Science

With the arrival of spring, I am again working on documenting breeding birds for our state breeding bird atlas. In my highly urban county, it seems reasonable that House Sparrow, European Starling, and Rock Pigeon are nesting in every quarter-township…

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A favorite native plant in my wildflower garden is twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla. The flowers are similar to that of bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, which I also have spreading all over nearby. But you can see where twinleaf gets both its common…

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. National Geographic had a nice overview article in their April issue, and has a multimedia presentation on their web site. Human impacts have been documented, but what about the…

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I’ve written before about Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis), a common little sparrow throughout much of North America. This species generally breeds at high latitudes (e.g., across Canada), or further south at higher altitudes (usually over 1500 feet/460 m). There it…

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This week I’ve been trying to finish up some especially obnoxious paperwork on a project before my field season begins in earnest. Since I’m annoyed, I thought I’d take a little break and write about an annoying creature: the earwig….

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A nice article in this morning’s New York Times, “A Weed, a Fly, a Mouse, and a Chain of Unintended Consequences,” gives another lesson of one of the hazards of using biological control — unanticipated ecological chain reactions. The most…

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Recently, we have been being warned left, right, and center that avian influenza H5N1 was likely to enter the United States via migratory birds this year (or this spring, or next week, depending on the tenor of the article). I…

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There are only two families of birds found just in the West Indies. One is the Dulidae, consisting of one species, the Palmchat (Dulus dominicus) of Hispanolia. The other is the Todidae, or todies, of which there are five species….

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Nearly every field guide to trees that I’ve seen lists carvings on the trunks of American Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) as a field mark. In my urban area, virtually every beech tree is inscribed with carved initials and declarations of…

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An interesting paper in the most recent issue of the Condor, the journal of the Cooper Ornithological Society: Miller, M. W. 2006. Apparent effects of light pollution on singing behavior of American Robins. Condor 108:130-139. The author recorded the initiation…

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