A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Bobcat is a secretive carnivore found in forests across Commonwealth

Bobcats (Photo by Summer M. Tribble, Wikipedia Commons) Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article in an occasional series about furbearers in Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcat, the mascot of University of Kentucky (UK) sports teams, is a party animal on the sidelines who encourages cheering crowds at games and thrives in the limelight. But its namesake, the Bobcat (Lynx rufus), is quite the opposite....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Although rare at backyard bird feeders, the Eastern Towhee is common in Ky.

Eastern Towhee (Photo by Brian Kushner, Audubon Society) Editor’s Note: This is the tenth article in an occasional series about backyard birds. The Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) is an infrequent visitor to backyard bird feeders. Consider yourself lucky to see this large sparrow, with distinctive plumage, feeding on the ground beneath one of your hanging feeders during the late winter...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Squirrel hunting for both food and sport has a long history in Kentucky

The fox squirrel, one of Kentucky’s two native species, is abundant in the park-like savannas of the state’s interior. (Photo by Gary Eslinger, US Fish and Wildlife Service) Hunting squirrels for food and sport is a tradition deeply embedded in Kentucky’s hunting culture. In early Kentucky, squirrels were present in our woodlands in startling numbers. Dave Baker, editor of Kentucky Afield...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The muskrat is a native furbearer found in a variety of Kentucky waters

The Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is a native furbearer found in farm ponds, slow-moving rivers, lakes and wetlands, wherever aquatic vegetation is present. They can be hunted or trapped during a 111-day season, which began November 11 and runs through February 29, in Kentucky. Muskrats are trapped for their fur pelts, which are used to make hats, jackets and coats. (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) Demand...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky hunters post another big harvest as deer season comes to close

Kentucky’s 2019-20 hunting season for white-tailed deer ended Monday and hunters posted another big harvest, inching closer to the all-time record. Last season’s deer harvest of 145,753 was the second-highest ever, but that number was surpassed this season. Hunters reported taking 148,356 deer, 53 percent antlered and 47 percent antlerless, according to harvest data posted on the Kentucky Department...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Cedar Waxing’s unique plumage, eating habits most often observed in winter

A lasting image of the Cedar Waxwing is a beautiful tan bird perched amid the dark green leaves of an American Holly tree, eating red berries. Most often observed here during the cold weather months, the Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a nomadic bird that moves irregularly, throughout both its breeding and wintering range, often from year to year, depending on food supplies. This bird is easily...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Rotator cuff injuries are a real risk for those who participate in outdoor activities

A lifetime in the outdoors can take a toll on hips, knees, ankles and shoulders. Problems may develop from decades of walking over uneven ground, overuse, repetitive motion or degeneration of the joints due to aging. No injury is more debilitating than a tear of the rotator cuff, which weakens the shoulder. Strong, healthy shoulders are imperative to enjoying the outdoors, but a lifetime of carrying...

Art Landers’ Outdoors: Second generation porcelain enameled cookware is a must for good cooks

This is the second of two articles on cast iron cookware. Cast iron cookware has stood the test of time and remains  very popular with Kentucky cooks who prepare traditional meals in the kitchen and around the campfire. This includes grilling cuts of beef or venison, frying fish, chicken, squirrel or rabbit, and concocting meat and vegetable stews, roasts, soups, and chili. This versatile cookware...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Common Starling is most reviled of 150 species nesting in Kentucky

Of the more than 150 species of birds that nest in Kentucky, none is more reviled than the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Of the more than 150 species of birds that nest in Kentucky, none is more reviled than the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). (Wikipedia Commons)Even its name says vulgar. There are many reasons to dislike this nonnative, invasive species. It competes for cavity nest sites...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Snowy Owl, a winter migrant rarely observed in Ky., but not unheard of

