Saturday, April 2, 2022

Superior Reflections


Oil on Textured Linen Panel - 12 x 24 inches
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), Lake Superior, Duluth harbor

Of all the birds that have visited my yard, two stand out as being extremely reactive to my presence, almost always noticing when I stand at the window closest to my bird feeders. It doesn’t make a difference if my approach is slow and methodical, or sloth-like; even when I try to peek around the corner showing only my head and one eyeball, my cover is blown just about every time. These two species are the American Crow and the Rock Pigeon. For this writing, I will be focusing on the Rock Pigeon. 

For the first five years at my home, Rock Pigeons had never found the spoils of my feeders, even though they were breeding only blocks away atop buildings. Unbeknownst to me, my feeders were a well kept secret. That all changed on July 27, 2019 when I saw the first Rock Pigeons in my yard. 

Rock Pigeons thrive in urban developments, and my home is close enough to urbanization for me to know that once the pigeons found my home, they were here to stay. With each passing year, commercial buildings encroach ever closer to my neighborhood, overtaking residential homes and stamping out treed plots of land. It’s a stubborn, unmitigated and curious trend given that Duluth’s population is no bigger than it was at the beginning of the 20th century. But, urban sprawl is another topic for a different day. 

First, let me just say that I had an internal dialog with myself when pigeons discovered my feeders three years ago. I asked myself: Was I going to love ‘em or loathe ‘em? For me the answer was easy. I wasn’t going to loathe them. I was going to understand them. But if you’re wondering what you’d do, may I pose a question? At what point in life do you throw your stink eye at the negative and lean on the positive? Negative news is front and center these days, we all know it, but behind all that negativity, science is moving forward at breakneck speeds. And as it turns out, there’s a lot of positive news out there. All you have to do is look for it. Case in point: the Rock Pigeon! 

Remember not too long ago when the Covid pandemic took off? It was only 2020, although it seems like eons ago. Well that year, a behavioral study about Rock Pigeons, Columba livia – the same species that visits my yard – was published in the March edition of Learning & Behavior, a journal devoted to the experimental and theoretical contributions and critical reviews concerning fundamental processes of learning and behavior in nonhuman and human animals. The news was positive. 

Research from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences from The University of Iowa and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles (Victor M. Navarro, Edward A. Wasserman, and Piotr Slomka) determined that Rock Pigeons are extremely good at recognizing what they see. Well, of course they are. Aren’t all birds really great at seeing? Most are, but there are some exceptions such as New Zealand’s flightless kiwi. Rock Pigeons, however, have excellent vision. They can tell the difference between extremely complex objects, pictures, and photos. Their vision allows them to pick out a Monet from a Picasso, differentiate letters of the alphabet, recognize human expressions, and discriminate between benign and cancerous human breast images. I saved the best for last there, did you catch that? But researchers already knew this stuff, which means you might have just learned a little bit of old news. Don’t feel bad, I just learned it, too. 

What this most recent study found, and in character with sorting out breast cancer images, researchers discovered that Rock Pigeons can also differentiate between healthy and diseased heart muscles. So, in addition to reading mammograms, they’ve also been taught how to read stress test scans of the heart. Pigeons as heart disease specialists? Now that’s something that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. 

For a short explanation, a person is often given a stress test to determine if they have coronary heart disease. Pseudo-colorized images are then created to show how well blood flows, or doesn’t flow, throughout the body. A cardiologist reads those visual images to determine the presence of coronary blockages. Rock Pigeons were taught how to read those same images (myocardial perfusion single photon emission-computed tomography, or MPS) and were able to discern between a healthy heart and a diseased heart. And they were pretty darn good at it, too! 

Why is this important? To understand that, it’s helpful to know how reliable humans are at reading MPS scans. “The best achievable individual observer accuracy is about 86% and inter-observer agreement by Board-certified cardiology experts is about 87%” (quoted in Navarro, Wasserman & Slomka, 2020, p. 10). So, if you knew that your cardiologist was only 87% accurate in reading your MPS scan, there’s room for improvement, right? Hey, pigeons aren’t so bad after all. 

Now, just in case you’re imagining a pigeon standing next to your cardiologist in the doctor’s office interpreting your MPS test, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. So, here’s the meat and potatoes of the experiment. Because Rock Pigeons have a remarkable trait whereby they can extract information from extremely complex visual stimuli (superb visual cognition), pigeons may simply be able to see things better, or differently, than humans. Since medical science would like to improve upon doctors being able to successfully read coronary test results, Rock Pigeons may be able to help. Using pigeons’ models for scoring tests may “identify visual features that can improve both human and computer performance” (quoted in Navarro, Wasserman & Slomka, 2020, p. 10). 

Pigeons have adapted extremely well to our human environment and provide us with enormous learning potential to help our own species. “This bird may have no particular knack for medical diagnosis, yet its eye and brain endow it with sufficient perceptual and cognitive equipment to provide researchers with practical methods for assessing human and machine performance” (quoted in Navarro, Wasserman & Slomka, 2020, p. 19). 

I hope attitudes improve about pigeons, especially given their lowly reputations. To think differently about them may take a whole host of reasons to change public opinion. Self-reflection, i.e. asking ourselves why we feel the way we do, can also be helpful. Positive news and time wouldn’t hurt either. Providing arguments for consideration to help reconstruct our way of thinking occurs when each one of us learns and grows through knowledge.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health provided support for the Rock Pigeon research cited below.


Navarro, V.M., Wasserman, E.A. & Slomka, P. Taking pigeons to heart: Birds proficiently diagnose human cardiac disease. Learn Behav 48, 9–21 (2020).

Monday, February 28, 2022

Evening Grosbeak


Oil on Artist's Panel - 5 x 7 inches

Once or twice a year, rarely more than that, Evening Grosbeaks travel through my neck of the woods. They parade my neighborhood in very small flocks, or family units. I’m glad for their calls or else I’d probably miss them. I almost always hear them first. They never stay long, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes an overnight, and sometimes a few days. Seeing these birds always reminds me how beautiful wildlife is and how empty my life would be without it.

This colorful male visited my hopper feeder for black oil sunflower seeds on May 9, 2021 just after 9 am, a very short visit.

