“Qwill Pen” #17: Cardinal Birds

Cardinals are one of the most popular backyard birds. The males bright red coloring is beautiful and easy to spot. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage. Cardinals live throughout the Eastern United States, west to the great plains, and south to Texas and Mexico. They’re also found in Arizona and New Mexico. Cardinals used to be mainly found in the southeast; scientists think being fed by humans helped expand their range. Their preferred habitat is woodland edges, thickets, suburban gardens, and desert washes. They are also sometimes found in swamps and tall brush.

The cardinal diet is quite varied and includes seeds, insects, and berries.  Most of their diet is vegetable matter, including seeds of weeds and grasses, waste grain, leaf buds, flowers, and many berries and wild fruits. They eat lots of different insects such as: beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, flies, spiders, centipedes, and snails. They are ground foragers, sometimes searching in low bushes and tall trees.

 In courtship, male and female raise heads high, sway back and forth while singing softly. Their nest is usually well hidden in dense shrubs, vines, or low trees. The nest is an open cup made of twigs, weeds, grass, bark strips, leaves, and rootlets, lined with fine grass or fur. On average they lay 3-4 bluish/greenish eggs that have brown/purple markings. The female sits on the nest by herself. The incubation is only 12-13 days. Both parents feed the chicks, which leave just 9-11 days after hatching. They can have 2-3 broods per year. 

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To attract cardinals to your bird feeder provide: black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, hulled sunflower seeds, millet, milo, peanut hearts, or safflower.  They like to feed on the ground or from a large hopper or platform style bird feeder. Hang your feeder about 5 feet from the ground. Cardinals are fairly social and join in flocks that may even include birds of other species. Cardinals will not use birdhouses or nesting boxes. In addition to enjoying dense plant life for shelter, they also prefer it for nesting. Grapevines, tall trees, and shrub thickets are ideal options for nest sites. Having nesting materials also helps. Make sure that your yard features pine needles, small twigs, grass clippings, and pet fur so that cardinal visitors will build a nest nearby. You can even buy a suet feeder to place these materials in and hang it up.

  • The cardinal is the state bird of: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia
  •  Unlike many other songbirds in North America, both the male and female cardinals can sing. Usually, only a male songbird sings
  • When a female cardinal sings from the nest, it usually means she’s telling the male she needs more food
  • The bird is named for the red plumage of the male, which was said to look similar to a Catholic cardinal’s red vestments
  • The oldest Northern Cardinal ever recorded was 15 years and 9 months old
  • Cardinals have a metallic, piercing chirp

 

 

 

 

References Cited

http://feederwatch.org/learn/common-feeder-birds/?__hstc=75100365.fadfd8c0df965170dc3b3501b20a543e.1476372955703.1481674762857.1482191131098.4&__hssc=75100365.2.1482191131098&__hsfp=3686166406#_ga=1.221145112.1840913791.1476372954

http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-cardinal

http://www.birdfeeders.com/blog/wild-bird/how-to-attract-cardinals/

https://www.backyardchirper.com/blog/10-fun-facts-about-cardinals-you-didnt-know/

http://state.1keydata.com/state-birds.php

 

My 7 Least Favorite Hoenn Pokemon (Part 2)

Claydol

Ick!!!!! It doesn’t have a mouth, it has all those creepy eyes, its body shape is weird, and it has that weird body paint. 

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Cradily

No eyes!!!!!! It has weird painted on eyes instead. It has the creepy mouth, creepy tentacles, and legs even though it’s based on a plant.

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Banette

Creepy is the only word for this Pokemon!!!! A creepy ghost Pokemon. He has a zipper for a mouth, a weird body shape, and those creepy eyes!!!

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Dusclops

How many weird creepy ghost Pokemon will be in this blog??? (3 so far :P) One eye is as creepy as a ton of eyes. His hands reaching out to get you is just creepy! Those lines on his body are weird and he has no mouth!

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Glalie

Creepy mouth!!!!!! Weird holes in his body with black body showing through. Angry eyes. Scary horns. You should see his mega evolution (it’s even worse!!!)

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Huntail

He looks so mean with his giant teeth and pointy tail!!! He has those weird disc jowls. His eyes are tiny points. And he has those weird white and orange spots.

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Metagross

One of my least favorite Pokemon ever!!! No mouth, no nose, angry red eyes. His body is all rocky and is just so weird with the four arms and pointed claws. His pre-evolved and mega form are no better.

