I finally found some time to look through my Bird Almanac; what a fascinating book! For trivia-goobers like me, this book is a veritable gold mine of information. Some highlights:
The New Jersey Audubon Society's World Series of Birding: the first winning team, in 1984, competed for Zeiss Optics and was composed of a few names that might ring a bell: R. T. Peterson, P. Dunne, L. Dunne, D. Sibley, P. Bacinski, and W. Boyle. (the book only gives first initials) I was reminded of the first Olympic basketball team composed of professional athletes, back in 1992, with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Clyde (the Glide) Drexler, and John Stockton on it (and some other guys). Can you imagine going hard-core birding with RTP, Pete Dunne, and David Sibley!? Holy moly. Incidentally, they tallied 201 species to get the win.
Top U.S. ABA World Lister as of January 2002: G. Winter, with 7,716 species. Wow. Only a couple thousand to go, and this person racks up every bird species in the world; it's kind-of hard to even fathom that. My lifelist isn't even to 200 yet.
Top U.S. ABA USA Lister as of Jan 2002: M. Smith, with 907 species out of the total 984 species in the USA. Sheesh. By now, this M. Smith probably has to go to another country just to get a life bird! Can you imagine that?
The common swift can go up to three years without landing. The sooty tern can go from three to ten years without landing! Don't they get tired of flying? I mean, the birds could kind-of float on the breeze for a while here and there, but I'd sure want to sit down after about a year or so.
Assemblages of birds: We've all heard of a murder of crows and a gaggle of geese. But have you heard of these grouping terms?
hawks: boil, screw, cast, kettle (Susan Gets Native -- have you heard of any of these?!)
warblers: yellowing ("there's a yellowing of warblers over in this thicket!" as if.)
flycatchers: zipper (are they just making this stuff up?)
nuthatches: creep (come on, man...)
vireos: cheer (yeah, right)
gulls: galaxy (my leg is getting tired of being pulled)
ravens: unkindness (seriously, that's what the book says: an unkindness of ravens. Indeed.)
I even found a personal connection: Julie Zickefoose's recipe for bluebird food is in the book.
5 parts oatmeal
1 part each of corn syrup, peanut butter, and bacon grease or lard
Mix well, then push into holes in a feeder log. Other birds like it too.
Cool. Who else would they go to for the best bluebird information? Who else but the Science Chimp! Her husband Bill of the Birds also has a blurb on the back cover.
Speaking of Zick, did everyone get a chance to hear her commentary about marriage on NPR yesterday afternoon around 5:30ish? Another driveway moment, compliments of Julie.
The bird also contains all kinds of crazy anatomical and physiological information on birds; some sections, I can't imagine using unless I were in the Jeopardy final round and the category was Birds. (Bet it all!) But some parts--including the chart on length of incubation of eggs, clutch sizes, and other such charts--are really useful. All in all, it's a really great book. This edition was published back in 2004. Still, other than the listing records and award recipients, the facts are still the facts. Thumbs up for David Bird's The Bird Almanac.