September 28, 2014

Towhee and Bird Etymology Confusion

Alrighty then... We saw this fellow the other day...

towhee1.jpg

Hmmm... Let's see what the various experts have to say...

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From: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/towhee

1: a common finch (Pipilo erythrophthalmus of the family Emberizidae) of eastern North America with the male having reddish sides, white underparts, and black upperparts, head, and neck --called also chewink
2: any of the North American finches belonging to the same genus (Pipilo) as the towhee

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All listings below from aggregator: http://www.memidex.com/towhee

Britannica Encyclopedia:

towhee [bird] | Pipilo erythrophthalmus [species] | Pipilo [genus] any of several North American birds in the family Emberizidae, order Passeriformes, that are long-tailed skulkers in thickets, where they are rarely ... (22 of 124 words, 2 images)

Wikipedia:

Towhee any one of a number of species of birds in the genus Pipilo or Melozone within the family Emberizidae. Towhees typically have longer tails than other emberizids. Most species tend to avoid humans, so they are not well known, though the Eastern Towhee P... (44 of 329 words, 1 image)

Collins Dictionary: towhee any of various North American brownish-coloured sparrows of the genera "Pipilo" and "Chlorura" (13 of 192 words, pronunciations)

Columbia Encyclopedia:
towhee | ground robin | ground robins
common name for a North American bird of the family Fringillidae (finch family). Towhees are also called chewinks, for their call, and ground robins, ... (24 of 133 words, pronunciation)

Merriam-Webster: towhee | chewink [sense-specific] | Pipilo [genus, sense-specific]
a common finch (Pipilo erythrophthalmus of the family Emberizidae) of ... |
any of the North American finches belonging to the same genus as the ... (24 of 67 words, 2 definitions, pronunciation)

Oxford Dictionary:

towhee
a North American songbird of the bunting family, typically with brownish plumage but sometimes black and rufous.; Genus Pipilo (and Chlorurus), family ... (22 of 56 words, pronunciation)

American Heritage Dictionary:
towhee | chewink [synonym, sense-specific] | ground robin [synonym, sense-specific] |
Pipilo erythrophthalmus [species, sense-specific]
A North American bird that ranges from southern Canada to Mexico and has black, white, and rust-colored plumage in the male. | Any of several finches ... (25 of 55 words, 2 definitions)

New World Dictionary:
towhee [United States] | Pipilo erythrophthalmus [species]
any of several large, ground-feeding, North American sparrows (family Emberizidae); especially, the rufous-sided towhee with a chestnut patch on each ... (20 of 36 words)

Random House Dictionary:
towhee | ground robin
any of several long-tailed North American finches of the genera "Pipilo" and "Chlorura". (13 of 20 words, pronunciation)

Wiktionary:

towhee | towhees [plural]
Any of several species of birds of the genera Pipilo and Melozone. (12 of 14 words)

Macmillan British Dictionary:
finch [countable] | finches [plural]
a small bird with a short thick beak. There are many types of finch. (14 of 39 words, pronunciation)

Cambridge Dictionary:
finch
any of various types of small singing bird with a short wide pointed beak (14 of 24 words, pronunciation)

Encarta Dictionary:
towhee | towhees [plural] | Pipilo and Chlorura [member of] a large long-tailed sparrow that usually feeds on the ground. Native to: North America. Genera Pipilo and Chlorura. (18 of 40 words, pronunciation)

Oxford Dictionary:
towhee
First use: mid 18th century
Origin: imitative of the call of Pipilo erythrophthalmus

American Heritage Dictionary:
towhee
Origin: Imitative of the song of some of these birds.

Collins Dictionary:
towhee
First use: 18th century
Origin: imitative of its note

New World Dictionary:

towhee [United States]
Origin: echoic of one of its calls

Merriam-Webster:
towhee
First use: about 1729
Origin: imitative

Encarta Dictionary:
towhee | towhees [plural]
First use: Mid-18th century
Origin: An imitation of the bird's call

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All told, this is an interesting read... Is the bird a Finch or a Sparrow or a Ground-robin or a Marsh-robin? Note the unusual lack of name capitalization common to folks like Sibley... How accurate is the first-use date of 1729 cited by Merriam-Webster? Are they talking about the Rufus-sided critter, or Eastern?

