A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Eastern Kingbird, a snappy dresser, aerial artist and migratory traveler

The Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) is a snappy dresser, an aerial artist that catches its prey on the wing, and spends the winter in tropical climes. Its demeanor and distinctive plumage are all business — upright posture, white shirt (breast), and dark suit — gray head, back, wings and white-tipped square tail. Coloration is similar to the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), but...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Field to Fork workshop aimed at helping inexperienced hunters learn archery skills

Designed for adults with little or no experience hunting white-tailed deer with bows and arrows, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) will host a Field to Fork workshop on Saturday, July 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Field to Fork workshops have been held in Kentucky for several years.This is the first year for an archery workshop, but in the past workshops have been held...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Looking back on spring turkey season; harvest downturn raised questions

Kentucky’s 2018 spring wild turkey season was a head scratcher — certainly not what most hunters have experienced in recent years. From county to county, the harvest varied, but overall, the turkey harvest was down statewide. Post-season, hunters are pondering a few puzzling questions. In some counties, hunters reported observing fewer turkeys and hearing less gobbling than in recent years....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The American Goldfinch, male turns bright yellow as days lengthen in spring

Adult males turn a bright yellow in what seems like just a matter of days, as if they were blooming wildflowers, when the days begin to lengthen in spring. The American Goldfinch undergoes two molts a year. It sheds and re-grows most of its feathers before the onset of cold weather, then sheds and re-grows all its feathers, excepts for its wings and tail, in the spring. (Photo provided) The American...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: No songbird more visible in greening landscape of spring than Indigo Bunting

In the greening landscape of spring, no bird is more visible than the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). The vibrant, cerulean blue plumage of the male seems almost out of place, as if it belongs on some resident of a tropical rain forest. In fact, this diminutive insect and seed-eating bird in the Cardinal family, Cardinalidae, may mingle with exotic, colorful birds during its annual southward migration...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Tick activity heightens as weather warms; danger to people, pets, and wildlife

They are insidious arachnids that emerge from tall grass, wood piles and leaf litter to feed on warm-blooded creatures. What makes ticks so creepy is once they find a host — a human, a dog, or wild animal — they crawl around until they find a place to begin sucking blood. Usually, it’s where a capillary is close to the surface of the skin. A walk through the woods, tall grass, and weeds...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ky’s dirty dozen noxious, invasive plants threaten state’s ecological integrity

They are atop everyone’s list of the most destructive plants to Kentucky’s ecological integrity. These noxious, invasive exotics out-compete native plants, threaten biodiversity, and in some cases pose a health risk to livestock and humans. The battle to rid the state of these exotic pest plants rages on each Spring on public and private lands and highway right-of-ways. In accordance with KRS 176.051,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is a tiny gravity-defying wonder of nature

When wildflowers and trees bloom in the Spring, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) returns to Kentucky to nest. Its distant wintering grounds, hundreds of miles south, are mostly open, or dry tropical scrub, rather than rain forests. The winter is spent in South Florida, Mexico and Central America, as far south as Panama. The hummingbirds that winter in Mexico or Central America,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Strength, flexibility training in offseason is key to bowhunting into 60s and beyond

Senior archers have the advantage of experience. Over the years they have learned when, where and how to hunt and have a good understanding of the details that often make the difference between arrowing a deer and coming home empty-handed. But with age, the physical demands of bow hunting get more challenging, especially the heavy work like putting up treestands and dragging a harvested deer out of...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The distinctive Five-lined skink, a harmless, beneficial lizard found statewide

They are reptiles, with long tails, distinctive coloration as juveniles, and a carnivorous appetite. Hint: it’s not a snake. The Five-Lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) is a lizard, one of five species of skinks found in Kentucky. Secretive, like most reptiles, the Fine-Lined Skink spends most of its time crawling under rocks, leaf debris or woodpiles, but on a warm spring day, the distinctively-marked...

Art Lander’s Outdoors : The groundhog celebrated in folklore/hunted as a varmint because of crop damage

The groundhog (Marmota monax), a.k.a. the woodchuck, is celebrated in folklore as a weather prognosticator. Every February 2nd America’s most most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, delivers his annual prediction for the beginning of warm weather from Gobbler’s Knob, a hill outside of Punxsutawney, Pa., a small town 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The groundhog is a member of family Sciuridae,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: As wet weather continues, monitor lake and river levels for fishing success

Our wet spring continues. Many of the state’s best fishing lakes are very high now, and localized flooding is likely to keep anglers off streams and rivers for some time. Tuesday’s wave of heavy rainstorms, on top of an already saturated ground, brought another surge of runoff. Since mid-March, lake and river levels have been going up and down dramatically. This unsettled weather pattern is driving...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: After a messy March, weather is improving in time for Spring wild turkey season

After a messy March, filled with snow squalls and cold rains, the weather is beginning to warm up, just in time for Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season. The weather forecast for April in Central Kentucky is near normal to slightly below normal daytime temperatures, with above normal nighttime temperatures, and much less rainfall than in recent weeks. “Biologically, photoperiod (length of daylight)...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Spring fishing is underway, but anglers should monitor weather trends

The calendar says yes, but the weather forecast can be iffy. Spring fishing is underway and now is the time for anglers to pay close attention to weather trends — temperature fluctuations, outlooks for precipitation, and storm fronts, to pick the best times to wet a line. Springtime in Kentucky means unsettled weather, and sometimes snow, as we experienced this week. Make the most of your time...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The return of the cheerful Eastern Bluebird helps makes April special

For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s no month quite like April. Spring is coming on, days are warming and lengthening, and there’s so much to do outside — fishing, wild turkey hunting, gardening, or just hiking in the woods, enjoying colorful wildflowers. April is also the month when the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia Sialis) becomes more visible across rural Kentucky, gathering in pairs, or family...