25 April 2007

Some bird, I am ...

Posting has been pretty light around here lately, and for that I apologize. I’m going through one of those dry periods that hits every now and then. You know the kind – you sit down to write, thinking you have a great idea, and then it just ... poofs.

So, to shake things up a bit and get the old synapses firing again, I’m heading to Washington, DC.

No, really. I’m leaving Saturday morning at oh-dark-thirty and winging all the way to the other side of the U.S. of A. for a week.

OK, I’ll admit I’m not going just because I’m fighting writer’s block. If it was just that, I’d go to Ireland. But I have a perfectly lovely aunt and uncle who live in DC and I’m visiting at their invitation with my mom and sister. It should be fun – I’ve never been there before and as much as I write about the mess emanating from that tiny spot on the map, it sure can’t hurt to see it for myself.

There’s just this one, itty-bitty thing. I don’t like to fly.

I mean I really, really don’t like to fly. I’m the one who begged her doc for just enough Valium to keep her doped during the flight back to the States from Europe on leave. He was very nice and gave me four tablets, two for each way. And when we flew back the final time in ’92, he gave me two more.

Those were the nicest, most stress-free 19-hour flights I’ve ever taken. We're at 40,000 feet and bouncing like we're on a dirt road? Hey, no problem.

But this time, I’m stuck. No health insurance. No nice doc. No Valium. I’m just gonna hafta suck it up and be brave.

I’ve been afraid to fly since I was a little tiny kid. Sure, I’ve done it anyway, and I’ll do it this time. But just thinking about walking down that echoey plastic causeway into the belly of that tin can with wings and thick little windows makes my stomach flipflop. I think it’s a combination of a fear of heights and enclosed spaces, all rolled into one nasty, white-knuckled, just-close-your eyes-and-try-to-breathe phobia.

A friend said, “But that’s what the airport bars are for!”

Well, yeah. But drinking at 7 a.m. isn’t my thing. Besides, I’d probably just throw up.

It’s not the flying itself that gets to me. Once the airliner has leveled out at altitude, I can sorta let go of the armrests, look out the window at the clouds down below and pretend I’m in heaven instead of riffing on the fact that I’m sealed into a tube hurtling through the air at some ungodly speed several miles above the earth.

It’s the taking off and landing that curls my toenails and sends a trickle of cold sweat down my spine. Since this is a cross-country trip and we have to stop in Denver (where my sister will join us on the flight) it means up-down and then up-down again. Twice between here and Baltimore.

Erk. Same thing coming home.

Yeah, people fly all the time. Some people fly the way they used to take trains. It’s like commuting for them.

But not me. I haven’t set foot in a 720-anything in 15 years. Not even once. And I hear now you don’t even get an icky meal to complain about. Just some peanuts and a soda. Or booze.

I’d barf.

And all this silly quaking is in spite of the fact that I once took off, flew and landed a tiny Cessna (with an instructor) just so I could write about the experience. And that I’ve shot watershed news photos from the windows of a small plane piloted by a testosterone-powered arsehole as he banked it low and nearly sideways over the high Sierras. Both times I was scared nearly spitless, but way too busy to worry about it.

Anyway – this will be my last post for a while. I’ll be back, oh, around May 6 if the plane does all those ups-and-downs correctly. If it doesn’t, it’s been nice bloggin’ for y’all. Toodles.

But since it’s more likely I’ll get there and back again without suffering more than cramped knuckles, I’ll tell you all about my trip to DC when I return. I can’t think of a better way to bust through writer’s block than facing down personal cowardice twice, can you?

19 April 2007

A "forgetting problem"

The man being questioned today by the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to prevaricate and coyly point his toes in, look down and shrug about the reasons and mechanisms behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

He’s not just any guy off the street. He’s the top lawmaker in the country. Yet Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s answers to questions posed him by members of the committee sound just like the answers I used to get from my daughter when I questioned her about something she didn’t do after being asked or something she'd done wrong.

“I forgot.”

“I don’t know.”

The following headlines are from TPMMuckraker.com, Talking Point Memo’s sister site. Muckraker is liveblogging the committee hearing with video clips and synopses:

“Gonzales: You Know Better Than I Do”

“Gonzales Changes Story Again on Cummins”

“Gonzales Admits Didn’t Look At USA Performance”

“Gonzales: I Only Work Here”

“Gonzales Can’t Remember Giving Firing Order”

“Gonzales: Criticism Damages DoJ Employees”

I’d like to offer Mr. Gonzales a possible new excuse, dredged from the hair-tearing annals of Wren family memories: “But Mom, you know I’ve always had a forgetting problem!”

