Tag Archives: joe rankin

The Outside Story
November 9, 2018

Southern pine beetles march north

By Joe Rankin

As if the emerald ash borer’s incursion into northern New England wasn’t enough, now there’s another potentially devastating forest pest marching this way: the southern pine beetle.

Dendroctonus frontalis – the first name means “tree murderer,” we should note – is only…

The Outside Story
March 22, 2018

Stone walls

By Joe Rankin

When you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.

But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as…

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 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…

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…

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…

Column
August 31, 2016

The dirt on roots

By Joe Rankin You can pretty much count on a tree to stay in one place, at least in the real world. Not so in fiction. Remember the walking, talking Ents in the Lord of the Rings movies? Or Groot, the tree-like alien in the…

Column
August 10, 2016

Good news for wild bees?

By Joe Rankin The honey bee is an introduced species in North America. It’s only been here about 400 years, brought by English colonists who found none after stumbling ashore and then promptly put in an order with their backers back home. The honeybee, more…

The Outside Story: Molting season
The Outside Story
April 27, 2016

The Outside Story: Molting season

By Joe Rankin

“Boy, he’s really red! I don’t think I’ve ever seen them that red before,” my wife said admiringly of a male purple finch crunching sunflower seeds at the feeder. He was a nice burgundy. The male goldfinches were getting yellower, but still…

Lichen—not technically a plant
The Outside Story
February 17, 2016

Lichen—not technically a plant

By Joe Rankin

On cold winter days, while feeding sticks of firewood into my woodstove, I sometimes pause, my eye caught by lichens. Splotchy circles, lacy tendrils. Soft gray, muted gray-green, black. They mottle the bark. When I look out the window next…