Short post: The parakeet in the park

Female (or immature male) rose-ring (ring-neck) parakeet spotted in Kensington Park, London

So another series of bird pages are live under the bird tab. I decided to go a head and get the order page (Psittaciformes) for parrots and their relatives, the family page (Psittaculidae) for one of the three ‘true parrot’ families, and the species page for the rose-ring (or ring-neck) parakeet completed and published.

Did you know that there are over 350 different species of parrots (and their allies), and a third of them (basically a little over 115 of them) are endangered or threatened? This is due to lost of habitat, illegal bird trade, and introduction of non-native predators.

I managed to get a single picture of a female (or immature male) rose-ring parakeet on my trip to London several years ago. Seeing a parakeet in the middle of London in early October was an odd sighting—but it turns out they’ve adapted to the country quite well.

London is just one of the cities that these parakeets have managed to adapt to, they can also be found in other large cities in Europe, and even within the US (they’ve formed colonies in California, Florida, and Hawaii).

A goal is to get a picture of a mature male (they’re the ones that have the colored ‘rings’ around their necks), and a picture of them in either Africa or India (their ‘natural territory’), plus possibly getting a picture of one within the US (I’d prefer to go back to Hawaii to try to find one, but might have to settle for California after we get the pandemic under control yet again).

Have you seen a rose-ring (or ring-neck) parakeet before, and if you did–was it in the wild or at a zoo?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Nature’s Whispers: Day Sixteen to Twenty of Oracle Card Challenge

Today marks the twentieth day of the oracle challenge (roughly 100 or 558 days left in the challenge—or basically somewhere in between). Today also marks the ‘end’ of using the Nature’s Whispers Oracle deck for at least the next ten weeks or so. While I enjoy the deck, it’s a challenge getting a ‘story’ out of the card.

The card picked for the sixteenth day was the ‘you are worth it’ card. It is a reminder for us to accept praise and credit when it is given to us, for when we learn to be accepting we allow our true potential to blossom and shine.

You Are Worth It was drawn tonight

This is one of many things that I’m working on—accepting praise and credit. I’ve never really been one who wants to be center stage, I prefer to be slightly off to the side watching and observing. While I am proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish over the years, I’ve never really been one to talk about those accomplishments (as it always felt like bragging).

Aiming for a career change means that I need to start keeping track of various ‘accomplishments’ now so that I can use them as metrics moving forward and also as examples of work and so forth.

The card picked for the seventeenth day was the ‘ideal course of action’ card. I actually drew three cards to find the one that ‘spoke’ to me today, as I was slightly tempted to skip a day and then keep going with the challenge tomorrow. The first sentence of the summary resonated with me tonight: ‘It is easy to be overwhelmed in the planning of a new endeavor’.

Ideal course of action–at times even requires rest

I slowly going in the direction as I’ve taken a volunteer medical content writing position and had spent most of the week working on it (as I had finished the ’51 odd facts and stats about US state birds’ earlier Tuesday afternoon), plus a few other little ‘creative’ writing posts for the blog.

The main thing I need to work on—keeping my inner critic/imposter syndrome in-check so that I can continue edging into the ‘freelance/remote/contract’ medical/science education communication sector.

The card picked for the eighteenth day was the ‘contemplation’ card. This is what the past sixteen months has been spent doing in one form or another. With the way things are going I’ll continue doing this in one form or another for quite awhile.

Contemplation–something that I do consistently thanks to the pandemic

It has helped to remember my enjoyment of photography, reading, learning, and crafts. The biggest things still to conquer are time and project management, not overthinking, and aiming for good instead of ‘great or perfect’ before sharing with the world (ties back to overthinking).

The card picked for the nineteenth day was the ‘be gentle with yourself’ card. I find it fitting that this was the second card that I drew and the one that spoke to me. I am ‘technically’ two days behind schedule—but everyone needs a break every so often, and I’m back ‘on-track’. I’ve realized that even if there aren’t that many likes or comments (either here or on Instagram)—I’m actually doing this challenge more for me (getting back into a groove of posting on Instagram) than for getting ‘attention’.

Be gentle with yourself–cut yourself slack every so often.

This card is a reminder that we shouldn’t allow what has happened in the past to define our future. The past has helped to shape and mold us (to a degree), but they aren’t who we are—they’re lessons to help us figure out who we want to be.

