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

house sparrows wage epic battles over the narrow apartments offered by old-fashioned streetlamp crossbars, reminiscent of pre-recession real estate scrambles.

About the Author

Ms. Feinstein grew up in Camden, NJ, an industrial city where "every dark bird was just called a blackbird" and the few trees that once grew are now almost all gone. As a young adult, she escaped to the Pacific Northwest. For a while, she lived in a tent in the Idaho wilderness, befriending hummingbirds and immersing herself in nature. A return to the east, a life-changing biology course, three master's degrees, and a career in molecular biology followed.

As a CCNY graduate student, she ventures far beyond the city's boundaries as a member of Associate Professor Amy Berkov's lab. She has collected insects in Arizona and hunted caterpillars in French Guiana that make their homes in fallen flowers. For her PhD dissertation, she is unspooling the changing demography of Costa Rican butterflies, hoping to reconstruct the history of climate change as reflected in their DNA.

Ms. Feinstein spends her workdays surrounded by a menagerie in an altogether less-animated state from that of her book. As manager of the Ambrose Monell Cryo Collection at the American Museum of Natural History, she oversees a frozen ark. In a glassed-in room next to her bright office are seven stainless steel canisters housing 70,000 tissue samples snippets of muscle, liver and fur, and drops of blood containing DNA from animals around the world. The tiny plastic vials sit above a bath of liquid nitrogen at -190 degrees Celsius, awaiting further study.

Ms. Feinstein's blog, http://www.urbanwildlifeguide.net, extends the experience of her book with weekly vignettes and what she calls 'wow' moments of the wildlife she watches during her regular walks around the city. A recent post described a lone muskrat that has recentl
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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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