Natural Wonders

with Maggie Jones

In the summer of 1972, I wandered out of a newly rented farm house, looked up, and saw 2 red-tailed hawks soaring over woods and pasture.  They were so beautiful, so other-worldly, I was overcome with a desire to know everything about them.

Years later I became a wildlife rehabilitator and a falconer and was able to have close hands-on experience with them. Today that desire to learn about the natural world has only broadened and intensified. I’ll read some of my favorite biologists’ writings and occasionally include my own thoughts.

2 + 1 =

Natural Wonders #28

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I love our cuckoos, the yellow-billed and the black-billed, and I hope you will too, after hearing about their surprising lives. Today the amazing sounds and habits of our 2 beautiful and distinctive cuckoos.

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What a gift to future generations this book is; Aldo Leopold’s  A Sand County Almanac, contains images and feelings that live in our hearts. Today the July chapter,  with 2 parts, Great Possessions and Prairie Birthday;  

“…it is a fact, patent both to my dog and myself, that at daybreak I am the sole owner of all the acres I can walk over. It is not only boundaries that disappear but also the thought of being bounded.” Thank you again to the Aldo Leopold Foundation for permission to read this book

Natural Wonders #26

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We get a rare look at the pre-settlement Blue Mounds landscape and 

the thoughts of a Tory in the Wisconsin Wilderness as he must re-enter society approaching Dubuque after long travels along the river courses. “I should soon be in the vortex of a white frontier population, must abandon my canoe, exchange the peaceful tent, pitched on the clean bank of an interesting river, for dirty accomodation at some filthy tavern, and make up my account to pay in money for every act of civility I might receive.”  

We finish Mike Mossman’s essay about an Englishman geologist’s travels, published in the quarterly journal of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, The Passenger Pigeon, Vol. 50 no. 4, Winter 1988. 

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Another historical perspective takes us along the old Wisconsin river routes in the 1830s. Along the Fox, the Wisconsin and the Mississippi Rivers, we travel with the first geologist hired by the federal government, a British Tory, to explore parts of our new country. We are in what was then, part of the Michigan Territory  which will become Wisconsin, with George Featherstonhaugh (pronounced fen-shaw!). This essay is part one of A Tory in the Wisconsin Wilderness by Mike Mossman, published in the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology quarterly journal the Passenger Pigeon Vol. 50, no. 4, Winter 1988.

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Part 2 of Mike Mossman’s essay on John Muir’s years growing up in Wisconsin is continued today.  We hear selections of Muir’s book “The Story of my Boyhood and Youth” written just a few years before his death. It’s an eloquent portrait of Wisconsin in the 1850s. This is from the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s quarterly journal, the Passenger Pigeon, Volume 50, No.2, Summer 1988.

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In 1988 The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology introduced a  series of essays called “In the Words of Ornithologists Past” in their quarterly journal, The Passenger Pigeon. We will hear the introduction to the series, and first part of Mike Mossman’s essay-  John Muir: Reveling in the Wisconsin Frontier.

 Muir arrived here from Scotland at age 11 in 1849 and reveled in our wonderful state for his formative years.

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From Afield, we hear A Gathering of the Voices, written by Curt Meine. It’s the forward to the book

Afield.  

Curt is a conservation biologist, environmental historian, and writer. It is an honor for me to read his part of Sumner Matteson’s book.

Natural Wonders #21

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In a reading from Sumner Matteson’s Afield, Jim Zimmerman talks further about his great teachers, and the wide ranging positive impact they had, and his own methods of reaching people’s minds and hearts. And we learn of Jim’s creative work to save the unique canyons of the Kickapoo River from being damed and becoming a lake. “Regarding the land ethic, there’s one fight to preserve land I’d like to mention. In the early 70s there was a proposed dam impoundment in the Kickapoo River Canyon of west-central Wi Driftless Area.”

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From Sumner Matteson’s book Afield we hear more from his interview with botanist Jim Zimmerman, about his life as a student and his teachers, among them Aldo Leopold. He discusses four teachers who had a profound influence on his life and his approach as a teacher.

