The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Neotropical birds are migrating south now. Recently, a cold front brought winds from the north. On one evening BirdCast predicted that 300 million birds would fill the night sky. What do these birds eat to fuel their journey? Many insect-eating birds add fruit to their diet when insect populations decline in the fall. Native herbaceousContinue reading “The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful”

You Won’t Sneeze with These

It’s the beginning of autumn, and the fields and forest edges are now draped in a golden cloak. The goldenrods (Solidago spp. and Euthamia spp.) are coming into their peak of flowering just as Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies need them to fuel their 3,000-mile (more than 4,800 kilometers) journey to winter in the mountains ofContinue reading “You Won’t Sneeze with These”

A Murder Hornet It Isn’t

I recently heard from an agitated homeowner who thought she had seen a “murder hornet” in her yard. Are these insects in Connecticut? She hadn’t and they’re not. Before you reach for a can of insecticide, know that what she saw was an Eastern Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus), a type of digger wasp. Although itContinue reading “A Murder Hornet It Isn’t”

A Tornado of Birds

Along the Connecticut coast, birds are now gathering in large flocks as they get ready to fly to southern climes. Among them is the Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor). By September, flocks of Tree Swallows will build into the thousands, called staging, before flying south. This is a special event in nature’s seasonal calendar. At duskContinue reading “A Tornado of Birds”

Poking Up Here and There

Growing in the wilder, unkempt edges of my yard are large bush-like plants with giant, red-stemmed stalks and bright green leaves. This is Pokeberry or Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). Several have reached 8 feet (almost 2.5 meters) in height. Their greenish white flowers are now becoming reddish purple berries. Pokeberry is native to eastern North AmericaContinue reading “Poking Up Here and There”

There’s a Buzz in the Air

There was lots of press coverage recently about Brood X, the 17-year periodical cicada emerging by the millions from the ground in 15 states, including Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, and elsewhere. The males of these harmless insects can make a whole lot of noise when they call together to attractContinue reading “There’s a Buzz in the Air”