Energy Report

From acrobatic treefrogs to the wily fox squirrel, the Naturalist’s Notebook column celebrates Appalachia’s magnificent biodiversity.

Leave it to Beavers

April 13, 2017 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

February 10, 2017 A resurgence in mapling has opened a booming market for Appalachian syrup.

Ponies of the Grayson Highlands

December 15, 2016 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

October 7, 2016 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

August 12, 2016 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

June 14, 2016 The mushrooms of Appalachia play an integral role in forest health and 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

April 12, 2016 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

February 17, 2016 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

December 9, 2015 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

October 15, 2015 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.

Mounting Threats Imperil Two Appalachian Crayfish

August 6, 2015 There are more than 300 different species of crayfish in the southeastern United States, and two West Virginia species of these adaptable freshwater crustaceans may be declared federally endangered.

Scientists Go to Bat for the Bats

June 15, 2015 Scientists engaged in the years-long battle against the devastating white-nose syndrome have found bright spots in the fight to protect bats from the disease.

Caught red-handed! Or more accurately, red-beaked

June 15, 2015 Wood thrushes — and their appetite for bright-red ginseng berries — are helping the plant spread its range further north.

Elk Make Slow Return to Appalachia

April 13, 2015 When European colonists arrived in the 1400s, Eastern elk were the most widespread hooved animal on the continent, but the subspecies was declared extinct by 1880. Today, however, another type of elk are slowly returning to Appalachia.

The Lake Sturgeon: Ancient Fish, Modern Recovery

February 18, 2015 The lake sturgeon is the largest and longest-living freshwater fish native to the southeastern United States. In evolutionary terms, this primitive fish has changed little since it swam among dinosaurs, but its continued survival was in doubt until recently.