wood ducks

Wallis Bolz wallitra at nwrain.com
Sun Jun 3 11:00:25 PDT 2001

Hi tweeters,

I have been reading The Botany of Desire, and early on the writer Michael
Pollan makes an observation that struck me as erroneous, perhaps careless.
It is October in Ohio, and he is in a canoe on a river. He disturbs a wood
duck, and the duck skitters away across the water. Chapman observes that the
duck probably has a nest nearby and is luring the intruder/predator away
from the nest. OK, so some birds do engage in this behavior but I did not
believe as I read his remark that a wood duck would be nesting in October in
Ohio, and this carelessness on the part of the author early in the book has
made the whole work suspect. My question to you, tweeters: Do wood ducks
nest in October in Ohio? If not nesting, would wood ducks continue to
protect their empty nest well into autumn?

Despite the endorsements from various plantspeople, I cannot recommend this
book as a work of serious science reporting. It is an interesting historical
survey of the four plants in question: the apple, tulip, marijuana, and the
potato. It is chock full of elegant arguments regarding beauty and
intoxication and chock full of references to dead Greeks and dead French
people, but it is NOT, despite Dan Hinckley's assertion, The Beak of the
Finch. It is a book by an informed and classically educated gardener who
wonders why he likes pretty flowers so much.


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