Darren’s Opinion of Feathered Dinos…

Darren’s opinion on feathered dinos is at LEAST as strong as mine, and better informed– but I didn’t do a T- Shirt. I don’t usually wear one, but I have ordered his, in a kind of dayglo golden orange at that…

Darren’s blog(s)– his has had several versions and sponsors– have been what I thought of as my siblings, though his have always seemed more specifically “naturalist” in subject than mine. We have both been writing blogs for about ten years– he has theoretically fewer posts, though I would say far more substantial ones– I do a lot of light stuff, not to mention Magdalena and NM rural views. But we started linking, and talking about those great predators, Golden eagles, in his first post. This led to his appearance in my Eternity of Eagles ,  and mine in his first Tet Zoo collection.

I think the common subjects extend far further than a non- scientist, or perhaps a non- artist, might assume– ask my friend Carlos Martinez del Rio, who runs the Berry Center for Biodiversity at the University of Wyoming in Laramie (unfortunately,  often confused in the popular mind with the godawful Southwest Biodiversity Center down here, which mostly sues ranchers and puts them out of business (it is an open secret in the Southwest that one of the biggest real estate developers  down here is a big supporter, picking up the deeded private portions of the ranches when the Center gets them thrown off their public land leases). There is an unwritten book about one of the best arguments for public land ranching, AKA “welfare ranching” in certain circles. The deeded land is riparian and private; the leases are the dry uplands. Once the ranchers lose the leases, they must sell the home place, which usually has the springs and such, to developers, which as far as I can see DECREASES biodiversity. That it was founded by a failed graduate student in literature at Stony Brook, with a penchant for literary “theory”, rather than a naturalist or conservation biologist, is adequately documented in this story in the New Yorker, where you get the distinct impression that the writer went in as a fan and changed his mind.

Whereas the Center at Laramie, founded by a wealthy heir to a Main Line Philadelphia fortune who was also one of the four founders of the Peregrine Fund, exists only to study, promote, and celebrate the earth’s creatures in all their splendid diversity.

More soon– lots more to unpack here. But read Darren!

Early update: I would say these nice little figures of a Velociraptor mongoliensis and an Oviraptorid are nice, but not “birdy” enough– they are still “feathered lizards”.

This might be more like it:

Watch for my swan song in the next Living Bird, my last scheduled assignment, called “They had FEATHERS!”

Blogging resumes, if briefly…

Busy but I THINK done with the Eagle Book (real cover coming) and in a routine with the Book of Books; the latest descriptive if uninspired title is Bodio’s Choice; One Hundred essential Hunting and Fishing Books; (“through the Ages? “From X to Y”?) Plus getting our local art press, or rather Laurie Gregg and her Village Press, on board to help with illos for what we will now refer to as “100”– examples of possibles coming. Also visits, overlapping, from brother in law George Graham (below at our ruin– more “TK”) and old Montana friend, fine gunmaker and writer Steve Hughes, whom we haven’t seen for years, AND St Patrick’s day at the Spur, and setting up The Chicken with a gravel nest ledge to see if she might lay eggs (she is courting me), and a session at the range for George, and …

It has left me little time. A bunch of photos and links coming up & more soon.

Sporting Miscellany

As the Peculiars are here with grandbaby Eli I shall continue my slackerish blog- sloth for a bit more, but I have harvested a number of cool images to share. So with no further ado:

Colonel Charles Askins was a more ambiguous character than the other Golden Age gunwriters; he once described himself as a “sociopath”. Charlie Waterman once told me that he was the only evil person he ever met, and his darker side shows in the character based on him in Stephen Hunter’s Pale Horse Coming. On the other hand, he was endlessly kind to a friend of mine who grew up in San Antone (where he spent his retirement), when Mark was a child.

