For the Birds

 

The critically acclaimed movie Birdman (or The Unexpected Value of Ignorance) starring Michael Keaton (a good actor) won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Here is the totality of my opinion, in short, this 2014 movie stunk. Even its long subtitle stunk.

It really stunk, as pigeon poop can stink from those city birds who value their own ignorance of the whole thing they are doing perhaps on your head while you walk under an overpass and – okay, let’s leave it at that; the movie stunk!

Birdman takes its place alongside another movie that gained huge critical raves, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring which was released in 2004. This South Korean movie was supposed to be a profound look at a young monk being shepherded by an old monk during all the seasons.

Saying it is “slow-moving” makes this movie seem to be going fast. It is slower than slow, although (if I recall correctly) we do get to see a bird flying overhead during the movie’s interminable length. That bird was damn exciting.

So how is it that film critics can glorify movies that should never have made it out of their canisters to be put into projectors to frazzle normal folks such as me and my wife, the Beautiful AP? This is one of the great mysteries of my life, along with the origin of the universe.

Seriously, am I so behind in my intellectual capacity that I can’t wonder in absolute wonder at a supposedly fantastically wonderful movie that actually drags you through a year of dullness, using endless hours of screen time on seasons that don’t look as good as the seasons look right outside the theater where I saw the movie?

Or how about a movie that is so dull that the death of the lead character is aggressively prayed for by this member of the film’s audience? Please Lord, please God, please, kill Birdman. Kill him, please. Do that for those of us who are suffering through this horror. Even buttered popcorn can’t make this movie stomach-able.

I used to be a book reviewer for a newspaper in my early years of writing but I found it hard to nail a book as being awful. Books are one usually poor writer trying his or her damn best to create something good. If that book failed? I would just put that book down and read a different one to review. I don’t have that problem with bad movies. I’m not quite sure why. If a movie stinks I’ll tell you it stinks.

Frank’s website is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

State Birds: Wild, Weird and Wonderful

 

They come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Some are plain; some are spectacular. They are state birds. But underneath it all is cut-throat competition among some states.

Alaska named the Willow Ptarmigan as its state bird.. Why is obvious because this bird can survive deadly winters and even has feathers on its legs. You might say it is the legging bird. It has bright colors and is a favorite of hunters in the British Isles; one of the reasons Alaska would have fought in the Revolution if it were a colony then.

Arizona has a dotted bird, the Cactus Wren, as its herald but it sounds awful when its calls hit the airwaves. Quite a lot of Arizona is stark and so is this bird. Hard to tell males apart from females; but it’s so hot in Arizona that I don’t think the birds have the energy to care.

California has a rather dull bird. I guess Californians didn’t want the dull birds to feel bad because they aren’t as beautiful as the beautiful birds so they picked the subdued California Quail. That’s progressivism for you. This bird looks as if it can survive earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, homelessness and high taxes. It is a true Californian.

Delaware has a domesticated multi-plumaged bird, the Blue Hen Chicken, and is easy to find in order to eat after you’ve marveled at its colors. Barnyards are great habitats for it. Don’t kill it with a gun as you’ll then be eating pellets.

Georgia named the Brown Thrasher, a so-so-looking bird, as its peach. Don’t quite know why but then again we’re talking about Georgia which is rarely on our minds.

Hawaii is our most recently recognized state and a paradise to visit; but its bird does not match the state’s beauty. The creature is somewhat yuckaii. Meet the Nene or Hawaiian Goose.

Idaho has the Mountain Bluebird  and recently the falcon as its birds. The Bluebird is a stunning blue. Of course, like all songbirds it fastly flitters so you must have that “songbird patience” to get a good viewing. But make it quick because falcons eat Bluebirds.

Perhaps the prettiest thing you’ll see in Mississippi is its state bird the Wood Duck. Its other bird is the Mockingbird. That bird it shares with Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee.

Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio are at war as they all picked the Cardinal as their state bird. I see many Cardinals at my feeders (I live in New York); and they are beauties. However, I do not see any Kentuckians.

Louisiana picked the Brown Pelican. When Louisiana floods these birds feel happily at home.

Montana and Nebraska have a thing for the  Western Meadowlark, a yellow bird that doesn’t seem strong enough to hang out in these cowboy states.

Frank’s website is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

 

Birds and Bugs

I love birds. I hate bugs.

Now there are people who love bugs. They study bugs; they touch them, hold them, they even talk lovingly to them. These people are called entomologists or maniacs. The bugs I hate the most are mosquitoes—those flying derringers of disease who deposit death by way of itchy lumps on one’s skin.

