Front page
Silflay Hraka?

Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
Hrairoo is the proprietor of a quality used bookstore
Kehaar is.
Woundwort is a professor of counseling at a private university

The Hraka RSS feed

bigwig AT

Friends of Hraka
Daily Pundit
cut on the bias
Meryl Yourish
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
Winds of Change
A Small Victory
Silent Running
Dr. Weevil
Little Green Footballs
Fragments from Floyd
The Feces Flinging Monkey
Dean's World
Little Tiny Lies
The Redsugar Muse
Natalie Solent
From the Mrs.
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Public Nuisance
Not a Fish
Electric Venom
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo
Common Sense and Wonder
Neither Here Nor There
The Greatest Jeneration
Ipse Dixit
Blog On the Run
Redwood Dragon
Greeblie Blog
Have A Cuppa Tea
A Dog's Life
Iberian Notes
Midwest Conservative Journal
A Voyage to Arcturus
Trojan Horseshoes
In Context
The People's Republic of Seabrook
Country Store
Blog Critics
Chicago Boyz
Hippy Hill News
Kyle Still Free Press
The Devil's Excrement
The Fat Guy
War Liberal
Assume the Position
Balloon Juice
Iron Pen In A Velvet Glove
Freedom Lives
Where Worlds Collide
Knot by Numbers
How Appealing
South Knox Bubba
Heretical Ideas
The Kitchen Cabinet
Bo Cowgill
Raving Atheist
The Short Strange Trip
Shark Blog
Ron Bailey's Weblog
Cornfield Commentary
Northwest Notes
The Blog from the Core
The Talking Dog
WTF Is It Now??
Blue Streak
Smarter Harper's Index
nikita demosthenes
Bloviating Inanities
Sneakeasy's Joint
Ravenwood's Universe
The Eleven Day Empire
World Wide Rant
All American
The Rant
The Johnny Bacardi Show
The Head Heeb
Viking Pundit
Oscar Jr. Was Here
Just Some Poor Schmuck
Katy & Bruce Loebrich
But How's The Coffee?
Roscoe Ellis
Sasha Castel
Susskins Central Dispatch
Josh Heit
Aaron's Rantblog
As I was saying...
Blog O' Dob
Dr. Frank's Blogs Of War
Betsy's Page
A Knob for Brightness
Fresh Bilge
The Politburo Diktat
Drumwaster's rants
Curt's Page
The Razor
An Unsealed Room
The Legal Bean
Helloooo chapter two!
As I Was Saying...
SkeptiLog AGOG!
Tong family blog
Vox Beth
I was thinking
Judicious Asininity
This Woman's Work
Fragrant Lotus
Single Southern Guy
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Snooze Button Dreams
You Big Mouth, You!
From the Inside looking Out
Night of the Lepus
No Watermelons Allowed
From The Inside Looking Out
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Suburban Blight
The SmarterCop
Dog of Flanders
From Behind the Wall of Sleep
Beaker's Corner
Bad State of Gruntledness
Who Tends The Fires
Granny Rant
Elegance Against Ignorance
Say What?
Blown Fuse
Wait 'til Next Year
The Pryhills
The Whomping Willow
The National Debate
The Skeptician
Zach Everson
Geekward Ho
Life in New Orleans
Rotten Miracles
The Biomes Blog
See What You Share
Blog d’Elisson
Your Philosophy Sucks
Watauga Rambler
Socialized Medicine
Verging on Pertinence
Read My Lips
The Flannel Avenger
Butch Howard's WebLog
Castle Argghhh!
Andrew Hofer
Moron Abroad
White Pebble
Darn Floor
Pajama Pundits
Goddess Training 101
A & W
Medical Madhouse
Slowly Going Sane
The Oubliette
American Future
Right Side Redux
See The Donkey
Newbie Trucker
The Right Scale
Running Scared
Ramblings Journal
Focus On Reality
Wyatt's Torch

April 20, 2005

Birds of Iraq: The Crested Lark

Pity the small brown bird, a morph so ecologically popular that people the world over lump them together under the rubric of "LBB,"Little Brown Birds, to the dismay of bird geeks everywhere.

"I saw a bird in my backyard yesterday. Can you tell me what it was?"

"Sure, what did it look like?"

"It was little and brown."

My typical response to such queries is to ask a couple more questions; Was it in the underbrush or perched in a tree? What time of day was it? Was there more than one? then inform the questioner that what they have there is undoubtedly a Bachman's Warbler.

It doesn't do much for my affable reputation, but I inevitably get a better description the next time.

Or so I would think. For some reason there hasn't been a "next time" yet.

This would not work in Iraq, of course, as even small children know that the Bachman's warbler is a North American bird. One could probably get away with "some sort of sparrow, I suppose," when asked to classify the individual in the LTC Bob-snapped picture above, as "sparrow" is pretty much an interchangeable term with "LBB" when it comes to the drab, stature-challenged avians of the world.

One would be wrong, of course. One would not even be close. Sparrows are members of the avian family Emberizidae (In Latin, "buntings") if found in the New World or the Passeridae ("sparrows") if seen in the Old, while Larks belong to the Alaudidae ("larks")--not that the vast difference between their races means anything to an amorous male.

What was especially interesting was that the lark had "singled out with affection" one of our native birds, and the one that most resembled its kind, namely, the vesper sparrow, or grass finch. To this bird I saw him paying his addresses with the greatest assiduity. He would follow it about and hover above it, and by many gentle indirections seek to approach it. But the sparrow was shy, and evidently did not know what to make of her distinguished foreign lover. It would sometimes take refuge in a bush, when the lark, not being a percher, would alight upon the ground beneath it. This sparrow looks enough like the lark to be a near relation. Its color is precisely the same, and it has the distinguishing mark of the two lateral white quills in its tail. It has the same habit of skulking in the stubble or the grass as you approach; it is exclusively a field-bird, and certain of its notes might have been copied from the lark's song. In size it is about a third smaller, and this is the most marked difference between them. With the nobler bipeds this would not have been any obstacle to the union, and in this case the lark was evidently quite ready to ignore the difference, but the sparrow persisted in saying him nay. It was doubtless this obstinacy on her part that drove the lark away, for, on the fifth day, I could not find him, and have never seen nor heard him since.

Known since ancient times--"Galen says, that the Lark has a crested crown, of the fashion of the Herb Fumitory, and that either of them is good against the Colick"--the Crested Lark, Galerida cristata, is a fairly ubiquitous bird in Iraq, not to mention most of Asia and mainland Europe. Like most of the other avian species in that country, it stays pretty close the Tigris/Euphrates drainage areas, despite its affinity for drier environments.

This is a common bird of dry open country and cultivation. It nests on the ground, laying two or three eggs. Its food is weed seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.

This is a smallish lark, slightly larger and plumper than the Skylark. It has a long spiky erectile crest. It is greyer than the Skylark, and lacks the white wing and tail edged of that species.

In flight it shows reddish underwings. The body is mainly dark-streaked grey above and whitish below. The song is melodious and varied, with mournful whistles and mimicry included.

Previously : The Blue-Cheeked Bee Eater

Next: Who knows?

Posted by Bigwig at April 20, 2005 04:00 PM | TrackBack
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Post a comment Note: Comments with more than two dashes per line will be blocked as spam.

Remember personal info?