Albany Democrat-Herald from Albany, Oregon on May 2, 1936 · 16
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Albany Democrat-Herald from Albany, Oregon · 16

Albany, Oregon
Issue Date:
Saturday, May 2, 1936
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Two Western Hobbyists Winning Fame For Studies of Birds lfcv'ifc: m. 4 L .- 1 . ' .. mm- S. J '1 V . ' : - -if i Tj I .t-7.1 r-mm m SWwWVWi 1 Mrs. Hall isn't averse to taking chances with her husband, as is to be seen in the left photo, which shows her descending the rocky face of a mountain to Inspect nests. Righ is Lloyd E. Smith, author of this article, and himself an amateur ornithologist. There's plenty of hard work about the hobby of Rodney Etchenburg and Claude Hall, at these photos of their bird-studying sxpedltlons wilt show. Top photo was taken near Los Banos, Cat., and shows, left to right, Mrs. Margaret Welchert, Hartley Welchert, both of Morgan Hill, Cel.; C. T. Hall, Jr., Mrs. Mabel Hall, Jr., and Mrs. Hannah Eichen-burg on a sketching and egg-collecting trip. Lower, Claude Hall perched In a tree studying distant birds through binoculars. Next, Hall sketching while hanging down a ateep cliff. Center, Mrs. Hall. western birds. . , to lecture on and illustrate Field Trips Provide Action, Thrills, Dangers Wives Join In Pastime By LLOYD E. SMITH THE study of Western bird life which began as a hobby is rapidly bringing acclaim from scientists to two Gilroy (Calif.) "amateur" ornithologists. Following in the footsteps of famous men, who frequently contributed much to the progress of science while pursuing hobbies, Rodney Eschen-burg and Claude Hall have gained no little renown for their amazing discoveries and pen portraits of Western bird life. It is impossible to estimate how much of our present knowledge in natural history can be attributed to discoveries made by men who began their research as a hobby. ' There's Alexander Wilson, for one. Born in Scotland in 1776, he became known as the "father of AT PRESENT Eschenburg is working in conjunction with the Museum of Natural History at Pacific Grove, Calif., furnishing many specimens for a collection being assembled by Dr. Harold Heath for educational purposes. He is also furnishing a collection of scientific skins to the zoological department of the San Jose State College. Neither Eschenburg nor Hall have ever actepted remuneration in any way for their research work. Their main idea is to aid in educating the public about birds. They venture to estimate that the amount of knowledge possessed by the average person is so small that "not one in 1,000 is justified in killing any bird to exterminate a pest. The Owls, Eagles and Falcons are shot on sight, while in reality the greater percentage of these birds are highly beneficial to mankind." SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BIRDS THE Humming Bird is our smallest bird. It cannot walk, which other birds can, but it can fly backward, which other birds cannot. .Young Quail a day old will be found following the parent in search of food. A warning call of danger from the old Quail will cause the young to "freeze" and remain immovable, regardless of any disturbance nearby. Upon a reassuring call from the parent, they resume their search for food. Hawks and Falcons are closely related, yet came interested In drawing birds. For nearly five years this team has spent all its spare time studying resident and migratory birds. Observing wild life in its natural surroundings is not an easy task. It entails' mountain climbing, scaling cliffs, ascending giant trees, wading breast-high through mosquito-infested swamps, crawling through blackberry thickets, poison oak, thistle and all the various protective vegetation nature has conceived to safeguard, her children. Even experiencing thirst in the desert is a part of this game of nature study. IS IT worth it? They'll tell you the thrill of a new discovery is worth the discomfort of a dozen such trips. Due to his injury, Eschenburg is handicapped, so the hazardous tasks of dangling over the side of a high, steep precipice, or climbing a giant redwood are Hall's. From a precarious position, Hall will scan with powerful binoculars every secluded ledge or each branch of countless trees until the bird is spotted sometimes a matter of hours. Then, with pad and pencil, he studies the pose of . the bird through his spyglass, and outlines its likeness on paper. Later the drawing is worked out in detail from the skins of the bird, some 600 specimens now being numbered in their scientific collection. The skins are also necessary for detailed study of the bird, and a series of skins usually consists of five one male and female in summer plumage, one of each in winter dress, and one immature bird. The feathers change with the seasons to correspond with the cover they inhabit. This process of nature is called protective coloration. NOT only do the wives of these two young naturalists approve of their husband's explorations, but often accompany them on a trip. Mrs. Hall is as fearless a cliff climber as her husband, and only once has she faced any real danger from falling. Exploring in the pinnacles of San Benito county one day, Hall and his wife climbed about 50 feet up a precipice. To reach the top, Which was about 25 feet higher, they had to use their climbing rope Hall finally succeeding in lassooing a rock overhead, and made the ascent. Mrs Hall followed. As Mrs. Hall started down, her husband noticed the rope was being cut by a sharp rock at the very edge of the cliff, Lying flat, he reached over the edge of the cliff and clung to the rope until his wife arrived safely at the bottom. He then re-tied the rope at the top and descended without mishap. Among the interesting observations recorded by Eschenburg and Hall is their study of the Raven. Though it is commonly believed Ravens mate for The Sparrow Hawk, Whose Diet of Insects and Rodents Benefits Mankind. a if h. Hanging from a rope ladder, Hall studies the nest of an eagle, preparatory to making a