Archive Page 2


Picoides pubescensThat tap-tap-tapping coming from the Phragmites is usually a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). Note those long toenail claws. Woodpeckers have zygodactyl toes, two pointing forward, two back. Most birds, the Passerines, or song birds, have three forward, one back. Picoides pubescens

Gowanus Dragon

gowanusThe anti-freeze color of the water is just about right here.

New Nest

Columba liviaRock Pigeon (Columba livia) nesting under the bridge. The bird was still working on the nest, using her body to shape these freshly collected twigs. The red-eyes are natural, not from a flash.

A Preview

In October, there’s going to be an exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum called Birds of a Feather: Avian Imagery in Contemporary Art. I was digging around the scheduled artists and found this (which may not be on exhibit, btw):

Rachel Berwick, which is a good name for a bird artist, has trained parrots to speak a dead language. The back story: the great Alexander von Humboldt is said to have been given two parrots that were all that was left of an Amazonian tribe who had all been killed off by another tribe. The parrots, mimicking what they knew, were thus the last “speakers” of the language of the May-por-e’ (there are variant spellings); Humboldt transcribed their words, making a record of a dead language. Well, there’s some debate about the parrots, since this guy says Humboldt’s journals don’t mention any, but he did makes notes on the language. Check out Berwick’s other projects.




tf1A feathered turtle. tf2This is going to keep the taxonomists up late.

Strand Birds

WGPThe bird section at Strand Books is quite worth reviewing. There are actually two nearby sections, the other for over-sized volumes, jammed with photo books and some very fine references; there’s a third section if you count field guides. The prices are, well, Bass-y — père et fille Bass are pirates from way back. I did score an OP copy of Thoreau on Birds (1964) for a mere $1.33, but that’s because I had to buy a $15 gift card to go to a reading there.

Wisconsin Grouse Problems, by Wallace B. Grange, was published in 1948 by the Wisconsin Conservation Commission. It was part of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project series. You can guess the problems: loss of habitat, shrinking population size.

A lovely cloth cover with embossing. Fancy, but then grouse are game birds, and that got more people’s attention in those days. I hazard to guess that the book is still there; it’s not available electronically, much like many more books than most people suppose.


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  • Can't you just picture Roseanne Roseannadanna asking, "What's all this about 'Satan's Testicles'?" 1 hour ago
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