Kim Todd

  • No Heaven on Earth

    In Maria Sibylla Merian’s first caterpillar book, printed in 1679, a garden tiger moth lives parallel lives. On one side of a stalk of blue flowers is the expected metamorphosis: a heap of pearly eggs, a tiny caterpillar, a swirled pupa, and a black and tangerine moth. On the other, a fat caterpillar crawls under a blackened pupa, open and empty. A larva of a different species has sucked the life out of the would-be moth and produced its own minute black fly. The split image arrests time: Emergence, transformation, and decay transpire on a single page.

    An avid naturalist, Merian hatched hundreds

  • The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature

    Yeats’s swans. The owl of Athena. Keats’s nightingale. The hoopoe of King Solomon. Dickinson’s bobolink. The birds of gods and poets inhabit The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature, offering a way into the question Jonathan Rosen, a devoted birder in increasingly damaged habitats, wants to answer. It’s the one posed by Frost’s ovenbird: “What to make of a diminished thing?”

    The book, an extended essay on the meeting of birds and humans in art, literature, politics, and natural history, consists of two core narratives. The first, “Backyard Birds,” follows Rosen’s trip in 2000 to