What are the best places in the world to see snakes?

Lonely Planet names 10 snake watching sites, with Manitoba on top. Great list, but misses some possibilities like the Everglades, South of the Border or Pentecostal churches.

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Macho house sparrows

Two male house sparrows were in such a brawl last week my friends and I wondered if they were somehow stuck on each other, like elk with locked antlers. They were rolling around in the gutter, beaks clasped on each other in a seeming death match. My friend Sam picked them up to separate them. They just flew across the street and continued fighting.

I’m sure it was a battle for a mate or maybe who gets to move into the best lamppost in Park Slope. This is why people hate it when sparrows show up in their bird houses: they’re really aggressive about kicking out any bird they perceive as an intruder, going as far as destroying eggs and chicks of native birds.And how they invaded North America.

SEE ANIMALS IN THE NORTHEAST (NY, NJ, MD, MA, ME, NH, VT, CT, RI, PA) Where to SEE WEIRD BIRDS (All the interesting birds: pelicans, puffins, prairie chickens, vultures, hummingbirds)

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Can We Call Animals Gay? How About This Otter Couple?

Daz and Chip, gay otters

Two male New Zealand otters who spent 15 affectionate years together at the Natureland Zoo died within an hour of each other this week. The treatment of their story is exactly what The New York Times Magazine story “Can Animals Be Gay?” out tomorrow is about. Biologists are realizing that many animal pairings are same-sex but the debate over whether to consider the animals gay has become more political than scientific.

The Times writer Jon Mooallen whimsically describes it this way:  “It may seem surprising that scientists sometimes don’t know the true sexes of the animals they spend their careers studying — that they can be tripped up in some ‘Tootsie’ -like farce for so long.”

With Asian otters Daz and Chip, everyone knew they were male and bonded. The circumstances of their death just solidified their coupledom. When an animal pair dies so closely–like my dog Jolly did after he lost his girlfriend Shadow–how can you not acknowledge their complex emotional life? “The bottom line is that when one of them had a heart attack, it just set the other one off and he followed through,” a zoo spokesman told the New Zealand Herald.

The Times story mainly follows albatrosses, who have a lot of two-mommy households, but the phenomena spans the animal kingdom. A two-mommy, one-daddy family of another albatross species in New Zealand’s Taiaroa Head got lots of attention because of the gay-friendly tourist board, Mooallen says.

So back to

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