Saturday, July 12, 2008

Red-tailed Hawks of Tulsa, Ranger X's Best Numbers, and House Finch Weaning.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert

Jay, the Dad of the Tulsa Oklahoma urban Red-tail nest sat in the rain guarding the territory for two days. The poor guy is soaked through and due to the white "shirt front" and the feathers sticking out from the sides of his head, has begun to look a little like the vampire in The Munsters TV show.



Just a quick update on the KJRH hawk family in Tulsa.Between myself, Gunit, and Russell Mills (KJRH web director/hawk watcher on site!) we have been seeing mostly Jay with occasional visits from Thunder. Sometimes at the nest tower, and at other times various nearby perches. It has been a week or two (I would have to look back over posts) since anyone has reported seeing Kay.

Several "hawk-cam" observers have reported visits to the nest platform and have taken some great screen captures! I am sending you pictures of Jay (hanging out in the rain the last 2 days) and a couple of Thunder this morning. I am always adding more pictures to my site also. I love sharing them with everyone following the KJRH hawk family in Tulsa!


Photograph by Cheryl Cavert

Jay attempts to get some of the moisture off his feathers.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
Guess who from this morning? It's Thunder, the young hawk with personality plus. Eyeing a possible lunch, perhaps?

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
Thunder does some soaring. Beautiful.

I emailed Cheryl as to whether people were becoming concerned since no one had seen Kay, the nest mom, for sometime. Perhaps she's always been less visible, we'll see.

Which brings up the topic of what to do about or with a downed or injured Hawks. Let's say for instance you're walking through the park, in one hand you have your dog's leash and in the other you're holding your three-year-old's hand. Suddenly you notice there is a Red-tail with a drooping wing attempting to hide under some bushes.

Though you're not in much of a position to rescue it yourself, your hands are full already, your job is not to let that hawk out of your sight. We all know how fast they can disappear, never to be seen again, when left without eyes on them for even a moment. Remember Tristan?

In the past it has sometimes been difficult in the heat of the moment to find a reliable number to call for assistance in NYC, while in that position. Therefore get out your cell phones, your Blackberries, your traveling communication devices of all kinds and punch in these numbers.


(1) Your best bet would be to call our Central Communications office at (646) 613-1200. This is a general phone line to Central, not one that is only used exclusively by Parks staff. Central is our radio communications headquarters, so once they get your call they would then reach us over the radio, which is the most direct way of getting in touch with us to get the rescue underway. You could call and a ranger could be on his or her way within minutes.

(2) Another option would be to call the Urban Park Rangers headquarters in Manhattan at (212) 360-2774. They can contact supervisors in any borough and inform them of the situation in whatever park the hawk is in. The supervisors then would dispatch rangers accordingly. This is less direct than the first option and the response time would therefore be delayed.

And I'll add a number (3), which is what I'd also do in that situation as a back up, just in case the very limited number of hard working Urban Park Rangers were otherwise imperatively occupied. (Or the downed hawk wasn't in a park.) I'd start calling whatever knowledgeable Hawkwatchers I thought might be able to get there the fastest bringing their "downed hawk rescue kit".

And of course, an immediate emergency, such as a hawk in the street calls for immediate action if you're willing and able.

On the back of the feeder is Dad House Finch eyeing his offspring on the front of the feeder. Jr. a sunflower seed in his mouth but somehow... would be ever so much easier if Dad would do the separating of meat from hull and stick it down his throat. Junior begs mightily. Little wings aquiver and vocal cords at maximum volume. Dad is not moved.

So Junior moves faster and gets louder. Note that the hull has disappeared from the sunflower seed in Junior's beak. Dad is not moved as Junior is obviously perfectly capable of feeding himself. Dad's still back there see his tail?

While Junior is having his Feed-Me tizzy and not looking at Dad. Dad takes off like a bullet from the feeder and hides in one of the little evergreen trees about 30 feet away.

Junior has really worked himself up. See the feathers that have raised up on the top of his head en masse? But from his apparent feeding expertise, it really is time for Junior to be weaned and Dad has figured out how to do it. He just going to hide.

Junior looks. Where did dad go?