She surely did. But her “forgetting problem” was, regrettably, my fault. There has never been anything wrong with my sweet daughter’s brain. In fact, she’s rather brilliant. I let her use the “I forgot” excuse too many times because I wanted to cut her a break or I understood why she’d “forgotten” and didn’t feel like pushing her. Naturally, since the excuse was so successful in getting her out of hot water, she used it again and again. For years.

It was bad parenting on my part. I hope she’ll forgive me. Because, you know? It doesn’t work when you grow up.

17 April 2007

Bleak America

The massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday was ... well, there isn’t really a good word to describe the terror those poor students and their instructors must have felt as the gunman cut them down.

Thirty-three dead. One of them was the shooter himself. He was only 23 years old, obviously lost in the throes of serious mental illness. It’s just unutterably sad.

Such dark events, I believe, are as unstoppable as a hurricane and probably as unpreventable. I’ve read a lot today on the web about this story. Some people are yelling about gun control, others that if guns had been allowed on campus, someone could have killed the gunman before he took so many lives. I don’t go with that, personally. Give more people guns, more people will be shot. Likewise, tighter controls on guns don’t seem to work very well, either.

If someone is ill enough to seriously plan a mass murder of innocent people, then he’ll find a way to do it. Guns are just one option.

My heart aches for those who were injured, those who died and for their families and friends. My heart aches, too, for the other students who were terrorized, who will have to come to terms with what they experienced and saw in those classrooms. They’ll be haunted for the rest of their lives.

But this disgusts me:

Spirit of Self-Defense [John Derbyshire]

As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.

Derbyshire is a chickenhawk, all right. I’d go a step further and call him a chickenshit.

Someone needs to sit him down and explain, slowly and carefully, the difference between real life and what he sees on television and at the movies. Shame on him for inferring that those students, scrambling for their very lives, many of them probably frozen with shock, were cowards. What sort of person would say such a mindless, despicable thing?

Well, John Derbyshire of NRO’s The Corner did.

As Derbyshire crows, beating his idiotic chest and believing he’s got it in him to be Bruce Willis in Die Hard XI, it somehow hasn’t sunk into what passes for his brain that the shooter’s .22 handgun – and .9 mm Glock automatic -- killed 32 people and injured 18 more in a very, very short time. He may play with a .22 at the gun range, but it’s clear it’s just a stupid prop for his dangling manhood.

But hey, John, you’re right. None of us knows what he or she’d do in “a dire situation like that.” Nevertheless, I’m going to make an educated guess that like anyone else without formal military or police training and months of preparation for a sudden, horrible situation “like that” you’d react instinctively: You’d duck for cover or run. And while you did it, you’d soil yourself. It’s only human.

I am further disgusted by the fact that there are people who are trying to blame the massacre on the fact that the gunman was South Korean. What gross bigotry.

Cho Seung-Hui was a permanent resident of the United States. He’d lived here with his parents since he was 8 years old. He went out of his mind and he bought two guns and he killed people with them. News stories are reporting now that he’d been a loner, he’d written material in a creative writing class that was bloody and violent and that his instructor had referred him to counseling. It’s possible he was being treated for depression with medications.

It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy. His poor parents.

Over at Salon.com there’s a story about other South Korean VA Tech students who are afraid now that they’ll face the same sort of knee-jerk retaliation that Arab-Americans have faced since 9/11. Some are afraid of going back to school. Some were even afraid to attend the memorial service held today on the campus, fearing that they would be associated with the killer because they share his nationality.

What does it say about America that they feel that way? If the killer had been a Caucasian, would the white students have felt they needed to stay away?

I mourn for those young people and their families. And I mourn, too, for what we’ve lost as Americans. Since the turn of the century we seem to have become a nation full of craven John Derbyshires.

13 April 2007

Wanted: Scapegoat

Years ago, when I was in the Air Force, a young lieutenant I worked with came up with a great idea.

