The Outside Story

A dragon devours the sun
The Outside Story
August 16, 2017

A dragon devours the sun

By Michael J. Caduto

More than 3,000 years ago, the Chinese believed that a dragon ate the sun during a solar eclipse, so they gathered outdoors to drive away the beast by beating pots, pans and drums. Some 500 years later, the Greek poet Archilochus…

American goldfinch: a common bird with uncommon habits
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July 27, 2017

American goldfinch: a common bird with uncommon habits

By Barbara Mackay

I love the fact that there is always something new to observe in nature. Take goldfinches, for example. I have often watched them devour milkweed seeds from an acrobatic, upside-down position. Recently, I spotted several bright yellow males perched atop dandelion stems,…

The dirt on moles
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July 20, 2017

The dirt on moles

By Susan Shea

My dog watched intently as an area of soil in our backyard vibrated and formed a slight ridge. Suddenly he began digging, revealing a mole below ground. Before Cody could pounce, I grabbed his collar and pulled him away.

This was not…

Summer House Guests
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July 13, 2017

Summer House Guests

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

Perhaps the phoebe selected her nesting spot during the few days my family was away from home at the end of April. Otherwise, I can’t quite figure her decision to build a nest atop the back porch light, right next to…

Starlings aren’t darling
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July 5, 2017

Starlings aren’t darling

By Joe Rankin

It’s the classic story of unintended consequences.

In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin released 60 starlings in New York’s Central Park with the hope of establishing a breeding population. Just in case the experiment wasn’t successful, he released another 40 the next year.

Schieffelin…

The nostalgia of wintergreen
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June 29, 2017

The nostalgia of wintergreen

By Kathy Bernier

I give a lot of tours at my 80-acre homestead, and have found that most visitors are delighted for the opportunity to connect nature with real life. Those of us who spend much time rubbing elbows with nature might say that it…

The evolution of bird feet
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June 21, 2017

The evolution of bird feet

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

As spring’s crescendo of birdsong mellows now to a steadier summer trill, I listen for melodies I don’t recognize and try to figure out which birds are singing. I look through binoculars at their feathers, the color variations along head and…

Summer skaters
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June 14, 2017

Summer skaters

By Declan McCabe

Scanning a sunlit pond floor for crayfish, I was distracted by seven dark spots gliding in a tight formation. Six crisp oval shadows surrounded a faint, less distinct silhouette. The shapes slid slowly and then, with a rapid motion, accelerated before slowing…

The fisher: elusive, fast, a porcupine’s worst nightmare
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June 8, 2017

The fisher: elusive, fast, a porcupine’s worst nightmare

By Joe Rankin

The “fisher cat” is neither of those things. Doesn’t fish. Isn’t a cat. In fact, a lot more of what people think they know about the fisher is wrong. It’s almost like we made up the animal.

The fisher, Pekania pennanti, is…