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

Standing on the bank of the Tensas River more than thirty years ago, deep within a swamp bearing the same Native American name, I could hear the hollow peals of a plantation bell - at least in my imagination.  With no human habitation for miles on this subtropical summer day, there wasn't much chance of it happening in real time.  But a century and a half earlier the scenario was likely.

  

Gray Fox

Feb 29, 2016

When people experience intense emotions such as fright or awe, they often remark that they feel their hair standing on end.  Startling night sounds that emit from our local forest lands are sometimes a source of these involuntary chill bumps.  Owls, especially barred owls with their wild screams and hoots, have sent many a novice outdoorsman packing.  There is one species of local mammal though that can hold his own with owls when it comes to nocturnal caterwauling.  

President Theodore Roosevelt was frustrated when he arrived in East Carroll Parish in October 1907.  An avid hunter, he had long desired to kill a black bear on a traditional southern hunt with baying hounds and moss-draped swamps as a backdrop.  His first effort in Sharkey County, Mississippi five years earlier had been unsuccessful except for spawning the iconic Teddy Bear stuffed toys when he refused to shoot a young bear that had been tied to a tree by his hunting guide.  

Ecotone

Jan 18, 2016

The term "ecotone" can be defined as a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities.  It usually has some common characteristics of each bordering community and often contains species not found in either of the two.  Ecotones exist at different scales.  It may be the edge of your back yard where it butts up against a bayou or patch of woods.  It can be a 20-mile wide strip that separates the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains from the Great Plains or the northern evergreen forests from the tundra.

  

Misused Biology Terms

Jan 11, 2016

If there was such a thing as word police to enforce the correct use of biological terms, jails would be full of repeat offenders.  None of the violations rank as felonies, but misdemeanors are rampant.  Here are a few examples.

  

Louisiana Bison

Jan 4, 2016

The image of thundering herds of buffalo racing across endless prairies is not one that is often associated with Louisiana, the Bayou State.  Historically, though, the scene is not far-fetched.  The animals we call buffalo are more correctly termed bison to separate them from true buffalo of Africa and Asia.  Early French explorers in Louisiana called them boeuf sauvage - wild ox.  

Christmas Bird Count

Dec 28, 2015

On Christmas Day 1900, twenty-seven conservationists in New York decided to protest a traditional holiday bird shoot in which teams competed to see who could kill the most birds and other animals in one day.  Instead of shooting the birds, the protesters counted them and unknowingly established an event that has become known as the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

  

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 lightered pine.  

Wilderness Store

Nov 16, 2015

Less than three months after Union Parish was carved from Ouachita as a new political entity, William McKay died there intestate leaving a grieving widow and two-year old daughter.  In 1839, Union Parish was essentially wilderness and sparsely populated, the surge of immigration by settlers from eastern states just over the horizon.  McKay owned a store on the Ouachita River, either at what could later be called Alabama Landing or farther south at Ouachita City, or maybe even at the mouth of Bayou de l'Outre.  In these roadless times goods moved efficiently only by water. 

Soaring gracefully overhead with a wingspan exceeding five feet, wood storks are more attractive at that distance than when up close in person.  With snow white plumage except for a black tail and trailing wing edges, they are the only true stork found in North America.  It's their naked gray head and neck that only a mother wood stork could love.  Add a large, thick, slightly curved bill and the common name "gourd head" is not totally inappropriate.

    

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