Gray wolves mate for life, honeybees know the world is round and ducks have corkscrew penises. Tell me more! I'm looking for thoughtful and fascinating introductions to the features, behaviors and "character" of particular species of animal.
I'm a storyteller who often works with folktales, myths and legends involving animals, and I can't help but notice that many older stories that feature animals or animal-like creatures as characters (such as selkie
stories, for instance) demonstrate a much deeper understanding of and connection with animals than I, a modern city-dweller, possess. It's making me feel somewhat cut off from the natural world, and from the human cultures in which these stories originated, in which people lived and worked alongside animals and had much more of a chance to observe them.
I want to get to know species of animals the way we get to know a friend -- not in terms of height, weight, distinguishing features, habitat etc., but in terms of what makes them interesting and unlike any other animal. (I was surprised to read in Guns, Germs and Steel
, for example, how profound an effect it had on human civilization that zebras aren't domesticable.) I'm looking for works/resources/activities that will make me feel I really know something vital about a particular species -- gray seals, for instance, or kestrels, or dragonflies. Back in the day, Never Cry Wolf
did a really good job of this for the Arctic wolf -- any other suggestions?