Sunday, June 29, 2008
This is random, but a fun ride. Let's begin:
If you are in the market for a good summer read, may I suggest a fresh new novel by a fellow blogger? Jess Riley's book has been released, and though I am only a handful of pages into it, I must say it's gonna be a good one. She made me snort out loud on the first page.
After the first store (B&N) didn't even have it in stock, I ordered it but they never got back to me (slackers), I went to Border's and got my furry little paws on a copy (and held back from yelling to the whole store, "I KNOW HER! SHE'S A BLOGGER!").
Gratuitous kid photo:
Wow. I mean...wow. Anyone think I need to get her an agent?????
Ever notice that squirrels don't have thumbs? Rats don't, either. Guess it's a rodent thing.
This was waiting for us this morning:
A Giant Leopard Moth. A stunningly handsome moth...and sometimes their spots are ringed in electric blue. Know how they start out life? As a WOOLY Bear caterpillar!
I broke out into a fit of giggles when I saw Hooper looking all bored, or like he was having an existential crisis:
Reminds me of one of the Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey:
A few RAPTOR pics:
The MOLT From HELL has begun for the red screech owl. Loyal readers of this blog might remember how this guy looks during the MOLT From HELL. (Go to the bottom of that link to see just how bad it gets)
Here is where the ear tufts are supposed to be:
I could totally make this in to a "I Can Has Cheezburger" pic.
"Ear tufts. You R doin it wrong."
This one doesn't even need a caption:
Or maybe it does...
"Well.....aren't We a little freakin' ray of sunshine."
What my car looks like when I pack it for a program:
Hard to take a deep breath in that car. And speaking of breathing...for three summers, I have suffered untold hours of driving this car with no air conditioning. And after 3 different mechanics tried to sell me *just Freon* or *a whole new AC system*, etc, FINALLY someone listened to me and figured out what the problem is. And thanks to Geoff's hard work this month, we can send it in and get it fixed. Celebrate....celebrate....dance to the music.....
On the way to Saturday's program, I spotted a posse of Black Vultures feasting on a festering deer:
"MY carcass. MINE!!!!!"
It's all Lynne's fault.
Today we got to visit with family members who we hardly ever get to see. My cousins Sue and Bruce live in Hickory, North Carolina, and Rick, another cousin, lives in Atlanta. We were all in the same room for the first time in like a zillion years:
Carolyn from Mountain Musings has pointed out that Isabelle is always so sunshiny and full of life in photos, and this one is no exception. (She's in the back, in the middle) She had just lost a tooth, so the Tooth Fairy has to scrape up some coinage tonight.
That's my Mom in the front....isn't she CUTE?
We went to Hoggy's, a BBQ place, where they have........
I totally want a T-shirt with that on it.
Friday, June 27, 2008
As I sat here, trying to think of something to post about, someone came through for me. This is in response to my new blog, "Cats Versus Birds".
From a veterinarian/birder we all know and love.
One veterinarian’s view:
When starting this conversation, one of the first terms to define is what kind of cat you are talking about. A feral cat is one that is truly “wild,” unowned and living without any, or with very limited, human intervention. Then, there are stray cats, also unowned, but supported in part by people. These include the public cat colonies fed by well-meaning cat lovers and the stray that shows up in your yard from time to time, looking for a handout. Finally, there are owned cats, some of which might be called “barn cats,” owned, fed and casually cared for, but never coming indoors, and pet cats who live mostly indoors, but are allowed some outdoor time as part of their daily routine. Management styles must be modified based on what kind of cat problem you are addressing.
Feral cats actually make up the smallest portion of the cat population. Due to the rigors of their lifestyle, their lifespan is short, approximately 2 years. Poor nutrition means their reproductive rate is low. Without supplemental feeding, litter numbers are small and few kittens survive to adulthood.
