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November 30, 2012

Contest Revisited, and Rambling...

Alrighty then... Let's harken back to that yet unsolved August 29th contest... Once again, here's the prize pic (soda not included...)

resized IMG_4603.JPG

And here's the hint...

The mystery couple first signed with 'Magic Lamp' records before signing with A&M... And yes, I still want the link to the actual video of the performer's working their wizardry with the piece mentioned in the contest link above..
.

The bottom line is this... This isn't that tough a challenge... All it will take to solve this puppy and win is to be the first to do a few Googles and sending an email to me, capecodalan@ebirdseed.com with the appropriate link... Easy breezy...

What else is new? Not much... About the only real revelation is my decision to avoid the back yard at almost all costs. The turkeys have completely riddled the place with their own special 'presents'. I'm starting to think about non-lethal ways to convince them that they are 'gobbla non grata'... I may resort to the dreaded 'far flung falling comfy cushion from on high'... (Turkeys are extremely stupid, While a two ton truck doesn't faze them in the least, a floating bit of foam spiraling down on their empty little craniums Frisbee style will scare their snoods off.)

In the mean time, I'm trying to figure out how we can feed the birds from the deck and still offer them the protection of the trees... Maybe some rendition of the old fashioned clothes line pulley system? But then there's the water issue... Hmmm...

Puzzling by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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September 20, 2012

Sconce Almost Done, and Contest Hint...

Let's see...

420 almost done IMG_4628.JPG

Obviously, the sconces are almost done. (At this point, all that's left is to hide and secure wire.) It wasn't a bad project. Here's my advice for anyone who decides to take on such an endeavor:

  1. First, think safety. Unless you know your stuff concerning wire gauges, ground planes, code, etc., get a licensed electrician. Also, turn off the power to the circuit breaker that controls your work area and use masking tape to ensure that someone won't inadvertently re-activate the circuit while you're elbows deep in it. Tell everybody what you are doing. If nothing else, warn them that electrocution doesn't smell pretty.
  2. Alright, safety out of the way, hit the Web and decide what fixture you want. This is where it gets tricky... The secret to lighting is light, and with the options of incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs, the choices are endless. Good luck to you.
  3. Next tip... Hook up your fixture to the planned existing circuit before you start drilling holes and running wires. Once again... If you don't know what you're doing, call in a pro.
  4. Ah those pesky studs and bricks... Know your turf...
  5. Onward... Dry run your installation. Example: Wire 'A' has to run along through floor/wall 'B' and then go through junction box 'C' which has to be installed blah blah blah...
  6. After all that, there's nothing but the sweat and cussing to make it happen...
About that contest... Here's a hint... The mystery couple first signed with 'Magic Lamp' records before signing with A&M... And yes, I still want the link to the actual video of the performer's working their wizardry with the piece...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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August 29, 2012

New Contest! You'll Probably Hate My Guts...

So here's the prize...

resized IMG_4603.JPG

Yup, it's every bit 'American Folk Art Cheesy' as it appears in the image... We're talking scrap pine 'Birds Whimsy' held together with drywall screws and sold at a flea market for $10 (which in turn might buy a bottle of fortified wine like Mad Dog 20/20 for the creator... Just kidding... just kidding...). Here are the details of the contest:

  • Contest question: What popular music duo produced the finest version of 'Ave Maria' ever? (Hint: their roots lie in classical and jazz...)
  • The correct answer to the contest question is entirely subjective, and will be decided by me, CapeCodAlan...
  • You must be a resident of the continental U.S. to enter...
  • Can of 'Diet Coke' not included...
  • Winner should expect delivery of prize when CapeCodAlan and the Mrs. get around to shipping it...
  • Winner must provide 'YouTube' link to actual performance of said finest version of 'Ave Maria' via email to CapeCodAlan@ebirdseed.com...
  • Only constraints on entrants are that you can't be 'doing time' and you can't be an immoral reprobate... Also, zombies and cockapoos are ineligible...
  • Prize comes directly from CapeCodAlan and not eBirdseed.com...
  • First correct answer with link wins...

Waiting by the feeders... (Told you that you'd hate my guts...)

CapeCodAlan


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November 20, 2011

Taking Tests, Perceptions, and Birds...

About our last contest... I got a lot of feedback on that one, and quite honestly, some of it wasn't very encouraging. People seemed to give up without even trying... That's too bad, because the answer was right in the title of the contest... "eBirdseed.com Speed Contest is Here and Now!". I even said this was a "sub one minute contest". Yet folks tried to dive into the details and got lost. They missed the big picture. Here's another example of this phenomenon... What's wrong with the following?

This is a classic test of perception...

Read the sequence of numbers carefully and

and see if you see an error... any error:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Man oh man oh man, is it easy to get lost in the colors and the fonts or what? Truth be told, there's nothing wrong with the sequence. The only real problem is the duplication of the word 'and' in the instructions. And so it was for the contest -- the answer was there in the title but so easily skipped -- find a way to translate 2096 characters into a recipe in less than 60 seconds. 20/20 hindsight says there must be a converter or translator; and so there was.

In general, misdirection and inverted perception are nothing new... And so it goes with birds... A couple of weeks ago, I was working with a knowledgeable friend in the backyard, and when we got our usual turkey invasion, he gushed that one must have weighed 30 pounds. (Wild turkeys rarely exceed 20 lbs. The hen in question was more like 15.) When my friend spooked the thing, it flapped off at an estimated speed of 60mph. (Once again that was an overestimate. Turkeys have a top speed of about 45mph, and this one wasn't doing half that.)

The bottom line to all this (contest, birds, or UFOs for that matter) is that perception can be exceedingly persuasive. (I wonder how many 'Rare' bird sightings are legit'?)

I think I'll be by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 17, 2011

We Have a Contest Winner!

fireworks.jpg

Well, we have a winner! Kathy K. won. (She won a previous eBirdseed photo contest back in Oct. 2008.)

Kathy was quick on the draw and realized that all those ones and zeroes could easily be converted to plain old text using an online converter. (I checked... There are converters out there for every imaginable language and numerical expression.) So not only did she win a boatload of delivered birdseed, but she (and you!) also bagged a killer recipe... And here it is: all that binary converted into the following...

3 eggs, 1.5 c sugar, 2 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, .67 c oil, .25 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla, 3 pears chopped, .5 c raisins, Walnuts (opt). Mix all together, and bake in a 9 X 12 pan at 350 degrees for apx. 45 minutes.
Congrats to Kathy; your prize will be shipped out shortly. And thanks to everyone else who mulled over the puzzle...

By the demystified feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 16, 2011

eBirdseed.com Speed Contest is Here and Now!

Contest closed! We have a winner!!! See next post for more info...
195_400.JPG

Nice prize aye? You get that much in birdseed delivered to your door if you win... But I'm getting ahead of myself... First the background of this simple contest...

Yeah, it has to happen. That old eBirdseed.com data encryption contest just has to have a winner, and today is the day... (We've had a bunch of bird-related contests before, and I really wanted to have something non-bird just for a change of pace.) Well... Here are the rules, and then the contest...

  • Previous winners are allowed to enter this contest!
  • eBirdseed.com employees and their immediate family are not allowed to enter contest...
  • Prize will only be shipped within continental United States....
  • Contest solution must be submitted via email to: capecodalan@ebirdseed.com (I'll contact the winner by responding to the winning entry...)
  • First correct answer wins...
  • Judges' decisions are final...
  • Contest remains open until we have a winner...
  • Timely notification of contest winner will be posted on this blog...
So... Here we go... Decode the following ones and zeroes into a simple text recipe. It starts with the number "3" and ends in a period. Remember this is a speed (as in sub one minute) contest!!! Don't get lost in the wonk and the weeds!!! You'll know when you have it right... Good luck...

00110011 00100000 01100101 01100111 01100111 01110011 00101100 00100000 00110001 00101110 00110101 00100000 01100011 00100000 01110011 01110101 01100111 01100001 01110010 00101100 00100000 00110010 00100000 01100011 00100000 01100110 01101100 01101111 01110101 01110010 00101100 00100000 00110001 00100000 01110100 01110011 01110000 00100000 01100010 01100001 01101011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110000 01101111 01110111 01100100 01100101 01110010 00101100 00100000 00110001 00100000 01110100 01110011 01110000 00100000 01100011 01101001 01101110 01101110 01100001 01101101 01101111 01101110 00101100 00100000 00101110 00110110 00110111 00100000 01100011 00100000 01101111 01101001 01101100 00101100 00100000 00101110 00110010 00110101 00100000 01110100 01110011 01110000 00100000 01110011 01100001 01101100 01110100 00101100 00100000 00110001 00100000 01110100 01110011 01110000 00100000 01110110 01100001 01101110 01101001 01101100 01101100 01100001 00101100 00100000 00110011 00100000 01110000 01100101 01100001 01110010 01110011 00100000 01100011 01101000 01101111 01110000 01110000 01100101 01100100 00101100 00100000 00101110 00110101 00100000 01100011 00100000 01110010 01100001 01101001 01110011 01101001 01101110 01110011 00101100 00100000 01010111 01100001 01101100 01101110 01110101 01110100 01110011 00100000 00101000 01101111 01110000 01110100 00101001 00101110 00100000 01001101 01101001 01111000 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01110100 01101111 01100111 01100101 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 00101100 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100010 01100001 01101011 01100101 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100001 00100000 00111001 00100000 01011000 00100000 00110001 00110010 00100000 01110000 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100001 01110100 00100000 00110011 00110101 00110000 00100000 01100100 01100101 01100111 01110010 01100101 01100101 01110011 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01100001 01110000 01111000 00101110 00100000 00110100 00110101 00100000 01101101 01101001 01101110 01110101 01110100 01100101 01110011 00101110

Waiting by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 15, 2011

eBirdseed Streaming Bird Cam Update, and About that Contest...

Hi,

Well, the old eBirdseed.com streaming cam isn't looking so hot right now...

scrn shot_2011-11-09_133916.jpg

Time to make a change... Granted, the window could use some washing, and the sun wasn't cooperating, but still... The cam is focused on a now-vacant hummingbird feeder, and where's the fun in that? No, it's time to get a cam outdoors. The problem of course is to get video 'out there' without destroying it. Here are my concerns:

  • I need a good housing that will stand up to a drenching or two (or three... or...) At the same time, it will also have to endure countless blizzards. In that respect, I'm leaning towards my previous 'mailbox solution' -- modifying a standard mailbox and using that as a housing. The problem is that I'm not in the mood for setting up a thermostatically controlled enclosure. On the other hand, I'm not about to sacrifice our Logitech 9000 Pro either.
  • The USB extension cable may not be designed for elements -- that would dictate shielding it in PVC pipe and burying it... Yech.
  • Then there's always the issue of the mount itself... Do I want to go through the hassle of making a long-lasting mount for a short-lived project?
So here's the plan Stan... I rummaged through Amazon, and found their most popular/ cheapest Web cam (~$4.50 inc. S&H) and ordered two. They'll just be plopped on top of a tripod and see how they deal with the cold. (No rain or snow...) Sometimes, science isn't pretty.

Onward... About that pesky $195 contest... I'm 99% sure that I know what I want to do, but the problem is that it's insanely simple and at the same time terribly offputting. The person who sets aside the intimidating and deals with the problem can solve in less than one minute. The individual who freaks at things that look scary will walk away disheartened. Probably the best way to handle this is simply to work as a team... You need someone who can solve problems by thinking outside of the box snicker snack...

Next time, the contest... Be ready...

By the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 11, 2011

Finishing Unfinished Business

Hi,

Back around my 800th post, I mentioned that I wanted to do something special for the event... I never did. That got me to thinking about other things I've promised along the way and never followed up on. (Yeah, I know... I finished off that last sentence with a preposition... tough.) Anywho, here are two projects that go unresolved: the streaming eBirdseed.com Web cam refinements, and that pesky encryption contest from long ago... One thing at a time...

First, here's a screen shot from our streaming Web cam mid-day.

scrn shot_2011-11-09_133916.jpg

Not very exciting is it? The original plan was to house the cam in some sort of protective enclosure outside (see the link above), but that sort of fell by the wayside... Maybe it's time to re-visit that idea... The first step is to find the acceptable operating temperatures for the camera (a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000). Bummer that the Logitech manual and site doesn't have that info; I put in a tech request for same. We'll see.

