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The (Secret) Behavior of Texas Birds: To Live is to Fly

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I know Kent to be a kind and gentle person, and it is hard for me to imagine him as an Army draftee learning to fire a rifle, buy what I have always been amazed by is his insatiable curiosity about the natural world. I have been fortunate to visit Enchanted Rock with him a few times, where he gave a running narrative about all the birds we came across. Some of these birds I never saw, just heard, and Ken would explain in a whisper, “he’s somewhere in that tree over there” or “that’s a juvenile Bewick’s Wren, you can tell because he only has the first part of his call; the rest he won’t learn until he is older.”

The (Secret) Behavior of Texas Birds: To Live is to Fly


Now, among his many pursuits, Kent is in a jazz trio, playing the trumpet. He meets weekly with the young interpretative ranger at E-Rock, mentoring her as she learns about microscopic organisms. His curiosity led him to practice writing fiction, so different from the scientific writing he did all his life…and a very difficult transition for most. Kent has been a member of my writing critique group for many years, and I expect that if anyone in our group wins a big prize for writing it will be him; his stories are as unpredictable as, well, the behavior of Texas birds.

“THE AMAZON BASIN — UNRULY, INCRUTABLE, and unnerving in its immensity—is the adopted home of Europeans and North Americans who, like myself, have believed it could provide a slice of life important enough for us to endure its discomforts and accept its risks.” -Kent Rylander, “The Mustangs of Cotopaxi”

“The Behavior of Texas Birds” is available from the University of Texas Press, and his most recent fiction “The Mustangs of Cotopaxi” is on Blurb.

Originally published in the Fall Issue of Heart of Texas Magazine.

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