The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, February 28, 2004  

Are You an Ornithologist?

I like this weekend’s terror alert status photo. It’s a remarkable image and I apologize for its less than picture-perfect quality. (I had to shrink it to fit within the sidebar.)

The photo reminds me, as many things do, of my bulldog Mildred. (Listen, buster, if you’re tired of hearing about Mildred, just scroll down or go away, okay?)

I’ve told already the story of choosing Mildred. In the event you missed it, or if you’re just dying to hear it again, see item number 100 in “100 Things About Mildred” (TRR: The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse, March 25, 2003).

She’s an often shy, hesitant, even timid, and sometimes skittish, little girl, and this little-duckling photo reminds me not only of the day I chose Mildred but of her general temperament -- “Hey, I want to get up there!” -- and her physical limitations, about which see item number 78 in the aforelinked piece.

The photo also raises a question, namely, Why are ducklings so different in coloring from how they will look when they are older?

Human infants have perfect skin, a condition from which we know from experience lasts only so long and from there it’s strictly down hill. (And that’s saying nothing about errant and unwanted, and it’s really all unwanted, nose and ear hair.) But the difference in coloring, when it comes to ducks, is remarkable.

Is there an ornithologist in the audience?

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