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

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.

Cavity Trees

Mar 4, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

In the realm of commercial forestry, trees with holes are undesirable. They take up space where more valuable, sound trees can grow. For that reason cavity trees have been all but eliminated on millions of acres. It’s that money thing. But in southern woodlands, trees with cavities once occurred naturally at varying frequency across the landscape. Cavities form when trees are injured or diseased; animals, especially woodpeckers, excavate holes in living and dead trees. As vital components of a forest, cavity trees provide nesting, roosting, and denning habitat for many types of wildlife.

Reformation

Feb 25, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

On the morning of December 20, 1987, I was working near the mainline Mississippi River levee in Tensas Parish. Waterfowl hunting season was ongoing, and I was prowling about in search of those who might violate federal laws that protect the long-term well-being of migratory ducks and geese. Before daylight, I walked a mile into a swampy, forested area that consisted of oak flats and meandering cypress sloughs. Palmetto blanketed the subtle ridges and drapes of Spanish moss hung motionless in the still, pre-dawn darkness.

Frog Poetry

Feb 18, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

There was a poetry slam going down at the pond this warm, winter morning. It was discernable when I first stepped out the front door of my house on the edge of the swamp. Since there are plenty of other water bodies nearby including a bayou and rising backwater, this venue seems to have been chosen expressly for the acoustics. Cajun chorus frogs, a dozen, a hundred or maybe a thousand of them had pulled out their combs and were dragging their amphibious thumbs across the teeth. The theme of the performance was obscure.

Falling Tree

Jan 8, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The days of this tree are numbered and she won't likely last the winter.  This prognosis is not arboreal soothsaying but rather the physics involved in supporting upright tons of wood fiber.  Already she cants thirty degrees northwest and half her root system is embarrassingly exposed to all.  Erosion, that hissing wave of gravity-fueled fluid that drags the main channel of the Mississippi River dozens of lateral miles across its floodplain like a writhing cottonmouth, works 24/7 on Bayou D'Arbonne also.  It broke the anchor chains of this overcup oak.

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