Saturday, March 18, 2006

Winter Lingerers; Early Spring Arrivals

Michelle and I attended a Golden Triangle Audubon Society meeting this past Thursday evening. The guest speaker was ornithologist and artist John P. O'Neill, who was there to give a talk on the birds of Peru. He has been involved in field work throughout Peru for many years, and has the distinction of having found more new bird species (11) than any other person alive today.

He was also the primary illustrator of A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago, which we used on our recent trip. While autographing my copy he mentioned that a new edition was due out soon. Hopefully it will correct the deficiences in the older edition. It would be greatly improved by the addition of plates illustrating raptors in flight (the way they are most often seen). Even a few simple drawings would have been helpful.

Another of his projects that is nearing completion is a field guide to the birds of Peru. This is a herculean task involving over 1,800 species (Peru has one of the world's largest avifaunas), many of which will be represented by multiple illustrations (with all identifiable subspecies included!). Hope it has good binding, because that is gonna be one heavy book!

Michelle also enjoyed the presentation, and by the time it was over we were both ready to go to Peru. Well, maybe that trip will have to wait. We have a few other things to attend to first.

The weather here has been very cool lately, but has warmed sufficiently for new foliage to appear. Fresh leaves are budding on the trees, and the azaleas, Carolina jessamine, and honeysuckle are blooming again. It's that time of year when winter birds are still present and spring migrants are just beginning to arrive. A Selasphorus hummingbird (identification questionable, but probably Rufous) continues to guard the feeder by our kitchen window. A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird has also been seen off and on since the 14th, and today I noticed my first Purple Martin of the season flying over our backyard.


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