Local Nature

Local Nature: A Crane Fly in Winter

The great entomologist E. O. Wilson spoke for all scientists and naturalists who are passionate about insects when he said, “Every kid has a bug period. I never grew out of mine.” What parents have not seen their kids become fascinated with ant farms? It’s easy to understand how children remain enchanted by fireflies (actually […]

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Local Nature: A New Theme for 2023: The Little Things that Run the World – Comma Butterfly

In 1987, at the opening of the Invertebrate Exhibit at the National Zoological Park, Edward O. Wilson, one of the greatest evolutionary biologists of our time, gave the invocation address, entitled “The Little Things That Run the World (The Importance and Conservation of Invertebrates).” This defining lecture changed the course of modern conservation and refocused

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Local Nature: Here Comes the Coyote

“Beep, Beep!” As children, we would imitate the sound of the cartoon Road Runner, joining in utter delight as the feathered hero once again foiled the often-elaborate plans for its capture by the bird’s arch-enemy, Wile E. Coyote. And the more technologically advanced the scheme to catch Road Runner, and the more awful the outcome

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Local Nature: Muskrateer

Hands-down, the favorite TV show for kids growing up in a previous era was The Mickey Mouse Club. The spell those creatures with big ears cast over children continues to this day, now as the cartoon characters draw masses of children to the vast Disney empire. But what if Uncle Walt had had a different

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Local Nature: Bats and COVID

For those of us untuned to the natural world, our first brush with bats may well have come via Halloween costumes or horror films featuring Count Dracula, Transylvania’s most infamous castle owner. The last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed all that. Those who follow popular accounts of the fieldwork of epidemiologists and

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Local Nature: A Summer of Bats

Halloween comes early to Cabin John: for the summer months the next three columns will focus on some of the most fascinating animals to inhabit our night skies.  Welcome to the world of bats. For some readers, this will be your first introduction to these remarkable creatures, among the most highly specialized of vertebrates. For

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Local Nature: Nighthawks

Ask an art major what comes to mind when they hear the word “Nighthawks,” and the response is immediate: the name of an iconic Edward Hopper canvas, painted in 1942. The oil on canvas features three customers and a server behind the counter of a well-lit diner, late at night, viewed through the restaurant’s large

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Local Nature: Peeps of Spring

What is nature’s signal that spring is here? To the gardener, pink clouds of cherry blossoms and magnolias floating above beds of bright tulips and daffodils announce the start of the season. For naturalists, it is sound that takes precedence over the visual. Our backyard Northern Cardinal has brightened his chirping song, and the Carolina

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