This coming weekend two of this country's finest naturalists will visit Buffalo. Not only are they deeply informed experts in their chosen fields, but they are also science popularizers of the highest order. Happily their intensive schedules do not conflict and you should be able to meet both.
National Medal of Science winner Thomas Eisner is Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Chemical Ecology at Cornell University. The chemical ecology in that academic title means that Professor Eisner studies such things as chemical pheromones, the scents that play a major role in animal communication. An entomologist, he also studies remarkable insects like the bombardier beetle. When disturbed, this quarter inch insect responds by firing with an audible pop a spray of boiling hot irritants at its assailant. Beware trying to pick up one of these little warriors.
Arguably the most interesting radio
program I have ever heard was Eisner describing an entomological detective
story: the search for the cause of death of several people who had, it
turned out, each recently dined on frog's legs. It was determined
that all of the frogs had eaten blister beetles and absorbed from them
the chemical cantharadin. This poison was then ingested by the unfortunate
Professor Eisner will speak twice at the Buffalo Museum of Science. His popular lecture, "The Value of Nature," will be given Friday evening at 7:30. In this talk he will discuss what he calls "chemical prospecting" among exotic plants and animals as well as associated ventures designed to promote their conservation worldwide. His second talk, "The Language of Insects," will be somewhat more technical. It will focus on the life (and loves) of the ornate moth. It will be delivered Saturday evening at 7:30.
I hope that Eisner will include in his presentations some of the spectacular microscopic photographs his wife has taken.
Is there anyone who has not seen Jim Fowler on television? From his first appearances 30 years ago with Marlin Perkins on "Wild Kingdom" through his many midnight visits with Johnny Carson to his present role as wildlife correspondent for the "Today Show," he has not only communicated interesting information about the tigers and birds and snakes he brings with him but he has also conveyed to the public important conservation messages.
Fowler will talk at the Children's Resource Center of the Buffalo Zoo from 9 to 11 Saturday morning. He will then sign books at Border's Books & Music, 2015 Walden Avenue from 2 to 4. Finally, his "Wildlife Experience with Jim Fowler" will be the centerpiece of a Sunday afternoon picnic from 2 to 5 at Kloc's Blossom Grove, 1245 Seneca Creek Road.
The Eisner talks require only museum admission but there are charges for Fowler's appearances at the zoo and Blossom Grove. The income from his appearances will go to the Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center.* (Those interested in attending either of the Fowler events should call early to obtain ticket information.)
Messinger Woods in Holland, N.Y. is a new organization which represents an interesting and worthwhile initiative. Under the leadership of wildlife rehabilitator Michael Olek it associates many of the rehabbers and veterinarians of Western New York in a cooperative venture. The funds they are raising now will be used to construct a state-of-the-art wildlife treatment facility on land donated to them by the Messinger family. Rehabilitators will rotate assignments there and, together with interning veterinarians, they will be available at all hours to respond to calls for help to wild animals that are ill or have been injured.
This should be an exciting and rewarding weekend.
* Additional information about the Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center may be found at their web site: