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Gerry Rising


Opinion

This is my 1,230th weekly Nature Watch column and until now I have never asked a favor from you readers. I do so today. I urge you to sign the petition at www.change.org/p/preserve-the-buffalo-outer-harbor seeking to save the lands adjacent to the Buffalo Outer Harbor as public parklands. And I urge you further to contact your friends across the country in support of this …

Like many birders, University at Buffalo librarian Chris Hollister keeps lists of the species he sees. As of September, his life list included 565 species. Having seen that many birds, it is not often that he adds new ones. But in early October he had an opportunity to do just that.Hollister's daughter, Jessica, is studying anthropology and history at UB and this semester …

Last week, I mentioned a book Paul Fuhrmann forwarded to me for review. I found it so remarkable that I spent most of the night I received it reading the book from cover to cover.The book is Martin and Susan Tyner's "Healer of Angels." The angels of the story are golden eagles and the healer is Martin himself, a falconer and animal rehabilitator. We follow his progress as …

The dreary days of winter bring the prospect of cabin fever and, only second to getting outside to enjoy whatever conditions prevail, the next best response to that threat is a good book. Here are my recommendations for holiday giving."Spillover" by David Quammen is a remarkable tour de force. It is at once an often tragic real-life medical thriller full of both human and …

Areader contacted me recently about an unusual goldfinch visiting his bird feeder. He asked: "Do any goldfinches get extra large?"What he thought was a bigger-than-usual goldfinch I am certain was in reality an evening grosbeak. This species does have the yellow and black appearance of a goldfinch, but it is much larger, almost twice the goldfinch's length and four times i…

Trash needs to be on our personal agenda. Consider why:We are the No. 1 trash-producing nation in the world. Today in this country, each of us generates an average of 4.5 pounds of trash each day; that's four-fifths of a ton per year. Dump the resulting 2.4 tons of trash in the front yard of an average Erie County family and you would need boots to wade through it. (This d…

No one should underestimate the power of any tropical storm. Witnessing the damage and the broken lives brought to our East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, we must consider ourselves most fortunate to have avoided serious punishment. Even though the remnants of the storm center passed almost directly over Rochester, we received less than two inches of rain and maximum wind gusts…

You may recall how excited ornithologists were in 2004 when evidence suggested that an ivory-billed woodpecker, a species believed to have been extinct for 60 years, was found in Arkansas. Note that, despite much effort to record the woodpeckers' calls, no widely accepted confirming evidence has been produced since that report.That 60 years is dwarfed by an earlier return …

Two weeks ago, I went back to school. I spent an entire day attending Don Duggan-Haas' nine classes. In a very small way, I even participated in the instruction. This was not, however, a usual classroom adventure. One of those eight classes was in Michigan, one in California, one in Washington state and five were in New Mexico.We didn't jet or teleport ourselves around the…

We have now had three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. The topics covered have all been important: jobs, the national debt, taxes, defense spending, health care and foreign affairs. But one major area has not been explored in any of them. That area is science.Why science? Science has been a driving force in this country. Since World War II, it is esti…

Sue Barth is a website developer who works at her Orchard Park home. From where she sits at her computer, she has an excellent view of her attractive yard and several bird feeders. Always interested in nature, Sue decided in 2010 to formalize that interest. She developed a blog titled "Chirps and Cheeps" and began to keep a life list of the birds she saw, photographing the…

It was probably in early 2008 when the cougar began life high in a remote area of the Black Hills of North Dakota. Born deaf and blind, the male cub and his two siblings at first knew only their mother's teats, but slowly gaining senses and body control, they were weaned at 3 months. By then they were rough-and-tumble miscreants already losing the spots on their fur and sl…

A few days ago, I spent several hours with Jesse Kregal. It was an honor I had looked forward to for several years because, although I had heard much about him, I had never met Jesse.Music-lovers will recognize him as a tympanist who retired from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009, but I knew about him for quite different reasons. I knew Jesse as a leading member o…

Sue Freeman of Rochester, a partner with her husband in publishing books about hiking, biking and canoeing, wrote me recently about an interesting episode: "Just yesterday I was doing a mindless job, so I had the TV on for background noise. I don't even know what program it was, but they were lambasting a mother for letting her children play outside unsupervised."The mothe…

My past experience with snakes has not been at all satisfying. I am afraid of them even though I recognize that my fear is irrational.Despite that, I was thrilled to join herpetologist Robert Zumstein and my friend Jerry Lazarczyk on a search for timber rattlesnakes in western Pennsylvania. Bob and his wife, Lisa, operate Tandem Training and Tracking, a company that provid…