Next up... that nasty old data encryption/decryption contest... Truth be told, it really isn't that nasty, and offers tremendous insight into the ease of data encryption. (Whether or not you know it, you're probably using some form of data encryption as you read this -- your banking, credit cards, and medical records all use this stuff.) Anyway, all it takes to win this is a brief bit of learning and then doggedness... Alright... Your silence (and the silence of those who read two other blogs) concerning this contest has been deafening. So, it's now closed... I need to simplify the contest, and at the same time change the rules and prizes. How about this? I can boil it down to a 30 second solution, change the rules as to who can enter (previous winners will be allowed), and up the ante on the prize. Let me mull it over... But in the meantime, here is the single lump sum prize for that future lone winner...

  • Black Oil Sunflower - 10 lb - $24.19
  • Cracked Corn - 4 lb - $14.02
  • In Shell Peanuts - 6 lb - $28.50
  • Large Striped Sunflower - 4 lb - $17.98
  • Nyjer - 20 lb - $47.48
  • Peanut Pieces - 5 lb - $19.55
  • Safflower - 7.5 lb - $22.04
  • White Millet - 10 lb - $21.40

Total Retail Value: $195.16 delivered right to your door in the continental U.S. only... (Value may vary with supply.)

Now there's something to ponder...

Tidying up by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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May 4, 2011

eBirdseed.com FaceBook Page and Pizza Contest Winner

HI,

A couple of things you might find handy...

First, expect an upgrade to the ebirdseed.com FaceBook page... We'll let you know when the upgrade happens, but expect sooner vs. later...

Now, about that New York City style pizza contest...

New%20York%20Pizza.jpg

Yeah... That pizza contest... We most definitely have a winner! Thank you Jefe for the following, and rest assured that your prize shall be well placed...

Just saw this. I spent about 4 years landlocked in the midwest. The end of that sojourn culminated in construction of Gypsy (the model there, the real thing once I was coastal again.)

Anyway, I could never find the NY style pizza I liked and spent a ton of time researching, experimenting, etc. I spent a lot of time reading on pizzamakingforum.com

There are a couple really basic things that I found made a pretty big difference in terms of quality for me.

The first was using "raw" sauce. Canned tomatoes in a blender - experiment with seasonings (salt, pepper, thyme, basil, "italian seasoning", garlic powder, onion powder etc) and also the time interval between blending with seasoning and using . Not using already cooked tomato sauce (home-made or in a jar) was a huge first step.

Second was cooking on a really hot stone. Some of the people on the other forum advocated a proprietary product called fibrament (I think). I ended up getting a piece of cordierite on clearance from a kiln supply company online. This is the same material bakers pride uses in the deck of their commercial ovens. These are the only kinds of ovens I ever saw in "real NY Pizza" places. And using the oven as hot as you can get it. Some people take this seriously (disable the locking latch and cook using the cleaning cycle!)

Third was cold fermenting the dough (in the fridge; experimenting between 2-7 days). I used King Arthur bread flour (blue bag) (Also, Google Jeff Varasano.)

Fourth was buying bulk mozzarella, pre-shredded (Sam's Club or somewhere where you get more of a wholesale type product.) This somehow always turned out better than buying a block or bag of polly-o from the grocery store and grating it myself (or buying a small bag of shredded from a grocery store). I also have experimented with fresh mozz for more of a Neopolitan.

Since moving back to where I can get NY style, I haven't done much of this lately.

Now... Where is that pizza stone, and just how hot can I safely heat the oven???

Cooking in the kitchen that looks out on the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 19, 2011

Streaming Cam and Looming Post Number 700

Hi,

First... Thought you might enjoy the following screen shot...

resized_new streaming cam.jpg

Yup... That's from our new, free, streaming Web cam. In case you don't remember, the last one - a small analog unit - fell victim to a local computer problem. (As I've mentioned umpteen times, CapeCodAlan's computers are not on the eBirdseed.com network. No matter what happens to me, all orders on eBirdseed.com are completely secure.) Anywho, the image above is typical for our new rig. Can't wait until Spring and we get the chance to get up close and personal with hummingbirds. Still can't decide whether or not to build/buy an external housing; time may well be a deciding factor.

Onward...

Hey, this is post number 685... Before you know it, we'll have 700 entries (and over 1,000 library photographs, 30,000+ cam visitations, 800+ comments, etc...) So what do we do to celebrate? Let's see... I'm pretty sure that eBirdseed.com has already got the "Lobsters-and-Bunny-Babes-for-CCA-Alaskan-Cruise" covered, so that's off the table... I don't know... How about a contest? A new, and very different contest... Something that you'll not only feel comfortable entering, but also feel comfortable winning...

Time to ponder... Ideas? Bueller?

See you by the feeders,

Me...


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December 25, 2010

Nat, Cam Update, and Turkey Buzz Kill

Hi,

Well, Merry Christmas to you all! (I know that that salutation may not be politically correct for some, but tough!) Here's the great Nat King Cole... (Did you know that he was an exceptional pianist before he became a vocalist? On the keyboard, Nathanial Adams Coles was comfortable with both jazz and classical music.)

Onward...

As I mentioned in the last post, the trick in getting the new cam outdoors is to keep it dry and warm/cool. Here's what I've got so far...

resized_mailbox as cam housing.JPG

No, the main shelter is not a Quonset hut, but instead a mailbox. (And no, we do not receive our snail mail in the mailbox on our deck - that one is reserved for small gardening tools.) Anywho, I hope the drawing speaks for itself, but the idea is to bore two holes in a standard mailbox - one at the end which will be sealed by glass for the cam, and the other in the bottom that will allow a jar-mounted light bulb/fan to keep the thing warm/cool. I'm still mulling over the wiring and mounting details, though those don't worry me terribly... The other option is to simply buy an outdoor security camera housing; that too would bring the project in on budget. Hmmm... For a sneak peek of the indoors experimental version, go here to see the live streaming video in action. (Sorry about the commercials - understandably, UStream has to find a way to make money.)

Lastly, there comes those buzz kill turkeys... Jeez Louise, just when you have the backyard just a little tamed, the turkeys discover how to perch on top of the feeder and raid it to oblivion...

resized_turkey on feeder ustream_2010-12-25_105550.jpg

And here's a clearer shot...

good resized Turkey on top of feeder_IMG_1683.JPG

Geez... I wonder what's for Christmas dinner???

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. the "Word Search Contest" is now closed... Harry, we'll think of something... More on that later...


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December 21, 2010

Birds, Storm, New Cam, Contest, and the Holiday Gifts...

Hi,

Man, have we got a lot to cover... Let's get cracking!

I guess I can group the first two subjects as one: birds and our latest Cape Cod storm... As you can probably tell just by their demeanor, the birds were none too keen on our surprise storm...

resized_dec 2010 noreaster turkeys and crows.jpg

And speaking of storm, here's the backyard...

resized_dec 2010 noreaster_back yard_IMG_1645.jpg

And our trellis...

resized_dec 2010 noreaster_trellis_IMG_1644.jpg

Alrighty then... Do you remember just a few days ago, I thought (that is, trusted the weather forecasters) that this storm was going to swing out to sea... Not so much. Truth be told, we got about four to six inches of the wet, heavy muck and suffered four brownouts. Oh goody...

On a much more cheerful note, our new cam (below) arrived... Meet the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000. As the photo shows, it looks to be your standard webcam... I'll have to play some games to get it streaming live (not to mention the watertight, heated/vented housing), but all looks doable. Stay tuned for updates.

resized_New logitech_9000_IMG_1664.JPG

Now, about our word search contest... It's been brought to my attention by more folks than I care to think about, that people are simply reluctant to enter any contest for fear of being spammed, junk mailed, or pestered at home... Fair enough. About a year ago, the wife and I donated to a political party and have been hounded ever since. I really don't know how to speak to this issue except to offer the following company statement:

This Web site does not utilize cookies which request any personal information or collect any information that personally identifies you or allows you to be personally contacted. The only cookies used simply aid the checkout process. The only personal information gathered is your shipping and billing information which is not stored unless you create an account. We do not share any personal information with any third parties.

Finally, with your security and sanity in mind, let me informally offer this simple word of advice when it comes to buying a gift to the "un-giftable". Just buy an eBirdseed.com gift certificate. (And no, the boss didn't put me up to this - this is from the heart.) Just buy a gift certificate. Feeding the birds is a good thing and you won't have to fight the mall.

There! I'm done for now...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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December 14, 2010

Bristling Crow, Jumping Turkey

Hi,

Guess the title pretty much says it all...

and...

It's interesting to note the crow's behavior in the presence of the ominous turkeys - he is clearly miffed. In essence, the crow behaves the same as our cat Toby when he is frustrated - he turns his back on the problem, bristles, and gripes. (Sound familiar?)

As for the jumping turkey... Well, all indications are that turkeys just aren't that bright. While they seem to like bread, and know where it's located, they just can't seem to put two and two together to reach four. I know for a fact that gobblers can easily perch on that open feeder, they just don't have the intellectual horsepower (EQ) to make it happen... I've always known turkeys were idiots from the time I saw a posse of the beasts try to make a running attack on a UPS truck.

I keep telling you... Someone ought to sell tickets...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. I've decided to close the word search contest on my Christmas post... Better get cracking!


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December 8, 2010

When Good Planning Goes Bad

Hi,

Right off the bat, let this be an object lesson on how not to execute a plan. It doesn't matter whether you're landscaping, setting up bird feeders, building a birdhouse, building a boat, or sending a probe to Mars - this is how you don't make it happen...

Alrighty then... Take a look at the shot below... See that circled "A"? That is where the vertical shelf support meets the bottom of the top of the carcase. So far, so good... The mechanism that marries these two structural components is a "cleat" - a block of wood that is glued and screwed to the backside/underside of both. Now obviously, the cleat has to be bored, countersunk, and permanently attached to the vertical piece ASAP - that is, one can't affix the cleat to the bottom of the top, and then expect to drill/countersink in the dark, cramped, overhead nether regions behind letter "A".

front of hutch after disaster_400_IMG_1584.JPG

Ummm... Take a look at the photo below - that's a mirror pic of those very nether regions with a couple of screws (circled) hobbled into the cleat. And why were they hobbled in you ask? Because I anchored the cleat before I prepped its backside, that's why. (I heard that snicker...)

inside of hutch after disaster_400_IMG_1582.JPG

Solution? Get the cleat glued in place, let the glue cure, back out one screw at a time, and then use the 10lb beast below to countersink etc. (I included the Bud can for two reasons: First, I wanted to give give some scale, and secondly, it was a tip of the hat to my late dad and the original owner of the tool - he liked Budweiser.)

hole hog_400_IMG_1583.JPG

When all is said and done, the hutch is fine, but let this be a cautionary tale... In 1999, NASA lost a Mars orbiter when it crashed due to a confusion over the use of metric vs. English units. It's one thing to know something, and entirely another to actually execute the idea appropriately. Happy building...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Contest...


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December 4, 2010

Blog is Back, but the eBirdseed Streaming Cam is Not... Future Projects

Hi,

They say a picture tells a thousand words. The next two probably say more.

FINAL_RIP_cropped_IMG_1571_400.JPG

and

FINAL_final ebirdeed cam view count.jpg

You probably can't read the number in the lower Camstreams shot, but it shows that our little live cam had 29,260 views in its 2+ year lifespan. There was a lot of innocent, free fun there. But no more. Last week, CapeCodAlan (not eBirdseed.com) got slammed with some sort of email virus or worm. To make an excruciatingly long story short, all my email contacts were spammed and my Internet connectivity was cooked. (The fact that my ISP, Comcast crashed, at the same time may or may not have played a role in this.) As a result, I've had to torque up my AV and firewall settings to new heights which unfortunately croaks the cam. Deep sigh... I really don't know what to say about this... How do you speak to the subject of gutless weasels who raid other people's mailboxes... who have no more professional acumen than to pilfer innocents' IDs. Sad, sad, sad...

But life goes on... Here's is the top of the hutch as it stands now. (The clamps and sticks are securing the quarter-round molding to the upper inner back of the carcase while the glue dries...)

spring boards_400_IMG_1574.JPG

And then there's the infamous mailbox birdhouse(s). Finally, rest assured that another (and better) streaming cam will soon be coming to a blog near you. :)

See you by the resilient feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. I'm telling you, there's a contest just waiting for a winner...


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November 30, 2010

Heidegger's Crow Feeder

Hi,

About four bazillion years ago, I was an all too brief philosophy major. (I made it through the 19th century, then slammed into Sartre et al and went sniveling back to the university registrar to change my major.) But one thing that did stick (I think), was Heidegger's ideas on the philosophy of thought (epistemology). I believe it was in his book, "Being and Time" that he suggested that for any given issue or problem, the essence of thinking is the stripping away of the esoteric, convenient, comfortable, and instead grappling with the most intrinsic - i.e. not what we want to think, or even what we believe should be thought, but rather what is most "think-worthy"*.