“I’m going to volunteer to be the Region Scapegoat,” he said. We’d just had a big evaluation and some things hadn’t gone so well. The upper ranks were on the warpath, demanding to know who had screwed up when, where, why and how. In reality, it wasn’t any one person who’d messed up, it was the overall system. It just needed some minor overhauls here and there.

But the colonels wanted something – or someone – a little more solid than that.

So, said the lieutenant, he’d be glad to take the blame. Didn’t matter what the problem, screw up or mistake was. Whenever something went wrong, he’d be proud to stand right up and say, “Hey, it was all my fault! Sorry about that! Dang!”

In return for doing this important – and surely unpleasant task – all the AF had to do was let him stay home each day, drawing his regular pay. He’d be “on call” 24/7 if something went wrong and the services of the Regional Scapegoat were needed. He’d make it his mission in life to be ready, at any time of the day or night, to leap in and say, with the proper amount of chagrin, “It was my fault.”

We all got a sardonic laugh out of his idea.

I was reading today that President Bush is looking for a “war czar,” someone to “run” the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for him. So far he hasn’t had any takers for this new and exciting position. In fact, some pretty heavy hitters – Retired Army Gen. Jack Keene (who helped craft the current “surge”) and Retired Marine Gen. John J. “Jack” Sheehan, a former top NATO commander – turned him down.

It made me think of that clever and sarcastic lieutenant, who was surely a smart young man back then and must be at least a CEO or something today. He was a bit goofy and irreverent, and it’s possible he isn’t a Republican, but I bet he’d step right up for the job of “Presidential Scapegoat” if the pay was right.

But Bush already has Defense Secretary Gates, Gen. Petraeus and many, many other people running his idiotic, criminal wars for him. And unless he wants to hand over his precious “Commander-in-Chief” title – living up to it is really hard work -- maybe George W. should just sit down and shut up.

12 April 2007

Snow on the dogwoods

They say around these parts that “winter isn’t over until it snows on the dogwoods.” Every single winter since I’ve lived here – 10 of them, now -- it’s proven itself true.

And so winter officially ended here today with a fine dusting of snow on the open dogwood blossoms in the front garden. I shot this photo at about 7 a.m., and already most of it had melted. There really was just a tiny bit. But I thought it would be nice to show off the chilly dogwoods before the pretty bract flowers have gone and the leaves open up.

This has been a very strange, warm winter. There was almost no rain. I reveled in the snow when it came in February and I’m grateful that I was able to stay home and enjoy it.

It didn’t last long – just two weeks. Snowpack in the high Sierras is at 40 percent of normal and there are whispers of drought and water rationing for the fierce, hot summer ahead. Drought isn’t unusual in California, of course. But since I returned to this area in 1993, no single year has been as dry as this one.

Our firewood guy got in touch last week, looking to get rid of some of his supply. He was letting it go cheap. So Mr. Wren looked at the cord-and-a-half of firewood we still have left and suggested we buy a single cord.

I said no, let’s get two.

It was almost a knee-jerk reaction on my part. There’ve been winters here when we’ve had to buy more wood in late March, when it was snowing and sleeting and raining like hell, and we weren’t the only ones who ran out of wood well before we ran out of winter. And this was when the whole family was out of the house on weekdays, so we only had fires at night. I’ve seen snow here in late May. I really hate running out of firewood.

Well, Mr. Wren indulged me. But this season we didn’t need to fire up the stove until late November. We built fires off and on through December, and a little more often in January, but it wasn’t all that cold outside. I kept the stove going more in February, particularly through those two lovely weeks of snow and low temps.

In March, I built fires only twice. It was in the mid-60s and even 70s nearly all month. We had only a few rain showers. Two, I think.

Our first stovefire for April was yesterday. It rained late in the day, and overnight the temperature dropped enough to bring the thin sugar-coating of snow I woke up to early this morning. But right now the sky is clear, the sun is shining and the only snow I can see is on our neighbor’s well-insulated roof.

Even with both of us home, using the stove during the day, we’ve used only half of our annual supply of wood. I know I should be grateful for a soft winter – people move to California specifically for winters like this, after all. But I find it ominous. It means the hot weather is looming very early. Summers here are five or six months long even in normal weather years, with temperatures in the 80s, 90s and 100s from mid-May through late October. There is no rain to speak of.

And once the snow in the high country melts, the rivers run low and the seasonal creeks dry up, the danger of wildfire is imminent every single day until it finally cools down again and the rain returns.

