About

Joe Eaton lives in Berkeley and writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and Estuary News.

Contributions

Shapeshifter, Trickster, Survivor: Coyote in the Modern World

February 05, 2015 by Joe Eaton

Coyotes have been remarkably resilient and tenacious, surviving—thriving, even—in our midst as a relict and a messenger from a much wilder California.

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The Underappreciated Undertakers

November 06, 2014 by Joe Eaton

When you’re eyeball to eyeball with a turkey vulture, you wonder how he perceives you. (My “he” is Vladimir, a ...

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When It Comes to Smell, the Turkey Vulture Stands (Nearly) Alone

October 07, 2014 by Joe Eaton

Turkey vultures can locate food by scent alone -- but it took naturalists a while to figure that out.

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It’s Fun! It’s Science! It’s a Bioblitz!

July 10, 2014 by Joe Eaton

On the last weekend of March, 9,000 people armed with binoculars, butterfly nets, cameras, and smartphones, spread out over an ...

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Bioblitz Turns Up Ancient Find in the Presidio

June 24, 2014 by Joe Eaton

One of the most unexpected finds of the March Golden Gate National Parks bioblitz, at El Polin Springs in the Presidio, was a freshwater sponge, one of the most ancient forms of animal life.

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Ocean Acidification: Making Sense of Crabs and Skeptics

October 09, 2013 by Joe Eaton

Like other aspects of climate science, ocean acidification (OA) science has created much debate, particularly when it comes to its impact on hard shelled sea creatures such as crabs.

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Ocean Acid Trip: The Hidden Harm of Climate Change

October 07, 2013 by Joe Eaton

Seawater has historically been alkaline, but is increasingly becoming less so. What does this mean for the ocean ecosystem in general? And along the California coast in particular? We’re just beginning to figure that out.

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The Smallest Sandpipers

January 15, 2013 by Joe Eaton

Our two local sandpipers are cute as buttons, hard to tell apart, and eat primordial ooze. What's not to love?

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Planet Fungi

September 27, 2012 by Joe Eaton

It may be safely said that there are two kinds of people: those who notice mushrooms and those who don’t. ...

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Bat Rays in San Francisco Bay

May 15, 2012 by Joe Eaton

What’s the cutest fish in the sea? To some biologists, it’s the bat ray, which cruises along the floor of local bays and estuaries, chomping on clams and other creatures. Maybe it’s time to make bottom-feeder a term of endearment! Springtime is breeding time for these friendly fish.

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The Color of Flight

April 01, 2011 by Joe Eaton

From migrating monarchs to giant yellow swallowtails to tiny pygmy blues, butterflies are endlessly enthralling. For folks like retired East Bay Regional Parks naturalist Jan Southworth and artist Liam O'Brien, what started as an interest in colorful insects became a passion for creating nectar gardens and protecting habitat to sustain butterfly populations in San Francisco, the East Bay, and beyond.

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A Squabble of Gulls

October 01, 2010 by Joe Eaton

Gulls don’t inspire the awe that a golden eagle or red-tailed hawk does. Or the affection we feel for hummingbirds. But the Bay Area’s dozen gull species  are true survivors: Adaptable, voracious predators, they breed by the thousands in the South Bay and at the Farallones, and it takes some determined biologists to keep an eye on them.

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Rafting Time for Diving Ducks

January 01, 2010 by Joe Eaton

The great rafts of ducks on San Francisco and Tomales bays, mostly surf scoter, greater and lesser scaup, and canvasback, are a wintertime spectacle. Scoter flocks can range from many hundreds to a few thousand birds. Why do they form these aggregations?

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A Refuge in the Harbor

April 01, 2009 by Joe Eaton

Within view of Richmond, Brooks Island today is a haven for nesting terns. That's just its latest incarnation. A short paddle across the harbor to this island refuge takes you back centuries and "away from it all."

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Hayward Haven

April 01, 2009 by Joe Eaton

At Hayward Regional Shoreline, East Bay Regional Park District staff and volunteers have created new nesting habitat for the endangered California least tern. Here's the recipe...

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Nature’s Safety Goggles

April 01, 2009 by Joe Eaton

Do birds have extra eyelids?

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Raptor Rapture

January 01, 2009 by Joe Eaton

The Marin Headlands is justifiably renowned as a great place to see raptors. But did you know that the world’s highest density of breeding golden eagles is found near Altamont Pass? Indeed, the East Bay is a prime location for observing and studying native raptors, from prairie falcons nesting on cliffs near Mount Diablo to bald eagles fishing in local reservoirs and Cooper’s hawks snatching prey out of the air above the streets of Berkeley.

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Fall of the Buckeye Ball

October 01, 2008 by Joe Eaton

The dramatic fall silhouette of the California buckeye shows off its giant seeds, that largest of any of our native plants.

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Patience Rewarded

January 01, 2008 by Joe Eaton

You might be taken by surprise at this marshland wildlife area, with its plethora of wandering elk, playful otters, acrobatic owls, and diverse waterfowl. Just be sure it's not hunting season when you go.

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Water Walkers and Bottom Feeders

July 01, 2007 by Joe Eaton

Discover the world of water striders and water boatmen.

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Out in the Tules

January 01, 2004 by Joe Eaton

The rounded hills by the Bay are the first thing that catch your eye at Coyote Hills Regional Park. But the brackish and freshwater marshes behind the hills have a charm of their own. Remnant of a once-extensive mix of tidal and freshwater wetlands that sustained a thriving Ohlone community for several thousand years, the marsh is now home to marsh wrens, muskrats, and one of the East Bay's few remaining patches of tules.

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The Raven Returns

July 01, 2002 by Joe Eaton

Considered one of the smartest and most adaptable birds in the sky, ravens are as comfortable dining on garbage as on endangered snowy plovers. After dwindling for decades, raven populations have rebounded throughout the Bay Area, bringing with them a touch of wildness to our urban lives.

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Mastadons in Our Midst

July 01, 2001 by Joe Eaton

The Blackhawk Quarry in Danville points to a time, nine million years ago, when the Bay Area was inhabited by elephant-like browsers, herds of three-toed horses, packs of bone-crunching dogs, and an eight-foot-long-sabertooth salmonid, Where did they all go?

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Taxonomy 101

July 01, 2001 by Joe Eaton

Over 200 years ago, Swedish naturalist Karl von Linne (or, as he Latinized the name, Carolus Linneaus) devised a system ...

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A Slough Runs Through It

January 01, 2001 by Joe Eaton

On the edge of the tidal marsh fringing Suisun Slough, a streaky dark-brown sparrow gleans seeds of tules and other ...

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Are there any resident animal species in the region that hibernate in winter, even though we don’t usually have snow or freezing temperatures?

January 01, 2001 by Joe Eaton

That depends on what you mean by hibernation. All but one of the Bay Area’s 13 species of bats are ...

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