Maybe if he closes his eyes, when they open again Dad will be there.

No such luck.

Junior eats a seed and thinks about it.

Is Dad really gone? Maybe another seed will help

It didn't help one bit. Looking more than a little disgusted. Junior stares at me like it might be my fault. Then cocks his head, as if listening, takes to his wings, and heads straight to the evergreen Dad is hiding in. Dad goes out the side of the tree and the race is on.

Evidently Dad is going to have to keep his voice down if he wants this one to become self sufficient.

Donegal Browne

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Triborough Update, The Drive-Thru Red-tail,and What Squirrels Do In a Deluge

Sunset with storm clouds. But why?
(I'm having some computer vs photo program vs printer software issues I hope to be resolved soon so we can get back to photos that actually match what's going on in the blog most of the time.)

The good news is there is an update from Jules about Trib, the son of Athena and Atlas , and little foster brother to Holding-His-Own Hous(ton). Guess what? Trib has a new name suitable for a grown up hawk which he's starting to be. Here's Jules-

Hello All,
We seemed to have agreed on a name for little Triborough. The name is Buster - in honor of one of our local dogs who passed away this spring. Everyone who comes to Astoria Park knew and loved Buster - a shephard/lab/pitbull mix rescued from a junkyard when he was a puppy 12 years ago.

So, this morning, I found Buster in a tree on the edge of his little forest eating breakfast! He was keeping his balance, ripping things up in that fierce NYC hawk way, and keeping an eye on the blue jay that was half-heartedly hazing him. He finally picked up what was left of his meal and skillfully carried it over to the basketball court (which still is under construction). Even though the meal was definately left overs, he looks well-fed and alert. He does his parents proud!
Hope all is well with everyone!

Here's the Drive-thru Red-tail. I've only seen her while waiting in the car at the window for my refreshing soft drink. And I've seen her at least a dozen times over the last year. She's always being chased by other birds on these occasions, as she was today, and they even managed to attack her so viciously while flying through a small tree that she tumbled a few branches down. But after a flight across some fields she actually landed, perched, and stayed in a tree about 60 acres away. That's a whole lot of acres when sticking a camera out the car window so though she isn't as sharp as I'd like, she did finally after all this time perch somewhere in my field of view long enough to get a photo.
Today's pursuers were Crows and blackbirds of various descriptions. If you look above her you'll see some black blobs. That's them.

This would have been a sequence of squirrel photos in a torrential thunderstorm but it isn't is it?
I'll just have to tell you about it.
Have your ever wondered what squirrels do during a terrific thunderstorm? It did occur to me that you rarely see them during a deluge but I'd always thought they must hang out in a drey or cavity when it rains. Not today.
Suddenly this afternoon, it got extremely dark and it wasn't time for the sky to be dark yet as it wasn't time for night. I looked out. There was one squirrel lounging on the picnic table and another raiding the hanging feeder, neither seemed to be paying attention to the lack of lighting.
Suddenly the heavens opened with 60 MPH wind, sheets of pelting rain, lightening to beat the band, and some hail thrown in for good measure. All of which started full bore. Nothing. Then everything in a blink of an eye. Whoosh!
The squirrels, who'd been absorbed in doing what squirrels do on any given day when the storm hit, raced for one of the large Maples. The first squirrel scurried back and forth on one side of the trunk while the other tried to join him. There was a squirrel scuffle and I realized that the winning squirrel was on the side of the tree that was dry. The loser not being allowed on the dry side was getting pelted. He got as close to the dry side as he was allowed and hunkered down. Even though Winner had the best spot he was pretty much hanging on for dear life. Wouldn't want that wind to get under your belly and fling you off into space after all.
Loser crept further up the tree and got slightly above Winner and after a certain amount of "negotiation" Loser hung from his furry squirrel toes in exact alignment with Winner, who was head up/tail down. Undoubtedly they wanted to keep an eye on each other but perhaps more telling was that they'd found the only spot on a tree in the entire yard that had two square feet of dry bark.
Who says squirrels are dummies?