Kind of reminds me of this famous skit (From: http://youtu.be/W7rv026gIJ8)

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 22, 2014

The Importance of Mock Ups

Hi,

Sorry for yet another delay -- finishing the garage has turned out to be more of a project than I expected. (And the birds have taken a backburner as well... Expect a post on our new Towhees in the near future...)

Over my years of construction, plumbing, engineering, furniture design, boat building, etc., I've come to appreciate the value of finding some way of mocking up some kind of scale model (the larger the scale, the better) of the finished project. Case in point... the photo below...

tv mock up 420 IMG_8425.JPG

That's a 1:1 cardboard model of our soon-to-be large-screen TV for the new rec room... It's surprising how a simple cardboard big screen puts things in perspective... Here are the considerations that typically occur regardless of the challenge:

  • Space: Does a walk through of the first floor of the "house to be" really work for you? Use stakes and yellow tape to find out... CAD goes just so far...
  • Seating: The cardboard imitation above raised all kinds of questions about exactly where people will sit. We intend to use that TV not just as a TV but as a computer monitor... What do we do with the computer desk? How will the light change in the room season by season?
  • Electrical/cable/etc..: Yup... All that stuff... Years ago I was a plumber's assistant and was helping to lay out the water for a new restaurant... While the blueprints were all well and good, it wasn't until we started laying down tape measures to mock up the place that the owners realized that the sink was in the wrong place... Thousands of dollars were saved in that discovery. Logistics in all forms matter.
  • Aesthetics: Yeah, I'm the last person on planet Earth to talk about this... Still... Subjects such as placement, light and shadow, and color do matter....
  • Place your rough mock up (be it bird feeder or or mansion) where you want it, and then make it physically happen. It's much easier to get it perfect beforehand than get it right after the fact.
I don't know... You can see by our trellis project, I practice what I preach... Mock ups are wonderful things...

By the well-designed feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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September 14, 2014

9_11_2014

100px-Black_Ribbon.svg.png

Hi,

Sorry to be so tardy (yet again!), but 9/11 is a tough time for me... I'd like to explain, but I don't think my bosses would be too keen on my explanation... But know this... I have many deep emotions this time of year, and fear isn't one of them. As each journalist is beheaded, each attack occurs on U.S. soil, as each U.S. Embassy is attacked... Those who perpetrate or perpetuate such vile acts might want to reflect on Yamamoto's famous quote... "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Someday I can perhaps explain and keep my job...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

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September 6, 2014

Sealing a Garage Door

Hi,

Sorry about being tardy (yet again!)

But I thought I'd take a break from the birds and let you in on a little secret I stumbled upon -- how to actually seal up the bottom of a garage door. There are a number of caveats here, but we might as well get started... Pics will follow...

  • If your door is falling apart, kiss your checkbook goodbye and buy a new one... That takes care of 90% of the problem...
  • If the meeting plane between your driveway and your garage door landing isn't flat and square to the garage opening, see the comment about your checkbook. (There's no problem that a good contractor can't fix if you just throw enough cash at him/her.) If you want to take on the project yourself, that's fine, but you really should be fluent in stuff like concrete and epoxy and screeding, etc...
Alrighty then... Let's say that your legitimate garage door comes pretty close to actually mating with its destination, but not exactly... You might want to take the following steps...
  1. Buy a gasket that seats between the concrete and your door. Note in the shot below the long strip of lumpy gray rubber. That has been secured with copious amounts of Phenoseal and later by Rust-Oleum's LeakSeal...

    420 garage door open with foam IMG_8349.JPG

  2. So far, so good... But you still have the junction where the corner of the door meets the concrete. Here's where the secret comes in... I opened the door as in the photo above and sprayed in a big gob of 'Great Stuff' expanding foaming goo. I gave that a few minutes and then covered it with cellophane. This is critical!!! If the goo gets into the mechanical parts of the door, you're going to need a new job to pay for the carnage. Do not let the goo actually get into the mechanical workings of the door!!! But if you're careful...
  3. If you are careful, you can immediately close the door and let it sit for a day... The cellophane will keep the glop away from the mechanics of the door, and at the same time allow you to create perfect molds for the corners... Then just open the door, trim, and you have a sealed door...

    Garage door 420 closed with foam IMG_8350.JPG

Just like that, garage door be sealed and you can pretty much stop worrying about water and creepy crawlies...

