Last week I was involved in a panel discussion at a conference of museum professionals in New York State. I am not a museum professional. My purpose there was to discuss the use of museum resources in a secondary classroom. (Yes, this is I and the Bird, and I apologize for the tangential beginning.) I was a bit out of my element, but those museum folks want to make their collections more accessible to teachers and students. They sought the opinions of someone who uses what they have. While teachers and museum curators have different worlds, those worlds intersect and at those intersections synergy is created.
This week I am hosting I and the Bird, which is a review of serious birders doing what they enjoy and then writing about it. I am not a serious birder. I am a professional teacher and amateur bookseller, and frequent visitor to many of the websites featured below. My own blogging efforts concentrate on the world of books and bookselling. When Mike asked me to host, I did not accept right away for feeling a bit out of place. One Amazon search for the word “Sparrow” later and my hesitation disappeared. Looking at over one thousand results, I thought, “What could be a better pairing than birds and books?”
So I accepted, and the submissions began. Again, a daunting feeling crept into my mind. I found myself lacking the vocabulary to fully understand many of the posts. I have never seen a Double-banded Plover! And if I did, I might call it a seagull. (Rookie alert!) How does one bring something new or interesting to the table when one is speaking to experts? And so I came to the panel discussion on museum resources. I was not there to discuss what museum educators already know. I was there to discuss with them my outside point of view.
And so I come to you, in one sense, as an outsider. While I bird with the Core Team when we get together, and I enjoy and learn from those outings immensely, I am not a dedicated birder. So I will stick to what I know, finding intersections between my own interests and the posts below. I will try to briefly provide the view of the outsider in introducing the wonderful writing and birding below. My thanks to everyone who submitted a piece. It was a real thrill to revisit sites familiar and be introduced to sites unfamiliar.
With each introduction below, you will also find image links to books on Amazon. Each of the books featured is in some way related to the topic or content of the post with which it is paired. Many of the books are not specifically about birds or birding, but whether they deal with philosophy, literature, history, or science, I find them tangentially so. I cannot claim to have read all of the linked books, but can say that I am familiar with their contents on at least a superficial level.
So without further ado, I present the twenty-first installment of I and the Bird. Enjoy the synergy.
Song Sparrows (Charlie’s Bird Blog)
If you can’t find the time to go birding beyond your own back yard, Charlie Moores’ Blog is a good way to do it vicariously. I have been an admirer of Mr. Moores’ photography skills since I became familiar with his site several years ago. My wife and I attract mostly sparrows with out backyard birdfeeder, so we have come to love them for pragmatic, if not aesthetic reasons. If I could photograph them like Moores, they would be hanging on my wall.
Back Into The Mire (Ben Cruachan Blog)
In Bruce Brown’s 1966 film The Endless Summer, two American surfers travel to Australia only to be told, “You guys really missed it. You should have been here yesterday.” This is a common refrain in any activity dependent upon nature’s cooperation and birding is no exception. In this post from Ben Cruachan Blog, we discover that even muck and a near miss can have a silver lining and a bad day of birding is better than a good day at work.
Sharped-dressed Birds (Natural Visions)
Some friends of ours own a three legged dog. Whenever I see that dog, I am hit with a quick feeling of pity. Two seconds later as he runs for a stick, I think about the fact that the dog probably doesn’t even notice. In Sharp-dressed Birds, we find that it ain’t always easy being a gull, or photographing them. For added context, I encourage everyone to read the Natural Visions post called Can I Complain A Little?, which proceeds the one submitted. Perhaps a new carnival called I and the Jackass is in order.
Pelicans (Earth, Wind & Water)
Try eating soup with a fork. Tools, like animals, are designed for a specific context. If you saw Jerry Rice try to ballroom dance, you know what Earth, Wind & Water is talking about in his post, Pelicans.
Interview with Norm Saunders (birdDC)
Talk about synergy! The marriage of birding and information technology has allowed for the building of a worldwide community that is as active and diverse as any I’ve encountered. BirdDC shares with us an interview of one of theÂ matchmakers responsible for bringing the two together. Saunders warning at the end of the interview has had me thinking about the nature of expertise for the last week.
It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s… (Julie Zickefoose)
This post wins the award for Most Compatible with Carnival Mission. For Ms. Zickefoose, it truly was Her and the Bird! Beyond the obvious Good Samaritan context, this post illustrates the impacts of human activity on wildlife, knowing when to think and when to act, and the benefits of a little knowledge of snake-handling. I’m also trying to decide which act is the more amazing, the rescue or the taking of great photos of the rescue!
