Redux: A Visit to the Museum of Osteology

This post originally ran March 31, 2015. I knew what I expected from the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City: amusement. I go to a lot of museums, and in my experience, privately-run museums based on one person’s obsession are always quirky and often pretty fun. This museum was founded by a guy and his […]

Redux: Marine Iguanas Don’t Want to Cuddle With You

So, summer is coming to an end again (damn you, ephemeral summer!) and I’ve been thinking about past summers’ best adventures. For me, a best adventure is always going to include wild animals. In this case, it was the funny-faced marine iguanas I met in the Galapagos. They didn’t give a shit about me, but […]

Corvid Week: Against Birds

My grandparents live on a farm in central California, in a small ranch house surrounded by rolling hills. The house is shaped like an L, with a long hallway stretching one way, and a short stubby kitchen and living room not-quite-stretching the other way. In the long hallway there are paintings and photographs on the […]

The ritual: When science feels like elegy in advance

Each morning, when the fog was thin enough to see, I went to the cliffs. I’d park the white pickup down a grassy ATV trail. Or off the main dirt road on a pullout. Or in the turnaround at the island’s southwesternmost point, where, when the wind was up at sea, waves coming from the […]

Guest Post: Begging Babies

Two birdfeeders hang from the deck of my house in the woods, a waystation for locals and migrants alike. They are a locus of activity — except when I forget to refill them. That happened again last month. I grew too distracted by the daily feeding and maintenance of two small humans, both of whom […]

Mourning the Dove

There’s great dignity in the mourning dove. Rarely does one demand attention. A pair’s gentle cooing is a pleasure, the whisper of parents trying not to wake the baby. The whir of their wings in flight (called sonation) recalls a wind-up toy. A couple of them, in velvety gray-brown with daubs of black low on […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Arctic Resignation

The Svalbard archipelago, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is famous for its polar bears, but it is also home to the distinctive (and distinctively adorable) Svalbard reindeer. Shaggy-haired and stubby-legged, the Svalbard reindeer is not only the world’s smallest subspecies of reindeer but also the world’s northernmost herbivorous mammal, and its survival […]