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Posts Tagged ‘birdwatcher’

A charming feature on the radio show Studio 360 this spring was about a young beat boxer who turns birdcalls into music. (Wikipedia says beatboxing is “is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, and voice.”)

According to Studio 360, “Ben Mirin is a Boston area birdwatcher turned New York City beat boxer who decided to combine his two passions. ‘As a mimic, I was able to imitate certain bird calls,’ Mirin explains, ‘the American Bittern, the Common Eider.’ Mirin mines birdcalls and layers them with his own beats to construct compositions that fall somewhere between a musical mashup and an ornithologist’s field recordings.

“When he performed at the American Beatbox Festival last year, Mirin improvised a set where he combined spoken word, beatboxing, and bird calls to take the audience on a forest bird tour. ‘It was totally off the cuff,’ Mirin remembers, ‘and people went nuts.’

“Mirin has traveled the world as a field ornithologist. Combining beatboxing and birdcalls isn’t just about new music: ‘My craft is about using beatbox to build a bridge to the natural world.” ”

Listen to the music Mirin makes using real birdcalls, here.

Photo: Nick Mirin
Ben Mirin photographing birds in New Zealand’s Fiordland

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Photo: AllAboutBirds.org

Not being ashamed to admit that I’m one of the birdwatchers in the family — and being attached to all things Rhode Island — I was concerned to read about the disappearance of the herons that used to frequent Rose Island.

According to the Associated Press, “No one is quite sure why the herons have disappeared from Rhode Island’s Rose Island, but one group wants them back. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation has started a $100,000 campaign to restore the habitat for herons and other shoreline birds on the 17-acre island in Narragansett Bay. The executive director of the foundation, David McCurdy, told the Newport Daily News that there were about 300 pairs of herons laying eggs on the island a decade ago, but now there are none. Some experts believe the disappearance has to do with the impact of humans, but others say it could be changes in the food supply or an overgrowth of brush on the island. The foundation plans to clear out specific areas and plant cedar trees to attract the birds.”

Read more at the website for the Rose Island Lighthouse, which, by the way, is an operating lighthouse where you can spend a night or a week if you want to investigate the heron situation yourself. Here’s what the lighthouse website says about overnights:

“not an inn — not a b&b — but an operating lighthouse where you can become the keeper.  you have two options.

“1. stay over night in the museum on the 1st floor or

“2. become keeper for a week or a night and stay on the 2nd floor

On second thought, you may not have time to investigate the heron situation.

 

 

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Heather Murphy reviews a cool-sounding book about birds as architects in Slate.

“Birds are exceptionally skilled architects. And, unlike humans, they do not require expensive schooling to obtain their skills. Nor do they covet their neighbors’ homes, explains Peter Goodfellow, author of Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer and Build. The innate ability to create sturdy and beautiful nests is written in their DNA. Goodfellow, a retired English teacher, has been studying birds since the 1970s. His new book documents the process of nest design and construction in extensive detail.” Read the article and check out the terrific slide show at Slate.

To see a bird building one of nature’s most complex nests, watch this BBC video of about 4 minutes, showing a weaver bird learning to master the skill.

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Another new writer focuses on Feathers.

Amazon posts the book description: “Feathers are an evolutionary marvel: aerodynamic, insulating, beguiling. They date back more than 100 million years. [Biologist] Thor Hanson details a sweeping natural history, as feathers have been used to fly, protect, attract, and adorn … . Engineers call feathers the most efficient insulating material ever discovered … . They silence the flight of owls and keep penguins dry below the ice.”

John has been reading Feathers, which he interrupts occasionally to tell us some little-known evolutionary fact or to praise the author’s writing style. John and Meran are really good birders, and it’s looking like their son is a birdwatcher in the making.

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