The lessons I’ve learned have ranged from learning not to ignore my gut/intuition, that it is perfectly fine to have a different writing style than others, and that aiming for good enough is what I need to do in order to move forward and not overthink things. New adventures a wait as I slowly edge out into the freelance/remote/contract world of writing, project management, data analysis, crafts, and so forth.

The card picked for today was the ‘perfect setting’ card. It reminds us that if we want to have a goal or vision come to fruition, we need to ensure that our surroundings are allowing those ideas to flourish. It isn’t just the physical ‘surroundings’ that we need to ensure are healthy and supportive—but our mental environment as well. Positive self-talk/affirmations, being kind to yourself, and celebrating ones talents and successes—all feed into that ‘positive’ environment one needs to reach their goals or vision.

Perfect setting

I’m learning to let go of perfection, and embrace good enough to almost great. The first actual ‘project’ after a test ‘project’ is always going to be in the gray—because the guidelines may be slightly different, and it is a different ‘project’. I just turned one of these in—could it have been better, maybe—but I decided not to overthink what I wrote and after the fourth proofreading and revision emailed it to my contact. I’ll find out tomorrow what type of improvements it may need (or if they are even going to use the piece).

But I’m not going to overthink/stress on things I can’t control. What I can do is continue to research, write, blog, and time spent on crafts and other hobbies. The only way to gain experience in the freelance/remote/contract world—is to step into and embrace it.

So, in summary it is a good time to remember that once you learn to accept praise and credit when it is given—your true potential can then start to blossom. I’m slowly charting my ideal course of action (freelance/remote/contract writing/data analysis/project management/photography), while drawing on the lessons of the past (and present), practicing positive self-talk/affirmations, and celebrating my talents and successes.

You might have noticed that I’ve mentioned my inner critic/imposter syndrome or similar things through this post and the other oracle card summaries–that is because that (my inner critic/imposter syndrome) is what at times is truly holding me back from jumping into the whole career transition and change. Fear, insecurity, doubt, and all those other nasty little emotions. I’m finding that this challenge is helping me face them, taking the volunteer content writing position (and being will to submit work that is ‘good’ but not great) is helping, writing my own ‘intros’ to shared articles on LinkedIn is helping, but what is helping the most–calling out those emotions. So, while it may seem that ‘not much is getting done’–in truth I’m moving quickly, not as quickly as others–but as quickly as I can.

Tune in Friday, for the next installment as I will be choosing the next deck of cards later tonight that will go for the next two installments.

What’s your favorite oracle or tarot deck?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsLifestyle Challengesoracle cardsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Friends to Lovers via a weekend getaway: Inked Obsession Review

Welcome back to the Montgomery Ink World. This is a ‘large’ world that encompasses a total of seven different series and fifty-nine books (novels and novellas–though some won’t be out until 2022). One thing I love about this world–each book is a ‘stand-alone’ book, and a good entry point into the Montgomery Ink World.

Inked Obsession is the second installment for the Fort Collins branch of the family and focuses on Beckett Montgomery and Eliza Wilder-Strong. It picks up about a year after Inked Persuasion (which introduced the Fort Collins Branch of the Montgomery family).

What happens when various ‘secrets’ come to light and both are urged to take a weekend vacation away?

So, while it isn’t necessary to have read Inked Persuasion–it does give a little background to Eliza’s story and the ‘secret’ bomb her in-laws drop on her.

A year after her world was rocked, Eliza is slowly starting to develop a ‘new’ identity and life, when her in-laws drop some news on her that she didn’t know.

She is urged by her siblings and friends to go away as the anniversary of losing her husband is coming up.

When Beckett Montgomery’s siblings and friends discover his ‘secret’, they also urge him to take soem time to relax and regroup–a weekend away if you will.

They end up ‘neighbors’ on their solo weekend getaway. While things heat up, they decide to take it day-by-day back home (as they’re still processing the prior news), but nothing can keep a Montgomery down for long, or away from the one they choose.

To find out more about these friends to lovers–pick up Inked Obsession, out now.

I absolutely love this world, as there are numerous doors and families to get know and fall in love with, plus old friends to visit with as well. I’m hoping that there will be a spin-off series for Eliza’s brothers coming soon as well–I’d like to get to know the Wilder brothers better.

I give Inked Obsession five out of five stars and highly recommend both the book and the ‘Montgomery Inked World’ to everyone.

