Distinguished reporter Robert Lee Hotz's science articles have raised the quality of the Wall Street Journal's news columns for years.
Hotz on Tuesday launched his new Science Journal column with a fascinating report on how hummingbirds possess greater abilities to see colors than humans.
As usual with his work, Hotz's writing illuminated an impressive marshaling of information. His in-depth quotes from Princeton sensory ecologist Mary Caswell Stoddard made the piece a mini-profile of her as well as an examination of animal behavior and scientific methods.
The column, which apparently will run on the same day as The New York Times' longstanding Science Times section, touched upon other members of the animal kingdom who have special abilities humans lack. For example, elephants communicate with low-pitched sounds that people can't hear.
Hummingbirds are particularly amazing because of their capacity to see ultraviolet colors beyond the range of human sight. Hotz details Stoddard's brilliant experiments in the field that found that the tiny birds use their visionary powers to find food and travel through foliage. Their intelligence might be different from ours, but it's just as impressive.
I knew Hotz slightly when he was part of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's outstanding science reporting team years ago. I still remember my one conversation with Hotz, who impressed me with his civility and intelligence. Like many outstanding journalists, he quickly moved on from the stifling AJC.
Now, he's embarked upon a promising new phase of his career. While I look forward to his column, I hope he still does science stories for the WSJ. A versatile reporter whose expertise covers many fields, he singly covers stories with more understanding and knowledge than the Times' entire team of specialists.