Still awake? Wow... Anywho... It's with that om wafting in the back, that I approach the "right now" problem of seagulls raiding the crow feeder (or any danged feeder they can get to for that matter.) This has to stop. Where the crows peacefully co-exist with, and even protect the smaller birds, the gulls are simply bulldozers. So how to stop them? Everything from a flying comfy pillow to starvation has crossed our minds, but I think Heidegger nailed it... What is unique about crows and seagulls and what is different? Well, crows are smaller, they have oscine feet (great for perching), and are highly intelligent. Gulls are huge, have larus (webbed) feet, and quite frankly aren't all that bright. So how about this??? A smaller feeder that crows can still use, surrounded by a perch wire, and if need be, only accessible by a foot trigger or "key". (No "key push" means the door doesn't open and the food remains inaccessible.)

rough drawing.JPG

It would be a relatively easy build, and would give the gulls fits... On the other hand, if the seagulls watch the crows, and learn how to balance and use the "key" to open the feeder door, they may be closer to Heidegger than I thought... Hmmm...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

* And what did Martin think was the most "thought-worthy" subject for humanity??? He suggested that the fact that we're still not thinking takes the prize.

P.S... Contest still open...


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November 28, 2010

Changing Dynamic in the Backyard

Hi,

Some time ago, one of our readers asked that I (we) spend more time exploring bird behavior, and I think we've taken a fair shot at that request. But something is starting to happen that just gives me the creeps (again...) Lately, whenever we put out food for the crows, the seagulls have shown up, chased off the crows, and simply ravaged the feeders. Here's an old photo that shows the sheer size of the brutes...

resized_P1010011.JPG

Size wise, they make a corvid look insignificant...

But here's where it all gets truly freaky. Mrs. CCA pointed out that so long as the crows put a cease and desist on their "feed me" cacophony, the gulls pay no attention, and the tray remains unmolested. Pretty clever on the part of the crows, no? Now stop and think about it for a moment... If the crows can't call, how will they tell me that they're hungry? Very simple... They've taken to either knocking on the front door, or swooping by the windows. (I couldn't make this stuff if I tried.)

I'm not sure whether I'm flattered, being manipulated, being initiated, or just warming up for the Alcoa head gear. (Thank heavens that Mrs. CCA has seen most of this behavior... At least if I have to break out the ol' aluminum foil hat, I'll have to do it in the plural.)

Really, I'm at a loss... Who is really pulling the strings here? Where most backyard birders become emotionally attached to their "flock", I've become intellectually engaged with my fellow murder members... Who knows what's next?

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. You know... We have this contest...


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November 26, 2010

Mega-Crow vs. Octo-Turkey; plus a Shovel-Ready Pie Project

Remember the movie West Side Story? Two gangs, alike in dignity... the Sharks vs. the Jets? Well, we're re-enacting our own avian version of the story, only this time the gangs are the Turkeys and the Crows.

As regular readers of this blog know, we have long had a feeder tray out in the back of our yard, specifically for the crows. We regularly put food scraps out on the tray, and the crows know it's for them; in fact they get highly indignant when the squirrels or the smaller birds dare encroach on their territory. Plus, they'll let CapeCodAlan know in no uncertain terms when it's time to put out more food.

resized_IMG_1192.JPG
The turkeys on the other hand, are similar to an all-you-can-eat horde of locusts, who pass through the yard devouring everything in their path, hoovering up every bit of birdseed on the ground, leaving none left for the more sedate groundfeeders like the cardinals and the doves.

The crows and the turkeys have enjoyed an uneasy truce for the past year; the turkeys have the edge in size and brute strength, but the crows hold the high ground of the feeder tray, enjoying pride of position--until recently, that is.

Just last week, the turkeys discovered that there is actually food on that tray!

resized_turkey on crow feeder_IMG_1517.JPG
It remains to be seen whether the crows can regain their territory. We'll let you know if there's a rumble scheduled any time soon...

On a more mundane note, as a real shovel-ready project, I made a feast for Thanksgiving which included a pumpkin cream pie, which CapeCodAlan says is the best pie he's ever had. Now I'm no Pioneer Woman, but that is praise indeed!

pumpkin cream pie.jpg
It was, however, the Pioneer Woman who provided the recipe and says of the finished product:
"[This] is a pumpkin pie I can really get behind. It's adapted from a recipe found in my mom's infamous recipe binder, and really does provide the best of both worlds: the scrumptious, seasonal flavor of pumpkin and the decadence of cream. "
And really, who could ask for more than that?

Alan and I both hope you had a very joyful Thanksgiving.

See you by the feeders, waiting for the rumble!
Mrs. CapeCodAlan

P.S. 'Tis the season to win a contest...


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November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Bah Humbug!

Hi,

Well, a heartfelt and Happy Thanksgiving to you! (Yeah, the rest of this post is going right downhill from here.)

Did I ever mention that I don't like birthdays or holidays? Oh, there's nothing like a little time off, and yes, we should be thankful for things and acknowledge loved ones. That's fine. But that doesn't forgive the orgy of food, football, or excessive drink that accompanies holidays like Thanksgiving. Be honest... of the millions of Americans out there today stuffed to the gills, buzzed to the nines, and screaming at their juiced jocks on TeeVee, how many are inwardly thinking, "Geez, I'm sure thankful for Aunt Ezmeralda!" Exactly...

{O.k., so I'm of bad humor. (Welcome to my world.) My birthday was a few days ago, and on a whim, Mrs. CCA suggested that I check the expiration date on my driver's license.

Surprise!

expired_resized.JPG

After a joyous experience at the DMV (and a lousy eye test that even a hawk couldn't pass), I am legal once again... Grumble... As "Fed Ex Carl" would say, "But I digress." Back to the holidays...}

I don't know... It just seems that that old saw about the superficiality of the holidays is ringing all too true. (Though if you're reading this, odds are that you're into nature and have a clue.) You know what? If I were King of America for a day - this day - I'd send out an immediate edict ordering all to stop gorging, turn off the TeeVee, sober up, and think about what's most important to them for just an hour - just an hour of quiet somber thought and thankfulness.

But for the most part, that's not going to happen, and most of us know it. There will be the "light" version of the lip service, and then off to the debauchery... As I was saying, "Bah Humbug!" (And why isn't the DMV open 24 hrs and serving drinks?)

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

There's a contest just a waiting with no strings attached...


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November 4, 2010

Turkey Attack!

Yeah, go ahead and yuck it up... Well, it isn't funny. (See this NPR piece.) After all, these are large birds.

pack of turkeys resized_IMG_1214.JPG

Here's what happened... I went out to put some old bread on the crow tray and was greeted by six turkeys. Being always prepared, I carried the oft mentioned "Comfy Cushion of Doom" - a simple lawn chair cushion I've used in the past to scare the things away. Not so much today... They simply circled me and then tried to implement a "peck-and-run" strategy. As soon as I would fend off one, another would go for my flank. (Do you remember the velociraptors in the movie "Jurassic Park?) As I said before, this is not funny. I was surrounded by six, belligerent, 20lb animals with five foot wingspans, each with a brain the size of a raisin. True, after a few charges, they decided to move on, but they made a fair attempt at ruining my day.

Upshot? The wife and I will still walk around our property in safety... anytime we want. Period. We'll do our very best to convince animals that we're the benevolent alphas, but one way or the other, we will remain the alphas. If the turkeys lose their fear of the cushions, then I'll move on to Frisbees. And if they still want to attack, there's always the garden hose or worse.

Not fooling around by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Don't forget the word search contest! A feeder would make a fine gift!


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November 1, 2010

Buzz Kill

Hi,

Sorry about my lack of post over the last few days - the attempted bombing kind of knocked me for a loop... I was going to write about the effects of digital photography on the masses and how those effects reverberate throughout the art world. Heck... I even had a semi-respectable picture...

resized with nut_DSC_0076.JPG

But the near-miss terrorist attack put me off my feed... (Here's the deal, I have a background in engineering, technology, and weaponry - I won't go into the details because it would bore you to tears, but I know what I'm talking about.) Bluntly, Friday's failed attempt(s) were too derned close... The explosive du jour was PETN - one of the world's most powerful... The big question is, "What will happen when fanatics and flat-out loons keep acquiring the ever-advancing and ever-more-ubiquitous technologies?"

I wish I had an answer for you, or had more to say, but I really don't. I do though have a few rhetorical questions:

  • Do we really believe Aum Shinrikyo, Jonestown, and 9/11 are the end or even the worst?
  • It's 11/2/10... Do our politicians understand what we're really facing?
  • Has the world seen its last mushroom cloud and if not will the nuke be fired in anger or by mistake, and by whom?
Told you that this would be a buzz kill. But last Friday we got extraordinarily lucky (as we did with the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber and the Times Square bomber...) How much longer will our luck hold out?

Sometimes there are events that push birding to background.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. On a happier note, there's always our word search contest...

P.P.S. This just in... Four mail bombs explode in Greece.


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October 29, 2010

650th Post

649.jpg

Hi,

Yup, this is my 650th post. I was going to name it the "Sexcentennial-Plus-Quinquagenary Post", but I figured the title alone would be a turn off. Then I thought "650th Jubilee", but given yesterday's (terrorist) events the word, "Jubilee" seems way out of line. That led me to write a poli-sci piece, but that was unfitting for this blog. Sooo... For the moment, here's Mrs. CCA to display and discuss her carved bird collection. (If the demand is there, I'll get back to the terrorists later.)

Mrs. CCA here. It's appropriate on the occasion of CapeCodAlan's 650th post to share a few of our favorite birds--not the outdoor ones, but the indoor ones. Some of these you may have seen before, and some, not. Just in case you're interested, here's a bit about some of our favorites, and how you can find similar ones.

bobwhite.JPG

This photo shows two of our miniature birds carved by Canadian decoy maker John Gervers . One is a marsh wren, and the other is, oddly enough, a roadrunner. You can't tell from this photo how small they really are, but both birds are charming. Then we have a primitive bob-white by Massachusetts carver Will Kirkpatrick. Mr. Kirkpatrick continues to do beautiful work in Hudson, MA. Then there's the wonderful Delft tile of a flying goose, which I picked up at an antiques show here on Cape Cod.

bufflehead_resized.JPG

Here we have two real actual decoys by Cape Cod carver John Mulak of Yarmouth. The one on the left is a bufflehead, and the one on the right is a blue-winged teal. Both are fairly old, but in beautiful condition. If you're lucky, you may be able to find some of his work at decoy auctions in the Northeast. The third small duck is in fact a porcelain Herend figurine, and while the green ones are difficult to find, Geary's has a decent collection of this duck in other colors. Pricey (because they're embellished with 24k gold!) but sweet.

warbler.JPG

Last but certainly not least, we have a set of three shorebirds perched on a piece of driftowood, with no maker's mark at all. But just because they are unbranded doesn't mean we don't love them--they're full of character! And we have a lovely Kentucky warbler carved by another Yarmouth man, Fred Schmelke. Mr. Schmelke was a local high school shop teacher, who turned a profession into a hobby which then turned into a new profession! His birds are available each year when the South Yarmouth United Methodist Church has its annual summer fair. I've bought birds from Mr. Schmelke at the fair for three years running now, and each year, his carvings are better!

So that's a show of some of our favorite birds. Why don't you all share some photos of your best "indoor" birds?

See you by the feeders for another 650 and counting...

CapeCodAlan and Mrs. CapeCodAlan

Contest: Word search...


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October 27, 2010

Turkey, Nuthatch, Nag-o-Meter

Hey,

Check this out...

resized tirkkey on deck railing_IMG_1327.JPG I included the old storage mailbox to provide perspective... No matter how many times I see these puppies, I'm still struck with the "Velociraptor Nature" of the beasts. (By the way, take a look at this piece concerning velociraptors and birds...)

On the more diminutive front, have a Red-breasted Nuthatch... Quite cute...

resized_ red breasted nuthatch_IMG_1343.JPG

The feeders were unusually active today... No doubt the smaller residents were charging their batteries for the upcoming nasty weather.

And suddenly, the "Nag-o-Meter" goes off the scales!!! Yes, just like the turkeys and the nuthatches, you should be bracing your feeders for the winter. I'm sorry... I'm being as gentle as I can be. But feathers big and small are depending on you to clean things up and make all back 40 copacetic. I've found that if the yard is in order, and plans are in place for the inevitable snows, all will be fine. (I still have to figure out how I'll dig my way to the feeders this year... but not to borrow trouble... at least not yet.)

See you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan

P.S. And speaking of nagging... What about that word search contest?


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October 15, 2010

Zooming IE, Mulch, Spiders, Etc.

