Big Bird, Indeed

My dad is a big birder, as is his sister.

While I can’t claim that I nor any of my brothers have inherited this particular Kotowych gene, from prolonged exposure to my father we’ve picked up certain birding-related skills via osmosis and can all tell the difference between the call of a blue jay and cardinal, know what a Pileated Woodpecker looks like, and can discuss at some length the preferred nesting habits of the eastern bluebird (as well as list the many invectives my father has hurled at their murderous arch enemies, the foul European starling and the dread English house sparrow, who routinely usurp the lovely little houses my dad has built for the noble bluebird).

Now, though I might not go out of my way to ‘bird’, as it were, I will confess to having a heightened awareness of our avian friends, if only so that I can tell my dad about new birds I’ve encountered. When I was in Saskatoon recently, for example, I saw quite a number of magpies, which my dad found pretty exciting when I told him.

So when I saw this article today on the BBC News website I knew I had to send it to my dad.

The Argentavis magnificens, which I believe is Latin for “giant friggin’ bird” lived in Argentina six million years ago, had a seven-metre (23ft) wing span, and weighted around 70kg (155lbs). As you can see from the graphic at the bottom of the article it had a wingspan that rivals a Cessna 152.

That’s one bad-ass buzzard. I’d like to see my dad build a house for that thing to nest in.

Maybe, if I’m really lucky, when I go to Cali later this summer for the Writers of the Future workshop I’ll see off in the distance one of the restored population of California condors.

I think that would make me, in my dad’s eyes, the coolest son ever 🙂

– S.

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