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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: A Bad Case Of Biophilia

Frank Vassen

In April sometimes, in the morning, looking into the limbs of the catalpa tree from my upstairs window, I see strange creatures that don’t seem to belong. I see...wood ducks. And then I suddenly don’t need coffee anymore. A duck in a tree is better than caffeine.



Does that ever happen to you? Do you get a jolt of energy from a good look at a wild creature? And then do you find yourself reliving that moment, thinking, Wasn’t I lucky to see that? If you do, you might be afflicted with what naturalist E.O Wilson calls “biophilia.” Biophilia is “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” I’ve got a bad case, and it flares up in the spring.

But I was telling you about wood ducks. Posing outside my window. Wood ducks are made for the human gaze. Whoever dreamed them up was a hyperrealist painter fooling around with a surrealist. Iridescent duck in a tree. Please. The drake shows off the most, which shouldn’t surprise you. His crested head changes color with the light. He sports racing stripes, and his eyes glow red. The hen is no slouch either; her white eyeliner will turn your head.

Wood ducks are perching ducks, the only ones in North America. You’ll read that they aren’t uncommon. But they are. Most uncommon. The only relative of the wood duck is the mandarin duck. A biophile would need to travel a long way to affiliate with a mandarin duck. But his cousin the woodie you might see from where you are right now, right out the window. If you’re lucky.

I’m Chris Fink and that’s my perspective


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