Feathers. We see birds as collections of feathers. The majority of our identification tools are based on the feathers of a bird. We note the feather color, structure, and location of almost every bird we see, almost unconsciously . We even pay considerable attention to which feathers are missing as a result of the molting process. But it is rare that we ponder what is underneath those gorgeous feathers. This is strange as the majority of a bird’s weight is hidden from our view. Do you ever think about the unfeathered bird. The Unfeathered Bird from Katrina van Grouw is a beautifully...Read More
Sometimes I dream about escaping the lingering flurries and barely tolerable temperatures of February in Montana. I want to feel sand filtering its way through my toes as the tropical sun ever so gently radiates upon my shoulders (maybe even a little sunburn). I start thinking of Jack Johnson and the Beach Boys tunes – oh yeah, “Aruba, Jamaica, Babe I wanna take ya.” Aruba, yeah that’s the ticket. A trip to Aruba cures the winter blahs for certain. But alas, the funds have not materialized in the old bank account. Guess, I will have to settle for reading about the...Read More
I have been on an absolute owl tear lately. I have found and photographed Northern Pygmy Owl and Great Gray Owl along the Bitterroot River. I accompanied owl researcher Denver Holt on one of his owl trapping/banding field days where I got up close and personal with a Long-eared Owl. All of these experiences have serviced to only ramp up my owl lust. When the sun fades I the evening, I am not thinking about crawling into a warm and cozy bed, I want to be out in the dark and cold listening to Boreal Owls at some high mountain pass. If you were to ask my partner, I am sure she will tell you I...Read More
The temperature has climbed to nearly 25 degrees F this afternoon as the sun finally broke throw the dense inversion layer. Over the Bitterroot, a lone Belted Kingfisher rattled its call as it hovered above the ice-free center of the river. With a quick dive, it captures a hapless minnow. Bursting from the river with silver ring of splash, the kingfisher heads up river to its favorite perch to consume the hard-earned meal. The kingfisher is the only reminiscence of tropical warmth in the brilliantly white and silent winter landscape of Montana. The vast majority of its other family members...Read More
Himalayan Dreams – Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
I have often dreamt of leaning against a giant rhododendron on some isolated hillside in the Kingdom of Bhutan while Rufous-necked Hornbills and Beautiful Nuthatches appear within the orbital sphere of my binocular vision. The entire Indian Subcontinent is filled host of both familiar avian shapes and those that seem foreign to this New World-centric birding mind. Culturally India is an entire break from my familiar Western mental confines. The streets of Varanasi crowded with sādhus (holy men). The banks of Ganges lined with the smells, sights, and noises of the funeral pyres. The cycle of...Read More
The fames Handbook of the Birds of the World series of wonderful volumes is coming online. You can almost hear the glee. Glee, that’s not very manly. How about my brutal grunts of approval.Read More