Stalking the Elusive Bird


Sparrows are everywhere, aren’t they? But there are many different kinds of sparrows. This is a box sparrow (or so my wife tells me.) I took this picture in Steigerwald Wildlife Preservation Area. I didn’t have the leans I would have liked for this shot (my 70-300mm telephoto) so I shot it with my 18-270mm lens. It would have been even better with the longer lens, but when I saw this and saw the bird’s beak open and singing a song, I was thrilled with this shot. It made me feel like singing, too!


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1879, Doc Holliday commited his first murder, killing a man for shooting up his New Mexico saloon.

Despite his formidable reputation as a deadly gunslinger, Doc Holliday only engaged in eight shootouts during his life, and it has only been verified that he killed two men. Still, the smartly dressed ex-dentist from Atlanta had a remarkably fearless attitude toward death and danger, perhaps because he was slowly dying from tuberculosis.

In 1879, Holliday settled in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he opened a saloon with a partner. Holliday spent his evenings gambling in the saloon and he seemed determined to stress his health condition by heavy drinking. A notorious cad, Holliday also enjoyed the company of the dance hall girls that the partners hired to entertain the customers–which sometimes sparked trouble.

On this day in 1879, a former army scout named Mike Gordon tried to persuade one of Holliday’s saloon girls to quit her job and run away with him. When she refused, Gordon became infuriated. He went out to the street and began to fire bullets randomly into the saloon. He didn’t have a chance to do much damage–after the second shot, Holliday calmly stepped out of the saloon and dropped Gordon with a single bullet. Gordon died the next day.

The following year, Holliday abandoned the saloon business and joined his old friend Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona. There he would kill his second victim, during the famous “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” in October 1881. During the subsequent six years, Holliday assisted at several other killings and wounded a number of men in gun battles. His hard drinking and tuberculosis eventually caught up with him, and he retired to a Colorado health resort where he died in 1887. Struck by the irony of such a peaceful end to a violent life, his last words reportedly were “This is funny.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In early 1917, British cryptographers deciphered a telegram from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Germany’s minister in Mexico. The telegraph encouraged Mexico to invade U.S. territory. The British kept it a secret from the U.S. for more than a month. They wanted to show it to the U.S. at the right time to help draw the U.S into the war on their side.


2 thoughts on “Stalking the Elusive Bird

  1. Las Vegas, New Mexico – ha, that confused me.

    Great photo. I think that might be a Song Sparrow. They are native to the region and have a beautiful song. They have fun personalities too, if you spend enough time around the same ones (I do in my yard), you can “play” with them when you’re outside working. Fun little guys, one of my favorite birds.

    1. Thanks! I love it when I take a photo and then see it bigger on the computer and discover something I’d not been able to see on the camera’s LCD screen. I tried to get it while he had his beak open and was singing, but didn’t know if I’d been successful. My wife thinks it may have been a fox sparrow or song sparrow. To me, it’s not an eagle, emu or ostrich…and that’s about as far as I go with knowing birds!

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