The Outside Story

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…

All about antlers
Column
February 8, 2017

All about antlers

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

A few autumns ago, one of the frequent visitors to our gone-wild apple orchard was a lopsided, one-point buck. We often see does and young, antlerless deer in the field, and by the end of each fall we’re able to identify…

Bark in winter
Column
February 3, 2017

Bark in winter

By Joe Rankin

It’s winter. Hardwood trees are bare. But that doesn’t mean the woods are bereft of interest. Winter, when sunlight slants in, is the time when bark comes into its own. Pause to take in the aged-brass bark of a yellow birch, or…

Mink in the middle
Column
January 25, 2017

Mink in the middle

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

If the river otter is the most aquatic member of the mustelid family and weasels represent the terrestrial branch of the clan, the American mink is the adept middle child, taking advantage of its adaptations both in the water and on…

Boisterous Blue Jays flock in winter
Column
January 18, 2017

Boisterous Blue Jays flock in winter

By Susan Shea

“Jay, jay, jay!” Every morning last winter I awoke to the loud cries of a flock of 17 blue jays dancing around my feeder. They gorged on sunflower seeds and suet, scaring away smaller birds, then left, only to return in the…

The arthropods among us
Column
January 11, 2017

The arthropods among us

By Kenrick Vezina

Not to alarm you, but you’re surrounded. There, buzzing stupidly into the slats of your venetian blinds, is a house fly. Nearby, nestled in a crevice of the window-frame, a ladybug waits out the winter. In a corner overhead, a spindly house…

On winter birdfeeders, many questions
Column
January 4, 2017

On winter birdfeeders, many questions

By Joe Rankin

Back in September, I put out the bird feeder. I try not to do it too early because, well . . . bears. My feathered friends emptied it in hours. A couple of refills later and I decided I couldn’t afford to…