73 156+ things to celebrate about America on the Fourth of July

July 4, 2014

In no particular order, leaving many gaps, on the Fourth of July I celebrate America, and these things about America:

  1. The Apollo Project that put humans on the Moon

    Apollo 11:  Astronaut Buzz Aldrin beside the solar wind experiment. NASA photo

    Apollo 11: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin beside the solar wind experiment. NASA photo

  2. Interstate Highway System
  3. Yellowstone National Park
  4. Edward Abbey
  5. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
  6. The New York Public Library
  7. Jello
  8. Baltimore, home of the Orioles, and playing field for Johnny Unitas
  9. Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, and generally the hottest.
  10. Denali, the highest point in North America, so high it makes its own weather
  11. New Orleans Jazz
  12. Grant Wood’s paintings
  13. Mark Twain
  14. Dred Scott
  15. Thurgood Marshall, and Brown v. Topeka Board of Education
  16. U.S. Highway 101, especially where you can see the Pacific Ocean
  17. Route 66
  18. Hot dogs
  19. Ketchup, or catsup if you prefer
  20. Salsa in a bottle
  21. Miles Davis
  22. Aldo Leopold
  23. French fries, with ketchup, without ketchup, with mayonnaise, with Big H Sauce
  24. Grand Canyon National Park
  25. The Mississippi River
  26. “Ol’ Man River”
  27. Meredith Willson, and “The Music Man!”
  28. Emily Dickinson
  29. Falling Water
  30. Pikes Peak
  31. Bluegrass music
  32. Philly Cheese Steaks
  33. Phyllis Wheatley
  34. Steinway Pianos
  35. Chicken Fried Steak
  36. Amish barn raisings
  37. James Levine
  38. Cheeseburgers
  39. Sojourner Truth
  40. Kansas City Jazz
  41. Onion Rings
  42. Peanut Butter
  43. Leo Fender and the electric guitar
  44. Les Paul and tape loops
  45. Gibson Guitars
  46. Chicago Jazz
  47. Martin Guitars
  48. Mississippi Delta Blues
  49. Chicago Electric Blues
  50. Woody Guthrie
  51. John Philip Sousa
  52. Phillip Glass
  53. Commander Lloyd Bucher and the U.S.S. Pueblo
  54. Frank Lloyd Wright, and Prairie Architecture
  55. Mies van der Rohe
  56. Beale Street in Memphis
  57. Richard Feynman, and his memoirs
  58. Broadway in New York
  59. Bonfires along the Mississippi near Baton Rouge
  60. Indianapolis 500
  61. Daytona Speedway
  62. Fenway Park
  63. Crabcakes from the Chesapeake
  64. Golden Gate; and the Golden Gate Bridge
  65. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
  66. Monticello, Virginia
  67. Cape Hatteras and the lighthouse
  68. Mount Timpanogos in Utah
  69. Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia
  70. Great Houses of Newport, Rhode Island
  71. Bluebirds at the Yorktown Battlefield Monument
  72. Colorado River through Grand Canyon
  73. Bluebell Ice Cream
  74. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
  75. Mt. Rushmore National Monument
  76. Lake of the Woods
  77. Pete Seeger
  78. Walt Whitman
  79. Robert Service’s poems
  80. Girls Scouts of America
  81. Little League Baseball
  82. Frederick Douglass
  83. College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska
  84. Henry David Thoreau
  85. Niagara Falls
  86. Adirondack Park, New York
  87. Sitting on the porch at Mount Vernon, Virginia, watching bald eagles cross the Potomac River
  88. Condors soaring near Big Sur, California
  89. Irving Berlin, and “God Bless America”
  90. Frank Sinatra
  91. Jonathan Winters
  92. Hollywood Movies
  93. Airplane graveyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona
  94. Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona
  95. The Shiprock, New Mexico
  96. Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building
  97. Blue Ridge Parkway
  98. Susan B. Anthony
  99. Everett Dirksen
  100. Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  101. Red touring “buses” in Glacier National Park
  102. Fog rolling over the Marin Headlands, Marin County, California
  103. The Beach Boys
  104. Skiing and snowboarding, at Solitude, Alta, Hunter Mountain, Park City, Sundance
  105. The Alpine Loops — both of them, Utah and Colorado
  106. The Virginian Hotel and Cafe, Medicine Bow, Wyoming
  107. American Bison, in Yellowstone, at Antelope Island, in the Henry Mountains, in the LBJ Grasslands
  108. Osprey at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
  109. Painted Buntings at Colorado Bend State Park, Texas
  110. Dissident tradition that gives us Edward Snowden
  111. King of France Tavern, and Treaty of Paris Restaurant, Annapolis, Maryland
  112. The Triple Crown: Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes
  113. Jackie Robinson
  114. Sandy Koufax
  115. Jerry West
  116. Secretariat
  117. Lewis and Clark
  118. Sacagawea
  119. U.S. Women’s Soccer Team
  120. Eugene Debs
  121. AAA Baseball, and the other minor leagues
  122. Texas Barbecue
  123. Louis Armstrong
  124. Ella Fitzgerald
  125. Duke Ellington
  126. Ballet West
  127. Second City
  128. The Groundlings
  129. Harriet Tubman
  130. Owl Burgers at the Owl Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  131. Seattle Opera
  132. Appalachian Trail
  133. Linda Rondstadt; Linda singing canciones
  134. Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris, and Linda Rondstandt singing tight three-part harmonies
  135. Edward Hopper

