Friday, November 06, 2009

Birds of Brazil

At the Times, a lovely obituary for self-taught ornithologist William Belton:
Mr. Belton’s recordings, many of which can be heard online, embrace the firm boink-boink-boink of the dark-billed cuckoo, the amiable squik-squik of the white-eyed foliage-gleaner, the wistful rising halftone — D sharp, E — of the solitary tinamou, and much else. On most recordings, the voice of Mr. Belton can also be fleetingly heard.

The bird names alone read like found poetry. Mr. Belton recorded, among others, the variable screech-owl and the southern screamer; the freckle-breasted thornbird, the sooty-fronted spinetail and the rufous-browed peppershrike; the cattle tyrant, the masked yellowthroat and the piratic flycatcher; the squirrel cuckoo, the laughing falcon, the pectoral sandpiper and the gilded sapphire.

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