The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dark-eyed Junco

I had to go to Custer and Hot Springs yesterday, so I drove 36 to Custer, along which I saw this group of Dark-eyed Juncos feeding at the edge of the road. I didn't know what they were until I found them in my Audubon book and on the internet. They have a variety of shading, from slate-gray to peach-and-brown. Strange. Cute.

Later, in Wind Cave Natl Park, I saw this coyote a couple of hundred yards off the road. If I had remembered to adjust my exposures, I'd have had some really nice shots, but what I have are grossly over-exposed. I managed to manipulate them in PhotoShop until they were at least viewable.

I also overexposed this shot of an eagle looking at the menu. The menu is also considering the eagle. The distance between the two is considerably greater than the foreshortening of the lens implies.


David Newquist said...

Sometimes I wonder why it is such a lift to see wildlife, or pictures of it. Then I recall Mark Twain's reason in "The Damned Human Race":

"Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. It is a trait that is not known to the higher animals. The cat plays with the frightened mouse; but she has this excuse, that she does not know that the mouse is suffering. The cat is moderate (unhumanly moderate: she only scares the mouse, she does not hurt it; she doesnt dig out its eyes, or tear off its skin, or drive splinters under its nails) man-fashion; when she is done playing with it she makes a sudden meal of it and puts it out of its trouble. Man is the Cruel Animal. He is alone in that distinction."

Bob Newland said...

Twain romanticizes. Cats cripple mice and let their kittens play with the damaged prey. It's not meanness (probably); it's how kittens learn to feed themselves. The big cats do the same thing with larger prey.

I have seen horses torture cattle. Granted, the environment was artificial (horses and cattle penned together in close quarters). Horses know that kicks and bites hurt; they have experienced them.

These observations don't entirely refute Twain, but they do temper his statements.

Observing animals, even to the paltry extent I do it, helps me analyze myself and my kind. Animals pretty much eat, sleep, fuck and bring food to their young.

People do that, and with their spare time, try to get other people to do most of it for them. They are not averse to torturing and killing others to get their way.