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Bird Calamity

Bayou-Diversity (29 September 2019) An article recently published in the journal Science rattled the American conservation community like no other. The paper summed up the results of multi-faceted research by the premier avian science groups in the country. It included analyses of years of breeding population data on 529 species of birds. Additionally, it considered decades of radar data that track bird migrations. It’s the best science that exists, and it says there are almost 3 billion fewer birds in North America than 48 years ago; more than 1 in 4 have disappeared. Breaking down the data revealed more surprises. Birds from many different groups are declining in many different habit

Natural Words - A Dictionary for Naturalists

Bayou-Diversity (26 September 2019) NATURAL WORDS - A DICTIONARY FOR NATURALISTS! As biologists and environmental educators, we recognize the terminology of our trade is often foreign to those who seek to learn more about the natural world. In response, Amy and I have compiled a small book to address this issue – “Natural Words – A Dictionary for Naturalists.” The book contains those unique words that one might hear in a ranger’s campfire talk, or read in a conservation magazine or scientific article. They express the physical description, behavior, classification, and life history of living organisms. They illustrate the environment in which the organisms are found. Simply put, this small d

Deadly Daggers

Bayou-Diversity (21 September 2019) DEADLY DAGGERS Some speculate that Alexander the Great died of a stab wound. The deadly dagger though was not that of his Persian enemies but rather likely the proboscis of a typhoid fever or malaria-infected mosquito. The relationship between conquest and malaria continued through the ages destroying armies and civilians alike. Along with destruction of the Inca civilization, the Spanish brought malaria to the New World. Ironically, this invasion revealed a secret long known by the natives of Peru – the bark of a certain small tree that grew on steep Andean slopes would relieve fevers, including those of malaria. The natives called it quinquina, the

Unwritten Law

Bayou-Diversity (15 September 2019) Here on this property where we live and that we call Heartwood, there is an unwritten game law. It is “thou shall not hunt within a quarter-mile of the house.” The doe that browses just outside my home office window at noon has tempted me on occasion to propose an amendment to this family statute. She and several of her kin are well aware that they are relatively safe here in this small sanctuary, but even like free people around the world they tend to push and test the boundaries of liberty. My binoculars pull in her physical details as she is only fifty feet away. Body size and a long head with a roman nose indicate that she is an older doe, probab

Tree Fall

Bayou-Diversity (8 September 2019) Deep in the D’Arbonne Swamp just on the bayou side of Wolf Brake a giant, forked willow oak split at the confluence of the two trunks and crashed to the forest floor. Barring thunder and gunshot it was probably the loudest sound in that neck of the woods in many a year. The odds are good that no humans were around to hear it, but certainly nearby wildlife went to red alert at the first crack. A scenario in which a doe in an adjacent thicket snorted and headed for the hills, a fox squirrel bailed out of a leaf nest, and a barred owl flushed indignantly from a cavity in the doomed tree is not unrealistic. When I found it, the tree had recently fallen, pro


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