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

Feeding Birds

Dec 26, 2016

Nothing can brighten a gray winter day faster than a splash of crimson cardinals or goldfinches gathered at a window side bird feeder.  The popularity of bird feeding continues to grow, and a recent report estimates that 63 million Americans provide food for wild birds, spending more than $2.5 billion on birdseed and feeding supplies each year.

 

Seemingly unrelated political decisions often impact wildlife resources and lead to a cascade of unanticipated events in the most unlikely of places.  That U.S. policy in Iraq and Iran could suddenly influence my daily biological work in the spectacular Lacassine marshes of southwestern Louisiana is a good example.  The nexus involves humans' peculiar obsession with fish eggs, and the story line goes like this.

 

Thank you, O Lord, in this bountiful season for the five senses to relish your world.  

Thank you for the succulent smells of the fruits of the earth in the kitchens of our mothers and wives.

Thank you for the odor of rich delta dirt on a warm, foggy winter morning.

Thank you for the smell of wood smoke, especially that tinted with lighter'd pine.

Thank you for the stew of odors distinct to our rivers and bayous: cypress needles, primal water, life and life-to be.

Groundhog Sawmills

Oct 31, 2016

Except for coastal marshlands and tallgrass prairies of the southwest, Louisiana was historically a world of forests.  Virgin stands of longleaf pine in the central part of the state, primeval bottomland hardwoods and cypress swamps, along with upland hardwoods and pines in the hill country were viewed by settlers as both daunting obstacles and coveted natural resources in the form of potential wood products.

 

Bullbats

Oct 24, 2016

The award for the Louisiana bird with the most misleading name should be conferred on the common nighthawk, also known as the bullbat.  No part of these monikers is accurate.  In the first place, they are not common anymore as long-term surveys show their populations in the United States have declined 61 percent between 1966 and 2014.

 

Velvet Ants

Oct 17, 2016

Boys are impressionable creatures.  They hone in on pronouncements that combine adventure and danger.  Such was my experience many years ago when I was warned by elders to avoid at all costs an insect with the moniker "cow killer."  How could such a beast in our midst not be a call to action?  It was claimed that the sting was so terrible that it could dispatch a healthy cow.  I set out to catch one in a Mason jar.  

Balloon Releases

Oct 10, 2016

Louisiana.  Across the country we are known for our moss-draped cypress trees, slow meandering bayous, antebellum homes, spicy cooking... and litter.  In spite of our wonderful assets, our litter liability is one thing most visitors remember.  Everyone is impacted.

 

Starlings

Oct 3, 2016

That humans are increasingly impacting the natural world is beyond question.  Our influence often comes by way of odd and sinuous paths.  Consider that the presence of one very common but non-native and often harmful bird species in Louisiana can be attributed to William Shakespeare.

 

Heartwood Doe

Sep 5, 2016

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.

    

Fish Migration

Aug 29, 2016

Even the most nature-deprived urban dwellers among us are aware of the basic concept of bird migration.  They know that some types of birds fly north in the spring and return in the fall.  However, few people including most outdoor-oriented folks in this region who should know better realize that migration is also a vital part of the life cycle of other kinds of local wildlife.  Consider freshwater fish, for example.

  

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