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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Good neighbors

Common, easily observed, and quietly beautiful, the mourning dove is a bird all Vineyarders should be acquainted with. Small-headed, about the size of a...

Wild Side: Dance flies

I’ve written before about my growing fascination with flies — that is, the insect order Diptera — and I’m sorry to report that the...

Wild Side: The BMSB

Like most naturalists, I’m a big fan of “firsts” — seeing a species for the first time, finding something never before recorded in a...

Wild Side: Thick-headed flies

The fly family Conopidae suffers from a ludicrous common name: They are generally known as “thick-headed flies.” The name presumably comes from the blocky,...

Wild Side: Cowbirds

While birds rank among the most charismatic of wildlife, there are a few avian species that arouse the ire of birders and naturalists. Often...

Wild Side: Anatomy of the Vineyard

Famously glacial in its origins, Martha’s Vineyard is a relatively recent creation, in essence a huge pile of rock, transported, tumbled, ground, crushed, puréed,...

Wild Side: Song sparrows

Like most birders, I’m fond of wandering rarities, brightly colored species, and large, charismatic species — the kinds of things that draw hordes of...

Wild Side: Grackles

Let’s just forget about the “first robin of spring” myth. For one thing, robins are here and often plentiful all winter, so their “arrival”...

Wild Side: Bald eagles

As recently as the publication of Vineyard Birds II in 2007, the bald eagle was considered a scarce vagrant on the Island, recorded at...

Wild Side: The long-bodied cellar spider

I feel like part of my job as a nature columnist is to serve as a public relations consultant for animals that are unfairly...

Wild Side: Grebes

Among the stranger-looking birds, grebes are highly adapted to life on and in the water. Their legs are set far back on their bodies...

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,...