The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

The Rachel Carson Reserve (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

  All photos by Maymie Higgins This past summer I visited a part of the North Carolina coast I had yet to explore in spite of being a lifelong resident … Continue reading

March 16, 2016 · Leave a comment

Harapan the Hairy Rhino (And Hero!) (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

There are only about 100 Sumatran rhinos, also called Hairy rhinos, left in existence and only nine of them are cared for in captivity. Of those nine, there is only one … Continue reading

September 10, 2015 · Leave a comment

A Near Complete Commercial Trade Ban on Ivory in the United States (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

Ivory Crush at Times Square (photo from the Creative Commons) It is estimated that one elephant is killed in Africa every 15 minutes, mostly conducted by militias and militants turning … Continue reading

August 6, 2015 · Leave a comment

White Nose Syndrome: Formidable but Not Undefeatable (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

Some months ago I shared with readers information about the ecological and economical value bats provide in the widely various ecosystems in which they live. They are particularly valuable in … Continue reading

May 31, 2015 · Leave a comment

One of the World’s Largest and Oldest Sustainability Projects (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

After the difficult winter of 2015, many of us have our hearts and minds transfixed on outdoor gardening activities. In my gardening research, I came across a huge success story … Continue reading

May 5, 2015 · Leave a comment

Circuses as Conservationist Organizations? (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

All photos from the Creative commons. This week, Feld Entertainment announced that the thirteen elephants now traveling with the three Ringling Bros. Circus units will be retired in 2018. They … Continue reading

March 15, 2015 · 2 Comments

Chipmunks and Carbon Storage (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

Sometimes the best positive stories of the environment come from our own backyard. When you sum up the effects of millions of backyard naturalists, the positive impact is significant for … Continue reading

February 17, 2015 · Leave a comment

Orangutans and the Great Ape Conservation Fund (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

Earlier this month, I wrote about Sandra, an orangutan at the Buenos Aires Zoo and a landmark ruling on animal rights. I am following up with more information about the … Continue reading

January 31, 2015 · Leave a comment

Sentient Sandra and a Landmark Ruling on Animal Rights (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

Last month, amid the holiday hustle and bustle and with little fanfare, a landmark legal ruling in the world history of animal rights occurred in Argentina. The ruling concerned an … Continue reading

January 20, 2015 · Leave a comment

Practices that Must End: Sensational Nature Programs

What is It? Sensational nature programs are the scripted and filmed activities of humans inserting themselves into wild animal habitats for a variety of entertainment possibilities. This programming type runs … Continue reading

December 20, 2014 · Leave a comment

Being Human, Being Caribou, and Being Wild (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

The Wilderness Act was signed into law in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson. Therefore, this year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of a law which created the National Wilderness Preservation … Continue reading

December 18, 2014 · Leave a comment

That’s No Monkey! That’s Kendall! (Written for the Ecotone Exchange)

Talk to any zoo keeper about great apes and you may see them cringe substantially when it comes to two topics. The first topic has to do with the discernment … Continue reading

November 15, 2014 · Leave a comment

National Bison Day (Written for the Ecotone Exchange)

November 1 is National Bison Day. You can get in on the celebration through the Beards for Bison campaign by visiting which is organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society. … Continue reading

October 30, 2014 · Leave a comment

The Only Good Wolf is a Live Wolf

October 12th-18th is Wolf Awareness Week. During wolf week in 2013, I wrote about conservation efforts to preserve red wolves (Canis rufus). It has been a bad year for red … Continue reading

October 17, 2014 · 1 Comment

Shovels and Shade Provide Healing at the Footprints of Terror (Written for the Ecotone Exchange)

Recently, I visited New York and New Jersey in order to attend a family reunion. My last visit to Manhattan specifically had been in 1988, when the World Trade Center buildings still … Continue reading

September 24, 2014 · Leave a comment

State of the Rhinoceros: Ten Things You Need to Know

  There are five species of rhinoceros:  Black, White, Greater-one horned, Javan and Sumatran. Three of the five species have an imperiled listing by the International Union for Conservation of Nature … Continue reading

July 25, 2014 · Leave a comment

What You Should Know About Amphibians

All photos courtesy of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service It’s summertime and hopefully many of you have kids that are outdoors exploring.  Some of you will be having conversations … Continue reading

