Friday, February 24, 2006

Curlew Caper Concludes

Someone I know emailed the secretary at TBRC concerning the Eskimo Curlew photographs and was intrigued by my evidence. The secretary said he thought the color shot was colorized by Bleitz’s foundation (now the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology) that holds the copyright. He also wrote that Victor Emmanuel was present with Bleitz when the photographs were taken and the TBRC received them from Victor.

Don Bleitz died in 1986:


"Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California 90007 US Donald Louis Bleitz, a Member of the A.O.U. since 1947 and an Elective Member since 1985, died 23 June 1986 in Los Angeles, California. Don Bleitz was born in Los Angeles, California, on 1 October 1915. As a professional photographer and inventor of numerous photographic devices and techniques, Don Bleitz revealed his considerable ability and deep interest in the photography of birds. During his lifetime he photographed more than 600 species of North American birds; one of his most outstanding contributions was obtaining the first good photographs ever, anywhere, of the Eskimo Curlew (J. V. Gollop 1986) in 1962. It was Don's life-long plan to publish a sumptuous, many-volumed work on the birds of North America, using his wealth of excellent colored photographs. This worthwhile project never came to fruition. He did, however, author numerous feature articles in the Saturday Evening Post, Reader's Digest, and Arizona Highways. A member of numerous scientific and civic organizations, Don Bleitz was a Life Member of the A.O.U., the Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Wilson Ornithological Club. He was a member of both the Western and the Eastern Bird Banding Associations. In 1952 he founded the Bleitz Wildlife Foundation, an organization devoted to wildlife preservation and study."

I believe the top three photographs are authentic, but I’m convinced the 4th shot (bottom picture) was assembled/manipulated from the top image. Reading this memoriam on Bleitz, perhaps we can glean some insight into Don’s motive (assuming it was him) for rendering the 4th image. He wanted to produce “a sumptuous, many-volumed work on the birds of North America, using his wealth of excellent colored photographs.” Perhaps all he wanted was a color image of an Eskimo Curlew and the only way to get one was to use one of his black-and-white images, make it appear to be a different bird and colorize it. This is pure conjecture on my part in an attempt to establish a motive, but I think it matches the evidence pretty well.

Case closed? I think so.

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