The Outside Story Archive

  • Salamander Party Tricks thumbnail

    Salamander Party Tricks

    by Brett Amy Thelen | September 4th 2017
    I once heard of a biologist with a clever party trick: regardless of where or when a given party was taking place, he claimed that… Read More »

  • Deerflies thumbnail


    by Declan McCabe | August 28th 2017
    My students and I were conducting research in the Winooski River floodplain at Saint Michael's College last week when the buzzing became particularly intense. A… Read More »

  • A Monarch Among Us thumbnail

    A Monarch Among Us

    by Elise Tillinghast | August 18th 2017
    Earlier this summer, my daughter persuaded me to bring home a monarch egg. I had misgivings. This wasn’t my first butterfly rodeo, and previous experience… Read More »

  • A Dragon Devours the Sun thumbnail

    A Dragon Devours the Sun

    by Michael J. Caduto | August 14th 2017
    More than 3,000 years ago, the Chinese believed that a dragon ate the sun during a solar eclipse, so they gathered outdoors to drive away… Read More »

  • Caddisflies: Submerged Silk Spinners thumbnail

    Caddisflies: Submerged Silk Spinners

    by Declan McCabe | August 7th 2017
    A small boy asked “what’s your favorite insect?” I answered without hesitation: caddisflies.  Not the short-lived adults, which while charming in their own hairy moth-like… Read More »

  • Forest Tent Caterpillars: Rain on a Sunny Day? thumbnail

    Forest Tent Caterpillars: Rain on a Sunny Day?

    by Lisa Niccolai | July 31st 2017
    Walk through a hardwood forest this month and it may seem more like October than July. Trees that normally provide cool shade have bare crowns… Read More »

  • American Goldfinch: a Common Bird with Uncommon Habits thumbnail

    American Goldfinch: a Common Bird with Uncommon Habits

    by Barbara Mackay | July 21st 2017
    I love the fact that there is always something new to observe in nature. Take goldfinches, for example. I have often watched them devour milkweed… Read More »

  • The Dirt on Moles thumbnail

    The Dirt on Moles

    by Susan Shea | July 14th 2017
    My dog watched intently as an area of soil in our backyard vibrated and formed a slight ridge. Suddenly he began digging, revealing a mole… Read More »

  • Summer House Guests thumbnail

    Summer House Guests

    by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul | July 10th 2017
    Perhaps the phoebe selected her nesting spot during the few days my family was away from home at the end of April. Otherwise, I can’t… Read More »

  • Starlings Aren’t Darling thumbnail

    Starlings Aren’t Darling

    by Joe Rankin | July 2nd 2017
    It’s the classic story of unintended consequences. In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin released 60 starlings in New York’s Central Park with the hope of establishing a… Read More »

  • Wintergreen thumbnail


    by Kathy Bernier | June 26th 2017
    I give a lot of tours at my 80-acre homestead, and have found that most visitors are delighted for the opportunity to connect nature with… Read More »

  • Bird Feet thumbnail

    Bird Feet

    by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul | June 19th 2017
    As spring’s crescendo of birdsong mellows now to a steadier summer trill, I listen for melodies I don’t recognize and try to figure out which… Read More »

  • Summer Skaters thumbnail

    Summer Skaters

    by Declan McCabe | June 12th 2017
    Scanning a sunlit pond floor for crayfish, I was distracted by seven dark spots gliding in a tight formation. Six crisp oval shadows surrounded a… Read More »

  • The Fisher: Elusive, Fast and a Porcupine’s Worst Nightmare thumbnail

    The Fisher: Elusive, Fast and a Porcupine’s Worst Nightmare

    by Joe Rankin | June 5th 2017
    The “fisher cat” is neither of those things. Doesn’t fish. Isn’t a cat. In fact, a lot more of what people think they know about… Read More »

  • Twilight Singer: The Hermit Thrush thumbnail

    Twilight Singer: The Hermit Thrush

    by Susan Shea | May 29th 2017
    If you take a walk in the woods on a summer evening, you may be treated to the ethereal, flute-like song of the hermit thrush,… Read More »

  • Mammal Teeth thumbnail

    Mammal Teeth

    by Tim Traver | May 22nd 2017
    When my daughter was four, she once asked, “Do mice get cavities?” We were coming back from the dentist, so teeth were on her mind… Read More »

  • The Great Duckweed Migration thumbnail

    The Great Duckweed Migration

    by Declan McCabe | May 15th 2017
    The word ‘migration’ conjures images of vast wildebeest or pronghorn herds crossing plains in unison, or hummingbirds traversing the Gulf of Mexico. When charismatic birds… Read More »

  • A Precious Stone with Wings thumbnail

    A Precious Stone with Wings

    by Carolyn LoriƩ | May 8th 2017
    One day last spring, I pulled into a parking lot in Thetford, Vermont, and saw a flash of brilliant red. Instantly, I knew it was… Read More »

  • Wild Leeks thumbnail

    Wild Leeks

    by Virginia Barlow | May 1st 2017
    The white bulbs of wild leeks, also called ramps (especially in the south), can be eaten year round, but it’s the early leaves that are… Read More »

  • High Water and Hidden Possibility on the Soggy Edge of Spring thumbnail

    High Water and Hidden Possibility on the Soggy Edge of Spring

    by Dan Lambert | April 24th 2017
    The word has fallen out of use since the late 1800s, but you might hear its echo this time of year wherever streams carve channels… Read More »