PATIENCE: A large argiope spider, Argiope aurantia, lies in her web waiting for prey along Currituck Sound on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Photo by Pam Owen.

Wild Ideas: Different day, different web

The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web. – Edwin Way Teale, American naturalist, photographer, and writer Spiders are arthropods in the arachnid (Arachnida) class, […]

SWAMP SMART: The swamp sparrow (Melospiza Georgiana), as its name implies, lives in wetland areas. Photo by Kevinbercaw via Wikimedia Commons.

Wild Ideas: Misadventures in birding

Birding is for the birds – and birders. This time of year is one of the best bird-watching (“birding”) seasons, as migratory species stopover in Virginia on their way north or stay to breed and raise their young. […]

Wild Ideas

Wild Ideas: Name that tune

The vernal equinox did not disappoint in officially kicking off spring this year. I woke that fine day to the welcome if monotonous sound of my eastern phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) signaling their return — at least this is probably the same pair as last year, since they’re loyal to their nesting sites. […]


Wild Ideas: Tracking more than footprints

When I was a kid, I fancied myself to be a great tracker. When I was roaming the forests and meadows near my suburban home, I imagined I was a Native American, since we kids learned from Westerns that they were the best trackers. The goal was to find and observe animals, and ultimately to become part of their world. […]


Wild Ideas: The tactile masked bandit

The North American Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is smart, curious, bold, omnivorous, and opportunistic — like a small bear in a mask. Our relationship with them has been a conflicted one. We’ve been captivated by the raccoon’s antics, confounded by some of its behavior and annoyed at its skillful thievery. Not only have we captured and kept them as pets, we’ve hunted them for their fur and meat, and for sport, and we’ve waged war against them because they eat our food, invade our homes, and share our susceptibility to rabies. […]


Wild Ideas: Things that go screech . . .

I’m really not a winter person. As the days get shorter, the nights longer, and the temperature drops, all I want to do is hibernate. I like to be lulled to sleep by a full chorus of cicadas, crickets, tree frogs, and the occasional whip-poor-will, so I find the winter nocturnal silence, with the occasional burst of bizarre and even blood-curdling noises, to be a lot less restful than the sounds of a summer’s night. […]

Wild Ideas

Wild Ideas: A rafter of turkeys

Say “turkey” and most people conjure up the image of the cooked bird that graces holiday tables. Others think of the magnificent fowl roaming our forests. A rafter of wild turkeys regularly forages through the […]