Thursday, November 15, 2007

ENV: I and the Bird #62

From Mike Bergin at 10,000 Birds

Birders, as I've written before, are consumers of the fruits of evolution, celebrants of the processes of natural selection and genetic drift. It may be fair to say that birding has deeper ties to evolutionary theory than any other recreational endeavor in the world. Whether we realize it or not, those of us who track changes in avian taxonomy from year to year, who care about splits in scrub-jays or Empidonax flycatchers, are end-users of the very biological processes that inspire so much controversy and confusion.

Why speciation is controversial is beyond me; how it can serve as the foundation of an endlessly fascinating preoccupation with different lifeforms becomes more understandable as my experience in bird watching increases. Let others explain why Lesser and Greater Scaup look so similar or how the Mallard's dominant genes threaten the integrity of related duck species. I'm just amazed every time I successfully distinguish between Anas platyrhynchos and Anas rubripes! Evolution… it's not just a theory anymore!

If these musings seem familiar, you have a fantastic memory since I wrote them a year and a half ago when Greg Laden hosted I and the Bird #48. Much has changed since then, not the least of which is Greg's recent move to the SEED science collective. What hasn't changed is that Greg still writes compellingly about evolution, life science, birds, and other stuff, not necessarily in that order. He also hasn't forgotten how to host a bird blog carnival, as evidenced by his plain-spoken presentation of I and the Bird #62.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I and the Bird remains the undisputed champion of blog carnivals concerning birding and wild birds on the planet. Our far flung collaboration is still the best way for nature bloggers everywhere to reach an engaged, intelligent audience. And, of course, contributing to IATB is as easy as ever, requiring only a link and brief summary to your best recent bird post to me or our next returning host, The Ridger (kmdavisus AT yahoo DOT com) of The Greenbelt by November 27.

OTHER NEWS: Once you're done perusing I and the Bird #62, I hope you'll swing by 10,000 Birds to read my presentation of Oekologie #11: You May Already be an Eco-Blogger. Also, you may not realize that we're giving away five copies of BIRD: The Definitive Visual Guide, a true magnum opus of avifauna. We've already given one of the five away, but with the limerick contest (!) this week and the events scheduled for the following weeks, everyone has a shot at this brilliant behemoth of a bird book. Check our giveaway page for the latest rules and news.

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