The back yard as fieldwork site

Heliconius charithonia (Zebra Heliconian). Boca Raton, FL, June 19, 2012.

I devote a lot of space on this blog to explaining the names of the animals I encounter in my backyard. I do this in part because I think the etymology helps tell us a little something of the character of the animal (or at least of the animal that named it), and in part because it’s how I was trained (my PhD is in literature, after all). But I never forget that there is more to the creature than its name, and that it’s its natural history, not its name, that makes the animal important.

Hal White, author of [...]