How Eukaryotes Got Their Mojo


Warning: Serious biological technogeekery ahead. For much of earth’s history, the only form of life was single-cell, primitive bacteria. Those early primitive cells are called prokaryotes. Basically, they were small sacks of fluid with the contents mixed together, higgedly-piggedly. Sometime about 1.5 billion years ago, a few lucky prokaryotes ingested or otherwise acquired another cell…

Notes on Noise


We’re talking about camera noise here, and specifically digital camera noise. A reader recently asked what “color noise” is and why it was objectionable in photos. “Noise” – and there are various types of noise that can afflict a digital camera – is random data you don’t want in your photos. There are different things…

What’s Wrong with America, Part 5


Several readers have asked WC what he thinks is at the heart of all the problems facing America. It’s more than one thing, of course. But with this post, WC concludes this semi-regular series, which has used mostly photographs to illustrate the problems. Here’s Part 1; here’s Part 2; here’s Part 3; here’s Part 4.…

Field Notes: Great Egret


The Great Egret lives and breeds on all of the continents save Antarctica. It’s by no means the largest heron, but it’s arguably the most widely distributed. And its recovery from near-extirpation in North America is an example of how bird populations can be saved from human folly. WC has been lucky enough to see…

Sun Rose This Morning; Dunleavy Claims Credit


Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy still hasn’t removed WC from his reelection campaign mailing list. The latest fibs arrived last Friday. As far as WC can tell, the Legislature enacted the PFD that Dunleavy is claiming credit for despite Dunleavy’s best efforts to frustrate the process. After all, Dunleavy wanted a much bigger dividend, $6,700, and…

What’s Wrong with America, Part 4


Several readers have asked WC what he thinks is at the heart of all the problems facing America. It’s more than one thing, of course. But with this post, WC continues his semi-regular series, using mostly photographs to illustrate the problem. Here’s Part 1; here’s Part 2; here’s Part 3. This is another case where…

Field Notes: Hornbills


There are some 59 species of Hornbills, spread across 14 genera, all found exclusively in the Old World, from the East Indies to West Africa. What the family Bucerotidae have in common is an extravagant bill, often capped with a horn structure called a casque. Mind you, not as extravagant as the New World’s Toucans,…

R.I.P. Ronnie Hawkins, 1935-2022


Ninety percent of what I made went to women, whiskey, drugs and cars. I guess I just wasted the other 10 percent. Ronnie Hawkins, “Last of the Good Ol’ Boys,” 1989 The Hawk is dead. Ronnie Hawkins, Arkansas native and Canadian transplant died May 29 after a long illness. The epitome of rockabilly music, he…

Field Notes: Texas Flycatchers


This post is for WC’s friend, Nils Warnock, a consummate birder. He has forgotten more about birds and birding than WC will ever learn. He has carte blanc to correct all of WC’s errors. To misquote Calvin and Hobbs, there are about a bazillion flycatchers. Among the Tyrannidae, the New World’s Tyrant Flycatchers alone, there…

The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

What’s Wrong With America, Part 3


Several readers have asked WC what he thinks is at the heart of all the problems facing America. It’s more than one thing, of course. But with this post, WC continues his semi-regular series, using mostly photographs to illustrate the problem. Here’s Part 1; here’s Part 2. In this case, this particular problem is pretty…

Return of Bird of the Week: Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush


The Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush is a fairly common, American Robin-sized thrush found in Central America. Birds of the World says that it is found in “Dense dark undergrowth of primary humid evergreen forest (cloudforest).” That’s completely consistent with WC’s experience with the species. When you combine that behavior with the low light performance of Olympus cameras…