Friday, February 29, 2008

Practical homesteading question re: geese

Our flock is currently down to three chickens and three geese (who absolutely refuse to succumb to anything) in our poultry pen outside. A couple days ago, one of the geese decided to spread its wings and see what lies outside the poultry pen. It seems, however, that it cannot get back into the pen. Because of snow, I can't open the one obvious door that would let it walk back into the pen. So what do I do?

I tried one experiment, placing a 2 x 8 plank against the 4' fence so it would provide a walkway for the goose to return to the pen. The goose has not figured it out in over 24 hours.

I just cannot get close to this hissy goose. Out of pity I left it some cracked corn outside the pen. But, how do I get it back inside the pen?

And why am I even asking this? Darn geese. Good for nothing honkers.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

health insurance rant

I get pretty good health insurance from my employer, so I can't complain too much. We had no copay or deductibles when I started, but things have changed and that's the state of things these days; I don't expect too much, and am grateful for what I have.

Until they started trying to overcharge me for deductibles. I noticed late last year I was getting billed for deductibles that just didn't seem right. My supposed family deductible for the year was $200, and I found out I had been charged nearly twice that.

I put a call into Customer Disservice about two months ago, and the rep said she would look into it. I was sent an undecipherable log of claims and payments, which never once mentioned what my yearly deductible was.

Today I tried the messaging approach. I'm much better in email than I am on the phone. The first message I sent basically stated that, according to all the records I had access to online, I had been overcharged by nearly 100% for deductibles in 2007. The reply I received was:

"Your deductible for the year 2007 was $560.00. We sent you documents that showed you had not met that deductible."

Okay, I was starting to get irritated. The documents NEVER ONCE stated what my yearly deductible was! To cover my ass, I retrieved all the info I could online, which showed that no family member had received care at a clinic above cost level 2 in 2007, and that our family deductible was indeed $200, it said so right there on the Web site. Then I sent another message stating the facts.

I got a message later, saying they had "requested a resume" and if something was in error, I would be notified. I think in insurance language this means "unless you keep after us, this is not an issue."

And I know the argument they are trying to get by with. I had a stepson covered in 2006 at a clinic at a different level. They are trying to say that if he was covered even for a brief part of 2007, we would have to pay the higher deductible. But my policy clearly states that "the amount of the deductible will be determined by the highest cost level in which a family member incurs expenses"...Ahem...He did not incur expenses in 2007. Ever.

$200 is a lot of money to me and my family. I will certainly keep up with this, and I am getting annoyed at are what the insurance company's obvious efforts to tell me that I am wrong, they are right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Time away...

I just spent over 24 hours away from my family and my blog. I was about 90 miles away attending our biannual regional Fisheries work meeting, which turned out to be more interesting than my name for it suggests. We had a good mix of area office and hatchery updates, which was interesting considering two of the three hatcheries in our region sustained considerable damage from the August floods in southeastern Minnesota. And we had some very good research updates and invited speakers. My favorite was Paul Wotzka, a former hydrologist for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, who was fired for testifying to the state Legislature about the dangers of atrazine, a commonly used and very profitable pesticide. For background info on the dangers of atrazine, please visit Tyrone Hayes' Web site. Think cancer, endocrine disruption, et cetera.

I am concerned about atrazine on a local level. Wotzka spoke about how quickly chemicals reached the groundwater in areas of karst topography. We have a slightly different kind of karst topography here, sandstone replacing limestone, but still the fast movement of rainfall into groundwater has been demonstrated. Not to mention the fact that atrazine occurs in rainfall, and has been found in Lake Harriet, a very urban water far from any corn fields. I don't live in a very agricultural area, but I did notice many more acres planted in corn this year. And does the atrazine rainfall reach me?

In Minnesota, we are experiencing an ethanol boom. Farmers are growing corn for higher prices, and ethanol plants are springing up everywhere under the (ahem. misguided.) promise that ethanol will solve our nation's dependence on foreign oil. So, since the year 2000, the number of acres treated with atrazine has steadily grown, farmers are taking acreage out of conservation programs like CRP to grow a suddenly profitable crop, while all the evidence shows that the production of ethanol shows little to no net gain in energy, not to mention soil erosion and pesticides getting into the water we drink.

I could go on and on about this. I think the rush towards ethanol is wrong on so many levels. Where does "doing with less" fit into the picture? All of the ATV's, snowmobiles, and overpowered boats are a luxury use of fuel that should be scrutinized.

I also roomed with Jean, my office secretary and the Best Office Professional In the World!, and maker of the best baked goodies (except for Dave our regional Project Administrator who makes a killer carrot cake!). I found out that she and I probably have a lot more in common than I ever thought. I just need to work on the State Fair award winning jams, jellies, and pickles part. :) Anyway, she is a real sweetheart, really knows how to enjoy life, and I hope she never retires! :)

But, I am glad to be home, humble as it is.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Wii paradox

There are those who hypothesize that kids don't get outdoors these days because they are too busy inside playing video games.

I had the chance to test that hypothesis this weekend. Give the kids a Wii, and equal access to an outdoor area, complete with a pond for skating, and access to cross country skis. Set an example, and see what they choose.

Yes, this is Calvin. I only had to mention that I was going to try out my cross country skis, and he was right there. We had a good ski around the former horse pasture. When we came back, Starflower and Mr. Attitude were waiting for us at the pond.

Later, I was doing dishes in the cook shed, and I heard the kids heading out to the pond. As soon as I was finished washing dishes, I grabbed my skates and headed out there. I spent a glorious hour there, complete with snowball fights and everything. I even did a single toe loop-single toe loop combo, although I fell a few times trying it.

The paradox is, the kids had no reason to go outside, what with a new Wii and everything. But they did. Calvin chose twice, to go skiing and later to go skating.

So I really don't believe those who say that kids don't get outdoors these days simply because they choose to play video games instead. My children had the choice, and they chose the outdoors. I think every child who has access to a frozen pond, or stream, or woods, will go there if they can. I mean, there is so much more to discover outdoors, with real land to explore! My children are lucky. But I think about the neighborhood I grew up in, and how there were no wetlands, no streams, no wild forests to explore. So how are children supposed to connect to the land when they have no land to connect with?

Sunday morning fantasy gardening

I was going to be very deliberate and methodical this morning as I perused garden catalogs. I was going to sketch out my 21 raised beds and come up with a plan for each one of them, determine whether I needed to order seeds, order them online, and put into writing a plan for getting everything accomplished this year.

Then I found pages 80-82 of the Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog, where they have not seeds but roots and plants: asparagus, hops, rhubarb, blueberries, elderberries, cranberries, wintergreen, lingonberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. I want them all. I'm trying to figure out where to locate Deb's Berry Patch, and imagining selling homemade jams and jellies at the farmer's market.

The thing is, I'll have a lot of other work to do this summer on the house, and I'm not quite ready to draw up a complete permaculture edible landscape design. But I do think it's time to make a commitment, and start some asparagus and raspberries. And lingonberries. And hops. And...

Saturday, February 23, 2008


This is what I came home to the other night.

Hey, leave some buds so the tree can leaf out, okay?

Friday, February 22, 2008

welcome to Wii

The Hermit finally scored a Wii today. We had been looking for one since before Christmas, but they have been scarcely and unpredictably available. Today he happened to go to Sam's Club at just the right time, when they had gotten a small shipment (about 3 of them) in. He grabbed one and never looked back.

He met the kids out at the end of the driveway where the school bus dropped them off, and he had the box in the back seat. "You'll need to move that box over", he told Calvin. Calvin took one look and his jaw dropped. He squealed in delight and even kissed his dad. Starflower and Mr. Attitude did likewise.

So what's so special about a Wii? Well for one thing, their GameCube wasn't working, and we were through with them. Very unreliable. And, from what I've seen, the Wii games are very physical, not just a couch potato thing. And, sorry, this family just is not into board games. I never was as a child, so I don't have a base of enthusiasm about playing Sorry that I can pass onto my kids. But I see them laughing and encouraging each other as they play the basic sports games that came with the Wii. It looks so much fun I might try it myself.

I used to be a semi Luddite. Now I think some technology is good. :)

However, I think I had my moment when I pulled into my parking space at home. A small flock of birds flew over the new house and settled in an ash tree. They didn't quite look like pine grosbeaks, although they were the same size. I had my binoculars handy, for once, and I was able to confirm a flock of Bohemian waxwings! Woo-hoo! I wonder what they found to feed on nearby; there are crabapple trees across the creek, but I thought the remains had been stripped a long time ago.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

happiness is...

