[Tweeters] The Best Named Bird

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Aug 3 14:34:44 PDT 2013


I've been re-reading a great book lately; "The Forest Unseen: a Year's Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell - which is one of the best written natural history books I've read for awhile. I got the book from the Everett Public Library, and while I am a man thin of wallet, I think I'm gonna go buy myself a copy, it's that good in my opinion. Well worth re-reading.

Mr. Haskell is a professor of Biology down in Tennessee and his book is basically a series of essays based on a year of observing a single one meter circle ("mandala" as he refers to it) of forest floor, and what else he can observe from this spot. He ties in everything from bacteria to stars in his ecological vision.

Tweeters might be excited that some of these essays are actually about birds! Written more with the broader ecological view, his observations are of interest to a naturalist wherever you are.

Anyway, in one of his essays (all short, and organized around a particular time on the calendar year), he describes the movement of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the treetops overhead as it leaps though the treetops, with little wing movement; moving more like a monkey than a bird, as it snarfs up big bugs. Alas, this is a bird I've never seen, but sure would like to one day!

It did remind me of a Cuckoo I have seen, several decades ago. This was on the one and only trip I've made to Mexico, about 25 years ago. I'm not a big international traveler - I feel that God invented David Attenborough, and also National Geographic Magazine, so that I personally didn't have to blow the gas money to get to all those exotic places.

Yet I did get to Mexico, in and around Acapulco, and saw some wonderful things, despite being with a group of people just about completely uninterested in nature. And one of these creatures was the Squirrel Cuckoo, of which I saw several- luckily from above, as they scrambled through the treetops below. I thought they were squirrels, at first, they moved so much like one.

"What a great name!" I thought, and still do.

By the way, Mr. Haskell's book has an excellent bibliography (organized by his essays), and also (joy) an index, so you can re-read on particularly interesting points.

Jeff Gibson
travelling in,
Everett Wa


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