Thursday, January 20, 2022



16 x 12 inches, Oil on Belgian Linen Board

I saw this Great-horned Owl in my snowy woods on February 6th, 2020. When we locked eyes, I had less than three seconds to capture this image before it flew off to a different location. It wasn't surprised by me because I'm sure it saw me coming from a mile away, but I was definitely surprised by it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Dickcissel at Blue Mound

Oil on Artist's Panel - 4 x 4 inches

     This is an oil painting of a breeding male Dickcissel singing atop a wild plum at Blue Mound State Park in Rock County, Minnesota. There was an abundance of Dickcissels this year, perhaps an irruptive year, and I had no trouble finding them even closer to home in June at Sax-Zim Bog. A drive along any country road with grassy ditches and open fields yielded good sounds and sightings. Their population levels are known to occasionally spike, and I have a suspicion this was one of those years. 
    Dickcissels are dependent upon grasslands for reproduction, and with so much of North America’s grasslands having turned to crops —mainly corn for ethanol— will the sound of the Dickcissel one day be a thing of the past? As mentioned below in my blog about Bobolinks who breed in the same areas as Dickcissels, it’s estimated less than 4% of the nation’s grasslands remain. The Dickcissel hasn’t suffered a 50% reduction in the last 50 years like some other grassland birds, but its decline has been severe and it’s listed as a species vulnerable to extinction. 
     As for this bird’s wintering range, almost all Dickcissels spend seven months of every year in Venezuela foraging on rice and sorghum. Many farmers in that country view Dickcissels as pests. Frequently shot, eaten or deliberately poisoned, the overall Dickcissel population struggles to return to pre-1966 levels. Fortunately, their numbers seem to have stabilized, albeit at a much lower number. 
     Depending how much reading and research is done on birds, being a bird lover these days can be downright depressing. On many fronts, the news is grim, especially when it comes to the declining numbers of birds on the whole with many at risk of extinction. This past summer, having experienced a high number of Dickcissels in my neck of the woods, it was a welcomed sight. I’ll take it. 
     On a side note, below is a photo of my buckthorn eradication efforts this fall. It isn't even close to the amount that needs to be removed, but every fall, I keep at it. Now in my fifth year of busting buckthorn, each year the piles get bigger. Sadly, control is mitigated without neighbors addressing their own property infestations. I’ve heard that’s not an uncommon scenario, but frustrating nonetheless. The pile has grown since the photo was taken, wink wink, yes I'm proud of my work. New gloves are purchased every year to stave off those dastardly thorns.



Bird Pop! Extra Rain Is Nothing for Dickcissels To Sing About. Nov. 12, 2020. Accessed Oct. 25, 2021.

Carpenter, Tom. Treasures in the Grass. Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, July/August 2018, Vol. 81, No. 479.

Nickens, T. Edward. Vanishing Voices. National Wildlife (World Edition), 15455157, Oct/Nov2010, Vol. 48, Issue 6.

Temple, Stanley A. Dickcissel. Birds of the March 4, 2020. Text last updated January 1, 2002. Accessed Oct. 8, 2021.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Prairie Savannah

Oil on Artist's Panel - 4 x 4 inches

Here’s a small oil painting of a Savannah Sparrow near Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota. Perched alongside the road on a barbed-wire fence in June, this bird sang frequently. Its buzzy, insect-like song indicated it was a male, and its song is associated with guarding its territory, courtship, and communication. I spent a long time observing this bird, and was perceptive of it becoming comfortable with my presence. Occasionally, it rested on one foot, the other tucked up into its body. Other times, it retreated to a nearby fence post to broadcast its song. 

Savannah Sparrows are part of a group of birds that produce “soft songs,” a trait found in almost half of the birds in North America. Meaning low amplitude, soft songs are used for a variety of reasons, such as defending one’s territory, courting, and signaling danger. For Savannah Sparrows, soft songs are associated with the highest level of aggression – an attack on a rival during a territorial dispute. 

In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Windsor and the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, it was determined that the most reliable predictor of an attack by a Savannah Sparrow were its soft songs. Compared to other signals of aggression such as wing waving, broadcast calls, or chip calls, territorial males, just prior to attack, sang significantly more soft songs than non-attackers. 

This begs the question: if I’m a bird, why wouldn’t I sing as loudly as I could to let my competitor know I mean business? The answer may lie directly in the bird’s physique. When a Savannah Sparrow belts out its songs with its head tilted back and beak wide open, that posture may prevent the bird from seeing its rival clearly. In order to chase an intruder away, a nearly-closed beak compared to one that is wide open is advantageous. It allows the bird to keep an eye on its challenger, resulting in a productive chase. For a bird, tracking an intruder relies heavily on eyesight; and what bird can do that if it’s singing at the top of its lungs? 

So if you’re out and about in a field of Savannah Sparrows and you’re skilled at picking up a Savannah Sparrow’s soft song, listen for numerous occurrences. A high number of soft songs is an excellent indicator that the bird is about to show another bird who’s boss.



Moran, Ines G. & Doucet, Stéphanie & Newman, Amy & Norris, Ryan & Mennill, Daniel. (2018). Quiet violence: Savannah Sparrows respond to playback-simulated rivals using low-amplitude songs as aggressive signals: XXXX. Ethology. 124. 724-732. 10.1111/eth.12805.

Monday, October 4, 2021

MPSGS - Annual Exhibition

Three miniature oil paintings on exhibit.
88th Annual Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature
The Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society
of Washington, D.C. (MPSGS)

The Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852
Nov. 21, 2021 - Jan. 8, 2022

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Seduction of Miss Lilly

18 x 24 inches, Oil on Belgian Linen Board

When I saw that empty beer bottle, I just wanted to spit. But I didn’t even know how to spit, not that I cared to, but at that moment, I wished for a proper spit, one that was accurate in its aim, with the bullseye on the bottle. If I’d been a baseball player, my spit would’ve been accurate. Go figure. One small group of society that still spits, and not because they’re irritated. 