Subsidized cat colonies may consist of dozens or even hundreds of cats. Well-meaning but uninformed people who provide food for these cats contribute to the problem by improving the cats’ nutrition, thus increasing their fecundity. The concentration of large numbers of cats in a small area increases the fecal pollution, and raises the risk of zoonotic disease. Cats using park lands or sandboxes put people, especially children, at risk for roundworms (which can cause blindness or neurologic disease) and toxoplasmosis, a cause of human birth defects. Colonies are often in sheltered areas, and the security and reliable food source attracts new feline members. Irresponsible pet owners may dump their unwanted kittens in the vicinity, assuming “someone will care for them.”
Owned cats are the unseen fly in the ointment. Pet owners may believe that their well-fed cat has no need to hunt, but the predatory instinct of a feline will not be denied. Even if not hungry, cats will take and kill birds, small mammals, snakes and frogs.
Leash laws can be enacted for owned cats, but won’t control the feral or stray cat, and would be extremely difficult to police in rural areas, where a good mouser is prized. Colony caretakers won’t tolerate any policy that involves killing their beloved charges. Trapping and removing all cats and kittens allows new strays move into the void, perpetuating the colony. TNR, Trap/Neuter/Release, has been advocated by cat lovers, as it establishes stable and non-reproducing colonies, but doesn’t answer the question of wildlife decimation.
So, what is the answer? The truth is, no one answer fits all the situations. Feral cats are not good candidates for adoption. Trap/Remove might work for feral cats which are in areas where people don’t have proprietary emotional ties to them. TNR of public cat colonies, with adoption of kittens and tame adults, and returning sterilized adults to the colony, is currently the accepted option where public outcry makes removal politically unacceptable. Educating the public is critical for controlling the pet cat population, with a big emphasis on spay and neuter to decrease the ever-burgeoning overpopulation problem.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
While I won't be stuffing $100's into this jar for my girls to remove and color with markers, I have started saving for Cape May Autumn Weekend in October. At least with all this coinage, I will have the tolls and parking meters covered.
And I could also start a jar for the New River Birding Festival in April 2009.
Birding festivals.....*delicious shivers*.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Some of the good stuff:
Mom's house wrens have little ones.
(I can't resist..."FEED ME, SEYMOUR!")
A butterfly (where the heck is my field guide???) paused in the afternoon sun, long enough for me to get a photo.
UPDATE: Hackberry Emperor
Mom has a wisteria, and it's growing these weird yet lovely pods. MINE doesn't grow pods...it sends out runners and is bent on world domination. These pods reminded me of the baby rats...same hair-do.
My girls dance and frolic among bubbles...in front of Dad's garage. Gulp. Yeah, I got choked up, because this is the building he practically lived in. But that sadness is beautiful too, because I am reminded of how much people loved him and miss him still.
My youngest thinks she is very strong. God, I hope she is. Because a strong woman is a beautiful woman.
Ditto for this photo.
This child, 20 minutes before this photo was taken, was bawling her eyes out because she and Isabelle were having a sleepover at Mom's (she's a bit of a home-body). I have a program tomorrow and I needed childcare. That cranky kid became a happy, dancing sprite. Beautiful.
Coming home this evening, without kids to make all the birds bolt as they run to the house to escape the cicadas, I got the chance to watch a robin fly home with a worm to feed the newest babies in the yard.
And a chance afternoon sunbeam through leaded glass can make a boring stretch of gray carpet into a painting.
See? Life is good.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
(I didn't include Cute Overload, because I am tired of it. And a particular post with an outdoor cat tormenting a chipmunk left me with a "let's just boycott this" taste in my mouth.)
Sunday, June 22, 2008
At my program today, a man asked me if Great Horned Owls are extinct.
So what, you say?
Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention that I was holding the Great Horned Owl on my hand at the time.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Volunteers are the life-blood of non-profit organizations. People are here to help. And help they do. They donate their time, their energy, their love.
Dan is a long-time volunteer at RAPTOR. He's been there forever. I walked over to Earl's cage and peeked in. Dan was wearing a face mask.
"What in the Hell is that on your face, Dan? Is Earl extra stinky today or something?"
Turns out that Dan is allergic to something at RAPTOR.
