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Secret lives of the furred and feathered
Date:4/13/2011

Call her the tabloid journalist of the animal world. Julie Feinstein, a PhD student at The City College of New York, has the dirt on all creatures great and small specifically the wild animals that live among us. She lays it bare in a new tell-all book, "Field Guide to Urban Wildlife: Common Animals of Cities and Suburbs, How They Adapt and Thrive" (Stackpole Books, 2011).

Ms. Feinstein's book taps the untold stories of the birds, mammals and invertebrates she encounters daily in the New York metropolitan area. Her survey extends to animals found alongside humans in cities and suburbs across North America. This menagerie includes far more than the rats and pigeons we take for granted.

"I think of these animals as having their own internal lives life and death struggles that we don't know about," says Ms. Feinstein, who is also a collections manager for the American Museum of Natural History. "What I look for are their secrets."

Her guide reveals the cast of characters we see, but often ignore, dismiss or revile. They share the sidewalks, lawns and buildings that we think of as our own. Our communities include a diversity of wildlife, and wild lives they certainly lead, according to this collection of 135 essays that explores the hidden activities of turkeys, raccoons, bats, possums and house centipedes, among others.

What might seem a drab existence eked out by these animals in our shadows can rival the exploits of a celebrity-stalking reality show, says Feinstein. "There's a lot of sex in this book." The male house mouse romances mates by crooning ultrasonically, which is why we can't hear his high falsetto through the walls. The charming male grey squirrel enforces fidelity with an internal chastity belt, or "copulatory plug," that clever females often promptly remove. Some male fireflies flash "transvestite" signals to confuse their rivals, while house centipede pairs perform intricate mating dances and can c
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Contact: Jessa Netting
jnetting@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-7615
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

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