    “Morning Sun,” Edward Hopper, 1952

  136. The Marfa Lights
  137. Sloop Clearwater, and the Hudson River
  138. Rafting on the Snake River out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  139. Acadia National Park
  140. The Moffatt Tunnel, and the passenger trains that go through it (R.I.P. old Prospector and California Zephyr; long live the new Prospector and Zephyr)
  141. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
  142. Brooklyn Bridge
  143. Hires Drive-in and the Big H Burger, 4th South in Salt Lake City
  144. Old North Church, Boston
  145. Any country road in Vermont or New Hampshire, when the autumn leaves are turning
  146. Virgin River Narrows, Zion Canyon National Park
  147. Platte River when the big birds are migrating
  148. The oldest European building in America, the church at Fulton, Missouri
  149. Harley-Davidson plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — across the street from the Miller Brewery
  150. Wisconsin bratwursts
  151. Harry Houdini
  152. Harriett Beecher Stowe
  153. Grits served four ways at a diner in Charleston, South Carolina
  154. Salmon smoked by Native Americans in Puget Sound
  155. Varsity Drive In, in Atlanta
  156. Raspberry milkshakes at Bear Lake, Utah
  157. Maple syrup from Vermont
  158. Sam Weller’s Zion Book Store, Salt Lake City
  159. Old Angler’s Inn, on the C&O Canal
  160. Central Park, New York City
  161. Seabiscuit
  162. Babe Ruth
  163. Lou Gehrig
  164. Renée Fleming
  165. Willie Nelson
  166. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and their friendship
  167. Boeing 707, and the aircraft plants that make them
  168. Howard Zinn
  169. Solid state electronics, and the Chip that Jack Kilby Built
  170. Tennessee Valley Authority
  171. Noam Chomsky
  172. A. Phillip Randolph
  173. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors
  174. Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)
  175. Gold dome of the Colorado Capitol; the copper domes of the Arizona and Utah Capitols
  176. Things named after John Muir. many in places you would not expect, as well as quite a number of elementary schools
  177. Boy Scouts of America
  178. The United States Marine Corps
  179. Side Street Cafe, Honolulu
  180. Buzz Aldrin
  181. John Glenn
  182. Greensborough Four
  183. Freedom Riders
  184. Freedom Summer
  185. GI Bill
  186. Dennis Banks
  187. Gloria Steinem
  188. Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Farley Mowat and all the other Canadians who come south of the border to make us think
  189. Bob Marshall Wilderness Area
  190. Twin Peaks Wilderness Area
  191. Bonneville Salt Flats
  192. Damon Runyon, and “Guys and Dolls”
  193. Utah Phillips
  194. Et cetera
  195. Et cetera

Okay, Dear Reader: What have I left off the list?

(Maybe we should hold on to this list for Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be grateful for, and a lot of people to give thanks to.)


