The Outside Story

Drumroll, please
Column
April 19, 2017

Drumroll, please

By Bryan Pfeiffer

Trees speak many languages, their leaves whooshing in summer and trunks creaking in winter. At the onset of spring, trees become sounding boards for courtship. Before the thrushes and warblers and sparrows arrive to sing from branches and boughs, woodpeckers kick off…

Return of the missing lynx
Column
April 12, 2017

Return of the missing lynx

By Susan Shea

In the northern forest of New England, a big gray cat crouches silently in a dense thicket of fir along a snowshoe hare run. Its pointed ears, topped with long tufts of black hair, twitch as it listens intently. The cat’s face…

Woodcock habitat: a combo of open and hidden spaces
Column
April 5, 2017

Woodcock habitat: a combo of open and hidden spaces

By Elise Tillinghast

Every year around this time, my husband, kids and I haul out the tent blind from our garage and set it up in the field in front of our house. We toss in a few folding chairs, a thermos, maybe a neighbor….

Time travel in a peat bog
Column
March 29, 2017

Time travel in a peat bog

By Declan McCabe

Gutter pipes full of soggy peat show up on the bench by my office each March. This means one thing: my colleague Peter Hope’s Saint Michael’s College students are about to experience time travel. You might reasonably ask how pipes filled with…

“Beaver duck”: the adaptable hooded merganser
Column
March 22, 2017

“Beaver duck”: the adaptable hooded merganser

By Michael J. Caduto

Imagine ten nearly round white eggs snug in a hollow tree, lined with soft feathers plucked from the mother’s breast. The hen carefully tends the 2-inch eggs for about a month until the chicks hatch. Prompted by their mother’s call, downy…

Winter bird rehabilitation faces extra challenges
Column
March 1, 2017

Winter bird rehabilitation faces extra challenges

By Leah Burdick

An injured barred owl sat in the back seat of a four-door sedan, staring balefully out the window at its rescuer. “I saw him on the side of the road, just sitting there, trying to fly,” the young woman explained to Maria…

Snow buntings: nomads from the north
Column
February 22, 2017

Snow buntings: nomads from the north

By Susan Shea

Driving to town on a winter day, I occasionally see flocks of white birds where the wind sweeps across fields, blowing snow across the road and exposing the grass. Rising and falling, the birds look like giant snowflakes tossed about by a…

The curious case of the “cute face” crane fly
Column
February 15, 2017

The curious case of the “cute face” crane fly

By Declan McCabe

An email chirped in my inbox, “Check out the cute face on this insect we found.” I opened the attachment (yes, from a reliable source). My colleague Professor Peter Hope had taken a spectacular photograph through his microscope. The larva in question…