A Cousin To The Ivorybill (Bill of the Birds)
Regardless of where one stands on the Ivorybill and its existence, the story of the potential/improbable/definite (please feel-free to choose from the adjectives listed, or insert your own) sighting of the “grail bird” has done much to spark interest in birding. Bill of the Birds takes us to Guatemala for a visit with the Ivorybill’s southern cousin. And of course, when one visits family, there are pictures.
Birthday Life Bird (10,000 Birds)
Bagging a life bird on one’s birthday so close to home is a real treat. Add a belly full of cinnamony carbohydrates and one’s ever growing family and it gets too good to be true. As the Core Team closes in on four percent of its stated goal, we find that success is not always in the numbers and common does not have to mean boring.
Stamp Out the Divide (WildBird on the Fly)
Putting one’s money where one’s mouth is. What a concept. I am no longer an active hunter, but I enjoyed the activity when I was younger. I also appreciate the pragmatics of politics and find that birders and hunters are not at all strange bedfellows. WildBird on the Fly reminds us that conservation of habitat will take different groups finding common purpose and a tangible commitment from all. I wonder what the future holds as the number of hunters decline?
Offspring (Rob’s Idaho Perspective)
How can one pass up a visit with bird chicks? There is something deep in our psyches that responds to the young of any species. In Rob’s Idaho Perspective we see that down and a sharp-eyed parent can ward off dangers both thermal and fanged, but not the eyes of a motivated admirer.
Saving Habitat (WoodSong: Off the Beaten Path)
Habitat, habitat, habitat. The three most important words in environmental protection. There is a whole lot going on in this post at WoodSong. Apathy, bureaucracy, and competing interests (sometimes competing environmental interests) are all working against grassland species.
Birding With Tom Delay (The Birdchaser)
After reading this post I think I’d like to see Barbara Walters interview Tom Delay. It might go like this:
BW: If you were a bird, what kind of bird might you be?
TD: Well Barbara. I would have to go with the American Bittern.
BW: My, that’s not a bird that the average American might know. You must be quite the naturalist.
TD: No Barbara, I am actually uncomfortable with nudity. A bit of Sam the Eagle, I guess.
BW: Why the Bittern?
TD: Well, the Bittern has some great nicknames, and while I enjoy being called “The Hammer”, I have decided that my image needs a make over. The Bittern likes to hide by standing still and blending in with it surroundings. It’s the voguer of the animal kingdom. It strikes a pose, if you will. I love to go clubbing. Seals that is. Besides being more low-key, I still need to maintain a strong voice, which the Bittern also does. This is where its varied nicknames come from. The Thunder-pumper would be a great nickname for me to re-launch my political career.
My thanks to Birdchaser for inspiring that bit of nonsense. There are more serious themes touched upon, but old Tom just brings out the silly in me.
Vanishing Owls of the Wasatch: Part I (Rigor Vitae)
The owl is an image that always reminds me of my youth. Many of my family members have wooden owls, carved by my father, on shelves of in nooks. Avoiding theÂ fierce image of a predator (perhaps Tom Delay should hire the Owl’s PR firm), the owl has entered our collective conscience as a wise and friendly, if not mysterious, bird. This post from Rigor Vitae warns that this international symbol is struggling in many areas.
Mimicry – It’s Not A Laughing Matter (Ocellated)
Environmentalism has always focused on stories concerning the impacts of humans on wildlife. In this post from Ocellated, the tables are turned as we see the impact of wildlife on humans. Well, beyond Carly Simon at least.
Decline of the House Sparrow (A DC Birding Blog)
I’ll have to be more diligent in keeping the bird feeder filled after reading this post from A DC Birding Blog. The numbers are hard to ignore. I cannot image our small plot of Rochester, NY without the bush-shaking squabbling of these little guys. The Christmas Bird Count is certainly a good thing!
The Bewick’s Wren Is More Than Just Another Wren (The Nature Writers of Texas)
This post caused me to look a little deeper into the history of Thomas Bewick, for whom this wren, and well written and informative post, is named. Bewick is also the namesake of Europe’s Bewick Swan. Bewick’s History of British Birds is also responsible for a great deal of symbolism and metaphor in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Many thanks to The Nature Wiriter’s of Texas blog for this post.
