Is It Your Tern To Swallow?

Royal Tern - Thalasseus maximus
Royal Tern

In between my MacGyvering projects with the RV, I’m working on the species galleries. I’ve been revising these accounts and their descriptions most of this year (2021). In July, I finally came up with a standard format that I like. 

I have always been interested in where birds live throughout the year. Most of the literature and reference materials I find restrict their range maps to North America, and omit the places where birds move to in their seasonal travels. Some species live throughout the world, yet guides somehow thought it sufficient to display information limited to the USA. This limited scope of view always frustrated me. 

Likewise, the divisions in the species (called subspecies) held my interest. Yet this information was often missing from the bird guides. The information was out there. But it required digging through scholarly literature, and is often difficult and time-consuming to ferret it out. It occurred to me that my species galleries could be a format where I could record this esoteric information, and store it for future reference. Further, the act of writing it down helped cement the information into my brain. 

Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolorI found the scholarly resources I needed on Wikipedia and Cornell Labs Birds of the World websites. These resources go on in great detail, and often on subjects that go outside my present interest-level. So pointing a link to their websites seemed like a clumsy approach. The Birds of the World resource uses world maps, rather than the regional ones I often find, and their descriptions of subspecies go into great detail, deeper than my needs for this project. According to their FAQ, it is acceptable to use their data as long as you give them credit. So I have done so by providing hyperlinks in the maps I’ve included with the species descriptions. Most of the discussions they provide about subspecies are too long and detailed for my purposes. My solution has been to revise and truncate the information and present it with the strokes of a broad paintbrush.

Another element I like to include is a personal tid-bit or story that connects my experiences with the species to the narrative. Without a personal connection, I fear the content would degrade to a dry, unemotional account, with no connection between man and nature.

That is the mission I pursue, or the windmill at which I tilt. As of this writing, I have 171 species that I’ve brought up the standard I set for myself. The most recent species sets I have to share are the Swallow set and the Tern set.