Hi,

Before we get started, I should mention the obvious and then offer a simple solution. To wit, about the "puniness" of the chest drawing in the last post... True, it is puny, but you can zoom the IE/Firefox display simply by holding down the "Ctrl" key and hitting the "+" key. Try it... To reset the display, just do a "Ctrl 0". That should make the crude drawing usable and keep you sane at the same time.

Back to the birds, or more accurately, the yard...

resized_mulch_1.JPG

-and-

resized_autumn trellis_1.JPG

While the shots above may not look earth shattering, for us there's been a significant change; I added mulch around the footings of the feeders. The idea being that the grass there had long since been worn/scratched away (and seed remnants took its place), and that a new venue was called for. Besides... perhaps the area won't be so muddy during the soaking times. We'll see what happens, but already the ground feeders seem to disapprove.

But that leads us into a touchy subject for me - spiders. Quite simply they scare the Hades out of me. We're talking phobia here. Oh, I don't freak over the daddy long legs types, but those big honkin' (1"+ diam.) black suckers absolutely blow my mind. (I once took a BB gun to a 2" wolf spider in my living room.) Anyway, back to the mulch for just a moment... I was lifting old bags of the stuff when surprise! Looks like I interrupted a nasty-spider house party. Woo hoo! I was already nursing my annual "back spasm boogie", but that didn't stop me from performing a near-perfect 9.8 "Ricochet Rabbit Head Smash" against our 9' garage ceiling. As soon as I landed, I stomped one of the brutes straight into the Shadows of Glory, and I know another galloped off into the flotsam and jetsam that is our still-being-cleaned garage... But after that things get blurry and I probably suffered a convulsive, arachnid loss of consciousness. (I don't mind killing spiders, I just mind getting close enough to them to kill them. Do you see?)

The upshot of all this? We've got mulch under the feeders, the garage is cleaner, and Mrs. CCA is going to ride shotgun for the rest of the car stall revitalization. (And I do mean shotgun!)

See you by the feeders,

P.S. Word search contest

CapeCodAlan


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October 14, 2010

Projects

Hi,

All kinds of project-related stuff tonight... Let's see... First up is a pile of hobby in the waiting...

finished_projects_waiting_resized_IMG_1254.JPG

  • The inlay curio table is almost done and only needs the tender loving care of a honking big fastener, a bit more inlay, thickened epoxy, and a finish coat.
  • The mailbox/birdhouse too is pretty much fait accompli. I figure I can mount that on a 10' tabernacle mast and sink the steps in a large sonotube. That will be a blast...
  • But what of the "fleur de lis"? Should we wait until I build a shed? Perhaps when we open the kitchen into the dining area? Or should we just stick the thing on a pike and jab it into the garden???
And then there's the hutch... Attaching the top carcase to the bottom had turned into a bug-a-boo. See below...

Hutch top needs to be secured to hutch bottom_resized_IMG_1256.JPG

The problem had to do with the long screws that would rise from the underside of the top of the bottom carcase into the posts of the top cabinet. Unfortunately, the internal lower workins' (cleats) got in the way and would split for sure... The solution was the old boatbuilding trick of gluing (or sistering) a block to the cleat to reinforce...

sister and cleat finished IMG_1258.JPG

Lastly, there are these...

wide boards resized IMG_1265.JPG

The "youngest" of those boards is 100 years; the oldest is probably 300 years... (Note the ruler on the first piece - that's 12" marked in black.) I've fussed over the latter for three decades and probably have one more to go. Years ago I spotted an old chest in a local restaurant and took appropriate measurements...

final 415 brax chest with bottom corrected.jpg

I've started building with the "newest" of my antique stock, though the crude "napkin" drawing and modern boards will probably do ya'...

Just fun projects to think about and then really mull over...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. And the contest waits...


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September 20, 2010

Hawk Kills Squirrel

resized_hunter_coopers_P1010007.JPG

Well, I thought I'd at least start this post on an upbeat note... The Coopers hawk above certainly is a beautiful thing... Unfortunately, one staked out our yard yesterday, and the crows (try as they might) couldn't drive the creature away. (For a moment, the hawk actually attacked the crows - not pretty.) The upshot of it all was that "Don the Squirrel" got munched. (One of the reasons we feed the crows and the squirrels is to keep the predators away from our song birds. This time the strategy worked all too gruesomely.) So, Mrs. CCA discovered the half eaten remains just 15' from our front door. It seems that the hawk is less than secretive when it comes to dining.

Occasionally, I get emails from people asking, "How can I keep away hawks?" or, "How can I keep away crows?" or, "How can I keep away squirrels?" And about the best I can do is to echo the status quo with the usual hollow suggestions about making noise, keeping the feeders close to shrubbery, plastic owls, etc. But when truth be told, there really isn't much one can do... When you feed wild birds, you enter the wild, even if in a limited way. The wife and I made the decision to support sacrificial creatures like chipmunks and squirrels as a way of keeping our birds as safe as possible. Still, it's all too easy to become attached to the sacrificial ones as well... Until the hawk decides to move on... It's a hard world out there...

Somber by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Don't forget our word search contest!


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September 14, 2010

Four Birding Topics...

Alrighty then... We have our work cut out for us, so let's cut right to the chase...

  • First, don't forget our word search puzzle contest! I'm tellin' ya', there's a nice tube feeder with your name on it just waiting.
  • Next up is the nearly miraculous flight of crows through a narrow line of trees... We all do it all the time - we all look at stuff, but sometimes we just don't "see" it. Consider the shot below...

    Crow starting to fly between trees_resized_IMG_0808.JPG

    Notice anything funky about that photograph? I'll give you a hint... The wingspan of the crow is wider than the span between the trees it's about to encounter. Obviously, the creature only has four options:

    • Stop... (Not likely!)
    • Suffer a tree hit... (I've never seen that happen.)
    • Tilt sideways like a TIE fighter... (No, the corvid doesn't do that, though crows are capable of ballet-type flight.)
    • Hold straight-and-level and retract his (or her) wings at just the right moment so as to "squeeze" between the trunks... And that's exactly what the little rascal does. The momentary loss of lift causes a slight dip in the normally flat flight pattern. Still, even laden with a hunk of old stromboli, disaster averted.
  • Thirdly... Every so often we get a small deluge of grackles or robins. Today the "rain" consisted of grackles...

    grackle rain_resized_IMG_0815.JPG

    Who knows why this happens, but it sure has a Hitchcock "feel".

  • And last but not least, take a good look at the photo above... Notice how the squirrel blends right in? (Here is an earlier image with the squirrel highlighted...)

    red circle_grackles with squirrel_resized_IMG_0813.JPG

So much for the theory that birds fear squirrels. (My guess is that so long as there's enough food, everyone is happy.)

And on that upbeat note...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 8, 2010

eBirdseed Word Search Puzzle Contest

UPDATE: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED!!! Time for a new contest! Where to begin? Last time we left off, the "Gipper" was kicking backsides and taking names. But it's time for a new contest. This time, a word search might be fun! Details...

What do you win? Well, this would be an excellent time for that new tube thistle feeder. How about something like the K-7G Deluxe Thistle Feeder?

k_7G delux thistle feeder_ resized_2010-09-08_223649.jpg

(eBirdseed.com reserves the right to replace the winning prize shown with one of an equal or higher value depending on available supply.)

And what is the word search puzzle you ask? Why, here it is now...

contest with no answers_cropped_2010-09-08_165922.JPG
Yeah, yeah... Now for the rules...
  • You need to find 10 words in the puzzle, each of which are five or more characters long. Those words cannot contain: contractions, abbreviations, acronyms, obscenities, possessive form, hyphenated words, slang, etc... However, if you look carefully, you might just find the last name of one of the world's greatest living bird experts... then again, maybe not. And, there might even be a non-bird word in there... then again, maybe not. (To quote the legendary Bugs Bunny, "Ain't I a stinker?")
  • Puzzle solutions must be sent to capecodalan@ebirdseed.com along with a valid return email address. The first correct one received wins. (For the sake of sanity, please give me directions to the first character of each solution word such as, "Over 12 and down 3 from the top left.")
  • Employees and their immediate families are ineligible.
  • The decisions of eBirdseed.com concerning contest rules and the winner are final.
  • This contest is not open to those who've won in the last 30 days. (Gee whiz Harry, I just checked your last win... You missed this contest by a day or two... Maybe you should have a confab with your neighbor!)
  • Only those in the continental U.S. may enter.
  • eBirdseed.com will provide the prize and pay for the cost of shipping.
See you by those etymological feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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August 10, 2010

Contest Winner and Answers to Video Questions

Hi all,

First of all, hats off to Harry "Gipper" Morris for winning our latest contest... There were three questions:

  • What was the 37th state to join the U.S. union?
  • In what year did that state join the union?
  • And what is that state's bird?
And the answers were/are:
  • Nebraska
  • 1867
  • Western Meadowlark
For his effort, Harry receives a $60 "Squirrel Buster Plus" feeder and a round of applause! Well done "Gipper"!

Now, about those pesky video questions... Harry asked the following... (My answers are in blue)

  • Can we talk camera stuff? Absolutely!
  • How much file space does your Flip Video camera use for a 1-minute video? Just the same as yours (I measured...) 35.16 MB. That's an AVI standard. (Do you really want the pixel math?) And if you take 35 MB/min and multiply that by 60 minutes, you get roughly 2 GB, or the standard amount of space on an old Flip cam. If you want HD, you'll need to step up to a 4 GB model. In comparison, my Olympus F-120 movie feature uses 35.0MB. That seems like way too much to be useful in sending to a friend or something. While it's do-able to send huge amounts of video info this way, for the "Average Joe" there's a better way... Save the vid to the computer, edit it in something like Windows Movie Maker, and save it as a WMV file. (More below.)
  • I saw the prices of the Flip Videos HD, 2nd generation cameras, and their prices have come down a way from last year. Ah, the dilemma of technology... When is "good enough" priced right before becoming obsolete?
  • Still thinking about buying one. Lot's of questions about how to use it, programs, transfer files, etc. I'd highly recommend the purchase. Understand that there is a sharp learning curve, especially if you're not comfortable with drives and folders, importing files, etc. It's not that it's terribly difficult, but it is foreign.
Now... About transferring large video files. As mentioned above, programs like Windows Movie Maker can compress the video by a factor of five to ten into a WMV file. The difference being that AVI files are really meant for hard drive storage and WMV files are more tailored to the Web and streaming. Still, WMVs hold their own...

But the real beauty is that a free service such as sendspace will let you upload your 30 minute WMV file (300 MB max), and then you can give your friends access to the download information. Granted, it takes a bit of time, but it works... Slick aye?

Congrats again to Harry!

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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Beautiful Female Mallard and End of Contest... But...

UPDATE: Contest closed... We have a winner! See next post!!!

Hi,

First the duck...

400_EXCELLENT female mallard duck with feet under water.JPG

Is that stunning or what? We like the "below-the-waterline" feet. Once we really figure out what we're doing with our new camera, we could be downright dangerous.

Onward...

Well, our video contest ended without even an entry. Bummer. No great surprise really... Many folks are still uncomfortable with video, video editing, and stuff like YouTube. Add to that the stifling heat, and... Well, there you go. Not a problem... But... Here's the next contest, same prize as before - a $60 "Squirrel Buster Plus" feeder.

prize_re_sized_2010-07-26_013354.jpg

And the contest is this... Answer these three questions: What was the 37th state to join the U.S. union, and in what year? Also what is that state's bird?

Rules?

  • First completely correct answer sent in as a comment wins
  • eBirdseed.com employees and their relatives cannot enter
  • Only entries from the continental U.S. will be valid. eBirdseed.com will pay for prize shipping
  • All decisions by the eBirdseed.com judges will be final

See you by those ever-competitive feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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July 31, 2010

Summer Its Own Self

To me, nothing, but nothing, say summer on Cape Cod like the gorgeous blossoms of the hydrangea bush. The leaves are so lushly green and the bloom heads come in such a variety of colors, ranging from soft pink, through fierce red all the way to the traditional purple-blue; they are such a garden staple and can be seen in nearly every yard Cape-wide. Our two modest bushes are dazzling in their colors and to me they represent the absolute quintessence of a Cape Cod summer.

hydrangea_resized.jpg

And speaking of quintessentially summer stuff, here at Casa CapeCodAlan we are trying a new recipe. Yes, it's summer, so it's an ice cream recipe, and since banana splits are something dear to Alan's heart, we are attempting a recipe for banana split ice cream. The custard has milk, chocolate milk, bananas, strawberries, and crushed pineapple in it, and even though we halved the recipe, it still made a LOT of custard.

