I had the opportunity tonight to riffle through some old copies of Audubon magazine tonight, and I especially enjoyed the old advertisements. Birding always seems to be an underdog, on the cusp of mainstream acceptance - "one of the fastest growing activities!" they say - and so it was nice to see these old magazines and remember that this is a hobby with a full-bodied history.
The magazine I was looking at was from 1960, and featured a beautiful cover design (and the black-and-white photo was apt for the Gray Jay on the cover):
There were a couple of ads that I liked because they're still products that birders buy all the time. The problem of keeping squirrels off feeders will never go away, though I don't know how much I'd want my bird feeders making loud buzzing noises all the time...
Keeping your bird bath ice-free in winter is also a constant problem - plus no radio or TV interference!
And then there were ads for these funny little chairs that I still see out there sometimes.
But in addition to these comforting reminders of birding's past, I found some dizzying visions of a birding future that never happened. Check these things out:
Whoa! Handheld rifle-style scope mount being used by a fedora-sporting proto-hipster! Another one with a stabilizing gyroscope on the bottom! Why aren't these everywhere? Is it because they're so heavy and cluttered that dealing with them is such a pain that you don't notice that a bunch of terns (Roseate?) are cranking behind you? Does that guy's fedora have a bedazzled band, or is it feathered? If you're looking for "tripod-like stability" isn't it just easier to carry a tripod instead of some wearing a boombox around your neck? So many questions, so few answers.