Blog Archives

Leave it to Beavers


Beavers are sometimes called “nature’s engineers,” and for good reason. By building lodges and dams as their homes, they physically alter the landscape to suit their own needs, similar to humans.


A Sweet Maple Harvest


A resurgence in mapling has opened a booming market for Appalachian syrup.


Ponies of the Grayson Highlands


The wild ponies of Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Southwest Virginia attract hikers of all ages — but take heed, don’t feed the ponies!


American Kestrel

Photo by Cory Chen

The American kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon. This bird, whose population is declining, adapts well to nest boxes installed by conservationists.


Mistaken Identity: Recognizing the northern water snake

The northern water snake is a non-venomous snake found across Appalachia. Photo © John White / Virginia Herpetological Society

The non-venomous northern water snake is frequently spotted at swimming holes and rivers in Appalachia — and sometimes mistaken for its venomous cousin, the copperhead.


A Magical Mycology Tapestry

Honey mushrooms form as parasites on hardwood trees. Their underground mycelia can be long-lived and immense. Photo courtesy of No Taste Like Home

The mushrooms of Appalachia offer diverse tastes and medicinal benefits for the wild forager. But be careful, since many edible mushrooms have poisonous look-alikes.


Meet The Elusive American Woodcock

The American woodcock lives across eastern North America. It can be recognized by its long beak and distinctive call, but its camouflaged coloring makes it hard to find. Photo by Rodney Campbell

Characterized by a long bill, short and stout stature, extravagant mating display and a nickname like timberdoodle, the American Woodcock would seem to be a bird that stands out. But that is not the case.


Cougar: Ghost of Appalachia

North American Cougar: 
Photo by Baranov E / Shutterstock

The Eastern cougar was declared extinct in 2011 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But that doesn’t keep other species of mountain lions from passing through the region, leaving behind blurry pictures and occasional eerie screams in the forest.


Sumac: A Winter Spice

Staghorn sumac is identifiable by the bristly hairs covering its drupes and branches. Photo by Gregorio Perez

The bright red berries of the sumac plant add color to the winter landscape. While poison sumac has earned a bad reputation, other varieties of the plant have a long and multicultural history of use, including as a spice and as a dye or tanning agent.


The Coyote Conundrum

A coyote hunting in the Tennessee Valley. Photo by Matt Knoth

Coyote populations in the Appalachian region are growing, and increasingly they are adapting to urban settings. As a result, interactions with humans are becoming more common.