No Comments Book ReviewsBooks

Aquarius Full Moon Open-ended goal: Improving time & project management skills

So the moon has (or will be) transitioning into its full moon stage over the next day or so (or it may have already done so), depending on where you live. For me, the full moon was actually last night–so I’m probably about twelve hours late in posting my full moon goals (based on when it was ‘totally’ full). Now there are only eight days left in July, and then there will only be five months left in 2021 soon.

It’s said that time only seems to ‘speed’ up when you’re doing repetitive tasks–I guess with still self-isolating (mainly because of the delta variant and not enough people getting vaccinated), things seem repetitive (something to think on in terms of how to break).

So, with the moon transitioning through Aquarius and if one looks at the book ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are a series of questions that one can reflect on during the next few days:

Have I been pragmatic to the point of losing the romance of life?

Have I been living too much in my head and not enough in my heart?

Have I been trying to do things my way, just for the sake of it?

Have I been trying to hard to befriend people and for the wrong reasons?

Have I allowed myself to move forward this month?

So if I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as followed:

  1. Well, we’re still in the middle of the damn pandemic. While things are slowly opening up–the number of cases (due to various viral variants) are also going up. Therefore I’m not in the mood (nor the mindset) to try and date. So, yes you might say that I’m being pragmatic to the point of losing the romance of life–but I’m still alive and SARS-CoV2 free.
  2. I’ve always been more ‘analytical’ minded than ‘artistic’ minded/hearted. Though this is something that I’ve been working on, by trying to work more craft time into my schedule (though currently that has been mainly photography or color-by-number).
  3. Well, I’m still on my ‘reboot break’, so there aren’t that many options. I am thinking of starting to get serious about freelance/remote/contract work for science communication/education, photography, and possibly data analysis (and maybe even project management). In order to become successful at that–it will probably require me to blend ideas/suggestions of others into something that will work for me.
  4. I don’t think I’ve been trying to befriend people for the wrong reasons. Currently, I have to push myself to network (because while I’m leaning in the direction of freelance/remote/contract work I’m still not totally sure–therefore I’m not networking as much as I should be).
  5. I’ve moved forward a little this month, but not much. Part of the issue is that my inner critic/imposter syndrome is able to lure be back into my comfort zone with reading, color-by-numbers, and sunny but not overly hot days. I’ve realized that I need to get more accomplished during the day/week than I’ve been doing lately–I may try to take my laptop outside for an hour or so to work (on those sunny but not overly hot days), and then take a ‘mini break’ when I have to take it back into the house to charge.

Aquarius is also moving through my 4th house, or my home and family zone. This is the time when one should try to find a balance between one’s personal life and one’s career. This year things are about where they were last year–though this year there are the vaccines for the virus. But cases are going up, due to both various variants of the virus and the number of people who are refusing to get the vaccine. So my personal life and career are still ‘intertwined’ currently, since I’m home basically all day, every day still.

I’m now trying to shift my mindset and not focus so much on ‘balance’ but on ‘harmony’ between things. That is what I’m striving for–harmony, to where I can be happy with whatever choice I’m making at any particular point in the day without feeling guilty for not doing something else.

So what are the mini-goals I’m going to set for the Aquarius full moon?

Working on time and project management skills, by finding time for crafts, making progress on projects, and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

While that is a totally ‘open-ended’ goal, some specific mini-goals are:

  1. Create a timeline/schedule for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages for the blog
  3. Determine a specific time for doing the oracle card challenge (as it is–I’m currently two days behind schedule)
  4. Start a 30-day journaling challenge (find some type of inspiration on pintrest)
  5. Create one necklace and/or start a cross-stitch project
  6. Start working through various writing e-courses

Last year I’d mentioned I needed to determine the type of future I wanted instead of sitting around and going with flow. I’m leaning more towards working for myself (mainly due to the pandemic, though I won’t totally rule out going back for a ‘in-person’ job) in terms of writing, photography, crafts, project management, and maybe data analysis. As mentioned earlier–the top two ‘soft’ skills that I need to get better at for this pivot are: time and project management. It seems I end up with more things left to do than finished at the end fo the week (and month)–I know that the main culprit is poor time management (siting outside most of the afternoon, plus taking almost two hours in the morning to ‘wake-up’ before doing anything). This is something I’m working on: I can keep myself off social media (thanks to the app Self Control), but still fine tuning the rest of the day.

Progress not perfection, via small steps and even a winding path are the stepping stones to making lasting habits.

What are some of your time management tools or tricks?

No Comments AstrologyCraftsfinancesfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Bumps in the road: Review of Capricorn Full Moon Goals

I meant to post this yesterday, but was feeling a little under the weather due to a sinus/tension headache so I’m posting it this morning.

We’re heading into the next full moon either tonight or tomorrow night (depending on where you live in the world). For me–the full moon is tonight, so those goals will be posted no later than tomorrow morning.

But before I can look ahead to the Aquarius full moon, I need to look back at the goals I set for the capricorn full moon and reflect on how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Capricorn full moon included:

  1. Continuing to lift weights (following the schedule for LIIFT4 but listening to music instead of streaming the program).
  2. Work on creating a new long-term goal list; with the goal being having a rough outline (or list) of the major goals for different areas of life (such as health/fitness, finance, career, personal/professional development, spirituality, hobbies, and living space).
  3. Continue on my ‘personal/professional development’ journey by starting (and finishing) the following:
    • Writing my semi technical document: ‘Troubleshooting Tips for Molecular Cloning’
    • Reading: ‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker; ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker, and ‘Master Your Core’ by Dr. Bohdanna Zazulak
    • Starting at least one copywriting course

As I was reflecting on my progress last night, I realized that my third goal was ‘open-ended’ in that I probably wasn’t going to get all three things accomplished before the start of the Aquarius full moon. The other two should be mostly finished by the time the Aquarius full moon rolls around tonight.

So how did I do with them?

In terms of the fitness goal (lifting weights following the LIIFT4 schedule), I had to take a short break since I semi sprained my right wrist two weeks ago. I had been doing some yard work, and tried to clip a thick branch that was actually too thick for the pruners and ended up putting a little too much pressure on my wrist. It is almost back to normal, so I’m going to start lifting weights again next week (possibly going a little lighter, but we’ll see). If I hadn’t sprained my wrist, I would have finished up LIIFT4 today and be starting Morning Meltdown 100 on Monday–but I’m two weeks behind schedule.

In terms of the new long-term goal list, it is slowly in production. I’ve realized that when it comes to trying to develop these ‘long-term’ lists I usually end up either making them too general–in that I never actually put in a ‘city’ for where I picture myself living or a ‘company’ in terms of where I see myself working. This has also been a slight problem with my career transition/change–I never specify any particular place/company, I always say in ‘X years I will be a manager in Y field’, but never adding in at ‘Z company in W town’. So this is something I need to work on fixing in terms of setting the goals.

I am currently leaning more towards the Midwest only because it is slightly lower cost of living compared to the coasts. If I go freelance/remote/contract, I should be able to live in the Midwest, and possibly travel to the coasts every so often for meetings with clients, but shouldn’t have to move there.

The personal/professional development projects are slow going. I’ve realized that I was setting an unrealistic deadline for the technical document. While it covers a topic that I’ve spent a good chunk of my professional career doing, I realized that I should also look for actual references instead of just going with my own personal opinion. The first item now is to draft an outline (which I already more or less have), and start looking for references for each section (hopefully). I had set a deadline of end of July for ‘publication’ of the document—but now it is going to be pushed back to possibly mid-October.

I’m slowly reading through the books—this past month has been more on the fiction side of things than the non-fiction, but that is the usual cycle I go through every few months. The goal is to have the three books done by mid-September.

Working through different copywriting courses is going even slower than the non-fiction writing. The main reason—one course can only be viewed on Google Chrome, while the others it doesn’t matter. Silly reason, but I usually just use a single web browser during the day, and it currently isn’t Google Chrome (plus it keeps telling me that updates are no longer available until I update my computer).

So, basically I semi met at least one of the three goals (weight-lifting) this past moon cycle. I realize what my problem is—proper time and project management. While there is enough time in the day to do what I need, since I don’t ‘schedule’ the time for various tasks, it always seems time gets away from me. In addition, I still ‘bite off more that I can chew’ in terms of to-do lists and outlines. I try to cram everything in at once instead of spreading things out. The combination of both leads to semi-burnout and a cycle of me not doing anything for a while as I ‘recover’. There are soon to be only five months left in the year—and this is something that I really need to work on ‘fixing’ as I head towards 2022 and the career transition to freelance/remote/contract writer/data analyst.

Mild progress has been made over the past month, though I now need to remind myself good is good enough and I don’t always need to aim for super or perfect.

No Comments AstrologyBookscareerfinancesfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Odd facts and statistics on the US State Birds

Unless this is your first time visiting my blog (and then, hello and how do you do), one may realize that bird watching and photography are some favorite pastimes of mine. While creating the birding section of my blog and the various bird pages, I’ve come curious on the topic of ‘state’ birds.

Every state has an official ‘state’ bird and after seeing the list of birds, I decided to create a list of ‘fifty-one’ odd facts about the state birds. In addition, I also found about a dozen odd stats about them as well.

Collage of all the ‘state’ birds

So to start off, here are the odd statistics on the ‘state’ birds:

  1. There are over a thousand different species of birds within the United States, but only twenty-seven species, plus two types of chickens were chosen as state birds.
  2. Ten states have both a state bird, plus another ‘official’ bird (game, waterfowl, raptor, or symbol of peace)
  3. The state birds of nine states (plus the District of Columbia) are only present in the state (or area) from mid-spring to early/mid fall (breeding season)
  4. Seven states have the northern cardinal as their state bird
  5. Six states have the mockingbird as their state bird
  6. Six states have the western meadowlark as their state bird–though it is a summer resident for three of those states
  7. Two states have a chicken as their state bird
  8. Three states have the goldfinch as their state bird
  9. Three states have the American robin as their state bird
  10. Two states have the eastern bluebird as their state bird
  11. Two states have the mountain bluebird as their state bird (though it is a summer resident in one of those states.
  12. Two states have the black-capped chickadee for their state bird

What I found ‘weird’ was that high frequency of the northern cardinal (14% of the states), mockingbird (12% of the states), and western meadowlark (12% of the states) being chosen for state birds. These three choices by nineteen states account for 38% of the ‘state birds’.

So, what are some weird/odd or amazing facts about the various state (or national) birds?

  1. The national bird (the Bald Eagle) is no longer considered endangered or threatened (it is one of the biggest success stories of the Endangered Species Act). Though it is still protected at the state level in many states.
Bald Eagle and gulls flying over Boomer Lake. Picture by JessicaMattsPhotography

2. The District of Columbia has a ‘state bird’–the wood thrush.

Wood Thrush

3. The rough translation for the wood thrush’s scientific name (Hylochila mustelina) is ‘weasel-colored woodland thrush’

4. Male wood thrushes do more of the feeding of the chicks than the female; this allows her to start a second brood.

5. The first national wildlife refuge (Florida’s Pelican Island) was created in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt to protect the brown pelican.

Brown Pelicans flying over the beach. Photograph: JessicaMattsPhotography

6. Besides being the state bird of Louisiana, the brown pelican is also the national bird of Saint Martin, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

7. Northern flickers actually hunt for their food on the ground, with ants being a staple in their diet.

Northern flicker

8. In addition to nesting in trees (like all other woodpeckers), northern flickers have also been know to use abandoned burros of belted kingfishers or bank swallows.

9. The willow ptarmigan is the only grouse in the world where the male regularly helps raise the young.

Male Willow Ptarmigan in mating colors

10. The willow ptarmigan is also a master of camouflage; they can be snowy white in the winter and a mix of reds and browns in the summer.

11. The cactus wren gets its liquids from the juicy insects and fruits it eats; therefore rarely relying on water.

Cactus Wren

12. Young California quail gain their gut microbiome by pecking at the feces of the adults.

California Quail

13. California quail broods mix after hatching and all parents help care for the young

14. A male northern mockingbird can learn up to 200 songs during his lifetime.

Northern mockingbird

15. While it is called the northern mockingbird, it is actually absent from many of the northern states.

16. Lark buntings are able to survive periods of drought by taking moisture from grasshoppers and other insects

Lark Bunting

17. Lark buntings are endemic sparrows to the grasslands and shrub steppes of North America.

18. The entire American robin population ‘turns over’ on average every six years, though many may live longer than that.

American Robin

19. Did you know that robins can become intoxicated when they exclusively eat honeysuckle berries?

20. Brown thrashers have been known to imitate the songs of Chuck-will’s-widows, wood thrushes, and northern flickers

Brown thrasher seen up at Boomer Lake

21. Brown thrashers are the largest common host for the ‘parasitic’ brown-headed cowbirds. Though they can tell the difference between their eggs and the cowbird eggs, and usually reject the cowbird eggs that had been laid in the nest.

