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Eagle eyes: watching the birds of Alcatraz with Maganrord.

Marie Cerda and Logan Bartling are birders. But don't let that give you an image of suspendered old folks peering through binoculars. Cerda and Bartling are in their twenties and work as tour guides on Alcatraz, where, as documented on their blog Maganrord--a melange of their first names and the words "rock" and "bird"--they follow the lives, loves and brutal deaths of falcons, ravens, gulls, herons, and the occasional confused pigeon, the lone remaining inhabitants of the infamous island.

What piqued your interest in the birds on Alcatraz?

Marie Cerda: You have limited options of what's going to entertain you when you're stuck on an island for eight hours a day. The things that change are the nature that surrounds you, and the bird life.


Logan Bartling: Christopher Hitchens has this thing about people needing to invent all these majestic religious things when the natural world is so cool if you just look at it. lie's like. "The burning bush, that's supposed to be so amazing? Look through the Hubble Telescope." And it was definitely like that for us. We found out a falcon was on the island, and it was just like, Oh my god, we found a falcon.

MC: Pigeons ride the boat from San Francisco to the island. It's really funny to watch. You can just amuse yourself with. Here comes a pigeon on a boat.

You make up personalities for some of the birds.

MC: Our male falcon is like a frat boy redneck falcon. He stirs up shit with the gulls all the time. Like, "I'm just going to pick lights because I know I'm better than these guys."

You're not afraid to make it clear which birds you like and which you don't?

LB: The gulls are not our favorite. The Western Gulls have this very brief cute period right after they hatch, and then they have this very sharp arc towards this very trife, very violent adult life.

MC: Last year there was a clutch of three eggs and two of the chicks were so much larger than the other one that it was hard to believe they were from the same clutch. So I named the little one Runty.

LB: We're very into narrative, so part of the invented fantasy was that Runty was boycotting being a gull. He was just going to starve himself so as not to be this objectionable, awfully violent, crazy adult gull.

MC: He wanted to stay cute and tiny forever.

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Title Annotation:NWSPRNT; Logan Bartling and Marie Cerda
Author:Samuel, Molly
Publication:The Fader
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2010
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