D. B.

Updates: Hous, Houston 2, Lead Fledge, and 111th st. Kestrel Fledges

A look at Houston 2's throat courtesy of the Horvaths

And here's what hard working wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath has to say about Hous, Houston 2, and the Lead Fledge from the Cathedral, who are all in his and wife Cathy's care.

Houston 2 is doing much better and the majority of the infection is gone. A small amount still remains at the back of his throat but he looks 100 % better.

Hous 1 is holding his own , no worse and the Cathedral youngster is doing about the same with a small improvement in the usage of the feet but nowhere near ready to go outside .

Three cheers for the battling fledgling Red-tails! Excellent news!

Houston 2 is well on his way to getting his health back.

Hous (Houston 1) who didn't look like he'd make it another day, is holding his own. Yippee!

And it sounds like the big female fledgling who is suffering from lead poisoning is, though slowly, getting a little better. Good for her! Lead poisoning isn't for weinies.

111th st. American Kestrel, Falco Sparverious, photos also courtesy of the Horvaths

And more from Bobby about sibling Kestrels--

These pictures are of a pair of 6 week old kestrels from a nest on 111 st. and St. Nicholas Avenue. The first was found Monday and the sibling yesterday a block away .

The first (on the left) has a bad case of frounce which you can see is actually displacing the lower mandible from the infection and large growth in its throat. Parent kestrels will raid pigeon nests and bring the babies back to feed their own young . Baby pigeons are infected with frounce by their parents while crop feeding from them.


Not only is his mandible being displaced but the swelling is so bad he can't even look down.

And why was his brother picked up? Because as Cathy Horvath said to me the other day, "Kestrels learn to fly from the ground up".

Talk about fledging problems, I imagine there are very few good nest sites for Kestrel fledglings in New York City. Cavities tending to be at a premium, urban Kestrels often use cavities inside eaves or other little hidey holes in buildings for their nests.

Where do their youngsters end up when they fledge. On the sidewalk or street, running around looking for places to branch up. Neither spot being a safe place at all for birds who can't fly yet.

While his brother is being treated for frounce, the healthy fledgling will be learning his flying lessons.

Look at all the lesions in his throat and the instability of his mandible. That has to be dreadfully painful.

Also very ingenious way to get a look at such a small bird's throat or to get his mouth open for feeding if necessary

Photograph courtesy of Francois Portmann

Now and again, I get an email from a reader who points out that though when I write about birds and animals there are photos of them, but only very rarely does anyone get a look at the people that are being talked about. They then say that it would be nice to be able to see the people in their minds eye as well as the animals as they read about them.

Honestly part of the problem is that we rarely think to take a photo of the humans because we're so enthralled with the animals. But that wasn't good enough for reader Anthony Swain so luckily the other evening when we all went owling , Swiss photographer Francois Portmann did think of it and here is his wonderful photograph.

(Talk about Psycho Noir, I no longer question why we weren't bothered by any bad guys that evening. )

From left to right: South African naturalist and filmmaker Adam Welz, me, New York's own sharped eyed falcon watching James O'Brien of The Origin of the Species Blog (see links), Wildlife Rehabilitator Carol Vinzant, and the man who set up his camera for the shot, photographer, Houston Hawkwatcher, and my partner in crime in the Houston tiercel capture, Francois Portmann,

So Anthony are you satisfied now? Sheesh.

Donegal Browne

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Which species recognize the meaning of the pointed finger?

It's hot. The kind of hot and humid that comes before thunder storms but doesn't go away even after the rain. The kind of hot and humid that makes the red raspberries turn so purple and sweet you can't quite believe they're real.

About this kind of day, they say around here, "A day I wouldn't want to be bailing hay", it is the day to pick raspberries despite the clouds of mosquitoes and the rivulets of sweat curling down your back.

And so I did.

And when I turned around with my bowl there was Emmie the Emu. Emmie loves raspberries. And he doesn't care if they are a little far gone or a little not there yet. He only cares that they are on his side of the fence.

I've been trying to get Emmie to eat out of my hand. He just out waits me and I end up dropping whatever through the fence and when I retreat he eats it.

