If you have your eyes even half open as you walk around campus, you’ll see many, many birds. Hear them, too. Almost always this is a nice thing. (There was, though, that multiyear episode with the grackles that was a huge drag.) I’ve seen a couple of hawks eviscerating squirrels but even that had a kind of heedless majesty about it.
As far as I can tell the first person to look systematically at the birds in these environs was Rice’s first professor of Biology, Julian Huxley. Huxley’s student George Wheeler, who we’ve spent time with before, kept the list in the back of his Biology 100 notebook. (His notes were absolutely immaculate, I might add, complete with beautiful drawings.)
Here it is: Huxley’s Bird list1915
Huxley only had a short time here at Rice to make his list but others have picked up where he left off. Cin-ty Lee, a faculty member in the department of Earth Sciences, with the help of others has compiled his own, much longer list of birds seen on campus since 1980. Here’s the list and here’s also a lovely video about birding at Rice. It’s a hopeful thing, I think, that this most basic curiosity still thrives here, independent of any material or career rewards, but rather just because.
Bonus: Cin-ty Lee’s blog is fantastic. I love it.
Extra bonus: This picture was glued into the front of Wheeler’s notebook. It was taken by Huxley and made into a postcard, which he must have sent to Wheeler. The writing is hard to make out, but I think it says “I took this summer–here is one of the best–Simmons will tell you all about this creature-for there is no room on the card.”