Living Among Wild Creatures with Sy Montgomery

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The diversity of life exists everywhere. It even surrounds our homes. Just look out your window and you’ll see an abundance of nature. You’ll see birds, flowers, spiderwebs, squirrels, moths flying around porch lights, lizards with their tails cut off by local cats, and much more. Here Montgomery takes us on a world tour from California, to Zaire, to Australia, to Canada, and even New Zealand. Hear the fascinating encounters with gorillas, snakes, and spiders. She takes us from the largest bird in the world, the Emu, to the smallest, the hummingbird. With their jewel-like foliage hummingbirds are capable of the most unique and astonishing feats such as flying backward and even upside down. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter and author of many books, which often include stories of her encounters with animals. During research for her books, films, and articles, Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silver back gorilla in Zaire and bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica. She worked in a pit of 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University System of New Hampshire.

 Her many books have garnered numerous awards and include: 

  • The Curious Naturalist: Nature’s Everyday Mysteries (Down East Books 1991)
  • Search for the Golden Moon Bear: Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New Species (Chelsea Green Publishing 2009)
  • The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood (Ballantine Books 2007)
  • Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur (Atria Books 2011)
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness. (Atria Books 2015)
  • How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018)
  • Becoming a Good Creature (a children’s book) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2020)
  • Condor Comeback (Scientists in the Field Series) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2020)
  • The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings (Atria Books 2021) 

To learn more about the work of Sy Montgomery go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Montgomery’s first animal teacher was her dog Molly
  • How Montgomery ended up in the middle of the outback in Australia doing research on Emus
  • How she became accepted by the emus and could sit with them as they ate and preened
  • How she joined with a hummingbird rehabilitator to help raise two baby hummingbirds
  • What must one do to properly care for hummingbird feeders
  • What is the Kakapo, an endangered bird in New Zealand
  • What was her encounter with a wild, male, silverback Gorilla in Zaire
  • How should we meet a new dog
  • What was her experience in Manitoba, Canada in a pit of 18,000 snakes
  • What are some facts about spiders including tarantulas
  • How crows are the most amazing creatures, even bringing presents to their human friends 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 6/4/2021   Program Number: 3734

Music Playlist

From Album:  Open Domain
Artist: Charlie Bommarito
2011 Bright Room Productions

Opening Essay: TRACK 01 Mango Island
Music Break 1: TRACK 02 The Chaz Effect - almost timeless
Music Break 2: TRACK  03 Whoville
Music Break 3: TRACK 05 High Noon