Saturday, September 5, 2015

With A Name Like Ludlow Griscom You Have To Be Good

      Ludlow Griscom is hugely important to modern-day birding.  Most birders have never heard of him. This may be his first video documentary. He is important for three things.  1. Ludlow Griscom could identify birds on sight, like no one of his day.  2. Griscom championed the average birder knowing the birds in his area cold. That is why the American Birding Association  has a regional birding award named for him. 3. Most important, he ushered in the age of identifying birds with binoculars, and not a gun.
      In Raven On The Mountain's "How Many Birds Do You Need?" Ludlow Griscom is covered in Parts IV, V, and VI, with vignettes from his life from childhood to death.  Most of this stuff birders don't know, but if your birding community has a guy or a gal who knows everything, whom everyone defers to, and who makes all the rules, you know Ludlow Griscom.  He was the first of these. He was the one whom Peterson went to with a hard ID.
     You can enjoy all of "How Many Birds Do You Need?" on Raven On The Mountain's Vimeo Channel 2, right here.

It took the better part of a year to put together, but was a lot of fun.

Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Better Than Audubon? Video Documentary.

    Louis Agassiz Fuertes today is Cornell's Lab of Ornithology's patron saint.  And for good reason. He didn't invent the field guide, but Fuertes' drawings and paintings were the first ones that really were accurate enough to be able to identify birds by sight. Part IV of "How Many Birds Do You Need?" shows his progress from a childhood scribbler to the recognized Master of The Art Of Birds. Fuertes's time was the time of the Audubon movement, of Frank Chapman and his camera, and of Chester A. Reed's first ever actual field guide. You still birded over a gun barrel, but this was about to change, as the end of Part IV will show you.

You can see "How Many Birds Do You Need?" Part IV here:

or the whole six-part documentary here:

Elliott Coues, America's Famous Birder You've Never Heard Of, and Market Hunting of Birds.

       You want to call Elliott Coues "coos" or "cooz", and you are free to do either, but for his family it was "cows".  A short video about the life and habits of Dr. Coues is Part III of the documentary "How Many Birds Do You Need".  Coues, who never met a bird he didn't want to kill, actually answered the question from a student  "How many birds of one kind do I need?"  His answer was "All you can get". Today we mean in a Christmas count.  In Coues' day it meant in a drawer.
        Like all of his contemporaries, the good doctor (he was a surgeon, after all) shot birds to study them.  His graphic descriptions of avian death, and preservation were a bit much for this program, but will be the subject of another, with all the lead, blood, holes, and suffocation revealed.
      In fitting juxtaposition, Part III also brings you the market gunners of the nineteenth century.  A dollar for a Canvasback, anyone?

     You can see "How Many Birds Do You Need?" Part III here

or the whole program on Raven On The Mountain Channel 2 here

     Part III also introduces one of the men who helped bring an end to the slaughter, Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Alexander Wilson, A Video About America's First Real Ornithologist

     Alexander Wilson, the father of American ornithology, was our first serious student of birds.. As far as a video about Alexander Wilson, any you might have found are about a modern day meteorologist. Raven On the Mountain Video has produced a 15 minute piece that outlines Wilson's life and work.  It is Part II of the six part documentary "How Many Birds Do You Need", and also introduces John James Audubon to those who know the name, but perhaps not the artist.  The infamous meeting between the two men in Shippingport, Kentucky in 1810 is discussed, as well.
     You can see "How Many Birds Do You Need, Part II" here:

or the whole 6 parts on Vimeo's Raven On The Mountain Channel 2, here

     Part I is an introduction to birding, for the uninitiated.  Humorous, perhaps, but not for the history buff in you.