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Bayou-Diversity (27 September 2020) Writing of the carnage at Vicksburg during the Civil War, a teenage girl living near what is now West Monroe made an interesting natural history observation. She stated: “…we hear from the best and most direct sources that the Yankee dead lie in heaps about our entrenchments; it is horrible to relate, sickening to think, but so curious a fact that I must note it down, all the vultures have left this country, a carcass may lie for days untouched, those creatures have gone eastward in search of nobler game; how terrible is war!” Vultures get a bad rap. At best they are thought of as nature’s garbage men – not a bad label, by the way. At worst they are co

Hurrican Laura & the D'Arbonne Swamp

Bayou-Diversity (20 September 2020) During a period of four hours beginning at 10AM on Thursday, August 27, 2020, the D’Arbonne Swamp changed for many decades. The change was aeolian in the form of Hurricane Laura. She was obstinate, eschewing the normal shape-shifting impotence that occurs upon landfall, and for the first time in recorded history still maintained a Category 1 status when she passed within the D’Arbonne Swamp 200 miles inland. Thousands of trees, mostly the largest and oldest oaks, succumbed to the 70 mph gusts and were thrown to the forest floor. Their tentacled root-balls faced east toward the source of the most powerful winds following the eye of the hurricane. Som

Hummingbird Connections

Bayou-Diversity (13 September 2020) Connections are a common theme on this blog. We’ve talked about broad connections such as those linking clean water to healthy fish, wildlife, and human populations. Widespread education about more specific connections like the one between monarch butterflies and wild milkweeds have resulted in concerted efforts to benefit these species. Edification of the detrimental impacts of balloon releases on wildlife is another example of spreading the word about connections, negative ones in this case. Continuing in this vein, today’s topic is about another natural connection unknown to most people. It involves hummingbirds, a favorite subject of birdwatchers

Bayou Boats

Bayou-Diversity (6 September 2020) For as long as humans have dwelled on our bayou-laced landscape, boats have drifted along the placid waters. Local Native Americans built watercraft for 400 generations before European immigrants arrived to mimic their designs. For efficient travel and trade in a wilderness world of wetlands there were no other options. The earliest boats were dugout canoes or pirogues. Hewn from logs of virgin cypress or water tupelo, some were large enough to carry a dozen passengers or a thousand pounds of freight. Construction was labor intensive and required skilled craftsmen, making the boats valuable assets. When settlers introduced pit sawed lumber manufactu


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