I’m a wildlife illustrator, essayist, and storyteller in the Southwest United States. I research the behavior of each creature, write about our true encounters, interview experts, collect sounds, draw each critter, and then go to the local NPR station to record with an Emmy award-winning producer. My multi-platform series, The Art of Paying Attention, airs and is posted on azpm.org, the NPR affiliate Arizona Public Media.

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When Rachel Carson wanted people to pay attention to the effects of environmental pollution, she personalized the far-reaching effects of pesticides by asking readers of her New Yorker pieces to look out their windows. And they did. Not only did people see the corpses of poisoned squirrels, they took action. Whether motivated to protect the human species or every little life in the larger ecosystem, the results raised enough awareness to make changes.

Like Carson, I know from experience that if you pay attention long enough, you can see the whole world in your yard. And once you start looking, it is hard to stop. From my perspective, paying attention brings care, care brings love; and that love engenders protection.

With this series, I am extending an invitation to observe, with unbounded curiosity, the wild life that flies, crawls, and skitters along with us in our changing environment.

In this time of environmental doomsayers–and we do need to hear the bad news– the enormity of destruction can render some of hopeless. I offer a joyous and, I hope, action-inducing alternative to those of us who are motivated by wonder rather than by fear and guilt. By being aware of what is around us, each of us can care for our little patch, and together form a quilt of protection. And have a great time doing so.

More info: bethsurdut.com

Townsend’s Big-eared Bat

Walking in the suburban desert, Coyote turns her head to look at me

Zebra tailed lizard…in my pants

Regal horned lizard at my front stoop

Great horned owl in my neighborhood

Broad-tailed hummingbird babies

Walks Like a Man from the Listening to Raven series