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Next-Door Nature

tales from a wild metropolis

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natural history

The Big Lift

Atlas has six legs. I know that’s not how the ancient Greeks or your grade school teacher depicted him. The storytellers of Athens liked their allegories in human form and, yes, I’m sure the tale of a Titan condemned to... Continue Reading →

Silent Flight

The natural world outside my Midwestern door is preparing for a long winter nap. Cozy quilts made of homespun leaves keep tree feet from getting too cold. Seeds and insect eggs, the harvest of the previous growing season, have slipped... Continue Reading →

Eight is Enough

The Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is a small bird who raises large families. Having a lot of children isn't uncommon in the natural world but titmice parents are unusual in that they often follow the sitcom script for managing a... Continue Reading →

The Great Pumpkinseed

Setting out for a walk, I paused just past my building's threshold to savor morning air crisp as a fresh Granny Smith apple, perfumed with a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves that have been whisked, infused, and frappéd... Continue Reading →

Slings and Arrows

I wonder if Henry knew that not everything shot into the air falls back to Earth. I'm not denying the sovereignty of gravity but if the arrow is a male common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) hoping to impress a potential mate... Continue Reading →

Learning Curves

Do you remember being 15 years old and walking out the door of your local DMV with a learner's permit in your sweaty hand? Perched on the edge of your family-of-origin nest with wings outstretched, ready to fly into the... Continue Reading →

Fish, Out of Water

Sometimes, what may appear as indolence, indecision, or timid reluctance is, in fact, a strategic decision to bide one's time until the moment is right. Consider, if you will, the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). These stocky slate-and-chalk hued birds with... Continue Reading →

Moot Swans

Just in case readers assume the title of this post is a typo, let me assure you it is not. I'm fully aware that the photos featured here are of mute swans (Cygnus olor) but, like any wordsmith worth her... Continue Reading →

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