Turtles All The Way Down

Scientifically, turtles are said to stack in order to be closer to the sun for warmth, since ideal basking spots may be scarce. Also, it might be a defense against predators, to make themselves look larger. This turtle duo looks like a two headed monster, and of course two heads are better than one. Perhaps […]



Iridescent Bird

Many birds are colorful, but few can rival hummingbirds. The colors are from both pigment in the plumage, and also structural, with prism-like cells in the top layers of the feathers. Looking closely at hummingbird feathers, the surface has layers of air bubbles. When light strikes, some goes straight through to the feather, some is […]

Industrious Sloth

Sloths have an unfair reputation for being lazy, since their lifestyle is based on physiology and not lack of motivation. They have a low metabolic rate, less than half what would be expected for their body size. They partly control their temperature by sunning themselves, like cold blooded animals. They are only found in Central […]



Old Friend.

I recently returned from another visit to Costa Rica, a country I have visited so often that it is like being with an old friend, both exciting and relaxing. My first visits many years ago were to study monkeys and rainforests, so it felt familiar to spend time watching and photographing them, including this friendly […]

“Dances with the Daffodils”

On a visit to the New York Botanical Garden a couple weeks ago, I managed to hit the peak of daffodil bloom. The garden has one of the biggest collections of daffodils in the country. They are tucked in borders, line walkways narrow and wide, and most impressively form an explosive sea of white and […]



Orchid Art

Today is Earth Day, and it is also the last day of the 16th annual orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden, a stunning celebration of some of earth’s most magical flowers. The show takes a full year to design, with plans for the next starting the moment each current show ends. This year’s […]

Hawksbill Haven

Hawksbills live in tropical seas around the world, using their sharp beaks to feed on sponges and other animals in the crevices of rocks and coral reefs. Barely ten years ago they were thought extinct in El Salvador and neighboring countries, but intensive research has revealed a remnant population of turtles from Mexico south to […]



Marvelous Monkeys

  I was a primatologist for many years, which is a fancy way of saying I never got over my childhood infatuation with monkeys. Whenever I get back to the tropics, it’s always a thrill to see them. I’m tempted to whip out a notebook and start recording data, but instead these days I tend […]

A tale of two seasons

Winter has waged war in my yard this year, alternating between bitter cold and unseasonable warmth. Advancing and retreating, often in the same week, bitter cold days of single digits give way to days in the fifties and even sixties. Ground that was frozen and buckled with ice crystals for days suddenly turns to mud. […]



Night Lights

The North Carolina Arboretum continues the tradition started in 2014 of winter lights. These turn the garden into a winter wonderland. Every year new displays are added, and there are now half a million lights. These are efficient LED lights, using 80% less energy than ordinary lights. So even though they are spread over three […]