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Matt Pelikan

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Worth their weight in gold

Combined with a goldfinch's small size, plump shape, and twittery flight notes, the roller-coaster flight makes these birds easy to recognize.

The wrong kind of fishing

"I hate the reliance of the shark tournament on expensive boats, expensive gear, and the climate-trashing combustion of vast quantities of fossil fuel."

Goldenrod is misunderstood, blamed for many woes

Mistakenly maligned as an allergen in late summer and early fall, goldenrods actually serve many positive purposes.

Color provides cues, clues

Color plays countless roles in the natural world, and vastly enhances our enjoyment of nature.

Wild Side: Where have the butterflies flown?

I worry that this bizarre butterfly pattern is a symptom of some large-scale, fundamental ecological shift.

Where have Island snakes snuck off to?

And it's sad to think of the impacts the decline of these important animals has had on human well-being.

Box turtles, private but vulnerable, do well on Martha’s VIneyard

The Island probably represents the closest this excellent reptile has to a stronghold in the state.

Spiders may frighten us, but they are also fascinating

Most of these interesting arthropods are harmless, indeed beneficial, to humans, and they help maintain ecological balance.

Young birds face threats from all quarters

Parents have just a few weeks to bring their offspring to independence, fending off countless risks in the process.

Wildlife biologists tag willets to learn their habits

Little is known about where willets winter, how they migrate, and how our coastal population is related to a second population that nests on the northern plains.

Butterflies on Martha’s Vineyard are varied and very interesting

Knowing the habitats of these excellent butterflies will help you notice them in the first place.

Look closely to see beauty, elegance in beetles

They may be small and inclined to hide, but insects are fully equal to birds as quarry for the careful observer.

Records help refresh and enrich memories

I've always augmented my memory with written records, especially when working on a specific project.

Invasive pests crash the biodiversity of Martha’s Vineyard

Flightless and strongly associated with horticultural plants, this species surely didn't get here on its own.

Singing to promote themselves, birds help us identify them

Bird song is everywhere, now, and the number and diversity of birds singing seems to increase every day.

Vocal and social, cardinals are at home on Martha’s Vineyard

Bright red males are unmistakable, but even females are eye-catching and a cinch to identify.

Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye, how nice to see a bluebird

The bluebird is welcome for its song, its role in controlling insect numbers, and above all because of that blue.

Six principles to boost native species in your yard

A green lawn and beds of non-native ornamentals benefit the lawn and garden product industry more than native wildlife.

Working the angles

In early January, chickadees begin to chime in; later in the month, they're joined by house finches, and as February proceeds, song sparrows tune up.

Extreme cold challenges wildlife on Martha’s Vineyard

Prolonged cold, especially when paired with snow cover, represents a sort of ecological bottleneck, killing many individuals.