Posts Tagged ‘bird watching’

Bird Photo Booth: Take pics as birds feast on seeds

December 2, 2013



Homeowners love the sound of birds chirping during the day. Some of them attract these winged creatures onto their front yards by putting up bird feeders. As much as you want to observe these birds up close, you know they just fly away if you get too near.

Let Bird Photo Booth solve that problem and even save those moments forever. It is a bird feeder with a slot inside where you put your old iPhone or GoPro camera. The camera is connected to a device inside the house via Bluetooth or WiFi, enabling you to snap photos of feeding birds yourself without disturbing them.

This weather-resistant contraption is made of sustainably harvested white oak hardwood and comes with a macro lens and circular polarizing lens that zooms in the birds automatically while providing finer details. It also has a lens cap protector, stainless steel perch and bowl for the seeds, and foam inserts for both iPhone and GoPro.

The iPhone foam insert also works with 4th and 5th-gen iPod Touch, while the GoPro protective foam insert fits all models, including the new GoPro Hero 3 editions. Android device owners will have to wait a bit, as usual.

The company even suggests you could also communicate with the birds using FaceTime, but that might just scare the birds away. They also recommend to turn off the device’s auto-lock functionality so you won’t miss a moment.

The Bird Photo Booth is available online for $150, plus shipping.


Life List

June 13, 2009

life listOne of us just finished “Life List,” a new book by Olivia Gentile.  It’s a biography of Phoebe Snetsinger who saw more species of birds than any human before her.  Ms.  Gentile was interviewed this week in the New Yorker’s blog, The Book Bench.  Decscribing a trip to Kenya — to follow the path of one of Ms. Snetsinger’s birding trips — Ms. Gentile told them, “I had this sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing—learning that life is about survival, mating, storing your food, caring for your young.”

If you need a reason for bird-watching, that is as good as any.

Auspicious Bird Watching

November 5, 2007

Today we add a new category category to our our blog blog. We call it the Department of Redundant Redundancies. Our title today is the charter member of the category. It is the result of one of the delightful synchronicities of blogging. A friend of a friend mentioned to our friend that “auspicious” means “watching birds.” Our friend, the blogger at , passed the information along to us for research.

His friend was correct.

Our word “auspice” is a combination of two Latin words “awi” and “specere.” “Awi” means “bird” and “specere” means “to observe” or “to look at.” Thus “auspicious” means to observe birds, so “auspicious bird watching” is redundant.

We get a lot of words from “specere”. Spy, espionage, despicable, [to look down on] specimen, spectacle, speculate, circumspect, conspicuous, expect, despise, retrospect, suspect, perspective and – one of our new favorites – transpicuous, which isn’t even in our spelling dictionary and means, “easily understood or seen through.” Our friend who told us about “auspicious” is transpicuous: He didn’t want to have to look up all these words so he tricked us into doing it.

From “awi,” we get osprey, ostrich, oval, ovary, caviar and bustard; but we wouldn’t call our friend a bustard just because he tricked us into doing all this work.

But back to more respectable birds. Another of the Latin words that comes from these base words is “auspicium” which means “omen” or “divination.” Romans watched birds and flights of birds for clues about the future. Thus Shakespeare has Casca say to Cicero:

Yesterday the bird of night did sit,
Even at noon-day, upon the market place,
Hooting and shrieking.

That was a bad omen, a bad “augury”; a word which means “portent” or “divination from omens”. (By the way, the “bird of night” Shakespeare referred to was an owl; another example of the bad but undeserved reputations of owls that Mr. Forbush talked about here.) Birds provided clues to the future. In Rome a body of officials known as “augurs” interpreted bird behavior and only political leaders were allowed to know how the augurs interpreted the omens. The augurs did not have it too bad. They were also priests who presided during Roman fertility rituals.

Finally, from this “auspicious bird watching” comes perhaps the best of all of Shakespeare and certainly the best literary reference ever accorded to sparrows. When Osric brings Hamlet the challenge from Hamlet’s uncle to fence with Laertes, Hamlet is worried and senses that something is wrong. Indeed, something evil is afoot but Hamlet does not know what. Laertes’ sword is poisoned and he intends to kill Hamlet. Hamlet is suspicious and tells his friend Horatio that something is “ ill. . . here about my heart.” Horatio begs Hamlet to pay attention to the omen and not go fence with Laertes. Hamlet’s reply is the reply that we all might like to make in the face of our own deaths:

Not a whit. We defy augury. There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ‘tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is it to leave betimes? Let be.

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