Monday, September 28, 2009

Yes, Birdie was his nickname

If you watched the first part of Ken Burn’s The National Parks, you might have noticed, amid the rather lugubrious narrative, this man George Bird Grinnell, of the rather appropriate name, whom I’ve encountered before in a history of ornithology. Grinnell (1849-1931) was the editor of Forest and Stream for decades, using his position to fight against what he called the “park grab” of Yellowstone by private interests (some things never change) and for other issues of conservation. I assume he’ll show up in further episodes, because he’s pretty interesting and influential, if little remembered. Looking into him today, I find he was born right here in Brooklyn. His family soon moved up to Audubon Park, now Terrace, in upper Manhattan, where he got to know the widowed Lucy Audubon and Audubon’s two sons. In addition to being naturalist on a couple expeditions West, Grinnell got a doctorate in zoology. He was a great campaigner against the slaughter of the American bison and the decimation of Native American people and culture. He founded the first Audubon Society. All in all, a worthy specimen of the Brooklyn-born. And check out that 'stache -- he'd fit right in in Billyburg today.


Hoynotmanana said...

I just watched this! In the summertime I live 10 miles from Glacier National Park. I cannot tell you how much I miss the mountains tonight.

The thing I love about glacier national park, not all that many people. It's wonderful, you can go for as long as you want without seeing another soul.

Hiking down to hidden lakes, swimming in crystal clear swimming holes with my dad and dog, Seeing Grizzly bears and just feeling so small in the scheme of things.


-Luke.(corpus christi, TX & Hungry Horse, MT)

Matthew said...

You're lucky to live up there.

Another of Grinnell's achievements is fighting for Glacier NP. Grinnell Glacier there is named after him.

Hoynotmanana said...

Yeah! I've driven past it quite a few times. He gave the park the nickname "Crown of the continent" as well, didnt he?