Ted Levin

Commentator

Ted Levin is a nature writer and photographer. His latest book is America's Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake, University of Chicago Press, May, 2016.

Levin: Ghost Butterflies

Oct 30, 2017

Recently, while visiting the rocky shores of Rhode Island and relaxing at George’s Beach in the unseasonable warmth of a protracted Indian summer, I watched a steady stream of monarch butterflies rise above pine and flaxen tangles and pass by our beach chairs.

My compost pile sits west of the garden and consists of two ripening mounds of table scraps, grass clippings, and hand-pulled weeds that I turn from time to time.

Ticks move like zombies; one speed, one direction, a stiff, endless, methodical forward plod… best described as creepy.

Ted Levin

Sitting on my desk at home is a small vial of alcohol containing three pickled, blacklegged tick nymphs, each no bigger than the period at the end of a typed sentence… three tiny alarming arachnids.

Charlie Hohn

The flow from the July 1st downpour had jumped two streambeds and overwhelmed two culverts, trisecting Thetford’s Five Corners Road into three unequal lengths, scouring out a pair of nearly forty-foot wide spillways into the woods. It had left skirts of debris fixed to tree trunks and draped from low limbs, some more than a foot above the ground.

The word topophilia means love of place, a complex, multilayered emotion that the poems of Mary Oliver and the essays of Aldo Leopold and Edward Abbey awaken without ever having to mention the word. Landscape memories involve a jubilee of sights and sounds, smells and textures of bygone days, which, in my case, are those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer… beach days.

Levin: Way Too Soon

May 1, 2017

This year I made a bet with a friend about when we’d first hear spring peepers in our respective valleys.

Just a few days ago, a black vulture appeared above Walpole, New Hampshire, thirty-seven years after I confirmed the first turkey vulture nest in northern New England.

Five years ago, when St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire built a new science and math building, a decision was made to suspend a nearly six-foot diameter, white latex-painted globe called Science-on-a-Sphere from the ceiling of the third-floor conference room.

On December 15, I joined twenty-four other birders in Woodstock for the forty-second, Annual Christmas Bird Count. Collectively, we recorded twenty-five hundred and nineteen birds, representing thirty-five different species.

Levin: College Reunion

May 4, 2016
Cindy Crawford

Certain birds arrest my attention. A streaking peregrine falcon... a bittern standing stone still in a marsh … a scarlet tanager or indigo bunting doing anything, anywhere... the effervescent song of a winter wren. Red-headed woodpeckers make my list, as well.

Levin: Owl Rescue

Apr 14, 2016

Encounters between a barred owl and a moving car can be hard on the owl, which despite deceptive appearances is really no heavier than a large gray squirrel... or put another way, the average female barred owl - females are heavier than males - weighs twenty-five percent less than a quart of skim milk.

Except for the twice-yearly pulse of migratory birds that pass through Mesoamerica and a roster of New England birds that winter in the tropics, Vermont and Costa Rica are quite literally a world apart. But recently, while I was roaming nine days through the cloud forest and along the humid central Pacific coast, I discovered a rather profound similarity between my home state and the Central American isthmus.

Levin: Coyote Genome

Feb 26, 2016

It’s the beginning of mating season for the coyotes that share our valley. And when they howl from the valley rim, my dogs reply - as if they recognize a relative and their response is visceral.

Levin: Cannabis Sativa

Jan 21, 2016

Back in the nineties, my late mother-in-law, a Bohemian artist, owned a home-studio in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, not far from the center of town. Her sloped backyard supported a hapless vegetable garden, which eked out its existence in sandy, nutrient-poor soil, typical of much of Cape Cod. In the center of her garden grew a truly impressive pot plant that loomed over the vegetables the way the World Trade Center once loomed over Wall Street.

Now that deer season is almost over, I’m getting ready to reenter the woods in search of lingering waterfowl and early arriving winter finches. But my old and excellent binoculars, bought in the early nineties, light and durable, that yield a crisp, bright image, even in fading light, have been sent away to be repaired.

Levin: Homecoming

Oct 19, 2015

Autumn is the time of Homecoming, on college campuses and family gatherings. In the natural world, it’s the time when birds fly south, and other animals return to dens where they’ll sleep until spring. Among them are the rattlesnakes I monitor. Their home is in a rockslide, where they’re gathered en mass around the doorstep of their den.

Levin: Mowing The Lawn

Aug 31, 2015

Mowing the lawn under the weight of the summer sun is a wearisome chore - around the house, the garden, the barn; between the upper pasture and the riding ring. But, when the dew lifts from Coyote Hollow, which gets later and later in September, I set my course and begin. And sometimes, if I’m energetic, I’ll mow the entire yard in a single outing.

Levin: Cooper's Hawks

Jul 24, 2015
Tig Tillinghast

My mother was one of eleven siblings, born to parents from Eastern Europe, neither of whom spoke much English when they arrived at Ellis Island.

Levin: Nesting Turtles

Jun 22, 2015

This time of year, painted, wood, and snapping turtles all over the region are excavating nest holes in sandy fields and along roadsides. At the same time, their cousins, the giant sea turtles, some more than a thousand times larger than ours here at home, are doing the same thing along shorelines around the world.

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