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Royal Cornwall bird ID

Wednesday: June 7, 2017

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I do intend on writing about my teaching experiences in more detail, such as what worked or didn’t and how I really feel like I mostly conducted ethnographic research during my short 5 year career (being a participating observer more than anything else), but today I want to share something entirely different.

Last fall, I signed up for a Master Naturalist course. While I am still collecting my service hours to become a “master”, I have been putting my identification skills to the test periodically. Today, I will show you birds using something my grandmother gifted me when I was young. Considering it has been in storage for maybe 20 or more years (and moved around, and owned by a younger me), I am impressed not a scratch was discovered on these guys. They are branded “1982 RC” which translates into Royal Cornwall. You can find them on ebay if you so desire, but I cannot really find any information about their production other than they are bisque porcelain and were hand-painted (designed by Christopher Schultz) for the Calhoun’s Garden Bird Miniature Collection.

Some of these birds appeared in a painting I recently finished (it is Reeve’s “Railbirds” paint-by-numbers, though I did not “paint by numbers), so I could easily identify them since I had looked them up once already.

Others were new to me, so I turned to The Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app and the internet image search. Disclaimer, though: I could be wrong on any one of these, but here goes!

First up, an Eastern Bluebird:

A Bobolink (funny name for a bird!):

I think I may have seen this in Mexico – a Painted Bunting:

Baltimore Oriole is this next one:

A woodpecker named properly as the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker:

A Least Flycatcher:

Easily identifiable Blue Jay:

This one is a Black-Capped Chickadee:

A Golden-Crowned Kinglet:

A Red-Breasted Nuthatch (which isn’t really red anywhere!):

A Cedar Waxwing:

And finally, a Belted Kingfisher:

How does this relate to anthropology, you may be wondering? Well, I can think readily of two ways. First, if you are interested in the cultural anthropology of your own culture, you may enjoy looking into the world of birdwatchers. These are serious folk who travel great distances (even around the world!) to catch a glimpse of particular species. There are birding classes and festivals all around, especially recently here in my area for migration season. Lots of money is invested into birding by people of all types, and this has lead to bird research being coalesced largely from citizen science. That’s pretty darn cool.

The other way it fits is that many cultures appreciate birds, not just people with binoculars. Birds are important parts of diet for some, of course, or as familial pets, or even hold significance in spiritual ways. Feathers, for instance, are proud and powerful symbols of religion (I am thinking Bald Eagle feathers) or beauty (Bird-of-Paradise). Wild birds have formed symbiotic relationships with humans in very cool ways (such as the Honeyguide). So, really, birds are part of what makes us “us” (as much as anything else on our Earth!) if you just look hard enough.

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