...having a wonderful view of the lunar eclipse from your bedroom window when it's below zero outside!

And, having your kids lined up at the window, enjoying it.

time passing

I went to a funeral yesterday, at a lovely little old Lutheran church in my ancestral town of Grasston, Minnesota. My dear great aunt Ellen passed away at the age of 97 years. I had not seen her since she became a resident at a nursing home in southwestern Minnesota, near her daughter, about a dozen years ago. Her memory had been failing her in recent years, so I believe she was ready to be with Jesus her lord and her dear husband Sigurd.

My memories of Aunt Ellie were of how she made her house open to my family as much as she would her own children. Holidays were spent there, with all the extended family and hugs and kisses for all. She enjoyed having the family over and taking pictures. I never heard her complain about anything.

Today really made me think. About family, which while tenuous at times, is really the only sure thread we have in this life. It ties us to people in the present, and events in the past. My cousin Sandy, Ellen's daughter in law, put together a wonderful scrapbook about Ellen's and my grandma's family. I was paging through it after the funeral, and for once I felt a real sense of the story that brought me where I am today. My great great grandpa John (Lindroth) Swan came to Minnesota from Sweden in 1868. He homesteaded just outside of the town where the funeral was held. There were old pictures, news clippings, and stories of life on the farm, narrated by my own grandma. Precious. I will be writing my cousin and requesting copies of her family files.

And, I have to talk some more with my grandma. She is the only surviving member of that family, the one that saw the beginning of automobiles and telephones and electricity, that witnessed the death of small family farms in the area in the years after World War II and farm policy, that lived to see the assassination of JFK and 9-11. But, she lived in the times of dances with live bands at Fish Lake Pavilion, in the times of sewing and cooking and family celebrations.

It's hard to believe life 97 years ago was so simple. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned.

Monday, February 18, 2008

morning at the feeder

you may want to mute the audio, unless you like hearing the TV in the background and an occasional exclamation from Mr. Attitude.

The wind is howling out of the northwest this morning, adding an extra bite to the frigid air. As I sipped my morning coffee, the bird feeder and the ground below, where I had scattered extra sunflower seeds, were a constant hub of activity. Pine grosbeaks, redpolls and goldfinches would descend one by one from the branches of the dead spruce (the "tree of life", as I like to call it) to the feeder or the ground, then some unseen cue would send them all flying back up, then once again the birds descended. While the finches engaged in this dance, the chickadees flitted to and from the feeder, each independent of all the others.

I am enjoying a quiet morning at home. The Hermit took Mr. Attitude to Wal Mart, and Calvin and Starflower are at friends' houses until about noon. So I'll sip some peppermint tea and play some banjo, or maybe get the guitar out and sing. I have laundry to fold, but that can wait. :)

Mr. Attitude found one of our turtles, which had disappeared from the aquarium, alive and crawling on the floor this morning! We put it back with the other turtle and The Hermit has a cat-proof aquarium cover on his shopping list.

UPDATE- When I was driving to pick up Starflower, I saw a bald eagle AND a rough legged hawk flying above my car at the same time! Is that a blessing or what?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

bird bloggers rendezvous at Sand Creek

Ha ha Lynne and Ruth, I get to post first!!!

Last week I got an email from Lynne of Hasty Brook. She and Ruth (the Nature Knitter) were going to the Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds this weekend and she wanted to know if maybe they could stop by here on the way back! In record time I replied, typing out directions to here from the freeway.

This morning I flew around the house, picking things up and wishing I had vacuumed yesterday. Oh well, I thought, they practically know this place inside and out already, they won't mind a little mess! I got the call from Lynne, saying they had just exited the freeway, which meant they were about fifteen minutes away. More frantic preparations. Then I heard the geese, and then the dogs. They were here! I came outside to see Ruth and Lynne saying hi to Togo the husky.

Moonlight the kitty quickly made friends with Lynne. Sally the Labrador, not to be outdone, cuddled up to Ruth. In fact, Sally did her best to make herself the center of attention throughout the entire visit.

Starflower and Mr. Attitude hid in the bedroom and made their entrance hidden under comforters from Starflower's bed. They were their usual, so NOT shy selves as they made the visitors feel at home.