But just look at that face, he wants raspberries. I collect some and stick the tips of my fingers through the wire with a mound of berries on the tips. He waits. I wait. Then he gives me a sly peeved look. Bam! His large beak bumps my fingers from the top and the berries fall to the ground. He pecks each one quickly and with precision. Each berry shoots down his throat by some kind of emu rapid fire reverse pneumatic pressure.

Was the bam my fingers received an excess of enthusiasm? Or was that a message? I try again. BAM! That was a message.

Okay, fine. I'll dribble them through the fence, which still makes him nervous. I then realize that it might be a height issue. Not that I'm all that much taller than he is but there are undoubtedly emu rules of courtesy I'm not aware of.

I pluck a few more, squat down, and dribble the berries from about 18 inches from the ground. Suddenly he has a friendly look. Interesting. Perhaps I was doing something aggressive I wasn't aware of?

Peck, peck, peck, peck peck. We do it again. Peck, peck, peck, peck. I notice that one has rolled behind him and without thinking I point at it. He turns round and shhhwoop, it's sucked down his throat with the rest. Wait a minute I just pointed my finger at something behind an emu and the emu took the cue, turned, and ate the berry. Well, maybe. Perhaps he knew it was there all the time.

I'll try it again. Being careful he's occupied and doesn't see me plant the single behind him as he's eating the others. I then point again. He again looks where I'm pointing and peck, it's gone. This is significant.

Not long ago I was watching Nova or Nature or one of the other PBS science programs and it was about just this action--the cuing of others by pointing a finger. It's used as a sign of the capability of inter species or intra species ability to work together toward a common goal.

What is one of the first things a human toddler does to get a positive interaction going with another human. If they point their finger at something, automatically most times the other human involved, being capable of speech, says the name of the thing being pointed at.

I had noticed that all little kids seemed to do it and often over and over. Currently scientists are beginning to believe that the action and response are wired in and are a signifier of man's innate urge to teach and learn.

But did you ever do it with your dog? You throw the ball or the stick and the dog either misses the toss or the projectile ends up obscured in some way. If you point at the object, most dogs "get it" and head for the object of play.

Dogs have been hanging with humans for a very long time and they have been Man's partner in many endeavors. People and dogs have worked together toward a common goal for probably thousands of years. Do dogs do something similar with each other which has been adapted to cooperative effort with man? Quite unlikely that they point their fingers as they have none, but perhaps they do it with a look?

But than again traditional Navajos don't point their fingers at something they want looked at by another, it's considered rude. They use their lips to point with, having stifled the possibly innate urge to point.

So the scientists wondered what other species might be in on the game. Stunningly the higher primates do not get it. You can point all you want and they just never figure it out. One of the reasons that it is believed that though they are social and though each might have the same goal at any given moment, they don't work cooperatively with each other to reach that goal.

But it turns out that parrots do get it. Now parrots aren't domesticated. They are tame members of a wild species. So the action hasn't adapted along with man pointing at something but rather perhaps something that parrots do with each other. I'd put big money on the action with parrots being a look. When Quicksilver the African Grey who lives with us, wants to do something that he knows will illicit a negative response from me. He keeps an eye on my eyes. The moment I glance away he goes for the off limits act. Rather like a hawk changing her perch the moment you look down to adjust the camera.

Emmie, who is also a tame (At least for an emu.) member of a wild species, also got it right away. Why?

Why do humans, dogs, parrots, and emus know to follow the invisible line from finger or eyes to an object of joint attention and primates don't?

Donegal Browne

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pale Male or 08-135? Fourth of July Part I and Sally's Question

Pale Male or 08-135? Which is better?

I had made the comment in a previous post that if a bird I was reading about had a name I became more invested in following what happened to that individual bird. (In fact, I'd begin to feel guilty if I didn't.)

Sally left this comment on the post:

Interesting thought, about naming the birds. I guess it does bring us closer to them somehow, in some personal way we "know" them better if they have a name.

Although I think I had the same feelings for Houston 1,2 and 3 as for "Hous", even Riverside 1 or Cathedral 2 is more personally identifying than A217 or 08-135, as we identify our rehab birds here. Once they have a name, though, they are more like our family, and we do seem to take a more personal interest in them.

