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

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

At the turn of the 20th century, the science of wildlife management was in its infancy.  Reeling from the catastrophic human-induced losses of America's iconic fish and wildlife resources such as the vast bison herds and billions of passenger pigeons to market hunters and countless plumed wading birds for the sake of vanity, a growing contingent of citizens began demanding a counteractive response to the wholesale pillage of nature.

Rain Crows

Sep 4, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

One definition of the word 'lurk' is to lie in wait in a place of concealment.  Among those birds that spend time along Louisiana bayous, one species in particular can be said to exhibit this behavior as a matter of habit.  Rain crows, often heard but less often seen, are bona fide lurkers as they perch with hunched shoulders that belie a long, graceful neck in a pose that for all the world appears to me an expression of guilt.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Wild critters walk, fly and swim among us Louisiana folks.  While all are interesting, a few are downright strange, or at least strange looking.  The unusual appearance of some animals is often caused by skin aberrations usually linked to genetic abnormalities.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

In the dog days of summer after the fresh-split firewood reeking with the sweet acerbity of tannin is stacked in a neat pile close by the house, we become crepuscular.  Like certain amphibians striving to maintain a proper balance of body fluid and temperature, we venture forth into the out-of-doors only in the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, leaving behind our artificial cocoons of refrigerated and dehumidified air.

Belted Kingfisher

Aug 14, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

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.

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