Yellowstone is News in Buffalo, NY

Dear friend, colleague and former college instructor Joe Allen is one of our local Western New York wildlife experts on the Rocky Mountains region. He spent his college years studying in the area and has led many course-based excursions to the Yellowstone region for the University at Buffalo (the photo below was taken during one of those UB trips).

A recent article in the Buffalo News focuses on Joe’s expeditions and the changes in and around Yellowstone as a result of Gray Wolf re-introduction. This Summer, Joe’s trip (sponsored by the University at Buffalo Alumni Association) will be for the general public offering those heading west the opportunity to learn in-depth and in person about the science of apex predators, their prey relationships and the resulting effects on the larger ecosystem. A few spots still remain so anyone interested in Megafauna and Predation in Yellowstone National Park should check out the details by clicking the link above and getting registered. You will NOT be disappointed!

Wolves of Yellowstone


A Little Help with Spring Cleaning

We’re leading a hands-on workshop this Saturday at the Roycroft Campus that will get you safely, effectively and sustainably through this year’s Spring cleaning rituals. There are a few spaces left so register soon!





Welcome Vernal Equinox

Northern Cardinal feeding during the blizzard of March 12, 2014.

Northern Cardinal feeding during the blizzard of March 12, 2014.

Although officially the Winter of 2013-14 did not last longer than any other year, perceptually it’s been the longest in memory for most of us here in Western New York. We’re well versed in terms of snow, being prime lake effect snow country, but this Winter’s total snowfall has come in at more than 40 inches above average by my calculations. And the temperatures have been well below normal since mid-January.  Plus we experienced two official blizzards in a single season, one just last week, a true anomaly we are told. So it was no surprise this morning to see snow accumulating once again immediately following a few days that truly bespoke of Spring with glorious sunshine and temperatures in the 40s.

The beautiful blue sky and upper 40 temps of March 7th hinted that Spring was upon us.

The beautiful blue sky and upper 40 temps of March 7th hinted that Spring was upon us.

Signs of Spring have been around for a few weeks, despite the continued cold and snow. The angle of the Sun becomes more direct initiating hormonal changes in resident birds which prompts the dispersal of Winter flocks, an increase in aggressive territorial behaviors and, of course, singing among the males. Weeping Willow branches have been yellowing up as photosynthesis begins to revive and the Dogwood twigs are reddening, as well. More recently, the scent of Striped Skunk has been on the air after a long Winter pause and, sadly, carcasses of old Pepé and his deep sleeping comrades along roadsides are increasing.

Most telling, however, of Spring’s inevitable arrival came earlier this week when the male Red-winged Blackbirds returned to The Acre trumpeting their presence with choruses of “cock-a lee, cock-a-lee!”. And on the same day, the local herd of White-tailed Deer made a bold appearance behind the house seemingly overtaken by Spring fever given the playfulness they were exhibiting (see video below).

So, as I told the attendees at last Saturday’s “Gardening for Wildlife & You” seminar, Spring will become increasingly more evident – there is no stopping it. It just seems a bit more timid this year than usual. Regardless, we welcome it whole-heartedly here in Western New York.

Tree Swallows March North | BirdNote

TreeSwalllowsI’ve had numerous encounters with Tree Swallows in the five years spent monitoring a nest box trail. These birds are highly defensive when it comes to their nests and will “dive bomb” you without hesitation when you get within 20 feet of the box or cavity. I’ve never been injured by them but Swallows definitely upped their status with me because of their courage and fortitude.

If you’re attempting to create homes for Bluebirds, expect these natives to compete for the nest box. That said, put the boxes up in pairs about 20 feet apart so that both the Tree Swallows and the Bluebirds can be accommodated.

To learn more about Tree Swallows and their Spring migration, listen to this broadcast of BirdNote.

Tree Swallows March North | BirdNote.

What’s Happening to Moose?

The mysterious loss of Moose along their southern range has wildlife biologists baffled. Some suspect climate change may be at the root of the problem and, if so, will it mean the end to Moose in the lower 48? The video below tells some of this tragic tale.

This Bull Moose was photographed in Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario) in May of 2012.

This Bull Moose was photographed in Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario) in May of 2012.

NOTE: this video is graphic and may upset some viewers.

Moose Mystery:

Self-Sufficiency Series at the Roycroft Campus

"What the world needs is more kindess" - Fra ElbertusOakmoss Education and the Roycroft Campus Corporation of East Aurora are partnering on a series of Spring 2014 programs steeped in the Roycroft tradition of self-sufficiency. This series, which includes a gardening lecture and three hands-on workshops, is designed to share ways we can be more self-reliant and environmentally aware, much as the collective artisans and workers of the Roycroft were during the Arts and Crafts heyday of the early 20th Century. Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft community produced their own electric power and heat, had several nearby farms that provided food for Campus guests, made furniture and fixtures for Campus buildings, grew flowers and herbs, plus processed maple syrup and honey all to support their incomparable artistic crafts and beautiful printing.

The programs in this Spring’s Self-Sufficiency Series will be held in the Roycroft Powerhouse and are as follows:

  • Gardening for Wildlife and You: Saturday March 15th from 10:00am – 11:30am - This seminar will offer tips and recommendations for gardening with both people and wildlife in mind. It will cover garden plantings from containers to large plots and discuss critters of all sizes fromEchinacea, a native composite, supports human health and feeds native pollinators insects to White-tailed Deer.
  • Earthly Cleaning: Saturday, April 5th from 10:00am – 12:00pm - Some of the most hazardous chemicals to human health and the Planet are found in cleaning products kept in our own homes. Drawing on the wisdom of our Foremothers, participants will make their own effective cleaning products from readily available, safe, healthy and Earth-friendly ingredients.
  • Heart, Hand and Body I: Sunday, April 27th from 1:00pm – 3:30pm - During this workshop, participants learn to create a number of personal care items that enhance health and coddle the body using natural, simple and skin-nourishing ingredients.
  • Heart, Hand and Body II: Saturday, May 17th from 1:00pm – 3:30pm - A follow-up to Heart, Hand and Body I, this workshop is for those who’ve had some exposure to working with medicinal herbs and preparing simple home-made body care concoctions. Here participants delve into preparing emulsions, tinted lip balms and scent layering, making use of organic herbs, infused oils, vinegars and floral waters.

Those interested in one or more of these program offerings should register with the Roycroft Campus Corporation on their website at or by calling (716) 655-0261.