In fact, it made so much custard, that I used less than half in the ice cream freezer, but even so...

banana split ice cream overflow_resized.jpg

Yes, the ice cream freezer overflowed. It overflowed by quite a bit. It overflowed like a golden chalice to bright wine, and while we won't be eating it out of golden chalices, we were able to rescue the ice cream, and we're hoping that we were able to clean all the excess from the motor area. I guess we'll know for sure the next time we try to make ice cream, right?

In the meantime, the ice cream is in the freezer, firming up. I'll be back in an hour or so with a report on the finished product. Keep your fingers crossed!

LATER: Well, here goes nothing! We're about to serve it up. Let's see how it goes.

banana split ice cream bowl_resized.jpg

Aaaaand, we have a winner!

See you by those summertime feeders!

Mrs. CapeCodAlan

P.S. And don't forget that video contest!


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July 25, 2010

Osprey and New Contest

Well,

First the osprey... Here is a shot of the bird coming in with a fish to the nest perched atop a 50' cell phone tower. (They don't call them "fish hawks" for nothing.)

Osprey with fish_400_IMG_0138.JPG

And a better look...

Closeup_Osprey with fish_400_IMG_0138.JPG

As best I can tell, that's a very unlucky catfish in the claws. Ouch.

Anyway, lunchtime...

Cropped_Osprey_chick_400_IMG_0173.JPG

uber_cropped_IMG_0173.JPG

Now on to the contest... Here's the deal... Do you remember back when we had our eBirdseed.com photo contest?

Well, it's time for another contest!

Here's the idea... We use your homemade "YouTube" videos as contest content... We're talking backyard bird videos. (Though if your backyard is a field, we'll take that into consideration...) Features such as subject, lighting, focus, video quality, audio, etc. will weigh heavily on the final decision.

Here are the rules:

  • Each entry must be your own original material. Piracy is strictly forbidden! If you didn't create the video from scratch in its entirety, you're disqualified!!!
  • Each entry must be one minute or less in length.
  • Submissions will be YouTube links.
  • Capturing, holding, or harassing of birds is not allowed.
  • eBirdseed.com employees and their relatives cannot enter.
  • eBirdseed.com reserves the right to embed the winning video code in our Web site.
  • Only entries from the continental U.S. will be valid. eBirdseed.com will pay for prize shipping.
  • All decisions by the eBirdseed.com judges will be final.
Mmmm... Let's have the contest run from now until 11:59:59PM, Sunday, August 8, 2010. That will at least give you a couple of weekends to do your best. So break out the "Flip Video" or simple cell phone and have at it.

For all this "Cecil B. originality", what do you get??? How about a $60 "Squirrel Buster Plus" feeder?

prize_re_sized_2010-07-26_013354.jpg

Not bad... Not bad... Can't wait to see the entries...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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October 4, 2008

Contest Winner and a Welcome to Kindle Users

Hi all,

Well, we've got a bunch to talk about today. As the title suggests, we have a contest winner and some new readers who are using the new Kindle - the Amazon.com reading device. But first, here's the contest winner!

Kathy K July 31, 2008 019_Resized to 400.jpg

That shot from Kathy K. of the Rufous just blew us away. You can see the full-size version here.

Congrats to Kathy, and thanks again to all who entered. You can see both the entire collection of entries and the finalists in our eBirdseed.com photo library.

Things to note about the contest:

  • All 53 pictures had true merit. "You guys done good."
  • At least 9 photos were exceptional.
  • The wife and I, the boss, and a professional photographer all had input on the final decision. Kathy's was the one that won general consensus.
  • We were very careful to hide the identities of the entrants. However, if you would like to have your name, photo credit, town, camera used etc. included in the "Description" field with your picture in the library, just use the "Comment" button below and let us know, and we'll take care of that.
So Kathy, keep on the lookout for your prize feeder!

Now, as for you new Kindle folks... Welcome! Where to begin? Obviously, this is primarily a backyard birding blog. (The free library below contains over 1,900 public-domain bird photographs. I apologize beforehand for being a menace to society when holding a camera.) Anyway... Some time ago, I wrote a "Welcome" to the newcomers, and I hope you check it out. Just understand, that while birds are our driving force, this is not your average bird blog.

We look forward to your input, and as always...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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October 1, 2008

Sept. '08 Photo Contest Over!

Photo of prize.jpg So long September and so long to the Sept. '08 eBirdseed.com photo contest. As you can see, the prize is a winner... But who gets it? We have umpteen great entries. But who wins? To speak to this, Mrs. CCA and I have been mulling this over, and I've even traded emails with a pro photographer to get her input (thanks Kathryn!) Let's see... What else?
  • The boss will take a long look
  • Consideration for the typical stuff like context, drama, mechanics, framing, perspective, lighting, etc. will count.
  • And then there's always "that something"
Bottom line? We'll be ruminating by the feeders for a day or two...

CapeCodAlan et al


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September 30, 2008

Hawk Visit

IMG_1534_379_not_bad.JPG

Hi all,

The fellow on the right stopped by yesterday, no doubt to feast upon our birds. (Grrr!) But nature is nature, so we might as well live with it.

But what kind of hawk is that? Well... Let's see... Around here, we usually only have Coopers, Sharp-shinned, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Broad-winged, Rough-legged, and Goshawks.

  • Could it be the Coopers? Maybe. The chest stripes are right... Maybe...
  • How about a Sharp-shinned? Possibly. The head is less blunt than a Coopers.
  • Perhaps a young Red-tailed... Plenty of those around, though the chest markings aren't right.
  • On a long shot it might be a Red-shouldered. Naw... The tail isn't long enough.
  • Broad-winged, or Rough-legged? Doesn't feel right...
So what have we got? It could even be a Merlin, a Kestrel, or even a Peregrine Falcon. I really don't know. If I had to bet, I'd say it's a young Coopers. But I could be very wrong...

Any buteos experts out there?

You know, this is really the fun of backyard birding. We feed the birds in the morning, take a look whenever, and maybe we see something. We mull over our sighting with a friend on the phone or trade emails. It's not a huge deal. Just a colorful thread in the weave that is our lives.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 28, 2008

Bird Cam, Contest, and Chowder Update

birdcam_IMG_1511_415.JPG

Hi all,

The picture above is of our informal eBirdseed.com hummingbird cam (the gray object stuck to the window). Since we put the camera up, we've had over 9,000 views. And that's wonderful when there are hummingbirds around. But the problem is that on Cape Cod now, the hummingbird season is over and the camera pretty much shows bupkis. So what do we do? We could simply replace the hummingbird feeder with a standard feeder and that way see lots of bird action. On the other hand, we could try to do something crazy like enclosing the camera in a waterproof container and running it out to the squirrel feeder. (That would exceed the limits of USB cable length, but would still make for an interesting experiment.) What do you guys think?

Onward... Remember, the eBirdseed.com September '08 bird photography contest is about to end, so enter 'em if you got 'em. You can see the current entries here.

Finally, here's an update on our world-famous quahog chowder recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups clam meat chopped (best scratched from mud during storm)
  • 1 cup clam juice from above clams
  • 1 medium-sized white onion sliced and diced
  • 2 inch square of salt pork sliced and diced
  • 2 peeled, medium-sized potatoes diced
  • 1 quart of milk
  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick of butter (optional)
Steps:
  1. Practice sanitary kitchen habits
  2. Place potatoes in milk and warm gently in pot 'til almost fork tender
  3. While potatoes soften, shuck quahogs... (hint: if a 'hog doesn't want to open, nuke him for a max of 10 seconds)
  4. Use cheese cloth to filter out grit and shell bits
  5. Dice quahogs and let them simmer in their juice on low heat
  6. Fry salt pork until cracklings are a golden brown, then set aside. (Save that fat!)
  7. Lightly brown onion in pork fat
  8. Dump all ingredients in pot along with 4 oz. of heavy cream to gently stew for an hour or so stirring during commercials
  9. Serve with dab of butter and more cream to suit in cup. (This is a rich recipe!)
The secret to this formula is not letting anything burn or curdle, yet still cooking thoroughly. For a couple in the kitchen, plan on 2 - 3 hrs start to finish.

See you by those photogenic and oh so aromatic feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 25, 2008

Economic Bailout and a Grackle

Hi all,

It's tough to write about birds right now. It really is. Congress has just reached a $700,000,000,000.00 bailout deal to rescue the American banking/credit system. But why today? Why not at least work on the issue over the weekend? After all, this is the most crucial financial issue since The Great Depression and it seems that it would bear a bit more scrutiny. Actually, there are three reasons why the deal was done so quickly.

  • First, tomorrow is Friday, and congressmen don't like to work on Fridays. (The following address contains a pdf file which is slow to download so I've failed to put in a link. But if you want, take a look and be prepared to be absolutely furious... http://democraticleader.house.gov/docUploads/2008-CALENDAR.pdf)
  • The big presidential debate is scheduled for Friday. The pols simply cannot afford to ruin the ratings - especially in an election year.
  • With approval ratings for both the president and congress hovering around a mind-numbingly low 15%, the stuffed shirts had to look proactive. (My God, I could put on a Mickey Mouse hat and skip down the street and get a higher approval rating from my neighbors!)
That my friends is why politicians managed to offer up that prestidigitation that will make or break the American (and global) economy today. And what of Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security? Silly me...

There... That "coffee-table moment" being out of my system, let's move on to more sane stuff like birds.

Mad grackle_450_DSC_0068.JPG

Whoops! Almost forgot... The September '08 Photo Contest is almost at an end. You can look in our photo library to see the current entries.

Now, about that grackle above. Not a happy looking fellow is he? From what I can gather, the Common Grackle is expanding its territory from the East Coast towards the West Coast of the U.S. And while they're on the move, their numbers seem to be dropping. Surprised? Don't be. The BBC reports that the number of the more common backyard birds are dwindling at a rather shocking rate.

Hmmm. This does seem to be a dour day doesn't it? Maybe that grackle picture above just suits the moment...

I'll see you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. THIS JUST IN! Looks like the economic bailout ain't a done deal yet! Could it be that politicians are starting to fathom the concepts of individual and corporate fiscal responsibility??? Stay tuned!


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September 22, 2008

ID the Gulls!

Hi all,

Before we get started, just a quick reminder that the September '08 Photo Contest is winding down, so, if you snooze, you lose!

Onward...

Right off the bat... Understand that in some respects, gulls are to Cape Codders what pigeons are to city dwellers - rats with wings. Granted, if the analogy is carried to its rightful conclusion, gulls are huge rats with wings, but I digress... Some folks around here tend to think of them as, well, "lower class". That's not to disparage them... Not at all. They serve a crucial role on this peninsula keeping things tidy, but they do have a sort of "garbage truck" reputation. Whatever...

Alrighty then, let's take a look at the gulls below and see if we can't identify these critters or at least look foolish in the process...

Gull_ring_billed_resized_IMG_1354.JPG

Well then, a closer look at the gull on the right makes him out to be a Ring-billed...

lone_Gull_ring_billed_resized_IMG_1354.JPG

But what of the brownish brute on the left? Time to crack open the books. Hmmm... Looks to be a Herring Gull, but it's kind of on the large side. Given the size, I'd guess that that bird is a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull, though I'm itching to be corrected.

But that's just one aspect of the fun of birds - you get to fuss with books (and the resources below) and play detective. Hey! I could have completely misidentified those birds. One might be a hummingbird, and the other might be a merganser. But I still had fun, and no one got hurt...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 17, 2008

Sept. '08 eBirdseed.com Photo Contest Update... (Enter Below!)

photo contest update image_500.jpg


Enter the contest here!

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More on Hurricane Ike, and Crows and Squirrels as Warning Signals

Hi all,

Before we get started, here's another quick reminder that Hurricane Ike absolutely devastated a sizable chunk of this country, and well over a million people are in trouble... If you want, you can use the information below to help out.

  • Web site: The Red Cross
  • Phone: 1-800-REDCROSS /1-800-257-7575 (Español)
  • U.S. Mail: American Red Cross National Headquarters 2025 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20006
Also, keep in mind that our backyard bird photo contest continues and doesn't end until September does. You can see the current entries in our eBirdseed.com photo library

Onward...

sunbathing squirrel_1_resized.JPG

Yup, he looks fat and happy. It seems that he's eaten his fill and just settled down for a bit of sunbathing. Notice how he uses the lid bungee as a sort of safety belt. What a gas!

The next photo is that of a squirrel trying to steal an ear of corn. All you can see is "The Claw". Good stuff.

