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MAGAZINES

Orange boy flying on magazineCertain magazines are important to us especially during the last of the three-step process that's at the heart of our approach to nature study. To review, those steps are:
  • Identify something
  • Find out what's interesting about that something by looking up its name
  • Over the years, keep gathering information around the name

MAGAZINES & THE THREE-STEP PROCESS

Here's how that last step can work: Let's say that one day you notice Natural History magazine in the library, look inside, and find a detailed article about crickets, with plenty of beautiful pictures. You photocopy the article, take it home, and file it in its proper place in your Nature Study Notebook. And then maybe you more or less forget about it for a few years.

Then one fall evening you step outside your kitchen door and hear a cricket chirping lustily beneath the nearby hedge. You're suddenly stirred by the old naturalists' hankering to know which species of cricket it is, and why it's suddenly chirping so loudly. You go for your insect field guide, or bring out your cricket key if you have one, take a flashlight, and go sneak up on that cricket, inch by inch, until there it is, playing its leg-violin right in front of you.

After a good deal of investigating such abstruse matters as what the spines on the critter's hind tibiae look like, you decide that of the dozens of different cricket species it could be, it's not a Bush Cricket, not a Ground or a Mole Cricket, or even a Field or a House Cricket, but rather Oecanthus fultoni, the Snowy Tree Cricket.

A marvelous find. You'd thought its song was a bit different from the usual Field Cricket's, and it was. You go dig out your Naturalist's Notebook, open it to the animal/insect/orthoptera section, and there along with a few other long-forgotten notes about crickets, you find the old Natural History article. You reread it.

The article actually mentions the Snowy Tree Cricket, and says that it's a good insect to use for estimating the temperature. Here you read that the number of chirps a Snowy Tree Cricket makes in 13 seconds, added to the number 40, provides the present temperature in degrees Fahrenheit! This is a kind of information typically not included in field guides, and it is precisely this kind of detail in which magazine articles are so good at providing.

NATURE MAGAZINES ON THE WEB

On the Web many nature-oriented magazines have presences. Sometimes you can actually read some or all of their articles online, sometimes they issue free newsletters, and sometimes you can order them at their sites, enjoying special "Web-user discounts." Here's a miscellany of sites worth checking out:

You may want to review some nature-oriented magazines to which you can subscribe at Amazon.com in the US by clicking here.