Feathers

Jane Goodall, noted scientist and conservationist, is the author of Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink (Grand Central, 2009). This book includes a chapter about the California condor that ends as follows:

I have a legal permit to carry a twenty-six-inch-long wing feather from a condor. During my lectures … I love to take this by the quill and pull it, very slowly, from its cardboard tube. It is one of my symbols of hope and never fails to produce an amazed gasp from the audience. And, I think, a sense of reverence.

In this post I present photos, illustrations, and descriptions of the feathers of California condors.

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Silver Boy

A 1930 article in the Los Angeles Times presented

An interview with Dr. Vance Joseph Hoyt, author of last year’s best seller in animal stories ….

From this article readers learn that

“Silver Boy,” Dr. Hoyt’s book, tells the story of a silver gray fox ….

For several years Dr. Hoyt has been catching the wild animals in box traps, making pets of them and living on equal terms with them in his place in Topanga Canyon.

Since the appearance of Dr. Hoyt’s book he has been recognized as an authority on the animal life of this region ….

Dr. Hoyt says that of all forms of authorship the nature-writer must be the most accurate and that personally he is as conscientious in keeping the records of a baby rattler or fox [as] he would be with those of a scion of the royal family.

In the interview, Hoyt shares his passion for the chaparral, the “elfin forest” that surrounds urban Los Angeles and supports a wide array of animal life. Hoyt says that

The chaparral is the home of the largest bird that flies, the condor, as well as the smallest, the hummingbird.

But Hoyt is frustrated with his fellow citizens:

I was appalled at the lack of knowledge of the average Californian regarding the chaparral and the animal-life we have here at the doorstep of Los Angeles.

This is strange country – strange trees, strange animals and strange climatic conditions, and … filled with wonders for him who has eyes to see.

Given this review, how could I not be eager to read Silver Boy: The Gray Fox of Topanga?

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Century-old books for younger children

How was knowledge of natural history conveyed to children in the past? Books can provide insights into the nature of the “environmental education” available to our great- … -grandparents.

In this post I note 3 books for younger children. Only one of these refers specifically to the California condor. As is typical for the time, the other 2 refer to the “condor”, by which they mean the Andean condor. Even in the USA, the California condor was not as well known as the Andean condor a century ago. Nevertheless, I consider all 3 books here because they each take different approaches to conveying understanding to children.

01 Pictures and stories of animals for the little ones

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Yet another early-20th-century poem

In 1928, Harriet Williams Myers, then president of the California Audubon Society, authored a book in advance of the selection of California’s state bird. The book’s purpose is made plain at the start:

This booklet, concerning twenty-two birds that have been suggested as candidates for State Bird, was written to fill the demand of teachers, children, and others interested in participating in the vote, who were unable to dig out the information in books already published, and wished something simple and easily understood …

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