And he had great taste in guns. I have coveted this baroque monster of a ten- bore, best- quality AyA since I first read of it in the Seventies and now it is up for sale, unfortunately with an estimate of over $20,000! Somewhere there also exists its companion, a sidelock over- and- under that may be the only one ever built in ten…


We have seen blog- friend and all- ’round sportsman (pointers, falcons, fine guns, even Spanish pouters!) Daniel’s dogs and hawks here before. Here he is (on the big gray) at a field trail with pointer Ferd– and I think that is fellow blogger Mike Spies on the ground…

Berkutchi Lauren McGough*, who we are proposing as a Fellow for the

MANY links

Unseasonal cold weather (down to nearly – 30 or as people are suddenly all saying “NEGATIVE” 30 F at night) has curtailed outdoor activity but there have been everything from house emergencies to deadlines to unexpected trips to Santa Fe, all taking their toll on the blog. I hope regular service can resume– I have a ridiculous amount of linkage saved and will never catch up soon. Onward!

A video of the galgo hare coursing championship, from a Spanish hunting and fishing show (see opening clips), courtesy of Gail Goodman. Can you imagine such a show in the US?

Cultivation of the bird’s- nest soup bird, courtesy of Arthur Wilderson, who writes: “I wonder what might be done to further enhance the productivity of such sites. A ban on the use of pesticides in the immediate area might increase insect densities and so support more birds. I could see some sort of anti-predator campaign too, if the native birds of prey haven’t been long since wiped out… Then you’d start selectively breeding the swiftlets for maximum nest production, and the cycle of domestication would begin anew.”

Maybe such efforts are the reason you can get authentic “nest” as an ingredient in soft drinks– in Albuquerque!

Nabokov was right! 65 years ago, working solely by close observation of morphology, he predicted we would find that New World “blue” butterflies invaded in five successive waves from Siberia and radiated out, evolving into many new species, all the way down the Andes…

DNA has just proved him 100% correct, in both theory and detail. The story is both a triumphant vindication of Nabokov, who was often sniffed at by entomologists as a dilettante, and a classic demonstration of close observation and traditional taxonomic methods– one that shows that, done right, they still work.

NOT the Onion: “food” recall; HT John McLoughlin.

$200,000 racing pigeons going to China, where they seem to want to exceed our excesses. My father and his business partner, a banker, spent what then seemed like a literal fortune to bring a winning strain from Europe in the early 60’s, but this seems crazy. As Betsy Huntington used to say (adjust for inflation): “Never pay more than one thousand dollars for anything that can DIE.”

It appears that bacon is a gateway drug for vegetarians.

Screw the political correctitude of the moment: as Carl Zimmer says, Pere David and his ilk were heroes. (And sorry, science as we know it is western. As Pat Hemingway says, Islamists use jets, not flying carpets).

They have made a movie out of The Long Walk. I don’t really care if the story is 100% true or not.

Tom Russell sings Tonight we Ride on Letterman, and even that smug bastard likes it. Bonus: Paul Schaeffer plays Mexican accordion!

Coyote- hunting longdogs from Kansas, from a good blog new to me. I’ll be checking it more.

Medieval falconry video: somewhere in eastern Europe, a gyr (gyr hybrid?) kills a heron dead in the air with one blow. There is rumored to be more including cheetahs…

Next, dog & bird; tomorrow, more birds among other things…?

Back However Briefly!

Very busy with puppies and projects (and the flu) but the world keeps coming up with new stuff to annoy or enlighten. I’d rather take a break but eventually the pressure builds…

Enlightenment and fun before the bad stuff! Darren Naish has been doing so many good posts I can hardly keep up. Here , he goes against our perceptions and notes that 400 new species of mammals have been discovered since 1990! And they aren’t all little things like insectivores either.

Here, he postulates that there may be more pinnipeds to be found, and takes a serious look at the cryptozoological reports as well. Could the “sea serpent’ be some kind of radical pinniped?

Via Terrie Miller, some good pictures of Kyrgizstan, including birds and dogs, albeit with the usual misinformation (the falcon is of course a goshawk).

