Flight of Fancy

Most of us have, at some point, watched birds in the sky and thought something like, “Man, I wish I could fly like that...” I certainly have. But have you thought about why birds fly in the first place? Taking to the sky is a pretty big evolutionary step! …

Moa for #BirdOfTheYear2018

This year, I found it difficult to choose who to vote for in the NZ Bird of the Year contest. New Zealand is home to so many wonderful birds! So how did NZ end up with so many unique birds in the first place? And why are they disappearing now, after thriving here for millions of years?

Animal Intelligence

I’ve written about animal intelligence before, to some extent. A few weeks ago, I talked about some small cats, including the margay, which is the only known predator to use vocal mimicry to try to lure its prey closer. In one of my earliest posts, I celebrated the kea, NZ’s native alpine parrot that’s at least as smart as human 4-year-olds…

James Cook: Naturalist

I was cleaning my room earlier this week when I came across a stack of paper covered in my own messy writing. Intrigued, I sat down to read. Turns out they were my notes and speculations from reading the accounts of James Cook, leader of 3 hugely influential voyages to explore the Pacific and southern oceans in the late 18th century...

The Fast, the Furious, and the Feathered

We’re back from hiatus! I took a few weeks off to focus on moving house, and to travel around NZ’s South Island for a couple weeks. We made a big loop around the South Island – from Kaikoura to Kahurangi National Park to Milford Sound – but the highlight was 4 days of tramping. And while we were out in the backcountry, we got to see New Zealand falcons! NZ falcons are rare and endemic, so getting to see one is pretty special...

Favorite Birbs + Going on Hiatus

After last week’s post about the popularity of certain types of animals in photography, I decided to look through my own nature photos to see if I also seemed to prioritize certain animals. While I did find quite a lot of photos of large charismatic mammals, I was glad to find a wide variety of other creatures and organisms too. But the creatures I seem to photograph most by far are birds...

An Afternoon at Orokonui

On a bright summer day at Orokonui,

I saw bellbirds and robins and kaka and tui.

Tuatara and takahe step to and fro,

Like small dinosaurs from eons ago.

If you come here at night, you can hear ruru hoot,

And you may see a kiwi (the bird, not the fruit).

These creatures and more deserve your attention,

Since they could vanish without good protection...

Turkey Talk

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. But being an American living in New Zealand makes Thanksgiving a bit of a challenge – especially getting hold of a turkey. There’s just not that much demand for it here, which means if you want a nice big turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, you have to special order it from a farm several weeks in advance. Throughout this whole Thanksgiving prep process, I’ve been wondering about turkeys – wild ones, that is...