We chatted a bit indoors, then I took Lynne and Ruth for a tour of the new house. Sally invited herself along, and was a bit of a distraction as I tried to explain what each part of the house was going to be. I took her outside twice before she figured out she could just push her way into the house. She's two years old now. Just HOW MUCH LONGER before she gets out of her lab childhood?

Anyway, Ruth and Lynne were both amazed by the natural views in every direction, the numerous windows, and the open design of the new house. Which makes me all the more anxious to move in! I even showed them the phoebe's nest on a beam in the master bedroom. I was just so happy to be showing off my house in real life, instead of just on the blog!

When we got back to the cabin, the pine grosbeaks were at the feeder, so Lynne and Ruth got their cameras out and took a few photos. They will probably turn out better than anything I have taken all year!
Left to right: Togo, Deb, Lynne, Ruth (thanks Starflower for the photo!)

The time went way too fast, and all too soon they had to be back on the road. I wish we had had more time just to chat over a cup of tea. Maybe that will happen in the future. Anyway, Lynne and Ruth, thanks for taking the detour off the freeway and stopping by here! I really enjoyed your visit! Sally did too, and she says come back soon. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I am tired...

I spent over two hours washing dishes and reducing the clutter in my cook shed. I finally reconciled with myself that all those plastic yogurt and cottage cheese containers I had been saving really would not be used for anything, ever. So out they went.

Then I went straight out and shoveled about four inches of fluffy snow off the pond so the kids and I could skate tomorrow or Monday. I was my usual perfectionist self about it, even getting the plastic scoop shovel out so I could clear an extra foot or so off each side of the pond. Every square foot of ice counts. I worked up a sweat, and by the time I put on my skates to try it out, I really didn't feel much like skating.

What was I thinking? Did I really think I could come through a round of pond shoveling unscathed? Face it, I am not in my twenties anymore. Or even...well, you know. I'm already feeling it. And maybe feeling a bit of a cold coming on. I'm hoping it will hold off; I have two blogging friends stopping by for a visit tomorrow, and it should be fun!

Friday, February 15, 2008

happy sweet sixteen

It's pretty low key, as far as wedding anniversaries go. I had checked out the Duluth music calendar for the weekend, hoping there would be an intimate coffeehouse style concert we could attend, but no such luck. We'll probably take the kids to Duluth tomorrow afternoon for a meal out and some lake views.

But, no fair! I didn't get him anything (well yet), but he got me a Valentine present yesterday, two pairs of pajama pants. Much better than a dozen roses! And today he was coming back from some business and he was going through my old college town. He stopped in at the bookstore and bought me a new hooded sweatshirt from my alma mater! How sweet! Especially since my old sweatshirts were going on twenty years old and full of holes. I'm wearing the sweatshirt and jammie pants now.

I love you, Hermit. I'm glad there's someone out there who understands, or at least lives with, my strange ways.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

musings on red tailed hawks

I was taught that red tailed hawks were ordinary. My college vertebrate zoology professor pronounced, perhaps quite correctly, that any hawk you see around here is probably a red tailed. This was in St. Peter, Minnesota.

But I live a bit north of there now. And I've learned to expect other kinds of hawks here: Northern Goshawks, Rough Legged Hawks (in winter), Broad winged hawk ( in spring and summer, hardly a chance of them in winter) and Northern Harriers (which don't sit still on a branch for long periods of time).

Every day as I am driving home from work, I observe a certain tree in a certain field. Over 50 percent of the time, there is a red tailed hawk perching in the tree. Yesterday it was two bald eagles! I'm sure the people in the two or three cars that pass me while my car is sitting on the shoulder as I'm observing wonder what I'm up to.

Today I saw the red tailed hawk in a tree, and I pulled over to get a better look at it. The visual point for me has always been the bright white breast, and I started thinking lately...Red tailed hawks around here are not that white on the breast! I do not own a spotting scope, so these observations are by 8x binoculars only, but...this hawk does not have any dark markings on the breast.

I should say, these hawks. As I was driving forward after observing the first one, I saw a second hawk much closer, in the top of a birch tree. It looked the same, very white breast but dark head and back.

So am I just not seeing chest markings on these birds, or are they incredibly white breasted red tailed hawks for around here?

