Posts Tagged ‘The Fat Finch’

The Fat Finch Heads to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

November 3, 2013

The Fat Finch has now officially gone from “bricks” to “clicks”.  We closed our bricks and mortar store on October 19.  By October 31 we had everything packed up and put into storage. (We won’t mention what an ordeal that was, but anyone who has moved a household or the inventory of a store knows the drill.)  The Fat Finch is expanding and we’re adding lots of new products in anticipation of the holidays.

We are about to embark on the first in a series of new adventures—we’re heading to Harlingen Texas to be a vendor at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival which takes place from November 6-10.  Our car is packed to the gills with goodies to sell, so if you’re planning to attend that event or are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.  It will be like visiting our actual store, just in a smaller version.  Lots of finely selected merchandise that will fit easily into your suitcase will be for sale.

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is one of the finest birding festivals in the country.  Take a look at the festival program and you’ll see some of the reasons we’re excited to be there.  We’ve been in that part of the country once before and were thrilled to see our first green jay, great kiskadee, crested caracara and many other birds (especially shorebirds) that we’ve never seen before.  And any time you can see an aplomado falcon is, by itself, a reason to get excited.  We’ll be back with more posts from the Festival and our trip.

We’re planning to do some post-retail store reading too (for a change!)  And what more appropriate book to take along on our trip than The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.



The Elegance of Vultures

December 3, 2012

TV -1We had our first “up close and personal” meeting with a Turkey Vulture this weekend. She is a rescued bird who cannot be released into the wild and so is kept by our local wildlife rescue facility as an educational bird. We had a special shopping/fund-raising event at The Fat Finch over the weekend and the wildlife rescue folks brought several birds for our shoppers to see.

As is my custom when photographing portraits, I spent a little time getting to know her before hauling out my camera. (Knowing something about your subjects is critical if you are do them justice in a portrait.) Surprisingly, after watching her for a little while I realized that the word that kept arising in my mind to describe her was “elegant”.

Somehow most of us don’t associate vultures with elegance. But the grace with which she moves, the gentle brilliance of her eyes, and her centered calmness all add up to elegance. Think Cary Grant or Grace Kelly in feathers.

Of course, I’m not the first to note fine qualities in Turkey Vultures. Here is Edward Abbey,

Let us praise the noble turkey vulture: No one envies him; he harms nobody; and he contemplates our little world from a most serene and noble height.

TV 2-1And I shouldn’t have been at all surprised with her down-to-earth elegance. I’ve spent many happy hours in my life watching vultures soar on thermals high with hardly a feather stirring as they ride on outstretched wings. Elegantly.

But they are the eaters of death and I suppose that is why we don’t usually associate them with elegance. We have a New Yorker cartoon refrigerator magnet in the store that shows two vultures sitting on a tree talking to one another. One vulture says to the other, “Of course dead is important but taste matters too.”

And I must say that after meeting her I agree entirely with Abbey who, before dying, made arrangements to feed his death to the vultures. He wrote,

If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture–that is immortality enough for me.

The Big Year

October 18, 2011

The Big Year is in movie theaters everywhere now. Well, maybe not everywhere. I understand that movies aren’t big in Somalia right now and the little town in New Mexico where I grew up no longer has a movie theater, but aside from minor exceptions like that, the movie is playing everywhere. And why not? It has Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson in it and it’s a major movie about birding.

You read that correctly, a popular, well-funded, star-studded movie about birding. Based on the book by the same title by Mark Obmascik, the movie chronicles the unofficial competition between three men after a non-existent award for the most bird species seen in a single year in North America. Some human interest comedy has been added for the movie, but otherwise, it is a reasonably accurate portrayal of the book.

Of course, as usual in these matters, the book is better. And, if you live in Albuquerque, you can win an autographed copy for free. All you have to do is listen to KHFM (95.5), our local classical radio station and call in when you hear the ad for The Fat Finch. Not only can you win a copy of the book, you can also win a gift certificate for use in the store.

The birds are mostly accurate, even though a few are digital versions of their real-life counterparts and the flip book of birds at the end of the movie, during the credits, are the best reason to sit still until the lights come up. And this is a movie where the jokes are about non-birders instead of birders.

But the best reason to see the movie and to see it on the big screen is to reward all the people involved in it. Here is an attempt by Hollywood to show us something of the wild world and why we need to get out in it from time to time. Here, from the New York Times review of the movie is a sentence I wish I had written:

Birds are evidence of the miraculous and protean work of evolution and, more important, emblems of wildness in an overcivilized world.

