Baltimore Birding on the Rise


The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber startles us as it howls through the cloudless sky. It also scares up a Yellow-billed Cuckoo from a shrub at the river’s edge, followed by a gold-tipped Northern Flicker.

We’re standing on the seawall at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument. The bomber—a stunt for the Preakness Day horse race at the nearby Pimlico Race Course—vanishes quickly. In the stillness that follows, we notice two Barn Swallows in frenzied courtship along the ramparts. Behind the chatty couple, a Red-winged Blackbird surveys the harbor from its perch on a defunct cannon. 


Wild Bees and the Lemon Queen


A lot can happen in five minutes. I can set my timer and stare into the big face of a sunflower, on the alert for pollinators. I can count the pollinators. I can try to identify them. Was that a sweat bee? A polyester bee? Maybe even a bumblebee, but probably not a honeybee. I can watch pollen-heavy bees fly away, and when my timer rings I can log my data with the Great Sunflower Project.


The Yearly Permethrin Dance


The season of sleep-away camp is upon us, and in our house that means it’s time for the yearly pesticide ritual.

In the week before my two eldest children headed off for a month of open-air sleeping in the woods of northwest Virginia, I bought some permethrin, an agricultural-grade insecticide used for livestock. The brand I use advertises itself as providing “knockdown, broad spectrum kill,” and it’s deadly for honeybees, fish, and even your cat. It also, however, kills deer ticks.