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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Explorers hope for less boring critters on upcoming trench dives

branson's submarine

James Cameron found nothing more than shrimp on his dive to the Mariana Trench. Richard Branson hopes to see more when he visits the deepest spot in the Atlantic this year.

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The Hunter: what if the Thylacine wasn't extinct and someone wanted to kill it off again

The movie imagines the elusive animal really does survive, only a big drug company wants to kill it off for a magic potion it secretes.This is by no means the movie wildlife watchers would make about the fantastic hope that a living thylacine represents.

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Men's mags duel over OH zoo gone wild

GQ and Esquire face off over the exotic predator release in OH. Esquire goes all action adventure. GQ tries to figure out how lion, tigers and bears were unleashed on suburbia.

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What 60 Minutes' Love Letter to TX Canned Hunts Got Wrong

Thousands of virtually extinct scimitar-horned oryx survive on TX hunting ranches. But only 110 TX oryx are in the species survival plan that spans 211 institutions worldwide. The species doesn’t need Texas hunters.

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The urban kangaroo--white-tailed deer of Australia

A mob of urban kangaroos heads into Canberra at night to eat. The same arguments over hunting, contraceptives and car accidents play out.

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Wind Across the Everglades: hypnotically horrible

A 1958 schlocky movie had the star power to ignite the environmental movement–if it hadn’t gone so horribly wrong.

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How quickly will national elk feeding grounds spread chronic wasting disease?

The century old tradition of feeding elk outside Yellowstone could end up severely hurting the population by spreading chronic wasting disease.

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FaceTime, the new Master's Voice

The iPhone’s new video chat service, FaceTime, is so good it fools dogs.

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Willdife photographer David FitzSimmons dances with frogs

gray tree frog

David FitzSimmons, author of Curious Critters  and photography instructor, dances with the creatures he photographs for a half hour or so to get to know them. “I try in images to convey some kind of personality,” he says.

The dance involves making his partner comfortable and getting into unusual positions himself. “I try to shoot on eye level. We sort of look down on them.” And, yeah, he knows that some people cringe at using the word personality with animals. Well, I cringe at their cringing. He’s not thinking the squirrel feels romantic love for its mate, but the attitude and emotion that becomes clear when you get to know any animal. “A snake could be timid or particularly aggressive,” he says. “The crawfish [in the book] has got his claws up and seems particularly aggressive. The gray tree frog seems spiritual and humble.” Aside from a few technical tips–like putting a snake over a hat to get them comfortable before a shoot–FitzSimmons loves getting students of his photography workshops excited about little and common creatures, knowing their enthusiasm will lead to conservation of their subjects. He’s one of four professional photographers that lens-makers Sigma agency sends out nationwide. He teaches literature at Ashland University. For his most recent book,  wrote Curious Critters, which we reviewed here, he photographed animals  against a pure white background. His choices were local–from his own backyard to some of Ohio’s animal tourist attractions. His daughter helped, spotting  the cover’s teeny

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