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Wednesday, 03 June 2009 18:54

The unique ways of the kingfisher

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Belted kingfishers are one of my favorite birds. A pair fishes along the small creek on our property during the…
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 17:40

The alluring calls of song birds

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In the opaque early-morning light outside our bedroom windows, the birds that reside in our woods — or do we…
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 17:17

Yaupon and the ‘Black Drink’

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For some years now — when walking the woodlands around ancient Cherokee settlements — I have been on the lookout…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:30

The story of the fiddlehead

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Fiddleheads are emerging from the leaf litter in our forests. Almost everyone, even those not especially interested in plants, has…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:26

A haven of nectar and beauty

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The irises my wife, Elizabeth, cultivates in our yard are coming into full bloom as I write this. Their shapes…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:54

Wild mountain boars

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Numerous non-native plants have been introduced into the southern mountains during the last century or so. Many of these are…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:38

Ancient chemical warfare

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I’m sometimes asked if the prehistoric Cherokees used any sort of poisons on their blowgun darts. These darts (slivers of…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:14

Dogwoods in the mountains

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In the Smokies region, there are three species of dogwood. Everyone is familiar with flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which is…
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 15:42

Old stone walls redux

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(Author’s Note: While running random Internet searches, I occasionally am confronted from out of the blue, as it were, with…
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:11

Bluebirds continue to fascinate

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My oh my what a wonderful day Plenty of sunshine in my way Zip-a-dee-doo-dah Zip-a-dee-eh Mr Bluebird’s on my shoulder…
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 20:40

Making friends with an injured crow

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According to the current Ornithological Union listing, the appropriate non-scientific name for a crow is “common crow.” How apt! Like…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:15

Uplifted by the flight of birds

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Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about birds. I guess I have them on my mind, in part, because the…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:45

The curious habits of birds

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The curious lifestyles and distinctive habits one can observe in the bird world are continually fascinating. Some things you can…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:46

Popeyed pleasures

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Many people who spend some time walking the woodland stream banks and other wet areas here in the Smokies region…
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 19:42

Cowbirds a favorite to despise

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Some folks can’t stand house sparrows (a native of north Africa and Eurasia) while others detest starlings (a native of…
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 19:01

Reservoir rendezvous

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Joe Wright was born and raised in the high Nantahalas in the northwest corner of Macon County. He was 90-some-years-old…
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 17:39

Forsythia heralds the spring season

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The recent warm spell has the birds singing and various plants budding. One of these is forsythia. My wife, Elizabeth,…
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 16:23

Owls remain mysterious, alluring

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Of late, I have been hearing the owls sounding off on the slopes and ridge lines behind our home. Some…
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 15:57

Getting to know liverworts

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Some years ago, when I was first interested in plant identification, I became curious about liverworts. They are one of…
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 14:38

An interested observer

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omething banged against the office window above my desk. I assumed it was a bird of some sort. And since…
Wednesday, 07 January 2009 13:51

Wolf lore

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In the beginning, the people say, the dog was put on the mountain and the wolf beside the fire. When…
Wednesday, 31 December 2008 16:17

Winter wear

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(Note: A version of this essay will appear in an upcoming issue of “Chinquapin: The Newsletter of the Southern Appalachian…
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:06

Taking a likin’ to the lichen

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On a winter walk you will encounter numerous evergreen plants. None is more mysterious or delightful to behold than the…
Wednesday, 03 December 2008 13:23

My birding through the warbler

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It wasn’t until the late 1970s that my wife, Elizabeth, and I first started birding in a systematic fashion. That…
Wednesday, 05 March 2008 00:00

An early account of Western NC

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While crossing the Blue Ridge north of present Asheville in the early 1540s, Hernando de Soto’s scribes entered some brief…
Wednesday, 27 February 2008 00:00

Alum Cave for a breath of fresh air

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I recently happened upon an interesting article that described an excursion made in 1860 to the Alum Cave on the…
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:00

Highlands plateau still a world of green hills

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Several years ago I wrote about Bradford Torrey’s A World of Green Hills, which was published in 1898 by Houghton…
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 00:00

Upper world guardians

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We are all fascinated by birds. In addition to being pretty (even buzzards are pretty in their own way), they…
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 00:00

Dr. Elisha Mitchell

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While scanning the shelves of a rare bookstore in Asheville several months ago, I happened upon a regional volume by…
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 00:00

Right in the thick of it

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Our southern mountains are old and relatively sedate when compared with the Himalayas, Rockies, and other “young” mountain ranges. But…
Wednesday, 23 January 2008 00:00

It’s a dog’s life

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A new book has been published that will be of particular interest to area hunters, outdoorsmen, and dog lovers. It…
Wednesday, 16 January 2008 00:00

Sneaky snipe stamps scouts

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Until I started birding seriously as an adult, I didnÕt know that snipe actually existed. For years that bird was…
Wednesday, 09 January 2008 00:00

In living colour

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Cedar waxwings and American holly are with us year round. The waxwings wander around a lot in extended family groups,…
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 00:00

Cherokee and their bird stories

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The second soul, that of physiological life, is located in the liver, and is of primary importance in doctoring and…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A plant’s purpose

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There are more than 300,000 plant species in the world. Some are edible, some can be used for their medicinal…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

A honey of a locust

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Every few years, there will be a bumper crop of long flat strap-shaped honey locust pods, many up to two…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

Rocking out

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Here in the southern mountains there are magical habitats to be explored in every direction and at every elevation. Periglacial…
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 00:00

The essential nature of winter

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When late November finally arrives, my wife, Elizabeth, and I go into another mode. Her busy season in the gallery-studio…
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 00:00

Quiz time

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Naturalists are always being quizzed about this or that. Turn about is fair play. So, are you ready for a…
Wednesday, 14 November 2007 00:00

Winter preparation

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If you’ve been getting out in the woods at all lately, you’re aware that it’s been an especially good season…
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 00:00

When litter is good

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Due to the virtual absence of wind and rain, the fall color season is lingering with us. But winter weather…
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 00:00

Overnight hibernation

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As I write this on Monday morning, we’ve just had our initial hard frost of the year here in Swain…
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 00:00

The gall

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The various relationships that exist between plants and animals are fascinating. My view of wildflower ecology is dominated by the…
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 00:00

Uncovering winter’s delight

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Some trees that might be difficult to locate during the spring through fall foliage season become more apparent in winter.…
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 00:00

Beauty of the cardinal flower

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The fall wildflower season has arrived. Along roadsides and woodland edges some of our more robust native plants are now…
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

Shrills in the night

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When I was growing up in the tobacco-farming portion of the southern Virginia piedmont, there were many haunted outbuildings throughout…
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 00:00

Sweet bubby bush

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I recently received an email from a reader who asked, “Could you write about the sweet bubby bush? That’s the…
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 00:00

Saying farewell to summer

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It’s mid-September ... late summer is sliding toward early autumn. The end of summer officially arrives with the autumnal equinox…
Wednesday, 12 September 2007 00:00

Walnut toxicity

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The walnut trees along the creek where we live are exhibiting a bumper crop this year. At night we are…