By the feeders

CapeCodAlan

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August 25, 2014

New Shelf, Crow Eating Habits, and Finger...

where shelf will go_420 IMG_8246.JPG

OK... That's where a chunk of this board will ultimately rest...

board 420 IMG_8247.JPG

But more of that later... On to the crows and their eating habits... Wow... Where to begin? Let's see... I've been watching crows now for a good five years, and I'm finally beginning to pick up some of their eating habits. Here are four (and a few ain't so pretty...):

  • First, crows prefer meat... Yeah, you can give them bread and popcorn, but they really get down with stuff like 'Haw Dawgs' and chicken...
  • You can tell when a crow has been sleeping and is now ready to eat because it will stand on one foot, stretch a wing, and yawn... No joke
  • Beak cleaning is a pre-dine must for the buggers... Look for beak swiping...
  • And lastly, crow defecation is extremely common immediately before I feed them. I don't know whether this is a gastrointestinal purging, a social act, or maybe it's just their way of interacting with me personally... (Hey! I've had dinner dates who upon meeting me spontaneously had to go, so...)
Now, let's get back to the shelf... I'm going to let you in one one fantastic little carpenter's secret... There will be times when you're trying to put up a level shelf, but one of the brackets mysteriously shifts up or down by an eighth. I've spent years beating myself up over this rare but curious phenomenon. I've finally discovered what is happening. Every so often the fastener being used will hit some sort of an obstacle (knot or nail) and that will divert its course... As I said, this is rare, but it does happen...

Before I go, there is the matter of that metal splinter in my finger... It's been at least six weeks since I got that splinter, and I'm still not right. (That's one reason I'm not posting as often as I used to...) My finger/hand/arm just don't "feel right". I would imagine you medical experts out there are screaming at the computer right now insisting that I see a doctor. Well, that's my call... But I will offer this word of advice -- if you get one of those splinters, see a doctor ASAP. Who knows what coatings the manufacturer puts on objects like screws and nails... Take it from someone who learned it the hard way...

Well... All for now...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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August 13, 2014

Splinter...

Hi,

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably noticed I've been off line for a while... While the reasons are multiple, the photo below at least explains a part of the problem...

PUSS FINGER 420.JPG

Yup, the pic above ain't pretty... And it shouldn't be... This is what happens when you neglect a splinter (a metal splinter no less) for a week...

Making stuff for the home and backyard is just a part of this blog. (You can always Google on "eBirdseed.com blog woodworking")... So far, so good right? Well, no good deed goes unpunished, and this time I 'got punished bad'... I was simply finishing putting in some trim in the garage, when the simple act of driving a screw stuck a tiny metal sliver into my finger. At the time it was no more than an, "Ouch, you S.O.B.!" What followed has been five weeks (and few posts) of hassle... Words to the wise from one now wiser concerning things like splinters...

  1. First, don't get the splinter to begin with -- use a set of quality mechanic's gloves. (And eye safety goes without saying...)
  2. Should you get a splinter, remove it ASAP and talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the appropriate plan of action...
  3. Keep the wound clean -- once a puncture gets infected, it's a horror to bring under control...
  4. Don't be surprised if your doctor has to open the infected area... (In my case I had to remove an entire layer of skin using an approach that makes the application of leaches look civilized... As I said, see a doctor ASAP!)
So... ... ...

As for me, I think I've got the infection on the run, but still there is a bit of puffiness/redness/tenderness... The possibility of losing the finger is still out there...

Hope you heed these words...

Stay safe by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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August 10, 2014

Oh, Those Baby Blues!

Another first for Casa CapeCodAlan: a family of bluebirds somewhere in the neighborhood! We had been observing lots of youngsters near our feeders in the past few weeks, the "ruffled feathers open mouth begging" behavior is hard to miss, and very cute. But lots of baby birds species look very similar; most are mottled and drab colored, and all are small.

01_three bluebirds.JPG

Over the past week, however, this crew has started to take on color, and that's what clued us in to the fact that they weren't just some of our ubiquitous little brown birds.

02_four bluebirds.JPG

Once there was enough color and markings for a proper identification, zip over to the ol' Sibley's, and voila! Baby bluebirds. And they are simply charming.

03_two bluebirds.jpg

So it is to be hoped that we will see even more bluebirds this coming winter, due to our sweet neighborhood bluebird family!

Happily blue by the feeders.
Cape Cod Alan


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