The feathers are still bright on the cape and headdress of King Kamehameha, as if they were freshly clipped from the tail of a... "Now, what is the name of that bird? "
Stories of birds, real, rare, or mythical, abound from the early explorer's expeditions to Peru, Mexico, Australia or New-Guinea. Throughout history, the feathers of rare birds have adorned regal attire, from Cleopatra to Chaka Zulu, from the helmet of Roman legionnaires to the hat of the "three Musketeers," from the Renaissance to the Restoration, from Kublai Khan to Shah Jehan. What bird was the "White Panache" of Henry IV plucked from?"
Magnificent birds have flown around this planet at all time and hopefully for all times to come. We cannot begin to imagine, if reality is stranger than fiction, what they might have been, what some of them are, or what evolution will make them to be. How many have confused the "Stag Horned Kite" silhouetted against the setting sun, for a small tree on a mountain crest?
This book presents a selection of rare birds from the North American continent. I have gathered sketches and descriptions from the record of my personal experience and that of travelers, friends, bird watchers' journals, expeditions and travelogues. Rare birds are in essence like UFOs, but unlike UFOs they come in all shapes and their sightings are few.
J.F. Podevin / Whittier July 1997