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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: The Christmas Bird Count

A high point of the serious birder’s year, the Vineyard’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) took place amid frigid conditions on Friday, Dec. 29....

Wild Side: Looking ahead

The end of one year and the start of the next one offers a moment for assessing the recent past and planning the future,...

Wild Side: Cave crickets

Cave crickets seem badly in need of some public relations assistance. Gawky, humpbacked insects (camel cricket is another common name), ranging up to nearly...

Wild Side: Survivors

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, pickings are getting pretty slim for a Vineyard insect enthusiast. On cool days, finding any insects at all...

Wild Side: Black-horned tree crickets

Here’s a story that shows how it goes with insects and me. I first encountered a black-horned tree cricket in early September 2016, while...

Wild Side: The lesser black-backed gull

Non-birders, alas, dismiss them as “seagulls” and rank them among the foulest of fowl. But among birders, gulls, especially the larger gull species, are...

Wild Side: Deer keds

The conservation organization I work for (The Nature Conservancy, nature.org) shares office space with a smaller, newer, and locally fledged nonprofit, BiodiversityWorks (biodiversityworksmv.org). B-works,...

Answers from the Wild Side

Hi Matt,My friend Fred found this on his car. What is it, and why does it look this way?Hi. It's a mature spicebush swallowtail...

Wild Side: Orthopteran diversity

Over seven field seasons, I’ve documented the occurrence (to my own satisfaction at least) of 44 species of orthoptera — grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids,...

Wild Side: The American white pelican

During the last few days of August, bird life on the Vineyard undergoes a dramatic and often rather sudden shift. Migratory birds, passing from...

Wild Side: Dispatch from Kent, England

Since I filed my last column, I’ve crossed the Atlantic and spent 10 days in Kent, England (coincidentally the point of origin of many...

Wild Side: Amorous crickets sing across the Island

Across the years that I’ve been studying the Vineyard’s Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids), the first of August has emerged as special date. Invariably,...

Wild Side: Mothing

When I began to watch birds as a kid of 7 or 8, birdwatching was something of a fringe activity, and its practitioners were...

Wild Side: Long-legged flies

The long-legged flies, family Dolichopodidae, may rank as the most conspicuous group of insects you’ve never noticed. They’re diverse, active, often colorful, widely distributed,...

Wild Side: Stopped in my tracks

After a quarter-century or so of steadily growing interest in insects, I’m not easily impressed. Big bugs, tiny bugs, colorful bugs, bugs with insanely...

Wild Side: Our Breeding Bird Survey

Starting in the year 2000, one of my mornings every June has been devoted to helping a massive “citizen science” project called the Breeding...

Wild Side: The frosted elfin

Handily the high point of my year so far was getting good — well, decent — photos of a butterfly I’ve been unable to...

Scarlet tanagers

For many of our songbirds, striking plumage coloration in a male may attract an interested female. But it’s a liability the rest of the...

Native bees

Pollinators, we all know by now, are both important and in trouble. Many populations within this broad guild of insects are shrinking, precipitously in...

Early migration

Migration always interests birders, increasing diversity and numbers, and greatly increasing the odds of something unusual turning up. While fall probably brings the best...