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Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1
Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1

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The Forest Unseen
“My first reaction to the raccoons was that of surprise, a jolt of excitement as the strange sound resolved into the advancing trio. Then the raccoons' appealing faces came close: dark velvet masks set in crisp white borders, obsidian eyes, rounded ears perked jauntily, and slender noses. All this set in ruffs of silver fur. One thing was evident: these animals were adorable."
Raccoon (Procyon Lotor) 
"A moth shuffles its tawny feet over my skin, tasting me with thousands of chemical detectors. Six tongues! Every step is a burst of sensation. Walking across a hand or leaf must be like swimming in wine, mouthy open. My vintage meets the moth's approval, so his probiscus unfurls, rolling down from between the bright green eyes. Unrolled, the probiscus juts straight down from the moth's head, like an arrow pointing at my skin. At the point of contact, the probiscus's rigidity softens and the tip flops backward, pointing between the moth's legs."

Black Witch by Paul Wolf

The Forest Unseen

A Year's Watch in Nature
by David George Haskell
Viking, 2012

Like a Tibetan monk contemplating a mandala, the author selects a meter-wide forested slope in southern Tennessee along the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau for a  year-long exercise in open-minded and undisturbing observation.

"Can the whole forest be seen through a small contemplative window of leaves, rocks, and water?" he asks.

This is no set schedule for the author's visits, but he comes to the site several times each week to sit on a flat slab of sandstone and observe. This book relates the events inside the "mandala" chronologically as they occur.

Forest Walkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Forest Walkway

Camouflage-busting Dichromats

Military planners in the Second World War noticed that color-blind soldiers were better at seeing through camouglage than were soldiers with normal vision...  The superior pattern-finding abilities of dichromats may seem a peculiar but unimportant quirk of an unlucky mutation. Two facts suggest otherwise.

First, the frequency of dichromatism in humans, two to eight percent of all males, is much higher than would be expected if the condition were a maladaptation. Such commonness suggests that evolution may, in some circumstances, smile on the condition.

Second, our cousins the monkeys also have both dichromats and trichromats living together within the same species. Dichromats in these species make up half or more of the population, again suggesting that dichromatism is not just an accidental effect... New World monkeys generally live in cooperative groups, so it is to everyone's advantage to have both types of vision within the same group -- food can be found in all kinds of lighting conditions.

Camouflaged Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Heart Chakra Mandala
Heart Chakra Mandala