Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 a.m., Tuesday at 7:45 a.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m.

Kelby Ouchley, former manager of Black Bayou Lake and other area National Wildlife Refuges, provides expert insight into the flora and fauna of Louisiana. Each week, he brings awareness of conservation ethics and education about what makes our area special -- and worth preserving.

Archived editions of Bayou-Diversity (December 2014 and older) can be found here.

Ways to Connect

Vultures

Feb 17, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Writing of the carnage at Vicksburg during the Civil War, a teenage girl living near what is now West Monroe made an interesting natural history observation. She stated: "...we hear from the best and most direct sources that the Yankee dead lie in heaps about our entrenchments; it is horrible to relate, sickening to think, but so curious a fact that I must note it down, all the vultures have left this country, a carcass may lie for days untouched, those creatures have gone eastward in search of nobler game; how terrible is war!"

Girdled Cypress

Feb 10, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

On this place where we live and that we call Heartwood, Rocky Branch flows intermittently throughout the year. With the shallow water table beneath its watershed now depleted, the creek bed is often bone dry during the dog days of summer. On the other hand, the entire bottom may be inundated ten feet deep during naturally occurring, spring backwater floods. It is a tentacle of the D'Arbonne Swamp.

Human Impacts

Feb 3, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

On the surface, it doesn't seem possible. How can we catch all the fish in the seas? Analogies do exist. 

Bison were once the most numerous single species of large wild mammal on the planet. They blanketed the Great Plains of North America and were the life-blood of Plains Indian societies for thousands of years. During the 19th century, commercial hunters spurred on by government policies aimed at subduing Native Americans by eliminating their food supplies killed more than 50 million bison. The once vast herds were reduced to a few hundred individuals.

Willows

Jan 27, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

During the Yazoo Pass expedition of the Civil War, Union Admiral Porter wrote that his flagship Cincinnati ran into a six-hundred-yard bed of willows under a full head of steam. "and there she stuck; the willow wythes ... held her as if in a vise." Taking advantage of the situation, Confederates pounded the flotilla with an artillery crossfire, and only with the greatest efforts was the Cincinnati freed to make her escape and end the failed expedition.

Bird Calamity

Jan 13, 2020
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

An article recently published in the journal Science rattled the American conservation community like no other. The paper summed up the results of multi-faceted research by the premier avian science groups in the country. It included analyses of years of breeding population data on 529 species of birds. Additionally, it considered decades of radar data that track bird migrations. It's the best science that exists, and it says there are almost 3 billion fewer birds in North America than 48 years ago; more than I in 4 have disappeared.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Thank you, O Lord, in this bountiful season for the five senses to relish your world.  

Thank you for the succulent smells of the fruits of the earth in the kitchens of our mothers and wives.

Thank you for the odor of rich delta dirt on a warm, foggy winter morning.

Thank you for the smell of wood smoke, especially that tinted with lighter'd pine.

Thank you for the stew of odors distinct to our rivers and bayous: cypress needles, primal water, life and life-to be.

Ophioglossum

Nov 18, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Beginning in the early 1970's strange activities began to occur during spring in graveyards throughout north Louisiana. Reports indicated bizarre behavior by small groups of people in cemeteries both rural and urban. To observers, these people were obviously not there to pay respect to deceased friends or loved ones, as is usually the case with visitors. They were dressed in rugged field clothes; some were shabby in appearance. Most of them were young, but there was always an older balding man in their presence, obviously the leader of their rituals. 

Tree Fall

Nov 11, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Deep in the D'Arbonne Swamp just on the bayou side of Wolf Brake a giant, forked willow oak split at the confluence of the two trunks and crashed to the forest floor. Barring thunder and gunshot it was probably the loudest sound in that neck of the woods in many a year. The odds are good that no humans were around to hear it, but certainly nearby wildlife went to red alert at the first crack.

Raccoons

Nov 7, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

One night not long ago I was surprised to hear scratching noises on my bathroom window, especially since that window is on the second story of my house. A flashlight revealed the culprit to e a raccoon, one that is known to us as she frequently raids the bird feeders and compost pile. This occasion revealed several things about the natural history of raccoons. First, they are mostly nocturnal although they occasionally can be seen out and about in daylight hours. Second, they are excellent climbers. She had climbed twenty feet straight up the side of my wooden house...

Signal Trees

Oct 30, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

In the last few years, GPS devices have become ubiquitous in our culture. Whether one is motoring the maze of big-city freeways or navigating a pirogue through the Atchafalaya Swamp, a GPS unit eliminates all excuses for becoming lost. From a historical perspective, this raises the question of how people navigated across wilderness landscapes 200 years before Garmin and Magellan. Without a doubt, such skills in Native Americans were almost innate because their lives depended on it. One of their techniques observed by early European explorers involved the concept of signal trees. 

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