Friday, May 7, 2010

More books, and "our quest"

Hi! In response to comments from the last post:

YES I have read Sterling North's book, Rascal! I have it on my shelf too. It's continually in print, still! Now THAT is a good book, and to still be in print, well that kind of proves it!

Sterling North has another book that's sort of a sequel to that. He and his wife and kids moved to the woods and lived with all kinds of wild ones in his adulthood, and were kind of early wildlife helpers or rehabbers. I think he even slept in bed w/ a bear at one time.

I don't remember if I've read Jon Katz. Seems like I've read something of his.

Speaking of authors named John, I love all of John Krakauer's books. He brings in all the little motivations and makes his subject real to the reader.

If you're a birder and want to read a much heavier book, scientifically speaking, there's nothing like the classic, The Singing Life of Birds by Don Kroodsma!

Another fascinating book is Illumination in the Flatwoods where the author does an immersion study with a flock of wild turkeys and keeps a diary. It grows on you as a book until you find yourself immersed yourself, in their world.

I once rescued a wild turkey, and on my last trip to Julian, stopped to watch wild turkeys. They're smart. I've never met domestic turkeys, but I know that wild turkeys are pretty smart. And curious! A flock of wild turkeys will stop and surround a snake and watch it out of curiosity, sharing the experience!

If you love books about a deep relationship with an animal, read The Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery! Her pig, Christopher Hogwood, was the love of her life for some 14 years. Imagine!

Other recent great books for me were Three Cups of Tea about the mountain climber who got lost and disoriented in the mountains of Afghanistan and was taken in by a very small village - a tribal village. He saw the dismal lack of schools and the peoples' determination to still learn, and pledged to come back and build schools for the people - girls and boys. He has done that very thing! He has the blessing of the Imams there, even though he is not a Muslim. The whole thing is a kind of miracle. My cousin, Tammy, recommended that book to me.

And yes, I have read the books about the Cat Who Went to Paris - the Peter Gethers books! They are wonderful!

Along the same lines, there's Ginny, the Dog who Rescues Cats - amazing book and sequel! This dog literally has some kind of calling to rescue cats in distress - abandoned in old buildings, trapped in unusual places - and his owner just takes him on walks through NYC (I think. It's a big city anyway) and the dog leads him to the most unlikely places where there will always be a cat needing rescue!

Because of this wonder-dog, the owner rescues all these cats and puts them into a network of cat loving rescue people. Amazing.

I have also read Marc Bekoff's books. He's a passionate advocate for animals. In fact, he may be able to offer us advice as to how to proceed. I'll try to contact him while I'm in Colorado.

We've been trying to get together for the last 3 years, whenever I'm in Colorado, but since he's Jane Goodall's partner in founding the Jane Goodall Institute, and in much of her work now, you can imagine how busy he is!

------ Our Newfound Quest to help owlets to survive by changing the way owlboxes are done in this country ------------

He, -Marc Bekoff- would be a good person to talk to about our quest, though, because both he and Jane Goodall never set out to become 'activists' or a voice for the animals, but as they got involved w/ their animal species, they ended up having almost no choice. Do you sit by and not do anything when the animal you've come to love and understand so intimately is being misused, abused, or pushed to extinction?

At some point, they both had to leave a lot of their research and spend most of their time in the act of trying to protect animals - being a voice for the voiceless and innocent animals.

We are on this trek together. But we can do this, I think!

I'm excited about the idea of a yahoo group as a clearinghouse for ideas, discussions, links, contacts, information, and resources!

Even though the situation in the Gulf is the focus for wildlife people right now, and that is so overwhelming it's almost beyond words, there's no reason we can't be getting our act together - learning and figuring out how to go about this. By the time we've organized there will be room for us to start lobbying for change. We'll make room! ;-) The baby owls are being hatched and trying to fledge out of God knows how many boxes even as we speak. And, as you might already know, the "Common" barn owl is actually endangered in some parts of the country! It's not as though they are just thriving like crazy everywhere... and wouldn't it be beautiful to enable them to come back in to areas from which they've been pushed out?

About the facebook page, I am still unschooled in facebook. I have tried it and found it to be very disjointed, but once I get to Colorado, I hope I"ll have time to sit down and figure it out a little more and I will try to get on the MODS & MADS page ( see Thom's comment on the blog before this one).

