200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 179: “Marvels in the Muck and More ”

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boys in Borneo reading a book
A group of boys in Borneo enjoy Doug Wechsler’s Bizarre Bugs.

Marvels in the Muck and More

Doug Wechsler, director of the Academy’s Visual Resources for Ornithology (VIREO), the most comprehensive collection of bird images in the world, has not only grown the VIREO collection from 45,000 images to more than 130,000 during his time here.  He also has used his expansive knowledge, travel experiences, and scientific expeditions to locations as varied as Ecuador, Borneo, Guyana, Cameroon, Alaska, the Cayman Islands, and Brazil to craft a number of award-winning children’s books.

Inspired by a lifelong love of nature and fieldwork, Wechsler published his first book, Bizarre Bugs, in 1995. Many of the insects in the book are selected from his “weird bug of the day” archive—a collection of the strangest insects Wechsler could find each day during years of research deep in the Costa Rican jungle. He published a second book, Bizarre Birds, in 1999, and three series followed close behind: The Really Wild Life of Snakes (2001), The Really Wild Life of Birds of Prey (2001), and The Really Wild Life of Frogs (2002). Wechsler’s next book, Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool (2006), won the Green Earth Book Award Honor and was selected as a finalist for the 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books. The awards and recognition continued to roll in for his most recent book, Marvels in the Muck: Life in the Salt Marshes (2008), which was named a 2008 Smithsonian Notable Book for Children. Though Wechsler’s books are targeted toward children, their clarity and beautiful photography also appeal to adults. These books are an ideal introduction to ecology and biology for naturalists of all ages.

Learn more about Doug Wechsler’s work at his Academy website and be sure to stop by VIREO’s website to check out some of the stunning images.

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