Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Pygmy grasshoppers

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The most favorite of my many favorite insects is surely the crested pygmy grasshopper, Nomotettix cristatus. It’s probably the smallest Orthoptera occurring on Martha’s...

Wild Side: Killdeer plovers

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Three species of so-called “banded plovers” occur regularly on Martha’s Vineyard. Of these, the piping plover, an intensively managed species that nests in modest...

Wild Side: Winter ants

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In a recent column about feeding wild birds (bit.ly/30c79CX,) I pointed out that food you put out for birds often ends up feeding other...

Wild Side: Harlequin ducks

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Waterfowl — and about 40 species of ducks, geese, and swans have been recorded on Martha’s Vineyard — may seem to be a boring...

Wild Side: Start small

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It’s the time of year when I receive many inquiries about feeding wild birds: Is it ecologically helpful or harmful? Should I feed birds,...

Wild Side: American kestrel

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While snowy owls and a remarkable invasion of finch species have dominated the attention of birders over the past few months, an attractive and...

Wild Side: Insect IDs

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Twenty years ago, it would have been nearly impossible for an amateur naturalist like me to study insects with any success. A few groups,...

Wild Side: Cooper’s hawks

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Cooper’s hawks are good-sized birds, distinctly smaller than a red-tailed hawk but about the size of a crow. Compared to either of those familiar...

Wild Side: The great fly hunt

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“Think like your prey,” say the hunters and fisherpeople. It’s good advice for naturalists, too. I can’t say it has helped me with fishing. The...

Wild Side: Fungus gnats

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Nearly everybody has at least a vague notion of what a fly is. To a biologist, “fly” means a member of the insect order...

Wild Side: Lapland longspur

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On Sunday, Nov. 8, I took advantage of ridiculously fine weather for a quick birding and bugging trip to Katama. In addition to the...

Wild Side: Listen for chirping

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As we move into November, there is almost always a dramatic shift in the weather on the Vineyard, and with that, a shift in...

Wild Side: Pine siskins coming to feed

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One of the more exciting types of avian events is a finch irruption — a large-scale movement of one or more finch species south...

Wild Side: Changing seasons

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As autumn progresses and the natural world begins shutting down for winter, I like to play a game of “the last X of 2020.”...

Wild Side: Predatory beetles

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While I have my favorite places to look for insects, I’m always alert for habitats that look like they might hold something interesting. This...

Wild Side: Long-winged katydids

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The straight-lanced meadow katydid, Conocephalus strictus, is a very common insect on Martha’s Vineyard, inhabiting dry habitats with a mix of grasses, other herbaceous...

Wild Side: Katydids

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A green insect with very long antennae and long hind legs gets posted on social media with a request for identification. “Katydid” is inevitably...

Bee happy, they’re flower lovers

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The wasp genus Philanthus is blessed with an appealing name: it means “flower lover” and refers to the fondness members of the genus have...

Wild Side: Counting butterflies

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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

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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...
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