Well, I have two cords of firewood to stack. I hope next winter I’ll need it all.

07 April 2007

The golden rule ...

In America:

You may pray if you wish, go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, say grace over each meal, and wear a little gold cross around your neck on a fine gold chain or on the lapel of your business suit, next to your Rotary pin. If you want to show off the pious Christianity of your family of five with two large fish symbols and three little fish symbols stuck to the back of your car, you can. You are free to believe with all your heart that a virgin birthed the human son of god, that as a young man he performed miracles and taught good life lessons to those who would listen. You can believe that he was later betrayed and crucified like a common criminal. You can believe that he took the blame for all the sins committed in the world, died a horrible death on the cross, and then three days after entombment, his dead body rose. And you can believe that he now sits at the right hand of god, waiting for his eventual return to this world as a savior for believers and a bloody scourge to rest of us.

You can believe in a new, wondrous life in heaven after you die.

Here in America, you are free to believe all of it, or some of it, or a little of it. You can also believe in Allah, live your life according to Taoist teachings or celebrate Beltaine with an earthy pagan ritual. You can believe in Santa Claus, elves and UFOs.

And in America, you are free to choose not to believe in any of it, but base your view of life on science, wonder and the joy of being alive. You can celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or celebrate it as the return of spring and an end to the cold, harsh weather and desolation of winter. You can choose not to celebrate anything.

What you are not free to do in America is force me to believe like you do.

A theocracy is a government ruled by or subject to religious authority. It’s political, not spiritual.

Theocracies smash the single, universal Golden Rule observed by nearly all decent people all over the world, no matter their religion or lack of it: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

From Wikipedia:

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." — Torah Leviticus 19:18

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." — Torah Leviticus 19:33-34

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." — Jesus (c. 5 BCE—33 CE) in the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27

"None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." — Muhammad (c. 571 – 632 CE) in a Hadith.

"This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you." — Mahabharata (5:15:17) (c. 500 BCE)

"What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others." — Confucius (ca. 551–479 BCE)

"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man." — Hillel (ca. 50 BCE-10 CE)

I wish you all a peaceful -- and thoughtful -- weekend.

Note: This was my contribution to the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm this weekend. Read more about your First Amendment rights and the separation of church and state at http://www.firstfreedomfirst.org. And don’t miss the great writing on this subject at the other participating blogs. You can find a continually updated list of them at http://blogagainsttheocracy.blogspot.com/

04 April 2007

If only they'd ask ME ...

From USA Today:

NEW YORK -- The early onset of daylight saving time in the USA this year may have been for naught.

The move to turn the clocks forward by an hour on March 11 rather than the usual date in early April was mandated by the federal government as an energy-saving effort -- but the move appears to have had little effect on power usage.

"We haven't seen any measurable impact," said Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co., one of the nation's largest power companies, echoing comments from several large utilities.

That's because households may draw less electricity for lights at night, but will use more power early in the day as they wake to darker and chillier mornings.


Just for the record: I think the spin of the earth and the sun do an absolutely bang-up job of day and night. How about we just drop daylight-savings time entirely? It would save us all the hassle of changing every clock in the house, the car and work twice each year. And what about that week or two just after the stupid change, forward or back, where most of us have to deal with the mind-and-body-clock disruption? Some things -- like the sun, the earth and the moon -- just don't need our assistance.

Speaking of birdbrains ...

What is it with some people? Now the conservative right is screaming about Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a head scarf while visiting a mosque in Damascus, Syria.

Um, might she have tied that scarf over her head because tradition and custom requires women to wear a head covering in religious buildings in the Muslim world? As a citizen ambassador of the United States of America, Pelosi tied a scarf around her head to honor and respect her hosts.

Had she been visiting the Vatican, she would have worn a scarf there, too, since the Pope requires that of women visitors. It’s a matter of respect for customs different than our own. Putting on a scarf or yarmulke doesn’t make you a Catholic, a Muslim or a Jew. For that matter, wearing a Stetson and pointy boots doesn’t make you a cowboy (someone ought to tell Codpiece).

Honestly, sometimes I’m just flabbergasted by the truly stupid things that “outrage” these idiots.

