Saturday, July 10, 2010

CA towhee ~ 07/10/10 ~ at home

California towhee
Pipilo crissalis

Can you get any more plain, brown-grey? Both males and females look like this. It's taken me a while to capture a few fuzzy photos of this bird. Again, thanks to a friend, I finally figured out who was making an early morning (anywhere from 4:45-5:30 a.m.) very loud, very high-pitched, chip, chip, chip - it sounds like a smoke detector that needs new batteries, but quicker in succession.

There are a couple towhees around and I think this is the individual that wakes me up. It's one of the few birds I can actually hear while I'm sleeping, so it's been my alarm clock since before June. I have an odd, one-ear hearing impairment, and if I'm sleeping on my "good" ear I cannot hear most plug-in alarm clocks (huge problem in college after late nights of studying), my husband's occasional snoring (conveniently useful), and many other noises. It reminds me of the story E.O. Wilson wrote about how his hearing impairment kept him away from ornithology and his nearsightedness led him to entomology. I understand.

On a similar train of thought, during a visit to a history of Impressionism exhibit in Rome this spring, Andy and I postulated that Claude Monet was nearsighted for most of his life and then developed the typical age-dependent loss of close-up clarity. His paintings seemed to reflect his change in vision as he aged. I think Monet was painting what he was literally seeing.


Anonymous said...

There's actually a huge body of literature about Monet's vision problems esp as it refers to the later water lilies pieces.

Nature ID said...

Thanks. I'll look into it some more. He had cataracts which explains the muddy rose garden. I haven't seen any mention of whether he was nearsighted and developed presbyopia. His lily panels were HUGE! Maybe his arms weren't long enough?

Erica Lea said...

I'm past due for a visit here, and as always, have learned something new! I've seen California Towhees, and gotten some far-off photos without knowing what they were till now. As for the vision, I'm very near-sighted - I couldn't take photos without my glasses. What I would literally be seeing is a big blur which wouldn't work so well for photography;-) I would also say Claude Monet's "mind's eye" helped with his later paintings.

Nature ID said...

Hi Erica! Thanks, as always, for visiting. Hope you're well. I'm paying more attention to vision these days, b/c I think I'm about ready for some reading glasses. Ugh.

John W. Wall said...

If you get to Paris, check out the Monet Museum. It's one of the few museums you can't take pictures in, but they have good info about the eyesight and so on. Oh yeah, and they have some great paintings in there! ;)

Nature ID said...

I'm sure I would have discovered more if I could read the Italian interpretive exhibit signage. We'll get to Paris, someday. John, do you have Paris pics posted anywhere?