July 12, 2014 · Leave a comment

Extinct in the Wild: Guam Rail

Scientific Name: Gallirallus owstoni Historic Range and Habitat:   Most habitats on Guam, including forest, savanna, scrub, secondary grassland, fern thickets and agricultural areas, foraging along field edges and roadsides.  What … Continue reading

June 29, 2014 · 2 Comments

Extinct in the Wild: Kihansi Spray Toad

Scientific Name: Nectophrynoides asperginis Historic Range and Habitat:   The Udzungwa Mountains of eastern Tanzania in a very small range that is in the spray zone of Kihansi Falls in the Kihansi Gorge. What Kihansi … Continue reading

June 28, 2014 · Leave a comment

Extinct in the Wild: Polynesian Tree Snail

Scientific Name: Partula nodosa Historic Range and Habitat:   Valleys and forested slopes of volcanic islands of the South Pacific, particularly the Society Islands of French Polynesia, including Tahiti. More than … Continue reading

June 24, 2014 · 2 Comments

Extinct in the Wild: Père David’s Deer

Scientific Name: Elaphurus davidianus Historic Range: Native to China. Fossils have been discovered in regions east of Xi’an and south of Harbin. Père David’s deer evolved in the Pliocene period … Continue reading

June 22, 2014 · 3 Comments

Brown Pelicans: An Endangered Species Recovery Success Story (Written for the Ecotone Exchange)

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was a warm, sunny autumn afternoon and I was out for a stroll at my favorite spot on this Earth. October … Continue reading

June 17, 2014 · Leave a comment

Extinct in the Wild: Hawaiian Crow

Scientific Name: Corvus hawaiiensis, also known as ‘Alalā (Cry like a child) Historic Range: The Hawaiian Crow is native to the Big Island and was most populous in upland forests, … Continue reading

June 17, 2014 · 1 Comment

Extinct in the Wild

During the month of June, I want to take readers on a journey of exploration into the topic of animals that have all but disappeared from the planet, but not … Continue reading

June 6, 2014 · 2 Comments

Carnivorous Plants and Startled Animals (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

All text and photos by Maymie Higgins My favorite spot on Earth, Pleasure Island, includes a state park that is home to several carnivorous plants, Carolina Beach State Park. The … Continue reading

April 26, 2014 · Leave a comment


All photos from the Creative Commons. Scientific Name: Arctictis binturong Also known as the “bearcat” because of its resemblance to both, but it is neither a bear nor a cat. … Continue reading

April 19, 2014 · 1 Comment

Eastern Gray Squirrel

All text and photos by Maymie Higgins At no time was my commitment to wildlife more clear to me. There he was, an orphaned tiny squirrel, eyes having just opened … Continue reading

April 15, 2014 · Leave a comment

What is Pollination and Seed Dispersal?

All photos and text by Maymie Higgins This month at The Whisker Chronicles, we will focus on specific plants and animals that are well-known for their interwoven roles in pollination … Continue reading

April 11, 2014 · 1 Comment

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

All photos by Maymie Higgins It is the first Saturday in April and I am sitting at my home office desk. As always, I have my laptop positioned so that … Continue reading

April 6, 2014 · 1 Comment

Who Takes Care of Orphaned, Injured or Kidnapped Wildlife? (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

Photo courtesy of The Wildlife Center of Virginia Spring is the time of year when many young animals are born or hatched.  It is also a time of year when … Continue reading

March 28, 2014 · Leave a comment

The Mystery of Bird Songs and Calls

“A robin feathering his nest Has very little time to rest While gathering his bits of twine and twig Though quite intent in his pursuit He has a merry tune … Continue reading

March 28, 2014 · 1 Comment

How To Help The Birds Affected By The Galveston Bay Oil Spill

  1.  Read about the ten bird species considered to be most vulnerable according to Audubon, and about the efforts that will be required to rescue and rehabilitate any birds … Continue reading

March 24, 2014 · Leave a comment

What Is That Crazy Bird Doing?!

