Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Introducing my new mascot

A few of my birding friends have mascots.  Little stuffed animals or toys that accompany them on their travels, who are the subject of photo shoots at ever-changing locales.

Well, I wanted one too.  I'm special enough to have a freakin' mascot.  I was going to get the BEST mascot.  A PROPER mascot.

I laid out the idea on my Facebook page, and among the more racy suggestions, a friend reminded me about my Mom's owl collection. Mom gave me lots of her old owl knick-knacks and sit-abouts when I started at RAPTOR, and one in particular came to mind.
(Little owl figure...sounds perfect for me, right?  Wait.  It gets better.)

Palito 1

Back story:
About 30 years ago, Mom got a present from a friend, and when she opened it, it looked for all the world like a small ceramic penis.  As it turned out, it was upside down and it was really a terra cotta owl from Mexico.
But the back of it....yes, it resembles a penis.

So I had a little owl with an  (albeit unintentionally) obscene  body part.
(Sounds perfect, right? Wait. It gets better.)

Now this little thing needed a name.  Not just any old name like George or Stavros or Boris.  It needed a Latino name.  Preferably one that captured the true essence of this singular item.
(Yes, I wanted it to give a nod to the phallic nature of the thing.)
Doug, one of our newest members of the Flock, came through for me.  I described it to him, and his suggestion was "Palito".  Which means in Spanish.....wait for it....
Little Stick.
(Sounds perfect, right?  Wait.  It gets better.)

So. Obscene yet cute owl, named Palito.  I took him to Starbucks with me this morning for his first photo shoot with one of the baristas.

Palito and Rachel

Rachell, a favorite of mine. And as dirty-minded as I am.
She looked him over, and said, "It's a whistle?"  I laughed and said, "No...of course not.".  Then I looked at the holes in the back.  And put the obscene part of the owl in my mouth.  And blew.

Well, I'll be dipped.  He IS a whistle.

So I have a mascot in the shape of an owl, with a backside shaped like a penis, named Palito, and you can blow him.  Perfection.  It made my day.
(What cracks me up to no end is the....look of utter terror on his face.  Makes the locales seem so sinister)

Palito's first day out consisted of:

Sitting on a fallen sycamore tree by the Little Miami River...
Palito and sycamore

Wondering if he was brave enough to go for a swim...

Meeting a tiny toad.....
Palito and toad

And also meeting Hooper....
Palito and Hooper

He went with me to pick up dinner.....
Palito and pizz

We kicked back in the hammock for a bit....
Palito on hammock

He climbed a tree.....and immediately thought, "Holy crap!".....
Palito maple tree

He was terrified by the young milkweed bugs.....
Palito and milkweed bugs

And the lone milkweed tussock moth caterpillar.....
Palito and milkweed tussock cat

The monarch caterpillar made him feel faint....
Palito and monarch cat

The purple martin house (vacant) perplexed him............
Palito and PUMA house

He wants to know what kind of gall this is...........
Palito and weird gall thing

And he thought he could be brave enough to explore on his own, but he's just too terrified....
Palito in grass

So that's Palito.  Look for him at birding festivals near you! And let's see how many famous birders I can get photos of while they are playing his whistle.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Go find a KITE!

For the second year in a row, a small community in rural Eastern Ohio has hosted "Kite Day", a special opportunity to view confirmed nesting Mississippi Kites.  Now, if you aren't a birder...

1.  I feel so bad for you.  The wonders you are missing out on...
2.  Come hang out with me.  I'll turn you onto birds....
3.  You might be thinking, "Pfft.  Whatever.  What's so special about some birds making babies in rural Eastern Ohio?"

Here's why it's so special.  As the name implies, this is a bird that is found in the southern U.S. Its breeding range  is roughly from Oklahoma east to South Carolina, into the southern states.  They winter in interior South America.  The birds we saw today are in OHIO.
Okay, so it's a big deal.

When Kite Day was advertised, Kathi got our names on the list (the nest is inside a gated community and they were gracious enough to allow a small number of birders in today).  She was good enough to drive us out to the site and it just added a fun element to what was a stellar day.  When we drive anywhere together, we are blah blah blah for hours.  Helps the time go faster.

Should we just get to the photos?  Yes, let's.

We drove in, parked, and followed the other birders.  And there was the chick, teed up in a tree, pretty as you please.
MIKI chick in tree

LIFE BIRD # 244.  And LIFE RAPTOR# 18 (not including vultures)

The recently fledged chick just sat in the tree, and as one of the adults came into its line of sight, it would start to call....which made my heart melt.
Here's a recording of their call:

MIKI chick1

Here's Kathi, with her "I'm a serious birder, so it's important that I turn my ballcap backwards.  'Cause that's how I roll" pose:

We also got to see Heather of the Hills!!

Heather looking at MIKI

And Jim McCormac (he's behind the scope):
Kathi and Jim

We watched over and over as the adults would bolt into view and hand over a fresh cicada to the calling chick....and then got to watch the chick nom nom nom on the thing:
MIKI chick eating

MIKI chick eating 2

MIKI chick with cicada

The adults were busy, even with just one chick to feed.  Constantly hunting for cicadas and other little critters to bring in.....
Adult MIKI sil

And then I was finally looking at the right moment with my camera raised when an adult came in with food.
Check out the rufous shine in the adult's wing.  They aren't just black and gray birds....A lot of color hidden in there:
Adult MIKI bringing food

I'm a happy girl.  It's been a LONG time since I got a new raptor on my list.  And this was extra special, being able to sit and watch for so long, actually getting to "know" the birds.
Thank you, small gated community in rural Eastern Ohio, for hosting this day for us!!