Our fearless friend Lauren has anew blog, Aquiling, on eagle-ry and other matters. Go for the delight– she may be the youngest Berkutchi, and the only female, but she knows more than many better- known eagle fanciers. (And here is a photo of her with puppy Shunkar; more about pups later).

Rachel Dickinson has a new book, Falconer on the Edge, coming out this summmer– I have read it, it’s good, and I will review it properly a bit later. She has also started a blog of the same name.

Pluvi (or as I suppose we now acknowledge, Helen Macdonald!) is blogging again. She just put up a remarkably odd piece of art- a watercolor of a starling painted in peregrine plumage. She has also illustrated Corvus: a life with Birds, by Esther Woolfson. It’s on my list.

LabRat at Atomic Nerds has a sane manifesto for a free life, one that as she says has no ideology, only guidelines. The two essays above this, one by her on guns and gender and one by Stingray on cigars, are also well worth reading.

Last, one I don’t know is good or not but one that makes me uneasy: Christina Nealson sent a link to this article about how the University on Michigan is going all digital. What do YOU think?

I’m baaack!– links & previews

Spent the last couple of weeks doing a proposal, outline, and sample chapters, for a book I hope will take me back to Kazakhstan. Let’s hope that this turns out better than the last (still in limbo.)

But despite brokeness and worry some good stuff has been happening, to say the least. Not only have my readers kept me in books, but more or less by accident I have gotten– free!– both a dream bird and what may be the best shotgun– quite literally– yet.

I have books by Harry Crews, Peter Matthiessen, Colin Simms, J. P. S. Brown, from readers and bloggers and writers– Matt, Doc Hypercube, David Zincavage, Lauren the eagler, and more. I have dino books and poetry and memoirs and falconry books. All will get at least a short discussion here soon.

(A couple of things have vanished from my Amazon list and not shown up, by the way– Monster Hunter and the James McMurtry album. If anyone has sent them, let me know.)

And here are a few links to tantalize or infuriate.

Writers Life: New Mexico science fiction writer Walter Jon Williams has just posted what may be the best description of contemporary publishing I have yet seen. It is hilarious but it ain’t funny. Sample:

“One of the things they teach you at Toyota Camp is that for every step in the process in which something can go wrong— for every committee, or editor, or art director, or copy-editor, or distributor— that stands between the writer and the reading public, the odds of something going totally, hideously, horribly pear-shaped somewhere in the process does not increase arithmetically, but geometrically.

“So if there are, say, seven potential roadblocks between the author and the reader, the effective number of roadblocks aren’t seven, but forty-nine. Because friction begets more friction, basically.

“(I have to say, as a personal note, that this theory explains the fate of my last seven novels rather well.)”

There is a LOT more– RTWT of course.

More Writer’s Life, passed on by Chas; a quote from Betsy Lerner: “The great paradox of the writer’s life is how much time he spends alone trying to connect with other people.”

Writer’s Life in contemporary New York? This glimpse of narcissism with nothing behind it is terrifying. If that is what it takes to be a writer today I am in even more trouble than I think…

Natural History, science & such. Why are the huskies that run the Iditarod fatigue- proof? I suspect other dogs are too, or can be– tazis in their native lands, for instance, where they are hunted from horseback.

There once was a giant legless hedgehog. If this post had appeared on 1 April I would not have believed it!

Jonathan Hanson writes re Arizona jaguars: “Did you know that the male that was videotaped in the Baboquivaris while we lived there was subsequently tracked via camera for ELEVEN years? And that up to 20 percent of the feces of jaguars in AZ comprises cougar?” !! More on this later in the week I hope.

Moving not quite away from natural history but toward gastronomy: in England, eat an alien gray squirrel to preserve the red ones (who probably taste fine too.)