Years ago, when I lived in Germany, Americans associated with the U.S. government or military there were urged by our own government to consider ourselves citizen ambassadors and behave accordingly when we mixed with our German hosts. That meant doing our best to respect local customs and try – really try – not to be boorish assholes. While I was never required to wear a head-scarf there, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all. When I was invited to a German friend’s house for dinner, I found bringing my hostess a bouquet of flowers a delight. I also learned as much of the language as I was able and used it all the time, even when I got it wrong. My German friends were charmed.

It’s called “diplomacy,” birdbrains.

Pelosi isn’t the first American dignitary to put on a head-scarf while visiting the Middle East. The First Lady has also worn a head-scarf while visiting religious sites there. Condoleeza Rice, too.

Please. Can we get worked up over something worthwhile? Like ... the IQ level of the average wingnut?

03 April 2007

Twitterpated VI

"Cobwebs" now cover most of the window.
At the bottom of the photo is "Dubya,"
so named because like George W. Bush,
he keeps fighting a war he's doomed to lose.

Fortunately, Dubya Towhee can't take the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, Iraqis and Afghanis in his mad little war against his own reflection. And unlike his namesake, he also can't fight more than one war at a time. Thank goodness for that.

Dubya Towhee has taken to throwing himself at the lower right hand corner of the window, where there are no "cobwebs." His will is faltering, though. At 12:30 p.m., he's off doing more wholesome towhee things, I hope.

Nope, I spoke too soon again -- he's back. At least I don't think he can batter himself to death against the glass anymore. I can almost hear him saying "I won't leave until I succeed."


Not such a birdbrain. He came back that one last time, then saw the light. It's a bit after 6 p.m. now and my little friend hasn't been back.

Twitterpated V

At 6:41 a.m. my ballsy towhee friend returned to the rose arbor and resumed his attack on his reflection in my den window. I’d hoped the little guy, after a good night’s sleep, would find a more useful pastime, like finding seeds and bugs to eat or maybe romancing an actual female towhee (assuming one will still have him after yesterday’s 10-hour battle with himself).

But no, there he was, feathers puffed against the chill, eyeing the window with true towhee disgust. He hopped from rung to rung, up and down, back and forth, working himself into a snit. And then the first feint – up he fluttered, thwapped that irritating territorial intruder a good one and flapped down again to resume his busy strutting.

I was so fascinated with his single-minded persistence yesterday that I didn’t remember that I had a possible solution to the problem. On the north side of the house we have several feeders and a large wisteria arbor close to the kitchen windows and the living room slider. We discovered early on that the flocks of goldfinches that visited the feeders often couldn’t see the windows, particularly in the mornings. After several of them kamikazeed right into them, leaving the tiny birds stunned, injured or dead, we purchased clear plastic stickers printed with spiderwebs and applied them to the windows. The idea was that birds will avoid spiderwebs if they can. It worked, if not perfectly – we’ve had only a few of them hit the windows hard enough to hurt themselves since.

So I went in and peeled one of the spiderweb stickers off the slider and brought it back to my den. As I approached the window, the towhee flew off. I stuck the fake spiderweb at the spot, about three-quarters of the way up on the window, where he aims his attack. Then I went back to my desk and waited.

He returned. Hopped back and forth a few times, launched at the spot, saw the web, folded his wings before he hit and swooped down to the ground.

Yes! It works! Success!

But then he came back. Hopped back and forth, up and down some more, stopping now and then to trill and warble. You could almost see the little wheels turning in his head. And then he launched again – and hit the window perfectly to the right of the spiderweb sticker, avoiding it.

He did this twice and flew off. Returned a few minutes later, repeated the ritual, hit the window a couple more times, and flew off again. The spiderweb, I think, is giving him reason to reconsider this fruitless battle. I’ve decided that if he comes back again and renews it with the same tenacity he showed yesterday, I’ll just get the other two stickers off the kitchen windows and apply them, as well.

Maybe he’ll give it up, the dope.

