Stalking Birds with Color Camera by Arthur A. Allen

Ok…so, this is my new most favourite birding book on the planet!  I have read many and own several, but this is absolutely the best!  First of all, the TITLE!  Isn’t the title awesome? I purchased this book in a bulk pile, along with several other real treasures, for $1.69. Here’s the dust cover.

There is a name plate in the front cover of this specific book and It was once owned by Grace Buzik in NW Calgary and was published in 1963 by the National Geographic Society.  Here’s a photograph of Author Allen, stalking birds near Ithaca, New York.  His very first article appeared in a National Geographic magazine in 1934.  There is such humour and honesty in this particular book that, already, I have learned a whole number of things about the birds that appear daily at my feeder.

Just recently we have experienced the end of a particular species of Giant Galapagos Island Tortoise. Lonesome George has spent the last number of years alone, with some years accompanied by two females of a closely related species, but on June 24, Lonesome George was found dead by his keepers, somewhere near his watering hole.  As I peruse this birding book, I marvel at the people (scientists, journalists and photographers) who have dedicated their lives to documenting and studying a whole number of species because in that way, we retain a treasured experience/story, as the human collective.  Contemporary photographer, Brian Skerry, is presently one of my favourites. He has provided captivating images for the National Geographic for years and recently published the book, Ocean Soul.  He is very generous, in that, he truly values education and the welfare of all life and his documentation is used to sustain a whole number of troubled species.  He has offered me permission to use his photographs as references for some of my drawings/paintings of cetaceans.  For this, I am truly grateful.

Back to Arthur Allen…and this photograph was taken by Robert B. Goodman of the National Geographic Society, 1963.

The captions hold such magic…for every coloured photograph, the author creates a bit of humour and then goes on to share the science.  Here’s an example.

“Good-bye, Daddy – Hurry Back”
The brilliant male Scarlet Tanager has just fed his youngsters, and now, while they look after him hopefully, starts his search for the second course of a meal that lasts all day.  Well camouflaged, the young resemble their mother rather than their dazzling dad.  In October the birds will fly to Colombia or Bolivia to spend the winter.

The reader can not help but be entertained by this book, featuring 494 illustrations, 385 of them in full natural colour.  A rich and fascinating find!

I had thought that starlings had moved into the neighbourhood, but since checking references and descriptions in this book, I now know that I’ve got a couple of Bronzed Grackles (a common crow blackbird) as well as the every-now-and-then appearance of a Cowbird, with its brown head.  Needless to say, I’m going to have some fun times, sitting back with my morning coffee, reading these brief and entertaining narratives.  The idea of ‘stalking’ birds makes me smile!

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