Glacier National Park, 104 years old and looking good

June 26, 2014

Department of Interior, May 18, 2014 -- Here's our most popular photo on social media last week celebrating @GlacierNPS 104th birthday. pic.twitter.com/JNaYYNnfcH

Department of Interior, May 18, 2014 — Here’s our most popular photo on social media last week celebrating @GlacierNPS 104th birthday. pic.twitter.com/JNaYYNnfcH

Glacier National Park marks its 104th year in 2014. Glacier offers views this spectacular every day of the year.


School in distant, difficult classrooms: Afghanistan

June 10, 2014

From @HistoricalPics: This is what a school in Afghanistan looks like. Be thankful for what you have. pic.twitter.com/Dsfva1yNb4

From @HistoricalPics: This is what a school in Afghanistan looks like. Be thankful for what you have. pic.twitter.com/Dsfva1yNb4

A school in Afghanistan — probably the entire school.

Learning can occur almost anywhere.  Some children go to great lengths to get an education, to improve their lives where they are, or to improve their chances of finding a better place to live.

I’ll wager this school has no wi-fi, no in-school suspension, few homework problems, and no difficulty with Common Core State Standards.

Afghanistan’s schools all seem to offer amazing hurdles to education, by U.S. standards.  Look at these photos.

A line of girls on their way to school. In Afghanistan most of the cities have limited number of schools which are mostly far away from students home. From Everything Afghanistan

A line of girls on their way to school. In Afghanistan most of the cities have limited number of schools which are mostly far away from students home. From Everything Afghanistan

BBC featured a story on the Afghanistan schools project.  Caption here:  Many Afghan schools are outdoors or in makeshift shelters on barren, dusty earth

BBC featured a story on the Afghanistan schools project. Caption here: Many Afghan schools are outdoors or in makeshift shelters on barren, dusty earth. (These photos from 2009; photos by Ramon Mohamed, a teacher from Broomhill, Sheffield, England.)

 

Another outdoor Afghanistan classroom.  Photo from BBC

Another outdoor Afghanistan classroom. Photo from BBC

2010 post from Reality of Life in Afghanistan:

2010 post from Reality of Life in Afghanistan: “Eight years since the repressive Taliban regime was overthrown, 42 per cent children still do not attend or have access to schools. (Photo: RFE/RL)”

Those of us who advocate for outdoor classrooms generally have something else in mind than these photographs from Afghanistan show.

More:


Starry, starry night over Mt. Fuji

June 7, 2014

Time exposure of Mt. Fujiyama in Japan, from the south. Who was the photographer?

Time exposure of Mt. Fuji in Japan, from the south.  via @SciencePorn  Photo by Prasit Chansareekorn

As best I’ve determined, the photographer is Prasit Chansareekorn, of Thailand.  Obviously an amazing photographer.  We might also presume the star over the summit is Polaris.

Thai photographer Prasit Chansareekorn

Thai photographer Prasit Chansareekorn

Fujiyama is the single most-visited tourist spot in Japan. (“Fujiyama” translates to “Mt. Fuji.”)  It’s the tallest mountain in Japan, at 3,776 meters (12,380 feet).  In Japanese, there is a special word for a sunrise viewed from the mountain:  Goraiko.  About 200,000 people climb the mountain every year.

It’s an active volcano, though its last eruption was 1707.  Vulcanologists discuss the possibility the mountain is overdue for an eruption.

Who would be in the best spot to get a photo of such an eruption?  What would van Gogh have made of this view?


Grand Falls, near Flagstaff, at sunset

June 7, 2014

Grand Falls, Flagstaff, Arizona by Scott Wood. pic.twitter.com/L0WDJmqhFr

Grand Falls, Flagstaff, Arizona by Scott Wood. pic.twitter.com/L0WDJmqhFr


Milky Way over Arches N.P.

May 30, 2014

From the Department of Interior's Twitter feed:  Looking for a wow photo? This picture of the Milky Way over Natural Bridges Natl Monument should do the trick. pic.twitter.com/RfuDj7KXSA

From the Department of Interior’s Twitter feed: Looking for a wow photo? This picture of the Milky Way over Natural Bridges Natl Monument should do the trick. pic.twitter.com/RfuDj7KXSA

Owachomo Bridge?  Photographer?  I wish Interior would put in all the details with their photos.


