Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Ornithology and Imaginaries

Bird Books: My brother Garth is an amateur ornithologist. When he was younger, he used to go out for bird-hikes at dawn, with binoculars and a field guide book for birds. When he saw something interesting, he squatted down, bird book open in his lap, and tried to match up what he saw through the binoculars with an illustration in the book.

These days, instead of bringing along a book, my brother takes a good camera with a telephoto lens out birding. When he sees a bird he doesn’t know, he takes a series of fast photos. The work of going through his books and identifying the bird takes place once when he gets home.

Capturing images of birds on paper has as long a history as capturing images of Imaginaries. One of the most famous bird artists is John James Audubon. His masterwork The Birds of America, issued in volumes between 1827 and 1839, still sets the standard for bird books today. The illustrations of the 497 species of birds he painted are artistically composed, as well as accurate in their rendering of the bird’s characteristics. But in order to be able to reproduce the birds in detail, he had to work from live birds that had been killed and stuffed by a taxidermist. If photography had been available in the early 19th century, I wonder if Audubon would have chosen to paint from photos instead of dead birds.

Even with the invention of photography, the hand-drawn and hand-painted illustrations of birds found in many guide books today are still preferred by serious birders for identification purposes. While a photograph can give us an accurate representation of an individual bird, an artist can render the bird’s main identification points – the shape of beak, or colors on both the upper and lower side of the tail – in a clear way that a photo may not provide.

While the world of birding has its masterworks and its modern-day guide books, we have nothing like that in the world of Imaginaries. Perhaps we can hope that somebody reading this right now with a talent for art and a love of nature will someday become the John James Audubon of the Imaginary world. - GWYNEACH, Iranigami Annalist, U.K.


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.