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Next-Door Nature

tales from a wild metropolis

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wildlife

The Jet Set

Everyone has their own personal markers of summer—the flash of a firefly, the pulsing hum of cicadas, the aroma of freshly cut grass... I'm sure you have a favorite.  To my mind, nothing says summer quite as definitively as the... Continue Reading →

Helicopter Parent

As the most literal of helicopter parents, a ruby-throated hummingbird mom (RTH, Archilochus colubris) takes hovering to a whole new competitive level. In the case of this feathered sprite (2.8 - 3.5" long, including bill, and just over 1/10 of... Continue Reading →

Spineless Samurai

When the annual cicadas emerge each summer their tymbals vibrate at arboreal drumming circles all over town.  The beats bounce and reverberate against hard city surfaces; during a crescendo, I swear I can feel the buildings and sidewalks pulsing like... Continue Reading →

Bull Session

I say potato, you like potahtos. You wear pajamas, I wear PJs. And a rose by any other name, we're told, would smell equally sweet. So does it really matter that we all agree on what to call an American... Continue Reading →

Telephone

This university town is always less crowded during the summer. Most students are at home or on summer internships, faculty and graduate students are using the break to slip away for some R&R or doing research at field sites, and... Continue Reading →

Fast Food

When humans talk about making a breakfast, lunch, or dinner run, it's understood that we're speaking metaphorically. Truth be told, we'll probably drive, not jog, to a local café, convenience store, or Kroger. The same cannot be said about the... Continue Reading →

Watchdogs

I heard sharp calls piercing the air, even before I noticed the compound of earthen dwellings, and knew that sentinels had spotted me and my canine companion. Last autumn, I spent some time in New Mexico. I lived there, between... Continue Reading →

Vice Squad

I was just trying to help, I swear. In fact, the primary directive in wildlife rehabilitation is: First, do no harm. But the indignant male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) I had just lifted out of a shoebox clearly interpreted my... Continue Reading →

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