Local Nature

Local Nature: 2020 Theme – A Year of Invasives; A Murmuration of Starlings

Author’s Note For 2020, Trudy Nicholson and I are going to add a new dimension to the Local Nature column by sticking with a single theme that will run through each of the year’s articles. This year we will focus on species that are considered by biologists as invasive and, in a few cases, a …

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Local Nature: Foxes Among Us

What was that blur of red streaking across the backyard? Could that be a fox standing in the fading light at the end of the street?  I remember the joy I felt when I recognized a fox sprinted across the backyard about a decade ago. Even in wild Cabin John, I mostly saw foxes on …

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Local Nature: Our Backyard Birds Are Made From Bugs (Insect Armageddon-Part II)

Starting on the first of September, I keep a watchful eye on the swollen fruits hanging from the two prized pawpaw trees growing in my backyard forest. The largest and most delicious fruit native to North America is almost ripe, and this year, I should harvest a pawpaw crop exceeding 20 fruits. Out back the …

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Local Nature: Think Like a Skink

Looking down, the crow spied a skink.  It swooped from its branch in a blink. The bird grabbed the skink’s tail Forcing the lizard to bail And leave the crow a wriggling link.  There is much to be admired about a fellow vertebrate as elegant as the blue-tailed skink. Or as crafty. In the Looks …

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Local Nature: Spring Comes Wrapped in a Mourning Cloak…or a White Petticoat

The signs of spring are everywhere for avid naturalists: the opening of mysterious purple and yellow pawpaw flowers; the voluptuous leaves of skunk cabbage emerging from the damp soil; the lusty singing of spring peepers from the vernal pools and ponds; wood ducks on the canal, male and female pairing up for nesting season.  But …

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Local Nature: The Winterberry Army

When the weather forecast warns of a looming polar vortex, my first concern as a naturalist is:  How will our overwintering songbirds survive this extreme event? We, like our neighbors, heed the public service advisories to keep our two dogs inside. But there is no precautionary measure for the birds that live outdoors 24/7. And …

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