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Matt Pelikan


From darners to gliders, dragonflies like Martha’s Vineyard

Our dragonflies are diverse, abundant insects, and major players in our ecology: they eat everything from gnats up to other dragonflies.

Three minutes at 50 stops make for a demanding day’s count

For the last 12 years or so, a high point of my birding year has been covering a Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) route for the for the U.

Recently rare on Martha’s Vineyard, house wrens are moving back in

Changing habitat and restrictions on pesticides have helped the population of house wrens rebound on the Island.

Garlic mustard threatens to take hold on Martha’s Vineyard

Unchecked, garlic mustard can shove aside all kinds of native plants, including trees.

Identifying sparrows is a challenge even for veteran birders

Chipping sparrows are all around us, but you're more apt to hear them than see them.

Several butterflies have arrived here ahead of schedule

Along with most other migrating birds and animals, butterflies have appeared on the Island much earlier than usual.

To some naturalists, “native” is neither relative nor debatable

Native plants do best here, according to some horticulturalists, but what exactly constitutes a native?

The complexities of dealing with nature on Martha’s Vineyard

Whether it's a hawk killing a chicken or a tick infecting a human, there's a price to be paid for living so close to nature.

Red-tailed hawks have year-round homes on Martha’s Vineyard

Some two dozen families have stopped migrating, content to he here all the time.

Identifying gulls can make even expert birders wince

A couple of gulls from the far north, the Iceland and glaucous, can give birders fits when they try to identify them.

Birds use tails for steerage; birders use them for identification

It's nothing fancy – a clump of long feathers controlled by muscles at their base.

What a warm winter portends for Martha’s Vineyard

At the most obvious level, the mild conditions are working out well for many species that remain active through the winter.

Migrating brant spend the winter in Ocean Park

Far more wild than the Canada Geese that have become year-round residents, brant are only here for a few months.

Some winters, snowy owls appear on Martha’s Vineyard

If they run out of food farther north, snowy owls may be forced to spend the winter here.

What wild creatures eat determines much of their behavior

It's not too much of a stretch to say that an ecological system is nothing more than the sum of the eating that goes on within it.

Turkeys, once native on Martha’s Vineyard, star tomorrow

Their provenance is murky, their lineage jerky, but on Thanksgiving who cares? We love our turkey.

Once rare on Martha’s Vineyard, titmice feel at home here now

Story of how tufted titmice ended up on Martha's Vineyard.

Black witch moth makes very rare visit to Martha’s Vineyard

Once a century or so, a representative of this very southern species appears on the Island.

A novel approach to lawns on Martha’s Vineyard

Lawns are hard to create on the Island. Interesting things happen when you let nature take its course.

Predation occurs in many forms in the natural world

The behavior of predators is varied, clever, and fascinating, and the acts of killing and consuming are dramatic.