Photo from my travels: Alaskan brown bear, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Photo by Alice Henderson



I had a delightful time talking with the Ann Arbor Library about the latest thriller in my Alex Carter wildlife biologist series, A Ghost of Caribou, as well as inspiration, characterization, suspense, and what we can all do to help wildlife.

You can watch the interview here.

Last year about this time, we discussed the first two books in the series, A Solitude of Wolverines and A Blizzard of Polar Bears. You can find that interview here.

You can order A Ghost of Caribou from a variety of sites:


Photo of El Jefe, Courtesy of Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity

Though many people picture jaguars as only living in tropical forests in Central and South America, we still have them in the U.S., though they face many challenges. One jaguar, El Jefe, moves between Arizona and Mexico and has been captured numerous times on remote cameras.

They are a fascinating, adaptable species, and so the next Alex Carter book finds Alex on a remote wildlife sanctuary in New Mexico, searching for an elusive jaguar.

It will be out on March 19, 2024!



Jaguars used to roam throughout the Southwest in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and in colonial times, people reported seeing them even as far northeast as North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, and in the Lake Erie region of New York.

Though many people think of jaguars as denizens of jungles, they are highly adaptable, and live in a variety of habitats including deserts, coniferous forests, grasslands, swamps, and even beaches.

Unfortunately, here in the U.S., they have been driven to near-extinction by hunting and habitat loss.

But now the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the US Fish & Wildlife Service to reintroduce jaguars to their former range in New Mexico and to designate more critical habitat for them in both New Mexico and Arizona.

For the answers to many FAQ about jaguars and their possible reintroduction, click here.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons, / Cburnett



Diamondback terrapins are the only turtles in the world which live solely in the mixed salt and fresh water of estuaries. They are found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

They sport handsome patterned shells and play an important part in salt marsh and mangrove ecosystems by eating marsh snails, which in turn keeps marsh grass communities healthy.

They are threatened by a number of factors, including road collisions, habitat loss, drowning in crab pots, sea level rise, and illegal wildlife trafficking.

To read more about diamondback terrapins, click here.

Photo by George L. Heinrich



The Sierra Nevada mountains have been hit with some serious snowstorms this year, delivering much needed precipitation. Whiteout conditions swept through the forests as blizzards moved through the trees. Birds gripped snowy branches in gusting winds, feathers fluffed up against the cold.

So why don’t birds get frostbitten feet?

Their feet can get quite cold. But birds don’t get frostbite because their feet are mainly bones and tendons, not muscles or nerves, and the cells in their feet have very little fluid. Blood circulation in birds is quite rapid, so blood remains in the feet for too short a time to cool to dangerous levels.

In addition, the special circulation of birds, called countercurrent heat exchange, warms up colder blood coming from the feet as it returns to the body.

Photo by REGINE THOLEN on Unsplash



Do you get a lot of unwanted junk mail?

In order to produce junk mail each year, an estimated 100 million trees are destroyed. In addition, billions of gallons of water are wasted in its production. The USPS sends out more than a hundred billion pieces of junk mail every year.

But you can reduce the waste caused by this by taking yourself off of companies’ mailing lists and help keep trees where they belong — in the forest.

A great non-profit organization, Catalog Choice, makes this simple. Just go onto their website, enter in the catalogs you no longer wish to receive, and they will handle the rest for you.

You can visit them here and donate, as well.

If your local post office doesn’t already, encourage them to place out paper recycling bins for customers who have P.O. boxes. This will make it easier for them to recycle unwanted material on the spot.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash



Interested in helping biologists gather data on nesting birds? NestWatch is part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the project monitors bird nests in order to track changes in the reproduction of birds. Anyone can help gather data!

All you have to do is go to this site and take a short quiz. Then you just watch nests and record and submit your observations.

On this same page, you can learn about the scientific impact of Nestwatch as well as find an easy guide to identifying bird nests and eggs, and much more.

If you’re interested in building birdhouses, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great resource here.

Building birdhouses can be a great activity to do in a group, which can help build community and encourage people to become engaged in conservation.

Photo by Akram Huseyn on Unsplash


I love learning languages, and it’s a great way to explore a culture and challenge yourself with the intricacies of foreign language grammar. I started learning Polish because I love the sound of it. But I’ve since learned it’s one of the top ten most difficult languages to learn. So I’ve been using a variety of methods to learn it — classes at a university, apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, and various textbooks.

But one source of joy for me on this language journey are the totally weird sentences that Duolingo comes up with. I don’t know if these sentences are strung together using some kind of crazy Madlib-type method, or if a team of Polish programmers are just laughing themselves silly coming up with this stuff. But here are some of my favorite examples:

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