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

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. 

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."

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