That’s right kids – here is a brand new way of accurately nailing that most tricky of species, the ugly cousin of the Mauritius Solitaire – the Dodo. This is the kind of inside info that you cannot get in your Collins or Sibley. Bookmark it – tell your friends – this is important ok?
Look, I know this is blog is advertised and probably derided in equal measure as a dodgy-patch-birding-blog, but it’s pretty quiet out there, and there is only so much distance I can get out of ‘I saw a Kestrel fly off’, ‘I saw some Wigeon yesterday’, or ‘my year list is nearly twenty’ – but I thought that this might be interesting, so here goes.
The Dodo – Raphus cucullatus. If someone you know has Dodo on their list, they probably have a half glimpse of a Slaty-backed on there in permanent marker. Or their name is Nebuchadnezzar. Either way, it is, as I am sure you know properly, properly very extinct indeed. No comeback tour for this 20kg mother. Not Slender-billed Curlew extinct either – this one will not be rediscovered by loads of birders having their holidays in Ulan Bator or somesuch. Anyway, here is the classic image of the Dodo painted by the esteemed Dutchman (I only want to help you) Roelandt Savery.
(Is that a Macaw? Is that possible?)
Now this is the rub. It was assumed, because it’s what he said, that this was drawn from life studies of the now non-life-like Dodo. But others claim that this is not the case, and like most other Dodo drawers he painted from stuffed birds or skeletons or what not. Now, it seems that the Natural History Museum and this cool dude called Julian Hume have got together to produce something a bit more accurate based on bones and facts and all those good things that avoid supposition. The pictures are up in the Natural History Museum, perhaps even permanently. A rubbish electronic copy of your new Dodo ID reference is here…
The keen eyed super-birder will have noticed that the birds head is smaller, the body is less bulky, legs longer and neck straighter. The wings, which being a flightless bird are redundant, are more Penguin like or even Great Auk-ish. So next time that you are confronted with a strange looking Raphidae on your local rubbish tip, you know exactly what to look for.
No, don’t thank me. I seek no praise for this – think of it as a kind of public service.
By the way, despite the Dodo supposedly being eaten to death by sailors, it tasted ‘orrible. And Savery painted a picture of it’s arse for some strange reason. Perspective I guess.