Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife

Marie Winn, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-12011-5

What happens when curiosity about Central Park fauna trumps fear of the dark? The charm of Winn's wildlife accounts—besides its descriptions of the nighttime habits of New York City screech owls, bats and slugs—is its depiction of the community of fans who gather to observe and document even the slightest movements of the park's shyest denizens. Winn (Red-Tails in Love ) is part of an informal group of bird-watchers who turn to the study of nocturnal species; using a black light and a sheet, they track moths, observe slugs having sex and search out the “boy's dormitory” of robins. Winn's riveting account of the last stage of cicada metamorphosis highlights the animating philosophy of these after-dark naturalists: “sharing our adventures increase[s] our own enjoyment of them.” A surprising amount of science (owl-pellet dissection; official names for the stages of twilight) is packed into these narratives, illuminating the somewhat arbitrary line between enthusiast and expert, but never bogging down the reader. Winn's style is as conversational as a good friend's and as informative as a seasoned guide's. (June 10)

Reviewed on: 04/28/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-312-42883-9
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