I climbed a few steps past the litter and upwards into the field. I was thankful the ditch was dry. Still, I had been prepared to sink into the muddy grass. When I reached the top of the mountain, the mountain of prairie that is, it wasn’t as far as my eyes could see. Sadly, those places rarely exist anymore. "Urban sprawl and conversion to cropland have left this once expansive landscape, originally spanning across 14 states from Texas to Minnesota, at less than 4% of its original size."1 Farms, homes, crops, utility poles and roads dotted the landscape near and far, but as I stood in the land of Bobolinks, I knew this place was special. 

Just like the faded Budweiser label, the trails in front of me were barely visible. After sorting through a few obscure possibilities, I picked one that paralleled the high ridge, away from the quiet country road. Because Bobolinks nest on the ground, the last thing I wanted to do was accidentally step on a nest full of eggs. The trails were narrow, not more than eight inches and became less visible when the wind blew, therefore my pace was slow, calculated and cautious. My goal was to learn more about Bobolinks, obtain a personal connection with their homeland and photograph them in their natural habitat. 

The best part about Bobolinks, besides their gorgeous plumage, is their song. In the distance, I heard computers. The wind sometimes picked up the sound waves and made my ears perk up even more. Inflections of data were insulated beneath blades of grass, computations unknown and invisible. The sound made me giddy - another language, so foreign yet so familiar. 

My childhood occurred before computers became ubiquitous, but I had never heard Bobolinks in the wild before. I wonder what I would’ve thought of them before the recognizable beep-bee-bee-boop-weeps of a computer, which I probably first heard from an original Star Trek episode in the 1970s. R2-D2 from Star Wars has been compared to the noises of Bobolinks. Right on, I thought, as I stood in a patch of sci-fi surround sound. Ten-thousand years from now if humans and Bobolinks are still around, will we ask which came first: the computer or the Bobolink? Perhaps that’s a far-fetched question, but humans have short memories and are oftentimes distrustful of historical data. 

I unwrapped my collapsible chair and sat down to observe the Bobolinks in the prairie grassland. I took it all in — the warm spring air, the tall grasses, the morning sun, and the Bobolinks. Males hovered in mid-air above females hidden below, then retreated to higher perches after checking on them. Sometimes these perches were simple twigs, other times just blades of grass. Occasionally, a female would pop out long enough for me to get a glance, but rarely long enough for a photo. They were undercover and elusive. Males chased females here and there before disappearing into the field, gone in a flash. Off in the distance, Ring-necked Pheasants discharged their scratchy calls alongside the bouncy trills of Field Sparrows. Each were infrequent but regular contributors to the chaotic sounds of the Bobolinks. 

I have fallen in love with the prairie ever since my first visit to Glendalough State Park in western Minnesota in 2014; and of the four biomes that exist in my state, the prairie is my favorite. To some of you, that may come as a surprise because you know how much I love trees, so it’s entirely possible that if I lived on the prairie, I’d eventually yearn to be closer to trees. However, the grasslands have stolen my heart from the coniferous forest biome where I currently live. I hunger to return. 

Departing the land of Bobolinks, I exited the same way I came in, slowly and carefully. Towards the road, that old beer bottle pierced my eyeballs once more. American journalist Sydney J. Harris once said, "When we have 'second thoughts' about something, our first thoughts don't seem like thoughts at all - just feelings." My initial feelings about that piece of trash lying in the ditch had changed, and my second thoughts altered my point of view. No longer was that bottle an eyesore. Birds don't always cooperate when you want them to, so I considered it a good luck charm in my pursuit of the Bobolinks. I picked it up and took it home, where it serves as a reminder of my intimate perspective gained in the company of Bobolinks. Taking a negative object and turning it into a positive memento seemed like the perfect ending to a successful outing. 
This painting is of one of the male Bobolinks I saw that day, all decked out in his breeding plumage. Before migrating, they molt into feathers that more closely resemble the brownish-yellow females. Bobolinks are currently traveling to their wintering grounds in South America. Theirs is one of the longest migrations of any songbird in the Americas. 

The title of this work is named after Lilly, wife of famed Adolphus Busch, producer of Budweiser. Bobolinks are a declining species.


1The Nature Conservancy, "Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve." Accessed Sept.16, 2021.

Adolphus Busch. Sept. 16, 2021. Adolphus Busch. Wikipedia.

Brainy Quote. Sept. 16, 2021. "Sydney J. Harris Quotes."


Information from the All About Birds website, © Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved Sept. 16, 2021.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Opus Eclipsed

Oil on Artist's Panel - 4 x 4 inches

Described as sounding like the English equivalent of ee-oh-lay, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind about Wood Thrushes is their beautiful song. Usually, Wood Thrushes can be heard off in the distance in mixed forests and deciduous woods, and if you have them in your neck of the woods, you know how lucky you are. There is simply no other sound quite like that of a Wood Thrush. These birds breed in the eastern half of the United States and need large tracts of forest to survive. Sadly, they’ve suffered a two-percent decline every year from 1966-2015. 

The Wood Thrush is "listed as a Tri-National Concern species and is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. The Wood Thrush is one of the most prominent examples of declining forest songbirds in North America.”1

Last June, I encountered this bird, its mate, and their nest in an understory about 13 feet high, not long after dawn. One of the Wood Thrushes had insects in its mouth and the other was flicking its left wing at me from a low branch. This was all by chance, mind you. I hadn’t sought out this bird and wasn’t even birding at the time. As I stood on a seldom-traveled path observing the pair in sparkling rays through the trees, I soon discovered their nest. Realizing how close I was, I immediately backed away from my position and observed the pair from afar. Later, I retrieved my camera and took some photos, some of which are below. 

Wood Thrushes are one of many forest bird species susceptible to an ecological model called source-sink dynamics whereas these birds will inhabit both high-quality (source) and low-quality (sink) environments to breed. The source for Wood Thrushes is identified as a large tract of forest which allows for a high probability of reproductive success. The sink is a low quality habitat, such as a small woodlot. The sink population can survive, but their offspring will not, resulting in nest failure. To the casual observer, one might deduce that their small woodlot containing a Wood Thrush nest is indicative of a healthy population, but in a sink dynamic, no young ever fledge the nest. Without the protection of forest cover, predators such as crows, grackles, parasitic cowbirds, and squirrels are more likely to find their nest. In addition, cats can easily take these birds while they forage on the forest floor, their primary source for food.