And yet, there he was.
Posed for me and everything.
A new volunteer is learning to handle the birds.
This is Bob....with my Lucy. And he did very well, and she responded to him very well. Good. Maybe I will get help with programs soon. Don't get me wrong, I love doing programs. But the hard work before and after them (jessing up the birds, loading the birds into their carriers, loading the carriers into the car, unloading the carriers at the program, and then reversing the whole process afterwards)...well, it's tiring. The gravy is the actual program.
Speaking of programs: If you are in the Bethel, Ohio area tomorrow, come and see me at the Bethel Founder's Day festival at Burke Park. I'm going to be on the "Pioneer Stage" at 2 pm.
We haven't had the baby ratlettes on a post in a whole day, so here's four of them in a row:
Oh, they are so perfect against that pink blanket.
And look out. Baby rat ears, eyes and lips:
And let's not forget those perfect, claw-tipped feets.
After sending a pitiful email to Kathi, she magnanimously agreed to go birding with me today, so we hit the CNC.
Why dead things are attracted to me, I'll never know. Crossing the road to get to the meadow, we found a piece of dead stuff.
We thought it was a snake and I of course picked it up.
But then I saw hair:
A possum tail, no longer attached to the possum.
And it went downhill from there.
Only at Magee Marsh can I see birds with Kathi. Everywhere else, it's a crap shoot.
*Okay, I am totally kidding here, so please don't think I hate the woman or that we really don't see birds. It's just become our thing to taunt each other about who jinxes us on bird walks. Since I post more than she does, I get to point the finger at her.*
And speaking of pointing fingers, here's Kathi, pointing at nothing:
At least she is a good sport about being a total poser.
The last bird we got for the day was a Great Crested Flycatcher. And I found it. SEE?
Told you it wasn't me.
A video of us not seeing birds:
Friday, June 20, 2008
2. Danced in front of your mirror naked? Does edible underwear count?
3. Ever told a lie? No. (Well, that's a lie)
4. Been arrested? I almost was.
5. Kissed a picture? Yes
6. Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes
7. Held an actual snake? Yes
8. Ever run a red light? Yes...the gals at Cape May can validate that.
9. Ever drink and drive? Yes. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
10. Been suspended from school? Yes
11. Ever been fired from a job? Yeah, but the boss said to call it a "lay-off" so I could get Unemployment. He fired me because he heard that I had graduated from phlebotomy school and knew I was leaving anyway.
12. Totaled a car/motorbike in an accident? No
13. Sang karaoke? No, but I would LOVE to!
14. Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t? Yes
15. Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes
16. Ever gone “under the knife?” Yes, too many times.
17. Driven cross country? Only when I miss flights out of New Jersey : )
18. Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes
19. Kissed in the rain? Yes
20. Sang in the shower? Yes, and I rocked. 21. Sat on a rooftop? Yes
22. Been to a foreign country in which you didn’t speak the language? Scotland's version of English sounds like a foreign language!
23. Thought about your past with regret? Yes
24. Been pushed in the pool with your clothes on? Yes
25. Skinny dipped? Yes (blushing)
26. Shaved your head? Part of it.
27. Blacked out from drinking? No
28. Had a gym membership? Yes
29. Been in a band? School band.
30. Fired a gun? Yes, and it knocked me on my ass.
31. Liked someone with nobody else knowing about it? Yes
32. Played strip poker? Yes.
33. Been to a strip joint? Yes...with my boyfriend. I had the money, he had the need. : )
34. Donated Blood? No
35. Liked someone you shouldn’t? Yes
36. Have a tattoo? Yes.
37. Been to jail? No
38. Have or had any piercings? Yes
39. Made out with a complete stranger? Yes. I was a crazy fool in my youth.
40. Had a one night stand? Yes. Damn, these are getting personal.
41. Caught someone cheating on you? Yes..and threw a table at the cheating bastard.
42. Felt like dying? Yes, during Isabelle's birth
43. Regret any of your ex’s? Yes, all of them.
44. Been to a rodeo? No
45. Been to a NASCAR race? Do I look like an extra from Deliverance????
46. Been in love? Yes...I'm soaking in it right now.
47. Met a celebrity? Yes! Rev. Jesse Jackson, a lot of the Bengal's, Richard Simmons, local TV personalities...
48. Been on TV? Yes
49. Know how to cook? Yes
50. Like motorcycles? Yes
51. Bungee jumped, skydived, based jumped, etc? No
52. Slept outdoors? Yes. But not by choice.
53. Spent the night in a snow cave? Yes. But not by choice.
54. Thought you were going to drown? In the snow cave????
55. Play an instrument? Yes
Thursday, June 19, 2008
RAPTOR's barn is host to what used to be a large colony of Little Brown Bats (as far as I know...I don't think we could be lucky enough to have an endangered species like the Indiana Bat.
The "Bat Lady" (for the life of me, I can't remember her name!) from the Cincinnati Museum Center came out a few weeks ago and looked at our bats and didn't see any signs of what is being called "White nose fungus". The first I heard of this fungus was over at Julie's blog.
From the USFWS:
White-nose syndrome was first detected at caves and mines in New York last winter, where it is believed to be associated with the deaths of approximately 8,000 to 11,000 bats. This winter, WNS has again been found at the previously affected sites, and has spread to additional sites in New York as well as sites in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Approximately 400,000 to 500,000 bats hibernate at affected sites.
It's a pretty regular occurance that a baby is found at the base of the stairs going to the loft, or other places where they can drop through holes to the hallway between the cages.
I found one today just outside the cage that holds the program Great Horned Owl. A few inches to the left and the baby would have been owl kibbles.
I have read that babies will drop out of the colony if they are sickly. But I couldn't just leave it there. I picked it up (with gloved hands, everyone) and took a few photos:
Poor little mite had cobwebs on his face. I gently pulled them off.
The bones on its shoulders and back were painful to look at. It's not that bats are especially meaty in the first place, but I wondered how long it had been since it nursed.
It just barely has some fur on its little backside. Look at those sharp shoulder blades.
Poor little wuzzer.
It was a sweet moment, actually. Now, I was once a terrified freak when it came to bats. I had one brush my face when I was 19 and impressionable. But holding this fragile little thing, a member of the only mammal family that can fly....well, it was cool.
But this tiny dude or dude-ette needed its Mama. Matt, one of our wonderfully dedicated renters at RAPTOR, said that he sees 2 or 3 a day sometimes, fallen out of the loft. He takes them back up and a mother bat will go over to the baby and start to care for it. I didn't really want to go up there (fresh bat guano and all that) so Matt did it for me. A damn fine person, that guy.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The ratties are one day old and have changed even in that short time.
Here's one at 12 hours old:
For those of you who haven't owned fresh, new rats: It's okay (and a good idea) to handle the babies as soon as they have had a chance to nurse at least once. They will recognize your scent and be a much nicer pet. You just have to watch out for the Mom. Since we only had Pearl for one day before she gave birth, we were unsure of her personality when NOT pregnant.
Mom rats can be testy (understandably so), but Pearl is more interested in climbing up my arm to my shoulder than me picking up her babies.
And Pearl is a good Mom...as rats usually are. Better than some people, if you ask me. You will never see a rat dump her babies into a dumpster or set them on fire because they got a bad grade.
Here's the whole posse:
(If you count, you will only see 10, but there's one at the bottom of the piggy pile)
They start out wrinkled and kind of naked mole-rattish, but in one day, I can see them filling out a bit. And their sweet little skins are so thin, you can see that they have nursed (it's called a "milk band")
I promise that I won't be posted every single day about the rats. Just when they do something cute. Or roll over. Or squeak.
A bored (oops, I mean BOARD) meeting at RAPTOR's Red Barn produced more babies.
A phoebe nest right next to the barn door.
And speaking of phoebes...I was talking to my Mom on the phone today, and a cedar waxwing landed on the weeping cherry tree. I started stammering, trying to tell Mom what was out there. Two minutes later, a PHOEBE landed on the "waiting perch" on the feeder! New yard bird!
On the back of the barn, way up above what used to be the hay loft, a messy, robin-ish nest:
And on the far side of the barn, a swallow-ish nest on some siding that needs repositioning:
I really like having board meetings at the Red Barn. Adjacent to the Cincinnati Nature Center, it's a delicious habitat. I heard or saw:
Ever board meeting in the world should be serenaded by a Wood Thrush. It should be in every company's by-laws.
And more bird babies are showing up at home:
A young cardinal, with that comical, tiny crest. A bird that looks like a squeak toy, instead of the State bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
Also on the home front...
We have been keeping this a secret from the girls, but we made deposits and paid for flights this morning, so we told them: We are taking a vacation in August. To the Everglades. And a hotel on the beach. The one thing that the girls have always wanted (well, in their short cute little lives), was a trip to a real beach on a real ocean. I have begun my research of birds that are in Florida in August.
A bit later in the year, I plan on doing Cape May again. A money jar is officially in service on the kitchen counter, marked, "Susan's Cape May Fund". So hopefully, we can replicate the blast Susan, Laura, Delia and I had again this year! Can we get Lynne there? Mary? Kathi? Nina? Liza? Ruthie? TRIXIE???? Or anyone else on my blog roll who is cool? I mean, we are a Flock. Aren't we supposed to go places together?
UPDATE: I forgot to add this bit of great news:
Peregrine falcons are nesting in a nearby county, a place where, in the 204 years of that county's history, they never have before.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
A few days ago, Lorelei's treasured rat Daisy (the replacement of Diego, who died suddenly)....well, Daisy also died suddenly. The thing that made it even more heartbreaking was that she had been pregnant and was so when we bought her. We found her a few days ago, just dead. I turned her over, and it looks like she had hemorrhaged or a baby had gotten stuck in the birth canal.
Yesterday, we went back to the store to pick out something else for Lorelei. We were looking at other animals, but we were drawn to the rats. And not just rats...dumbo Rex rats. Dumbos have big round ears (you know, like Dumbo) and Rex coloring is just like a Siamese. Very cute.
I wanted Lorelei to get a female, Lorelei wanted a male. So we got both. Pearl is mine, Stanley is Lorelei's.
We knew Pearl was pregnant (it was fairly obvious). Rats have a gestation of about 3 weeks, but without a starting date, it's hard to tell when the blessed event will take place.
"Baby rats! Mommy! Baby rats!"
I grabbed the camera and ran upstairs to the cage.
She had already delivered three by the time we discovered them.
I just realized the date on my video is wrong...today is the 17th.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I wanted to give Geoff a really nice Father's Day. He has never really had one. The first Father's Day he could claim (when I was pregnant with Isabelle), his parents gave me a card, just because I'm such a great daughter-in-law....but they forgot to give Geoff a Father's Day card. Other years, we were too broke, or too busy, or whatever.
This year, I surprised him with a canoe ride down the Little Miami. He has always wanted to go out on a canoe, but with the girls being so young, we had to wait. Now that they are older, I thought they would really enjoy and get into it.
*insert ominous music here*
At the canoe rental, they stuffed us into vans like sardines (or packed us like pickles, if you ever watch Ellen's comedy shows) and drove us 5 miles upstream to where we would get into our canoes.
We put the girls in first...
Geoff and I pushed and pulled the canoe into the water, then I got in the bow.
Then... Geoff, instead of gently lowering himself into the canoe, vaulted into the canoe. Very nearly capsizing us before we could even get anywhere. A large amount of water was now in the canoe.
The girls didn't have their bathing suits on, and sitting in water was an unpleasant experience for them. And they didn't hesitate to tell us all about it.
Oh, and when the canoe nearly capsized, my camera got wet. Holy crrrrrrap.
I clutched it between my legs and prayed that it was just a little wet. Once we were on our way, I checked it. It turned on. That's good. Then I pressed a few buttons and tried to take a few pictures. The camera was not acting like it was okay. That's not good. I clutched it between my legs again and hoped it would dry out.
It's okay, thank the stars.
Geoff really tried to be helpful in the paddling department. But having never really been a boat person, he was doing more harm than good. I would yell, "Paddle, Geoff! Paddle!", when trying to get the canoe straight again, but he was paddling on the same side as me, so we would end up spinning in a circle. So I was the navigator and paddler. At least I got a nice upper body workout.
*The Little Miami is a very narrow, shallow river. Most places, you can walk across it and not get your shoulders wet.*
Lorelei began to have a fit about being in the canoe. And sitting in water. And being in the canoe. And the fact that I wasn't paddling every single second. And being in the canoe.
"I WANNA GO BACK TO THE CAR-AR-AR-AR-AR !!!!!"
Then Isabelle started yelling at Lorelei for yelling.
Eventually I was yelling at Isabelle for yelling at Lorelei.
And yelling at Lorelei for yelling at all of us.
Yep, we were a happy little family floating down the river.
We "pulled over" on a sand bar to dump the water out and give everyone a breather.
Then Isabelle started to cry because other canoes were passing us and we would be "last over the finish line".
I got all frustrated with her, trying to explain that this wasn't a race or anything.
Happy, happy family.
When we were reloading the canoe, I yelled, "Everyone look happy so I can get a picture!!!!"
When we resumed our trip, it got much, much better.
We actually enjoyed the rest, watching bank and northern rough-winged swallows skim the air above us....fish jumping out to catch cicadas...passing the Loveland Castle...turtles basking in the very comfortable sun:
A life turtle...the soft-shelled. What a pretty reptile. Spots and a really long snout.
The cicadas were not a big issue. One landed on my foot but I stomped it to death without a break in my paddling. They are about the clumsiest fliers in the insect world, and they are presumably unable to even cross a small river like the Little Miami without landing in the water.
We passed many doing their best to swim, and still singing, even while they were drowning.
I didn't tell Geoff about the Loveland Lizard until after we were back on shore. Loveland is so cool, we have our own cryptid.
Later, we went to visit Swami and Swamette. To make Father's Day even nicer for Geoff, I wore a dress. A dress, y'all. I must really love him.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Something that I don't talk about much on the blog, but I use as a big sticking point in my education programs is the "outside/feral cat" problem. Recently on the BirdEd listserv, a dialogue was started after Alley Cat Allies' legal director authored an article in the American Bar Association Animal Law newsletter. I had reserved a blog name way back when the Cape May feral cat problem reared its ugly head, and this newest discussion lit a fire under me.
The plan is to get some heated and hopefully proactive dialogue going between the birders and the cat-lovers.
So when you get a chance, head over HERE. It's in the infant stage, but if you ever come across an interesting article regarding TNR programs or feral cat news, shoot me an email and maybe we can get the pot stirred a bit.
RAPTOR, Inc. has a very good friend in Peggy Flierl, owner of Wild About Birds in Milford, Ohio. She handles the injured bird dispatch during the week and is a generally great person.
She has a yearly Sidewalk Sale to benefit RAPTOR. Customers can bring in "gently used" bird feeders, Peggy cleans them up and sells them. She then matches what the feeders bring in and donates it to RAPTOR. That just totally rocks.
Today, Marc and Cindy took some of my (I mean our.....hee hee) education birds to the store for the customers to view and appreciate. These birds and others are what their money is going to.
Cindy (who is our Bird Care Director, and a damn fine person) with our red morph screech owl, Rufus.
Marc (another damn fine person) with our male American Kestrel, he-who-has-no-name.
Scarlet, the Brat Princess of the Mews.
While chatting with customers, I noticed a tiger swallowtail just sitting on the sidewalk. I went into Butterfly Whisperer mode and offered my hand. And up she went.
Very weak and quite tore up in the wing department.
She (I'm calling it a she, but I have no idea) then wanted to scale Mount Everest...er...my chest.
So she landed on the boobage:
God. Looks like a speck on the Hindenburg.