Every spring, I am presented with stories by friends who want to know why birds are behaving in certain ways.  Or sometimes they just want to explain to me why … Continue reading

March 23, 2014 · Leave a comment

Carolina Wren

Scientific Name:  Thryothorus ludovicianus  Where Carolina Wrens Live:    Southeastern United States, north to Wisconsin and Michigan, southern Ontario, New York, and southern New England in brushy thickets, lowland cypress swamps, … Continue reading

March 20, 2014 · 3 Comments

Turkey Vulture

Scientific Name:  Cathartes aura The word vulture comes from the Latin vellere, which means to pluck or tear. Cathartes aura means either “golden purifier” or “purifying breeze,” quite a poetic … Continue reading

March 18, 2014 · 1 Comment

Pelican Island: The First U.S. National Wildlife Refuge

Bird feathers are incredible.  They help control body temperature, provide power for flying and come in a wide array of vibrant colors.  Some feathers are so beautiful that they were … Continue reading

March 17, 2014 · Leave a comment

Red-shouldered Hawk

Scientific Name:  Buteo lineatus  Where Red-shouldered Hawks Live: Forests and swamps with dead trees or other perches nearby from which to observe and hunt.  Range includes eastern and northeast United … Continue reading

March 13, 2014 · 1 Comment

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scientific Name:  Tyrannus forficatus  Where Scissor-tailed Flycatchers Live:  Savannas with scattered trees, shrubs and patches of brush in the southern Great Plains, south Texas and just over the border into … Continue reading

March 11, 2014 · Leave a comment

Roseate Spoonbill

Scientific Name:  Ajaia ajaja  Where Roseate Spoonbills Live:    Mangrove swamps, mud flats and other marsh type habitat from southern Georgia and Florida, south through Central America down to Argentina.  What … Continue reading

March 9, 2014 · 2 Comments

Hyacinth Macaw

Scientific Name:  Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus  Where Hyacinth Macaws Live:    Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay in semi-open habitats, usually in forests that have a dry season that prevents the growth of a tall … Continue reading

March 6, 2014 · Leave a comment

How Do You Take Your Eggs?

Eggs.  What comes to mind when you read that word?  I think of my favorite summertime breakfast served on a table with fresh cut roses from my garden.  It’s the … Continue reading

March 6, 2014 · 3 Comments

American Kestrel

Scientific Name:  Falco sparverius  Where American Kestrels Live:   Open areas such as meadows, grasslands, deserts, parks, farm fields, cities, and suburbs. Kestrels need access to trees for nesting cavities during … Continue reading

March 4, 2014 · Leave a comment

Eastern Bluebird

Scientific Name:  Sialia sialis  Where Eastern Bluebirds Live:    Meadows, field edges, golf courses and other open areas surrounded by trees that offer suitable nest holes or perhaps even nest boxes … Continue reading

March 2, 2014 · Leave a comment

The Legacy and Future of the Endangered Species Act

Disclaimer:  Like any good legislation, The Endangered Species Act is a dynamic law with the intended beneficiaries constantly changing.  The data for this blog was obtained directly from the U. … Continue reading

February 28, 2014 · Leave a comment

Treasures on the Fort Fisher Basin Trail (Written for the Ecotone Exchange)

Text and Photographs By Maymie Higgins It was an adventure postponed far too long.  For the past twenty years, my annual travel plans have consistently included at least one long … Continue reading

February 28, 2014 · Leave a comment

How Saving Orangutans Can Lower Your Cholesterol (Written for The Ecotone Exchange)

In my work as a nurse coach, I often explain to my patients the finer nuances of blood cholesterol laboratory results and how changes in nutrition can improve their numbers.  … Continue reading

February 28, 2014 · Leave a comment

Celebrating Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act: Higgins Eye Pearlymussel

Scientific Name:  Lampsilis higginsii Year Listed on the Endangered Species List:  1976 Endangered Species Listing Status:  Endangered  Conservation Efforts and Partners:    In the early 1980s, biologists from the U.S. Fish … Continue reading

February 25, 2014 · Leave a comment

Celebrating Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act: American Crocodile

Scientific Name:   Crocodylus acutus Year Listed on the Endangered Species List:  1975 Endangered Species Listing Status:  Endangered (Florida population is threatened, as of 2007)  Conservation Efforts and Partners:   Preserving and … Continue reading

February 24, 2014 · Leave a comment

Celebrating Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act: Desert Pupfish

Scientific Name:   Cyprinodon macularius Year Listed on the Endangered Species List:  1986 Endangered Species Listing Status:  Endangered Conservation Efforts and Partners:   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arizona Game … Continue reading

February 23, 2014 · Leave a comment

Celebrating Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act: Eastern Indigo Snake

Scientific Name:   Drymarchon corais couperi Year Listed on the Endangered Species List:  1978 Endangered Species Listing Status:  Threatened Conservation Efforts and Partners:   In one example, partnerships were formed with Auburn University, Zoo Atlanta, … Continue reading

February 20, 2014 · Leave a comment