Sunset on the Madison

May 20, 2014

Photo after photo, I come increasingly to understand why my oldest brother, Jerry, wanted to spend his life and eternity in the Yellowstone.

Wholly apart from the thermal “features” and geological wonders, the area is just smashingly beautiful day in and day out, in even the mundane areas away from the celebrated features.

Here’s a part of the Madison River, just flowing through its streambed, at sunset.

Yellowstone National Park's Twitter feed:  Spring sunset on the Madison River. pic.twitter.com/8nZSxJvBeZ

Yellowstone National Park’s Twitter feed: Spring sunset on the Madison River. pic.twitter.com/8nZSxJvBeZ


Moon and Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills, California

May 18, 2014

U.S. Department of Interior, Twitter feed: Beautiful view of the moon over Mabius Arch in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. #California @BLMca pic.twitter.com/u0KYyJ6p0S

U.S. Department of Interior, Twitter feed: Beautiful view of the Moon over Mabius Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. #California @BLMca pic.twitter.com/u0KYyJ6p0S

Interesting points, reasons to like this image:

  1. No, that’s not the Sun.  It’s the Moon.
  2. Who knew California had natural arches?  I mean, it makes sense — but there’s one in Virginia, and a bunch of them at Arches National Park, and . . .
  3. An arch that should be in Utah, in the Alabama Hills, but not in Alabama, in California.
  4. Stars!
  5. Great photograph, obviously a long exposure.  Let’s see if we can find the name of the photographer.  Pox on Interior for failing to fit that into the caption. Photographer is Steve Perry, and you should check out his site (and buy some photos!). (Thanks, J. A. Higginbotham, for tracking that down.)
  6. America’s public lands, showing how they are unexcelled at astonishing us.
  7. What? Interior called the “Mabius Arch?” No, it’s the Mobius Arch!
  8. This place was named after the Confederate warship C.S.S. Alabama. Sympathetic miners making claims on minerals, it appears. “The unusual name Alabama Hills came about during the Civil War. In 1864 Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine discovered gold ‘in them thar hills.’ When they heard that a Confederate cruiser named the Alabama had burned, sunk or captured more than 60 Federal ships in less than two years they named their mining claims after the cruiser to celebrate. Before long the name applied to the whole area. Coincidentally, while Southerners were prospecting around Lone Pine, there were Union sympathizers 15 miles north near Independence. And when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the U.S.S. Kearsarge in 1864, the Independence people struck back. They not only named their mining claims ‘Kearsarge’ but a mountain peak, a mountain pass, and a whole town as well.”
  9. More than 400 movies were shot using Alabama Hills for a backdrop, including How the West Was Won, Gunga Din (standing in for the hills of northern India) and the 1960 Audie Murphy classic, Hell Bent for Leather.
  10. Geologists will love that this area is a prime example of chemical erosion — rocks made out of the same stuff as the craggy Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance, but eroded differently.
  11. Lichens by moonlight!  (Or is that just desert varnish?)

More:


Signs of life: GPS not advised

May 14, 2014

From space, from the satellites, the route may look shorter.

But on the ground, it may not work.

State Highway Signage, US 11 and VA 56; near Steele's Tavern, Virginia.

State Highway Signage, US 11 and VA 56; near Steele’s Tavern, Virginia. “GPS Routing Not Advised” Photo by Linda Walcroft

At the View from Squirrel Ridge, comments suggest that Virginia has several places like this, where the GPS favoring the shortest route may include inclines and turns that trucks cannot make.  It’s hell to back up a big truck for several miles of twisty, narrow roads.

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“Go fly a kite!” Um, but not here.

May 14, 2014

I do not believe I have ever seen such a sign before:

Odd sign, until you realize it's difficult to fly a kite in a canyon and avoid the power lines.  Photo from Poky Tom's Flickr files, Thousand Springs, Idaho.

Odd sign, until you realize it’s difficult to fly a kite in a canyon and avoid the power lines. Photo from Poky Tom’s Flickr files, Thousand Springs, Idaho.

