Create a Backyard Wildlife Refuge

You can create a happy home for critters of all sizes and species in your very own backyard by creating a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. My first step is to get myself a backyard... Here are some PDF tipsheets on attracting birds, butterflies, amphibians and more.
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How to Meet Your Animal Neighbors

Check out this awesome tool from eNature.com, a site formerly belonging to the National Wildlife Federation (now owned by a privately held company). The tool is called the ZipGuide. Basically, it's a simple search engine. Plug in your email and zipcode, select from the given options, and it will generate a list of your local birds, butterflies, reptiles and more. You can even ask it to show mammal tracks (so you can figure out what...
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How to Identify a Bird - Even If You Only Saw It Once

Last weekend, while hiking (okay, lounging in the sun) in the Tule Elk Reserve in Point Reyes National Seashore, I spotted two white-gray birds circling and dipping overhead. Something about the way they were moving and the shapes of their heads made me think of peregrine falcons, but I had never seen a white falcon before. The above picture is the only one I managed to snap. Identifying a bird when you're bird-challenged like me...
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Expand Your Mind on the Way to Work

If you're like a lot of people I know, you listen to your iPod during your morning commute. What do you listen to? Next time you're sick of all your music, pop on over to the podcast feed of The New School at Commonweal, which features fascinating conversations with a boggling variety of amazing people. Topics covered include: Green chemistry Environmental justice Death and dying - a healer's perspective Bees Permaculture New paradigms in autism...
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"Holy crap, that's a big housecat. Oh wait...HOLY CRAP!"

So I was walking along a quiet rural road this morning on my way to work. Pastureland blankets the rolling hills on either side of the road. Sun shining, birds chirping, brisk breeze off the nearby Pacific - this walk was the perfect way to start the day. Then, not 20 yards in front of me, a big, tawny feline loped across the road and vanished into the tall grass on the other side. A...
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Mystery of the missing bees

If I had skinned that bee, I could have made a pair of bumblebee-fuzz mittens. Seriously. It was huge. Via the New York Times (months ago, but I just learned about this and it's freaking me out): Millions of bees are disappearing all over the US and nobody knows why. This is threatening, among other things, our ability to produce food. 
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Seagulls- the sewer rats of the sky?

Perhaps I'm being unkind, but they just always struck me as dirty birds - like, if they were people, they would be sleazy lounge-singer types with slicked-back hair and half-buttoned shirts. Maybe that impression has something to do with how you see them circling garbage barges, shrieking in maniac delight.  
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What are these weird things left exposed by the receding tide?

Hmm. Let's get a closer look...OMG! They're blubber torpedoes!
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Guess what this is

 A pumpkin donut with caramel-cream fillingA puckered...um...never mindA huge, curled-in sea anemone exposed at low tide If you poke one of these, it feels like a wet garbage bag filled wtih Jello. It's got a wobbly, fleshy, slimy, squishy consistency that is both disgusting and impossible to resist. Plus, when you poke a curled-up anemone, it spits water. Seriously. It's like when you poke it, you're saing "Hello" and when it spits it's saying "I don't like...
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'Bond. Cornelius Bond.' -or- Passages like this are why I love Peter Fleming

Peter Fleming is the brother of Ian Fleming (author of the Bond novels). While not a household name these days, Peter Fleming was quite famous and successful during his lifetime. One of his books, Brazilian Adventure, recounted a 3,000-mile journey he undertook in the Brazilian Amazon. I am a sucker for dry British humor from the early to mid 20th century. Take, for example, these passages from Brazilian Adventure."I am as a rule easily and...
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