Would the public at large care more about our endangered creatures if we named them?

My answer? Absolutely! It's been proven. Back in the days when scientists were having lab rats run through mazes to see how long it took for them to learn the maze and how fast they could then negotiate it, there was a variation done in which graduate students thought it was the rats who were being tested but in reality it was the graduate students who were being evaluated.

Here's how it worked. The lead scientist would come in to lecture the students on how the maze trial was to be executed. All of which was introduced as if that was the experiment, but in the midst of showing an example, the mice cages were in view. All the rats had their own little cages marked with their individual letters and numbers. One cage had it's individual identifying notation plus an add on, a name--"Pee Wee".

Periodically the grad students came in and had the mice run the maze and notated the results, but unbeknownst to them there was a hidden camera scrutinizing their behavior.

It was noted that the students over time would give Pee Wee little nudges to get him started in a timed trial and other slight interferences that would help Pee Wee "win", ie., do better than the other rats.

Not only did Pee Wee have a name but it was an identiying name for an underdog rat and there was some thought that the grad students being grad students, and grad school being horrendously competive, and most people secretly living in fear of failure, they particularly related to Pee Wee and wanted him to succeed, as they hoped they would. I do like physically or at least geographically hooked names the best. They help people who drop by to look at the hawks know which one they are looking at.

For instance one season, there was an eyass at the Cathedral who was darker than the others and I believe Rob Schmunk may have started calling him Brownie. People then could individualize which eyass Brownie was by looking and could follow what he did specifically. Then when they saw him on another day they recognize him and enjoyed stopping and paying attention to him as an individual. They began to care much more about the hawks and Brownie in particular.

Now there is no question that Pale Male is a stunningly charismatic Red-tail with an individualizing pale head which makes him easier to identify than if he were more similarly colored to his mates. But I warrant that if he had been called 08-135 instead of Marie Winn's identifying brilliant stroke of a name Pale Male, we'd have heard much less about him. And of course Marie's wonderful book RED-TAILS IN LOVE didn't hurt one bit nor did his choice of real estate. Lets face it fame is the product of numerous variables but without the name? I don't think so.

Here we have a Red-tailed Hawk, a common species, who has become the ambassador for Wildlife in New York City, in good part initially with the public, because he has a very good name. People did and do care about him, and hence care also for the other named hawks which now grace our many neighborhoods with their own local watchers.

I had thought about doing the rest of the post which is about humans as if we readers were another species, observing them. A kind of field noting of Homo sapiens. Giving them letters and numbers for identifiers. Using "it".

I thought about it. It is just too disrespectful and some people might not understand. Therefore if you want to play the game for yourself, just read through imagining yourself to be some imaginery highly cognizant species observing the Homo sapiens fascinating behavior.

It's the Fourth of July. In Milton, Wisconsin as in many towns there is a parade on the 4th. On the left is Harry in his lawn chair. Remember Harry? He's the one with the emu. Harry is baby sitting the early 20th century Shepard and Nichols steam engine. This is the first year ever, that one will be in the parade.

Why does a steam engine need babysitting? Because it runs on steam, life steam, and it takes some hours to get a full head of steam going. There is a fire box full of burning wood that makes the steam. And if something goes wrong, like the water gets too low in the engine, the whole thing will blow sky high. And I mean sky high along with all the people within many yards of the machine. Someone and hopefully several someones are always paying attention to a steam engine.

This big silver number on the end, it's all hooked together is a 1916 Shepards and Nichols separator. When threshing, the separator separates the straw from the grain. Which is a big improvement on throwing portions up into the air from a flat basket hoping the wind will blow the straw out of the grain.
See the little red tank in front of the separator. That is a water wagon. It is important to have a ready supply of water when dealing with a steamer. It's that explosion thing again.
On the right is Paul, he'll be one of the engine operators for the parade. It takes two people to drive the sucker. (Now wouldn't it be more helpful if his name was Engineer?) On the right is Ron, the one wearing the aloha shirt with his overalls. He owns the steam engine. In fact he owns dozens and dozens of various era engines and tractors. His family never threw anything away and liked to collect stuff besides. (And of course if Ron were a hawk, his name would be aloha shirt.) This summer at the Thresheree they're going for the world record of threshing machines threshing at the same time.
12:31pm Finally the engine is getting the go ahead to move from the side street to the main street which is the one that the parade will go down.

