Speaking of Nature
About 30 seconds after the above shot, the young bird took off and headed south. It takes four years for a bald eagle to develop their iconic white head and tail. Bill Danielson photo

Speaking of Nature: The American bald eagle

Sunday, February 7, 2016

For many of us, the official date of the European discovery of the New World is 1492. It was in that year that Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain and made landfall somewhere in the Caribbean (probably in the Bahamas). Columbus was not the first to discover America, however. There is strong evidence to support the notion that the Vikings … 0

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 … 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 … 0

Speaking of Nature: Rose-breasted grosbeak

Sunday, January 10, 2016

You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out that this winter was a little different from last year’s. The winter of 2014-15 started out innocently enough, but then in January of 2015 it started snowing. My … 0

Kids & critters: The European starling

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The first snow of the winter fell on Tuesday, December 29. This was not a particularly beautiful snow, but was instead a wet mixture of ice crystals that piled up because of the prevailing cold. At one point … 0

Speaking of Nature: 2015: The year with wildlife

Sunday, December 27, 2015

As is customary at this time of year, I like to pause for a moment and reflect on the most recent year of my life. I have a thick journal filled with notes and I have thousands of … 0

Speaking of Nature: The Mallards of UMass

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last week, despite the lack of snow (thank you, El Nino), I felt myself pulled to my study where I keep a supply of greeting cards at the ready. It was time to send out some holiday correspondence … 0

Speaking of Nature: Looking for woodpeckers...and finding a finch of unusual feathers

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Back in November I caught sight of an odd-looking downy woodpecker that was hanging around my feeders. This particular male had some rufous feathers around the face and throat that definitely stood out as being a little out … 0

Speaking of Nature: 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 … 0

Speaking of Nature: 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 … 0

Speaking of Nature: Fearing for the house finch

Monday, November 16, 2015

I can’t remember a time when there weren’t house finches around. I don’t have any sense of when I first became aware of their existence, but it’s been so long that they’ve taken up residence in my mind … 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, … 0

Speaking of Nature: The acorn woodpecker

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Our story begins on Catalina Island in the year 2008. Susan and I had taken a trip to the West Coast to visit some beloved relatives and on a whim we decided to go on an extra bonus … 0

Speaking of Nature: The white-crowned sparrow

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Before I get started with this week’s column, I think it is my responsibility to alleviate any undue suspense and suffering by announcing that the juncos arrived at my porch on Sunday (Oct. 18). This coincided nicely with … 0