One-Note Wonder

Historical recordings of bird song help identify a new species by its unique vocalization.

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Garden of Extinction

A botanical garden in Cape Town, South Africa, is devoted to plants that no longer exist in the wild. A reminder and warning sign of what we stand to lose forever.

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Late to the Harvest

Many years ago, the small daughter of some friends surprised us all at Christmas by taking a single bite from the hidden side of each perfect apple her parents’ had hung on the tree. Just a single bite that didn’t show from the front, but which quickly withered each apple. I thought of those secretly…

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A Murder, A Charm, A Gulp

A Murder It must be confusing for wild animals when humans constantly grow so much tasty food, only to try and keep it all to themselves. I see it in my own garden when the various fruits become ripe. All the birds I’ve fed through the winter are suddenly competition for my harvest in summer…

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Common Beauty in the Margins

I was on a walk yesterday around my running path – a walk, not a run, due to a tumble taken on a mountain hike, and two damaged wrists. One broken, one sprained; a full cast and a metallic brace. It’s slowed me down, but at least I can move my fingers and still type.…

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Swift Moment

A cloudless evening and the shrill cries of a small group of European swifts on an evening hunt for insects. A summer concert told in sharp notes. The swift has a wide range and enough numbers to be merit a population status of Least Concern from the IUCN. Considering the slow but persistent declines in…

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Summer Field Moment

I was out running yesterday and there was a cushion of sound, a papery hum, that accompanied me for a long stretch. At first I thought it was the standard ambient noise of my run: a bit of mountain wind, shards of birdsong, maybe an underlying rush of water from the creek in the middle…

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Root Migration

What do a rare high-altitude Alpine snow flower and a sturdy South African cousin of the daisy have in common? They aren’t related, they look nothing like one another, and they are natives to completely different habitats in different parts of the world. But over the past few years, they have both been on the…

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All Abuzz

A friend challenged me to take nature photos for a week, and it resulted in several very nice shots of our garden, if I do say so myself. But one of the most enjoyable aspects of the exercise took place when I went to take pictures of the two lavender bushes in front of our…

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Pieces in the Mosaic

Over the past few decades, we’ve grown used to campaigns imploring us to save one animal or another. Usually the photogenic or impressive species. Save The Whale, Save The Panda, and so on. Shortly after the United States’ Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, a case came along about a modest creature, the Tennessee…

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