Wednesday, January 5, 2022

SearchResearch Challenge (1/5/21): A new year, a new Challenge about parakeets!

 I started this blog with the idea of writing a book... 

... in the very first post I wrote: 

In the back of my head, I want something tangible to emerge from this. Ideally, a book, or a series of books, about how people search... how they research... and how they get good at doing this.

While I thought I wanted to write about search (and Research!), I had no idea that this would begin a slow process of transforming me into someone who, in quiet moments of reverie, considers himself to be a writer.  

And yet, that seems to have happened.  The Joy of Search came out in late September of 2019 with a flurry of sales and activities.  At that time, I'd planned an international book tour with invitations to the Oxford Book Festival, the Royal Society in London, and bookstores everywhere.  I was hoping to do the full authorial road trip with speaking engagements and book signings hither and yon.  

Then March 2020 brought all of that kind of thing to a quick stop as COVID began closing things down.  Alas.  I'm certain that book sales suffered; I know that my book tour didn't happen in the way I'd planned.    

On the other hand, the COVID pause has given me time to think about writing on other projects.  

It won't surprise you to know that I'm working on a couple of book projects.  First is that series of chapters (with my friend, Mario Callegaro) about "How to Find Anything."  (You've seen several of those chapters appear here in SRS.  (#1: Finding DIY content. #2: Finding Recipes.  #3: Finding News.)  By the end of 2022, we'll virtually staple all these chapters together into an e-book for everyone to use.  That's one project.  

In addition, I started work on a NEW book all about Unanticipated Consequences.  

We know humans are terrible about seeing the implications of taking actions in the world, but can we get better at thinking through these things?  Could we actually anticipate the consequences of our actions instead of just blindly letting them happen?   (Spoiler warning: Yes we can, but you'll have to read the book to find out how!)  

This book is probably about 1 year away.  But just as I started the SRS blog with an eye towards writing The Joy of Search, I'm similarly starting up a new Substack newsletter to give me a way to write on this topic with a regular, weekly pulse.  If you'd like to follow along in that conversation, you can read the first post HERE (it's free to subscribe--hit the big orange button at the top of the page).  

But that's all prologue.  Let's get back to SearchResearch!  

As you might have noticed, sometimes the SRS Challenges are really fairly difficult.  (Boy do I know THAT to be true!)  And a few regular readers have commented to me that while those are interesting to read, they don't really participate because it seems too hard. That's not the effect I'm looking for, so I'm going to try something slightly different for January, 2022.  We'll try putting out a few SRS Challenges that are fun, fairly straight-forward, but as interesting as ever.  My hope is that we'll engage everyone to try the Challenge, and learn something interesting along the way--both about research skills, and about the world in general.  

So, in that spirit, here's the first Challenge.  Let me know if you find this interesting / more fun / perhaps a bit more engaging that the ones from 2021.  

1. As you know, I'm interested in natural history, and also in regular history--and also in the ways those two intertwine.  You probably already know about the now-extinct Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis).  It went defunct around 1918, right during the Spanish Flu epidemic.  And so while there are a (very) few stuffed specimens of the Carolina Parakeet, can you find a drawing (or etching or painting) that was done from life?  (And yes, I know about the painting in the Wikipedia article.  Can you find something OTHER than that?)  

C. c. ludovicianus by John James Audubon. This is the blue subspecies variant of the green/yellow Carolina Parakeet (C. c. carolensis)  P/C Wikimedia.

This shouldn't take too long to do, but will reward you with a few lovely images that are not often seen.  

Let us know what you find! 

Search on! 


  1. Down-under Daniel Rabbit and Polly Parrot with Carolina dipping sauce… a busy start to '22 (if only POTUS would provide lessons on how to
    use the Googley… the White House may be calling you and the projects will have to be backburnered…)
    Robert K. Merton.

  2. Happy New SRS Challenges Year!

    I'm already subscribed to Substack Newsletter. This was the first time I heard about Substack, I think.

    Looking to read the upcoming e-book and book!

    For the Challenge, started with ["Conuropsis carolinensis" drawing based on real]

    Read Wikipedia article and was a surprise to learn they were apparently poisonous.

    With that, noticed Audubon name. So, returned to results and clicked their url ( ) with both the green with yellow and the illustration of the blue species.

    With [ Carolina parakeet real life illustrations]

    The last Carolina Parakeet

    2019, NatGeo:
    How humans killed off the only parrot native to the continental U.S. Includes a photo of specimen kept in Spain.

    1. With [Carolina parakeet real based images]

      Very interesting:

      Living relative, the sun parakeet of South America.
      Shows real feathers

      Remembering previous SRS Challenges "Dr. Stiller believes it’s no coincidence the Isthmus of Panama emerged around that time. Once North America and South America became connected, many species traveled from one continent to the other."

  3. Seeing your example made me think of Google Arts and Culture.

    Chicago Academy of Sciences has a specimen prepared for skin studies.

