Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 a.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m.

Kelby Ouchley, former manager of Black Bayou Lake and other area National Wildlife Refuges, provides expert insight into the flora and fauna of Louisiana. Each week, he brings awareness of conservation ethics and education about what makes our area special -- and worth preserving.

Archived editions of Bayou-Diversity (December 2014 and older) can be found here.

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon May 11, 2015

Noms de Bayous: Relics of a French Culture

  Lest you think French influence on our state is restricted to the southern half, consider the sinuous streams of northeast Louisiana.  They flow through our geography with Franco-laden labels both pure and bastardized - and with good reason.  Frenchmen were the first to establish a lasting presence.  They were not Acadians.They plied every major stream in northeast Louisiana.  They put their names on nearly all of them.

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Vultures: Nature's Garbage Men

Credit K Schnelder / Flickr.com

  Vultures get a bad rap.  At best they are thought of as nature's garbage men - not a bad label, by the way.  At worst they are considered dirty, disease carrying scavengers - not a true representation either. 

Vultures were once thought to be kin to birds of prey such as hawks and eagles, but recent DNA work has revealed a much closer tie to storks, and they are now placed in that family.

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Plains Pocket Gopher: An Unusual Type of Salamander

As a boy, I never looked forward to hay-cutting time.  It seemed to be scheduled for the hottest days of summer and stacking the bales in a low, tin-roofed barn aggravated the situation. 

Blistering spears of profanity were sometimes launched by the driver of the hay cutting tractor, and were triggered by a small, bare-tailed mammal with buck teeth that was derisively called a 'damn salamander.'

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Poverty Point: An Ancient Mystery

World Heritage Sites are places deemed by the United Nations to have cultural or natural significance on a global scale.  Poverty Point, a prehistoric cultural site of exceptional merit in West Carroll Parish, was recently added to the sparse list of those in the United States that includes the likes of Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks.

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Sassafras: The All-Purpose Wonder

In the midst of the Civil War, Kate Stone, a fierce advocate of the southern cause, wrote from a plantation near Tallulah, "The plums and sassafras are in full bloom and the whole yard is fragrant.  We all drank sassafras tea for a while, but soon got tired of it, pretty and pink as it is."  At the same time the infamous Yankee General Benjamin Butler was enjoying the delights of genuine New Orleans gumbos during his occupation of that city.  His meals were surely spiced with dried, powdered sassafras leaves known as file.

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon February 23, 2015

The Infamous Balloon Incident of 1835

"Mr. Elliott, the aeronaut, has attempted to make an ascension in New Orleans, but the wind proved to be too strong.  After seating himself in his balloon, and cutting loose, he was swept violently across the arena, knocking down several persons in his passage."

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Cottonwood: Nature's Goliath

A saddled horse standing beside a giant eastern cottonwood is the subject of a nitrate-based cellulose negative. It was given to me by the man who took the shot in 1938 while prowling about for ivory-billed woodpeckers in Louisiana's vast Tensas Swamp. 

The tree appears to be nearly as wide as James Tanner's sorrel gelding is long.

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Bayou-Diversity
9:00 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Possums: Nature's Garbage Disposal

One wild animal in the bayou state is singularly unique among our native fauna.  It has more teeth than any Louisiana land mammal and is even known to fake its own death when threatened.  Correctly labeled the Virginia opossum, we all know them simply as possums.

Source:  The Mammals of Louisiana and its Adjacent Waters

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Bayou-Diversity
5:18 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Memories of Little Missouri

I have boyhood memories of motoring with my parents along a stretch of arrow-straight, asphalt highway as it passed through a vast and seemingly desolate swamp in north Louisiana.  Understory palmetto fronds lent a tropical ambience and obscured the ground under the tall, dark trees.  The road was an incision in the forested canopy.

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Bayou-Diversity
8:18 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Sweetgum: Liquid Amber Helped Civil War Soldiers

One of the most under-appreciated native trees in Louisiana grows in every parish, is important to wildlife, and has a fascinating local history. During the Autumn it is one of our most colorful trees as leaves on the same tree may be purple, burgundy, orange and yellow.

  (adapted from Flora and Fauna of the Civil War by Kelby Ouchley, LSU Press)

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