Showing 20 of 28 results
Green snake in grass

They slip soundlessly through our landscapes, cloaked in a rainbow of colors and patterns that help them become one with bark, rocks, leaves and soil. Often the only sign of their existence is what they leave behind: ghostly shed skins imprinted with shapes of eyes and scales, traces of pigmentation...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Gray squirrel eating in a tree

In 1749, Pennsylvania put a bounty on Eastern gray squirrels—threepence per scalp. Their crime? Eating too much corn. It wasn’t the first time humans waged war on the bushy-tailed rodents: Massachusetts had already offered fourpence. A century later, cities along the Eastern seaboard began releasing...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Monarch butterfly in flowers

The suspect creeping up near my front fence was a tough character—broad-leafed and thick-stemmed and threatening to invade my property and swallow it whole if I didn’t act fast. There was no hesitation that summer morning as I headed to work: Off with his head! It was a decision made all too easy by...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
native seed packets

They were like moths to a flame or, more accurately, butterflies to a native plant. No sooner had I unloaded two joe-pye weed perennials from my car last August than three tiger swallowtails dive-bombed the pots, as if to validate my purchase. If only my fellow shoppers knew what they were missing...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
woodchuck in the grass

It starts out mildly enough: Heading to work on the subway, you realize you forgot your wallet. No big deal, you think. I’ll borrow money to get home. Soon the lights go out and the train hurtles toward the sky, speeding through the atmosphere. Time passes—it’s hard to tell how long. The subway is...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
A frog jumps to safety out of a pool using a ramp to rejoin the other frogs on the safety of the grass

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Buy a house with a two-acre property, let our energetic herding dog have the run of the place and spend blissful summer days digging side by side in the dirt with her. And it was blissful, watching Mattie carve out her napping spots behind the ferns and tall...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Collage of wildlife from wildlife sanctuaries

Imagine venturing so far into nature that your only surroundings are the beauty of the landscape, the sky and the wildlife living in that unspoiled habitat. Two volunteers for the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, an affiliate of The HSUS, recently did just that, visiting protected land to observe...

Article
Emily Smith
a bluebird sits on a tree with a loud weed whacker in background

Sitting on her porch in the desert one afternoon while recovering from surgery, Christine Hass closed her eyes. The operation to fix her detached retina had been difficult, and she sought respite from the lingering pain. “Suddenly I could hear all the birds singing. It was March—the migrants were...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Bird and babies in the nest tucked in a tree trunk

It’s not easy to accept that all things must eventually come to an end. We often go into denial in the face of the inevitable and airbrush away the aftermath when it does occur. So it probably shouldn’t have surprised me to read about a gardener who glossed over the demise of an entire tree with...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
a dog points in a field of grass and wildflowers as a rabbit looks on

Many Marches ago, as I mindlessly contorted myself to pull a deep-rooted weed from the garden patch, my thoughts turned longingly to the smell of fresh basil that would eventually grace what I saw as a still-barren vegetable graveyard. This spot was not so lifeless as it appeared, I would soon learn...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
fat caterpillar curled on a leaf stalk

As my beloved seedlings languished untouched on the display table, I improved my sales pitch: “Would you like a late-flowering thoroughwort to help migrating butterflies refuel? What about an aster that’s the only pollen source for some bee species?” But unlike the animals who would devour these...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Fawn sitting in the grass.

The woman on the phone was anxious but determined. She was calling City Wildlife, a rescue and rehabilitation center in Washington, D.C., because her dog had dug up a rabbit nest and killed three of the babies. There was one survivor. “I’m going to get some kitten formula and start feeding it...

Article
Kelly L. Williams
small mouse hiding in brush

The mountain lion known as P-47 survived fires, freeways and hostile ranchers. But in March, the 3-year-old big cat—tracked by California biologists since his kitten days—succumbed to a hidden hazard: an insidious form of food poisoning. Six anticoagulant compounds—chemicals used to kill rodents...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Mother and three kids on a nature walk

We zigzag from tree to tree, seeking refuge under the leaf umbrellas. Drizzle turns to deluge as we dash beneath a tall canopy to plot our escape. The sky booms. My dad takes my hand, and I look up to see if he shares my sense of foreboding. But he’s smiling at me, his eyes twinkling. He says...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
a green spicebush swallowtail caterpillar munches on a leaf

Pop quiz: What’s the best way to help butterflies in your backyard? If you answered “Plant butterfly bush,” you’re in good company. A recent survey of my gardening friends elicited the same response from more than a few. It’s easy to understand why: Aside from its self-reinforcing moniker, the plant...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
baby raccoons in a hollow tree

Wherever you are in the U.S., a coyote may be taking up residence less than a mile away. If you live in the city, you’re more likely than your rural cousins to encounter raccoons. And regardless of geography, you probably share your home with dozens of species of insects and spiders. These facts...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Wearing gloves, Lori Thiele relocates the baby squirrels to a cardboard pet carrier

To most people, the tiny voices rising above the din of traffic would have registered as everyday birdsong. But to Lori Thiele’s finely tuned ears, the high-pitched staccato emanating from a neighbor’s yard last spring was unmistakable, a sure sign of distress. “I was getting ready to go out on a...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
three skunks walking around a backyard

It was a rude awakening: Just as my thoughts drifted into a pre-sleep jumble, a skunk pounced onto my nighttime reading. Not just any skunk, but a giant one flashing her black-and-white tail in a series of pungent leaps. Back and forth she went, bed to floor to bed, before my eyes caught up with my...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Hummingbird stopping at a flower to eat

The distant view from Kelly Brenner’s Seattle living room was enviable, a testament to the engineering marvels of modern human habitat. But much closer to home were sights even more spectacular than the Space Needle rising hundreds of feet in front of the Olympic Mountains. Against the backdrop of...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
woodpecker on persimmon tree

As my neighbors and I stood 10 feet apart and swapped tips for scavenging kitchen staples this spring, the wilder residents of our community shared no such concerns. Squirrels twirled maple seed clusters like bouquets to reach every tidbit. Bumblebees made a mockery of social distancing in their...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER