Fight or Flight

A soldier goes birdwatching in Iraq

Illustration: Jed Morfit


When Sergeant Jonathan Trouern-Trend, an avid birder, deployed to Iraq with the Connecticut National Guard, he saw a chance to update his life list. His sightings are chronicled in his new book, Birding Babylon (Sierra Club Books).

2/15/04 I’m lying on the ground with my eye on some guy racing around in a pickup truck, wondering if he’s going to take a potshot at us (which would have been suicidal), while a pair of crested larks were not even 10 feet from me, the male displaying and dancing around.

3/16/04 Tomorrow I get to go on a run to the burn pit…. [The pit] is a big draw to gulls and crows, and I’m sure I’ll see something good in the gull department.

3/18/04 I think everyone thinks I’m doing security work when I’m looking into the distance with binoculars. I’m not sure what they think when I’m looking up in a tree.

5/14/04 On the way the helicopter hit a bird. It traveled through one of the windows near the pilot’s feet and into the helicopter…. The bird was a male pin-tailed sandgrouse. I’d like to see one alive, maybe later this year.

6/23/04 As I was watching some wood pigeons, a pair of F-16s came tearing down the runway…. The birds were unfazed.

1/27/05 Yesterday was my last day in Iraq for this deployment…. One day I hope to return, with binoculars but without a weapon.

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS.

The Mueller report might not say it, but David Corn will. So amid the swirling headlines and cable chatter, David provides a clear and honest assessment of what we really know about Trump's actions: “Trump Aided and Abetted Russia's Attack. That Was Treachery. Full Stop.

Even though Mueller may be done with his investigation, Mother Jones is not. David and his team in Washington have been digging deep on the Russian connections and other corruption scandals since before the 2016 election, and we're not stopping now. If you agree there's more to dig into and expose, please help our team do it with a tax-deductible donation today.