The spotting of Snowy Owls in northern parts of Kentucky is a rare occurance that only happens a few times each decade. (Photo from Wkipedia Commons) A glimpse of this winter migrant might be on the holiday wish list of birdwatchers in Kentucky, and bordering states to the north along the Ohio River. That’s because the Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), a large raptor rarely observed in the region, spends...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky deer harvest strong heading into final weekend of modern gun season

The deer harvest is strong heading into the final weekend of modern gun season, the highlight of Kentucky’s 2019-20 hunting season for white-tailed deer. Here’s some news and observations: (Click for larger image) • The season opened with a bang, literally, as hunters checked in 35,165 deer bagged during the weekend of November 9-10. “Overall, modern gun season is shaping up to be great,”...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Cast iron cookware has been used for generations in traditional Kentucky cooking

Venerable cast iron cookware has a place in the hearts of generations of Kentucky cooks who love to prepare traditional meals for family and friends. On a campout, there’s nothing quite like a breakfast of thick-sliced hardwood smoked bacon or country sausage, fried up with eggs in a cast iron skillet over an open fire. A cast iron dutch oven (Photo from Lodge) At home on the weekend, coming in...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky Wild program supports endangered, threatened non-game wildlife

The Kentucky Wild program, launched during the summer of 2018 by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), directly supports non-game wildlife facing threats in our state. Many wildlife species that we take for granted like have experienced long term population declines in recent decades, most notably songbirds, bats and amphibians. Proceeds from membership in the program are...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: With striking looks and eerie sounds, the Great Horned Owl is a Halloween icon

A night hunter with a striking appearance and eerie vocalizations, this owl is a Halloween icon. The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is a large, powerful bird with bright yellow eyes, brown, tan and whitish/gray plumage that provides good camouflage in forests, and distinctive “horns,” tufts of feathers called plumicorns. The Great Horned Owl is one of five owl species that nests in Kentucky....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky is home to a rich diversity of native and non-native fish and wildlife

A wide variety of fish and wildlife species are found throughout Kentucky. While most are native species, several notable desirable non-native species have been introduced into our woods and waters. There are also a few undesirable, non-native species that have taken up residency here. Here’s some insight and details, based on information posted on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: This native shorebird has a name that brings a smile to the face of deer hunters

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is easily identifiable by its distinctive plumage, preferred habitat, feeding behavior, shrill calls and the way adult nesting pairs lure predators away from their eggs or young. Everything about the Killdeer is unusual, for example: The Killdeer is common throughout Kentucky (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) • A rather large wading bird (plover), adults can be 11...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Instances of drought have a significant impact on wildlife and landscape

Drought, even a moderate drought, has an immediate, noticeable impact on the landscape. It’s officially autumn, but you wouldn’t know by the weather forecast. In central Kentucky daytime, high temperatures have averaged about 10 degrees above normal in recents weeks. On September 23, a rain “event” of 0.02 inches was reported at the Louisville International Airport weather station, ending a...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: When using a treestand, deer hunters must focus on safety, pay attention to details

With bow season underway, hunters are making final preparations or may have already hunted a time or two on the few cool mornings we’ve had since the season started September 7. If you are planning on taking to the trees, stay focused on treestand safety. While it’s still too hot to hunt most days, now is a good time to check out your treestand, and re-familiarize yourself with its safe use. When...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Belted Kingfisher is a sure sign of good fishing for stream anglers

The Belted Kinkfisher (Photo by Brian Kushner, Audubon Society) The Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) is a good luck charm for anglers, most often observed along wooded streams. When you see one of these distinctive birds perched on a snag, or flying overhead, it’s a sure sign the fishing must be good. That’s because this water bird, easily identified by its slate blue and white plumage, and...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: News and observations as Kentucky’s white-tailed deer season set to begin

Kentucky’s 2019-20 hunting season for white-tailed deer opens tomorrow, with the beginning of archery hunting, a 136-day season that continues through Monday, January 20, 2020. Below are some news and observations about our most popular big game animal. • Deer numbers in the U.S. have grown since the 1930s when the population had dropped to an all-time low estimate of 300,000. • In the past...