I am a man beloved by mosquitoes. They attack me ceaselessly when I am outdoors or, if one or more have the brazenness to swoop into my house, they have an unquenchable lust to suck every last drop of my blood leaving me a formerly scratching, now lifeless husk on my bed or floor.

Let me give you an example: My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I recently took a leisurely bird walk at our favorite nature preserve at Jamaica Bay. I slathered myself in diethyltoluamide—Deet as it is known in the trade—in the hopes that my tiny but vicious enemies would leave me alone. That stuff is supposed to work, right?

Wrong!

When I got home I had the traditional bites on my exposed skin but these monstrous creatures had even penetrated my clothing, thereby making the rest of my body look as if I were turning into the lizard man.

On that walk in that bucolic environment, I wanted to see beautiful song birds and those awesome raptors dominating the sky, but instead I succumbed to a flying, buzzing, biting bug. We left the walk early and I commenced moaning about my lot in life. I am (I must admit) a good moaner.

Why are mosquitoes attracted to me? It could be my sweet blood or blood type (type 0 is one of their delights) but it can also be the type of bacteria I have on my skin. Yes, these little brutes are attracted to a certain type of bacteria that about 20 percent of us have. I must have it in abundance.

Mankind almost extinguished some of the most wonderful birds on our planet; the eagles, ospreys, and peregrine falcons, among other raptors, trying to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes by using DDT, which certainly did kill those little bugs that cause a host of diseases including Zika, West Nile, Malaria, Dengue and the new one Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE or Triple E.

Killing the mosquitoes back when was great (in my humble opinion) but discovering that our raptors were laying eggs with shells that were so brittle they broke apart before the offspring could get a claw-hold on life was not so great. DDT was great at killing bugs but awful for raptors.

What am I to do now? I’m buying mosquito-repellant clothing because I’m itching to never have them bite me again.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books and at bookstores.

 

I Beat My Bird Bad!

 

What I wanted to do more than just about anything was beat my older bird, Augustus, and today I did it! I wanted to beat him bad, yes, real bad, for the years of his disdainful disobedience to me. Today would be the day.

Let me back up a little. I have two parrots, Augustus, a monk parrot, who is an old bird of about 22 – 24 (his life expectancy is about 25) and Mister Squeaky who is about seven or eight.

Mister Squeaky is a dynamo. More interesting is that Squeaky is a sexual maniac. I know I am about to lack decorum right after the word “but” but this parrot tries to screw everything. He screws the inside bars of his cage—top, bottom and four sides. He screws them when he is on the outside of them too, which is just about all day.

When he screws he makes all sorts of sounds. I assume they are pleasure sounds.

He screws the toys in his cage; the soft ones and the hard ones. He screws the handles of his cage which are used to transport him to wherever we need to transport him. Since Squeaky and Augustus’s cages are right next to each other, Squeaky goes into Augustus’s cage and screws everything he can find in there. Then he eats Augustus’s food, the same exact food Squeaky has in his own cage.

Oh, don’t feel sad for Augustus because he goes into Mister Squeaky’s cage and eats Squeaky’s food. Except Augustus doesn’t screw around. If a monk parrot can be a monk then Augustus is a true monk—celibate as a strict churchman.

Squeaky wants to be Augustus, who is the alpha bird in the house.

Mister Squeaky is my bird. He obeys my commands. If I tell him, even from across the room, “Go in your cage,” bingo! Squeaky goes into his cage. At 4 pm every day Augustus squawks that he wants to “go sleep.” That time is his bedtime.

So I call across my office, “Okay, guys, in your cage!” Squeaky zips in but Augustus sits atop his cage with his head tilted and his face telling me, “I don’t have to listen to you, bub.” At this point I bring Mister Squeaky’s cage into the dining room where he will stay the evening until he retires at 8 o’clock to have sex through most of his “sleep” time. Squeaky is with my wife and me as we have our usual evenings—meaning my wife, the Beautiful AP, tells me what I should do and I do it. “Lower the set! Stop watching TV and read a book instead.” That is, of course, marriage. Her demand is my command.

Squeaky does not obey my wife’s commands. He is also strong-willed, unlike Mr. Marshmallow, who is me.

Augustus, on the other hand, is my wife’s bird and he obeys her with true affection. They kiss and snuggle. Disgusting!

When I get back into my office Augustus is still on top of his cage, squawking that he wants to go to sleep. When he was young he could actually say, “Go sleep!” But words are not his thing anymore.

