Nature

How To Choose A Bird Feeder

When readers ask for help selecting a bird feeder, I’m happy to oblige. I bought my first feeder in 1978 in Michigan, so I’ve had lots of experience evaluating them. I won’t presume to identify the “best” feeders, but I can name my favorites in both general and specific terms. My ...

Autumn On The Outlet

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of kayaking with friends along the Chautauqua Lake outlet, putting in and exiting from McCrea Point Park along Jones and Gifford Avenue in Jamestown and paddling up to CWC’s 81-acre, §-mile Chautauqua Lake Outlet Wetland Greenway Preserve located on the ...

The Deer Woods

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This is a tale of two forests, one with too many deer and one without. Interestingly enough, both of these forests are at the Audubon Community Nature Center. Around 10 years ago, Audubon volunteers installed an eight-foot high fence ...

It’s Time To Feed Wild Birds

Though it’s OK to feed wild birds year round, many people prefer to feed only during the colder months. The colder months are here, so let’s review the best foods to offer backyard birds. Sunflower Seeds. Black-oil sunflowers seeds are the best single food for wild birds. These small, ...

North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District Succeeds In Reducing Phosphorus

Another important goal in improving Chautauqua Lake water quality has been met. Recent sampling results confirm that the upgraded North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District wastewater treatment plant is successfully meeting the new, and more stringent, New York State Department of Environmental ...

Birds Of Prey

The mama hen with her seven peeps let’s out a low growl and they all freeze, some of them mid-step. Mom continues to growl as I look around thinking “cat, dog, or hawk?” but see nothing. Three minutes pass, no motion. Finally, I continue with my task of filling birdfeeders and that ...

October Speaks To Me

My father has been gone for 40 Octobers, a victim of the cigarettes that hooked him while he served and earned a Purple Heart in World War II. Memories of the times we spent in the woods and walking country roads may explain why October remains one of my favorite months. He set me on a path ...

The November Skies

“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.” Carl Sagan, 1934-1996 Mercury passes between the Earth and sun during November and the little planet cannot be viewed because of the solar glare. As November begins, brilliant ...

Respecting The Desirable ‘Undesirables’

These past few months have really opened my eyes to the beautiful area just footsteps from my front door. And I literally mean footsteps. Instead of spending my free time kayaking because of the deplorable conditions in Burtis Bay, I have been running. Starting off the summer barely able to ...

‘Old Growth’ Forests

A common misconception about trees is that the bigger they are, the older they are. This is not always true. Using size to gauge tree age is very similar to comparing people’s age to their size. Humans start small, hit a growth spurt, and remain mostly the same in size as they age; very hard ...

Birds Get As Drunk As Skunks

It doesn’t happen very often, but a few weeks ago a flock of song birds made national news on radio and television broadcasts and in major newspapers. Back in early October, residents of Gilbert, Minnesota were alarmed by flocks of birds behaving erratically and flying into traffic. The ...

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 ...