Mission Scarlet

I traveled to Belize to meet the Scarlet Six -- now known as the Belize Bird Conservancy -- a group of men who sleep in the tropical Chiqibul forest under the trees in which Scarlet Macaws nest, in order to protect the nestlings from poaching. They will stay out there for five months during the breeding seasons -- 14 days on, 7 days off -- until every last macaw has fledged or been brought to a captive-rearing facility.


Beyond the Coca Curtain: Can Birding Build an Economic Base in Colombia?

My first feature for Audubon magazine. I spent 15 days wandering around Colombia, covering Audubon's attempts to bring sustainable conservation and meaningful economic development to a country that has more bird species than any other on the planet.


News and Explainers

BeerSci: What's The Connection Between Hops And Marijuana?
Explainer on a question for the ages. Part of a series of service journalism and explainers on brewing science. In no surprise, stories about the science of beer and weed were generally pretty popular.

Want to Make Your Kids More Adventurous? Take Them Birding
This one was a collaboration with the editors at Fatherly as part of a series of stories about getting your kids to enjoy the outdoors. Yes, I use these techniques on my nieces and nephews.

What's Up With the Greater Sage-Grouse?
Straight-up explainer on all things Greater Sage-Grouse. Working for Audubon, I write about this fabulous bird a lot.

Proposed Wyoming Bill Allowing Sage-Grouse Captive Rearing Is Deeply Flawed
News story covering a now-passed bill in the Wyoming legislature that makes it legal to captive-breed sage-grouse, despite the fact that the science shows that this is nearly impossible and will probably harm the bird.

Case History: The Long and Torturous Tale of How a Style Guide Came To Be
This was a hoot to write, even though I ended up on the losing side of the argument whether or not Audubon and Audubon.org would adopt AOU capitalization rules for bird names, flouting decades of copyediting wisdom and my own feelings that caps are fussy and unnecessary. The companion piece, Case Sensitive by Mark Jannot, bestowed upon me a nickname has still makes me laugh: The Voice of Outraged Integrity. 




Hail Mary

It started as a joke: Martha, you should edit the boss. But even bosses need editing, so Mark Jannot and I took the journey that led to this cover story on the last-ditch, possibly-doomed efforts to save the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow from extinction. In response, someone ripped off this cover from their copy of the magazine, wrote in Sharpie "THIS IS THE WORST MAGAZINE COVER EVER!!!" and mailed it back to us. All things considered, I think the cover did its job well.


Our Body the Ecosystem

Virginia Hughes brought forth a compelling story behind an incredibly arcane branch of science: studying the different populations of bacteria that live on each human body. This was first time in years that we'd used fine-art (rather than photojournalistic) photography to illustrate a story.

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Mining for Dark Matter

Brooke Borel traveled to an abandoned mine in South Dakota to meet the scientists who are scouring the universe for signs of dark matter, the mysterious mass that explains some of the weirder behaviors of stars and galaxies.



In Chicago, Controlled Fires Are Helping to Restore Crucial Bird Habitat
News story where writer Susan Cosier traveled to the southside of Chicago to see how flames could bring back a derelict wetland

Pulses of Water Bring Life to the Famished Colorado River
Explainer on the preliminary results of a "pulse-flow" of water through the parched Colorado River delta in Mexico.

Tracking Kestrels One Feather at a Time
News story on the efforts to track American Kestrels, not with bands, but via the DNA found in molted feathers.

Data Visualization and One-pagers

Please go here to see a gallery of visual narratives that I’ve commissioned and edited.