Monday, April 13, 2009

JM and Thor Lecture Series Apr 22 and 24

Well, not exactly, but sort of.  Two special events – click "read more" for the details:

1) I’m giving a talk called "The Caracaras: Distribution and Ecology of the ‘False’ Falcons" at a meeting of the Texas Ornithological Society in Austin on the 24th of April at 7PM at the Arboretum Holiday Inn. I haven’t done this in a while, so I’m pretty psyched. Laughs and gasps of astonishment are guaranteed. The caracaras are a bizarre and little-studied group of ten New World raptors which combine the intelligence and flexibility of a crow or parrot with the power and cunning of a bird of prey, and some of them have other weird abilities: one species, for instance, appears to be able to repel wasps, and another made British soldiers run in terror. Still another, recently extinct, may have been flightless. Think of them as a league of avian super-heroes, or super-villains, but no matter what, if you come to this talk, you’ll see me get really worked up about them.

2) Also, Thor and I are representing SW at a panel discussion at the UT-Austin Geography Department (in GRG 102) on the 22nd April, from 12pm to 1pm, in honor of Earth Day. I’m not quite sure what the theme of the discussion is, but it has something to do with music and environmental activism, and the idea of sitting on a panel of any kind tickles me.  I’m pretty much in the "save the planet – kill yourself" camp, but Thor can give me hope for the future of our species, and I’ll probably encourage him to do most of the talking.  

The image I’m holding in the picture above, by the way, is a print of the very first image ever made of a Striated Caracara, a watercolor by George Forster (namesake of South Georgia). He collected the type specimen on Isla de los Estados on 3 July, 1775, as part of Captain Cook’s second voyage in the Resolution. It’s one of my favorite things. He captures the spirit of the bird completely. (JM)