“Jim Zimmerman was a master at inspiring people, in leading his students to be better stewards of their land. Wisconsin today is a much better state because of all the things Jim did during his lifetime”

Roy Lukes

Natural Wonders #19

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Scott Weidensaul is an eloquent writer who many birders love to read. We hear the preface to his classic book published in 1999, Living on the Wind , Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds, and the introduction to his new book A World on the Wing, The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds.

published by WW Norton in 2021.

Natural Wonders #18

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Helen Macdonald takes us to the top of the Empire State Building to meet a leading ornithologist and give us new insight  into the fascinating vertical environment; “a tumultuous world teeming with unexpected biological abundance.” The chapter is called High Rise from her book of essays, Vesper Flights.

Natural Wonders #17

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The Passenger Pigeon Monument at Wyalusing State Park was dedicated in 1947. We hear Aldo Leoplod’s  speech from that day at the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.  “Today the laden oaks still flaunt their burden at the sky, but the feathered lightning is no more.” And we hear Dr. Stanley Temple’s introduction to the reprinted booklet, Silent Wings, A Memorial to the Passenger Pigeon published by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.

Natural Wonders #16

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Aldo Leopold writes about the ultimate bird of the grasslands ; the upland sandpiper, another reading from The Sand County Almanac, Back from the Argentine.

Natural Wonders #15

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Venture out with Fran Hamerstrom and her children in a very different habitat. Let’s take A Walk in the City; from Walk When the Moon is Full . What do they find?

Natural Wonders #14

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From Afield, Botanist Jim Zimmerman is featured today. Maggie remembers co-workers at Willy Street Coop who walked with him afield every chance they got. His influence was strong even on people he never met; and some personal thoughts (after discussions with many botanists) about leaving ramps in the woods. 

Natural Wonders #13

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Today an essay, Exquisite Hours by Ken Lange, retired naturalist from Devil’s Lake State Park.  He touches on the moments in our lives, and reveals his love of poets and other writers about the natural world. Thanks to Ken and The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology for permission to read this essay.

Natural Wonders #12

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We spend more time with Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, reading from the March chapter, The Geese Return and April, Come High Water.

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We read from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac; the February chapter, Good Oak, a journey with Leopold as our guide, into Wisconsin’s natural history. 

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Woodcocks do their skydance in April and today we read 2 biologists’ stories about this enchanting natural wonder.  First, Aldo Leopold from ‘April’ in A Sand County Almanac, then Fran Hamerstrom from her book Walk When the Moon is Full.

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Maggie reads from the last chapter of Fran Hamerstrom’s book Is She Coming Too? Memoirs of a Lady Hunter; the chapter called Biography of a Dancing Ground about the sharp-tailed grouse.

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Again we hear from Frances Hamerstrom and another of her books, Birding With a Purpose;  learning how her very early life experiences formed the foundation of a life of pioneering conservation work.

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Maggie reads from Walk When the Moon is Full  by biologist Frances Hamerstrom. Fran writes, “Everything in this book actually happened,,, ” We will go out at night with the family and join the adventures.

Natural Wonders #6

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Maggie reads from Helen MacDonald’s Vesper Flights, the moving essay, The Human Flock.

Natural Wonders #5

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Reading again from Afield;  Eric sees a stirring vision on a cold early morning survey,  and finally has a restaurant meal when tiny critters attack, and Maggie talks about our State Natural Areas Program with a tip on visiting the Rush Creek SNA in Crawford County.

Natural Wonders #4

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“Afield EE Wallace and Darwin”

Maggie continues reading from Afield; Eric discusses Wallace and Darwin, recommends some good books and we end with a reading from Those of the Forest by Wallace Grange.

Natural Wonders #3

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Maggie reads more from Afield, this time we’re on Outer Island in the Apostle Islands as a ferocious storm hits.

Natural Wonders #2

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from Feb 8th, Maggie reads from Afield, stories of naturalists and talks about the author, Sumner Matteson and his work writing this book, and with his work with the  reintroduction of the trumpeter swan to Wisconsin.

Natural Wonders-Premiere January 25, 2022

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Maggie reads from the introduction to Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald, and discusses the winter breeding habits of great horned owls and bald eagles.