The claw_ resized_DSC_0263.JPG

And on a related note... Both the squirrels and crows have become quite good at acting as alarms for the other birds that there's a predator in the area. In general, when we hear a racket kicking up out back, we know that there's a hawk, fox, coyote, or cat around and that it's time for us to pick up the camera and slowly ease towards a good shot for a photo. I don't even try to go out on the deck anymore. Instead, I just ease into position in the kitchen or living room and see what I can see. Over the last few days, we've had a large Red-tail, and a couple of appearances by a fox. We didn't get any decent photos though - either the creatures were moving too fast, or the camera decided to automatically focus on the wrong thing. Grumble, grumble, grumble...

See you by those blurry feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike, End of Summer, etc.

ike from space.jpg Hi all,

This is what hurricane Ike looks like as seen from space. Pretty rugged, isn't it? Obviously, the conditions on the ground look pretty rugged too. According to news reports, roughly 3,000,000 are without power, and many will stay in the dark for at least two weeks. With that in mind, here is the contact info for the American Red Cross:

  • Web site: http://www.redcross.org/
  • Phone: 1-800-REDCROSS /1-800-257-7575 (Español)
  • U.S. Mail: American Red Cross National Headquarters 2025 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20006
Onward...

Well, the Summer is over and our orioles are gone. Bummer. The end of the season also forebodes the departure of the hummingbirds. We'll leave the nectar feeders out through the end of this month to make sure that even the stragglers have plenty of energy, and then take them down, clean them, and store them away. But what of our eBirdseed.com hummingbird cam.

Indeed, what do we want to do with our hummingbird cam? Let's see... We have some choices.

What do you think?

See you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Don't forget our September '08 Bird Photography Contest!


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September 12, 2008

9/12/08... Moving On... Confused Crow

Hi,

It's now 9/12/08, and I'm really not going to discuss what happened on 9/11/01 or yesterday for that matter... If I expressed my opinions in the language I'd like to use (and richly deserves to be used), this blog might not be here for long - after all, we strive for "Rated G". If you'd care to take a look, a friend, Mrs. CCA, and I have a social-commentary blog, that offers a brief, respectful, reflection... Again, I wish I could use the language that I'd like to use.

Onward...

DSC_0006_crow_resized_400.jpg

About that crow above...

Borrowing from "Cool Hand Luke", "What we've got here is...failure to communicate." That is to say that we have a crow confused by the likes of lo mein and fried shrimp bones. (I eat the shrimp itself and leave the batter bones behind.) Say what you will, but that crow is just failing to communicate with that cuisine. Not to worry, there's boneless spareribs in there as well as chicken fingers. And health-wise, these guys should be fine given the occasional treat... After all, crows are used to eating roadkill on August afternoons. (Sorry, but the truth is what it is.)

Anywho... It's still fun to watch a crow have a "failure-to-communicate moment" with some still-good leftovers.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 8, 2008

Crow Moving on Trellis... Hmmm

crow on trellis_01 Strutting_resized.JPG

Hi all,

Just a quick reminder that the photo contest is an ongoing concern. There's still plenty of time to enter!

About that crow above... There are pictures that are just too cool to file away, and this is one of them. Yeah, look at that corvid. Us old jazz aficionados might say that he's Cake Walking Babies (From Home) or Struttin' With Some Barbecue. (Sorry, but for us jazz nuts, the sun rises ands sets on Ella, Louis, and Duke. Ives and Copland trail in the lofty dusk.)

Onward...

It's interesting to note how the crow moves on a swaying trellis. Obviously, the structure is moving front to back in the crow's perspective, but it's also moving side to side. Still, the bird uses a "stepping motion" vs. the "two-legged hopping motion" that serves him so well on the ground. Perhaps the "stepping" approach offers the advantage of always having one anchor point (note the grip on the trailing left foot). Should the unknown, undulating "next step" prove not to be in the place it should have been, at least he's got something to hold onto.

The crazy stuff that crows, jazz, and bird walking will get you into...

See you by the feeders, (expect the soulful allure of Armstrong and Cash Blue Yodel No. 9)

CapeCodAlan


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September 3, 2008

More on the Bird Photo Contest... To Perch or Not to Perch... That Is the Question

Perch or not perched_crow_landing_hotdog_roll_12-25-06.JPG Hi all,

So what do you think... Is the crow above perched? More to the point, was the crow I watched today who was hanging perfectly upside down off the suet feeder "perched"? Well, it looks like we've got a "Contest Rules Situation" brewing here...

Initially, the eBirdseed.com September '08 Bird Photography Contest rules stated "... the main subject of the picture has to be a bird perched on a feeder". Within a day of the start of the contest, I received a photo of a hummingbird just hovering while drinking at a feeder... Within hours of that picture came another showing a bird pecking at a suet cage. Then there was a shot of birds fighting over a feeder... Later still were photographs of birds on a homemade tray. Obviously, the rule needed to be sharpened.

Ok, to define "perched" at a feeder is tricky indeed. And to address that issue, I re-worded the rule slightly to, "...the main subject of the picture has to be a bird actually on or at a feeder". The idea being that the contest should consist of birds using feeders to eat.

  • What about the ground feeders below the feeder? (Like the flock of turkeys that just graced our backyard...)
  • Suppose someone takes a great photo of a deer snacking at a feeder... Do we accept that pic as an entry?
  • What of raptors that only use nature as their feeder?
  • Suppose we get a snapshot of a chickadee "snatch a seed and fly" without really perching?
The questions go on and on... But after a lot of thought, and to be fair with the spirit of the original contest rule, we're going to stick with the rule as it stands now. ...the main subject of the picture has to be a bird actually on or at a feeder.

So, if you look at the eBirdseed Photo Library and don't see your picture feel free to send a comment my way or email me at capecodalan@ebirdseed.com and we'll see if we can't work out a reasonable solution.

CapeCodAlan and eBirdseed.com.


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September 2, 2008

End of Summer Sale, Promo Code, and How to Be a Birding Expert Without Really Trying

First off, don't miss our "End of Summer Sale"!

Just use promo code "CAM15F" (online during checkout or when calling by phone) during September to receive a 15% discount in any feeder in our online store.

(And if you don't remember, just use our bird cam below to actually see the code.)

Now is the perfect time to get a quality feeder for winter.

Click the link below to see the full selection... http://www.ebirdseed.com/page/EB/CTGY/feeder

There... Now the business stuff is out of the way... On to the more important subject of how to become a "Backyard Bird Expert" in one easy lesson... Let's take the fellow below as an example and lesson guide...

DSC_0103_grosbeak_or_ finch_resized.JPG

He's (she's?) probably a grosbeak or a finch... But who knows... And that is exactly the point! The legs say grosbeak, but the throat says goldfinch... And that leads us right into the secret lesson of becoming an "Instant Birding Expert"...

  1. First, never admit to ignorance! Should the bird above suddenly perch on the deck railing of your fall BBQ, and the grilling throngs ponder the ilk of avian... Never say, "Gee, I don't know what that is..."
  2. Learn the basics... There really are only six bird types:
    • Tiny birds like hummingbirds
    • LBBs (Little Brown Birds)
    • Jay-size birds
    • Water birds like gulls and ducks
    • Big guys like raptors
    • Cessna birds
    You see that? So right off the bat, I'd I.D. the bird above as a LBB and everyone would "Ohh" and "Awh".
  3. So what happens if some Weisenheimer wants to know real details about the bird? Well... After accidentally knocking over said Weisenheimer's drink, I'd take a closer look in the hope that the bird will fly away. (This almost always works for me.)
  4. And if that still doesn't work? Ummm... Fall back to a unique blend of one of "Basic Six" above. Our bird in question might be a "Lesser Hummingbird". (Though given my experience and gall, I'd go for some derivation of a "Cessna 172 bird"...)
  5. Finally, should all else fail, you can use the references links below to look up the bird, but I'd use that only as a last resort!

Kidding aside, this post isn't making fun of real bird pros - those folks have got game... It's just a tease for the backyard birders and soon-to-be "Birding Experts".

Don't forget our promo code, or our photography contest...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

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August 31, 2008

September '08 Bird Photography Contest

Photo of prize.jpg Yup, the feeder on the right is a beauty alright... 30" tall, cast metal and stainless. Looks like it has 6 or 12 bird ports depending on the latest model... (You can read more about it here.) That's the prize for our new contest. The photo contest rules/guidelines are...
  • the entrant must take the photo
  • all entries need to be in the ".JPG" format
  • the main subject of the picture has to be a bird actually on or at a feeder
  • all appropriate snapshots immediately enter the public domain (no copyrights) and will be placed in our eBirdseed.com photo library for all to share and enjoy
  • pictures that show entire bird bodies and faces are desirable
  • eBirdseed.com employees and their family members cannot participate
  • eBirdseed.com will determine contest winner
You have umpteen options to submit an entry...
  • You can email me at capecodalan@ebirdseed.com and simply attach your JPG file
  • You can use the "URL" box in the "Comment" field in conjunction with a file-sharing service like "Flickr" or "PhotoBucket"
  • If you have difficulties, you can email me at my address above (or just use the "Comment" button) and I can walk you through the appropriate process
So come on... Enter! T'ain't much to lose, and a lot of fun to be had.

Looking forward to your entries...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

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February 9, 2008

Yellow-rumped Warbler or Golden-crowned Kinglet? (And Another Unusual Contest Unfolds) CONTEST CLOSED

Hi all,

UPDATE: The Pizza contest is now closed. See May 4th, 2011 entry. We put out the NovaBird (a remote, motion-activated camera) early this morning, and caught the following image. Now is that cool or what?

yellow-rumped%20warbler%2002-08-08_400.jpg

As we were rummaging through the 200 new pictures on the NovaBird, that one, (as blurry as it is) simply jumped out at us. Natch, a mad scramble for the bird books followed... Looks to be a Yellow-rumped Warbler, though a Golden-crowned Kinglet certainly ain't out of the question. What say you? (Use the "Comment" below to offer opinion.) In any event, we either haven't seen this coloration before (if the bird is a Yellow-rumped Warbler), or, we've never photographed a Kinglet before. Either way, this is exciting for us!

Alright, alright... Setting aside the bird fervor, we need another eBirdsedd.com contest. (Though no one won the last challenge (an encryption puzzle), we still have at least one person plugging away at the mystery. And keeping in spirit with the old contest, if anyone solves that puzzle, I'll still reward them with the old prize and send them chowdah and a signed pic of me wearing a mouseketeer beanie right out there on the clam flats.)

But now... Onward to a completely next contest...

Ok... Someone is going to win this one - the contest is open ended until we have a winner. We're simply looking for a good recipe for a true New York Pizzeria style pizza.

New%20York%20Pizza.jpg

We're talking about that magical concoction of thin, almost crispy, (but NOT "doughy") crust cooked with that fresh tomato/oregano (or tomato/"something") sauce and topped with the perfect cheese. (Read that - no "California" accruements of salmon, tuna, or potatoes.... Just simple New York, cheese, thin-crust, pizzeria pizza.)

So who judges the contest??? Me, that's who... World's greatest pizza-holic! Been making pies for 38 years. (Also spent a couple weekends brewing beer and baking bread...)

The winning recipe should jive with a plain beverage like a Budweiser, or a Sprite.

(Jeez... In retrospect, this contest is tougher than the encryption puzzle!)

Regardless, see you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan

P.S. So what do you win? Who knows? Somebody is going to win something cool... But what? What do you think the prize should be? (Let's stay on planet earth here. Again... Use that "comment" button!)

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January 25, 2008

Suet, and the Recipe Encryption Contest Draws to a Close with No Solutions

As the eBirdseed.com Encryption Contest draws to a close, some random thoughts...

First, (before we get to the contest stuff) be aware that much of this country has suffered under some pretty severe winter conditions. Be sure that the backyard brethren have plenty of suet for energy and warmth. See our "Suet" post. (Nuthatches and Downeys love the stuff!)

DSC_0122_400.jpg

Now concerning the encryption contest and its hints... A number of reports have come in suggesting that the puzzle was too hard. Ramblings about the mystery puzzle...

  • If the truth be told, the mechanics of the thing were no more complex than learning two simple embroidery stitches... The problem (continuing the analogy) was that in order to solve the entire recipe puzzle you'd have to embroider a small, simple doily using the same two knots ad nauseum. Still, some people enjoy that sort of thing.
  • If you've been following this blog for any period of time, one of the themes we've stressed over and over and over again is that of community involvement. We actually hope that you put down the pie, step away from the living room one-eyed brain bandit, and actually talk with a relative, friend, neighbor, or co-worker concerning our contests (and our site). Beyond that, there are countless math forums that could have helped your cause.
  • Note also that the XOR operation is a critical element in your life whether you know it or not. From the computer that you're looking at right now to your ATM card, to your credit cards, to your social security information... XOR plays a crucial rule in virtually all data encryption, computer programming, and computer electronics.
  • It's interesting to note that if the key is truly random, and used only once, the code is virtually unbreakable. In fact, the hotline between the USSR and the US used this data-encryption system after the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Anyway... No one solved the puzzle, no one gets the chowder, and (thankfully) I don't have to wear a mouseketeer hat out on the flats... Whew!

