Magic Cicadas

Somewhere outside the D.C. metropolitan area a bumbling cicada has smacked a suburban dad in the face while he is mowing his lawn. Dad leaps into the air and swats at the cicada. The cicada, a female, is attracted to the hum of the push lawn mower, mistaking its drone for a chorus of males. …

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The Nesting Season

A bird's nest. Neat and tidy, hidden among willow branches or tucked under a drooping maidenhair fern. A bird's nest. Old and tangled, a pile of sticks right out in the open atop a snag or a crumbling rock pinnacle, or sometimes right on the ground. A bird's nest. Obvious but hidden from view nonetheless, …

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The Earth Has Its Music

I wake well before dawn - 4:30 am to be precise. It’s an hour that defies logic, unless it is your job to monitor songbirds (as was mine for 15 years). Even though it will be dark for another hour, I hear a robin singing outside my bedroom window (each link takes you to a sound …

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A “Ding” Darling of a Refuge

The alligator’s scaled back barely breaches the surface of a still backwater pond in J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Wary of my presence, this ancient reptile slips beneath the surface and melts into the pond’s murky depths. The long-legged wading birds foraging nearby raise their heads and consider their options. Most of them …

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Snapping Turtle

Five years ago my parents moved to northwestern Connecticut where they found their new neighbors to be a bit wilder than their last. There are the two black bears who come around every autumn to strip the shrubs of their berries, the swallows that nest in the eves of their barn each spring, and the …

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How National Parks Protect Dark Night Skies

Before I begin this week's post, I wanted to let you all know about our new Facebook page. We'll have book suggestions for good outdoor reads, quotes that inspire, news about public lands, and much more. We'd love to hear from you. If there is something you'd like to know about, let us know. You …

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Blurring the Boundary

I sip my first mug of morning coffee while gazing at a cow elk standing on the other side of my frosted living room window. She stretches her neck toward the prickly limbs of an Engelmann spruce and rises, briefly, on her haunches to reach the lowest branch. She hangs there just long enough to …

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