Creature Feature: American Crow

The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) might not look like much compared to its more menacing cousin of “Nevermore!” fame, the Common raven (Corvus corax), but behind those beady eyes lies a keen intelligence, a playful nature, and a particular knack for problem-solving. It is the largest crow species in North America and is highly adaptable, capable…

Sunday Sketch: Tool-Using Elephants

Did you know? It’s well known that elephants possess very complex nervous systems, similiar to those of higher thinking mammals such as whales, dolphins, and primates. But it’s not as well known that elephants are also tool users, altering tree branches and using them swat away pesky flies! Sketch and fact contributed by Victor Santiago…

Creature Feature: Plainfin midshipman

Many males across the animal kingdom sing to attract a mate: birds are arguably the most famous, right behind adolescent human males; other notable examples include frogs,  humpback whales, and crickets. A fish likely didn’t even come to mind; yet, the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus), an intertidal fish that inhabits the San Francisco bay, among other…

Field Fiasco: A scaly, slithering serpent

It was pitch black, in the early hours of the morning. We all walked with our handlamps down to the ground in a straight line on the trail. None of us spoke, it was too early for chit-chat. Three silent bright lights walked one by one through the dense understory of the Congolese rainforest. We…

Creature Feature: Tree-kangaroo

Nearly everyone knows about the kangaroos that inhabit the plains of Australia, hopping about and carrying infants, or ‘joeys’ in their pouches, but I would bet that not many know that there also exists an entire genus of forest-dwelling, tree-dependent kangaroos. These creatures are the arboreal counterparts to the terrestrial kangaroos we have come to…

Field Fiasco: Truck Troubles

Everything comes with trade offs. It’s a fundamental truth that governs how we think as biologists, but it also applies to pretty much everything else in life. In terms of field work, I get the luxury of having Davis serve as my field site. So no, I don’t get to spend my summers in the…

Creature Feature: Wild turkey

In Northern California, turkeys are a common roadblock, daily hazard, and yearly Thanksgiving staple. However, people rarely take a second to stop and appreciate these animals’ interesting behavior. There are actually two species of turkey, Meleagris gallopavo that ranges from Mexico to Canada and Meleagris ocellata that lives exclusively in the Yucatan Peninsula1. This creature…

Sunday Sketch: Phoresis

Did you know? Phoresis is the scientific word for the cutest type of symbiosis in which one animal rides another one like a horse! This “horse” race may be a slow one though with contestants like a moth riding a sloth and a beetle riding a shrew. Sketch and fact contributed by Amelia Munson Sources:…

Field Fiasco: Bee-boozled

These aren’t the bees you’re looking for. The forest. My love for the forest spans since before I remember. My grandfather, Martin Farrell, was an avid woodsman and the time I spent with him left me with a great respect and ever-present playful curiosity for knowledge and insight within the wild and forgotten places of…

Creature Feature: Acorn Woodpecker

“It takes a village to raise a child”, goes the old proverb. The acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) seemingly takes this advice to heart.  This California native species fits well into the state’s ecological, and political, landscape.  These birds lead secret lives of free love and communal values, à la hippie communes of the 1960s and…

Sunday Sketch: Badger’s Buddy

North America’s coyote and badger species are regularly found hunting together as a team. As they employ different hunting methods for driving out the same prey, one will dig up the quarry while the other gives chase- allowing them to capture three times as much food. Happy Year of the Dog! Sketch and fact contributed…