Katrianna Brisack: April 2011 Archives

John James Audubon -- Environmentalist?

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gerfalconaudubon.jpgJohn James Audubon's images may be beautiful, but they were created at the heavy cost of avian lives. 

Take the example of a majestic, 3-foot female eagle in his studio. It was not enough that it was captive in a small cage (making it easy to draw), but he wanted to kill it. 

So he put it in an enclosed, dark closet with a coal fire to suffocate the wonderful creature. After hours, he opened it. Her head swung toward him. It looked at him. It was alive. Then he put the eagle back into the closet, added sulphur to the fire, and closed the door. This time the fumes smelled so strongly he and his brother left the house. For a long time the eagle was perched alone in that dark, extremely hot and unbearably toxic closet. Audubon entered the house and made his way to the flaming confinement.

Again, the yellow beak and imposing eyes belonging to the bird of prey swung his way. The eagle was alive. So once more he attempted to kill the eagle. He tried to electrocute it, but the biggest battery he could find could not inflict enough current. He took a piece of pointed steel in his hand. The eagle's life ended, after many forms of inhumane torture. 

He described this in his own diary, which was known as his "Ornithological Biography," even though several times he considered letting it go. 

And there is no need to believe that the so-called "conservationist" did this sort of thing to only one bird of a species. For his portrait of a flamingo, approximately fifty flamingos were used as models -- and killed. 

Despite the fact that his artwork may be picturesque and beautiful, it is not near worth the lives of hundreds of birds -- and the allowance of animal cruelty. 

Don't Passerine By This Entry

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Painting Bunting.jpg
The Painted Bunting is a colorful songbird with bright coloration of red and blue on the male, and quiet, pleasing olive green to brown on the female. They are sometimes proclaimed the most beautiful bird in North America. They both have melodious songs, but unfortunately, because of that, they are often illegally sold in the pet trade.  

Indigo Bunting.jpg
Another member of the bunting family, the Indigo Bunting can be easily distinguished by its electric-blue plumage, once more on the male's part. The female is again subtly plumed, to look much like the female Painted Bunting. Juvenile males are both brown and blue. Indigo Buntings can interbreed with Lazuli Buntings. The Lazuli Bunting, during the breeding season, has a head and wing of deep sky-blue and a body of white with an orange necklace. Yet again, females are brown. 

Alone on the ice, higher than any of its relatives, lives in the Arctic the Snow Bunting. The male, as well as the female, is brown and white when not breeding; in breeding season, his plumage turns black and white. It nests in rock cavities. 

A sparrow in disguise lingers among the members of the Bunting family. It is the state bird of Colorado, the Lark Bunting. Its breeding plumage is black and white, and a male looks like a female the rest of the year. It is one of only six species of passerine songbird that lives on the Great Plains. 

Buntings are often common & easy to spot if you know what to look for. Here are a few of their songs: 

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting


Lazuli Bunting

The Endangered Snow Leopard

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Snow-Leopard.jpgIn the deep dark chasm,
Upon the sides of the walls,
Motion with lightning's shape and speed,
And before it the swift deer falls. 

Its color blended ever light,
Gray white and shades of dun,
Streamlined shape and hunter's eye,
And incredible speed to run. 

Against a snowy background,
Imposing yet serene,
The fearsome leopard of the snow,
Can hardly yet be seen. 

-Katrianna Sarkar

Snow leopards are endangered from causes such as the trade in its pelt and global warming. The fur is made into coats and hats, and their bones and other body parts are also used in traditional medicine. Tigers are supposed to be used in the practice of traditional medicine, but they are already so rare (their populations have lessened from this too) that the more common snow leopard is substituted. 

Their numbers are hard to estimate, due to the fact that snow leopards live in rugged, remote terrain. This makes conservation more difficult, so an interesting device was employed. With as few snow leopards as there are, you can tell the individual leopards by their spots.  As a result, pictures taken by a remote camera are compared to those in a photo library. In that way, they can estimate how many there are.

As elusive as snow leopards are, we still know quite a bit about them:

Wild sheep and goats are the snow leopard's main food, as well as an occasional buck or rabbit.

A snow leopard can leap thirty feet.

Snow leopards have enormous, furry tails. They use them for balance, but if they get cold they can wrap their tail around themselves.

Snow leopard cubs have blue eyes. When they get older, snow leopard eyes get grayer.

Let's hope we can save them. We should start conserving energy by using solar power and stop buying coats made from snow leopard, or, for that matter, any other kind of fur.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Katrianna Brisack in April 2011.

Katrianna Brisack: February 2011 is the previous archive.

Katrianna Brisack: March 2012 is the next archive.

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