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Speaking of Nature
 This photo shows the sharp tip on the tongue of a
downy woodpecker.  Little chunks of peanut probably aren't soft
enough to be impaled, but beetle grubs can be harpooned and
retrieved with a weapon like this. For The Recorder/Bill Danielson

An unusual downy woodpecker

Sunday, November 29, 2015

During one of those long winter mornings that we all remember so fondly from just 10 months ago, I was sitting on “my” couch and reading an old book. My beautiful wife Susan has her own couch that is oriented perpendicular to mine and we both love to sit and soak up the morning sun by the big windows that … 0

The long-range traveler

Monday, November 23, 2015

Last week, while sitting around one of the faculty dining tables at lunch, the topic of Thanksgiving vacation inevitably came up. Each of the teachers took a turn describing his or her plans for the coming week and everyone nodded with approval as the details were laid out. About half the group was … 0

Kids & Critters: The red-breasted nuthatch

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I looked through my records and discovered that I’ve focused on plants for the past four months. Since the summer growing season is behind us now, which means most plants are starting to die back or go dormant, I thought it might be a good idea to try something a little different. The … 0

Speaking of Nature: A glorious day for Bill's 700th column

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It was May 3, 1997, when my first column appeared in the Recorder. Today, 18 years later, I celebrate the publication of column No. 700. We’ve been through a lot since that first column. I changed jobs several … 0

Kids & Critters: the American Toad

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I feel much better about getting up and going to school these days. The air is warmer in the morning and it is scented with the perfume of damp earth. More than … 0

Speaking of Nature: Skunk cabbage, the earliest of flowers

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I’m up early to write this week’s column and as I sit in the silence of the pre-dawn hours, I can hear the telltale patter of raindrops on the roof just above my head. It’s one of those … 0

Speaking of Nature: Springtime is the time to study ecology

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Part of every high school student’s education includes a course in biology. For some this is a “scratch the surface” introduction that simply introduces them to some of the scientific vocabulary while they attempt to sort out other … 0

Speaking of Nature: The American Kestrel

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One of the most frustrating things about being a nature photographer is how often you can see a fairly common species and still have no real chance of getting a photo of it. It makes perfect sense that … 0

Speaking of Nature: Canada goose

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Before I get started on this week’s column, I just want to run through some of the arrivals that have occurred in the last week. On Friday, April 3, the tree swallows and eastern phoebes showed up. I … 0

Kids & Critters: the wood duck

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

People will tell you that the robin is a sure sign of spring. This, I think, is more a matter of association than truth. The fact is that some robins spend the winter with us every year, though … 0

Speaking of Nature: Craving some color

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Anyone who lives in the northern Temperate Zone is familiar with the feeling. Winter is wonderful when it arrives. It is a fantastic change from the chill of late autumn with its gusting, snowless winds. I mean, why … 0

Speaking of Nature: Sheldon the red-tailed hawk

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The pattern became a familiar one in February. Birds would be at the feeders, or on the porch railing, or anywhere else I had spread out some seed. The options were limited due to all of the snow, … 0

Speaking of Nature: We’re not there yet

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

One of the great joys of childhood is traveling to see your grandparents. When I was a boy, this meant jumping into the family car in Amherst and heading west to Albany. My parents would often pack a … 0

Kids & Critters: When will the grackles arrive?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Most people are familiar with the notion of bird migration. Birds that are primarily insect eaters are often forced to retreat to warmer southern regions during the cold, dark winters of more northern areas. But every winter ends … 0

Speaking of Nature: The thrill of the hunt

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Last week, I introduced you to a gray catbird that has adopted my yard as its home base for the winter. Prior to that, I told the story of a swamp sparrow that had also turned up at … 0