Tag Archives: Phil Swanson

Birds in Pop Culture

April 10, 2014 by
Photography by Phil Swanson, vice president – Fontenelle Forest Bird Club & Getty Images

Warmer temperatures will soon send fair-weather birders scrambling for their binoculars. Let’s take a look at some of our local favorites and the roles they’ve played in pop culture.

 

American Coot

Howard the Duck (1986)

Trickeration alert! The American Coot is not directly related to the titular character of this box office bomb. The coot does not have webbed feet, but uses its large-lobed toes to rather comically scramble across the surface of the water to gain the momentum needed to take flight.

 

American Crow

The Crow (1994)

Legend tells us that crows have the power to reanimate human corpses. Such was the case when Brandon Lee’s character joined the undead to seek revenge in this dark and brooding tale.

 

Cedar Waxwing

Pale Fire (1962)

This postmodern novel by Vladimir Nabokov—No. 53 on the Modern Library list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th century—has a poem embedded within that begins with the words, “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain by the false azure of the windowpane.”

 

American Robin

Blue Velvet (1986)

David Lynch is known for finding beauty in the banal. The idealized, Rockwellian, white-picket-fence scene with the robin at the end of this harrowing story belies the film’s twisted plot.

 

Great Horned Owl

Blade Runner (1982)

Owls were the first species to go extinct in the noir-ish, replicant-hunting world of tough-guy Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Remember the animatronic version of an owl swooping through the dystopian darkness? Yeah, me too. Creepy.

 

Red-Headed Woodpecker

The Woody Woodpecker Show (1957)

What baby boomer could forget the staccato laugh of Walter Lantz’s hyperactive cartoon bird? Or his trademark intro of “Guess Who?” uttered just before he carves the show’s title card into a tree?

 

Turkey Vulture

The Jungle Book (1967)

Check out the quartet of mop-topped vultures in this animated Disney classic. That’s right, the physical appearance and even temperaments of these goofy, nothing-but-trouble galoots were modeled after the Beatles.

 

American Cardinal

Angry Birds

We were tempted to go with fire-balling St. Louis Cardinal Hall-of-Famer and Omaha native Bob Gibson on this one, but Red, the leader of a gaggle of Angry Birds, is more active these days—especially on any device with an “i” before its name.

 

“Creighton” Blue Jay

Big-Time Hoops

A welcome visitor to any backyard, the Blue Jay’s natural habitat includes the CenturyLink Center Omaha. Did you know that the specie’s Latin name of Cyanocitta cristata translates roughly to “Three-point Bomber?” Just trust us on this one.

Creighton-Blue-Jaysmall