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

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January 16, 2008

The Great Backyard Bird Count, Fun Video, the Ongoing Encryption Contest and General Stuff...

Hi,

If you haven't checked out The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) yet, you might just want to take a look. This is a joint project from the folks at the Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology... I'd go into detail, but the name seems to say it all. Just follow the first link and you should be all set. (But watch the dates! February 15th to the 18th is the whole enchilada...)

Associated with the GBBC is a fantastic little applet - the online bird tally sheet. This utility will give you some very specific information concerning the birds that reside (or vacation) in your neighborhood. Very handy indeed when it comes to selecting seed, feeders, suet, etc...

What else? Well, we're looking at ways to better get our eBirdseed.com message into the ether that is the Web... And one of the ways I've been fussing with is the emerging social networking stuff. The following two videos might offer some insight...

Social networking:



Social bookmarking:

And fiddling with the social networking sites brought on a sudden bout of FlipTrack. (You'll need to have your speakers on and be patient as it loads.) Yeah, the flesh is weak.

Other stuff... The contest is looking good. (Read that... It looks like I'm not going to have to don a mouseketeer beanie and go scratching quahogs, though I've given some pretty hearty hints...)

Guess that should do it for today...

See you by the feeders sans mouse ears,

CapeCodAlan

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January 13, 2008

Coyote Eats Squirrel, More Contest Info, etc.

Hi,

Well, I give you fair warning... The end of this post contains a link to a popup which shows a picture of a coyote gulping down the last of a gray squirrel. There's no blood, and no guts, but there is a squirrel foot sticking out of the coyote's mouth. If that sort of thing disturbs you, don't click on the link.

Onward...

Early yesterday morning, I gave thought to setting up the automatic NovaBird camera, and simply letting it run all day. And just before I started to rig the system, I looked out and saw a beautiful coyote with half a squirrel in his yap. (Keep in mind that I like squirrels. Also, I think they serve as a good alarm system for the birds - this is especially true when one of them gets devoured under the feeders.) It wasn't a pretty sight and it probably wasn't a pleasant sound either. Still, that's the name of the game, and we all need to understand that.

Let's be careful around the feeders...

Ok, on to happier stuff... In the last post, I introduced a puzzle for a recipe. My hope was that you guys would mess around with it, seek out help from your geek friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc., and maybe come up with a solution. Well, I've gotten some feedback, and quite frankly, I'd like to save you a little time. Here's how the encryption game works...

  1. Understand that a computer character is typically represented by a unique pattern of eight 1s and 0s, (known as binary ASCII). For instance, the letter "A" is "01000001". (The Web is loaded with conversion tables.) Take note that each "1" or "0" is called a "bit".
  2. An unknown "key" is converted into binary ASCII. (You have to find the key... Something about 1775... Obviously, I know what the key is.)
  3. Next, I used a simple math operation called XOR to encrypt the recipe by meshing the key with the recipe. How is the meshing done? Well, each eight bits of the key are sequentially compared with each eight bits of the recipe to produce the mish mash in the last post. (An XOR operation is simply a measure of uniqueness. A "1" XORed with a "0" shows variety, and results in a "1"... Whereas, "0" XORed with a "0" demonstrates no variety and produces a "0"... A "1" XORed with a "1" also yields a "0".)

So how do we undo the XORed mish mash in the last post and find out what the recipe really was? Very simple... We XOR the mish mash with the binary ASCII equivalent of the key and poof! The recipe reveals itself. I'll get you started... The key begins with the character "T", and that breaks down to: "01010100". Now, if you XOR that with the first 8 bits of the mystery mess ("01100111"), you'll get "00110011", or the binary ASCII code for the character "3". (Yes, the recipe begins with the number "3" as in "3 eggs,".)

But the problem still remains... What is the key? (Hint: Keep in mind the phrase "the earth has many keys", and the number 1775.) Also note that once you understand the XOR process and have the key, the actual decipher is just an extraordinarily boring, simple, tedious process. Hmmm...

And with the hints out of the way... Again, warning! Coyote picture follows:

View image

See you by those annoying feeders,

CapeCodAlan

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January 11, 2008

New eBirdseed.com Encryption Contest!

Hi,

Time we had a new contest... But this one ain't so easy. The picture below is a secret code I wrote for a recipe. (Might help to print it out...) The hints are provided. With the right research and whatnot, this can be cracked in your spare time. (Unfortunately, I didn't have that whatnot, and had to cipher the beast by hand. Still perfectly doable though time consuming...)

Clue%20on%20end_Final.jpg

So... If you come up with the complete, correct recipe and a valid description of how you broke the code, what will you win? You'll get a quart of my fresh, frozen, vacuum-packed, home-made clam chowder (shipped anywhere in the continental U.S.) and a signed picture of me out on the clam flats wearing a Mickey Mouse hat... I kid you not.

The contest is open to everyone... Employees of eBirdseed.com and their family members are welcome, as are our regular customers and blogites, strangers, wee beasties from Mars... (Yup, only I know the encryption process, and I have absolutely no intention of wearing Mickey Mouse ears for anyone.)

Note: Delivery of prize will depend upon weather and tides. Contest ends 11:59pm EST, 1/24/08

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. For what it's worth... It's been a number of years since I created this puzzle. "Aut" is another term for XOR.

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August 3, 2007

End of Contest 5!

DSC_0109_Jen_400_enh.jpg


According to www.time.gov, it's now midnight, and Contest 5 is over. Let's just say that the bird above is Jen, and the potato chip is a haiku!

Jen made a superb showing and she won the feeder, fair and square!

The final score was:

  1. Jen: 66
  2. Monika: 53
  3. Joanne: 14
  4. Joni: 11
  5. Kate: 9
  6. Laura: 9
  7. Teresa: 3
  8. Archie: 2
  9. Craig: 2
  10. Joanne T: 0
  11. Detlef: -1


Way to go Jen! We'll contact you concerning shipping information for your prize...


The math answer was the cube-root of 1/27th, which is 1/3. Sooner or later, all of you got that. Congrats...

Concerning the haiku... Great stuff! And Jen et al, you might not want to stop writing haiku just yet. Traditional haiku typically deals with seasons and water. Writing that style of poem is very calming.

See you by the feeders, and keep your eyes open! You just never know...

CapeCodAlan

P.S. My personal favorite was Joni's:

Robins sun basking
Hungry fast cat on the prowl
Loves BASKIN ROBINS


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July 23, 2007

Contest 5 Moves Right Along!

Well, the good news is that there's still plenty of time before Contest 5 (The Great Haiku and Algebra Bird Feeder Contest!) ends at 11:59PM EST on August 3rd, 2007.

The other good news is that we're getting a sizable turnout for this contest. Oh it took a few days, but now we're off and running! Even the crow below seems to offer a harsh "ok".

Disapproving%20crow_400.jpg


Come on guys! Admit it... This is fun! And all we're looking for is a funny, bird haiku and a single fractional answer per comment/entry.

I initially thought that it was the math that would give folks the shudders... But given the feedback, it looks like the haiku is the culprit... Ok... Here are some more examples...

Hear chirpy chirpy...
Birdie birdie is that you?
Chirpy chirpy "Yes!"

Black bird "Caw!" "Caw!" "Caw!"
Complains for lack of suet.
Nothing to crow at!

Seed, seed, gone astray.
Not possible birds did this...
Nope... Squirreled away!

Beyond these examples, you may have to interact with old schoolmates, teachers, professors, neighbors... Even your relatives or worse yet teenagers... Gasp!

So here's the skinny... The wife and I have done something insidious. (And stop booing... You're just jealous.) The wife has notified her ragdoll-cat forum of this contest. That readership is 95% female. I on the other hand have notified my boat-building forum, which is 95% male.

Now, let's see who really wants to get involved and have some fun. (And what about you other readers out there? This is your chance to grin without staring numbly at the TEEVEE!)

CapeCodAlan,

Laughing by the feeders!

P.S. Every time you enter, points are added or subtracted from your score appropriately... At this moment, the score stands at:
  • Largosmom: 9
  • Joni: 8
  • Monika: 7
  • Jen: 3
  • Kate:3
  • Archie: 2
  • Detlef: -1
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July 19, 2007

The Great Haiku and Algebra Bird Feeder Contest!

Yeah, I warned you that this was going to be the weirdest contest yet. I always keep my promises... That's right... We're talking about a contest based on goofy bird haikus and algebra.

First, here's the prize:

Contest%205%20prize.jpg


Looks like a pretty slick Post Mount Blue Bird Feeder!

Now about the contest... Here's the two part challenge...

Part 1:
You need to write a funny, "American-style" bird haiku. And what is an "American-style" haiku you ask? Glad you asked! Well, the haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan long ago. In its American form (at least for the sake of this contest), it is a short, three-line poem with the first and third lines consisting of 5 syllables, and the second line consisting of 7 syllables. Further, the last line should offer some sort of subtle closure for the first two lines. And on top of that, it has to be funny. Here're two examples...

Stupid bird haiku
Just first part of dumb contest
I hate algebra


-Or-


A lonely sparrow
Pines for his mystery mate
Old Hank sings sad songs


You get the idea... It doesn't have to revolve around this blog... It just needs to involve birds and be funny.

Part 2: In a way, this is pretty easy really... All you need to tell me is what is the cube root of the product of one third and one ninth. The problem is shown below...

Full%20cube%20root.JPG

Your answer should be in the form of a single fraction, (e.g. 1/4). Decimal answers are unacceptable.

Scoring: Awww... You're going to love this. The haiku will be based on a -3 to 3 scale.
  • -3 points: Not a valid haiku
  • -2 points: A valid haiku that is irrelevant to this contest
  • -1 points: A valid haiku that is relevant to this contest but simply isn't funny at all
  • 0 points: A haiku that is relevant to this contest, but "ho hum" funny in a "bird" sort of way
  • 1 point: A haiku that is mildly funny and deals with birds
  • 2 points: A haiku that deals with birds and is really funny
  • 3 points: A haiku that deals with birds and is truly hilarious
Now... What about that algebra question... That's a spoiler! The math question is based on a -1 to 0 scale. If you get the question wrong, you lose a point. (Try to avoid going into negative points!)

Rules
  • Use the comment function on this post to enter both a single "funny, bird-related" haiku and a single fractional answer.
  • Enter as many times as you like using separate comments. But each entry needs to have a new haiku (which will be rated on its own merits) and a single fractional answer. (Obviously, if you're sure that you've got the right fraction, you can use the same fraction over and over again. But I'll be adding up the wrong ones!)
  • Dictionary.com will be used to verify syllable counts.
  • Scores will be tallied for each contestant throughout the contest.
  • The winner will have the highest number of points. In the case of a tie, a random drawing will be used.
  • Only rated “G” comments/entries are allowed.
  • Entries made by eBirdseed employees and/or their families will not be eligible for prizes.
  • All decisions made by the judges at eBirdseed.com are final.
  • The contest starts as soon as this post goes live. (That is, if you’re reading this, the contest has begun!)
  • The contest will end 11:59PM EST, Friday, August 3rd, 2007.
  • *As always, eBirdseed will pay for the shipping of the winning prize to anywhere in the continental U.S.
Some final words about the contest... I chose these two subjects (algebra and haiku) very carefully; I doubt that there are many dual English/Math grads out there. The idea was to force you into working with your neighbors and each other to survive in the contest. Lastly, I will publish the haikus as you enter them, but I won't publish the fractional answers until the contest is over - that will give you a good chance to check and recheck your answers!

See you by those tricky feeders,

CapeCodAlan
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July 11, 2007

Contest 4 has Ended and the Results are In!

Hi all, First thing... Thanks to all the contestants!

And (after a random draw amongst the participants with the correct answers), the winner is JONI!
She guessed the Hairy Woodpecker. Joni, you read my mind!


hairy%20woodpecker%2005-12-07_08_contest_winner_400.jpg


Joni, we'll contact you within the next couple of days concerning shipping info... Enjoy!

So why the strange contest in which I suggested that you folks privately exchange thoughts and ideas for the identification of the mystery bird? Here's why... We're not talking with each other via the "Comments" button and email! As I mentioned before, we boat builders have established true friendships. Mrs. CapeCodAlan traded more than 50 Christmas cards with people from all over the world simply because she participates in a cat board. (And yes, I do know the difference between a forum and a blog... But the "Comment" button is always available, and your thoughts are always welcome.)