You may have noticed there are three boys riding on top of the separator. I have a question. Look at the boy's expressions. What is it that happens to adolescent boys that turns them into this, emotionally...
12:37pm ...when they started out like this?
12:41pm Engine is now in parade position. This is Marty. He's my second cousin and his father is Harry who has the emu. Marty eats, drinks, and sleeps steam engines. Which is a good thing as we have one in the parade and time is still passing.
Remember the engine has a full head of steam? And it's just sitting there with nothing to do with all that energy that's building up. Suddenly Marty hops off the engine and madly begins turning spigots open. Paul is beside him and some water runs out of the pipes and into the street. Whatever it is, it seems okay now. Marty says something or other "is doing its job". I'm really glad.

A few minutes later with a huge roar and a shreaking whistle, steam blasts out of the top of the engine. That's the automatic steam release valve. If too much is building up, it lets off a little steam to relieve the situation. Now you know where the expression, "letting off a little steam" comes from. Notice that everyone is startled and looking at the steam except Marty. He's looking at the important things. The gauges there under the steering wheel. Just checkin' and I'm glad.
12:52 The release valve goes off several more times. Marty comments that steam engines aren't meant to just sit there and I assume someone may have gone to let someone know that the parade needed to start now. Marty puts on his sunglasses.

12:54pm The people in the people wagon wait.

And off we go. I'm sure Marty is relieved. The machine isn't the only thing that doesn't like standing around. For some reason he reminds me of the tank commander Rommel from WWII when he drives a steamer.

And keep going, there are the folks sitting in front of the volunteer fire house. Some one's grandmother is up sitting next to the fridge in the shade.

The children are always happy at the parade--the floats throw candy.

Then in, it seems like no time, we're at the corner that is the beginning of the end of the parade route.

And here is Harry of the emu, with all his bells and whistles. It really is an amazing collection that runs on an air compressor. And for some reason besides all the noise production he's got a lock from Alcatraz mounted there too.

After prodigeous numbers of ice pops, and feeling slightly more human the guys stand in a guy clump discussing legistics.

Remember Josh? He's the one who saved the giant snapping turtle who was crossing the road at an inoportune moment. Snapping Turtle was featured on the blog. Josh and I released him into the pond he was heading for.
Here he, Josh not the snapping turtle is waiting for the guys to finish their ad hoc conference about getting all the equipment to the Studebakers, without steep hills, so they can all be rolled onto trucks and taken back where they came from. Most of them are stored at Thresherman's Park in big ugly metal buildings. (Just a broad hint, I think they need period buildings to match the age of the tractors.)
Oh, that's a beauty of an 830 CASE Josh is sitting on. Yup the tractors have books written about them which are the equivalent of field guides for farm machinery. Who knew?
And now for a couple of Homo sapien field notes: 2:17pm This is Isabella. She is blue eyed and dark haired. Homo sapiens come in many different color morphs with great variation. This is a reasonably unusual combination.
2:34pm The most rare color morph and here we're lucky to have two to look at. The Red-headed Homo sapien. This is the most recessive color morph in the species gene pool!

Internet Issues.

Dear Readers,

I'll make this quick as I don't know how long I have. My internet provider has been down most of the day. I got on earlier for about 10 minutes and was knocked off and unable to get back on until now for who knows how long. Wisconsin is currently under thunderstorm, flash flood, and tornado watches. (Welcome to the Midwest.) The blog may go up as scheduled or it may not depending. Just letting you know so you don't think I'm shirking and sitting around eatting bon bons.


CA Wild Fires Threaten Condors OR The Fourth of July, Part I

When I first came to the computer to do today's blog, I had it in my mind that I should talk about the danger to the CA Condors, the most threatened bird I'm told, (That is if you don't think there are any Ivory Bill's left or species we don't know about keeling over.) that the CA wildfires are posing.

