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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mourning Doves

Do they mourn? I suppose so.

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to see a pair of mourning doves that regularly haunt my deck putting up a nest on the post holding up the basketball hoops.The weather was too cold yet for impromptu outside games, so I had no fear that a stray ball was going to knock them from the perch.
The parents took turns sitting on the eggs, I never saw the eggs uncovered. Until one day, when there were no birds sitting on the nest, but I could still discern a slight movement. The nestlings had hatched!
For a couple of days, the new parents came and went, as they attempted to feed the babies. But then Mother Nature struck.
After a windy day, followed by heavy rains, I peered out the window the next morning to find the nest empty. No parent pigeons, nor babies were in evidence.
I tracked the nest for the next few days, hoping against hope that the parents might have moved the babies to a less exposed location. But it was unlikely, the nestlings were too young, not anywhere near the 2 weeks or so that would have made them bigger and strong enough to attempt flying.
I still see the doves around on the deck, pecking away at the dribbles of birdseed scattered by smaller birds at the feeder. I hope that they have started to reconstitute a nest, this time in a safer location, and will eventually raise their young ones as spring has finally moved into summer.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wildlife Central

Today's walk felt like that.

I peeked out of the front window, hoping that yesterday's frost warning had been just a missed call, but the frost glittered quite alarmingly pretty on our neighbor's carefully manicured Scotts lawn. Ours, not so much, a moderately well-trimmed mix of old ryegrass, fine fescue, dandelions and moss. A couple of rabbits grazed happily away just a few feet away from me, albeit with a wall and window between us. One rabbit attempted to sniff the other's rump, and got kicked lightly away, as the first took off into the bushes.
I stepped out of the house about half an hour later, after verifying that the old sheets draped on my deck plants still remained in place. The air was bracingly cold for this time of the year. It's Memorial Day weekend, and there is still a frost warning! What a way to greet the summer.

As I walked past the normal turkey zone, there were two gorgeous turkeys with dark feathers. One was a  large male with a wattle, the other appeared to be a younger male, with a purple blue coloring on the head, and no wattle. The wattled male glared balefully at me as I stopped to watch them, issued a warning call, as it stretched its neck and fluffed its feathers in an aggressive display. It repeated this twice, and I continued on the walk, leaving fighting turkeys to their own devices.

More assorted turkeys here and there, browsing on grass up a hillside, barely pausing to acknowledge the presence of an interested stranger.

Rabbit zone was fairly quiet, no baby bunnies were in evidence yet. I did spot a guardian rabbit sitting on the hillside, watching me cautiously. I have no doubt that the entrance to the warren must have been the almost hidden hole just a foot above where the rabbit sat.

A red cardinal shot across the road in front. It must have been chased off by the other cardinal sitting in the mulch on the other side. 'Tis a time for territoriality and displays, not yet time for the babies and such!

Rounding the corner to get home, a young deer leaped around in classical deer style, bounding gracefully across our lawn and the road to the neighbors. I guess the neighbor's free-ranging labrador may have spooked it (I know, having been 'yelled' at by the said-dog even as I peacefully gardened on my own property.) The dog seems to think its territory comprises all the houses on our side of the street and barks at anyone who infringes. If this continues, I shall have to complain to the township.

And that's the end of today's report from Suburban Wildlife Central, brought to you by Sujatha.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Anne Frank Revisited

I noticed a huge uptick in the number of searches landing on my blog post "Anne Frank Uncensored", especially over the past month, and wondered at what could have triggered this sudden (prurient?) interest in her uncensored diary.
Today, the mystery was solved.
Not for the first time, apparently, a parent in Michigan has challenged her daughter's school for prescribing the uncensored version for 7th grade reading. I start to wonder if this is perhaps a cooordinated effort of some sort to protest the choice of  Anne Frank's Diary as reading material, perhaps spearheaded by some group that might have another axe to grind.

The local news reported that Gail Horalek found passages in which Anne muses about the anatomy of her genitals in the book 'pornographic' and upsetting her daughter.
"This particular material is inappropriate for seventh grade students to read, especially without their parents' knowledge, Horalek said.
"It doesn’t mean my child is sheltered, it doesn’t mean I live in a bubble, and it doesn’t mean I'm trying to ban books," she said."
Despite Horalek's assertion,  it would appear to be just the opposite- that if she or her daughter considers the passages in question to be upsetting and pornographic, then her child is sheltered, living in a bubble.
It seems like a bit of an overreaction on her part to protest the book, unless she is miffed that the school district didn't alert her to the passage in question. Would she have been mollified and given permission to read the book if they had sent home a consent form?
It could have been a teachable moment for the mother to explain that such exploration is not unusual, and quite natural, the only horrific thing about the passage being that Anne Frank, who might have lived a normal lifein another day and age, could have kept her hidden diary to herself, instead of it being open to the views and opinions of millions of strangers. This could have evolved into a meaningful discussion of what privacy means, how it is viewed in the historical context of opening up Anne's thoughts to strangers, and what it implies for this hyperconnected world of Facebook, Instagram etc.

Interestingly, Anne Frank's diary is not on the Wiki-list of most commonly challenged books in the U.S., but maybe that status will now change, as more fundamentalist parents get their protests in.