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“Qwill Pen” #16: The History of Christmas

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight. (In my opinion, winter only gets worse after the solstice, but at least the days do get lighter, earlier).

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days.

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a celebratory time.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention a date for his birth. Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring, Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.

On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a carnival-like atmosphere. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief (which sounds more like modern day Halloween). Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday in America until June 26, 1870. A Christmas Carol and doting parents were some of the reasons Christmas became popular in the US. Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

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  • The Candy Cane originated in Germany about 250 years ago. They started as straight white sugar sticks. Sometime around 1900 the red stripes were added and they were flavored with peppermint or wintergreen. Sometimes Christian meanings are given to the parts of the canes. The ‘J’ can also mean Jesus. The white of the cane can represent the purity of Jesus Christ and the red stripes are for the blood he shed when he died on the cross. The peppermint flavor can represent the hyssop plant that was used for purifying in the Bible.
  • Bringing evergreens and yule logs inside has been done for thousands of years, but Germans are credited with making it popular. Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s German husband) had a Christmas Tree set up in Windsor Castle. In 1848, a drawing of “The Queen’s Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” was published in the Illustrated London News. The drawing was republished in Godey’s Lady’s Book, Philadelphia, in December 1850. Ever since Christmas trees have been popular. In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In Victorian times, the tree would have been decorated with candles to represent stars. In many parts of Europe, candles are still used to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Decorating Christmas trees actually led to why we wrap presents today. In the past, people would put small presents on the tree, unwrapped. Over time the presents got larger and larger and moved to the floor. When this happened, they needed a way to hide the surprise, and voila, wrapping paper was born! 
  • The custom of hanging stockings comes from the story of St. Nicholas.
  • The green of Christmas comes from evergreen plants like holly, ivy, trees, and mistletoe. The red of Christmas comes from apples, holly berries, and Bishop’s robes. 
  • A man named Joel Roberts Poinsett brought back the first poinsettia. He was the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico in 1825. Poinsett had some greenhouses on his plantations in South Carolina, and while visiting the Taco area in 1828, he became very interested in the plants that became known as poinsettia. He immediately had some sent home.
  • Christmas tree candles led to Christmas lights on the tree led to having lights on your house at Christmas. 1925 is about the time Christmas lights became very popular in the US.
  • The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.” In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem now known as “The Night Before Christmas.”  In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore’s poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus. 
  • “The Night Before Christmas” also introduced us to Santa’s reindeer. But the most famous reindeer of all came along later. In 1939, Robert L. May wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store. May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. Rudolph’s message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular. He sold almost two and a half million copies of the story in 1939. Several years later, one of May’s friends, Johnny Marks, wrote a short song based on Rudolph’s story. It was recorded by Gene Autry and sold over two million copies.

I love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday. I love the joy, the lights, the family, the friends, the giving, the traditions, and the feeling in the air. I wish Christmas could last all year long. One of my favorite traditions every year is to read “The Santa Claus Book.” You can find it here

 

References Cited

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas

http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus

 

My 7 Least Favorite Hoenn Pokemon (Part 1)

Dustox

He is an evil moth, there’s nothing else to it. They have other moth Pokemon that are cute, but Dustox is not.His eyes are scary ad his tiny legs are yucky. It’s mostly the eyes that does it. His first form is really cute, but Dustox is not.

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Slaking

One word: ugh! How could anybody like this thing???? He is so fat, so lazy, and he knows it! He spends every other turn in game loafing. He has that ugly nose and I hate humanoid Pokemon! His first form is pretty cute, though.

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Exploud

He is so angry looking! That giant mouth is super scary. All of his body parts are sharp and intimidating.  There is nothing nice about him.

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Hariyama

I hate humanoid Pokemon!!! He has those giant hands and feet! He has no nose or mouth! He looks like he’s wearing a skirt! Ugh. His pre-evolved form is tolerable.

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Nosepass

A giant nose Pokemon. Who thought this would be a good idea??? He is based on an Easter island head, but those aren’t cute either! He’s all nose, no mouth, and the rest of his body is very plain. Just wait till you see what he evolves into.

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Sableye

Another evil Pokemon!!! What does that grin say except, “I want to eat you?” No nose, sharp claws, sharp ears, and that weird red gem. Its eyes are kind of cool diamonds, but with the overall effect they just look creepy.