I then realized that that was going to most likely be depressing. And I realized I was tired. And that one more blog about depressing bird issues just seemed like one too many in a row at the moment. Particularly as we haven't been following any individual Condors and as far as I know, there is no new news concerning the Houston Family or Lead Fledge. The Cathedral fledgling in Central Park appears dandy and I've not received any heads up about the NYC Red-tails today having something dire happen. Hmmm.

Oh, I'll get back on the reporting bicycle, couldn't keep myself from it, but just for today I'm thinking a day off from sick, injured, poisoned, unfindable, or endangered birds would be a thought.

So I scrutinized that thought. Was I being a weinie?

No I wasn't. I was reacting like a reasoably normal Homo sapien.

What does that mean?

It means, that if there was a California Condor named, for instance Harvey, instead of something like A217, and I knew who Harvey's mate and child were, I would absolutely have to check on how Harvey was doing. But since they insist on calling "Harvey" a number, he isn't personalized. And somehow-- thinking, " I wonder how Harvey and the family are doing with those fires in California? I better find out." is totally different than, " I wonder how A217 is." I mean who is A 217? At least it seems that way to me at the moment. Though I've just found that as I've read the beginning of this paragraph a number of times, A217 is becoming more like a name all the time. That's Homo sapien for you.

Which made me start thinking about human behavior. We are mammals after all.

Titillated I went ahead with that path and I have the photographs for Part II all loaded and ready for the prose, but as there are 14 them--yes, afraid so-- hate to break it to you--

BLOGGER is tired too, and probably grumpy. BLOGGER doesn't want to load any more photographs so BLOGGER isn't going to, because that's how BLOGGER is.

Therefore I'm trying to decide if any of it will make sense if I leave you with no Part I while publishing Part II.

D. B.

CA Wild Fires or the Fourth of July? Part II

Marty and Cole Studebaker start heading for home with the rest of us in tow. Well not really "in tow", just in line. Gotta be careful how you say things when you have something that is actually capable of towing all the rest of the vehicles.

See all the cars bumper to bumper backed up to the horizon? This doesn't happen in Milton. In fact it's so rare, unlike New York City, that I was asked to take a photo of it.

Turning into the Studebaker''s driveway and "Harry's Yard" And what do you do when you get there?

You have a picnic of course.

And there is Ron, aka Aloha shirt, talking on his cell phone sitting on a tractor tire.

Here is one of the sheds at Harry's Yard.

And Harry's phone booth. No not operable. Harry just likes it.

And his old gas pump, and speed limit , and RR crossing sign.

No reason to have to take the kids to the playground, Harry has one of those as well. And more RR signs and his own mailbox too. Remember playground merry go rounds? They don't have them in NYC. They're considered too dangerous. One child did say he felt like "barfing" but nobody bled.
See the screened in gazebo in the back there? See the white blobs near the roof? Those are a bunch of buffalo skulls. Harry is actually a mountain man born in the wrong time.

Speaking of some things that are truly dangerous--Here are the children

Over to their left is this. What is this? A big wooden mallet like in the cartoons, BAM. And a little cart full of scythes.
Yes, folks you heard it here. You know the thing that the grim reaper carries around? There they are and the children never touch them or any of the other things in the yard that they could kill themselves or each other with. Fascinating. (Have the dumb ones already done themselves in or have the kiddies been threatened within an inch of their lives if they touch something. That's a joke just in case you're flipping out.) I suspect that when you grow up with these sorts of things, you just know. Though Cole does have a several inch scar on his head you can see when his hair is very short. He ran into an anvil.
Come to think of it, he's never done it again. It must have been a very good learning experience. Perhaps you only have to do something like that once.

Further in the back of the very large yard, is the buffalo skull curing area. He put the heads there and the bugs clean them up for Harry.
(He has a friend that raises Buffalo for those concerns that make buffalo burgers.)

Wait a minute That's not just a windmill, that's getting awfully close to art.
By the time Mary's huge cherry cheesecake has been devoured, it's time for...

Fireworks in my backyard. It just happens to abut the park where they set them off. And there is a carnival with rides besides. It's Red, White, and Blue--
But somehow part of the day seemed to be in black and white too.
Donegal Browne