Friday, May 10, 2013

Though a Looking Glass

I had only pre-loaded two photos on my iPad, something I instantly regretted when it I got his attention.  He wanted more photos, banging on the glass between us to signal that I should page to another.   I needed more photos. I wished that I could hear him, but the glass was thick, understandably so.  He is incredibly strong and the thickness probably drowns out the cacophony of the crowds. But it reduced our communication to sign language and the photos I'd brought.

As soon as it was apparent that he was studying the photos and wanted more, people began lining up behind me, crowding in, making inane comments like, "wow, he's really intelligent".  Of course, he's really intelligent!  And bored, and in jail.  I know they are well cared for, I know that they are endangered, and his life serves a purpose educating.  Tell him that.

I don't get there as much as I'd like, but the next time I go, my iPad will be loaded with more photos of his kind, of foods he might like, perhaps some animals.  I am interested to see what he's looking for, what he wants to see, and perhaps to see if I can give something back rather than just staring.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teaching Newton's Three Laws of Motion

In teaching Newton's Three Laws of Motion with a potato launcher,  I got the following reaction from my student:


Of course, he was reacting more to the explosion and obliteration of a potato than joy at learning about inertia, acceleration and equal and opposite reactions.  In due time, I expect he will remember.


Many thanks to Mrs. A for loaning us the book, Backyard Ballistics.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Glad I Bought That!

An old crate makes a great side table on the porch next to two vintage rocking chairs on our covered porch.  Guess I'm not the only one that appreciates it.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Explosive Weather

Real life stories are too interesting to have been made up.  Holidays are often punctuated with a phone call to my veterinarian brother-in-law with some cow down or a dying goat.  This Fourth of July, he and my mother-in-law had treated us all to expertly grilled ribs.  After, we sat around and we listened to his story of some pigs he had had to catch and vaccinate.

The cosmos was set in motion and the phone rang - one of the same pigs had a prolasped rectum.  We all moaned in sympathy with him (and disgust at the mental image).  It seems the pig had had pnuemonia earlier in the week and had coughed himself inside out.  Several relatives were interested enough to don boots and accompany him on the call.

Those of us remaining took in small town America, spreading blankets near a gazebo festooned with patriotic half-moon banners.  We watched the clock nervously looking over our shoulders at an approaching storm.  Lightening began competing with some renegade fireworks, but the real show was not scheduled to go off for another half hour.  Just as we decided to go to the car, the fireworks started early. We stayed, until we felt rain and heard the screaming.  People running - and screaming.

It began to downpour, and hundreds of people ran down the street, pelted by hail.  A man fell down, laughing at himself.  Parked nearby, we made it to the car just in time, but not before my sister-in-law got a black eye from a piece of hail.  The fireworks continued to go off, observed from the car through the hail and rain. We were no longer hot, given that we were soaked.

Back at home, we heard more about the pig, and how to fix a prolapsed rectum.  I had recently had a foster kitten with this problem, so my interest in the procedure is not as bizarre as it might seem.  Personally, I think some bacon making was in order.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


At work today, I lifted a five gallon bucket of paint into a man's cart.  His young (two? three year old?) son said incredulously, "Girls are strong??"

The man answered, "Yes, son, girls are strong."

This one is going to bed after 15 miles (by my pedometer) since yesterday morning.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Empty Nest

I knew she* was capable of feeding herself.  One morning, I surprised her with food in her mouth.  Yet, the next morning, she looked at the food I had placed on the railing for her, hopped over to the popsicle stick I normally used to feed her, picked it up, put it down, and looked at me with a cocked head.  If she had used words, she couldn't have more plainly said, "Feed me!"  It was an amusing moment, and one that was startling in the clear communication with this bird.  So bird children are no different than human children can be!

A week or two later, "Birdie"  (or "Tweetie" to William) has me literally feeling the empty nest syndrome.  She is now completely self-fed, using both food I leave for her and lifting bark to find a tasty beetle.  She does still come to me, lets me pick her up, but the days are numbered.  I've seen her flying with other juvenile European starlings, arguing (or so it sounds) as they fly.  It won't be long before she doesn't come back to see me.  Each day, she comes less frequently to say hi.  And yet, that is what good parents do:  they teach their young to be independent.

I was told I couldn't do it:  raise a single starling.  For one thing, and I didn't know this, it is illegal to raise starlings in Kentucky (one of the few states that prohibit keeping starlings).  I could legally kill this baby crying out in hunger.  I could drown it.  If I had a hunting license, I could shoot it.  I could not, however, nurture it.  Birdie was was flying free but still being fed when I learned this.   At this point, Birdie lived totally outside and so, I wasn't "keeping" her as a pet, I was feeding a "wild" bird.  I had raised two starlings and released them successfully some years ago.  I accepted that Birdie might not make it past her first year, but odds are, most birds don't.

Birdie is going to make it, and in a way, I miss her.  I'm very proud that she is going to be a real bird, but it was quite heartwarming to hear her, call out, and see her glide in to the porch.  William and I have become acutely aware of the sound of starling fledglings.  We notice them everywhere.  We have learned tons by raising this bird: what it eats, how it develops, how it lives. 

The day we found her, an ugly little thing.

A cute phase

Just now, she is showing a few black and white feathers on her shoulder, 
signaling that maturity is right around the corner.

Although starlings can talk in captivity, she'll likely be gone before she learns words, but don't be surprised if one lands near you and says, "What cha' doin'?

*Note:  I call it a "her" although gender cannot be determined until the first molt.


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