National Geographic : 1953 Jan
Author Zahl Assembles Gear for a Camera Safari into Manhattan's Bowery In his laboratory the naturalist affixes 200-mm. lens, light shade, and filter to the Leica camera aimed at the glass-paneled bird chamber on the table. Daughter Eda supervises. Dr. Zahl made his bird portraits in color (pages 81-96) with a variety of lenses at distances of one to 15 feet. He equipped the bird chambers, variously sized, with lights for 1/15,000-second flash speed (page 80). in morning hours, are started by an old cock who suddenly flies down from a tree onto the bare clearing. There he begins leaping from ground to surrounding foliage, back and forth, back and forth, squawking, displaying his gorgeous wings, and fanning his tail feathers. Other cocks, feeding above, apparently con strue this to-do as an announcement that the dance is about to begin. They hurriedly fly down and enter the arena. At first these newcomers just stand around and watch, but as the activities of the "caller" become more heightened and feverish, the spectators one by one leap into the center of the stage. They spread their wings, lift heads high, fan out their tails, all the while leaping, pouting, and squawking. When one dancer returns to the spectators' circle, another re places him. Sometimes a number may be dancing simultaneously. Suddenly the party breaks up and the dancers quietly return to their treetop perches. Public interest in birds has made the search for rare exotic species a profitable and often times big business. In addition, it has given rise to a flourishing industry-aviculture. The market for exotic birds is so considerable that large breeding establishments have developed in Europe and this country. Latest advances in nutritional and hygienic science are applied to propagation of birds from other lands. But for every species that is adaptable to cage breeding, there are dozens which resist all coaxing to nest and lay eggs in captivity. There are many whose breeding habits are a complete mystery. For this reason, the lone Indian or bush native still finds it profitable to catch those creatures of blue, yellow, green, and red that fleck marsh and field and forest, those great beaked creatures that inhabit jungle treetops. So long as man is curious about his bio logical coinhabitants of the earth, he will seek to capture and display them for all to see.