National Wildlife journalists share their experiences
Part of the appeal of writing for National Wildlife, journalists tell us, is getting opportunities to go into the field with experienced scientists and naturalists to observe animals. So when we asked Tim Vanderpool to join up with experts who were looking for elegant trogans in the Chiricahua Mountains in southern Arizona—one of the few places in the United States where the species ranges—the Tucson-based writer jumped at the chance.
Vanderpool had heard about the tropical birds, but like most Americans, he had never seen them. "I knew they’re considered stunning," he says, "but I had no idea just how stunning until I actually saw some trogans on the trip in the Chiricahuas." The plumage of the male elegant trogan boasts no less than nine colors and its mating call, notes the writer, "is unlike any other bird I’ve heard."
California writer Michael Tennesen also ventured to southern Arizona to gather material for his feature, "Journey of the Nectar Bats." Though he had watched bats before, he had never done so with biologists who study the secretive creatures. "Every day at dusk, we saw hundreds of bats come into the study area and the scientists continually fed me information about the behavior we were seeing," says Tennesen. "It was a remarkable experience."
Jessica Snyder Sachs didn’t have to travel far for her article about the Chattahoochee River, which flows from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. "I’ve lived only a few miles from the river for several years," says the Atlanta-area writer. "But until I took this assignment and went out on the Chattahoochee with people who know it intimately, I had no idea how much wildlife lives along its course."