Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On the Last Day of Christmas, My In-laws gave to me...

...Gulls of North America, Europe and Asia, by Olsen and Larsson. OK, so it's not as catchy a tune, but it does spread joy in this household nonetheless.

What a great book, and a great way to cap off the holiday season. Now I have absolutely no excuse for not becoming a local pro on gulls. Gulls are of course the nemesis of most birders - I liken the phenomenon to the way many otherwise intelligent college students treat math. "Oh, I suck at math/gulls - it's just not my thing." I can understand this feeling, too, for I've shared it in the past. All the North American gulls combined can sport over 200 different plumages and appearances, many of which closely resemble each other. Combined with their "trashiness", they unfortunately become low-priority sightings for a number of birdwatchers. And although I did put forth an effort to learn them when I was back in Santa Cruz a few years ago, my effort was limited and unsupported by either a good guide or by anyone in the area who knew gulls well (I was a much more solitary birder then.)

But the commonness of gulls is a blessing. They are gregarious, and because of that many species can be seen together in relatively easy-to-find flocks, including rarities. All you have to do is learn how to separate them out - a challenge to be sure, but something any birder should take the time to do. And with neighbor Nick, Sibley, free time, and now this book, I hope to make some headway on these birds myself. Thanks, Marilyn and Tim - This is awesome!

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1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Thought I'd check out your blogs tonight! Some very interesting stuff....and I am glad you are enjoying the book. :) So much to learn about birds! Before learning of your interest in birds, I just thought a bird is a bird. Due to your enthusiasm I have become enlightened!!! and realize how unknowlegeable I am about the subject. Learning is a lifelong task!