The Outside Story

Starlings aren’t darling
Column
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
Column
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
Column
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
Column
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
Column
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…

Twilight singer: The Hermit Thrush
Column
May 31, 2017

Twilight singer: The Hermit Thrush

By Susan Shea

If you take a walk in the woods on a summer evening, you may be treated to the ethereal, flute-like song of the hermit thrush, often the only bird still singing at dusk (and the first bird to sing in the morning)….

On mammal teeth
Column
May 24, 2017

On mammal teeth

By Tim Traver

When my daughter was 4, she once asked, “Do mice get cavities?” We were coming back from the dentist, so teeth were on her mind and so were mice, since her pet mouse had recently escaped. Later in the day, she asked…

The great duckweed migration
Column
May 19, 2017

The great duckweed migration

By Declan McCabe

The word “migration” conjures images of vast wildebeest or pronghorn herds crossing plains in unison, or hummingbirds traversing the Gulf of Mexico. When charismatic birds leave our New England forests, migration is typically the explanation. But how can a group of plants…

A precious stone with wings
Column
May 11, 2017

A precious stone with wings

By Carolyn Lorié

One day last spring, I pulled into a parking lot in Thetford and saw a flash of brilliant red. Instantly, I knew it was a male scarlet tanager. He was perched in a cluster of bushes and everything around him — the…

Wild leeks
Column
May 3, 2017

Wild leeks

By Virginia Barlow

The white bulbs of wild leeks, also called ramps (especially in the South), can be eaten year round, but it’s the early leaves that are most appreciated. In pre-freezer days, ramps were the first greens available after five or so months of…