Environment/Conservation

Wild Ideas: Tracking more than footprints

When I was a kid, I fancied myself to be a great tracker. When I was roaming the forests and meadows near my suburban home, I imagined I was a Native American, since we kids learned from Westerns that they were the best trackers. The goal was to find and observe animals, and ultimately to become part of their world. […]

Environment/Conservation

Wild Ideas: The tactile masked bandit

The North American Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is smart, curious, bold, omnivorous, and opportunistic — like a small bear in a mask. Our relationship with them has been a conflicted one. We’ve been captivated by the raccoon’s antics, confounded by some of its behavior and annoyed at its skillful thievery. Not only have we captured and kept them as pets, we’ve hunted them for their fur and meat, and for sport, and we’ve waged war against them because they eat our food, invade our homes, and share our susceptibility to rabies. […]

Environment/Conservation

Wild Ideas: Things that go screech . . .

I’m really not a winter person. As the days get shorter, the nights longer, and the temperature drops, all I want to do is hibernate. I like to be lulled to sleep by a full chorus of cicadas, crickets, tree frogs, and the occasional whip-poor-will, so I find the winter nocturnal silence, with the occasional burst of bizarre and even blood-curdling noises, to be a lot less restful than the sounds of a summer’s night. […]

Wild Ideas

Wild Ideas: A rafter of turkeys

Say “turkey” and most people conjure up the image of the cooked bird that graces holiday tables. Others think of the magnificent fowl roaming our forests. A rafter of wild turkeys regularly forages through the […]

Wild Ideas

Wild Ideas: Life on the deck

When you live in a rural county in Virginia, you don’t have to go far to see wildlife. The numerous critters on my back deck and within view in the forest beyond have offered me […]

Environment/Conservation

Wild Ideas: The sky is falling

Except for poison ivy, thorny vines and the occasional venomous rattlesnake, the Virginia Piedmont forest is usually not too hazardous. This autumn, however, danger has been raining down from above. The instigators are trees, releasing […]