Tag Archives: birds

Spring Breakthrough: Nesting Bald Eagles

I’ve been watching this bald eagle for several days via Ustream webcam. Her nest is perched atop a tree at a fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa. Over the past day one egg has pipped and hatched, and another is imminent. See a 24-hour video collage. Continue reading

Posted in Naturalist at Large | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Audubon’s “American Flamingo” & “Snowy Heron”

The modest little heath hen drawn for a bank note made me think of John James Audubon’s grander bird portraits of the American Flamingo and Snowy Heron (Snowy egret). Both images come from individual plates from Birds of America in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The NGA identifies the artists as “Robert Havell after John James Audubon” and the media as “hand-colored etching and aquatint on Whatman paper plate.” The engravings were made in 1838 and 1835, respectively. Continue reading

Posted in Naturalist at Large | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Even John James Audubon Sold Clip Art

In 1824, John James Audubon wrote in his journal that he had drawn a heath hen for a Philadelphia engraver. The drawing was intended as incidental art for private bank notes – there was no national paper money at the time. Audubon’s drawing would be considered clip art today. It’s believed to be his first commercial illustration, although a printed example was found only recently by Audubon scholar Robert Peck, a curator at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, and numismatic historian Eric Newman. Continue reading

Posted in Naturalist at Large | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Even Grebes Have Redneck Cousins

I haven’t pursued competitive birding since I was twelve years old. I can’t tell you how many bird species are on my life list now. While I still have the habit of listening to the spring migrants in id-May, I don’t compile a century count. Today, though, I felt something like the frisson of seeing a new “life bird” even though I had seen it once before, decades ago, in Alaska. Ms. Modigliani treated me to a birthday breakfast of lox and bagels on the Oakville jetty early this morning. We heard an astonishing bird call that sounded like a bleating lamb led to slaughter. I couldn’t name it. Then a bird photographer working near the lighthouse showed us a pair of red-necked grebes at the mouth of 16-Mile Creek. I never heard their call in Alaska. I had no idea they were nesting in the Great Lakes region. Continue reading

Posted in Naturalist at Large | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fish Aren’t Biting? Let’s Kill Some Cormorants!

This week I’ve been sitting on the Navy Street jetty in Oakville, Ontario. I while away the ours watching the aerobatics of common terns and Caspian terns feeding at the mouth of Oakville Creek. I haven’t seen or heard a cormorant yet. Continue reading

Posted in Naturalist at Large | Tagged , , | 3 Comments