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A Lost Soul?

January 30, 2011

Now that I’m officially into birds, everyone I know seems eager to share their bird lore with me, which pleases me to no end. Not only am I introduced to the greatest websites and blog posts, but I also learn essential news tidbits that I might have otherwise overlooked.

Last week Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) accidentally and most miraculously made its way to Newfoundland! In January! All the way from the West Coast! Here’s the bird, looking as regal as can be.

You can listen to the fascinating story (and marvel at a swell Newfoundland accent) on CBC’s website. The bird is named after Anna, the Duchess of Rivoli, who lived to the ripe old age of 85, and became the mistress of the household to Empress Eugenie, otherwise known as Napoleon III’s wife. I do wonder what possessed dear René Primevère Lesson to name the hummingbird after said Duchess, but bird names always elude me. Lesson circumnavigated the world in the 1822; the trip turned him into a bona fide hummingbird-nerd. Upon his return, he was the first naturalist to describe one third of the world’s hummingbird species! Here he is with hummingbirds on his mind, no doubt.

There are many things I’d ask Lesson if I could have dinner with him. Of course, we’d talk about the Duchess of Rivoli (was it a crush? an obsession? did she really have a pointy nose? a hot pink head? did she flap her arms around when she talked?), I’d ask him about remedies for sea-sickness, which he must have endured repeatedly, what sort of hat he wore while on board the ship and whether his hat was as fabulous as my Tilley Hat, and finally I’d inquire, ever so discreetly, if given a second try at life he would be so kind as to name a bird after me?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 2:35 pm

    It gets even better, that is to say, even more complicated; that’s why I’m working on A Field Guide to the Hummingbirds of France (no kidding, really).

    • February 3, 2011 7:37 pm

      Seriously?! That’s amazing! Don’t know that I’ll ever have use for such a field guide, but I’d be thrilled to acquire a copy once it’s out! (OH, have you seen Tom Grey’s photos? I link to him in my post above — they’re stunning.)

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