Thanks everyone!

PS: If you have kids, there is a series of kids' books about scientists and what they do. Sy Montgomery has written several of them. They're the "Scientist in the Field" books. For example there are titles such as The Snake Scientist or The Tarantula Scientist. I think they are great for kids if you want to inspire them to go into science, or just let them see that there are some very interesting ways to spend ones' life, in science. It brings understanding of what scientists really do out there, and what it takes to do it. But I must warn you that the kids will see that the scientists are studying WILD


Joy and Doug said...

Whatever happens on the large scale - all the talking has helped on a small scale. Another perch has been added to the Molly's owl box and I see that Owliver and Owlivia's box has new landing pads as well. Even if regulations are slow in coming - a lot of people realize the need for proper branching space now.

Susan said...

Thank you for the recommendation of 'Illumination in the Flatwoods'. I'm adding it to my growing "to read" list! I'm interested in learning more about wild turkeys because a few years ago, my parents (who lived in the country) had a wild turkey hen who would bring her chicks to their bird feeders to eat. They were definitely curious creatures, walking right up to their low-level windows to peek in at us! It was like a reverse bird-cam experience! :)

Susan from MI

Kathlene said...

On my way home today I saw a man selling owl nest boxes that look just like the one Molly lived in. I continued on for about 1/2 mile and told myself I need to turn around and talk to him, which I did.
It didn't turn out so well. I asked him if he could make his boxes larger and deeper so the owlettes would have room to hop, etc. His response was that then you would have to clean the box out and that his boxes were self cleaning.
I explained the need to flap their wings and hop. That they don't just fly away and if they land on the ground they need a way to get back up. Had he ever been to skyhunters. He said him and Connie (sp?) weren't' speaking. That she was more worried about injured animals then creating habitats for them to live. That they won't nest in certain trees.

Some of his comments were:
that owls do go to the ground and learn, that should 1 die that is what they want, cause that is the natural thing.
He went one to tell me he is one of those raptor people and a few other credential like things, spend alot of time in the woods, observed them, etc. That his nickname was bird hunter.
I had to leave cause some one drove up who was interested in buying a box.
This man had a sign advertising about unwanted rodents and his dot com addy.... owl nest boxes and a phone number. I got it.
Needles to say, I'm a bit sad.

Kathlene said...

oh and I told him his boxes weren't natural!!!

Stacey O'Brien said...

GOOD for you, Kathlene! You ROCK! I encourage people to talk to these people who are making a LOT of money on these boxes and making claims that are not true such as 'guaranteed rodent control', and then putting boxes up (at 500 bucks a pop) in the tiny yards of elderly people in suburbs that have no nearby hunting grounds. These people are getting FLEECED by these owl box hucksters.

The guy you talked to, if I am right about who it is, is not on speaking terms with ANYONE involved w/ wildlife or with ANYONE in the wild bird stores, even! I mean, he KNOWS what the problems are but does not care. And he can get away with it and there's not a THING the wildlife regulators or police can do about it because there is no law against it.

That is why we are here! WE are going to change that!

And Mr. Bird Hunter (an odd name for someone who ostensibly claims to be providing habitats), can keep selling his boxes, but he will be forced to make them compatible w/ the actual needs of the OWLS THEMSELVES and not just his own need to make the cheapest box possible for the maximum profit margin.

I looked up his income and found that it is much, much more than most middle class people make. And this IS his "profession" - selling these boxes.

He sets himself up on the roadside on busy thoroughfaires w/ his billboard about guaranteed, all natural rodent control and just makes a HAUL financially.

All to the detriment of innocent, sweet, sincere, earnest, intelligent, sentient beings - the Barn Owls.

To him they are just a means to an end. That's why he's "not on speaking terms" with anyone in that county who cares about the owls themselves.

And that has worked for a long time, because people didn't realize how amazing these wonderful beings - these barn owls- ARE! People didn't think about the individuals, the personalities, the feelings, that barn owls actually have! They are just another thing flying around that eats rodents.

I mean, I used to think that way about barn owls before I got my barn owl job at Caltech. Maybe not like that box guy, but probably a lot like his customers. I thought Barn Owls were probably stupid (I'd been told as much), without a whole lot of personality, that they just flew around at night eating rodents...

I hesitated to take the barn owl job because I wrongly thought that compared to primates, how interesting could they be? HAHA!


So here I am, decades later, still fascinated by, captivate by, falling in love with, individual barn owls and other owls. Each one is a new, amazing, mysterious, delightful individual to know and love and discover. And they are so emotional and so intelligent in their own barn owl way. Yet so vulnerable.

Well, you know. You've had the "eureka", too, of discovering how delightful they are, each one as an individual personality.

hey, speaking of which, did you ever notice that we don't even have a word in the English language for an animal's personality? We use the word "person" to describe individuality.

I guess it fits though. Because a lot of their attributes are similar to those that people and other animals have. Love, pain, grief, joy, happiness, comfort, curiosity, ... these are universal to all sentient creatures.

We may not experience it the same way, each of us, but that's true from one human to another, not just from one species to another.

Oh there's so much to learn and discover! It's a never ending trail of fascinating insights and new ideas and the joy of exploration and discovery, as we get to know these "others" with whom we share this lovely planet...

So, guys like this human you encountered...they are the ones we must help along so that they can do their business in a way that is no longer harmful to these amazing creatures we've come to love so much!


Stacey O'Brien said...

PS: The reason that Nancy Conney is so interested in the injuries caused by his boxes is that A. She LOVES the owls so much that she's dedicated her entire life to saving and helping back to the wild all raptors and owls, and B. SHE IS THE ONE WHO HAS TO DEAL WITH THE INJURED OWLS! She SEES the pain and death and she is the one who will be working with those injured and traumatized owls for the next year +, to heal them, to teach them to hunt, to strengthen them to fly w/ a lot of stamina, to socialize them w/ their own's a heavy, work intensive job. And she does it all w/ a bad hip, in pain, with no complaints, and w/ a positive attitude. She also tirelessly goes out to educate people about the owls and other raptors about 300 days a year on top of her intense feeding and rehabilitating schedule!

She has even turned her home into an educational museum of sorts, where groups can come and tour and learn all about owls and raptors. She and her husband have allocated only a very small portion of their own home as being private and they live in a tiny little area so that the rest can be dedicated to education.

If you're looking for a hero, she's one of my all time heroes!

And if someone isn't even on speaking terms w/ her, you can bet she has tried and tried to educate and communicate and reach that one person...and she's not an untactful person at all. She's a sincere, loving, friendly, warm human being who never tires of spreading the word about raptor and owl behavior and needs...

Her education barn owl is amazing, too. She takes him along and when she's explaining things like how huge their beak is, she tells him to open his mouth and he does. He turns his head so she can show people his ears. Then she holds him against her w/ his back against her and her hand on his tummy and she says, "Spread 'em!" and he sticks his talons out and spreads them so people can see how impressive they are. And he snuggles against her and peeps sweet nothings to her.

We have done events together, she and I. One time, I was describing Wesley and imitated one of his comments to me. Her barn owl turned to me on the stage and started chattering back! So he and I chattered to each other while the audience laughed. He is SUCH a personality, this barn owl!

Well, I could write a book...well I AM writing one...well you know what i mean..heh heh.


Sylvia Harp said...

Stacey, I am such an admirer of you and your fabulous work! I wonder whether you have read any of the books by Temple Grandin. I am reading "Animals Make Us Human". Because she is autistic, she has such unique insights about animal behavior.
I would love to know what you think of her work.

Stacey O'Brien said...

I'm very impressed by Temple Grandin! There is an interesting connection between some kinds of autism and having a deep understanding of animals. A group of autistic and otherwise challenged adults just finished reading my book, and I did a speakerphone talk w/ them. One of the autistic guys said that Wesley seemed like an autistic person, to him. He literally said, "Wesley is autistic just like me." He went on to point out Wesley's extreme reaction to some changes, etc.

So this guy was really able to connect emotionally w/ Wesley. He "got it". Temple Grandin is amazing in that she not only "gets it" about animals, but she has managed to navigate the human landscape quite well in spite of her autism. She writes blurbs and reviews for other authors (she did for me), works w/ publishers, editors, publicists, and with the cattle and the people who work w/ the cattle. That's an awful lot to take on in the emotional and sensory world, whether you're autistic or not!

She's an amazing person and I think a great example of what a person can achieve not just in spite of, but BECAUSE OF their differences! Very inspiring!

I haven't met her, but friends who have met her say she's a great person.


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