22. The Nene evolved from the Canada goose, which probably arrived on the Hawaiian Islands roughly 500,000 years ago.

The Nene or Hawaiian Goose

23. The Nene is the sixth-most endangered waterfowl species in the world.

24. There are Hawaiian geese (Nene) living in the Slimbridge Wetland Wildlife Reserve near Gloucestershire, England

25. Mountain bluebirds can hunt for insects either in flight or from perches

Mountain Bluebird

26. A male mountain bluebird with a high-quality nesting site is more likely to attract a mate than a more ‘attractive’ male with a low-quality nesting site.

27. Female northern cardinals are one of the few female songbirds that sing

Northern Cardinal

28. Cardinals don’t molt into duller colors–the mature males stay bright red year-round.

29. Goldfinches are strict vegetarians, and the offspring of other birds who parasitize their nests (such as the brown-headed cowbirds) rarely survive more than a few days on the all-seed diet.

Goldfinch

30. Meriweather Lewis, noted in 1805 the differences between the eastern and western meadowlarks

Western Meadowlark

31. Male western meadowlarks usually have two mates at the same time, as the females do all the incubating, brooding, and most of the feeding of the young

32. Black-capped chickadees hide their food to eat later, placing individual items in different spots

Black-capped chickadee

33. Black-capped chickadees adapt to changes in their flocks and the environment every fall, by allowing neurons with ‘old information’ to die and replacing them with new neurons

34. Baltimore orioles are known to breed/hybridize extensively with Bullock’s orioles where their ranges overlap within the Great Plains

Oriole spotted at Boomer Lake

35. When migrating the common loon has been clocked at speeds greater than 70mph

Common Loon

36. Common loons are only present in a few states during the summer. Most of the US is actually within their migratory routes to the coasts, where they will spend the winters (and the young will stay for two years before heading back north).

37. Eastern bluebirds will typically have more than one brood per year

Eastern Bluebird spotted at Boomer Lake

38. Purple finches have lost territory in the eastern US to the house finch

A finch spotted in the winter

39. Roadrunners are able to eat venomous lizards, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.

Greater Roadrunner

40. Roadrunners may also be seen walking around with a snake protruding from its bill, swallowing a little at a time as the snake is digested.

41. The scissor-tailed flycatcher tends to wander on their way to and from their winter grounds in Central America. They have been spotted as far north and west as British Columbia, and as far north and east as Nova Scotia.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers at Boomer Lake

42. The scissor-tailed flycatcher as the second longest tail for members of the kingbird family. The fork-tailed flycatcher has the longest tail.

43. The popularity of the ruffed grouse as a game bird led to some of the earliest game management efforts in North America back in 1708.

Ruffed Grouse

44. The overall population of the ruffed grouse goes through an eight-to-eleven year cycle that is in correlation to the snowshoe hare population.

45. It is only the male Carolina wren that sings

Carolina wrens in the backyard

46. Ring-necked pheasants will sometime parasitize the nests of other birds (such as the ruffed grouse or the greater-prairie chicken)

Ring-necked pheasant

47. Ring-necked pheasants practice ‘harem-defense polygyny’ where one male will keep other males away from a group of females during the breeding season.

48. The California gull became the state bird of Utah in 1848, after they started feasting on the katydids that had been devastating the crops of the settlers.

California Gull

49. Hermit thrushes are likely to nest in trees west of the Rocky Mountains, but on the ground east of the Rocky Mountains

Hermit Thrush

50. Male hermit thrushes will collect the food for the nest, giving it to the female who will then feed the nestlings.

51. Not really odd facts, but here are the two pictures of the chickens that are also state birds:

Delaware’s state bird
Rhode Island’s state bird

So there are the ‘fifty-one’ odd facts on state birds (yes, I know that the last fact are just pictures). So far I’ve managed to get a picture of thirteen or fourteen of the birds–I’m leaning more towards fourteen, since I’m pretty positive that is a purple finch I got a picture of this winter.

A photography goal–get a picture of the other state birds, though I’m not sure if I’m also going to include the chickens in that or not. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention every state in terms of their state bird–I thought it would be more fun to test everyone’s knowledge.

So question–do you know the state bird of your state?

2 Comments bird watchingDay TripsNational ParksnatureNature PreservesoutdoorsPhotographyScienceState Parkstravel

Nature’s Whispers: Days Eleven to Fifteen of Oracle Card Challenge

So today marks day fifteen of the oracle card challenge, and that means there are only 105 (or 563) days left in the challenge. Today also marks the halfway point for the second deck of cards chosen: Nature’s Whispers by Angela Hartfield.