About 1982 I bought a couple of kites and string and kept them in my office on Capitol Hill.  I hoped someone would some day tell me to “go fly a kite,” whereupon I would announce that’s exactly the thing to do, grab the kites and rush to the Washington Mall to fly them. (Do they allow that stuff, there, anymore?)

Alas, none of our pitched battles over policy and press release phrasing got to that point.  The kites got lost in the move from Maryland.

I came up on this photo, and the explanation tickled.  You may see why.  Poky Tom wrote:

Grounded at Thousand Springs! 

Today, the first day of World Wide Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) Week 2011, I was excited to finally end my 3-year jinx of getting skunked during WWKW. The weather was good with reasonable wind. We knew the Thousand Springs area would be great for photography. We pulled into the parking lot, which is shared by the Thousand Springs State Park and the Idaho Power hydro power facility. I got out of the car and was immediately confronted by this sign. Curses! Move on.

 

I’ve never heard of kite aerial photography as something almost organized.  Poky Tom has some wonderful shots from a kite, though.  He also uses a 30 foot pole to get great results.

But, no, you can’t fly a kite there.

More:


Milky Way in Navajoland: YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ

May 13, 2014

Milky Way over Monument Valley Navajo Park. Photo by Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović, from the video

Milky Way over Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Photo by Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović, from the video (which also features Grand Canyon National Park)

Phil Plait’s column/blog at Slate, Bad Astronomy, put me on to this one.  Wow.

You can see it at Vimeo, and read a lot more about the making of the film.

YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ (Navajo for Milky Way or “That Which Awaits the Dawn”)

Phil wrote:

And that they do. The Milky Way is the star of the show; the galactic bulge, disk, and dark fingers of vast dust lanes as clear as if this were taken from space. Well, sort of; I was impressed by the mix of clouds and sky, to be honest. The contrast was interesting, and it’s rather amazing the Milky Way could stand out so clearly above the cloud line.

One thing I want to point out specifically: At 2:10 in, a meteor flashes and leaves behind a curling wisp of what looks like smoke. This is called a persistent train, the vaporized remains of the meteoroid itself, and can glow for several minutes. The upper level winds from 60–100 km above Earth’s surface are what blow it into those curlicues.

More details, for more films from these guys:

Shot and Produced by: Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović
Music: A Seated Night (Ambient) by Moby. Courtesy MobyGratis.com / Unknown Native Chant
Thanks: Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley Tribal Park.

See other Sunchaser Timelapses on Vimeo here: vimeo.com/album/189653
LIKE Sunchaser Pictures on Facebook! facebook.com/SunchaserPicturesPage
LIKE Bloodhoney on Facebook! facebook.com/blood.honey.by.harun.mehmedinovic

For more from the artists:

BloodHoney.com
SunchaserPictures.com

 


Dark Sky Week, Lyrid meteor shower – get outside!

April 23, 2014

From the Arches National Park Facebook page:  photo of Pine Tree Arch by Andy Porter)

From the Arches National Park Facebook page: photo of Pine Tree Arch and meteoroid by Andy Porter)

A few minutes before 9:00 p.m. Central on Tuesday, I saw a sizable fireball falling north to south, appearing from my vantage on the top of Cedar Hill to be over south Grand Prairie, Texas.  Best meteoroid I’ve seen for a while.

Part of the Lyrid Meteor Shower, perhaps?  The Lyrids coincide with Dark Sky Week this year.  Dark Sky Week’s egalitarian origins should inspire all of us to go outside and look up, no?  The celebration was invented by a high school student, Jennifer Barlow, in 2003.

I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future . . . I want to help preserve its wonder.” – Jennifer Barlow

The International Dark Sky Association promotes activities worldwide to encourage star-gazing and sky-watching.

Go out tonight, and look up!

More: 

 


Sky and stars peeking into Antelope Canyon

April 11, 2014

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, near Page Arizona, get more visitors annually than just about any other canyon except the Grand Canyon.  They cover only a few miles.

You’re not familiar with Antelope Canyon?  You’ve seen the photos, even if you don’t know the name of the place — it’s a slot canyon, carved as with a wandering knife into the sandstone at the top of the cliffs leading to the Colorado River.

