Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 a.m., Tuesday at 6:45 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.

Ways to Connect

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.  

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.

    

In retirement they seem innocent enough, often sitting quietly in the side-yard holding bouquets of pansies.  Back in their day though, they were instruments of hard manual labor, especially for Louisiana women who dreaded their weekly encounters.  For them, cast iron wash pots were undesirable necessities.

    

Drought

Oct 26, 2015

From our place on the edge of a Louisiana swamp, I can smell the drought.  The usual organic brew of odors is absent.  Now it smells like northern New Mexico in early autumn -- like a toddy of weathered adobe and rabbit bush resin.  It is late October and we have had 1/2 inch of rain since the 5th day of July.  

When I began writing Bayou-Diversity programs more than 20 years ago, there was little talk of conservation issues in this region unless they threatened or enhanced hunting and fishing opportunities.  Especially as our population becomes more urban and insulated from the natural world, there seemed to be a need to provide basic information about native flora and fauna.  Even more important is the necessity to educate folks of matters that threaten our local ecosystems and often times us in the process.

At the very mouth of the Mississippi River there is a small island that once served as the headquarters of Delta National Wildlife Refuge.  A surplus fire tower was erected on the site in order that the wardens might watch for poachers in the vast flounder-flat marshes of the delta.  A friend who worked there once told me that for several years the tower was deemed unsafe and off-limits for a couple of months each winter.  It wasn't because of high winds or lightning storms that the 100' tower was condemned but rather the presence of birds that some people called Tiger Owls.

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