Day Eleven Oracle Card Draw

The card chosen for the eleventh day was ‘be in service’. It is a reminder to give back to the world, and while life is give and take—harmony is achieved when they’re balanced.

A kind word, holding a door, or even an email inquiring how things are going are all simple acts of being in service.

I’ve been bouncing ideas around on how to use my degree/education more and ‘be in service’ and have touched on the topic of science communication. There is a deep rift between how science is communicated between scientists and how they communicate it to the rest of the world—I want to help bridge that rift.

Day Twelve Oracle Card

The card chosen for the twelfth day was ‘higher ground’. It is a reminder that if things seem out of balance, or not going your way—all you may need is to look at it from ‘higher ground’. Sometimes we miss ‘the forest’ because we’re focused on ‘the trees’ and vice versa.

For years I’d been focused on ‘research at the bench’, that I had ‘forgotten’ that research doesn’t have to be just at the bench, but it can be done away from the bench and therefore take on various forms. I’m slowly ‘embracing’ research away from the bench, and looking for the ‘topics’ that I find interesting and enjoy.

Day Thirteen Oracle Card

The card chosen for the thirteenth day was ‘illumination’. It is a reminder that while we all have ‘guardian angels’ willing to help—we still need to believe in ourselves as well. Knowing that we are capable of achieving dreams (old or new) as long as we are willing to put in the work and believe that it is possible.

We also shouldn’t compare our journey to others—everyone has their own path to walk, and some may be ahead, some may be behind, and others may look like they’re walking along side.

While worry and fear have their places in life—one should try not to let them overwhelm. That has been a problem in the past; I’ve let worry and fear overrun my life too many times to count. Now, I simply try to acknowledge their presence, give them space and work through the emotions and the ‘blocks’.

I realize that I will be harboring these emotions frequently as I try to edge my way into a new career—one that may become full-time, or may only become part-time. While acknowledging their presence, I’m also going to work at ensuring they don’t keep me tethered to my comfort zone.

Day Fourteen Oracle Card

The card chosen for the fourteenth day was ‘make a decision’. There are times when it would be nice to turn the clock back to where the biggest decision one had to make was cereal or waffles for breakfast. It becomes difficult at times to see the variety of choices one has once that ‘degree’ is chosen in college, or when the program is decided on for graduate school.

I’ve realized one reason why I’d been a somewhat ‘passive’ player in my career—the ‘goals’ had somewhat already been mapped. Deviating from that course, now means I need to figure out what the goals, benchmarks, and milestones moving forward and that can be somewhat scary.

But I do have the wisdom to create a ‘new’ path, without totally ‘destroying’ the old—but it will take a little more time to figure out the goals, benchmarks, milestones moving forward will be, but that is also part of the fun. Creating something new, melding it with the old, and making it my own.

Day Fifteen Oracle Card

The card chosen for the fifteenth day was the ‘empowerment’ card. It is a reminder that while we can handle things as they come—sometimes it is nice to have the guidance and support of others (especially in our careers).

As we move through life (especially in our careers), we at times have to go looking for the guidance and support of others, while at other times both are always there.

Everyone says one should have mentors—both ones that you talk to (either via phone, email, or zoom), and others that you end up finding online and following their online presence.

For an introvert (with anxiety)—finding mentors that you talk to is semi-difficult, especially when you’re still trying to determine the direction that you want to go in. Finding the ‘virtual’ ones is easy, though I’m starting to go back through and ask myself ‘am I following this person because I truly find them inspiring, or am I following them because they’re the ‘person’ to follow?

This is yet another puzzle piece that I am working on figuring out the shape of, slow but steady.

These cards are slightly different from the enchanted map and others in that they ‘don’t’ tell a story, per say. What I mean by ‘story’ is that card’s meaning is general—so depending on your ‘question’ or situation the ‘story’ or outlook may differ from reading to reading.

These cards are still helping me move forward with the goal of freelance work—they’re reminding me of things that I need to work on (such as finding mentors, not letting fear and anxiety run the show, and asking for (and accepting) help when needed).

Here’s to the next five days of the Nature’s Whispers Oracle deck challenge.

I asked this question on both LinkedIn and Instagram, and only received a single answer (climate change)—so I’ll ask it here as well: what science topic do you wish was communicated better? Also who are some of your favorite people to follow (and why)?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesoracle cardsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

European Edition: Two more Rail Member Pages are Live

So there are two more bird pages live under the birding section, and they aren’t geese, swans, or ducks: they’re two members of the rail family that I saw on my trip to the UK a couple of years ago.