I should say, where these hawks were sighted was about the northern winter range for them. And, a year ago I saw a similar hawk, consistently, very white breasted.

I'm beginning to think there is no such thing as "ordinary" to those who take the time to see.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

seed inventory

Today started out relatively mild at 20 degrees, so the kids and I went skating on the pond in the morning. The temperature was predicted to drop throughout the day, however, and as we were leaving the pond the wind was just starting to blow.

The clouds and snow flurries gave way to sun as I began my annual ritual: the seed inventory. It is still over a month too early to plant anything indoors, but the seed inventory is a time to see what I have on hand, what I might need to order, and what is getting too old to be viable. And it's just nice to handle seed packets in the middle of the winter.

I had a lot more than I thought in the seed bin, which means that aside from a few things I order every year, like onions and potatoes, I really don't need to order many seeds. That doesn't mean
I won't. ;)

During the hour or so I spent going through my seed stash, the temperature dropped about ten degrees and the wind picked up to a steady howl. The feeder was a constant hub of activity. We had chickadees, pine grosbeaks, common redpolls, white breasted and red breasted nuthatches, blue jays, and downy and hairy woodpeckers. That's a male pine grosbeak at the feeder, with a black capped chickadee in the background.

We did see one bald eagle, trying to fly against the wind, on our way home from a trip to the grocery store.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hop Ottin' IPA

A long time ago, in a life far away, for a short time, we lived in a house overlooking a valley on the West Coast. In that valley there was a small brewery, which made THE closest to perfect beer I have ever tasted. The valley was Anderson Valley, California, the beer was Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Hop Ottin' India Pale Ale.

We didn't stay there long. Of course, that's why we are living where we are now. Lots of factors involved, but I think fate was the biggest one. We were fated to arrive where we live now on a chilly day in November with absolutely no prospects. Except optimism. That's a big thing.

But I digress. Those months overlooking the valley were like a bittersweet vacation. I grew basil and tomatoes right on the porch, we made a few friends, and made a lot of trips to the beach. We were even known to give into some driftwood drumming at the beach on some occasions.

Those trips to the beach usually involved a 6 pack of Hop Ottin' IPA. We had a kick ass local brewery in Boonville, about fifteen miles away including the miles it took to get down from the mountain to the valley floor. We quickly discovered Hop Ottin', named after a local linguistic dialect. We fell in love. The hops just made me smile, in a time in my life when I really was unsure of what the future would hold.

Some of my favorite memories from that time were taking the kids to the closest beach, eighteen miles away, then stopping at the Navarro Store for a 23 ounce Hop Ottin' on the way back. The one armed man who ran the store, who was rumored to be a pipe bomber before he became a storekeeper, hence the one arm, would always ask if I needed an opener. ;) I had a huge incline drive to get back home, including some hairpin turns, and sometimes I saw some white tailed kites along the way.

Once I went to a bluegrass jam in town. There was plenty of the local brew for all to share. And some of the local grown for all to share. I may or may not have inhaled, but I did see my first mountain lion on the way back home. :)

Of course, we did not stay. We are here, and all is pretty darn good. But we missed the Hop Ottin, which they do not distribute here in Minnesota. But at our favorite liquor store in Superior, Wisconsin, The Hermit found a guy who would do what he could to get us Hop Ottin. And today, success. Three six packs, which the store owner had to pay out of pocket from another store in Hudson, Wisconsin.

I was afraid that I had built it up in my mind, that its flavor could never stand up to what I remembered. I was wrong. Way wrong. One sip and I was smiling. Best. beer. ever.

Hop Ottin goes right to your head and makes you happy. I don't need to drink a lot, only one or two. I could not imagine drinking more, now. Sometimes I wonder if they don't add a little of Mendocino County's number one product. ;)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Birds today

Great horned owls hooting at about 3 AM, so loud I could hear them from indoors.

A male cardinal and a male red bellied woodpecker at the feeder at work. At the same time.

A bald eagle (I'm pretty sure) in a tree in a pasture on the way home.

A small flock of 4 snow buntings just east of Sandstone in a field.