Acid rain may be another factor contributing to the decline of the Wood Thrush. “A byproduct of burning fossil fuels for our vast energy needs, acid rain occurs when nitric and sulfuric acids combine with water in the atmosphere and return to earth as rain, snow, or mist. Acid reaction with the ground depletes soil calcium levels, leading to a host of forest ills. A calcium-poor diet can easily lead to egg shell defects and a smaller clutch of eggs. Both of these factors may contribute to breeding failure not only for the wood thrush but also for a variety of other songbirds."2 It's important to note acid rain's effect on wildlife warrants further research, but evidence suggests it may play an important role in the decline of some species, notably the Wood Thrush, primarily due to its calcium-rich diet.

Specifically, Wood Thrushes need approximately one or two forested acres to survive in their ideal habitat. The acreage from where I observed the pair of Wood Thrushes was sizable, however partially fragmented. It wasn’t apparent they were in their source habitat; and it wasn’t a slam-dunk they were in the sink either. Not more than a stone's throw away, there were open, non-forested areas on three sides of the nest. On the other hand, the birds had a fairly direct route of forested landscape to the east and southeast of their nest. 

My photos revealed at least one baby’s beak rising above the top of the nest, so it was obvious the pair had reproduced provided it wasn't a cowbird's beak, but I did wonder whether there were more babies in the nest. I chose not to get better views of the clutch size simply because I didn’t want to disturb the family any more than my presence already had, but I was definitely curious! 

I can only hope the trees remain standing for generations to come in the location where I discovered this Wood Thrush family. The realist in me, however, has a heavy heart. When I see homeowners chipping away at treed acreage all around my community, commercial development expanding further and further from the city, and the shocking images of expansive land-clearing from here to eternity as shown from online mapping resources, I am disheartened. I ask myself, when will it stop? How much do humans need? Why do we need so much? As a positive step forward, we have begun to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, so perhaps acid rain will one day become a thing of the past. It is my fervent belief, however, that these actions alone will never contribute towards a sustainable planet for all creatures here on Earth unless human population control is also part of the equation.

Wood Thrushes are currently migrating to the tropical forests in Central America, another area of shrinking songbird habitat.

My photo of a Wood Thrush with suspected flea beetle, crane fly,
and green lacewing. Special thanks to Jim (James) Walker,
M.S. Entomologist, Department of Entomology,
University of Minnesota, for insect identification.
Photo ©Becca Mulenburg

My photo of a Wood Thrush nest. Look closely to see
the yellow-colored beak rising above the nest.
Plastic was used for some nesting material,
which is not uncommon for this bird.
Photo ©Becca Mulenburg


1Information from the All About Birds website,, © Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved September 9, 2021.

2McLane, Eben. "The Disappearing Wood Thrush." Retrieved Sept. 9, 2021.

Graham, Sarah. "Acid Rain Linked to Bird Decline." Aug. 13, 2002. Scientific American. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2021. 

Kricher, John. Peterson Reference Guide to Bird Behavior. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, 2020.

Ralph S. Hames, Kenneth V. Rosenberg, James D. Lowe, Sara E. Barker, André A. Dhondt "Adverse effects of acid rain on the distribution of the Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina in North America"  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 20; 99(17): 11235–11240. Published online 2002 Aug 12. doi: 10.1073/pnas.172700199 PMCID: PMC123239. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2021.

"Source-sink dynamics." Retrieved Sept. 9, 2021.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Serendipity on Lepin Road


Oil on Panel - 10 x 10 inches

While photographing the Sandhill Crane migration in Nebraska this spring, this unassuming Killdeer walked out of the cornfield towards me and stopped for a while, probably to check to see if the coast was clear before continuing on. Following close behind was its mate. Surprise moments like these are pretty special, especially when birding for another species. It's the unexpected that is oftentimes more meaningful and emotional. That was certainly the case for me, and if you're a birder, you know exactly what I mean. For this Killdeer to be in a cornfield wasn't unusual, but the only birds I was paying attention to were the Sandhill Cranes... that is until this little beauty came out of nowhere and quietly stood just feet away.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

On Auggie's Stage


Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

Word to the Winter Wren:

You bounce and chat with rotund roundness, my imagination cups your smallness in my palm, secure and warm. One hand envelops the other. Gently. Your feathers are soft and beautiful, as is your music. Will you sing your sweet melody one last time? Oh, how my invitation rests upon the eleventh-hour, forgive my thirst. As you stand on Auggie’s stage amongst Lil’ Red’s pinecone beads, I’ll endorse his offerings and bid you a fond farewell, too, for I know the way out has arrived. No curtain call is without reservation and October isn’t for the sluggish. Are you packed and ready to go? Where benevolence resides, all things in time, but if Auggie holds the caption, winter possesses the period. Good fortune and easy travels, little one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Arbor Day Pine Warbler

Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

    Minnesota’s Arbor Day was April 30th of this year. It’s an occasion seldom marked on calendars and celebrated with little fanfare, media coverage, or huzzah. The date on which Arbor Day falls is specific to each state, so each year I make a note on my calendar when Arbor Day occurs. April 30th is considered a little too early to plant trees in Duluth because we are located in the northern part of the state, but May is right around the corner when it’s prime planting time. 

     This year I took a walk around my yard on Arbor Day and photographed birds and plants that looked interesting to me, in addition to snapping photos of the jack pine stand. Almost all of the initial 25 jack pines from 2015 have survived, and the conifers are growing nicely. Disappointingly, one of the larger jack pines bent over last fall and I thought it was a goner, but I decided to pull it upright and stake it. I figured, why not take the chance to help it? Lo and behold, it’s still upright after a long winter and looking good. A week ago, I noticed a small bird fly into that exact tree and not leave. Upon closer inspection, I saw a Chipping Sparrow sitting on its nest about 6 feet high. Well hidden on a branch against the trunk of the tree, I was absolutely thrilled to see a nesting bird in the very tree I helped rescue.

     Back to Arbor Day… marsh marigolds were emerging, the morning cloak butterfly was visible deeper in the woods, and the chipmunk, which I first heard on March 5th, was available for the photo shoot. Later in the day, I noticed a Pine Warbler at my suet feeder, a yard list first. This painting is a depiction of that bird when it was on the ground with its foot propped up on a pine cone. Arbor Day didn’t disappoint this year and the Pine Warbler made it special. 

