Letters to the Editor
BROUGHT TOGETHER BY BIRDS
You caused us quite a laugh when we read the article “Uncovering ‘Fowl’ Play” (Fall 2006). There is some sort of ‘fowl’ play in the caption with the picture of Pamela Rasmussen!
The bird specimen that she is holding is not a Common Hoopoe but a Resplendent Quetzal. I am sure it was not ‘fowl’ play on her part that caused the mix-up.
My husband, Phil, and I met at Walla Walla our senior year. One of the great things we discovered about each other was that we both liked bird watching. I grew up near Malheur Lake in southeast Oregon, and by 10 years of age would go with college students who came to see the birds, telling them the names.
Phil grew up near Freeze Out Lake near Fairfield, Mont., where we live today. It is a prime migratory route so he got to know the birds, with encouragement from his father, who attended Walla Walla in the late ’30s.
We lived in Europe for more than a year and there we saw the Hoopoe. It is a very stylish bird. We traveled to Australia and New Zealand with our youngest son, Denver, (currently a WWU senior) with a goal of trying to see as many kinds of birds as possible. We saw 200 new ones!
In Costa Rica we hired a guide to help us find the Quetzal in the rainforest. They are very shy, rare and elegant. The guide had long dreadlocks and looked liked he had always lived in the rainforest, but he was a most wonderful and interesting person who had grown up attending Seventh-day Adventist Schools on the lowlands.
You meet the nicest people when you are birding. Denver’s first date with Elizabeth Morrison (currently a WWU junior) was trying to find a Snowy Owl that she had heard was seen in the area last year. (They never found the owl, but they were married in our yard on June 17, 2007, with the birds!)
Just for fun, I will tell you that my mother attended Walla Walla about 1928 or 1929 to become a teacher, and I had two sisters and a brother-in law who attended. Phil has several family members who are Walla Walla alumni, including his brother Keith ’72; a sister, Louella ’73; and another brother and brother-in-law who attended. Our son Derik is a 1992 graduate and we also have another son who attended. Five of our nieces and nephews, who graduated or attended, all grew up on the ranch where Phil and I have lived for 42 years! Great life! Keep looking those birds up!
Arlene (Ausmus) Harris ’64
The “Uncovering ‘Fowl’ Play” article (Fall 2006) was interesting and I hope more accurate than the photo caption that accompanied it. As I recall, the Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a light brown/tan bird with a black and white wing pattern and an erectile crest of black-tipped brown feathers. I have observed the Hoopoe many times while living in Zambia and Malawi. The bird in the photo is most likely the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), which I have seen several times in Costa Rica. I cannot read the label that is on the bird, so I can only suggest a “most likely” identification.
John Rogers ’71
In the In Memory section of Westwind’s Fall 2006, we mistakenly switched the photographs of the two women we profiled. Our apologies to the families of Ettine Iverson (photograph at right) and Eunice (Cartwright) Oliver.
Last update on May 1, 2008