sketch and notes on the life of this interesting bird. While no mishap has occured, due to careful planning, it's obvious that his hobby is a trifle risky! This drawing is by Hall. her admiration. Occasionally, she will join him in the frolic; again she is unimpressed. Unlike most humans, once he gets a wife, the Raven tries to keep hfr bv proving he's still a gay blade, despite his yen rs Contradicting, the general opinion that the Raven is a wise and clever bird, they have been known to spend an entire season trying to build a nest where it will not stay, and fail to breed at all. A peculiar characteristic of the Falcon, or any of its specie, is fighting or making a kill with feet doubled up like fists, instead of using its heavy, hooked bill. This was seen by Eschenburg and Hall in a tragedy of the wild , SPARROW HAWKS do not build nests. They steal them. A male and his mate routed a Magpie from her nest, and the female took possession, while her mate flew away Though a Magpie is not a courageous bird, and ordinarily wotild be easy prey for tho Sparrow Hawk, the mother instinct of the Magpie forced her to return The fight was on. and the little Magpie won with her bill because the Sparrow Hawk turned on its back and punched with its "fists," like the Falcoiv Out in the open the Falcon is deadly. It dives from a great height and strikes at the head of its prey with its feet, and is so fast it seldom fails to make a kill . On another occasion, a Red Bellied Hawk "captured" a man and actually held him for an hour. A companion who accompanied Eschenburg and Hall separated from them, and wounded a hawk. As he reached for its wings, the hawk, which was about the size of a white leghorn chicken, grasped one Of his hands with its claws. The talons eunk into his flesh. Attempting t6 free himself, the hawk clutched his other hand. As he struggled to escape, the talons sunk deeper, until finally he gave up and it was as the hawk's prisoner that Eschenburg found him almost an hour lifer. It was only recently that knowledge of the work of Eschenburg and Hall became generally known. Eschenburg was asked to write a weekly series of bird articles for a newspaper. After the third article, a noticeable increase in calls for that particular issue began, and the requests came principally from children. . , One day the rural school supervisor requested all back copies containing the bird articles. She disclosed that some grades in several of the schools were making bird scrap-books and were actually using the articles as a text-book on local ornithology. Soon knowledge of the Gilroy birdmen's plishments spread and they are now almost constantly in demand by service clubs and schools Hawks, in making a kill, grasp and squeeze out the life of their prey with their talons and bill, while the Falcon strikes a clean blow with talons doubled up like fists, or employs a quick ripping action with the claws. Golden Eagles, contrary to the general belief that they kill and eat sheep, calves, hogs, and even children, restrict their killing to small mammals, such as ground squirrels and rabbits. Their size and strength would enable them to cause serious injury even to man. but they are not aggressive or vicious, and will not fight unless cornered. The Bald Eagle, our national bird, exists on a diet consisting almost entirely of fish, and in many cates, carrion. The idea that splitting the tongue of Crows will enable them to talk, is erroneous. They can mimic the human voice, but better with the tongue intact. A common error is that Owls can see only at night. Many species hunt as much by day as by night, and all can see by day. Owls have the eyes set in front of their head, like a human, and turn the head to see to the side, while other birds have the eyes on the side and turn the head to see straight ahead. " A pair of California Jays will inhabit a small area, perhaps a mile square, year after year,' without leaving it if they are not disturbed. The Arctic Tern migrates the greatest'distance between winter and summer homes. They breed in the Arctic and when the young can fly in the spring they start south for their winter home in the Antarctic. 11 000 miles awav. With the end of winter they return to their breeding grounds, covering 22.000 miles for the year. Black-necked Stilt, Inhabitant of Shallow Pondt and Marshes. American ornithology" because he made a hobby of studying and drawing birds. James Audubon was the first great bird artist, but had no scientific interest ia the fowl. Other notable pioneer ornithologists are Henry Thoreau, John Macoun and beloved John Burroughs. In more recent years, Jack Miner's hobby of bird study has made him famous for his persevering experiments in Ontario, adding much to the knowl- 1 edge of migratory fowl. Notwithstanding the vast amount of scientific research that has gone on, librarians and educators agree that there is a conspicuous need for information, particularly for elementary school use, about our birds of the West those that reside in, or migrate in California, Arizona, Nevada. Oregon, Washington, and even the Hawaiian Islands- Here again the pursut.of a hobby may be re-sensible for supplying some of this desired knowledge. ESCHENBURG, now 37, was reared on a Santa Clara County, Calif., ranch, and might have been a champion cowboy. He was hurt by a vicious bronc, however, and later an automobile accident left him permanently injured. His convalescence was spent hiking through the woods, and he developed an unusual fondness for birds. . Hall, 32, is an expert linotype machinist -operator for the Gilroy Evening Dispatch. Art was his chosen vocation, but he learned to ojMrate a linotype out of necessity. Through Eschenburg he be- PACE EICHT-B ' Western Red-tailed Hawk, Miscalled the "Butcher Bird." life, and may reach the century mark in age, the male never fails, just before nesting time, to court his mate anew. He becomes a "showoff." performing unbelievable stunts in the air, hoping to win

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