When he sees me, he deliberately moves to the back of the top of his cage where it is hard for me to reach him.

Since Augustus has aged he isn’t as dexterous anymore. He finds it hard to move down the bars of his cage and go inside, so I have to help him.

But every day, every damn day, I have to try to reach him across the top of his cage. He enjoys not making it easy for me to reach him.

“Augustus,” I say each and every damn day. “Don’t you want to go to sleep?”

Then I maneuver myself through the labyrinth of my wife’s desk, her chair, her music stand, and her treadmill to get to the back of the cage and that’s when Augustus scoots over to the front of his cage to force me to make the trip in reverse.

We do this several times every damn day, until Augustus relents and lets me pick him up and put him in his cage for a good night’s sleep. The last I see of him when I cover his cage with blankets is his head tilted and that superior smirk upon his face. Yes, a smirk. Parrot owners will tell you that even though a parrot’s face can’t change, you know exactly what it is thinking.

But today I had had it. I was not going to hustle through the obstacle course to get him. He would either come to me or sit outside his cage all night long.

I stood several feet from his cage and just looked at him, my face smirking as best as I could get it to smirk. “You’ll stay out here all night,” I said. “I am never going to chase around your cage again.”

From the living room I could hear Mister Squeaky screwing something. At least one of us was having fun, I thought. Or maybe two, if you count Augustus reveling in being his usual annoying self.

Augustus looked me. I looked at Augustus. Augustus tilted his head. I tilted my head. He squawked. I made some kind of sound back at him.

We looked at each other and then—yes! yes! yes! —Augustus walked to the side of the cage where I stood. I easily picked him up, placed him inside, and covered him for the night.

I won! I won! Yes, I did it! I beat my bird badly. In doing so, I once again established that man—that I! —was the master of the earth, not some recalcitrant parrot.

Flushed with triumph, I decided my next conquest would be my wife. Such a feat requires both strategic and tactical planning, as it is she who has won every encounter for the last 32 years. A man might be the master of the earth, but his wife, damn it! is the master of the universe.

Book Frank Scoblete to speak for your organization.

 

 

 

The Birds Are Coming to Get YOU!

 

“The Birds” is not a novel. Rather it is a short story by Daphne du Maurier that appears in her book The Apple Tree. I’m guessing that you probably know about those birds from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.

The short story and the movie are quite different but that doesn’t matter. Both have our flighted friends, now turned enemies, attacking us with horrific designs such as —to put it mildly—wiping us out. Yes, “The Birds” and The Birds both feature fierce, feathered, beaking, clawing killers of planet Earth’s dominant creatures, meaning us, meaning you and me.

Not a nice thought is it? Those often spectacularly-beautiful creatures ripping us to shreds don’t fit into our concept that birds are peaceful, non-aggressive beings out to make the world a more beautiful and loving place. We don’t think of them as “fierce, feathered, beaking, clawing killers,” do we?

Du Maurier’s “The Birds” focuses on a farmer in England in post World War II whose native birds decide to take matters under their own wings and begin the extermination process. It appears that the birds have gone crazy throughout England but no person seems able to communicate with anyone else. The birds have cut our communication channels.

In Hitchcock’s The Birds the small town of Bodega Bay in California gets a visit from the beautiful Tippi Hedren and then from a massive influx of really nasty avian whose purpose is to not only slaughter Tippi, but also to make an unsanitary mess of the town.

Oh, well, this is all fiction, right? Not so fast: I was attacked by a blue jay in Chicago and by one in my backyard in New York. I’m hoping it’s not the same exact bird, because flying from Chicago to New York to dive-bomb my head seems like a very long trip for one bird to achieve basically nothing. Neither blue jay drew blood; both just scared me. I will admit I’m easily scared and blue jays are notoriously tough.

But seriously, birds don’t attack people except for the occasional blue jay protecting its nest, right? Again, not so fast: Just go to the Internet and write in “mass bird attacks” or “birds killing humans” or find out what’s going on in Houston, Texas. Our feathered friends seem to have more aspects to them than we think or wish or pray. Sometimes we are indeed their prey.

But look on the bright side; we eat more turkeys on Thanksgiving than turkeys have eaten us and we actually have chicken farms that allow millions of us such delight in eating those feathered morsels every day.

The birds have not yet evened the score. Maybe though, maybe though, they just need a little more time.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from smile.amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Go Home Again

I was walking alone in the Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve, which is a great adaptation of what was once a huge garbage dump. There are trails, great views, constant uphill walking—schlogging for me—as other folks are happily jogging. Families come here for fresh air, sunshine, and time away from electronic devices.

