Etienne Benson Wired Wilderness

Etienne Benson’s engaging history of wildlife radio tracking explores the complicated relationships between concern for conservation and the study of wildlife, especially the degree to which animals, tagged and tracked and managed by humans, can be considered natural. In exploring these issues Benson reveals the surprisingly controversial origins of radio tracking within field biology and […]

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Collecting the Sounds of Nature: Bird Watchers and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

This is the presentation I gave for the Midwest Junto History of Science conference: Collecting the Sounds of Nature presentation Today I would like to discuss the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and its relationship to the bird watching community. Narratives of laboratory life have presented the Laboratory as a professionalizing space that separates scientists and […]

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The Fight for Sight (records)

On May 14, the World Series of Birding kicks off in New Jersey as teams from around the country will spend a desperate 24 hours trying to accumulate the largest number of bird species. The birds are identified and placed upon the checklist in a manner of minutes before they careen down the road to […]

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Ornithologists and Birdwatchers

It seems strange to say but there was a time when ornithologists did not watch birds. They shot birds, skinned birds, stuffed birds, painted birds, and classified birds. They did all sorts of things with birds. But they did not watch them. Ornithology, like most disciplines that emerged out of natural history, remained a collection […]

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Robert Kohler: All Creatures

Robert Kohler’s All Creatures examines a unique period in the history of the United States: the brief window of time in which large areas of the natural environment became both relatively easy to access while remaining largely wilderness areas. In transitioning to what Kohler terms “inner frontiers” these natural environments experienced both physical and cultural […]

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