STORIES

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The Mystery of the Disappearing Birds

Once upon a time Barro Colorado Island was a mountaintop, rising from the trackless rainforest that carpeted the Isthmus of Panama. Its deep-green slopes hosted pumas and jaguars and more than 200 species of birds.

Blue Carbon

LOOKING THROUGH J. BOONE KAUFFMAN’S PHOTO COLLECTION is like thumbing a tropical bestiary. There’s a proboscis monkey from Borneo, its long, lumpy nose resembling an over-ripe mango. A gibbon and an orangutan from Kalimantan. A green python coiled around a tree. A herd of bristle-nosed pigs. A 15-foot saltwater crocodile whose jaw could crush a […]

The Most Dangerous Thing — “It’s not the large carnivores”

“You asked me what’s the most dangerous thing I encounter in my work. It’s not the large carnivores such as crocodiles or tigers or poisonous snakes. It’s the little things. In the last few years, I have had two students come down with Dengue fever. This is a huge concern of ours. “In our years […]

Of Spots and Stripes

To hear Katie Dugger tell it, you’d think catching a baby northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) for scientific banding was as easy as taking a Tootsie Roll from a toddler. “They’re so mellow and laid-back,” the ornithologist says. “If the owl is sitting low enough in a tree, as is often the case, you […]

Back from Prehistory

The “butifull Buzzard of the Columbia ” was Captain William Clark’s descriptor in 1805 for the prehistoric vultures he observed riding thermals on 9-foot wings in the Columbia River Gorge. Yet just 100 years later, the giant condors were all but gone in Oregon. Now, ornithologist Susan Haig is helping to bring them back. At […]

A Rocky Outlook

A light wind froths across the headland, kicking up the churn below. Just off Yaquina Head, atop a sea stack named Colony Rock, more than 60,000 seabirds huddle in a wing-towing crush. Audible from shore is a raucous din, the collective cry of nesting females incubating eggs and raising chicks while their mates fly in […]