Eyes that see behind, a bill like an elephant’s trunk, a magical twilight dance: the weird Woodcock

Eyes that see behind, a bill like an elephant’s trunk, a magical twilight dance: the weird Woodcock

Don’t tell me Porgs are the Star Wars version of puffins.  Puffins don’t have huge eyes and camo brown colors.  Clearly Porgs were inspired by woodcocks.

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“Puffin?  You’re kidding, right?”

In February and March I’m often out tramping in the twilight, where meadows meet woods, in hopes of witnessing what Aldo Leopold called the Sky Dance of the American woodcock.

Here in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, by mid-February these Porg-shaped, foot-tall, nowhere-near-a-shore shorebirds are already excitedly deep in spring courtship.

Painting by C. Ford Riley.

In late winter’s milder, tranquil evenings, about twenty minutes after sunset, the woodcock hen strolls to the edge of her woods to judge the males’ seductive song and dance, performed just beyond in an open field.  Her bizarrely huge dark eyes. set near the top of her head. give her an incredible 360-degree view, allowing her to hunt earthworms on the dark forest floor while watching for predators behind.  Equally bizarre is her extraordinary long bill, more elephant’s trunk than bird’s bill, whose tip she flexes to grasp her prey. Continue reading

Can We Please Stop Whitewashing Jesus?

As I write this, Twitter’s top trending hashtag is #ThingsJesusNeverSaid.

Guys, we need to talk.

Certainly it helps to expose the hypocrisy of conservative Christian “values voters” by comparing their economic views to those of Jesus. And it’s often a powerful point.  Jesus would not be thrilled with the spreading Trumpian philosophy that virtue is measured by financial success — the logical evolution of recent wildly popular “prosperity gospel” ministries.

So Twitter is filled with tweets like these today, that (no) God willing, will hopefully touch some hearts and minds:

Jesus may have been to the left on economic policy, but on social and military policy?  Sorry, but Jesus was no pro-gay, religiously tolerant peacenik.  Have we forgotten that there’s only one Christian god, and Jesus is the God of the Old Testament?  When we promote the Sandaled One’s words, we promote genocide, torture, slavery and rape and religious intolerance.  Just a few verses after the lefty favorite, “Blessed are the meek,” Jesus reiterates his support for the Old Testament, including his dad’s approval of genocide, slavery, rape and gay-stoning. Let the man-god himself remind you:

  • I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!  [Luke 12:49]
  • …for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people.  [Luke 21:22-23]
  • Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.  For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…  [Matthew 5:17-19]

Upset with right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry?  Tweeting how Jesus said we should be kind to strangers?  Inviting people to follow Jesus’ lead in respect for nonChristians?  Jesus?  Come now…

Read the rest at Patheos.

European Green Party Officially Rejects U.S. Green Party’s “Republicans are Preferable to Democrats” Stance

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U.S. Green Party’s 2016 vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka and presidential candidate Jill Stein (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

I have received a March 20 communication from the European Green Party officially rejecting the U.S. Green Party’s “Republicans are preferable to Democrats” stance.

This was in response to my query to them asking if they share the views expressed by numerous U.S. Green Party leaders and allies that Republicans in American office are preferable to Democrats.  I provided them a link to a compilation of statements, each with a link to its original source so validity and context are easily verified.  It includes views such as such as this from U.S. Greens’ 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein in October 2016:

If you watched the debate the other night, you would have heard Trump saying that he’s looking for collaboration with Putin… he’s got business interests all over the place; on that basis, hey wow, maybe he’d be the peace president because he needs peace all over the place… Yeah, climate change is horrific, but it’s not happening tomorrow.

Among the many similar pronouncements by U.S. Green leaders are an article by Stein posted in October titled “What’s scarier than Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton’s plans to gut Social Security;” an article that her running mate Ajamu Baraka tweeted in October titled “Why Hillary Clinton Is More Dangerous Than Donald Trump;” and a statement from the U.S. Greens’ 2016 campaign social media director Jillian Thomas explaining her own preference for Trump over Clinton.

There are many more.  Ralph Nader, U.S. Greens’ 2000 presidential candidate, similarly often stated his desire to see Al Gore defeated and George W. Bush win.

The reaction from Eliana Capretti, Head of Communications and Press, European Green Party, was a swift, thorough and unambiguous repudiation:

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Chandler Robbins, A Legend Who Persuaded a Generation to Love Birds, Wild Places and Science, Has Passed

By Bo Gardiner
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A well-loved copy of Robbins’ Birds of North America, 1966 (aka “Golden Guide”)

Thousands, maybe millions, this week will recall this gorgeous book with profound affection and tears in their eyes.  I can attest, as I seem to be having a bit of trouble myself writing this.

Chandler S. Robbins, co-author of the classic Birds of North America (1966), more widely known to birders simply as “The Golden Guide,” died yesterday, March 20 — a legend of ornithology and citizen science.

Let me tell you about this man and his work, even if you know nothing of birds.

For me, the tears are less about sadness -– 99 years is a marvelous run — than of gratitude for the incredible and lasting joy this book brought into my life.

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