Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Counting butterflies

Perhaps the type of wildlife inquiry I receive most often is about abundance: “Butterflies (or birds, or dragonflies) seem especially scarce (or especially common)...

Wild Side: Metamorphosis

Most everyone knows the basics of insect metamorphosis: It’s the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. We don’t often think, though, of how...

Wild Side: Robber flies

Among my favorite groups of insects are the robber flies, the predatory members of the family Asilidae. Ranging in length from a half-inch or...

Wild Side: Fledgling season

However screwed up the world may be, certain things keep chugging reliably onward. Pandemic? Protests? Birds don’t care. Their focus is elsewhere, and their...

Wild Side: Oystercatchers

American oystercatchers have an interesting history on the East Coast. Originally, they probably occurred across much of the region, from the Gulf of Mexico...

Wild Side: Summer tanagers

Spring migration is a hit-or-miss proposition for a Vineyard birder. It never brings the sheer volume of birds that fall migration brings, and to...

Wild Side: Bee happy

As the weather starts to warm in April, one of the first and most obvious groups of insects to become active are the bees....

Wild Side: Hawks and doves

As usual for this time of year, the production of more mourning doves is in full swing in our small Oak Bluffs yard. But...

Wild Side: On the road

Breaking a decades-old tradition of wallowing in seasonal affective disorder and grumbling about late-winter weather on the Vineyard, your intrepid Wild Side columnist and...

Wild Side: Wintering with us, the hermit thrush

On Friday the 21st, I surprised a hermit thrush as it fed on multiflora rose berries next to the building I work in. The...

Wild Side: Phormia regina

Winter, naturally, is a slow season for insect observation, with only a modest variety of particularly hardy or specially adapted species active. Some of...

Wild Side: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day might be my favorite holiday. It’s not that I have any particular fondness for rodents. And the six more weeks of winter...

Wild Side: A new perspective

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a human being. As such, while there are exceptions, you’re likely more than five feet long and weigh...

Wild Side: Unsolved mystery

Ah, there are few things better than a natural history problem solved! A tough ID nailed down, a droll bit of ecology revealed. Such...

Wild Side: Belted kingfishers

A bit larger than a blue jay, belted kingfishers are chunky birds with a scraggly crest on their head that gives them their regal...

Wild Side: Short-eared owls

I could never pick just one favorite bird. But surely on the short list would be the short-eared owl, a crow-size, brownish bird of...

Wild Side: Low on the food chain

A high percentage of the meadow voles that I see are in a difficult situation indeed: dangling from the talons of a red-tailed hawk...

Wild Side: Stranded leatherback

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, word of a dead leatherback turtle beached on Cape Poge turned up on social media. I was one of several...

Ask an Expert: Where can you find a snowy owl on Martha’s Vineyard?

At least one of these magnificent Arctic birds of prey turns up here most winters, and in so-called “irruption years,” when prey shortages or...

Wild Side: Blue jays

When it comes to migration, the blue jay, among our most familiar and recognizable birds, plays by its own rules. By and large, the...