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Matt Pelikan

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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,...

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...