To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Take a second look …

The yellow eyes of the Saw-whet Owl are so startling, their gaze so steady, that we tend to ignore everything else. It’s easy to miss the trace of blood just below the owl’s bill, a smear of something that changes the way we look at the bird, that deepens our understanding of it. What discoveries might we make if we took that second look more often, if we trained ourselves to see?


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Latest Posts

Feature photo of a Smeared Dagger Moth caterpillar.

Caterpillars Are Cool! Especially those that turn into moths

To paraphrase Thoreau, I wish to speak a word for caterpillars, if only because so few defend or find them beautiful. Maybe their unpopularity, at least in North America, stems from the ravages of the LD Moth, Lymantia dispar (formerly known as the Gypsy Moth), whose larvae appear in their millions year after year to defoliate vast stretches of forests and parks and suburban neighborhoods. Last summer was particularly bad for LD Moths in Toronto. Walking through High Park in the city’s west end, I could actually hear the noise made by hundreds of thousands of small mouths simultaneously chewing … Read more

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This is the Featured Image for the Hybrid Duck post.

An Odd Duck: But a strangely beautiful hybrid

For the second year in a row, a rare hybrid duck has decided to spend the winter at Ashbridges Bay on Toronto’s waterfront. Last year, this male duck, or drake, was still a juvenile and had a juvenile’s dull-colored plumage. This year, it has acquired its adult breeding plumage, and, as the photo above shows, it’s a remarkable looking bird, with a dramatic black crest and rust-coloured flanks. Its parentage brought together two very different types of duck. The Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) is a broad-shouldered bruiser of a diving duck patterned in black and white. It has a blunt … Read more

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Author photo.

A Word to My Readers

When I started this blog three-and-a-half years ago, my goal was simple and not terribly ambitious. I wanted to contribute a new entry once a month, every month. It didn’t matter to me whether the entries were long or short; it didn’t even matter whether their quality was first-rate or simply mediocre. I thought the discipline involved with writing about something new every month was the main thing. Over time, if I kept to this schedule, the quality would even out, and I’d find myself participating in a certain process of discovery. That is, I’d figure out what mattered enough … Read more

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Winged Creatures Photo Gallery