Monday, July 14, 2008

dogs in early 20th-century china

The Special Collections Library at Duke recently launched a digital collection of the photographs of the early 2oth-century sociologist and China scholar Sidney G. Gamble. I have barely skimmed the surface of the collection, but did turn up these two striking images of dogs and children:

The bibliographic records for the photos are here and here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

murmuration of starlings

An addendum to my last post about the comic artist Kevin Huizenga's re-takes of Audubon and the genre of natural history. I compared Huizenga's squirrels to Audubon's pigeons, but didn't mention Kevin H's own wonderful swarming birds story, "The Curse," which is part of a 3-part cycle on the mysteries and miseries of suburban life. Salon ran a great review of these and other works in the collection Curses back in 2006.

In "The Curse," the bird in question is the starling, an imported "old world" species that has thrived in North America, not unlike the highly invasive human suburbanites they now torment, with their ceaseless chirpings and - true to the spirit of the departed passenger pigeons, perhaps - voluminous droppings.

Here's a post from Huizenga's own blog about the latest in starlings (well, latest as of April 2007) .

squirrels & pigeons

A very funny page from the mini-comic Or Else #4, by one of my favorite comic artists Kevin Huizenga (image from Beguiling, the on-line comic art store):These fictional squirrel marauders of yore have always reminded me of John James Audubon's description of the now extinct passenger pigeon:
In the autumn of 1813, I left my house at Henderson, on the banks of the Ohio, on my way to Louisville. In passing over the Barrens a few miles beyond Hardensburgh, I observed the Pigeons flying from north-east to south-west, in greater numbers than I thought I had ever seen them before, and feeling an inclination to count the flocks that might pass within the reach of my eye in one hour, I dismounted, seated myself on an eminence, and began to mark with my pencil, making a dot for every flock that passed. In a short time finding the task which I had undertaken impracticable, as the birds poured in in countless multitudes, I rose, and counting the dots then put down, found that 163 had been made in twenty-one minutes. I travelled on, and still met more the farther I proceeded. The air was literally filled with Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose.
The last bit is probably the most charmingly gross passage in the annals of American letters.

Friday, July 4, 2008

friday monkey blogging

I don't really blog regularly enough for this "friday [insert your favored species here] blogging" to make sense, but here it is anyway.

From the Guardian's "The Week in Wildlife" series: "A golden langur – one of the world's most endangered species, found only in a few pockets in western Assam and adjoining Bhutan – and a Hanuman monkey in playful mood at the zoological park." Looks like monkey fight to me!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I noodled around with two earlier posts about the "turnspit" dog. Apparently I'm kind of obsessed with it!