The Bird Call of the Ri Beni is a story that blends scientific exploration, jungle adventure, and a young man's coming of age into a single narrative. In the fall of 1934, the author, an 18-year-old high school graduate from New Jersey, sailed with his ornithologist father to the jungles of western Bolivia on a bird collecting expedition. "We did not arise until 7: 00 a.m.; unusual for us! We breakfasted, finished skinning the five birds left over from yesterday, set up the bird drier, lunched, cleaned guns, shoes, yard and house, and finally cut each other's hair. My haircut, Dad said with a grin, makes me look like a Russian; I think his looks pretty good. We then massaged each other's scalp with a fine oil. Late this afternoon, while Dad went out to the edge of the village clearing to set some traps for small mammals, I may have shocked a village girl who came down to haul water as I was washing my hair. I was perched stark naked on a rock close to the water scrubbing myself. She looked at me, giggled, turned her back, and left hurriedly. Unconcerned, I continued my bath." From the tops of 15,000 foot mountains and down to the floor of the Amazonian pampas, the author relates his birding mission in a daily diary, to which he adds his later remarks and integrates quotes from his father's writings. For example, after contracting an illness, his father gives him a potent native medicine, to which he adds these and other updated notes that illustrate how a scientist learns in the midst of his surroundings: "The medicine worked! From his many years of field work in the tropics, he assembled a list of useful medicines for ordinary ailments, surgical dressings, and antiseptics, that hebrought with us." Conditions were primitive. In the cities, hotel showers sprayed only cold water and uncomfortable rooms had no heat. On the trail, shooting, skinning, and documenting new specimens along the way -- forty new species in all - they lived and worked with a handful of different tribes, while dodging the war underway with neighboring Paraguay. "Thus Telsfolo will not be going to Chatarona with us after all for fear of being picked up by the soldiers. Instead, he, his brother, and a friend from the Port plan a short trip into the Andes to evade the soldiers. Sosa says he will tell the soldiers that his sons have gone to dig for gold, and that is all that needs to be said. Dad and I are increasingly realizing the impact of the war on Bolivians, even in this isolated part of the country. Fortunately, it has not affected us personally, our traveling, or collecting." For avid birding enthusiasts, who love a blend of scientific field study set against a turbulent historical backdrop, Carriker presents this wonderful tale of life in the wild bush, the challenges of assimilation with new and foreign cultures, and above all the distinctive link between a father and his son.
Series: Historical Adventure and Exploration
Number Of Pages: 244
Published: 1st November 2005
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.96 x 13.97 x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.27