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Swalot

Swalot is basically a giant stomach. EW! It might also be a giant poison gland. EW! It has that butt mouth, no nose, and ugly whiskers. It’s so plain yet so ugly! It’s pre-evolved form is no better.

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“Qwill Pen” #15: Owls

Owls are amazing creatures. There are 216 species of owl across every continent except Antarctica. Owls fall into two families: Strigidae, the true owls, and Tytonidae, the barn owls. There are 198 species of true owl with the rest being barn owls. There are 20 species of owls that breed/live in North America. 

Owls eat a wide variety of prey, but always when it’s alive; they never eat carrion. Rodents including rats and mice are common food sources owls. Rabbits also tend to be plentiful in many of the areas where owls live. Mammals can be harder to find when it’s cold. They tend to burrow underground to stay warm. During those times the owls rely upon other sources of food in order to survive, such as invertebrates, eggs, birds, and fish. Great horned owls have the most varied diet of any owl species. It’s suspected they might eat up to 60 different kinds of prey, including other owls! Owls swallow their prey whole and then cough up the bones and/or feathers later in something called a pellet. 

Owls have amazing vision. Their eyes account for one to five percent of the owl’s body weight. Owls have binocular vision (seeing an object with both eyes at the same time). This means the owl can see objects in 3 dimensions (height, width, and depth), and can judge distances in a similar way to humans. An owl’s eyes are large in order to improve their efficiency, especially under low light conditions. In fact, the eyes are so well developed, that they are not eye balls, but elongated tubes. An owl can’t move its eyes in their sockets because of this. To compensate, owls’ heads have a 270 degree range of motion. As most owls are active at night, their eyes must be very efficient at collecting and processing light. The retina of an owl’s eye has an abundance of light-sensitive, rod-shaped cells appropriately called “rod” cells. Although these cells are very sensitive to light and movement, they do not see color well. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what owls see, but they think that owls can’t see the color blue. 

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Owls live in many different kinds of habitat, from woodlands, to rain forest, to cities, to grassland, to desert, to tundra. They seldom make their own nests; rather, they take over the nests or homes of other creatures (such as squirrels’ nests, woodpecker cavities, prairie dog burrows, and even the rafters of barns or belfries). Owls live in trees as well as in burrows in the ground or cavities on rocky mountain faces. Owls lay between one and thirteen eggs, with the female owl sitting on the eggs and hatchlings. The male forages for food this whole time and never takes a turn sitting on the nest. This is why female owls are bigger; they need to be able to defend the nest from predators. A common hatching time for eggs is 1 month. Fledgling can take place anywhere from 1 month to 10 weeks, depending on the species. 

How to Help Barn Owls

How to Attract Owls

Owl Calls

Owl Facts

  • Owls have 4 toes like all birds BUT they can rotate 1 of their toes. This means that they can have 2 facing forward and 2 facing backwards OR 3 facing forward and 1 facing backwards
  • A group of owls is called a parliament 
  • Owls’ primary feathers have stiff leading edges, which reduce noise, and soft trailing edges, which reduce turbulence, leading to silent flight
  • Owls ears aren’t level. One ear is always higher than the other to allow for pinpointing of prey location
  • The smallest owl is the elf owl. They are between 5 and 6 inches long and weigh about 42 grams
  • The largest owl is the great grey owl. It’s debated whether the eagle owl or the Blakiston’s fish owl are the heaviest
  • The eagle owl’s deep, mournful call carries for 3 miles! This is so they can keep contact in large territories
  • The Northern Hawk Owl can detect—primarily by sight—a vole up to a half a mile away
  • One barn owl can eat up to 1,000 mice in a year

I worked with a barn owl in college named Sweet Pea. I miss her dearly. She was an amazing owl and very sweet!

 

 

 

 

References Cited

http://www.owlworlds.com/owl-information/

http://www.owlpages.com/owls/articles.php?a=5

http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/121454.aspx

My 9 Least Favorite Jhoto Pokemon

Sudowoodo

He looks like a tree, but he isn’t. He isn’t even a grass type. He’s a rock type. He has that dumb expression on his face. His baby form is cute; Sudowoodo is not.

