Tag: Wildlife

  • Massachusetts Legends

    Massachusetts Legends

    Massachusetts has its share of legends: The Salem witch trials; Lizzie Borden and her infamous ax; The captain of the Mary Celeste; and Charlie on the MTA. But what about legendary creatures? I don’t mean animals that are merely strange, like the moving pincushion that whistles like a porpoise and chews canoe paddles to indulge […]

  • Mouse Wars: When Rodents Invade the House

    Mouse Wars: When Rodents Invade the House

    The Mouse Wars usually start in September, but this year, they spoiled the end of August for me. I once looked forward to fall. Apple picking. Perfect temperatures. The smell of fireplace smoke. The mosquito-free hikes. Brilliant foliage. Now I dread the season because that’s when the Mouse Wars—the battle between the wood mice trying […]

  • Fall Flowers for Hummingbirds: Readers’ Suggestions

    Fall Flowers for Hummingbirds: Readers’ Suggestions

    Last week, I wrote about planting fall flowers for hummingbirds, and I promised to post any suggestions I received. Fun fact: plants that thrive in much of the United States will not grow in Massachusetts because it’s too cold. If you detect a touch of envy in my tone, you’re wrong. It’s sheer, blatant jealousy, […]

  • Flowers for Picky Hummingbirds

    Flowers for Picky Hummingbirds

    Why We Don’t Own a Hummingbird Feeder The growing season is over, and it’s time to pore through seed catalogs to decide what to grow in the garden next spring. But this year, the birds are demanding a say. A hummingbird appeared in front of our kitchen window in September, hovering and looking seriously annoyed. […]

  • Angry Animals: Are They an Omen?

    Angry Animals: Are They an Omen?

    Is it my imagination… or is nature miffed with us lately? Even the wildlife is angry. The Evidence… The two moles tussling with each other, above ground, in the daylight of an early spring afternoon was the first sign of trouble. Was this a portent of the pandemic that would upend the human world? Or […]

  • Why Is a Woodpecker on My Bird Feeder?

    I’ve always learned that a bird’s beak should clue me in to what it eats. So why is a woodpecker on the bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds? Their bills are shaped like awls, not nutcrackers! Still, I imagine that Massachusetts insect-eaters in winter feel as I do when finding a loose screw far from […]

  • The Clown of the Forest: Black-capped Chickadee

    Was the Black-capped Chickadee overlooked when the Creator was handing out gifts to the birds? Scarlet Tanagers received color; the Hermit Thrush requested a beautiful voice; Turkey Vultures asked for size. But I think the chickadee was at the front of the line for choosing personalities. The charm it flew off with more than compensates […]

  • The Tortoise and the Hare, Massachusetts-Style

    At this time of year, I anxiously watch the weather to decide when I should de-winterize the gardens. Too early? Cold snaps and snowstorms threaten the unprotected plants. Too late? The rabbits invade. Don’t get me wrong—I like Eastern cottontails. They’re good neighbors, especially compared to the riffraff from the woods next door. (Moles wrestle […]

  • The magic of science

    During my job as an environmental consultant, I never researched the supernatural. Yet, I had an odd sense of déjà vu when I opened an encyclopedia about fairies recently. Just like my ecology books, it discussed distribution, habitat, food habits, identification, and other bits of life history. But it also included each fairy’s magical abilities. […]

  • The subnivean zone

    Before the January thaw hit two weeks ago, that trail in the photo above was the bottom of a tunnel in the subnivean zone. Subnivean zone. The name alone conjures an image of a different world. Only a few inches high, this is a habitat where voles and shrews can escape the howling winter wind […]