Ever since I started this project (creating bird pages for the various birds I’ve gotten pictures of over the years), I’m constantly going through my old pictures and asking–which bird is this, and am I sure that is the correct bird?

For most birds, I’m usually correct with my identification, but there have been others that I’ve been wrong on. As it turns out I wasn’t correct with my first identification of these two birds; I’m made a ‘rookie’ mistake and assumed they were just ‘regional’ variations of birds I’d seen back in the US.

Well, it turns out that that was the wrong assumption to make–they’re actually separate species from the ones I’d spotted within the US.

The first one is the common moorhen. The reason why I’d thought that it was similar to the one I’d seen down in South Padre Island, is that they had been considered the same (or possibly subspecies) up until 2011–so only a decade ago, and I have an ‘outdated’ bird book.

The ‘Old World’ has the common moorhen, while the ‘New World’ has the common gallinule.

Common moorhen spotted within Kensington Park in London, UK

The second one I had ‘mistakenly’ identified was the Eurasian coot–I thought it was the American coot. Yes, I know that the name ‘American’ should have given it away that it probably wouldn’t be found in the UK–but if the pied grebe can occasionally migrate over the Atlantic Ocean, whose to say that the coot couldn’t?

Eurasian coots swimming in Kensington Park

I now know that there are several coot species, and I’ve managed to get pictures of two of them–in order to make it a perfect trifecta, I now need to head back to the Hawaiian islands and get a picture of the Hawaiian coot.

There are still one or two more birds from the UK trip that will be getting pages, but currently this brings the rail family up to date for members that I’ve spotted either within the US or abroad.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographySciencetravel

Latest #throwbackthursdaytravelpage is Live: Robbers Cave State Park

So another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is up under the travel tab. This week is showcasing our quick stop and mini-hike through Robbers Cave State Park in southeastern Oklahoma.

‘Caves’ at Robbers Cave State Park

We stopped at the park on our way home from Arkansas after doing some hiking and kayaking through some of the Buffalo National River area (that trip can also be found under the travel tab).

Being someone who enjoys history, I would have liked to spend a little more time exploring the park (but it was a quick stop), as they have several historical buildings within the park (from the mid-1930s when the park was initially started). One thing I found fascinating was walking around in an area that Jesse James and Belle Starr also walked/rode/hidden in as well (the area was well known for being a hideout for outlaws in the 1800s).

While it was a ‘short’ stay within the park, it was also a nice introduction to what the park offers, especially in terms of hikes for ‘beginners’.

A slightly difficult hill to conquer.

While I may not have spent a lot of time in the park–I do highly recommend the park to anyone who wants to explore a little of southeastern Oklahoma.

No Comments fitnessHistorical SitesnatureoutdoorsPhotographyState Parkstravel

Two swan pages, and their order and family pages are now live

So several more pages are now live under the birding tab of the ‘blog’.

An new organizational page (the ‘water birds’) is up and running. This ‘tab’ will contain all the bird orders/families that are associated with the water (members spend at least fifty percent of their time near, on, or in the water). As mentioned on the page, while there are raptors that eat fish (namely the osprey and bald eagle), they aren’t included within the tab as they don’t spend that much time on or in the water (they grab their food and fly off to eat it).

The order (Anseriformes) and family (Anatidae) pages for the ducks, geese, and swans are also up and live under the birding section (specifically under the ‘water birds’).

Young Mute Swan

This is another group that will take several days/weeks to finish, as I think there are thirteen to fourteen members of the family for me to do research over (most seen within the United States and three or four were also seen over in the UK).

So far I have two swan pages up on the site: the Mute Swan (seen in both Boston and the UK) and the black swan (seen solely in the UK).

The black swan is native to Australia and was introduced to the northern hemisphere starting in the 1800s, and the mute swan is native to northern hemisphere–but within the ‘old world’ and was introduced throughout the rest of the world starting again in the 1600-1800s.

Black swan seen within Kensington Park

The next set of pages will probably cover the geese that I’ve seen (again mainly in the US, but several were also spotted within the UK) and I’m hoping to have those pages up and ‘live’ by the end of the weekend.

A photography goal is to get pictures of the two native swans in North America: the trumpeter and tundra swans.

Curious to know if you’ve seen a swan–which species was it and where were you?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsSciencetravel