Something To Crow About


We’ve been away in the country, and each day we do a little birding. Even after all these years, I’m still a novice, and Lord knows I still can’t sort out the warblers and vireos, but I greatly enjoy it. We can hardly move an inch from our house without running into all sorts of interesting birds. Here’s what we’ve identified in the last two weeks:

Tufted Titmouse

Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

Black-capped Chickadee

Dark-Eyed Junco

House Finch

House Sparrow

Song Sparrow

American Goldfinch

Northern Parula

American Robin

Northern Cardinal

Pileated Woodpecker

Blue Jay

American Crow

European Starling

Eastern Bluebird: f.

Eastern Phoebe

Wild Turkey: m, f, +8 juvs.

Cedar Waxwing

Mourning Dove

Rock Pigeon

Carolina Wren

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Common Grackle

Chimney Swift

Barn Swallow

Turkey Vulture

My favorite find so far was the Pileated Woodpecker, a bird I had never seen before. For a few days previous to viewing it, we had come across its huge rectangular nesting holes dug into the trees, and heard its laughing call, but we couldn’t see it. Then a few days ago I heard the call very close by, and turned to see that brilliant Pileated head low on a nearby tree trunk. It was thrilling. I should have gotten a photo of it, but I didn’t—I was too afraid of scaring it away by making any movement. So the picture above is just a stock photo, but it looked exactly like that. Then a day later, a family of Wild Turkeys came tromping through our front lawn and across the street, seven juveniles following their large father and smaller mother, with an eighth straggler, a little runtier than all the rest, pulling up the rear. It was like a Disney movie. For this city dweller, it was a real treat.

Twenty Books That Have Changed Me


A quick list of books that I feel most influenced my mind and heart over the years. What does your list look like? In no particular order:

1. The Annotated Alice–Martin Gardner and Lewis Carroll
2. The Catcher in the Rye–J.D. Salinger
3. The Ginger Man–J.P. Donleavy
4. Chemical and Biological Warfare–Seymour Hersh
5. Letting Go–Philip Roth
6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
7. Crime and Punishment–Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8. Endless Night–Agatha Christie
9. Othello–Shakespeare
10. Hamlet–Shakespeare
11. The Shock Doctrine–Naomi Klein
12. An Actor Prepares–Stanislavsky
13. Mind and Nature–Gregory Bateson
14. Summerhill–A.S. Neill
15. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions–Thomas Kuhn
16. Flatland–Abbott
17. Theater of the Mind–Barrie Richardson
18. The Alexandria Quartet–Lawrence Durrell
19. Howl–Allan Ginsberg
20. Debt–David Graeber