Tag Archive | birds

Eat, play, laugh

walking tall

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, at least for Americans, and this it the final post of this series. I’ve covered a few different topics gratitude, compassion, awe, but before you sit down tomorrow with significant (and insignificant) others, to eat yourself silly, I thought I’d tackle some seemingly “less adult” themes that might help to make your holiday weekend happier.

A fellow told me he was going to sky-diving school. He said, ‘I’ve been going for three months.’

I said, ‘How many successful jumps do you need to make before you graduate?’

He said, ‘All of them.’

How many times did you laugh in the last week? I hope a lot.  You probably didn’t laugh 300 times a day (the normal rate for a child. Adults average around 17 times). So there’s room for improvement.

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Laughter is great for the abs and it gets a lot of oxygen into the lungs, which makes you feel better.  Scientific study is showing that laughter really fundamentally helps you to lead a happier life. So making it a point to try and see the funny side of things is going to be good for you, and everyone your with.

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Humor can also stop a lot of arguments cold. At Thanksgiving especially, it pays to know some jokes or stories, even if they aren’t your own. Here’s true one that’s timely.

A Tennessee woman entered into a prolonged, fraught stand-off with a wild turkey that was blocking her car in her driveway.

She tried shouting at the turkey, charging it with her vehicle and also coaxing it out of her way by feeding it a raspberry, but ultimately conceded, “I’m not a wild turkey, so I really have no idea what a raspberry means to a turkey.”

In the end, she was able to scare the turkey away by hurling a frozen turkey at it.

Try to remember some embarrassing things that happened to you over the last year. They’re probably weren’t funny at the time. But now, in retrospect, they might be hilarious. And not just to yourself.

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Even chimps suffer embarrassing moments

Research has show that telling embarrassing stories about ourselves actually makes people like and trust us more. So, get your family and friends around the table to tell their tale and have a good laugh. Rebuild some bridges — through humor.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. — Will Rodgers

Another thing that really helps buoy the mood during group-oriented holidays is play. Play is not just a button on a device.

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Play involves fun, others, and usually the joy that is “mistakes.” It’s something adults don’t do a lot of anymore. Adults tend to watch sports for example, but they don’t play them.

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This guy has play


Getting outside, running around playing flag football, or raking and then leaping into leaf piles, or going apple picking, try some serious bird watching, or leaf peeping while showing off your ugly sweater…

Yes, that means all at once!

gets the endorphins up and builds a group spirit.

If you’re stuck inside, light some candles, build a fire, make some hot cider, toast some pumpkin seeds for that long walk in the woods

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and make some pine cone bird feeders to take with you and hang, or break out the traditional actual board,  board games.

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In short, have some fun. Actual physical fun. Don’t worry social media and virtual reality will still be there when you get back.

If you can’t get your teenagers away from their devices, send them to The Purpose Challenge.   There they’ll find a Tool Kin with 4 days (perfect for Thanksgiving weekend) of short but interesting and thoughtful activities designed to help high school students figure out their purpose. (Other than just annoy you)

It helps get them pointed in the direction they may not know they want to go, and figure out what steps to take to be successful and happy their own way, in their own life. It will also give them something to talk about with you! It’s also worth $5,000 – $25000 in prize money for college if you’re a student graduating high school in 2018.


Every move you make, I’ll be watching you


The definition of romance depends on who you are. For me, a Valentine’s Day weekend spent in cammo, covered in leaves, spying on those I adore with some serious binoculars isn’t creepy at all.

I must specify, however, that “those I adore” are birds and I’m participating in Cornell University’s annual Great Backyard Bird Count which runs Feb 15 – 18th this year. Geeky, weird, romantic . . . . Oui, all of the above! And below is my best catch of the year (besides Fling).


Hawking Up A Good Time


Yesterday was Rose Monday. It’s the German version of Fat Tuesday, so I threw a dinner party. It was very gay, with much drinking, and generally a good time. But, there was an awkward moment.

One of my older male friends, in the middle of the main course, dropped his fork, clutched his chest, and exclaimed “My God!”

We all thought “Heart attack!” However, he immediately pointed outside — with one hand, while the other lifted a large glass of lively champagne to his lips. We all looked to the yard. But for a wildly swinging bird feeder, there was nothing there.

“Did you see? A huge hawk swept down out of the tree and picked off one of the sparrows,” he declared, breathless and revolted.

His wife shook her head. She hadn’t seen it. But she hadn’t been looking outside. No one had. So, no one else witnessed the event.

I turned back to my friend. I wasn’t sure what to say. That sort of thing happens periodically in my yard.  A feeder draws in small birds and small birds draw in big birds of prey, which I happen to like seeing. The red shouldered hawk is part of the fabric of my yard, as are the sparrows. Nature simply took Her course.

“it was horrible,” he continued, with a deep shudder.

“No worse than you.” I dropped my eyes to the decimated quail (our state bird!) on his plate.

“True,” he replied, without missing a beat. “But at least his bird was fresh and hot.”

At which point my jaw dropped. Then we all laughed and adjourned to the yard to hunt for feathers in the fading light. There were only hawk feathers strewn about, indicating the raptor had missed his mark. My friend felt better then. So much so, he had a second quail.

Parrots in the Park

By Don Durfee, all rights reserved.

By Florida artist/photog Don Durfee, all rights reserved.

Recent heavy weather here forced a large flock of rogue Nanday Conures up from a heavily wooded seaside canyon into my local park. These birds are not native, simply the result of surviving (and thriving) escapees, and at first we had no idea what they were.

The noise they make en masse is deafening, particularly when they number almost 100, but there is something weird and wonderful about stumbling upon a great flock of wild, brightly colored South American birds flying free in a place where they certainly ought not be.

I felt an immediate kinship, perhaps because, personally, I’ve always liked appearing in places where I technically ought not be. And startling as that might be, for both myself and those poor individuals I appear to, I always think there’s a reason for things so if I end up in some place that (people tell me) I ought not be, that’s not a mistake on my part. It’s a mistake on their part. They are missing the moment. They are missing the gift — of me.

Remember, only two people in the universe know where you are supposed to be: God and You!

So if you find yourself somewhere unusual this week (perhaps shopping for that rare something for your special someone in an unusual shop you would normally die to avoid), don’t feel that you’re out of place. Think of yourself as a Nanday, adding a dash of color, whimsy, and joy to an otherwise dull and ordinary moment in space and time.  Think of it as your destiny to be a little improbable.

And really, it well may be.

I encourage you all to fly over to Don Durfee’s website . Don is one of the most amazing nature photographers ever. And while you’re there, pick up some wonderful, affordable gifts for your favorite bird lover!