     Over twenty young trees were planted in May, including white and red oaks, red maples, Chinese chestnuts, and a mountain ash. The highbush cranberries in my front yard are currently in full bloom and swarming with pollinators. The dragonflies have been putting on quite a show in the evenings when it’s easy to see their prey in the dimming sun. The hummingbirds are buzzing, fawns are prancing, and the first bear sighting of the year occurred this morning just after breakfast. 

     During today’s afternoon walk, I heard Chestnut-sided Warblers, American Redstarts, House Wrens, Red-eyed Vireos, and a Broad-winged Hawk. These singing birds define my home in Duluth during the month of June, in addition to American Robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Goldfinches and the occasional Veery. Purple Finches seem quiet and sparse this spring, and this was the first year I didn’t see any Harris’s Sparrows during spring migration. In addition, there were less than a handful of Redpolls or Pine Siskins that came through, an extremely low number compared to other years. 

     I hope you all enjoy the summer and check out some art shows when you get a chance. 

These jack pines were planted in 2015.
Compare with photos below. Photo 4/30/2021

Same jack pines. Photo April 2019.

Same jack pines. Photo May 2017.

Chipping Sparrow on nest in "rescued" jack pine. Photo 6/8/2021

The "rescued" jack pine.
The Chipping Sparrow's nest is approximately
6 feet high in this tree, about mid-height. Photo 6/8/2021

Mourning cloak butterfly. Photo 4/30/2021.

Emerging marsh marigold. Note winged bug at tip of rear leaf.
Here come the bugs, aka bird food! Photo 4/30/2021.

Chipmunk on bird bath. Photo 4/30/2021.

Elderberry buds. Photo 4/30/2021.

First bear sighting of the year. Photo 6/8/2021, 7:39 am.

Plant trees. 

Plant pollinators. 

Save forests. 

Reduce plastic usage. 

Curb development.

Do something.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Can I Get a Witness?

Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

During the winter months of 2020, I started feeding a White-throated Sparrow that was stranded at my home here in Duluth, Minnesota. Unsure of when I first noticed it, I suspect it was late October but more likely early November, a time when fall’s lifeboat becomes unmoored, and creatures that don’t belong here are left with few options for survival. White-throated Sparrows have short migrations and don’t need to travel very far come wintertime, but each day the bird remained carried it further into a tunnel with a dimming light. I was sad to see it hanging around and wondered about its circumstances. Of course, I realized I’d never know and grew bothered by stories that seeped into my head uninvited. So, I concentrated on what I could do to help it. Perhaps by making sure this bird was well fed, one day it would fly south to join others of its kind. That’s what I was hoping for. And on the double, too! I figured if I gave it plenty of nourishment before the onset of winter (which in all honesty seemed like it was already here), it might stand a chance. 

If there was a reason the White-throated Sparrow was stranded, the weather may have been a major factor. Last October, both snowfall and temperature records were set in Duluth. It was the second snowiest October ever (12 inches) and the second coldest from October 16-31st. The sparrow was frequenting two areas for shelter; one was a covered, outdoor wood pile enclosed on three sides (this was its favorite hangout), and another was a depression underneath an unused sauna about fifty feet away. Neither of these areas were heated, but at least they provided some protection from the wind and snow. Once I knew where it hung out, I tossed it seeds every day, but only by the wood pile. Each time, it responded by coming out for food. 

Compared to the Arctic Tern which has the longest migration of any bird (from the Arctic to the Antarctic), the White-throated Sparrow’s migration is short. All this bird had to do was make it to the Mississippi River near Minneapolis to reach its northern-most safety point, a mere 150 miles south. Yet each day that it remained, the hurdles towards its survival grew higher. 

December arrived, and I was still feeding the little sparrow. I enjoyed watching it sunning itself on a stump by the woodpile, all fluffed out and absorbing rays. November and December weren’t terribly cold, but on December 23rd the first blizzard of the season rolled in. It brought heavy wet snow and 55 mph winds. I was worried about the sparrow, especially because I hadn’t seen it for days, but eventually it showed up and I was relieved. Still, my sense of relief was fleeting, there were three to four more months of winter to go. When it comes to nature, I am a realist, a pessimist, and an optimist, all rolled into one. I know how cruel nature can be, and despite feeling encouraged that it had made it through one-third of a Duluth winter, plenty of obstacles remained. The coldest nights brought me the most worry. 

Days turned into months and by mid-January I was growing ever more hopeful this sparrow would make it to April. After all, it survived a blizzard and several nights of below-zero temperatures. Would this be the first White-throated Sparrow to ever survive a Duluth winter? Probably not, but I envisioned the stories it would tell its friends, and the happiest of reunions come spring. I was feeling very optimistic. 

My one downfall was that I hadn’t considered predators, at least not the flying kind. Sure… I’d thought of the red squirrel who owned the woodpile, but it was a nuisance at best, not a predator, and only showed up occasionally. Besides, the sparrow’s best defense was that it could fly and its hiding places were secure, or so I thought. But birds of prey are tenacious and patient, they wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. 

The White-throated Sparrow that I worked so hard at keeping alive through a Duluth winter died on January 18, 2021, when it was killed by a Northern Shrike, the bird represented in this painting. Little did I know sparrows are among its favorite food. I first noticed the shrike on that same day when it flew up into our apple tree nearby the sauna. Not even thinking of the White-throated Sparrow at the time, my focus was on the shrike and its behavior, but I soon realized there was more at stake than just a shrike in my apple tree looking for prey. It was laser focused on the White-throated Sparrow it had likely attacked just moments earlier. 

Located in a depression at the edge of the sauna, the sparrow was injured and dying. Occasionally, the shrike flew down to the sauna for observation near the bird, then flew back up into the tree. Then, it flew a short distance to my feeders looking for more prey. After finding none, it flew back to the apple tree, then eventually down to the sparrow. 

Northern Shrikes are winter birds the size of American Robins, and my personal observations of them has only been in winter. Interestingly, I’ve noticed them most often during the onset of a cold front preceded by a heavy snowfall. It can be calm or windy, sunny or overcast, but I know I stand a fair chance of spotting a Northern Shrike during those conditions. 