On Birds and Molluscs Redux (Milkriverblog)
There appears to be more to say about the diet of various Kite species than the layman (me) might believe. This post reminds me that the world is a complicated place and that we all rely on experience that is not our own. Many people might ask about the need for such specific details about Kite diets, but that need becomes clear when you understand the intricacy of ecosystems (indeed, any system as I again point out the idea of interconnectedness in all human knowledge). The devil is in the details, and I am encouraged to know that these kinds of details are being tracked and discussed.
Penguins Have To Rush Sex (Science and Politics)
First the cold, then the influx of French documentary film makers, and now this. Someone call the bird union! From the Science and Politics blog comes this description of an effect of a changing habitat.
Ah, Zugunruhe! (Circadiana)
Did you ever feel like you’ve been in this situation before? No, wait, that’s not it. They’re the one’s that hang from the roof of the…? Nope, not it either. It means “cleaning woman”, right? Well, check out this post at Circadiana to find out.
Several Life List Birds In Phoenix (migrateblog)
So what does one with a week-end in the desert? Go birding, of course. Amazing what can be seen in a short amount of time. Thanks, to this migrateblog post, now we know.
California Gultch Hutton’s Vireos (Aimophila Adventures)
The Western United States holds a great deal to admire for an outdoorsy person of any stripe. At Amophila Adventures one will find the birds working hard and the birders working harder. Of course they enjoy it so much, one can hardly call it work.
Hope They Like Action Films (Burning Silo)
Top 5 Favorite Osprey Action Movies
5) The Hunt for Red Snapper
4) Tears of the Sunfish
3) The Outlaw Josey Whales
1) Fish in a Barrel
New Parrot and Mouse Species Discovered in Philippines (Living the Scientific Life)
This post from Living the Scientific Life, illustrates the importance of preserving diverse amounts of habitat where-ever it can be done. It also points out the importance of looking in the proverbial attic once and a while.
Spring Here – Blackbird Evensong (Salto Sobrius)
It’s better than the Beatles. I heard someone say that once. All the way from Stockholm comes a post from the heart. Apparently they are familiar with zugunruhe over there at Salto Sobrius! Spring hits you where you live, doesn’t it!
Daily Visitors (Just this Moment)
My mother spends a good deal of time, money, and energy in a series of birdfeeders. She gets an amazing array of birds in Northern Pennsylvania, but she’s never seen one like they get at Just This Moment.
Nestbuilding Curve-bill Thrasher (Tortoise Trail)
Apparently the Curve-bill is a paranoid little guy because learning to build in that cactus must take something scary for motivation. The associated pictures at Tortoise Trail are first rate as well.
Northern Flickers (SitkaNature)
Apparently the quiet life in Alaska isn’t so quiet when the Northern Flicker is about. It sounds like a good day at SitkaNature. Blogging, watching birds, and listening to birdsong in Alaska might make some of us urbanites a bit jealous.
A Visit From the Parakeets (Elms in the Yard)
If you have any doubts that birds do not belong in cages, these pictures will help remove it. I am beginning to get antsy as I peck away at my keyboard as there are birdcalls aplenty coming through the window and I catch a shot of feathery movement every few minutes. Elms in the Yard made good use of a second chance to capture these parakeets.
Joyful, Joyful Turkey Vulture (Time’s Fool)
Perhaps we can someday put to rest the ill-gotten reputation of the word buzzard, or the greedy connotation of the word buzzard. Opportunist, yes, but aren’t we all? A common bird where I grew up in Pennsylvania, the turkey vulture never failed to turn my head. As Time’s Fool points out, one man’s ugly is another man’s majestic.
A Pale and Captivating Visitor (Search and Serendipity)
Over at Search and Serendipity, we have a great description of the perils of disregarding the Boy Scout oath. Of course adrenaline and a good knowledge of local raptors help salvage a potential missed sighting, perhaps made even better by the lack of a definite identification.
Lesser Prairie Chicken Weekend (Sally’s World)
On Saturday, I expect to see the Woodcock (or Timberdoodle) engaged in its famous courtship flight. This piece from Sally’s World has me totally psyched. I hope we make out as well with the birds, but better with our fellow observers. Another addition to I and the Jackass!
So there you go. The 21st installment of I and the Bird has been put to bed. I’d like to thank all of the participants above and let them know I enjoyed each and every post. I hope you have fun with some of the book choices. If you haven’t done so already, click on one of the breaks above. Each is a piece of a recent Charlie Harper work called Gator & Gallinule. Harper is a favorite of mine and I have thought about starting to collect some of his signed prints. (His original paintings are a bit out of my price range.) Harper has done some great bird and other wildlife painting. I find his work to have a tremendous amount of wit and unique style. You know a Harper when you see one.