Although Levy Park & Preserve isn’t ranked among the best birding spots in Nassau County, one can see raptors, songbirds and water fowl…which is why we were there with the birding club.

I was separated from the members of the South Shore Audubon Society. This was our Sunday walk. I don’t know what happened to the group of at least 30 people. The party splintered and then vanished like magic. I had been walking with my wife, the Beautiful AP, and our friend Linda (a great Yankee fan!).

I turned onto a solitary path, a trail leading back to the parking lot. My walk was about two miles by this point and I was seeing some beautiful birds. I was checking out this tiny blue bird, light-bluish grey underbelly, dark blue stripes on his wings, which were blue as well. His beak….

Arrrrrrggggggggh! came the kid’s high-pitched scream. I want to go back! I want to go back! I want to go back! I want to go back to the parking lot! Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

The blue bird (meaning the bird of blue; my chance to identify it was cut short) flew into the thickets and I lost sight of it. Other songbirds made a hasty retreat.

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

Songbirds are skittish and they had all fled the scene, the loud scene made by this little…brat.

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

To this point it had been a leisurely walk with singing songbirds and even a raptor or two.

I want to go back! I want to go back! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

The damn kid. That damn, stinking kid.

I know I should state here that I really, really like children. The problem is, I don’t. I like my two grandkids and my niece’s the three little kids, but that is about it. Except for my own kids and those five above, the rest I just find irritating. Three-year-olds (give or take some months) are obnoxious and insistent, as was this kid repetitively howling that he wanted to go back to the parking lot.

I want to go back! I want to go back!

There were steep hills in this park and no fences to stop a kid from going over the edge, where a fall of 30 or more feet would silence him if his put-upon daddy just gave him a little nudge…just like that. A tiny, almost imperceptible, nudge. The quietude and the songbirds would return. “No officer, I didn’t see anything. The kid probably pitched over the edge on his own. This park should really have fences to prevent lovable little children from falling to their silence…I mean, deaths.”

Arrrrrrggggggggh! Arrrrrrggggggggh! I want to go back! I want to go back to the parking lot! Arrrrrrggggggggh!

Just before you get to the parking lot on this path, you pass a pen with all manner of goats. The apathetic goats looked at the screamer, unconcerned and unaffected. However, had they been released from their pen, would they have gored the little tyke? One could only fantasize.

And then the parking lot appeared. But The Stinking Kid Didn’t Shut Up. He howled a new refrain: I want to go home! I want to go home! I want to go home!

I wanted to share one of life’s truths, brilliantly captured by Thomas Wolfe; but such an insight would have been lost on a screaming mini-monster and his frazzled dad.

You can’t go home again.

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and at bookstores.

Thar Ain’t No Gold in Them Thar Hills

I enjoy birding or, as it used to be called, bird watching. My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I try to go get outside, sometimes just the two of us, just as often with the South Shore Audubon Society (SSAS) on Sunday morning excursions.

I am an amateur of amateurs. I know the names of some of the birds but basically I just gape. I enjoy hearing them sing, watching them fly, seeing those hunting raptors soar. I will never be an expert as some of the members of the SSAS are, but that’s fine with me.

I can last for about two hours on a walk; once or twice I’ve hit three hours, but I can’t do the all-morning, all-afternoon, most-of-the-evening walks some of the SSAS members enjoy. I do know my limitations.

My wife photographs the birds, the trails, and nature. When we get home she goes over the hundreds of pictures she took that day and will ask me my opinion of this one or that one—an opinion I am happy to express.

But not all bird walks are rewarding based on how many birds we encounter. There are some days when there are so few birds that we will say, “Nothing to be seen.”

Still, saying such a thing does not adequately express what we experienced that walk.

Where we take our most beautiful walks—Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens; the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside on Long Island; and the Cape May Point Trails near the Lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey—can be inspiring, with or without many bird sightings.

A bird-empty beautiful area is still a beautiful area, and one to be savored. The three mentioned above are just such areas, and there are more.

But on a walk at the Marine Nature Study Area where there was “nothing to be seen,” something else hit me.

“You know,” I said to the Beautiful AP. “Even on walks where we say we didn’t see any birds, that isn’t true. We usually see something.”

That is true. We tend to simply overlook some birds because they are so familiar that they are just considered pests. Take the Canada Geese which can be found everywhere we go. Indeed, there probably isn’t a lake, pond, park, ballfield or grassy knoll that hasn’t seen an invasion of these creatures.

