The Owl-nighter: Day 2

20 days have elapsed since the first outing. Will I catch an owl? Will I lose my mind? Stay tuned!

What is the Owl-nighter?

I pulled an all-nighter to help with Northern Saw-whet Owl banding. I was awake until 5:30am. I checked the nets every hour, so  I decided to make a log after I went to check the nets. This is my descent into madness.

See Day 1. 


Politics VS Conservation

NOTE: If it comes off like I am attacking a single political party or ideology, it is not my intention. I believe every politician is guilty of this somewhat. 

Being stewards of the environment is nothing new. It has been written about from the Bible to Emerson, but Modern Environmentalism probably originated in 1950s. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring comes to mind almost immediately. We all picture “hippies” standing in front bulldozers, or protesting in hordes. They brought us some great things like The Endangered Species Act and National Parks. Environmentalism started out as a group of concerned people trying to conserve natural resources, but somewhere along the line they became another special interest group funneling money to disinterested, corrupt politicians.


Conservation is an inherently good thing. I believe if everyone heard a sparrow’s heartbeat they couldn’t be capable of horrible things people do to the environment. It is a matter of ignorance, not evil. A major way to turn away the majority of the population is to make saving that little sparrow political. It shouldn’t be. Left, right, up, or down, your political influence shouldn’t have anything to do with recycling or not. It comes down to this: most politicians are charlatans. This is true of all politicians, Republican, Democrat, foreign, or domestic. When people view politicians do bad things it reflects badly on the movement itself.  Don’t believe me?


1 in 4 Americans think that global warming is not happening. It would easy to write off that Americans that simply stupid, and don’t know about climate change, but let’s think about it for a moment. Former Vice President Albert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr, is the self proclaimed advocate for climate change.

al-gore (1)

He is chairman of The Climate Reality Project, has authored many books on the subject, and has received a Nobel Peace Prize.


Well, obviously his time in the White House was spent furthering the cause of Environmentalism.



Gore crafted the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 and launched the GLOBE program in 1994. He also pushed for the  Kyoto Protocol, but that’s all that he wanted to share about his decade in politics. From what I have observed he just talked about it… a lot. It appeared he made no effort to even try to change to way we do things. I mean, if simply talking about an issue warrants a cult and a Nobel Prize, I’ll be waiting for mine in the mail.  If you go to his website you see him trying to force a book down your throat and in tiny print “Please join the conversation”.

I insist.

I insist.

Gore’s not the only one with luke-warm responses to environmental issues. Presidents Xi Jingping and Barack Obama recently reached a bilateral agreement to reduce carbon emissions. The landmark agreement, jointly announced in Beijing, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions of 26 to 28 percent from the United States by 2025, and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.


By 2080, Florida will sink into sea. See how ridiculous that statement was? This is often the trend in legislation. I think I’ll call it “Kick-the-Can Conservation”. The Endangered Species Act did not offer protection for threatened species in 2000, it offered them protection immediately. Promising to do something 15 years from now when it is not your problem anymore, is just a blatant publicity stunt. If the next presidents reach this goal with our current system I will be be shocked. How can we expect average people to take conservation seriously when the Leader of the Free World won’t?

Vultures at Sunset

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling
high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, ‘My dear bird, we are wasting time
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.’ But how
he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the
over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak
become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes–
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life
after death.

-Robinson Jeffers


I know writing this will gain me no friends. I know most of you saw the title and were immediately turned off. That’s because the birding community  irrationally hates cats. Yes, feral cats are a legitimate ecological problem , but my indoor cat isn’t hurting anything (except me).

No one said it was undeserved.

No one said it was undeserved.

The problem is people like cats. Cats are awesome. They are one of my favorite animals. That’s why TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) programs, cat colonies, and cat ladies are not going away anytime soon. Feral cats may be hazard to the ecosystem, but an indoor cat isn’t. Cat people really don’t like it when you say things “the only good cat is a dead cat”, or “the best way to control their population is to train them to eat each other”. That is not the way to win over hearts and minds.


Domestic cats kill between 1.3 and 4 billion birds a year according to Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.  Ladies and gentlemen, I hate to break it to you, but to the average person this fact  means nothing. This is wrong argument use. If they cared about that then they wouldn’t have an outdoor cat.


Outdoor cats have the highest risk of disease.  Feline leukemia (FeLV),  feline AIDS (FIV), FIP (feline infectious peritonitis),feline distemper (panleukopenia), and upper respiratory infections (or URI) are some of the diseases that cats can get from exposure to other outdoor and feral cats.


They can get parasites. Fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, and ringworm (a fungal infection) are waiting to hitch a ride on your kitty. These parasites can cause a variety of moderate to severe symptoms, such as scratching, skin infections, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, they can hitch a ride into your home and infect YOU.


Everything outside is designed to kill cats. This may be an exaggeration, but the outdoors are not a safe place for domesticated animals. Dangers include: cars, cruel people, loose dogs, bigger wild animals, ingesting poison (antifreeze, rat poison), and getting trapped in places that they can’t escape.


Cats are perfectly suitable for the indoors. With just a little bit of effort, you can create spaces where they can climb, run ,and do their cat-ly business. It comes down to if you are going to own a pet take care of it, don’t just throw it outside!


The Owl-nighter: Day 1

I pulled an all-nighter to help with Northern Saw-whet Owl banding. I was awake until 5:30am. I checked the nets every hour, so  I decided to make a log after I went to check the nets. This is my descent into madness. The whistling in the background is the owl’s call the we use to lure them to the net. Soothing isn’t it?


Shake Your Tail Feathers: Submissions

Here at Breaking Bird, we love retrices. We really do. If you’re reading this we can assume you love tail feathers too!

Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Starting now, we will be accepting photographs of retrices. Send them over to or post them on our Facebook page.

Simply put your name, where the photo was taken, and the species of the bird.

We hope to create a large digital field guide, so we hope to get a lot of submissions!