Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bird Names (Ken)

Today I walked over to the bathroom in the late afternoon after hiking the birding trail in Catalina State Park. A man was sitting on a lawn chair, wiping down his shiny car with a sponge. An hour later, when I went back for a shower, he was polishing the door with a chamois. I don’t know what he was thinking about, but I’m sure it wasn’t about Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets.

I wonder who thinks up bird names? Take Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. Northern? It is only found in extreme southern Arizona and Texas and points south. Beardless? Apparently it lacks the sprouting feathers around its beak of other flycatchers which makes it beardless – although you need powerful optics to tell the difference. Tyrannulet? No comment.

I don’t approve of the habit of naming birds after people. Who was Wilson anyway? Did a warbler, storm-petrel, phalarope, plover and snipe all have to be named after Wilson? Instead of Wilson’s Warbler, we could call in Black-crowned Warbler. Although maybe that wouldn’t work since its black crown is clearly visible. Has anyone seen the orange crown on an Orange-crowned Warbler?

I like the name Thrasher. I walk carefully in the desert when there could be thrashers around. I don’t like tangling with a cactus, and I certainly wouldn’t take on a thrasher. For my spiritual needs, I always turn to Godwits. A higher being with a sense of humor.


Zoƫ said...

Worse still is a botched attempt at "improving" a bird's name. Consider the Siberian Tit - a charismatic name that conjured its far northern and mysterious haunts - changed to the utilitarian Grey-headed Chickadee; descriptive but oh so dull.

Have a great time in Arizona - what an amazing adventure! The mountains to the south are beautiful - an ambitious ride, but worth it. Rustler Park in the Chiricahua Mountains is a place to look for Mexican Chickadee.

Sam said...

Over these last weeks here in Whitehorse, I've seen vees of Canadian Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and Tundra Swans all heading south. They are always a nice excuse to stop whatever it is I'm doing, and "crane" my neck to watch. I always imagine that the next people to enjoy watching these birds will be you three at the other end of their journey!