

“Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope & the telescope.” — Theodore Roszak, 1972 This is not a good month to view the small planet Mercury but it can be spotted just above the western horizon during the last week of October. Use binoculars and look for ...

Starve The Algae, Save The Lake

The Chautauqua County landscape is already vibrant with the colors of fall. Goldenrod and purple aster highlight open fields, and trees are just starting to turn from green to yellow, orange and red. Our focus turns to harvest time, a new school year or winter home preparations. Soon, the ...

Puzzle Of The Past

When I drive back and forth to my parent’s house in North East, Pa., I pass an old homestead on the ridge. Now, all that remains are old trees, roughly in the shape of a square. When I was growing up there, a house and barn were part of the footprint. Now the trees stand stoically, alone, ...

Thoughts From North Carolina

You may have noticed that my United States Postal Service mailing address has changed from West Virginia to North Carolina. We relocated back in August, primarily to be closer to our three grandchildren, and all is well. Last week, however, Hurricane Florence gave us quite a scare. ...

It’s Everywhere, Unfortunately

Have you noticed the tall, bamboo-like plants with the heart-shaped leaves and delicate white flowers growing along many of our roadsides? Once you start noticing them, you’ll soon see them everywhere. They have been growing along my road, Lakeside Boulevard in the Town of Ellicott, for about ...

The Moment I Knew

There are some people that can remember the exact moment they knew what they were going to do with the rest their life. Me, I think I’m one of those people. I remember the exact moment I knew I was meant to be a naturalist. Growing up my sister, Clare, and I spent a lot of time catching ...

Fall Planting Season Is Here

When fall colors begin to reveal themselves, it’s time to plant woody vines, small trees, and perennial wildflowers. Being in the ground for five or six months allows plants to acclimate to local conditions and leads to vigorous spring growth. Furthermore, nurseries, garden centers, and ...

New Tourist Eyes

The flashlights bounced along as we walked through the pitch black of night, with only the bright lights of a distant town lighting things up. The round spots of light glowed as kids searched excitedly across the ground, looking for the slightest motion. Then, there it was — a blob that ...

Passing Clouds

We talk about nature quite a bit at Audubon. But what is included in that broad category? Obviously plants and animals that live on this planet — trees and flowers, insects and birds. It could also include a whole array of non-living materials and systems that support the living flora and ...

Ruffed Grouse News

For nearly 25 years, unpredictable fluctuations of ruffed grouse populations in the Appalachian region have frustrated wildlife biologists in many states. Known for five- or six-year population cycles in northern states characterized by evergreen and aspen forests, ruffed grouse populations in ...

Fall — An Optimum Time To Plant

Like it or not, the fall season is quickly approaching! To many, this may be a reason to cry out in foreboding trepidation at the thought of winter sneaking in. To me, this is the time of year to start planning for the burst of greenery and life that comes after winter’s end. It may seem ...