Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let's Take A Look At This 1982 Playboy Ad About Bird Feet

I was at my buddy's house over Thanksgiving and he had this Playboy from 1982 sitting on his counter and I started leafing through it, as one does.

I found, immediately and before I got to any of the other stuff, this ad for Converse shoes. It's amazing. It's all totally wrong, and an embarrassment, but it's amazing. Let's take a closer look.

Let's start at the top. Here's what Converse thinks the foot of an American Flamingo looks like:

It's, uh. It's not what the foot of an American Flamingo looks like. It looks like this:

So, yeah, flamingo feet are actually webbed. Simple mistake! Maybe the artist just ran out of pink color pencil. Let's see what's next.

These actually look pretty good! What's up! It should be Ring-billed Gull, though. Small things. Moving on.

I mean, sort of an odd choice, considering that this bird and these feet are like smaller than any of there other bird's feet on here. The sizing is way off, is what I'm saying. Plus, again, and I hate to harp on this, but it's Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

"The Golden Crested, Green Footed Larry Bird." Oh man, so great. Remember Larry Bird? I hope you do. He is the man, and is probably the most beloved player in Boston Celtics history. He was three years in the league at this point and had just started to kick ass. Look at this guy.

Golden-crested indeed! Last thing:

This is just a completely incorrect, insane statement. Birds aren't readily identified by their feet. They just aren't. There are some birds whose feet are extremely helpful for identification, like Semipalmated and Ringed Plovers, but c'mon no one is looking at the feet first. No one is "readily" identifying birds by their feet. Plus, these idiots got the feet wrong! How can they say that you can identify birds by their feet when even the artists can't even get the feet right?! And another thing! Who is identifying basketball players by their feet? They wear jerseys with their names on them for goodness' sake!

OK bye.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I Am the Very Model of a Modern Twitching Birdwatcher

There's a famous song in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance called "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General." It's sung with gusto by a stuffy military man who's well-educated and seems to know everything about everything ... except the military.

I thought the message of the song would be a good fit for birding, where we all know someone with a life list a mile long but no clue about ornithology. (I might be one of them!)

So, I've updated the lyrics for your enjoyment. Here's the Gilbert and Sullivan version to refresh your memory on the pattern, it's pretty specific:

I am the very model of a modern twitching birdwatcher,
I’ve checked off every species between Monterrey and Labrador,
I’ve driven thirteen hours for an out-of-season Whip-poor-Will,
I skipped Thanksgiving dinner for a third-state-record Ivory Gull;
My days are spent in landfills and my nights straining for flight chip notes,
I’ve had my share of leeches and have plenty tick bite anecdotes,
About the lump/split process I am teaming with a lot o’ news,
With very strong opinions on the splitting of the Common/Mews!
I’ve ticked off every Ammodram from Saltmarsh through to Grasshopper;
I’ve spent more time in rice fields than a workaholic sharecropper;
I’ve checked off every species between Monterrey and Labrador,
I am the very model of a modern twitching birdwatcher.

I zip across the country in a birder-style Whack-a-Mole;
I’ve ticked the Social Flycatcher and Oriental Pratincole;
I’ve seen a Smew on Attu and a Thick-knee on the Rio Grande,
My Mecca is in Portal and Tortugas is the holy lands;
I’ve seen all of the warblers — Fan-tailed, Dusky, and Pallas’s Leaf;
No heron has eluded me from Chinese Pond to Western Reef;
I’ll push down all your mothers for a bird I have not seen afore;
Saw a Spoon-billed on the Pribilofs and saved a trip to Singapore!
I keep a separate checklist for each county, block and avenue,
I eBird every bird I eat, each turkey leg and cordon bleu;
In short, for every species between Monterrey and Labrador,
I am the very model of a modern twitching birdwatcher.

In fact, when I know what is meant “tibital” and “scapular”,
When I can learn the difference between hummingbird and jacamar,
When, alone, I can distinguish between jaegers and the canaries;
And I know what is meant when one says “molting of the primaries”,
When I can speak with knowledge of the lengths of supercilia —
When I split the aves from the order crocodilia —
In short, when I’ve a smattering of basic ornithology —
You’ll say no better birdwatcher has ever lifted bins as he.
My avian understanding, though I’m wealthy and unquenchable;
Is limited to rarities, thus rather one-dimensional.
But still, for every species between Monterrey and Labrador,
I am the very model of a modern twitching birdwatcher!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

California Trip - Not Birds

I went to California recently and saw a ton of birds and also lots of things that were animals but that were not birds. Here is photographic proof.


Douglas's Squirrel!

A crappy photo of a Belding's Ground Squirrel!

California Ground Squirrels were everywhere!

Western Gray Squirrel!

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel!

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