Birding the glorious oak at Rice with Cin-Ty Lee

I suppose many of the migrants have made their way south by now. Those in Houston are mostly there to stay. But the extent that this is untrue will best be discovered by Cin-Ty Lee, geologist extraordinaire, and superb chronicler of the birds. He is aware of his surroundings anywhere, making it his business what lives there and why. So it is no surprise that if you want to know something about the Rice University campus, Cin-Ty is the one to ask. He has a great blog, very downtoearth. He is articulate with advice on writing, careers, creativity, disrespecting the dogma, and paying attention to nature. Just check out his web page for this. He is a wonderful artist, with some scanned paintings here. For all this, you might think he is less active in research, but you would be wrong. He’s innovating there too, has great funding (though I’m sure he would disagree), and has received prizes for his research like the Donath Medal, the Clark Medal, and the Kuno Award. So get off Facebook, stop watching TV, stop drinking beer, and see what is out there to discover, to document, to paint, to understand.

Cin-Ty may be found many mornings at the best spot for birds on campus. When we visited at the end of September, that spot was this oak, near the northwest corner of the swimming pool. We met up there for the warblers and saw some of the subtle ones, a Tennessee, actually about 5 of them, then a mysterious one that turned out to simply be an orange-crowned warbler, one of our winter residents. The little mixed flock rounded out with a Wilson’s warbler, a couple of yellow warblers, and a Nashville warbler. I’m sure Cin-Ty saw more than I did. We watched them glean the hardy live oak leaves, then met Gerda coming across the field with a hard drive we had left behind.

The longer I’m gone, the more the live oaks, prairies and marshes linger in my thoughts.


Birding the Rice live oaks.


Cin-Ty Lee flanked by two other birders, looking for a hidden bird.


It helps to have a strong neck when the birds are right overhead!


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Birds, Education, Houston, Rice University and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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