Over at EarthSky, I found a view you haven’t seen before.

Antelope Canyon at night by Sergio Garcia Rill. Stunning contrast of rock painted by light, and stars.  From EarthSky.com.  Visit Sergio’s website and read more about this adventure.

Antelope Canyon at night by Sergio Garcia Rill. Stunning contrast of rock painted by light, and stars. From EarthSky.com. Visit Sergio’s website and read more about this adventure.

Details from EarthSky.com:

Sergio Garcia Rill captured this beautiful image from within Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona, which is the most visited slot canyon in the United States. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. It’s formed by water rushing through rock. Sergio wrote:

During my recent trip to Arizona, I stopped by Page to get a chance at touring the now famous canyons (Upper and Lower Antelope) and I also had a chance to visit Upper Antelope at night.

I couldn’t really get too many shots with the sky (since the openings were very narrow and limited) but I liked this one in particular since I got a chance to set it up and do the light painting myself a couple of chambers behind from where my guide and another participant were working on another shot.

Thank you, Sergio.

Visit Sergio Garcia Rill’s Facebook page.

Click here for info about traveling to Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Readers here may remember Page was the final destination of my late oldest brother, Jerry.  To his credit, he urged me to make a special trip to see Antelope Canyon, because most of the times I visited, it was closed, or impassable.  Alas, I have not yet been to the place.

This is one of the gems of the Diné, the Navajo Nation, and another good reason to get familiar with redrock country.


Milky Way in perspective, Northern to the Southern Cross

March 29, 2014

Found on Twitter, via @SciencePorn - One of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen. Star photography by Nicholas Buer pic.twitter.com/RlwvSQNBAy

Found on Twitter, via @SciencePorn – One of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen. Star photography by Nicholas Buer pic.twitter.com/RlwvSQNBAy. Much larger view here.

Nicholas Buer works hard to get these shots — a bit of a master, no?

This one was the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) for January 27, 2014 (click that link for a much larger and more glorious view).  Much more detail there, revealing that this is much more of the Milky Way than you’d usually see.

From the Northern to the Southern Cross
Image Credit & Copyright: Nicholas Buer Explanation: There is a road that connects the Northern to the Southern Cross but you have to be at the right place and time to see it. The road, as pictured above, is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy; the right place, in this case, is dark Laguna Cejar in Salar de Atacama of Northern Chile; and the right time was in early October, just after sunset. Many sky wonders were captured then, including the bright Moon, inside the Milky Way arch; Venus, just above the Moon; Saturn and Mercury, just below the Moon; the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds satellite galaxies, on the far left; red airglow near the horizon on the image left; and the lights of small towns at several locations across the horizon. One might guess that composing this 30-image panorama would have been a serene experience, but for that one would have required earplugs to ignore the continued brays of wild donkeys.

 


Nene, once again more than just a crossword answer

March 26, 2014

Caption:  USFWS Refuge System ‏@USFWSRefuges -   Nene hatchings on Jas Campbell #Refuge are 1st in Hawaii in centuries http://bit.ly/1jBxFrT  pic.twitter.com/PK2l9PVa3v

Caption: USFWS Refuge System ‏@USFWSRefuges – Nene hatchings on James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge are first in [Oahu] Hawaii in centuries http://bit.ly/1jBxFrT pic.twitter.com/PK2l9PVa3v (this photo taken on Kaui, at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge). Photograph by Brenda Zaun/USFWS/Flickr Creative Commons

These great looking geese, known as Nene,  are thought to have descended from Canada geese blown off course; once they were common on many of the Hawaiian Islands, but by 1952 there were only 30 left.

Bones found on Oahu show they once thrived there.  A few birds — blown off course again, or looking for more territory? — moved to Oahu a few months ago, and have raised young.  Scientists are watching to see how it works out.

With short name featuring only two different letters, “Nene” is a popular crossword answer, and clue.  Some ornithologists half-joke that the familiarity among crossword enthusiasts was a huge aid in getting aid for the wild populations of the bird, and in getting the Endangered Species Act passed into law.

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