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

Box Turtles

Jan 4, 2017

That an old, time-marred box turtle in my hand today could be the same one held by my great grandfather on the edge of this swamp a hundred years ago infers a connection mystical if not spiritual.  Though unlikely, it is possible.

 

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.

    

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