Tuesday, June 14, 2011

tweeting about the Birds of Essex County

So, readers may ask, what's with these random tweets about Birds of Essex County?

Charles W. Townsend's Birds of Essex County was published in 1905 by the Nuttall Ornithological Club. At that time it was the most extensive monograph on the bird life of such a small geographic area of North America. It was on my want list back when I used to collect "antiquated" books, but I didn't manage to snag it when Phil Person of Domino actually had it in stock at the late lamented Olde Port Books.

Awhile back, I found that it had been scanned in to Google Books. Alas, the page images were really hard to read. I downloaded it to my iPod Touch using the Google Reader. Way too hard to read on the small screen. Then a couple of months ago, my dear friend, the Hermit Potter, gave me a Kindle for my birthday. After the initial excitement of buying new books in Kindle format, I started looking around for old books that are in the public domain. Much to my delight, I discovered that Birds of Essex County had been converted into mobipocket format and was thus readable on the Kindle. So, I've been going through the species accounts, particularly for birds that frequent Plum Island -- my summer favorites, winter favorites, and local phenomena -- and comparing it to today's data.

As I read, I keep coming across passages that describe species and behaviors that are exactly the same today -- like the passage about Eastern Kingbirds on the beach that I tweeted tonight -- or amazing one-of-a-kind occurrences like the massive flight of Great Gray Owls in 1890-91 that I tweeted yesterday. I'm enjoying being able to share insights from 100+ years ago using recent media technology.  I hope it gives the blog more of a feeling of continuity with the amazing birding history of my local patch.

No comments: