Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thanks for all the advice!

Well, I'm just trying to figure out how to untag everything and get it back to normal - I did write to CafePress immediately and told them what my situation was and asked them to remove all crosstagging. Wendy is just super super stressed, trying to meet the deadlines on her book, that's all, and the media she has of mine is no longer immediately accessible to her because the computer that had it crashed irrevocably - a sort of perfect storm of problems.

Thanks for your ideas!

What is HOP?

I hear that people are going onto boxes and agitating or causing trouble. That could mean any number of things. After all, I've been accused of being "disruptive" and ever, apparently, of threatening to sue. So...what does that mean?

But I will honor the request to tell "my people" (by the way, each person is an individual. I don't control people, nor do I control what they do with the information they have, their new knowledge, their passion. So everything everyone does should not be attributed to me! I'm just one lowly person who cares passionately about barn owls, but I am NOT instructing anyone to go to owl boxes and cause any kind of trouble!). not to cause trouble.

Please don't go on owl boxes and "cause trouble" or have arguments that seem argumentative. Now, that's an almost impossible thing to define in this day and age of chatrooms that serve more as cultish cliques, full of flamers, than actual discussion groups, so the words "seem argumentative" mean different things to different people.

So, if you come across an owlbox that does not have a branching system, it's best to just start out by saying that the owlets don't fledge, but that they branch. So, for a good outcome, the box owner needs to put up something for the owlets to land on, right in front of the door, then another one about 2 feet from the door, then another one about 3 feet from the door, all at the same height, more or less. Be humble enough to say that a lot of us are just finding out about this and it's not the fault of the box owner or box builder that they didn't know this. A lot of people don't know this (which is why there are so many owl boxes in America without branching systems, and which is why we have so much work to do).

Also, you could explain that they also need a way to get back up if they fall to the ground. You could refer them to one or two of the links that we've got that show barn owls who are unable to get back in to their boxes. You could explain how they climb out onto branches and then hop-fly from branch to branch for about 2 weeks to strengthen their wings and learn how their wings work. You could even talk about how they watch each other and learn moves from each other. And how occasionally one will miscalculate and end up on the ground, which is not normal for an owl. They don't fledge to the ground like songbirds, so an owl on the ground is a good target for a predator.

If people want to enjoy watching the owlets succeed, it's a real thrill to watch the process of branching. So if one falls to the ground, there needs to be a way to get back up. A ladder leg covered w/ astroturf is a perfect way, and easy.

It doesn't have to be a difficult thing to put up a branching system after the babies are already in the nest. Carlos did it and so did the Owlivia people. You could refer the to look at the branching system on the Molly the Owl box or on the Owlivia and Owliver box.

The main thing is to explain the behavior and let them decide to do something about it. You could point out that everyone involved wants to see the owlets thrive, and that this is the best way to do that.

It's best to emphasize the fact that we ALL want to see the owlets survive and thrive.

That's what I did for weeks and weeks. Yes, I got banned, but it did get people thinking, and it WAS true that they didn't want the "story" to end tragically either, and they DID built branching systems, and we DID get to watch the delightful process of the babies learning to fly and succeeding.

You could say that, too.

Try not to get sucked in with people who are deliberately trying to trap you into an argument. This is EASIER SAID THAN DONE because there are people who are clever at this sort of thing, and before you know it, you're defending yourself and then people say you sound "paranoid" or whatever, or you're a "worry wart" or a "rabble rouser" or "disruptive".

You've watched this happen to me. You've seen me blunder right into traps, unknowingly.

I've never dealt w/ chat rooms before, but I'm finding them to contain some of the worst of human nature! It's really a shock, because I'm so used to dealing with honest, straightforward, good people that I just think people really do have good intentions, and I blunder right into the trap. But I'm learning! As we all are!

I don't know what these complaints are about "People from the barn owl alliance", so I'm just dispensing general advice based on what I know at this time and have learned at this time. We are ALL on a road of learning and growing, so none of us knows the perfect way to approach each and every anonymous person on the net. Also, there are people who will accuse you, and then when you defend yourself, YOU are accused of being disruptive. Sigh.

so it's complicated.

All I can say is, try to be diplomatic and don't assume that everyone is deliberately obtuse. Sometimes it just takes a good explanation for people to figure out what to do. It's worth taking the time to explain what branching is and why it's needed.

Just do your best, that's all any of us can do. We all make mistakes, we all blunder into situations, none of us is perfect. And when you're the one trying to educate or suggest changes, people find it easy to make you a target for some reason. So just be careful.

In the good news department! I've finished my meetings w/ my lawyer and the 501(c)3 is well on its way, as we are filing the paperwork now. There's a process that takes some time, but our part is done! The Stacey O'Brien American Barn Owl Alliance is a reality!

As for the website, it turns out I'm going to have to find a way to get all my pages from Wendy and rehost them somewhere else. This is a blow. I am no expert at this and will have to learn FAST how to do this. Once I've done that, I've got to learn how to make the Barn Owl Alliance website because Wendy has withdrawn her offer to help. Like I said, she's just too swamped with her own book. It gets VERY INTENSE as you near the deadline for a book. I had no idea how intense it was, nor how many steps and rechecks and changes and just tons of things you have to do before the deadline, all under some level of stress. So she's just not able to do what she had hoped to be able to do.

So I'll have to figure it out. I have a month to get all this worked out.

I'll probably just have to hire someone to do this. But never fear! We will have BOTH websites up and linked together as soon as I can possibly do it!

Then, when you're trying to discuss this with people, you'll be able to refer them to the website for examples of branching and explanations, pictures, video links, etc.

Things are on their way to getting BETTER!

Just keep up the good work and the educating and research and we'll have a place to put it all pretty soon, for the public to learn from!

Everyone hang in there! Let's not get discouraged. After all, this is about those beautiful, innocent souls we've all come to love - the baby barn owls themselves!



Victoria B said...

Stacey: Hope this puts a smile on your face. Dotrot wrote this limerick about you, and I hope you don't mind me sharing it here.

Stacey O'Brien

Stacey O'Brien and her sweet little Wes
Have shown us such things we could before only guess.
How could we all know
The love owls can show?
Her knowledge and skill are simply the best.

Anonymous said...

Stacey, it seems that there is once again a misunderstanding about where these rumors and innuendo are coming from. Let me make it extremely clear that I was just as disturbed to see that the BOA had been implicated in this latest round of rumor-mongering as I was to see the Hungry Owl Project (HOP).

However, the initial discussion misrepresenting me as the "owner" of the HOP owl box at Nicasio started within the BOA Yahoo group, between two of the members there. How it next "spilled out" into a public stream, or why, is anybody's guess. The person who made the initial error posted about the mistake, and I hope she did the same within the BOA group.

Folks who are sincere in their concerns for the safety and well-being of owls and owlets want to give them every possible chance. I applaud your approach of being more educational and less confrontational. It is more important, in my view, to get the proper information out than to "win" an argument.

Peggy said...

Hmmm ... I posted a comment but it does not show. I'll re-post and hope that I don't duplicate. Stacey, thank you for your comments. What you said was perfect. Yes, you are 'just one person, etc.' but you are Stacey O'Brien! someone who people respect and listen to - when it comes to Barn Owls!
HOP = Hungry Owl Project - the group that installed the box for Salt and Pepper.

Thanks for being a guiding light.addityp

Chris said...

Wonderful post Stacey, I hope everyone will do as you ask and not be confrontational.

New upset at the Molly box. First day today all of the owlets are gone. But of course they are likely to return. And for humor, Carlos has stapled up a big For Rent sign outside the box. Animals are so sensitive to changes in their home base, that this big white paper could easily disturb them, so they might not come back to the perches. A couple of people posted about that, but were ignored. I just think it's too bad, that he's so far done so much right, it would be sad to see them scared off at the very last. And it's too sad the chatters are ignoring the "worrywarts" about it.

I surely hope you get all your photos and media back...and can back it all up to a separate disk(s) you keep in a safe place. How awful if you lost the wonderful Wesley photos from your book!

darien said...

i like you :-)

Anonymous said...

Who is HOP? Not sure what this is the title of your post, but Stacey, HOP is the Hungry Owl Project, we've been around for about 8 years in Marin County. Have installed hundreds of boxes and we take responsibility for every one. We have a monitoring program, a cleaning program that people can sign up for, and we do education in schools and with adults on the issue of rodenticides, etc. We are a program of WildCare, a wildlife rehabilitation facility. I met you when you gave a reading at Book Passage a few years ago and we had a wonderful interaction. You also had a long phone conversation, as I understand it, with Alex Godbe, our director. We are well aware of the issues with branching and fledging owls. I speak for myself (not HOP) when I say that I feel there's a bit of hysteria around this issue, that seems to stem from the stuff that went on at the Molly box. It seems barn owls are in the spotlight in a big way now and it's not all good. Personally I think the owls at the Molly/McGee box have been turned into cartoons and it's very sad. The antropomorphism that goes on around these cams is really disturbing to me. I think in some ways there is a lack of respect and trust in these animals that they are capable of taking care of themselves and thinking that we need to over manage everything that happens to them. Just last week two fledgling Cooper's hawks were picked up by well meaning people and taken to the wildlife hospital. It's highly possible these chicks were fledging and that their parents were feeding them on the ground, but now they are in the hands of humans and we have been unable to find their nest and return them to their parents, where they belong.

This is all I will say about this and we will do what we think is best for our Nicasio owl box, based on our years of experience, regardless of what the people in chat rooms say or speculate about and if people want to get mad at us or villify us, well we'll just have to live with that. We work harder than anyone in the chat rooms can possibly imagine on this project.

brdlvr said...

Thanks for referring folks to the Owlivia web cam site, but for some reason it seems you aren't aware of an owl box of one of the BOA members, Lisabegood with Buddy and Fluffy. With the guidance of EagleEye, she has provided a wonderful branching system for the owlets, 5 in all, and there is much action going on there. All 5 come out and use the system, -all of it. Please tune in around 8:30 PT and see for yourself.

Lisa is attempting to get some video of the branching owlerts for the alliance, but has run into some technical difficulties. Besides attempting to get video, this owl family has been totally undisturbed by humans. What a refreshing thing to see. It is a testament to Lisa and an overpowering example of how important branching is for the successful fledging of owlets. As we have learned, many raptor species, if not all, do not just fledge out of the nest, but need a branching system to assist them during this process. Of course, I don't have to tell you this.

Big smile goes here.

Charlotte said...

Stacey as far as the BOA website design and set up goes, please look in your email for a note from me. My brother has offered to help us get set up, if you haven't yet decided on another direction. If we can supply the material (written, graphic design, photography, links etc.) he can get it orchestrated in to a functioning site. The actual cost of setting this up on the internet is cheap (I think he said about $100 for a year) and after reviewing the Wes site, he felt that one was/is a very straightforward design. If others come forward as well, look at stuff they've done too. Do look for an email from me.. I have samples of his work for you to look at.

chipmonk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chipmonk said...

Stacey:good blog,and yes we are human,and all make mistakes,like you said we are all still leaning,some have more battle scars than others.But we should be mindful of our actions,that being said i would like to address Thom.
Thom,my name is Maureen,i am a member of the BOA.I read what you wrote yesterday,I realalized what a mistake i had made(it was not done on purpose),as soon as i read your comment i made a full apology to you.I also went into the alliance and made an apology to all the members.
Now I read your comments today to Stacey.Let me say again Stacey,had nothing to do with my mistake!So if need be I will say it again;I am sorry for the mix up,there is nothing more i can say,we are all human,I owned up to what i did,I hope we can let this go and move on.

Anonymous said...

Maureen, thank you so much for clearing this up. I just don't want anything to reflect poorly on HOP or the good work that it does. Apologies completely accepted for the unintentional error. Past is past. No worries!

PaulaP said...

Thank you, Stacey, for the post. I have been thinking a great deal about the growing pains that we in the BOA have been suffering. Initially there was so much frustration that people used the message board to express that frustration. Things were said, apologies made and here we are today. I believe that the goals of the BOA are worthy and that it is time to focus on the future and accomplishing those goals for the protection of our beloved owls.

It may be easier said than done, but to be future focussed, I think the past needs to be in the past. We will not be credible in our quest if our approach is adversarial. I would like to never have to speak of the other nestbox and that whole experience again. I would like to speak about educating and advocating, being a resource, and doing it in a positive way.

To me, this is about Stacey and her passion for the owls. With her name on the title, everything we as members do reflects upon her even when it shouldn't.

To be positive, I believe it is important to have facts, take time to compose our messages and wait before hitting the send button. As people say, sugar is better than vinegar. Thom speaks of rumors and innuendo leading to misunderstandings, and letting this happen can only hurt our cause.

I am continually amazed that when BOA people miss-speak, they own up to it and make the apologies necessary. This goes a way toward that credability of which I spoke.

It adds to the problem when others who see us as the enemy try to bait us. For the most part, I think those posts should be ignored. We need to take the high road and be unimpeachable.

So all I am saying is that we should not look back but work toward the goal. Fifteen minutes of fame may be coming to an end, but a quality organization born from the need to protect the species can live forever.

PaulaP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

That's great advice Paula. It's really hard not to be upset, hurt, or angry about stuff that's happened at that other site. And it is so tempting to vent here where there are people of like mind. But you are right, there are much more important things at stake now, and we need to put the past firmly out of our thoughts. That site will be closed tomorrow and it need never be thought of again. It is nice though that it initially introduced us all to Stacey.

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