The sky at times can be filled with them flying in a massive “V” shape. They honk like crazy; and crap large black heaps, all to their hearts’ content. Such heaps can cover any footpath, turning a simple walk into a game of hopscotch.

You always know when they are around. They can aggressively demand food or privacy from humans. They have accommodated themselves to living in our areas to the point where they don’t even bother to migrate anymore.

When we see them we just tend to overlook them; it’s as if we didn’t see them.

“You know AP, if we only saw a few now and then, they would fascinate us.”

“True,” she said.

Canada Geese are large birds, powerful, and they move rather quickly. They are high flyers and their landings in the waters of lakes and ponds can be fast and furious.

Sometimes on our walks where we see “no birds,” we have seen dozens of Canada Geese, which we completely discount.

On the days when we think “thar ain’t no gold in them thar hills,” in reality there is plenty of gold. We have beautiful landscapes away from traffic to enjoy. And if we pretend never to have seen this species that has come to annoy us, they can transform a birdless walk into a bird walk, to which some of my wife’s photos can attest.

So, in birding, sometimes nothing is actually something.

Read Frank’s books which are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

Are Birders Liars?

 

I mentioned this topic in a past article. My birding friend, Bob, is convinced that many birders are much like golfers, they lie to make themselves look good, especially those birders who keep lists. He believes it is inherent because birders are on the honor system and that leaves it totally open to liars and cheaters.

Has any honor system ever really worked? There have been scandals at West Point for crying (or lying) out loud. I remember that when I was a teacher the “leaders” in education (such sad, sad people) were always trying to figure out a way to have students “share” knowledge as opposed to cheating to get good, or at least passing, grades. None of these impractical ideas worked. Obviously. Did anyone of any intelligence think they would?

Antony in Shakespeare’s, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, sarcastically said of the murderer of Julius Caesar: “For Brutus is an honourable man; / So are they all, all honourable men—“

Are all birders honourable men and women? Or are some outright or closeted liars?

When you are on a birding walk most birders don’t necessarily see every bird that someone else points out or points to. I certainly don’t see all of them. I probably— to be blunt here—don’t see half the birds everyone is saying they are seeing. “Look, there’s a tufted tit mouse over there!” I put my binoculars to my eyes but the bird zips away like lightning, as do most little song birds. Song birds are the biggest annoyances in birding—beautiful but fast-flying birds that are hard to see at times. (Give me high-soaring raptors any day.)

Okay, I don’t see half of them.

Yet, I wonder how many of my fellow birders are actually just lying about it all? “Oh, yeah, yeah, I see that tit mouse!” Did you really? I mean really?

Many birders keep lists of the birds they see; on a given day, week, month, trip or year and also in areas, countries and continents. Some birders go on “Big Years” where they try to see as many species of birds as they can in a single year. Some birders do a big year restricted to provinces, states, or countries, and some traverse the entire earth.

The American Birding Association states there are 993 species of birds north of Mexico. John Weigel, an extreme birder, saw 783 of these species in 2016. There are a host of “see-ers” throughout the North-of-Mexico birding community. Are any of them total frauds?

Additionally, you don’t have to see the bird to record it on your list—just hearing it counts. Don’t laugh at this; there are plenty of birders who know the songs of almost all the birds they encounter, perhaps some birders know the songs of all the birds in the world. Hey, I recognize a few bird songs, two of which are my parrots sitting to my right in my office as I write this.

As for the big guns in birding, I think these folks are probably honest as they are driven to be the best at what they do and they probably have folks joining them on many of their expeditions.

But what about the rest of us? Are all the birders in my group the South Shore Audubon Society totally honest observers of birds?

So I decided to do a survey to see if honesty would prevail. I would just point up to the tree and say, “I see a Baltimore Oriole up there.” There was no Oriole. I did this several times, naming different birds. Did anyone lie to me and say they saw these missing birds at which I was pointing? No. People just admitted to not seeing the bird.

And what of when others saw birds and pointed? Did anyone flat out say, “I don’t see it.” Yes, quite a few, myself included.

Of course this was not a scientific poll such as the ones that predicted Trump would lose the Presidential race in 2016.

So, my opinion is that while birding does allow for subterfuge, I haven’t actually witnessed any as of yet. If I do I’ll let you know.

[There is an excellent movie titled The Big Year starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson as birders going on a big year. Enjoyable all the way.]

