Hosta sieboldiana "Sum And Substance."
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Was That A Funky Towhee? Eastern Towhee and Funkia
Eastern Towhee. It's a male. It is not the greatest photograph I've ever taken, but it's the best of a Towhee I've ever shot. Ideally, the bird would have been turned toward me and there would have been more 'eye light,' or highlight in the eye. There wouldn't have been so much background clutter and the bird's exposure would have been lighter. It turns out though, that this bird is hard to capture. It's a rustler in the bushes and underbrush, more often heard than seen and rareley seen without this exsact same type of small twigs and sticks in its midst. So, I should count my blessings and that's why I'm sharing this shot with you at all. I don't usually post photographs unless they are perfect. It's too vulnerable a place for me to be, especially since I know what makes a great photograph versus a snapshot. It would be better to just keep it to myself that I took lousy photographs as to reveal them. I have not seen a Towhee at ALL for at least twenty years. In my exsuberance, I posted this sighting to the Maine Audubon List Serve right away. I hollered in the e mail, "I saw a Rufous Sided Towhee!" The minute I had done it, I had poster's remorse. I thought, "Oh God! What if it was really an American Redstart?" That would have been much more likely and I would really have sounded like an idiot, a birding rookie, especially since I pulled the trigger on the 'Perigrine That Wasn't,' per my last post. My credibility is really waning here. As a birder, there's not much worse than egg on the face with an identification. In the eyes of birders, it's hideous to be wrong! So, I carefully examined the two photographs I had and listened over and over to allaboutbirds.com song recordings. I was sure it was an Eastern Towhee. But, I had said "Rufous Sided Towhee," and there is no such thing. It's an Eastern Towhee. Clearly in my mind though, I could hear someone saying, "Rufous Sided Towhee." Who? Who would have said that? Oh, God -it was my mother! My mother knew nothing about birds but presumed to know and boasted of sightings accordingly. Having repeated her words without thinking, I sounded like her, which made me really queasy. She was always making statements of fact when she didn't know what she was talking about. One of the things she used to say was that hosta plants were called "Funkia." I don't know where she got that. As a professional gardener, I'm into botanical exsactitude; I don't throw plant names and identifications around recklessly any more than I do that of birds. "Funkia" is an old fashioned inexact term, used by Victorian ladies. However, it is what hosta were once upon a time called. And Eastern Towhee were once upon a time called Rufous Sided Towhee. I guess what really matters is not who's right or exsactly what they call a thing. It doesn't matter who is perfect or who is the best. What matters is the love and larger appreciation that they pass on to another, especially children. Even when they are wrong.