Kelby Ouchley

Kelby was a biologist and manager of National Wildlife Refuges for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 30 years. He has worked with alligators in gulf coast marshes and Canada geese on Hudson Bay tundra. His most recent project was working with his brother Keith of the Louisiana Nature Conservancy on the largest floodplain restoration project in the Mississippi River Basin at the Mollicy Unit of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, reconnecting twenty-five square miles of former floodplain forest back to the Ouachita River.

Kelby was instrumental in the the establishment of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and its development as a premier environmental education site. Kelby has an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University.

In 2011 he collected his essays that have aired on KEDM into the book Bayou-Diversity: Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country. He is also the author of Flora and Fauna of the Civil War: an Environmental Reference Guide, Iron Branch: A Civil War Tale of a Woman In BetweenAmerican Alligator – Ancient Predator in the Modern World as well as many scientific and popular articles. Among other honors Kelby recently received the National Wildlife Federation Governor's Conservationist of the Year Award.

He and his wife Amy live in the woods near Rocky Branch, Louisiana, in a cypress house surrounded by white oaks and black hickories. Kelby's website is bayou-diversity.com.

Ways to Connect

Belted Kingfisher

Aug 14, 2017

In teaching kids how to fish, one of the first obstacles that must be overcome is what has to be an innate urge to throw rocks and sticks into the water for the sheer joy of it.  Every fisherman knows that such commotions only scare the fish away.  Within the world of birds though, some of the best fishers actually incorporate this behavior into their pedagogy.

Wild Bird Longevity

May 15, 2017
Bryant Olsen / Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/klyh8za

While cleaning out wood duck boxes in anticipation of the upcoming nesting season, a biologist of Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge recently found a roosting screech owl in one of the boxes. Small owls are often found in the boxes and are occasionally banded during the encounter.

Bayou Topogeny

May 8, 2017
Xavier Lambrecht / Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/meeq5vf

There is little doubt that most indigenous cultures perceived their connectivity to and place on the landscape very differently than modern society.

The relationship was knowledgeable to the point of intimacy with the geography of their lives. Such wisdom was and in many cases remains critical for survival. Knowing and labeling the places where fish concentrated, where the enemy lurked, where refuge could be found in the time of flood was essential.

Dendritic Patterns

May 1, 2017
Devin Stein / Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/muzzbbh

Persistent patterns of nature permeate our bodies and our environment, and for the most part go unrecognized by all but the very observant. One ubiquitous design is the dendritic pattern.

Dendritic refers to a shape that resembles a branch tree. It is a pattern that is associated with growth or movement. Consider how the main trunk of a oak forks into large limbs that form again and again into smaller branches and twigs.

Pawpaws

Apr 28, 2017
Anna Hesser / Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/m5qtlj5

During one of the earliest European explorations of interior North America in 1541 Hernando de Soto's scribes wrote of a particular tropical-like fruit that was being cultivated by Native Americans.

When President Thomas Jefferson sent William Dunbar and George Hunter to explore the Ouachita River in 1804, Hunter recorded a small Bayou named after this plant that entered the river on the east side about a league above the mouth of Bayou Bartholomew.

Conservation Ethics

Apr 17, 2017
Woody Hibbard / Flickr.com http://tinyurl.com/m4htyt9

My boyhood in Louisiana was immersed in a culture where conservation ethic did not exist in the general populace.

The notion was that wildlife was there for the taking, not unlike blackberries or mayhaws in the swamp. As a carryover of attitude about natural resources since Europeans arrived in North America, it was a lingering remnant of 19th century arrogance defined as Manifest Destiny.

Those Sensual Plants

Apr 10, 2017

Does your magnolia tree in the front yard have feelings?  How about the Better Boy tomato plants that you pinched the suckers from yesterday?  In order to evoke feelings it is necessary to capture some sort of stimuli from our surroundings, and for that to happen we need sensory receptors.

Carolina Wren

Apr 3, 2017

Though mates for life, for much of the year they sleep on opposite sides of our house in the woods.  One we call the east wren.  This is the male.  The west wren is the female that sometimes roosts above the front door or in a wind chime that she often rings on a dead calm evening seemingly for her own amusement.

Louisiana Ferries

Mar 27, 2017

Louisiana's bayous and rivers have long been considered blessings and banes, depending on one's preferred mode of transportation.  In a land laced with aquatic arteries, streams were the only practical means of conveyance for centuries.  Only when colonial authorities began planning a system of roads to facilitate European settlement and economic development did the waterways become appreciated as substantial barriers to progress.

Swamp Sleep

Mar 20, 2017

Swamps sleep naked and are slow to awaken.  Long after green-up in the uplands, deep overflow swamps that sustain Louisiana bayous and rivers remain quiescent, prolonging winter dormancy until the threat of natural spring flooding has past.

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