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

Ben Lilly

Oct 14, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

At the turn of the 20th century, Louisiana's vast natural resources in the form of virgin forests and teeming wildlife were besieged by commercial interests and others lacking environmental mores. In this state of diminishing wilderness, Ben Lilly emerged from the swamps of northeastern Louisiana to become a folk hero. His reputation as the best hunter of his day evolved as a result of his obsessive compulsion to kill bears and cougars.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

  Not unlike humans, birds have evolved various strategies to make a living. Some are fishermen, others hunters; some travel thousands of miles within a year to survive, others work from home. Some forage widely across the landscape, others have more focused feeding habits. One small group of birds with behavior that falls in the specialized category consists of sapsuckers. They are the well diggers of the bird world. 

Mussels

Sep 23, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Freshwater mussels are a little known but critical component of the biodiversity of Louisiana bayous, streams, and rivers. Related to the much sought after oysters of the coastal area, freshwater mussels in Louisiana are not usually consumed by people today. Such was not always the case, however, as Native Americans routinely harvested large amounts of this high protein food. Piles of discarded shells or middens still mark the campsites of pre-historic peoples across the state.

 

Balance

Sep 16, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

For the last six weeks, I have dwelled in places where the word "bayou" is unfamiliar to most people. Maps of the region are absent the names "D'Arbonne," "de L'Outre." "Teche, and the like. There are no such streams with their characteristic side-dressing of cypress trees and Spanish moss for a thousand miles. No alligators or alligator gar, no accompanying summer humidity to smother the aspirations of even the native-born.

Neanderthal

Jun 17, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

On the morning of January 9, 1951, two Baton Rouge newspapers, the States Times and Morning Advocate ran a story that fueled coffee shop gossip and tailgate prattle across the state for weeks to come. The articles described the discovery of "Neanderthal man - an 11-foot tall ancestor of modern man - that lived in North America about 50,000 years ago."

Letter to a Red Oak

May 27, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

I'm not going to be so presumptuous as to tell you your business, like how to grow or how not to grow all spraddled out like that. You've been around almost twice as long as I have and obviously know a thing or two about how to get along in this world. Homesteading so close to the road, you've seen a lot. I'm sorry to say that it was likely my great grandfather who began contributing to the soil compaction over your roots when he bought the first modern wagon in this area, a John Deere with solid rubber tires.

Books & Hounds

Apr 1, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

One of the joys and hazards of readingis that it can send one down previously unconsidered paths. My favorite childhood book was Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows. Set in the Ozark Mountains, it is a coming of age tale about a boy and his two redbone 'coon hounds and their pursuit of one of the wiliest creatures in the forest. Rife with danger, adventure, sorrow, and joy all played out by a boy my age and his dogs- how much better could a book be? That it was also a fount of life's lessons was not apparent to me at the time. 

Ant Lions

Mar 25, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

"Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire! Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!" As a child, this rhyme was my introduction to entomology, the study of insects. My mother, a south Mississippi country girl who migrated to Louisiana, instructed me to recite the passage while poking a straw into a doodlebug hole. Of course, to enhance the chances of catching this animal, you should always spit on the end of the straw first. For a five-year-old, the educational and entertainment value of this exercise is unsurpassed.

Darkness

Mar 18, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

As a species, we have never liked the darkness of night. For several hundred thousand years we have retreated to caves and other shelters, huddled closer to blazing fires, and shouldered a heavier burden of anxiety soon after sunset. Predators real and imagined lurked in the shadows; denizens of the spirit world had their way after dark. Everyone had stories of bad things that happened when the vital sense of vision was rendered impotent at night.

Bald Eagle

Mar 11, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

What does it say about a country that shoots and poisons its national emblem into extinction? This scenario almost played out in America, at least in the lower 48 states.The bald eagle, that majestic raptor that adorns our currency and stands as a symbol of strength and freedom, came perilously close to disappearing throughout its range except in Alaska.

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