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Aipom

First off, I hate monkeys. He’s kind of cute, but he doesn’t even have a nose! He always has that mischievous grin. The worst part about him is the hand tail. In what world would that ever not be gross???? His evolved form is even worse; you’ll get to see him in a later blog.

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Quagsire

He is so dull and boring! He has that dopey expression on his face. He is really plain and doesn’t have much going on. His baby form is also ugly. 

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Unown

It’s kind of a cool concept having alphabet Pokemon, but then you just have 28 really similar Pokemon (including punctuation). They’re not very strong and they’re hard to find in the game. And they’re weird looking. Try to guess what letter the below Unown is.

 

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Wobbuffet

Another really plain Pokemon. He doesn’t have anything really in the middle of his body. He has a dumb expression on his face. He has that weird tail that has his own face. And he’s really annoying the the anime! You would think Team Rocket couldn’t get any more annoying, but with Wobbuffet they certainly are.

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Forretress

He’s just weird and ugly. He has no nose or mouth. He has that weird bumpy body and things sticking out of his body. His pre-evolved form is actually pretty cute, though.

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Steelix

He’s ugly and scary. That’s all there is to it. His mouth!!!! His red eyes!!!! His weird protrusions and pointy tail!!!! They all add up to a yucky Pokemon.

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Ursaring

I don’t know why so many Pokemon look angry, including Ursaring. In the anime they’re almost always happy. His big sharp claws are scary. His pre-evolved form is super cute! But not Ursaring.

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Magcargo

Snails happen to be my favorite bug, but Magcargo is a very ugly snail. He has those yucky jowls and that rocky shell. He has bumps all over his body. His eyes are large and vacant. Maybe stalk eyes would’ve made him cuter?

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“Qwill Pen” #14: History of Thanksgiving in the United States

Thanksgiving is a very popular holiday here in America. Most people know that Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims, but few people know its more recent history.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers. Ninety-six days later the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth. Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship.  In March, the settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers, and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years. In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving,” the festival lasted for three days. 

There is no exact record of what was on the menu for the first Thanksgiving, but it is known that there was a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Fowling could have brought back any type of birds native to the area, including: wild turkey, swan, ducks, and geese. Herbs, onions, or nuts might have been added to the birds for extra flavor. It is likely that the colonists feasted on the bounty they had reaped with the help of their Native American neighbors. Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table include beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas. Corn, which records show was plentiful at the first harvest, might also have been served, but not in the way most people enjoy it now. In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that was occasionally sweetened with molasses. Fruits indigenous to the region included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries, and cranberries. Culinary historians believe that much of the Thanksgiving meal consisted of seafood. Mussels in particular were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested because they clung to rocks along the shoreline. The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds. Lobster, bass, clams, and oysters might also have been part of the feast. Seal may also have been on the menu. There were no potatoes or pumpkin pie, but they may have had pumpkin on the menu.

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Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies. 

In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and writer Sarah Josepha Hale launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats, and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans eat turkey —whether roasted, baked, or deep-fried—on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. 248 million turkeys are raised in America every year, which are worth $4.37 billion. It is estimated that 51 million of those turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas, and 19 million at Easter. The annual consumption of turkey by the average American is 16 pounds. Benjamin Franklin, who proposed the turkey as the official United States’ bird, was dismayed when the bald eagle was chosen over the turkey. Franklin wrote to his daughter, referring to the eagle’s “bad moral character,” saying, “I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.” Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run up to 20 miles per hour.

Beginning in the mid-20th century and perhaps even earlier, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.

I love Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful time for family to come together and an important time to reflect on the blessings in your life. I also love all of the food.

 

 

References Cited 

http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/first-thanksgiving-meal

http://www.statisticbrain.com/thanksgiving-statistics/

http://www.eatturkey.com/why-turkey/history

My 10 Least Favorite Kanto Pokemon

Muk

This Pokemon is based on toxic waste. Who had the bright idea to base a Pokemon on something so disgusting in the first place? It’s just yucky, has no form, and it’s pre-evolution is also ugly. 

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Tentacruel

This Pokemon is just ugly. Its eyes and beak make it look evil. The red globes on its head don’t help. I think squid are cute, but Tentacruel for sure isn’t. 

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Machamp

I don’t like any of the humanoid Pokemon, and Machamp with his four arms is just ugly. He is obviously based on a wrestler because he is wearing a wrestler’s belt. That might be part of the problem as I think wrestling is really dumb. He has no nose and he has those weird fins on his head. 

