Descriptions by non-birders
garybletsch at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 7 23:45:57 PST 2001
I am sure the "mystery solved" by Valerie and Beth (Common Snipe) recalled many such queries birders have received from interested people who do not "know their birds." Just recently I checked out a "huge crane" that turned out to be a heron. From the description, I had expected a lumbering behemoth, perhaps a Moa or Elephant Bird, not a three-foot-tall Ardea. The all-time champ was always my mom, though. She would describe things that would drive an avian anatomist round the bend. One in particular proved impossible to imagine, let alone predict what it might have been. "It was sort of like a duck, with feet like a pigeon, only it was about the size of a goose, with mostly brown on the head. It had a roundish red tail and a small crest. I think it might have been some kind of woodpecker." After all the years I have birded, I now realize I have missed a wonderful opportunity. I should have started a special journal to record all of these descriptions (mom's and others'). Then I could have developed a key to identifying birds based on these descriptions by folks who notice things that we seem to miss.
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