Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanking the bird

Turkey photo shamelessly stolen from Lynne's Hasty Brook

Tomorrow is an interesting day for a birder. Many birders are meat-eaters, and thus will eat the Thanksgiving turkey as is traditionally done in this country. However, some of us (like me) are vegetarians -- for all kinds of reasons, personal to each of us.

Some of the biggest reasons I'm a vegetarian are ecopolitical, but some are just personal preference and my own emotions. Here are a couple of my reasons for going veg:

1. the mass production of meat and meat products strains our environment in many ways. Perhaps you've heard of CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. These are your factory farms like Tyson Chicken or your large beef producers. You can find out more about them from the EPA, the CDC, or a more politically minded organization like this one. In short, it is my belief that CAFOs are bad news. Others may disagree, and they're free to do so.

2. I love farm animals. They're furry and cute, and their little lives are just as precious to me as those of birds, rabbits, cats, dogs, and other animals. I know that I couldn't slaughter an animal for food, so why would I ask someone else to do it for me and then package it in a nice little plastic tray to assuage my conscience?

3. I don't buy that whole predator/prey thing. I realize it's the law of nature, and raptors have to kill songbirds to survive, etc. But I have free will. I choose not to kill anything with a face just so I can eat, especially when there are plenty of plant-based foods I can eat instead.

Anyway, those are my own personal reasons; I don't try to convince others to believe as I do, because eating is a personal decision. Still, I must confess that I think it's weird that birders would eat chickens, turkeys, or other fowl. Once again, as is common on the bloggy, my naivete is gonna show here, but when I was growing up, I guess I never connected the "duck" in a dish like Peking Duck with the little mallards, wood ducks, and canvasbacks that I love to watch through my binocs. And the geese! Poor brants and Canadas, their lonesome honks silenced, end up on people's dinner plates? How could a birder watch a songbird or a wild turkey, noting field marks and marking the bird on the lifelist, but then go eat one for dinner?

Sheesh. That's just weird to me. Still, I guess my hope is that tomorrow, when you're being thankful for life, love, family, and other such things, you'll remember to thank the little guy (or gal) on your table too. Do it for me, okay?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My favorite bird songs and calls

1. Wood thrush
2. Spotted sandpiper
3. American widgeon
4. Wild turkey
5. Virginia rail

Brought to you by the grippingly exciting Magical Typing Fingers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lolzing the dayz awayz

Baldies abound!
I saw another bald eagle last night near work, but I didn't have my camera with me. That's twice lately that I've seen a baldie on Rt 220 near work. Cool! Here's the first time, in case you don't recall.

"Life forward" update: Matty has an interview on December 5 at Sonoma State! He's one of five candidates being interviewed. They've asked him to stay the weekend as well so he can look around--which means they really want him! He's very excited, and so am I! I'm not out buying a field guide for western birds just yet, but this could really happen!

I was checking the weather there this morning, after coming into work in 22-degree cold:
Not bad, not bad at all! I could certainly deal with such mild winter temperatures. (Actually, I really don't mind the cold as long as it's snowing. If it's gonna be wintry and cold, bring on teh snow!) It's probably not very humid out there either. Wonder how hot it gets in the summer--any West Coasters out there?

Meanwhile, a friend of mine is suffering a bird-related problem: a mockingbird has taken up a perch right outside his bedroom window. And the mocker sings all night. Poor David looks sleepy all the time now, and he's threatened to buy a gun. When I looked aghast, he claimed it was "just to scare him!" Uh-huh. Any suggestions?

I just got invited to a winter birding trip with my atlassing friend Roana and her birding parents as well as some other people in the State College Birding Club. We'll be going to Ocean City, MD, and the Delaware area. It's not until February, so I'll be able to take some vacation days (mine for this year are all used up!) and relax, leaving Friday and returning sometime late Monday. Maybe I'll even be able to hook up with my friends Liz and Jeff Gordon in Delaware! However, I don't think I'll be driving, so it'll be a matter of where we are and when. More about this trip as it gets closer.

Meanwhile, not a lot of bird action, but we've definitely been having the cold. Here's a snowcloud snowing at sundown onto downtown State College, as seen from near my workplace in Pleasant Gap:
I took this with my phone camera from my moving car, so pardon the quality. Right at the base of the snow, you can see the lights of Beaver Stadium.

I tried to pull over for a better photo, but a bunch of cars were behind me and they didn't seem to get that flashers mean "go on by!" I didn't want someone to stop behind me and come to my window and say, "are ya broke down there, little lady?" (I HATE being called "little lady"--that's the fastest way to a swift kick in the crotch from me), so I slowed down a little, opened my window, and shot a couple of photos. Still it was a cool scene, watching the snow in the sunset. It almost looks like a huge tornado, doesn't it?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Life forward

Don't know whether I've mentioned it or not, but come August '09, I'm leaving State College. That would've been the time I left with Kat, and it's when Matty McMatterson will be leaving for his job (wherever that may be), and I feel like I should leave then--so Matty and I have decided to depart this little burg together. It'll be like a couple hire, only we're not a couple! I don't really belong in Central PA, having come here only as Kat's partner, so in the waning days of the summer of 2009, I'll be migrating to another (hopefully boreal or shoreline) habitat.

So this week, Matty got the first bite on his hook: Sonoma State in sunny California! (Hope I'm not jinxing him!) The idea of living in California is exciting -- a whole new field guide full of birds to learn! Wine Country! A year-round growing season! I've never been in that part of California, but I'm sure it's nice. Anyone have any info to offer, just in case?

Our other possibilities are also along the "edges" of the country; neither of us will live anyplace in what Matty calls "the fly-over states" in the middle. Here are the states/cities in which we might live, depending on Matty's job offers:
Atlanta, GA--interesting, but HOT
any number of places in Massachusetts--which would be lovely
San Francisco, CA--which would RAWK!
Chicago, IL--which I've heard is a great city
Buffalo and any number of other places in New York, but not in NYC--which would also be lovely
I think that covers the apps he's sent out so far. One job posting was rescinded due to budget cuts and the economy, which is scary. Still, I hope he gets a sweet job in a neat town with some good schools in it.

Right now, our plans are to pack up and move to wherever and find an apt or house where we can both fit for a while. By springtime, we'll know where we're going and whether I'll be able to continue my education (depends on schools available), so I'll apply for financial aid and apply to a school, etc.

Remember that whole forensic science thing I wanted to do? I think I've changed my mind. I would much rather do something outside and bird-/nature-involved, so I will likely get some sort of environmental resource management degree so that I can work someplace where I can restore/maintain habitats for animals and plants. I'd be Delia Gets Native!, working (probably for the government) to make sure that birds and other species are able to live well.

Or I'll stick with forensic science. Depends on the school. And who knows? Maybe there will be soooo many jobs available wherever we end up that I'll just decide to work someplace and be a townie! That's the positive "Obama = Recovery!" thinking there. Work with me.

Life sure can have its ups and downs. Things are going well right now, with the help of my wonderful friends (both here and out there on the intertubes), and work is -- well, it's work. I'm busier than ever there, which is a good thing.

Next year holds quite a few unknowns and "depends on..."s for me, but I'm strangely optimistic. And if these plans don't work out, I'm sure my parents will take me in... at least for a little while! But I'd rather not go back to Texas; it would seem like going backward in my life, you know? So while I'd love to live near my parents, we'll just have to see what happens.

I'm hoping to scrape together some savings here in time for the move, so that I'll be able to eat. Otherwise, those of you I know in the area of wherever we move, you might find you've been invaded by a little-known but rather larger-than-usual pest that doesn't eat too much, is fairly neat, and likes to watch birds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Crazy bird dreams!

Well, I may not have gone birding lately, but the birds are still with me. Last night, I had a crazy dream in which birds were a big player:

I dreamed I was in Manhattan, and I was sitting in a little cafe. I looked up and saw, on the outer wall of the cafe, a big white cockatoo. I walked outside and somehow managed to get the cockatoo to perch on my arm. Once I did that, I suddenly realized that the bird belonged to Judy Garland, and I had to get it back to her!

Somehow I knew the general whereabouts of Judy Garland's apartment building, so I walked over there. On the way, I recruited someone to help me--a woman, someone I don't know. She was tall and blonde, though, so maybe it was just a weird version of Kat. Anyway, we went into the building and discovered we were in the lobby of a huge old-time theatre, complete with concession stands, girls in Moulin-Rouge-type outfits swinging on giant swings suspended from the ceiling, and huge staircases. We negotiated our way through this hubbub and went upstairs.

We wandered all over the place for the next few minutes of my dream, which seemed like hours in the dream. We were inside hallways, outside in parking lots, looking through hotel rooms--you name it. FINALLY, someone helped us: a huge Mafia-type guy who was getting a massage in a big room with a pool in it. He told us where to go, and we found Judy Garland!

Only when we found Judy, the bird turned into a bald eagle! Somehow it didn't claw the flesh off my arm, and I was able to hand her the raptor. After just a little prodding, she sang the chorus of "Swannee" for us right there in her doorway, and then we were off. Then I woke up.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bird-flu? Birds flew? You decide.

Well, all my best-laid plans to go birding Sunday were dashed when I woke up with a sore throat and saw that it was kinda rainy and very cold outside. So--no birdy news there, sad to say.

I feel like I'm not even a birder anymore--I never make it out anywhere to see birds! The starlings and crows around my place are laughing at me, I just know it!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Birding posts to come!

I'm going to bird with some members of the State College Birding Club on Sunday, so I promise I'll have some real beginningtobird birding stuff to talk about soon!

In the meantime, I've taken to using the blog search tool and typing in random words like "feather" or "nibble." Try it on this or on your own blog--it's a cool way to take a trip down memory lane, bloggy style!