Nature

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 ...

The Sky Dance Of Woodcock

One of the best of nature’s predictable shows begins in March — the dance of the woodcock. The exact time and place is difficult to know, but it’s a great harbinger of spring. Unless heavy rain or snow interferes, woodcock rarely miss a performance. I first observed the woodcock dance ...

Conserving Forests

Last month, my column entitled “Warming Worries” addressed climate change and its disruptive threats to the seasonal symphonies now playing out in the wetlands, woodlands, fields, and forests of our Chautauqua watershed and elsewhere. And yes, there is cause for worry. Warming ...

Fish Are Friends

I’ve always been intrigued by the creatures that live underwater. Their adaptations that allow them to live, breathe, and flourish under immense pressure underwater is fascinating. When I relax by the television, an episode (or six) of “River Monsters” on Animal Planet is usually ...

Why Plants Are Green

Gaze across any late winter landscape as February winds down, and you’ll soon notice small patches of fresh greenery. Longer days, warmer temperatures, and frequent rainfall promote lush plant growth. Because plants — grass, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees — are such ubiquitous parts ...

Nature Preserves, Community Forests And Timber Harvests

We all use wood products — every single one of us in one way or another. Those products must come from somewhere. Fortunately, they literally do “grown on trees.” It may seem antithetical coming from CWC, but we DO support appropriately conducted timber harvests. The issue is not with ...

Monkey-faced Scars On Trees

I once took a workshop that evaluated children’s knowledge of nature based on how they drew trees. As their experience outside grew, their trees went from looking like green lollipops to developing rougher edges, some branches and then some animals in them. The drawings became more and more ...

Northbound Juncos?

Every year as the sun rises earlier and sets later, I get antsy. I’m ready for winter to end and spring to begin. So I keep my eyes on the juncos at the feeders. They arrive each fall in late October or early November and stay the winter. Their return north in April is a sure sign that ...

Evening Adventures

Even in the coldest of winter, getting outside is a possibility and, for some, a necessity. Curling up inside is appealing, but after a time I must go out and “get the stink out”. And this time of year, it often means at night. Outside adventures at night are a choice made more from ...

Monarch Butterflies, The GBBC

There’s good news from the mountains of central Mexico this winter. World Wildlife Fund Mexico and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve announced on Jan. 30 that 14 overwintering monarch colonies occupied a total area of 14.9 acres, up from 6.1 acres last winter. Counts of individual ...