*The photo this time is very blurry -- the light's not quite good enough yet -- but you can see the towhee in the right-middle of the frame, on a downward arc after smacking the window. Just above the top arbor rung, there's a blurry, white horizontal line. That's the "middle" of the "spiderweb." While the bird keeps coming back for further sorties, they're short and he's staying away for longer periods. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Update: I'm saying this in a whisper. It's 9:52 a.m. The towhee came back and continued his attack, hitting the window lightly to the right of the spiderweb sticker. His heart didn't seem in it, but he kept on. Thwap ... thwap ... thwap, then off to a branch somewhere to rethink his strategy. So I got another sticker from the kitchen and applied it next to the first. When he returned, the little trooper hit the window once, beneath both stickers, but it was a truly half-hearted attempt. He's been gone now for about an hour -- the longest since he started this whole fight yesterday morning, except for overnight. Perhaps ... the war is over.

Update 2: I know, I know. I’m obsessing here. And who cares about a dumb bird? There's a war on out there, and criminals running the government!

Well, I can't help it. You won’t believe this. Not 10 minutes after I’d posted the above update, the towhee was back. And attacking the window, over and over again, just beneath the second sticker. I guess he went off, had a birdie-MRE for breakfast and refreshed, rejoined the battle.

My jaw dropped. I had only one more fake spiderweb, and it was now obvious that he'd just avoid it and find a clear spot.

After watching him continue this mindless activity for a while -- thwap ... thwap ... thwap -- it dawned on me: OK, we’ve established that he doesn’t like the webs, but he’ll just aim somewhere beside or, now, underneath them. So what if... hmmm. I went back to the kitchen, tore a strip of clear plastic wrap about two feet long and brought it back. Stuck it to the window under the right-side spiderweb and wrinkled it, leaving random, horizontal lines that caught the light. Backed off and waited.

When the towhee returned, the extra “spiderwebs” deterred him for about five minutes. Then he thwapped the window to the left, where it was still clear. It’s wasn’t a good spot for him – it’s low and he can’t get much momentum up for the attack – but he still went for it and that maddening, mirror-towhee.

I got another sheet of plastic wrap and put it up next to the first, under the first spiderweb. Wrinkled it to look like cobwebs. Waited.

He came back. He hopped all over the arbor rungs, the watering tubes for the pots and the pots themselves for quite a while, looking for an opening. And I’ll be danged if he didn’t find one. It’s a triangular space about six inches long, perhaps 3 inches wide at the top. He went for it. A soft thwap. Now it was really hard for him to get just the right angle of attack. But after hopping and hopping, sussing out his options, he did it three times before he flew off.

He’s gone again. I’m sure it’s just temporary.

02 April 2007

Twitterpated IV

Shhhh. It's 7:49 p.m., just five minutes or so from full dark, and my crazy little towhee friend finally stopped beating himself against the window about 15 minutes ago and hasn't returned.

He sang sweet, soft, night-time welcome songs, resting a little between reflection battles during that last hour of daylight, and for a while, a puffed-up junco sat nearby and watched his efforts. It was clear he was getting a bit tuckered out.

Sleep well, persistent towhee. Sun will be up at 7ish and you can start all over again ...

Twitterpated III

Towhee tenacity. It's about 6:25 p.m. now, and this towhee continues to attack his reflection in the window. Once in a while he flutters down to the ground -- I hope each time he'll give it up and rest -- but no. Back he comes. He must have thwapped the window hundreds of times today; I just took nearly 30 shots, trying to catch a clear photo of him in full flutter. He's faster than my trigger finger, though. I kept thinking that as the sun moved, the reflection off the window would change and the bird wouldn't be able to see himself any longer. But I was wrong about that, too. Now I hope he'll stop when the sun goes down in about an hour. We'll see. Thwap. Thwap. Thwap ...

Twitterpated II

3:45 p.m.: He's still at it. 6 hours, 45 minutes and counting. But now, he's in full attack mode, fluttering up to hit the window once every 15 or 20 seconds. This is one really pissed off rufus-sided towhee. I've gone out and tried to shoo him away -- poor little guy must be exhausted! -- but he just comes back after a few minutes. The saga continues.


This furious male rufus-sided towhee spent more than four hours this morning hopping up and down the rungs on the climbing rose arbor outside my den window, trying to get the furious male towhee reflected back at him in the glass to answer his challenges. I enjoyed watching him, even laughing as he occasionally ratcheted up the conflict by fluttering at the window glass – thump! – but I felt sorry for him too. Plenty of good eats out there right now – the roses already have their first generation of nice, fat aphids -- so he ended up losing a lot of chow-time. Not to mention what the local female towhees must have thought of him.

“He’s a little ... um ... slow, isn’t he, Mabel?”