ENVIRONMENT

Mar 19, 2019
Beginning birders face some notorious identification challenges.  Empidonax flycatchers and “confusing fall warblers” come to mind.  Sparrows also test a birder’s proficiency.  Not only do they tend to skulk in heavy brush, making it hard to get a decent look, most are small and mottled brown, with subtle distinguishing characteristics.  I’ve been in the field with expert birders who are sometimes reduced to calling one an LBJ, short for “little brown job.”
Mar 18, 2019
No matter how much I hate to admit, I have found myself at times lost in the woods. Not just disoriented, but completely turned around. One such trip was on a property adjoining the Birkhead Wilderness Area, 6,000 acres of open forest, and it was on my birthday.
Jan 30, 2019
For years, food waste has been cast as a financial and moral issue, with money and opportunities to feed the hungry lost when food is tossed in the garbage. It also is increasingly becoming an environmental problem as scraps and spoiled food fill landfills across the country, where they emit potent greenhouse gases.
Jan 29, 2019
For vegetable gardeners in the Piedmont, 2018 was a challenging year. The weather whipsawed between mundane and extreme.
Jan 02, 2019
This book aspires to be much more than just another field guide. It’s a longitudinal documentation of avian life in the Piedmont, a region undergoing tremendous change.
Dec 31, 2018
As the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, we are reflecting on how our history and growth mirror both the region we focus on and the university that nurtures us.
Nov 28, 2018
Day by day, hour by hour, trees are dropping their leaves, allowing us to appreciate their architectural structure.  While growing conditions can shape a tree’s form – a white oak’s limbs will be truncated in a crowded forest, but in the middle of a pasture, they’ll sprawl – each species also has its own inherent traits.
Oct 24, 2018
Monarch butterflies generally start arriving in the Uwharries in May.  Their timing seems to coincide with the flowering of the common milkweed in our grasslands. 
Sep 13, 2018
In an ozone garden, the plants can tell an astute observer whether ozone pollution is a problem.
Sep 06, 2018
A special spot of ancient prairie, never worked or plowed, has been preserved.
Aug 23, 2018
An invasive berry vine that’s trying to take over the world – including a Charlotte park.
Jul 25, 2018
On a preserved tract in Gaston County, one determined man is fighting a long-term war to remove the invasive plant species that choke out native plants and wildlife.
Jul 03, 2018
It was time for young barn owl, raised at the Carolina Raptor Center, to be sent into the world. Would she be safe?
Jun 19, 2018
Charlotte first adopted a greenhouse gas emission reduction resolution in 2007.  Now, 11 years later, the City Council is considering a new resolution to move the initiative ahead.
Jun 13, 2018
I recently stumbled on an especially interesting habitat while exploring the flora and fauna on a site that once held granite quarries.
Jun 06, 2018
You may not have considered how justice, the environment and climate change intersect. But Jacqueline Patterson has.
May 31, 2018
I saw it coming. Every time I saw the cable wrapped around that oak, I’d throw up my hands and think, “Too late now!” The oak slowly succumbed to strangulation. Last spring, it didn’t leaf out. Now, poison ivy creeps up the trunk, hiding my shame.
May 24, 2018
Moving back to Charlotte after 10 years away, I noticed changes in Latta Park. Were my memories idealized? Had it always looked like this? Or had it been neglected in my absence? Commentary.
May 09, 2018
On the drab trunk of a single willow oak, one of many lining the street, my eye landed on a large, oblong cluster, golden against the mouse-brown bark.
Apr 10, 2018
A hunt for big trees turned up a national champion longleaf pine in an out-of-the-way spot in North Carolina.
Apr 04, 2018
April – the month that quickens the pulse of birders across the Piedmont. Songbirds also feel the stirring, the restless urge to head north. But there’s a shadow to the joy of spring migration.
Feb 08, 2018
Two majestic owls from the Artic tundra came south to North Carolina this winter. Only one made it back to the frozen north.  
Jan 17, 2018
This special place, open to the public, provides shelter for songbirds, egrets, ducks and even (sometimes) wood storks.
Dec 07, 2017
Our boat was full of decoys and camouflage. As soon as we stopped, we threw out mallard and wood duck decoys and began to conceal ourselves.