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Wildlife in Your Backyard

 

Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard: 101 Ways to Make Your Property Home for Creatures Great and Small by Josh VanBrakle

It is raining.

My office is three-quarters windows so I am surrounded by nature. Trees and bushes are my landscape.

I see my three squirrel-proof Sky Café bird feeders right over the top of my computer, their roofs dripping the rain away from the seeds, and, yes, some birds are happily eating those very seeds. Don’t let anyone tell you that birds won’t eat in wet weather. I eat in wet weather; you eat in wet weather; birds eat in wet weather.

Which brings me to Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard: 101 Ways to Make Your Property Home for Creatures Great and Small by Josh VanBrakle.

I have wildlife coming and going throughout my property: possums, raccoons, mice, lizards, those damn voles and their holes; in addition to countless squirrels of the grey, black, and rust variety (my wife the Beautiful AP and I once saw a white one). Sometimes we see rabbits too. And birds, species after species of beautiful birds at our feeders, in our bushes and on our trees.

I also have those horrible outdoor cats, some feral, some let out by their owners. Those cats are responsible for the death of over a billion (yes over a billion!) birds a year. I like cats…indoors.

Now, the author Josh VanBrakle is a research forester and he lays out most of what a person needs to know to attract and keep wildlife on private property; from planting native plants; getting rid of invasive species, choosing which trees to plant, where to plant them; how to create and care for a rather large pond of at least half an acre or more.

He even recommends attracting bats to your property to kill off mosquitoes. And bring in the bees in order to pollinate recommended plants (bats help pollinate plants too).

Do I think this is a good book and worthy of a read? Yes, I do, especially if you have the land necessary to put in place his recommendations. Still many of his insights actually do fit those of us whose properties do not live up to the proper size required for a half-acre or more pond. For example, if invasive species of plants have possessed your property, he gives you a step-by-step method for exorcising such demons.

In truth, I do not want to attract deer or moose or bears or bobcats or mountain lions to my property; just birds. I particularly do not want to attract those aggressive, vicious cats.

Wild nature is not so wild as it once was. One of the greatest saviors of our wildlife is, in truth, us. So welcome the wild ones into your civilized life.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and at bookstores.

 

 

 

The Genius of Birds

 

Anthropomorphism. Over the centuries that little word (okay, that long word) will cause most of our Western scientists and philosophers to emphatically state that giving human traits to animals is an incorrect assessment of other species’ intelligence and their place in the world of thought and behavior. Animals are just instinctual automatons.

After all if we look at our ancient literature such as the Hebrew Torah, the Christian Old Testament (essentially the Torah) along with other scriptures, and the New Testament (the story of Jesus), and the Muslim Koran, we see clearly that God is anthropomorphic; he is male, prone to quick and massive bouts of temper and not adverse to killing our first parents (Adam and Eve) for eating a fruit, while sentencing all of their children to die (that means y-o-u) and even at one point drowning the entire world with the exception of the wine-loving Noah, his family and mated pairs of animals.

Even the ancient Greeks portrayed their gods as human-like in every way, albeit with more power than mankind—power they used with abandon.

But think of this: what if Anthropomorphism may not be such a dirty word or idea after all. Perhaps we should take another look at it, as Jennifer Ackerman clearly and brilliantly relates in her compelling book The Genius of Birds.

Using the latest studies we see birds being creative through immediate and delayed learning, some using complex problem solving to work out puzzles. This includes the Let’s Make a Deal or Monty Hall mathematical puzzle that has baffled most humans, although “lowly” pigeons answer this higher math problem without much of a problem. Some birds have an intense interest and recognition of art works, and some seem to have a relatively sophisticated language.

Some songbirds will give a “wee, wee, wee, wee, wee, wee, wee” call to alert others that a large raptor is flying nearby. However, if it is a small raptor, the cry is “wee, wee.” At first this might seem the correct weeing as the bigger raptor needs more wees than a small raptor, right? Not so. The large raptors can’t really chase these songbirds through the thick leaves and branches of the trees and thus the long signal is merely a general warning.

But what about the small raptors? They can nail these songbirds because such raptors can maneuver in the trees. So a fast “wee, wee” is what’s needed as an immediate warning that a small and deadly raptor might be scouting for his or her next meal. Such songbirds do not want to wait for a long wee because such a wee could be a quick end to them.

Some male birds produce opioid type drugs when they sing and so they sing like all get-out at certain times of the year even when there aren’t many local females to impress. Evidently, being stoned is just as much fun as mating!

Based on our latest knowledge, anthropomorphism is alive and well.

 

Read Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.