Local Nature

Local Nature: A Summer of Bats

Halloween comes early to Cabin John: for the summer months the next three columns will focus on some of the most fascinating animals to inhabit our night skies.  Welcome to the world of bats. For some readers, this will be your first introduction to these remarkable creatures, among the most highly specialized of vertebrates. For …

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Local Nature: Nighthawks

Ask an art major what comes to mind when they hear the word “Nighthawks,” and the response is immediate: the name of an iconic Edward Hopper canvas, painted in 1942. The oil on canvas features three customers and a server behind the counter of a well-lit diner, late at night, viewed through the restaurant’s large …

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Local Nature: Peeps of Spring

What is nature’s signal that spring is here? To the gardener, pink clouds of cherry blossoms and magnolias floating above beds of bright tulips and daffodils announce the start of the season. For naturalists, it is sound that takes precedence over the visual. Our backyard Northern Cardinal has brightened his chirping song, and the Carolina …

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Local Nature: A Golden Oldie

You don’t need an advanced degree in plant taxonomy to recognize goldenrod. From the passenger’s seat of a car speeding down the Clara Barton Parkway, there it is: golden fingers waving at you from tall green stalks. The splash of dazzling color in early August from this roadside fixture signals the approach of fall. Well …

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Local Nature: Order in the Garden!

First year, sleep; second year, creep; third year, leap. That’s the advice of green-thumbs for those who decide to plant native species in their gardens. In other words, have patience with your new seedlings.  There may be a less happy corollary to this timetable, though, at least when your focus shifts from introducing a single …

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Local Nature: Summer’s End

The end of summer cues the flowering members of the Aster family to take center stage. Fall aster, boneset, mistflower, goldenrod, wingstem, and even ragweed turn out for the last big flowering episode of the season. The warm sunny days of late August bring the most colorful aster of all, black-eyed Susans. They appear then …

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Local Nature: Shady Characters

Tall oaks, hickories, tulip trees, hackberries, or maples create a lovely canopy in a yard and a veritable ecological umbrella: as food for an abundance of caterpillars that attract birds; shelter for bats that eat mosquitoes; protection from soil erosion during our increasingly violent rainstorms; and in summer, a much-welcomed ecological service—natural cooling of our …

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