Don’t squish that spider!

We may be genetically programmed to fear spiders, but they're here for a reason. Leave them alone to eat other insects

Don’t squish that spider!“The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. …” So many people are afraid of spiders, but I’ll bet almost none of them can tell you why. According to a new study out of Columbia University, it may be genetic. Our ancestors had to fear spiders – in Africa, where our roots all take us,…

Serenaded by cicadas

Their song is produced by a complex vibrating membrane on their sides and a hollow resonant body cavity

Serenaded by cicadasEvery year in late June to mid-July, I await the return of the cicada. (Actually, they never left, but more on that in a moment.) For me, this is the song of summer. As I write, one is serenading me outside my office window. Long after the April rains have passed, May flowers have bloomed…

We can – and must – stop our plastic legacy

Countless animals ingest plastics and die. Do we care? Do we care that these plastics are now in the human food chain?

We can – and must – stop our plastic legacyWe often see news items about the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws. And we want to do something, which is good. Costa Rica plans to ban single-use plastics. At a recent G7 summit, the nations condemned single use straws and said they will discuss the matter at a future meeting. But no action has…

Buckets of rain put wildlife in peril

With climate change, unrelenting rains can be challenging for wildlife and plants

Buckets of rain put wildlife in perilaa Rain is a good thing. It has so many beneficial properties – a source of drinking water for everything, a source of nutrition for plants and micro-organisms, a refreshing relief from the heat, a mechanism to replenish aquifers and lakes, a means to clean overlooked homes and cars, fun for kids of all ages,…

Exploring Alaska’s remote, enchanting shores

Joining the few privileged to travel to remote and obscure offshore islands like Baby, Unga, Haystacks, Aghyuk and the Aleutians

Exploring Alaska’s remote, enchanting shoresMy anticipation heightened as I waited for my flight. I was about to join the few privileged to explore Alaska beyond the usual ports of call, travelling to remote and obscure offshore islands. Nome Nome is where it all began for me. I was surprised at the appearance of this small coastal community, for it…

Prying into the private lives of birds in love

Wild things don’t actually fall in love, since reproduction is a serious business that involves advertising for the sole purpose of mating

Prying into the private lives of birds in loveAh spring, a time for flowers and April showers, birds and bees, a chorus of frogs, greening of the earth and love at first sight. Well, wild things don’t actually fall in love, since reproduction is a serious business that involves advertising for the sole purpose of mating. We’re all very familiar with spring birdsong…

Vernal ponds are at the heart of the forest life cycle

Frogs, toads, salamanders, insects and other invertebrates teem in vernal pools, depending on where you live in the country

Vernal ponds are at the heart of the forest life cycleHave you ever walked in a forest in early spring and seen all the beautiful little ponds that dot the landscape? Have you gone there again in July and wondered where they went? I can explain what’s happening here and why they’re so critical to many animals. Vernal pools – also known as ephemeral, autumnal,…

California condor back from the brink

Only 22 birds were left in the wild in 1982. They were all captured as part of a breeding program. Now more than 500 live in the wild

California condor back from the brinkI’ll tell you the beginning and the end of the story first because they have nothing to do with California condors and everything to do with them. My first sighting of condors was on a cloudless day in January 1995. We were travelling from Apartaderos to Timotes in Venezuela along the spine of the Andes.…

In search of Borneo’s elusive ‘man of the forest’

Deep in a jungled land, where monkeys and apes share the trees with myriad snakes, birds and giant insects – and the orangutan

In search of Borneo’s elusive ‘man of the forest’As the flight neared the Borneo shore, the forest merged from the fog. The steam wafted skyward, slowly and mysteriously revealing the grandeur of the last remaining patches of Malaysian rainforest. Thoughts of strange wild men and headhunters still lingered as I contemplated my imminent arrival in Kota Kinabalu (K.K. to the locals), the capital…

Environment big winner from the COVID-19 pandemic

There are many positive environmental outcomes as the result of a dramatically slower economy

Environment big winner from the COVID-19 pandemicThe media is filled daily with dire stories about COVID-19. Is there anything good coming out of this pandemic? Beyond the sadness and unease, some benefits will positively impact our lives and the health of the environment. The most obvious environmental benefit is that travel has diminished significantly across the globe. Tens of thousands of…

Monarch butterflies here today, gone tomorrow

Surprisingly, plenty of insects migrate. Just like birds, they seek to escape the cold, and find food and places where competition is lessened

Monarch butterflies here today, gone tomorrowMigration is a concept most people don’t really understand and have difficulty relating to, since it’s something we humans just don’t normally do. When we think of migration, we think of birds and mammals primarily, for these are the most obvious creatures to migrate. Twice each year, billions of them travel to or from their…

The amazing wild horses of Sable Island

As we approached the island, our anticipation rose and ebbed as we watched the weather. We weren’t sure if, after travelling so far, we could even land

The amazing wild horses of Sable IslandAs a guide, I often get to travel to exciting destinations. For example, I recently participated in an adventure to the Canadian Maritime provinces that took me to Sable Island. I’ve felt the urge, almost the need, to visit this magical place for most of my adult life. I’m not sure really why since it’s…