Nature authors cause us to marvel at wild creatures

  • By Sharon Wootton
  • Friday, February 19, 2016 1:09pm
  • Life

“Bats: A World of Science and Mystery” (Chicago Press).

It’s a journey through the world of bats, one that includes fossilized bat skeletons, bats in art and myth, and how bats see sound — the chapter that I found the most interesting because of the approach and the use of high-tech equipment and sonic graphs.

Here’s a sample about researchers’ findings about fringe-lipped bats in Panama: “These bats listen for the mating calls of frogs, and use them to detect, locate and identify their targets. Fringe-lipped bats unerringly identify poisonous frogs and toads by their calls and avoid them, while honing in on non-poisonous species, which they readily catch for food.”

“Bats” is 303 pages of photographs and information for bat lovers, bat haters, and just bat curious.

Caroline Paul, the author of “The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure” (Bloomsbury), does not lack for guts. She’s gone from a shy and fearful kid to scaling the Golden Gate Bridge untethered and skiing Denali.

But she knows that for most people, getting started down a gutsy path is a series of hesitations, so she wrote this guide to important life lessons learned from adventures big (kayaking to remote Croatian islands) and small (building a milk carton raft and winding up in the rapids).

“Gutsy” is sprinkled with Girl Hero sidebars, quotes, inspiration and journaling opportunities. It’s a great gift for a girl, or the girl in you that hasn’t stepped out in a long time.

“Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat’s Walk Across America” (Bloomsbury) covers the cross-country odyssey of a young mountain lion from the Black Hills of South Dakota to its death on a Connecticut road.

Author William Stolzenburg traces the journey through dozens of sightings, paw prints, tufts of fur and DNA, filling in the gaps with the most likely routes.

All the while he marvels that a mountain lion could walk across two-thirds of the nation, through well-armed citizens, speeding vehicles, and urban obstacles, including police officers directed to kill it on sight.

The book includes the efforts of researchers and conservationists as they clashed with those who, ruled by fear or by the chance to bag a mountain lion, supported the armed hunts.

Sharon Wootton: 360-468-3964 or

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