More than a fantasy

Anamalai doodles

Have never sketched. Did not think I could. High school drawing class was misery and perhaps played no insignificant part in this. Year-end slow-down unrelated to COVID-19 helped bring some pause to an otherwise tumultuous year. Two doodles from the hills.

View of estate-rainforest mosaic from the porch
A wannabe Great Hornbill

BUCEROS: A time to review the BNHS ENVIS newsletter

Lovely images and production quality of the BUCEROS magazine/newsletter produced by the BNHS ENVIS team
In the recently arrived Vol. 22 No. 2 (2017) for instance several pages are reproductions of articles (well selected ones) that seem to have appeared in The Times of India

I glance at the two volumes of BUCEROS that arrived a few days back (Vol 22 No. 2 (2017). The least problematic is the fact that I received them in 2019!

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Quizzing in the days of eBird

Nothing like a good quiz to get a bunch of bird-geeks up and about. That was the experience of helping with putting together a quiz on birds. In the days of eBird of course, it becomes easier to come up with bird trivia from a given location (first photographic record on eBird of the Jerdon’s Courser, for example, or the Bugun Liocichla).  Continue reading

What is it like to be a bird?

Bird-sense-cover.jpg

Cover of Tim Birkhead’s book Bird Sense

Can we ever know what it is like to be a bird? As poetic as the question may appear to be, it’s fascinating how the question has captured the attention of a bunch of  scientists, artists and other professionals ranging from neurosurgeons, ecologists, physiologists to bird illustrators and medieval travellers. The fascination with bird flight is possibly as old as language itself. Birds are among the early cave paintings, be it in the subterranean caves discovered by teenage boys at Lascaux, or the paintings of Genyornis in cave paintings in Northern Australia that could be 40,000 years old, dating to the time when man set foot on that continent. In Bird Sense, Tim Birkhead who has written fascinating stuff on history of science, birds and birdwatching and has edited the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Ornithology, makes a narrative synthesis of the historical and contemporary knowledge on what it is like to be a bird. An extremely intriguing question throwing up questions such as “Is this know-able?”. Such philosophical meanderings have clearly not deterred several scientists from designing simple and elegent experiments to try and understand this. Continue reading