Posts Tagged ‘birds’
May 30, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Here’s a weekend recommendation for you—think of it as an extended Staff Pick, if you like.
Bill and Coo was made in 1948 to showcase “Burton’s Birds,” a troupe of trained lovebirds managed by former silent-movie actor George Burton. And does it ever! The tiny, Trucolor-hued town of Chirpendale is filled with bird characters of all kinds, doing all sorts of remarkable things: working in barber shops, wearing dunce caps, performing in circuses. In this idyll, we are told, “love, happiness and contentment blend together in harmony.” That is, until the Black Menace—a crow—descends and wreaks havoc. There’s romance (the eponymous Bill and Coo), adventure, song and dance. The film won a special Oscar. A New York Times critic deemed it “by conservative estimate, the God-damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”
I adored Bill and Coo as a kid—we had a bootleg Betamax video of it—but I worried it wouldn’t hold up, or that as an adult I’d see signs of avian exploitation. (For the record, I’ve detected no indication of that, although maybe there’s an untold story that bears serious investigation.) I need not have—it is as weird, and as entertaining, as can be. A novelty, yes—but a wonderfully watchable one.
April 3, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
George Edwards, born today in 1694, is known as “the father of British ornithology”—as fine a paternal legacy as a guy can hope for. Today, his reputation as a naturalist endures in no small part because of his excellent drawings, which introduced English readers to scores of exotic creatures: first and foremost, birds. His greatest work is the four-volume Natural History of Uncommon Birds, whose full august title deserves to be seen in toto: A Natural History of Uncommon Birds: And of Some Other Rare and Undescribed Animals, Quadrupeds, Fishes, Reptiles, Insects, &c., Exhibited in Two Hundred and Ten Copper-plates, from Designs Copied Immediately from Nature, and Curiously Coloured After Life, with a Full and Accurate Description of Each Figure, to which is Added A Brief and General Idea of Drawing and Painting in Water-colours; with Instructions for Etching on Copper with Aqua Fortis; Likewise Some Thoughts on the Passage of Birds; and Additions to Many Subjects Described in this Work.
These drawings are taken from that work, which you can read here. Of particular note is his illustration of the dodo, which was, even then, extraordinarily rare and facing extinction.
As for the man: According to The Aurelian Legacy: British Butterflies and Their Collectors, a contemporary of Edwards’s “described him as of medium stature, inclined to plumpness and of a cheerful, kindly nature ‘associated with a charming diffidence.’”
July 11, 2012 | by Eli Mandel
Sometimes in life you get yelled at. No matter your moral fiber, it can’t be avoided all the time. It happens in Marine Corps boot camp; it happens in rush-hour subway cars; it happens if your mother catches you reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover at an impressionable young age. But one place you don’t expect to get harangued, one place where the lid’s supposed to stay on the pot, is poetry.
So cracking open D. H. Lawrence’s seemingly innocuous Birds, Beasts, Flowers is a bit of a shock. Lawrence is, of course, better known for his novels and short stories; verse can unleash in him an irritating Whitmanesque mania, an exhibitionist verbal autoeroticism. But that’s not the case here. You flip past the title page and the index to the first poem, “Pomegranate,” and before your eyes can adjust to the typeface, you’re in trouble. Big trouble:
May 4, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Here is a lovely story: a book finding a well-deserved audience 125 years after the author self-published it. The book is Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, and the author a twenty-nine-year-old naturalist and illustrator named Genevieve Jones. To quote the Princeton Architectural Press,
Inspired by viewing Audubon’s lithographs at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia … Genevieve Jones began working on a companion volume to The Birds of America, illustrating the nests and eggs that Audubon omitted. Her brother collected the nests and eggs, her father paid for the publishing, and Genevieve learned lithography and began illustrating the specimens. When Genevieve died suddenly of typhoid fever, her family labored for seven years to finish the project in her memory. The original book, sold by subscription in twenty-three parts, included Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and Theodore Roosevelt among its subscribers. Only ninety copies of the original book were published in 1886, and fewer than twenty-five copies now remain in institutions and private hands.
In PAP’s America's Other Audubon, author Joy Kiser reproduces all sixty-eight of Jones’s color lithographs, as well original text, photographs, field notes, and a key to eggs and birds. It’s a boon for those with an interest in natural history or ornithology, of course, but we are as engaged by the personal story as the beauty of the book itself. An enduring memento indeed.