  4. Happy 2022 SRS Challenges Year!
    Glad we made this far. For the week 1/5/22, realized it was written in 1/5/21. Hope it is not from last year.

    I started to search from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History since I live near DC and I've been to the museum many times. Glad I found some useful archives about Carolina Parakeet.

    1. Hi Remmij! Happy New Year to you and everyone in SRS Community.

      About 2020, I have heard in these days that this new 2022 is in a funny way kind of 2020. Memes like Twenty Twenty too or Twenty Twenty 2 (like the sequel) I hope and wish this comes as a great, healthy and peaceful year.

      I tried to visit your link. Is there a way to look without an Instagram account?

    2. Greeting Ramón & Happy NewOldWhatever Year (Twenty Twenty 2 sounds about right)
      don't know instagram's latest policy… I'm not their typical user/demographic
      not all extinction & gloom – at the moment – have you seen?
      an expanding population near you
      a Canadian version,of sorts, 4 rr Rosemary

  5. Happy 2022 Challenges
    I did a search and found a site titled Carolina Parakeet Animal Pictures in addition to sites such as the Audubon sites for information on and pictures of the bird.

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  7. some more bits:
    search using 'drawing of…'
    b&w drawing
    close up, color
    a DIY
    a BBC recount
    "The last captive Carolina parakeet died in the same cage that the last passenger pigeon had died in four years earlier. The decline of both birds parallels the rapid expansion of people across the United States over the 19th Century.
    The genome-sequencing project began when a journalist discovered a specimen was held in a private collection in Espinelves, North-Eastern Spain. The stuffed bird had been acquired by an ancestor of the current owners.
    The study has been published by the journal Current Biology."

  8. [Google Search] extinct “carolina parakeet” “conuropsis carolinensis" life art original artwork prior to 1918

    “Conuropsis Carolinensis (Linn.). M.C.Z. No. 67853. Original of Wilson’s figure 3, 1811, pl. 26, fig. 1.”

    Alexander Wilson, a Scottish-born poet, emigrated to America in 1794

    “While lesser known today than John James Audubon (his posthumous competitor), Wilson gained fame as a naturalist from his single great work, American Ornithology or the Natural History of the Birds of the United States Illustrated with Plates Engraved and Colored from Original Drawings Taken from Nature, the foundation of ornithological study in the United States (fig. 4).”

    Question: Were they life drawings?

    “As indicated in the title of his masterwork, his drawings were supposed to come “from nature.” This mandated his travel over thousands of miles of rough trails and non-existent paths in search of birds.”

    To his painting in vol 3 The Carolina Parrot

    I’m impressed to see familiar names here. I felt compelled to at least give it a quick attempt.It isn’t how hard the challenge is, well yes it is, it’s that once I start a challenge I could spend a lot of time on a challenge but it takes me away from my other interests. But I’ll try now and again.

    1. Nice job, Rosemary! Thanks for the additional Carolina parakeet portraits!

  9. After using Lens then adding -audubon I found this from 1731 at
    and this olde looking image

  10. "Done from Life" Yes, those animals certainly were 'done' from Life. A great Grandpa of mine, amongst other interests was a keen naturalist with a large taxidermy collection of critters. Before fast film and cameras there was no way to get close to, say, a bird--except by shooting it first. Same goes for the polar bear he shot and then drew.

  11. I hope I've not got this wrong as this one seemed much too easy (and you did say you'd have easy ones but I hope some will be much more challenging - although I avoid the ones requiring some knowledge of California as based in Europe they are often of less interest to me).

    So I just did a search using the Latin name and looked at images. (i.e. "Conuropsis carolinensis"). By selecting for line drawing in the tools I got this - but I wasn't sure it was actually a life drawing despite it being an engraving from the late 1880s (so unlikely to have been from a photo but could have been from a stuffed bird).

    So I then added in "Life drawing" and up came the Audobon Birds of America pages - - that Wikipedia used but also others. There were many more - one I can't link to in Europe from "The Joplin Globe" although using Opera and its VPN I got a great image at Again the age suggests a drawing from life or a sketch that was later coloured and finished in a studio. (Don't know which). Another beautiful picture from the Mary Evans library we've encountered before from 1833 is at

    However my favourite is not from life but is satirical painting by the artist Walton Ford which "reenacts Benjamin West’s eighteenth-century masterpiece, Death of General Wolfe. Though a history painting, West’s work is famous for the romantic haze and heroic narrative that distorts a rather gory military death. In part homage, part satire, Ford places a flock of Carolina Parakeets in place of the soldiers, further emphasizing the flattery and thinly-veiled agendas of historical memory." (Walton Ford makes paintings and prints in the style of naturalist illustrations, often depicting extinct species. Some of his work is at and the one of Carolina Parakeets I found at the UK based Natural History museum at that looks at why the bird went extinct!)