During wintertime, their food sources are typically small birds and mice; whereas they’ll eat large insects, voles and other small rodents at other times of the year. Also known as Butcher Birds, Northern Shrikes impale their prey on sharp objects or secure them in a crotch before eating them. Sometimes their prey is left for a later meal. Other times, shrikes kill more than what is needed. 

One of my friends asked me why I painted one of my not-so-favorite birds, especially this one that killed the little sparrow I was trying to save. And did I think of putting a big black X through the painting after I painted it? 

I try not to give in to my emotions when it comes to nature because there are many ways of looking at what happened to the White-throated Sparrow. Easier said than done, though. Yes, the sparrow’s death saddened me, but it didn’t take away from the fact that Northern Shrikes like to eat small birds. As much as I wanted the sparrow to live through the winter, the shrike had an attainable food source, one of its favorites nonetheless, and acted upon it. Sure, I wish the shrike had found mice or voles instead, but vole tracks were slim pickings this past winter, the fewest I’ve seen in years. As for mice, our indoor traps caught a few, they know where to hide. 

I’m glad the Northern Shrike eats mice, voles and insects, but wish it didn’t prey upon small birds. I’ll just leave it at that.

The White-throated Sparrow sitting in
its favorite spot. Photographed January 5, 2021.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Barkers' Beauty

 Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

     This isn’t one of Bob Barker’s beauties from the game show The Price is Right, this is a painting of a female American Redstart that I photographed last September from a visit to Barkers Island in Superior, Wisconsin. It was a spur-of-the-moment excursion that turned out to be a fantastic couple of hours of birding, and unexpectedly, too. 
     Barkers Island was recently renovated to reduce storm water runoff and protect Lake Superior’s water quality, so I was curious to see the changes to the shoreline of Superior Bay and maybe photograph a bird or two. Even though September ushers in prime fall migration, my previous visits to this area weren’t productive, so I wasn’t expecting much. On this particular trip, I think I just got lucky. 
     To have gotten great photos of this lovely and lively Redstart sitting still was divine. For me personally, I don’t know of too many birds in my neck of the woods that are harder to photograph besides Redstarts and Kinglets, but practice over the years has paid off. So, when this bird sat on a branch longer than two seconds after following it with my lens for several moments, I held my breath and started shooting. 
     Other migrating birds seen on Barkers Island were a Common Yellowthroat, Tennessee Warbler, Song Sparrow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Goldfinch, Belted Kingfisher, a Least or Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and a snapping turtle (ahem, not a bird). All of these were found in a very small area along the paved walkway near the entrance, except for the snapper which was crossing the road closer to the marina. 
     It’s true what they say about the burgeoning hobby of birding. Birds are everywhere! Sometimes they turn up in unforeseen numbers when you least expect them. And this, my friends, is just one of the many things that makes birding so much fun.

Snapping Turtle, Barkers Island, Superior, WI. Photo 9/11/2020.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Monarda's Honey

 Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

It's interesting to watch where Ruby-throated Hummingbirds seek out nectar besides my feeders. One thing is for certain, they really love Monarda. This particular variety with showy red petals is called Cambridge Scarlet. In August of 2020, as our summer season was nearing its end, the petals took on some fun shapes and added to the beauty of this hummingbird – as if hummingbirds could get any more beautiful. Also called bee balm, this plant has been a reliable source of natural food for hummingbirds in my yard besides honeysuckle vine, jewelweed, and more.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Secretive Warbler


Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

     “The Connecticut Warbler is a strange rare bird ; a walker instead of a hopping bird ; a bird that is hard to find even when it is in the neighborhood ; a bird which comes north by one route and returns by another, and is almost lost to the world in both breeding and winter feeding seasons.”1  

     During the spring migration when I’m at my desk working on a painting, I practice lots of birding by ear. I quite like the challenge because it really tests my memory and separates that sense of hearing from all my other senses. On May 24, 2017, I heard a bird from my window that I’d never heard before, so I ventured outside with my camera into the woods. It didn’t take long for me to find this bird singing on a branch about 12 feet high, and at the time I had no idea that I was looking at, and photographing, a Connecticut Warbler. Since then, I’ve learned it’s a bird many serious birders hope to see in their lifetimes. I have not heard the bird come through my neck of the woods since, but of course that doesn’t mean it hasn’t. 
     That particular day turned out to be a spectacular migration day because I got photos of several species of warblers and many other birds. May is my favorite month to go birding in Duluth, especially in my backyard. 
     In the spring, Connecticut Warblers migrate from South America, through the Caribbean, into the northern reaches towards the Great Lakes, specifically northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the fall, these birds shift their migration eastward and travel southbound along the Atlantic coast, then across the ocean to South America. With a warming climate, this bird’s breeding range is expected to shift north, moving them out of the lower 48 states and further into Canada. 
     My painting, a representation of my photograph, depicts a male because of its gray head and the fact that it was singing. Females have brown or brownish-gray heads. These birds like to nest on the ground in woody wetlands and sphagnum moss found in bogs. If you decide to head out to a bog in search of this bird, be prepared to get your feet wet and carry lots of bug spray. Minnesota has more bogs than any other state besides Alaska, so with a little luck and persistence, maybe you’ll be able to spot this bird too, either in its habitat or on its migration route. Either way, it would be a fine sighting and I wish you good luck!



1Pearson, T. Gilbert. Birds of America. Garden City Publishing Co. Inc., New York. 1936.

Information from the All About Birds website,, © Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved April 5, 2021.

Information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website,, © 2021 Minnesota DNR. Retrieved April 5, 2021.

Kaufman, Kenn. n.d. Connecticut Warbler. Audubon. Retrieved April 5, 2021.

