Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Story Time!

The Lighthouse Keeper's Cat

Once upon a time there was a lighthouse keeper named Lyall that lived on Stephens Island in New Zealand. Lyall had a cat companion named Tibbles. Tibbles was a terrific hunter and soon proudly began bringing the lighthouse keeper lifeless feathered gifts in the form of a song bird. No one had seen these beautiful flightless birds before and men of science excitedly took notice. In 1894 the bird was named Lyall's Wren (or Stephens Island Wren). In that same year of discovery the Lyall's Wren was also found to be utterly and completely extinct. Tibbles singlehandedly wiped out an entire species of bird. The End. (Totally true story).

Walter Buller was one of the very excited folks that managed to get his paws on a few of the specimens of the Lyall's Wren before there were no specimens to be had. Buller was also the one who arranged the importation of sparrows from England. An indigenous bird discovered the same year as it became extinct mixed with a non-native species that thrive to this day. Hmmm...I think I'll make a painting about that. Wait, I already did.

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