Item: It was with the greatest reluctance that I had to refuse Donald Trump’s invitation to debate my fellow candidates for an office I’m clearly not qualified to fill. But then, neither are they.

I would have enjoyed the opportunity; I always like so much being in the presence of truly enormous egos. Such encounters add to my sense of humility, and my humility is what I’m most proud of.

My schedule won’t permit my attendance. Prior commitments, y’know. A pity. I can’t think of a better way to showcase my qualifications for high office than to appear on a stage with Trump, Gingrich and others from that doll-like lineup of prospective candidates.

Actually, that’s not true; my most recent campaign manager told me to say that. Those “debates” to date haven’t told anybody watching very much.

Somebody tell me how the Trump ploy worked.

Item: Presumably you have Eurasian collared doves in your neighborhood or town or city. In any case, you’ve heard about them. A bird species introduced to North America. More correctly, I guess, the doves’ “introduction” was on their own power from the Bahamas.

That they were taken across the Atlantic from Europe makes sense. A passage from the Bahamas to the North American continent is one thing, what with hurricanes and tropical storms. But as tough as these doves are, coming on their own from Europe is quite another.

By the by, the first bird watcher to recognize the presence of Eurasian collared doves in the U.S. — in Florida, actually — was Tony White. Tony resides both in the Bahamas and Jackson Hole.

Eurasian collared doves have found North America to their liking. They are now found as far north as Alaska, having spread from Florida in something like two decades. Relatively little seems to be known of their habits and any influences on native species.

Or how they taste.

The Supreme Court has determined that corporations are people. Can we other people demand to see a corporation’s birth certificate?

Must the corporation prove itself to be an American corporation before it can be involved in American politics? How old does a corporation have to be to be of age, anyhow?

The Jackson Hole Christmas Bird Count will be held Sunday. Fun-loving bird-watchers are welcome to participate. Actually, you can be a curmudgeon, no problem.

Last year, the weather was temperate until shortly before count day, when it turned colder. That’s the way it can go. The count goes on regardless. Want a prediction of the weather? Sorry, not my thing.

There is a traditional precount breakfast set for 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Bubba’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant. Last-minute hope-to-be-counters welcome.

I will go out on a limb and predict there will be birds to count. Somewhere close to 60 species.

Field notes: Animals, including birds, are adjusting to wintry conditions in the valley called Jackson Hole.

Elk have moved down from higher elevations (or from river bottoms) to or near the National Elk Refuge. Moose have appeared  near people’s homes. Bison are coming south. A couple of pronghorn are on the refuge (Eric Cole) where they may attempt to overwinter.

And birds. Folks are beginning to notice birds around. Not everyone, sadly, but in Wilson, Kathy Harrington, Bernie McHugh, Frances Clark, Joan Lucas and Joseph Piccoli have, variously, goldfinches, pine siskins (a few), flickers, tree sparrow, red-winged blackbirds and a robin, downy woodpecker and pine grosbeak. Cross-country skiers find flocks of chickadees and finches in the forests.

Susan Marsh noticed a golden-crowned kinglet in town, a species occasional in winter in the Hole. Dennis Butcher and Tony White report five ruffed grouse in South Park winter quarters.

Makes one excited to get out there and find the birds, doesn’t it? So, last chance: If you haven’t yet signed on to go on the Jackson Hole Bird Club’s annual Christmas Bird Count, this Sunday, call Susan Marsh now or show up at Bubba’s at 7:30 a.m. that day. Seek out the folks who look, well, like bird-watchers. The good-looking ones.

© Bert Raynes 2011


Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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