National Geographic Society. (1999) National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. (3rd ed.). Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Lazy Afternoon

Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

Two Western Willets and a Laughing Gull on a lazy afternoon in the Gulf.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Learning from Dad

 Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

    Pileated Woodpeckers are common where I live, although for the past few months it seems their presence has dwindled just a bit. I was accustomed to almost daily visits from these birds, but lately my suet feeder has been unusually quiet. Perhaps it was our cold February, or maybe it’s because of recently cleared, large tracts of land nearby: one for a Costco, another for a church. 
    Pileated Woodpeckers need dead or dying trees to survive, and anywhere I have one of those on my property, that tree stays right where it is, as long as it’s not a threat to other humans or property should it fall. Dead trees play important roles in forest ecosystems. 
    In May of 2018, I had a nesting pair of Pileateds in an old poplar in my woods and I’ve included a couple of my photos below. Fresh wood shavings found at the base of the tree invited my eyes to look skyward. Several feet up, I noticed a well-defined hole, and a subsequent knock on the tree produced a female Pileated Woodpecker who poked her head out to see what all the fuss was about. A couple months after she’d nested, a gray squirrel poked its head out of the same hole. 
    The following three paragraphs were taken from an article in Science titled “Defending Deadwood” by Kevin Krajick. 
     “The message is, if you want live things, you need dead trees. Humans, however, are putting the sting back into tree death: By taking too many dead or destined-to-be-dead ones for their own uses, they threaten many ecosystems. 
    The first to feast on sick trees are fungi, the main decomposers, followed by bacteria, yeasts, mites, and nematodes. Then the biotic chain lengthens further. 
    In the Pacific Northwest, it was found that 80-some animals need deadwood, starting with the powerful pileated woodpecker. The holes it drills in ailing but still-standing trees shelter not only the bird itself but also a cycle of ‘secondary cavity nesters,’ which need tree holes but cannot dig themselves. This makes the pileated woodpecker a keystone species, with dependents including nuthatches, chickadees, bluebirds, and swifts. As more space opens, mammals come: squirrels, fishers, martens, woodrats, then black bears. A study by Bull in the Winter 2000 issue of Northwestern Naturalist shows that nearly half of black bears have their cubs or rest in rotted-out tree cavities.” 
    I hope for the sake of future generations, the Pileated Woodpecker is adaptable enough for centuries to come, but its future, like so many other creatures, relies on humans paying more attention, stopping habitat loss, and caring about our environment more than the developments that wreck them.

Female Pileated Woodpecker in her nest.
Photo taken May 20, 2018, at my home in Duluth, MN.

A gray squirrel occupying the same nest on July 10, 2018.

****Note: Original publish date: March 5, 2021. Republished due to Blogger's admin site error. Sorry !! Some things are out of my control. Sincere apologies to my followers if you received this or any other blog post twice.


Krajick, Kevin. "Defending Deadwood." Science, vol. 293, no. 5535, 2001, pp. 1579-1581. JSTOR, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Guarding Carlos

Oil on Belgian Linen - 20 x 10 inches

     Here I have painted a Clay-colored Sparrow sitting atop an old log at Carlos State Park in western Minnesota. These birds come through my neck of the woods in Duluth also, and I love their buzzy calls. For a bird, their sound is unusual and reminds me of a bird coming down with laryngitis trying its hardest to sing like the rest. It's what makes this bird so adorable in my opinion, because it's just not like the others.

     These birds breed in the upper midwestern states into Canada, migrating from Central America and Texas. While I was observing this bird, I noticed a gopher nearby keeping its eye on things from the security of a wood pile. Below is my photo of that gopher, an animal that is also the University of Minnesota's mascot.

