Picks and Pans Review: Buzz Book

updated 03/07/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/07/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Hopes of Snakes In her new book The Hopes of Snakes & Other Tales from the Urban Landscape, journalist Lisa Couturier reflects on the relationship between city dwellers and the wild things who are their sometimes-unseen companions.

•[In a peregrine falcon nest atop a Manhattan skyscraper, the author and a naturalist found] a piece of wing from a cedar waxwing, regurgitated pellets of bones and feathers, a blue jay's head and an unidentifiable piece of another bird. A few peregrine feathers blew out...destined for the city streets, where they would be mistaken for pigeon feathers, if they were noticed at all.

•Even as they chase one another, playfully, as though popping out from under dirty tissues is popping out from under golden leaves of corn, [subway mice] are on alert for the trains...they sense oncoming trains much before trains are seen by lesser mortals.

•A park naturalist [in Maryland] found a black rat snake on a rock. The snake had been poked with dozens of pins, including one in the snake's eye, which had shriveled away. The naturalist told me of his plans to rehabilitate the snake, though he was worried. If he released a one-eyed snake it would be an easier target for more abuse. I could tell it made him sad. He said, "Did you know snakes don't cry?"

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