But keep your eyes open! There's another contest coming up... And this next one is going to be the strangest yet!

As always, you can reach me here on this blog, or at: capecodalan@ebirdseed.com.

And if you want to talk to one of the owners of the company (Gordon or Dan), their contact info is:

eBirdseed.com
27823 86th Ave. South
Hawley, MN 56549-8982
(866) 324-7373


See you by the feeders--with lots of comments!

CapeCodAlan
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July 6, 2007

Contest Number Four

Quite frankly, it's a mystery to me... There are a bunch of you readers out there who check this blog on a regular basis. We know that because of the traffic numbers for the site... Yet here we are, a flock of people that care about, and are knowledgeable about birds, and we're just not using the "Comments" button below to interact with each other and eBirdseed.com. (My hunch is that for the most part, you're going through the motions of feeding the birds, checking this blog, and then you're sitting down and eating pie.)

Ok then... Time for another competition, and this time the only way anyone wins is by having you folks start interacting. More about that in a second, but first, here's the prize:

It's a Songbird Cedar Bluebird Feeder!

Photo%20of%20Cedar%20Feeder_300.jpg


Now, about this contest and how it's going to get you to put down the "pie fork", and actually interact.

The contest is very simple... I'm thinking of the common name for a particular bird (e.g. not a "Sapsucker", but a "Yellow-bellied Sapsucker"). You guys have to guess the bird. In order to do this, you'll use the "Comments" button for this post to make your entries.


Here are the rules...
  1. Just ask (using the "Comments" button for this post) a "Yes/No" question concerning the mystery bird. Valid questions will take the form of, "Does the bird (fully matured) have a wingspan wider than 4 inches?"; and "Is the bird that CapeCodAlan thinking of a water bird?" Invalid questions will fall along the lines of, "What type of food does the mystery bird eat?" (Just think of the old "What's My Line?" game show!)
  2. You are welcome to enter as many comments as you want.
  3. At any time you can take a guess at the specific "unknown" bird, but I won't tell you if you're right or wrong. If you enter more than one guess, only your last guess will count when the contest ends.
  4. So when does the contest end? ("Bwa ha ha ha!" he laughs with an evil laugh...) The contest ends when we get at least 20 different people/commenters/email-account entries. So what does that mean? It means that "John Doe" can post 100 separate comments each asking a separate "Yes/No" question, but he only counts as ONE entrant. And for poor "John Doe" (who no doubt knows the exact bird after asking 100 questions), that presents a problem... He can either prod family, friends, and co-workers into entering comments/questions, or he can sit and wait. Better yet, he can actually communicate with other readers of this blog via comments (and email) and exchange ideas.
  5. After 20 different people have commented questions/guesses, we'll hold a random drawing to determine the final winner from among those who made the right, final guess.
Other common sense rules apply...
  • We'll try to keep and eye on the entrants, but we're also using the honor system here. (Read that that we wouldn't be very happy if an individual created 20 different "Hotmail" accounts just to win this feeder.)
  • Only rated “G” comments/entries are allowed.
  • Entries made by eBirdseed employees and/or their families are void.
  • All decisions made by the judges at eBirdseed.com are final.
  • The contest starts as soon as this post goes live. (That is, if you’re reading this, the contest has begun!)
  • As always, eBirdseed will pay for the shipping* of the winning prize to anywhere in the continental U.S.
And finally, there are a couple of hints...
  • The bird I'm thinking of is not extinct.
  • The mystery bird is quite common across a majority of the U.S.
  • I'm NOT thinking of the "Yellow-bellied Sapsucker".
  • The resources below can come in very handy!


So why am I asking that we all interact?

Here's why. I'm a moderator on a boat-building forum (Instant Boats Message Boards). One single thread on that board has had 20,631 "views" and 404 "replies". ("Replies" on the Message Board equate to "comments" here on the eBirdseed blog.)

On that forum, comments are the lifeblood... Ditto for this blog. And right now the lifeblood (eBirdseed.com comments) ain't flowing... Without the comments and interaction, we're all just sitting here eating pie all by ourselves. And I for one really don't like pie.

So come on guys... Let's start hitting that "Comments" button just like us boat builders do with the equivalent on the boat building board.

CapeCodAlan
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June 30, 2007

Contest 3 Closed!

Of all the respondents with the correct answer (“Shoplifters of Sunflower Seeds”), Teresa's name was drawn as the final winner... Congrats Teresa! (Be on the look out for an email from us confirming your shipping information.)

Thank you all for participating...

Be sure to keep a sharp eye on this blog... Another contest is right around the corner!

CapeCodAlan
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Update on the Free Flickr Site, and Contest 3 is Almost Over!

Quick post for you guys...

The Flickr site has been updated to include a new "Feathers" set, complete with a bunch of macro shots of a stray crow's feather. (Amazing what an 8 MP camera the size of a deck of playing cards can do.) Anyway... Take a look and be patient... These are large, hi-res files. Feel free to blow them up. Remarkable stuff really.

Switching gears... Hey! Hey! Hey! Contest 3 is almost over! What are you waiting for?!? 11:59 PM EST, June 30th, 2007 the party's over... Come on! Don't be like this lonely old sparrow singing the blues....

The%20lonely%20sparrow_400.jpg


Why not enter the contest before it's too late?


Gotta go... See you by those feeders...

CapeCodAlan
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June 14, 2007

Contest Number Three!

Welcome to contest number three! Be forewarned that this one might just take some work and/or guile on your part. Here we go...

First things first... What might you win???

How about a mealworm feeder?!?

Prize_jpg.jpg


Not so shabby! So how does the contest work?

In previous posts, the wife and I have mentioned that we enjoy our squirrels. On several occasions I've even mentioned them in detail. So here's your task... In a particular paragraph in a particular post, I referred to squirrels as, "Thieves of Thistle”, “Usurpers of Suet”, and one other four-word alliterative phrase. The first step (and the only step you need to take) in winning this contest is to find that exact last alliterative phrase and add it as a comment into this post. (Your entry can be with or without quotes, but typos aren't acceptable!) We expect more than one correct answer, so the second, (and final step) involves a random draw here at eBirdseed.com of all the correct answers to determine the final winner.

Every entrant should read the following very carefully... For obvious reasons, we're not going to post the text of correct or incorrect comments/entries. That way everyone has to do his or her own legwork. The standard rules apply:
  • Only rated “G” comments/entries are allowed.
  • Multiple entries are allowed, but each entry must be in its own individual comment and only the latest comment will be considered as the entrant's formal entry.
  • Entries made by eBirdseed employees and/or their families are void.
  • All decisions made by the judges at eBirdseed.com are final.
  • The contest starts as soon as this post goes live. (That is, if you’re reading this, the contest has begun!)
  • This contest ends precisely at 11:59 PM EST, June 30th, 2007.
  • As always, eBirdseed will pay for the shipping* of the winning prize to anywhere in the continental U.S.
So that's it gang... Do your research, and be precise with your final answer(s).

See you by the feeders and good luck,

CapeCodAlan
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January 11, 2007

Contest Number Two: “Give the Latin Name to That Bird!”

Well here we are at contest number two. And this one is going to be easy and fun. (As a matter of fact, the funniest entry wins!)

First of all, here’s the prize - a Duncraft feeder! (The manufacturer’s description follows.)

prize_342.JPG
Duncraft Advantage Squirrel Blocker
Our squirrel-proof Advantage is quick to fill and easy to clean. And did we mention it's indestructible? This ultra-clever design is ours alone. The Advantage has a metal Squirrel-Blocker grid on each side that rests above the seed to prevent squirrels from reaching the food. Our EasyClean Advantage provides excellent squirrel protection without batteries, weights or springs. The grids pull right out so you can clean every inch of this feeder in a jiffy. Roof lifts easily for filling then locks tightly to keep squirrels out. Clear plastic view panel lets you monitor the seed level. For best results we recommend black oil sunflower seed or a blend of large seeds. Comes with a hanger or you can post mount. Capacity 6 lbs. 12 x 8 x 10 inches
Now, here’s a bit of background, the contest and the rules!

In researching birds for this blog, I’ve run across hundreds of “common names” with their corresponding “Latin names”… We’re talking about name combinations like:
  • Wood Stork, (Mycteria americana)
  • Barrow's Goldeneye, (Bucephala islandica)
  • Bonaparte's Gull, (Larus philadelphia)
The common names (in bold) are simple and make sense. But the Latin names (in italics) are mysterious and often suggest a behavior followed by a location such as a country, land mass, or a state or even city.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could discover our own bird and name it as we wanted? Well, it just so happens that such a thing has transpired, (sort of, but not quite). Both Gordon and I almost caught a real glimpse of the “bird” below. (Ok, we'd been working long hours… And true, Gordon pictured a creature with a fourteen-inch wingspan, and I‘m pretty sure that the one I saw had at least a forty-five-foot wingspan, but that‘s not the point… We have both seen squirrels “flying” from ground or branch to feeders etc., and this is Gordon‘s “Photoshopped” rendition of what the beasts just might have looked like.)

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In fact, Gordon and I have already given the probably-fictitious creature a common name: The “Gordon Alan Pterodactyl Squirrel.” (I would have tossed Kathryn’s name in there as well, but she claims never to have seen one of these impossible “dino rodent birds“. Besides, she thinks Gordon and I are “squirrelly.” I wonder why?)

Ok, ok… On to the nuts and bolts of the contest!
  • First, you need to use the comment button below on this post to submit your entry for the Latin name of the “dino/squirrel/bird”, (aka “Gordon Alan Pterodactyl Squirrel“) depicted immediately above.
  • Remember, the funniest Latin name wins!
  • Only rated “G” comments/entries are allowed.
  • Ideal entries should be in the hokey Latin form of Descriptius Locationium. (And no, you don‘t need to put your answer in italics.) A few examples should give you an idea of what we‘re really looking for:
    • SeedStealium cape codior
    • GetMyFillius philidelphius
    • UnstoppableEatingMachinium bostoni
    • They‘reInMyAtticus! floridae
    • CrazedPterodactylSquirrelium new yorkium
  • Multiple entries are allowed, but each entry must be in its own individual comment.
  • Entries made by eBirdseed employees and/or their families are void.
  • All decisions made by the judges at eBirdseed.com are final.
  • The contest starts as soon as this post goes live. (That is, if you’re reading this, the contest has begun!)
  • This contest ends at 11:59 PM EST, January 26th, 2007.
So there you go... You know, few things in life are truly guaranteed, (it helps if you read the rest of this sentence using the voice of that old “Green Acres” huckster “Mr. Haney“), but I can personally gar-un-tee that should you win this feeder, you’ll never have a problem with a “Gordon Alan Pterodactyl Squirrel!”

Good luck, and see you by the feeders,

Alan
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November 30, 2006

A “’Tis the Season to be Jolly (to the Tune of $100)” Contest!

Yes, we have a contest with a $100 prize... More about that in just a minute. But first some thoughts on the “’Tis the Season to be Jolly” part of this post...

Look... Once and for all, let’s all be honest about the upcoming holidays. Far, far, far too many of us wait until the last moment, and then race out and buy a ton of amazingly stupid junk for an astounding amount of money. There... I said it... Someone had to do it. According to the polls, the average adult American will blow between $500 and $1,000 this season. And I claim that sum will be spent for the most part on significantly pointless presents. Oh sure, there’ll be the old standards like bikes and dolls that will serve faithfully for years, and that’s good. But all too often, folks will end up buying stuff like:
  • Video game machines that will be obsolete and discarded in just a few months.
  • CDs and DVDs that will spin a few times at best.
  • Ties for guys who really would prefer never see another tie as long as they live.

So how about another tack? How about if we give moderately-priced gifts that provide real meaning and long-term value? Some ideas follow:
  • Fill a feeder for a neighbor...
  • Contact the local retirement home, fire department, police department, community center, etc., and see if you can’t help them experience the joy of bird watching.
  • Things like thistle socks, bird seed coupons, suet, birding books, binoculars, disposable cameras, etc. makes for great stocking stuffers for both the birder, and the backyard birder to be.
You get the idea.

Ok, ok, ok... Now on to the contest...

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All you need to do is respond to this post by entering a comment describing How Feeding the Birds has Improved My Life using 200 words or less by midnight 12/15/2006. The winner gets a $100 eBirdseed.com Gift Certificate. Multiple comments (entries) for this contest are acceptable, but each must be unique, distinct, and will be judged as such. Finally, the ruling of the judges (owners Dan and Gordon, bloggers Kathryn and Alan) is final. Employees of eBirdseed.com (and their families) are ineligible.

Shop wisely, and good luck in the contest!

See you by the feeder,

Alan
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