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The I of a Bird (or Welcome to Birding! Now Get Out!)

Alexander Skutch completed his remarkable career with a cryptic work, The Minds of Birds. In this last effort Skutch forcefully argues for celebrating the intelligence of birds. This contentious book incorporates both his decades of observations and experiences as well as evidence from the research literature.

Now scientists have discovered that ravens, in some [read more…]

The Naked Hunch (The Results)

The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork… William S. Burroughs on Naked Lunch

I am more curious about what is at the end of every birder’s arm. What do we hoist, perch, lift, finagle, finger, and thumb to [read more…]

Show Me The Money!

First, let’s book a little history.

Avitourism (birding tourism) is a Texas original, like “Don’t Mess With Texas,” Aggie jokes, and jake-leg politicians. Texas didn’t invent birding (although the ABA began here in 1968), but avitourism is as Texan as Willie Nelson and all-hat-and-no-cattle cowboys. Give us credit for something other than our embarrassments.

[read more…]

Birds Without Birding

What could be more boring than watching bowling? Watching golf? Playing golf? Watching birding?

I haven’t seen the movie, yet. I will tomorrow. My wife and a friend have coaxed me into the investment.

Birders have debated the movie for months. A few birders went so far as predicting an epiphany for the American [read more…]

The Chittering Curlew

  Image 1 – Chittering (Eskimo) Curlew, Photographed by Don Bleitz, Galveston, Texas, 1962

Ben Feltner had never seen a whimbrel. Houston birders had hinted that the bird might be found in grazed coastal prairie on west Galveston Island. Beach houses and strip malls had yet to scar that landscape. Ranchers worked the coastal prairie, [read more…]

The Naked Hunch (Addendum)

The flurry of questions that I received this morning has inspired me to add an addendum to my initial article. This is precisely the level of interest that I hoped my questions would inspire. Perhaps with your help I can tweak the survey to where it is more meaningful for those who participate.

Let’s begin [read more…]

The Naked Hunch

I have a hunch, one that has tugged at me for a few days. I wonder how people watch birds. I’m not curious about birdwatching gluttony (the Big Year) or whether or not yours’ (list) is bigger than mine. I want to know how people watch birds, not how many, how much they spend, or [read more…]

A Pox on Politics (I Ain’t No Stool Pigeon!)

I, for one, feel no such obligation. I care little for lists. What attracts me to this story is the bird, its improbable appearance and its mysterious origins. Since we can never know its provenance, we can allow ourselves to put birder on the shelf and go back to simple bird watching. We can return to a time and age when committees didn’t matter and we celebrated the simple existance of a wayward soul. There will be many more rare birds for the lists; not all will be so enigmatic. But for this moment, these precious days and hours, we have been offered a glimpse at a bird whose value transcends the constrictions of our recreation. The sparrow humbles us, and reminds us that there is a limit to what we can know. [read more…]

Jeepers, Teapers!

I know that some of you will take offense at my taking the Republicans to task. Please feel free to be affronted. The Republican Party is working around the clock to scrap several decades of environmental protections, and I find it egregiously offensive that people who enjoy the outdoors, those whose recreational interests are dependent on a healthy environment, are willing to blithely watch the from the sidelines. [read more…]

Me, the Bahamas, and Bobby McGee

I’m blitzed…burned…blottoed. My day began at 4 am; I am rushing to hop a flight home from the Bahamas. For six days I have ignored the Washington farce, the bizarre burlesque being passed off as governance. Now I am being bombarded with this blather in the form of a television set blasting forth in [read more…]