Nov 28, 2017
Walking a property recently, we stumbled on a tree with heavily furrowed bark. It took a few minutes of pondering, but we finally decided it was a cottonwood tree.
Nov 14, 2017
One night, years ago, Mama looked out the window to a hay field and, for a moment, she wondered if thousands of tiny aliens had landed on Earth and settled in the grass.
Oct 25, 2017
The oldest trees east of the Rockies – some believed to be more than 2,000 years old – are found along this N.C. river.
Oct 17, 2017
Few plants are as gorgeous in fall as sumacs, a native plant that can also thrive in gardens. 
Oct 17, 2017
Projections are for the Catawba-Wateree River watershed to reach its capacity to provide water to the growing Charlotte region by 2065. With no state laws managing water rights, what happens?
Oct 03, 2017
There will be no question what you’ve found if you see a star-nosed mole. The unusual animal can even detect seismic wave vibrations. Loss of wetlands, where it lives, can negatively affect this amazing creature.  
Sep 18, 2017
As I left town for a quick trip over Labor Day weekend, a dozen hungry monarch caterpillars were munching away on my swamp milkweed.  When I returned 32 hours later, they had vanished.
Aug 31, 2017
I’ve seen this cute little animal in very different places – in the N.C. mountains along the Appalachian Trail, on the sidewalk in Chapel Hill, and in Colorado while climbing Mount Elbert.
Aug 09, 2017
As the Charlotte region urbanizes, scientists from UNC Charlotte describe how they’ll use a Gaston County site as a long-term observatory to monitor natural systems.
Jul 26, 2017
The eastern towhee in my backyard seems to have misplaced his trill. What causes this variation in birdsong?
Jul 17, 2017
Some are rough and shaggy, others silvery and delicate. What these trees have in common is bark that peels away.
Jun 29, 2017
Growing up in the Uwharries, my sister and I were country girls through and through, right down to the soles of our feet. We went barefoot much of the summer. The red clay stained our feet the color of rust.
Jun 22, 2017
An area land trust launches an initiative inspired by the father of conservation, Aldo Leopold, that is teaching youth about the natural world and conservation issues.
Jun 07, 2017
This interactive map takes you on a virtual visit along the proposed Cross Charlotte Trail, with photos, updates on construction, little-known facts and information on plans for the future.
Jun 01, 2017
Robins have adapted to humans’ routines, and one example was on display during a recent day in the garden.
May 23, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to go out in the field with Kerry Brust, a red-cockaded woodpecker biologist in the North Carolina Sandhills.
May 10, 2017
I’ve spent time walking in the woods this spring, and I’m always excited by what I find.
May 04, 2017
To help native species, you don't always need to buy new plants. Here’s a way that just takes sweat equity.
Apr 17, 2017
The northern flicker is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba and the Cayman islands. It is one of a few species of woodpeckers that migrate.
Apr 10, 2017
The vast majority of loblollies in the N.C. Piedmont are harvested long before they reach maturity. But a national park in South Carolina displays their glorious potential.  
Apr 04, 2017
In 1988, the city built a coliseum off Tyvola Road. In 2007 the city demolished it, and new development has covered most of the site. But nature is reclaiming the one crumbling parking lot that remains ... 
Mar 23, 2017
North America’s only stork, the wood stork, has been spotted in Anson County, once thought to be out of its natural range. Habitat loss, pesticides, invasive plants and pythons threaten the species.
Mar 13, 2017
A mysterious line of smoke blew across the field, then dissipated. Was something burning, out of sight? No, it was another kind of fire ...
Mar 10, 2017
Teams of fourth- and fifth-graders competed to learn who knew the most about water pollution and local science, history and geography related to the creeks in Charlotte. 
Mar 06, 2017
A new initiative is using prizes as incentive to encourage people to reduce single-occupancy trips by car. The project runs March 1-Oct. 31.
Feb 23, 2017
Birds’ futures and fortunes are inextricably twined with those of humankind. As lands and buildings change with development across the Piedmont, bird species are profoundly affected. Part of KEEPING WATCH on HABITAT.