Speaking of Nature
Look at how extremely puffy this female cardinal has gotten.  Her head and neck are "normal," but the feathers near her feet (and the snow) are really puffed out to help her stay warm. Bill Danielson photo

Kids & Critters: Puffy birds

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I was having some trouble coming up with an idea for this month’s Kids & Critters when I remembered that my colleague Mr. L has two young boys. Since Mr. L’s classroom is right across the hall from mine I walked over to ask him what kind of animals interested his sons in the winter. Mr. L said that a few days ago one of his boys noticed a bird that was “puffy.” Perfect! I had my idea. We are all familiar with the idea that birds are covered in feathers. Feathers are what give many birds the power of flight, but this is not … 0

Speaking of Nature: Sun-play on a winter Sunday

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It was the Sunday of a three-day weekend: a day that compares to no other. Everything in my bones told me to stay in bed, but the naturalist in me wanted to get up. It was already 7:15, which was a late morning for me, but because of the season it was still … 0

Speaking of Nature: The American Sycamore

Sunday, January 17, 2016

As a boy growing up in South Amherst I was lucky to have forests to play in. Behind my house there was a ravine with a small stream that trickled throughout the year and across the street there was the vastness of the Holyoke Range State Park to explore. Kids of my generation … 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

Speaking of Nature: A gray catbird in winter

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I woke up on Monday morning with a start. Was I too late? I looked at the clock and saw that it was still only 6:40, but then I looked at the sky and realized that didn’t really … 0

Speaking of Nature: The mysterious swamp sparrow

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Those of you who know me know of my love for John Burroughs. I was first introduced to him quite by accident back in 1992 when I was perusing the shelves of the Montague Book Mill. I happened … 0

Kids & Critters: the gray squirrel

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Last weekend was really interesting. Saturday was snowy, Sunday was sunny and “warm,” and then we got a huge snowstorm on Monday. I don’t know about you, but I was very glad to have a day off of … 0