It’s good to see a movie about them. And, after you’ve seen it, you’ll want to read the book again, either for the first time or for a re-reading. Then you’ll want to put on a good pair of hiking shoes, grab a pair of binoculars and go see some wildness.


Here are links to two reviews, one from serious birders at Cornell and the one from the New York Times.


PS. We’ve been away awhile and are glad to be back. Thanks for staying with us. This post is the 400th in the blog’s history and we just recently passed 800,000 views. Thanks to all our readers.

Be a Great Citizen

November 19, 2009

The world’s economy remains in trouble and all good people everywhere are asking, “How can I help?”

We’ve got the answer!

Spend money at The Fat Finch! Or, if you live close, come into the physical store, address below.

You’ll help the world’s economy, you’ll help keep us open for business in these hard times, and you’ll feel a sense of purity and serenity, knowing that you’ve done your bit to help the world.


No birds were harmed in the making of this blog post.


April 17, 2009
The Fat Finch's Store

The Fat Finch

The distaff side of The Fat Finch is now twittering for you and we have added the link over on the right side of the blog.  You only get 140 characters per entry when twittering and the male member of this operation is unable to clear his throat in fewer than 140 characters, so you won’t find him there.  He is, however, able to do Haiku, which seems the perfect format for Twitter.  Absolutely free of charge, and barely worth the cost, here is such a Haiku.

Twittering now, we
Tweet for you at the Fat Finch.
Twitters for the birds.


Birders’ Christmas Shopping List

November 24, 2007

We are traditionalists here at The Fat Finch when it comes to Christmas and Christmas shopping. Jarred by Christmas displays which now appear long before Halloween, we remember the days when they did not arrive until after Thanksgiving. That is why we’ve waited until today to post our first Christmas shopping list for birders. Here are some ideas for you if there is a birder on your Christmas list or if someone is asking you to produce a list of what you might like. Nothing here is expensive. Click on the Thumbnails to see a larger version.

All of these items are available from us and we unabashedly hope you shop with us because it helps keep the birdseed in the birdfeeders in our backyard. (A Cooper’s Hawk stopped by yesterday but all the little birds lit out for the territories before the hawk arrived. It sat on a fencepost long enough to be identified and photographed and left. We assume it was migrating.)

1. Bird Songs from Around the World by Les Beletsky – This is a great book for kids or adults. The bird songs are right in the book, available for playing as the pages are turned.


2. The Little Big Book of Birds – This is one of our favorites. In addition to basic birding information it has literature, poetry, and beautiful full color illustrations of beautiful birds.


3. Journals – Birders keep lists. It’s just what we do. A nice journal for the purpose is a good inexpensive gift. Here is a photo of the one we sell.


4. Backyard Birds of the Eastern United States -We are proud of our web page which was designed for us by the same artist who did a marvelous tee shirt of backyard birds of the eastern United States. She lives in the West but has yet to do a tee shirt of Western backyard birds but we are on her case about it. We’ll do a separate post about her and her art one day soon.


5. Hummingbird brushes – Not for the birds, they take care of that themselves; but for keeping the openings in your feeders clean. Great stocking stuffer for $2.50, plus shipping. (Which is FREE from The Fat Finch with all orders of $100.00 or more.)


6. A bird house – We carry one that is made entirely from recycled milk cartons so is “green” both in color and ecology. Will last, as plastic does, about forever which is why this is a great use for empty milk cartons.


7. Calendars – Calendars too numerous to mention are on the market. Our favorite is the annual Audubon Calendar. (By the way, Sibley has a 12 month calender out this year with which we are not much impressed. It appears to be low quality reproductions of a few pages from his field guide. Far better just to own the field guide.)


8. Candles – Non-toxic, non-allergenic, “green” candles not made from petroleum and its by-products, which is to say natural bees’ wax candles. Fatfinch sells them in glasses with bird designs. By the way, bees’ wax candles burn longer than most and emit light with a spectrum quite close to that of the sun. Perfect for long winter nights.


9. Matches – Yes, matches. If you are going to have bird-theme candles, shouldn’t you have bird-theme matches to light them? Of course, you should. Where can you get such things? That’s right. At the Fatfinch.


10. Optics – If you want to spend more money on someone — or want to have them spend more on you — binoculars and spotting scopes are wonderful gifts. We are not selling them this year but we will be doing a post next week on how to buy them. So, if you are thinking of such a gift, wait to buy it until next week after our post. There will be plenty of time before Christmas.

PS: If you would rather “win” a gift than just buy one, check out our EBay store.

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