A gopher in a wood pile near the Clay-colored Sparrow

Friday, February 12, 2021

When the Geminids Fall


Oil on Belgian Linen - 22 x 28

    They say it’s easy to be superstitious when the stakes are low. It’s because you have nothing to lose. In this case, I was willing to contemplate a little superstition. I think the Geminids were to blame. Tomorrow I might feel differently, but the Geminid meteor shower was at its peak on December 14, 2019. What else could have caused such an interesting course of events? Fate? Coincidence? Oh, what a bore those can be. The allure of celestial causation was seductive and exciting, free from risk. Why not blame the Geminids? 
    Dec. 14th fell on a Saturday and my sleep had been restless. From 3 am onward, I tossed and turned. At 5 o’clock, I gave up and went downstairs. I didn’t raid the refrigerator, turn on the TV, or grab a book, I just headed straight for the couch. My intentions were simple: get more sleep. For some people, that might not seem strange — the getting out of bed and moving to the couch for more sleep part. But for me, it was highly unusual. In fact, I can’t ever remember doing that unless I was ill. I curled up under my heated throw and got comfortable. It didn’t take long before the heat kicked in. Just give me a few more winks, maybe another hour or two, I thought. I started to doze. By 6:30 am sleep had arrived. I know that because that’s when I awoke to a short succession of tempered thuds on the porch. It sounded like someone had rolled a giant square snowball outside of my window. Thud, thud, thud. Then it stopped. About the same time, there was a squeal, a strange undeniable squeal. 
    Always thinking of birds, I thought of Blue Jays. Well sort of, but not exactly. It’s amazing how fast the mind processes thoughts. Before moving to Duluth, I’d never heard the calls of fishers (the mammals) or vixens before, but I thought of them. Neither matched what I heard. My mind returned to Blue Jays but that just didn’t make sense. Jays that occasionally overwinter in Duluth live just down the hill, closer to Lake Superior. It’s a lake that rarely gets mentioned for being warm, but temperatures are relative. By its shores, it can easily be five or ten degrees warmer than a mile or two away, so Blue Jays can survive winters a little closer to the lake, especially in neighborhoods with feeders. Still, they’re uncommon. 
    My home is just far enough away from the lake where Blue Jays know it’s too cold. If one were in my neighborhood, it surely wouldn’t have been making noises in the dark, in the dead of winter, at 6:30 am, with temperatures in the teens. Not only that, winter had come early. She’d dropped almost 22 inches of snow the last weekend of November, and by December 14th, we’d already gotten over 46 inches of snow. Birds can be unpredictable but I dismissed my Blue Jay theory quickly. I simply played the odds knowing what I know about Blue Jays, winter and my home. 
    Meanwhile, the Geminids kept falling. The celestial season was punctual and far away without the world paying too much attention. Time marched on and I was no more interested or speculative about far off events causing strange noises on my porch any more than the next person. 
    The squealing stopped. It was over just as soon as it started, but if it lasted two seconds it seemed like ten. I sat up from my slumber, pulled the curtain back from the window behind me and peered out. Just enough light reflected off the snow from nearby houselights to reveal shapes and outlines, but nothing seemed amiss. My heart pounded. Something was out there. 
     I sprang up from the couch and took a few steps over to the other porch window on the east side. There, to my utter amazement sitting on the floorboards was the faint outline of an owl. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I froze, stunned. Its wings were spread out, and it was rocking back and forth sideways. Its back was towards me and the only thing separating me from the owl was dim light, five feet and a window. 
    Eventually its rocking subsided, but it still wobbled every now and then. I began to wonder if the owl was okay. Several moments passed and then everything got stranger, not with the owl but with me. I became dizzy. Really dizzy. Soon, the dizziness turned to faintness. I didn’t know what was happening. I’d never felt that way before, at least not to that extent. It was really weird. I pleaded with myself to feel better, but it wasn’t working. Did I get up from the couch too fast? Was I too excited to see an owl? Did I need more sleep? If I didn’t lie down quickly, I was going to pass out. 
    I reverted back to the couch and collapsed. The room spun around and around but at least I remained conscious. In the meantime, what about that owl? 
    Terry was still asleep, and as I lay on my back, a great debate raged in my head. Should I wake him? Would he hear my shouts? If I shouted, would the owl hear me? I didn’t want to disturb it. Maybe I should just wait it out until my head felt better. But what if that took too long? What was wrong with me? Am I okay? For this bird lover, I was in a serious quandary. Maybe if I just laid still for a few moments the dizziness would pass. But that owl! When it comes to wild birds, time is of the essence and my patience was running thin. 
    I shouted softly — twice. The bed squeaked and the floor boards creaked. He heard me, thank heavens. When he came downstairs, I explained to him what was going on. Puzzled, he just stood there looking at me, glancing towards the window. Should he comfort me, or go see the owl? I was slightly amused by his predicament, but my patience had run out. “Go! Go see if the owl’s still there!” I exclaimed. “Is it still there?” Yeah. “What’s it doing?” It’s just sitting there. “Are its wings spread out?” Sort of. A little, I guess? It’s just sitting there. Really still. Wow. 
    Yeah, wow. 
    After about a minute, I tried sitting up. I felt okay. Then I stood up. Still okay. I walked over to the window and we stared at the owl together. We exchanged a lot of thoughts, mostly about its well-being. The wobbling had stopped, and now it wasn’t moving at all. The last few minutes afforded just a hint of more light and I had the suspicion we were looking at a Barred Owl. I couldn’t see the ear tufts of a Great-horned and its size was too small for a Great Gray, but clarity was pitiful at best. It was just too dark. We waited and watched. It felt like an eternity. 
    Then, the owl turned its head. It was momentous because up until then, it had remained as still as a statue. I wanted to grab my camera but I knew the flash would disturb it. In addition, neither of us wanted to make any kind of movement because we might attract the owl’s attention. The last thing we wanted to do was be the reason the owl altered its course of action. We remained motionless and whispered to each other in the predawn darkness. 
    And then, in a split second, the owl shifted. There was movement to its right. “That’s a rabbit!” I exclaimed. “It was sitting on a rabbit!” I recognized the rabbit’s gait and faint silhouette. It was injured. I knew that by how slowly it hopped away from the grips of the owl’s talons. When the owl chased the rabbit towards the front door, we lost sight of them momentarily, but then saw the owl on top of the banister searching for the rabbit. By then, the rabbit had slipped under the porch. It was gone. I took my camera out and shot my first photographs of the owl then. Even though I knew my photos would be terrible, I wanted to document the bird before it flew away. 
    After several moments, the owl flew to the utility wires above the ditch. There it stayed, perched in the wind for around ten minutes. I gathered it had given up on the rabbit because it faced south, away from our house. Dawn had arrived and I confirmed it was indeed a Barred Owl. It spent a long time on that wire before it flew out of sight towards a nearby cedar. 
    An adrenaline-filled morning transitioned into a calm, sunny afternoon. Terry and I chatted non-stop about our experience, and all of the concern we had about the owl rocking back and forth and wobbling was explained. It had been sinking its talons into a soft, squishy, plump rabbit. Surprisingly, we never saw one speck of the rabbit until its dark shadowy figure made its escape. The owl’s feathers covered everything from behind. 
    Early that afternoon while making raspberry truffles in the kitchen, I noticed an unusual blob high up in the trees. My binoculars confirmed it was a Barred Owl. Could it be the same one? I grabbed my camera, winter coat, neck gaitor, headband, gloves and headed outdoors. After an arduous journey about the length of a football field through waist-deep snow — I actually entertained the thought of getting stuck! — I stopped at a clearing and took some photos. Occasionally the owl looked at me with squinty eyes, but mostly looked away with sleepy eyes. I gave it condolences for its loss with a qualifier in case I was speaking to the wrong bird. Later, when examining my photographs, I noticed blood-stained feathers on its chest and pink-colored tail feathers. This was indeed the same owl! I was thrilled to have met it. 
    I never did find the rabbit under our porch but later in the week there was a rabbit hopping around with a severe limp on its right back foot. It’s possible it was the same rabbit, but I’ll never know. 
    In retrospect, nature — or perhaps the Geminids — dealt a cold-hearted blow to both animals. Breakfast, once in the grips of the owl, was gone; the rabbit, having escaped death, was injured. Neither came out victorious, one went hungry and the other suffered. Some people make wishes upon falling stars. Perhaps in this case it would’ve been fitting to have wished specifically upon the Geminids — for the owl never to go hungry and the rabbit never to suffer. When the Geminids fall, there are lots of wishes to be made. Maybe if I’d known the Geminids were falling that day, that would’ve been mine.

12/14/19  7:08 am, a terrible photo but this is my
first predawn photo of the owl sitting on the banister
after losing the rabbit

12/14/19  7:13 am, owl on utility wires after giving up on finding the rabbit

12/14/19 early afternoon, showing bloody breast feathers

12/14/19 tuft of rabbit fur found near porch

1/8/2020 The suspected 'lucky' rabbit with a limp.
Possible puncture scar on cheek nearer the nose.