A barred owl, sitting in a tree next to the road just a couple miles from home. Awesome, or what?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

An almost-met blogger

It looked good, in theory. Laura would arrive on a train, I would meet her, either at the station or somewhere in St. Paul. We would maybe go for a walk, have a relaxed dinner, and see the CD release party of The Whistlepigs, my friends and band that our blogging connection had sent across the border to Forget, Saskatchewan. Two years, now.

At least, that was the plan. I knew Laura's train was running late, but when I left here (two hours out from the Cities), her train was scheduled to come in at 5:06 pm. Perfect. Just enough time to hit the pub restaurant I had in mind, have a leisurely talk, and go on to the show.

Twenty minutes before said rendezvous, I had a call on my cell phone. Laura's train had broken down in Grand Forks, and she would not be arriving in St. Paul until around 10. Arrgh. She would miss the show, and have maybe an hour before she had to catch her train back to Saskatchewan. Awww. I felt her helplessness, but as long as I had driven that far, with Starflower in tow, I was determined to at least see The Whistlepigs.

Starflower and I had two hours to kill, and I knew we could not spend it at that cozy little tavern. So we headed for Rosedale Mall. Ugh. If I ever needed a reminder why I ABSOLUTELY HATE MALLS, this was it. I don't know why we did this, in retrospect, but I think it was maybe I thought Starflower would like it. We ate at Ruby Tuesday's, which was not good, not bad. At any rate, I won't be eating there again.

We arrived at the venue, and it turned out we had some local friends there. The show was wonderful. At intermission, I heard a voice message from Laura, who said she had to get off in St. Cloud, 75 miles northwest of the cities, so she could meet her return train. She didn't even make it to St. Paul.

So I'm thinking...maybe a trip to Saskatchewan this summer...anyway Laura, I'm really bummed that it didn't work out!

Sunday afternoon birding at home

As if it's not enough that there has been a flock of maybe twenty pine grosbeaks showing up regularly. As if it's not enough that lately several dozen redpolls have decided to make this their home feeder. No hoary redpolls yet, although I've been looking. As if it's not enough to see a dozen chickadees, along with nuthatches, blue jays, and downy and hairy woodpeckers.

Today we happened to be looking out when we saw first one ruffed grouse, then another, then two more, emerge from the woods, walking on the crusted snow. They came so close but didn't quite be so bold as to step out into the open, under the feeder. One of them flew up into a small aspen, eating buds.

While I was watching this with wonder, I spotted a woodpecker on a dead white pine bough. I had been eying that bough suspiciously, wondering what had been peeling off the bark. As soon as I saw the woodpecker's dark back, I had a good idea. My binoculars were out in the car, but I was pretty sure this was a black backed woodpecker!

Later on I heard a persistent tapping from close by in the woods, so I investigated, this time with binocs. Sure enough I spotted it, a female black backed woodpecker, flaking bark off of a bough that had broken off last spring, and boring into the exposed wood for insects. She must have been finding a lot around here lately; under every dead white pine bough, flakes of bark litter the snow.

Black backed woodpeckers are a boreal species, and we are at about the southern limit of their range. Even in range they are not as easily spotted as other woodpecker species, such as downy or hairy woodpeckers. I don't think they come to suet feeders. I wonder if this is the same one I saw last spring?

In other news, I had a near miss yesterday in what would have been my first real life encounter with a blogger from another (neighboring) country. But that's another story, and I'm sure she'll have her version up soon as well. ;)

Friday, February 01, 2008

a flock of starlings

I was returning from an errand at lunchtime today to my workplace when a flock of starlings caught my eye. I admired how they moved as one, although there seemed to be a small fringe flock that didn't quite assimilate into the bigger flock. Teenagers maybe? :)

Then, suddenly, the entire flock took a dive. And there was not a bit of individual dissent about it; they all just dove. Then I saw an accipiter, probably a sharp shinned hawk, fly into the midst of the flock. I could not tell if the hawk was successful in obtaining a starling meal, I just saw the flock make an abrupt retreat in unison.

Wow. The timing also amazes me, since I rarely if ever witness stuff like this at the feeder at work.

Also this day I heard a great horned owl hooting just before dawn, saw not one but two pileated woodpeckers flying, and spotted a red tailed hawk on my drive home, way off in a pasture where she/he was just a hint of white. Birds are amazing.

I am currently reading "Mind of the Raven" by Bernd Heinrich. All the more evidence that birds know more than we give them credit for.