Environment: while we wring our hands and weep over how we are the worst, the Han Empire continues to foul its nest and everybody else’s. (Nor is the source some right- wing anti- commie rag.)

The Atomic Nerds explain a hard truth:

“Grain is easier and more economical to grow, transport, store, and process than healthy fruits and vegetables are, which is why more people farm it, which is why they are the biggest and meanest section of the agricultural lobby, which is why getting the USDA to use food stamps to twist the arms of the poor into healthy choices is like getting the Crips and the Bloods to spearhead an effort to stamp out crack.”

Could our side finally be getting the word out? Mike Spies notes the first Mainstream Big Media story AGAINST mandatory spay neuter!

Pluvi wants to get some ink. I think it’s a lovely design myself, but some readers are not so sure.

Maybe they are thinking of tattoos like these. Some of these just might be the worst on earth. I mean, it is a tossup between the smoking unicorns having sex and the tattooed dolphin with the bong, though the wookie with the bad Chewbacca on his shaved arm has a certain je ne sais quoi.

Enough of this madness! I’ll post preview pix of hawk and gun soon, the get beter ones and some tales.

Sunday Links

Busy busy busy which is good, but lots of stuff out there as well…

The BBC discovers that places with guns are more peaceful and safe than London, though they can’t quite believe it. HT Reid.

Relatedly, the Atomic Neds have a pleasant encounter in Los Alamos. I agree- if you have pistols at all you MUST have a 1911.

Alphecca links to a great quote, from Canada no less: “Gun control is the only kind of policy that we have where the proponents of it will point to its utter failure as evidence that we need even more of it.”

Paleontology: any of us who follow dinosaurs or have an elementary knowledge of cladistics know that T- Rex and birds are more closely related to one another than either is to lizards or snakes, but public opinion is beginning to catch up, albeit with cutesy headlines. Brian at Laelaps provides some only slightly exasperated clarifications.

Humans nearly became extinct 70,000 years ago— they definitely achieved endangered species status, at least. They also nearly split into two species. Some classical speciation and origins stuff going on here. (HT David Zincavage for the second.)

Archaeology: Peculiar & Mrs. visit a spooky Gallinas culture ruin. These stones would tell strange tales, I suspect, and mysteries still abound. Their neighbors didn’t like them, all trails turned away, and virtually every one found was murdered. A bit about them in this good book.

“Do as I say…”? From an essay in the Boston Globe(!): “This year [RFK Jr. is] pushing wind farms, as far as the eye can see. You mean he no longer opposes the Cape Wind project off Uncle Teddy’s mansion on Cape Cod? Not a chance! Kennedy wants to plant wind farms all across states like North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas. No Beautiful People live there.”

HT Annie Hocker– RTWT. Though I must add that I see fur as pretty green…

AR, Nanny state and other offenses: Mike Spies sends the good news that dog owners in LA are fighting back. According to the American Sporting Dog Alliance (anyone have a link to the actual story?):

“…Concerned Dog Owners of California filed a lawsuit this week against the City of Los Angeles, seeking to overturn a new ordinance mandating the spaying and neutering of all dogs.

“The lawsuit is primarily based on constitutional grounds, and alleges that the ordinance violates the civil rights of dog owners in several ways.

“The American Sporting Dog Alliance believes that the importance of this lawsuit extends far beyond the City of Los Angeles. It marks the first of several anticipated legal challenges to onerous laws and ordinances as dog owners turn to the courts to fight for their rights on constitutional grounds. This lawsuit is based on legal issues that exist in every state.”

Here is a link to a story that is pretty funny on some levels. But what the story AND MOST COMMENTERS seem to miss is: you need to present your papers if stopped in New York City??

“Pliss to present your papers, Kamerad..”

Molon labe.

And of course, Random Weirdness. From Doc H: Purple Hair and Bad SF covers; which leads directly to: Imaginary Romance Novel Covers— the funniest thing I have seen this month. This one’s for you, Rebecca.