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Cloyster

Based on a clam or oyster, Closyter is just ugly. Maybe it’s because clams aren’t meant to have faces. His expression is just devilish. He also has two layers of shell, which for some reason adds to his ugliness. No bivalve that I know of has two layers of shell.

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Hypno

Hypno wants to hypnotize you. In what world would that be appealing? He also has the big bulbous nose and an evil expression. His pre-evolution is also ugly. They have a different Pokemon based on the same animal (tapir) that is much cuter!

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Exeggutor

It’s eggs on a body. Yuck. It’s pre-evolution is also ugly. Eggs don’t have legs. It has a dopey expression and too many eggs. 

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Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan

I’m counting these as one slot as they are very similar and both based on famous martial artists (Lee and Chan). I don’t like humanoid Pokemon. Hitmonlee doesn’t even have a nose or mouth and his eyes look evil. Hitmonchan doesn’t have a nose and he has those weird shoulder pads.

 

Mr. Mime

I don’t like humanoid Pokemon!!! I have never heard any one say they like Mr. Mime, ever. His hand are weird, his body is weird, his “horns” are weird, he is just weird! His baby form is really cute, though. One of my favorite Youtubers talks about Mr. Mime in the video below.

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Pinsir

Ughhhhh! Pinsir is based on a stag beetle, but I think stag beetles are cool and Pinsir is not! His mouth!!!! It’s so scary and yucky and I’m sure no stag beetle has a mouth like that. His body color and conformation are just weird, too. His horns and claws make him look dangerous, and not in a good way.

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Kabutops

Kabutops is just plain ugly. His scythe “hands” and jointed body are just yuck. His color isn’t very appealing, either. His pre-evolution is also ugly. He is based on a horseshoe crab. There is another Pokemon based on the same animal that is much cuter.  

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“Qwill Pen” #13: Pokemon

Pokemon started as a hobby of Satoshi Tajiri, who as a child had a fondness for catching insects and tadpoles near his home in suburban Tokyo. Over time, Tajiri decided to put his idea of catching creatures into practice, to give children the same thrills he had as a child. Tajiri formed Game Freak and much later the design studio known as Creatures. When Tajiri discovered the Game Boy and the Game Boy Game Link Cable, it gave him the image of insects traveling along the wire. Tajiri was also heavily influenced by the Ultraman fantasy television show, Ultra Seven, in which the protagonist used giant monsters contained within small capsules to help him fight. Together, these two sources gave him the idea for a new game called “Capsule Monsters”Nintendo didn’t want Capsule Monsters, but after a friend pitched it for Tajiri, production was started. It took 6 years to finish the first game. Due to trademarking issues, the name “Capsule Monsters” was changed to “Pocket Monsters.” On February 27, 1996 Pokemon Red & Green were released in Japan.

Initially, the Pokémon games had modest sales. However, after players discovered Mew in the games, the magazine CoroCoro announced a “Legendary Pokémon Offer” to distribute Mew to twenty entrants. The contest received 78,000 entrants, and the sales of the Pokémon games quickly increased. After the games, a Pokémon Trading Card Game was developed by Media Factory with its own set of rules. The first set of cards was released on October 20, 1996, containing 102 cards, and became very popular. The popularity of the franchise also led to an anime series based on the games, premiering in Japan on April 1, 1997. The main character was a young Pokémon Trainer named Satoshi (after Satoshi Tajiri, later dubbed in English to Ash Ketchum), based on the game’s main character. Another character introduced in the first episode was Satoshi’s rival, Shigeru (after Shigeru Miyamoto, later dubbed in English to Gary Oak).  On April 25, 1998, the first Pokémon Center store was opened in Tokyo, specializing in Pokémon merchandise. Along the way, The Pokémon Company began its operations. Many such stores were opened in later years, and today there are six different stores across Japan, as well as a subsection in the Nintendo World Store in New York. In my local mall there is even a Pokemon store!  They don’t sell anything else except Pokémon merchandise.

espeon_vector_by_likonan-d5e82d8

There have been many Pokemon games, including many spin offs. Below is a list of the games in the main series in North America.

  • Red & Blue
  • Yellow
  • Gold & Silver
  • Crystal
  • Ruby & Sapphire
  • FireRed & LeafGreen
  • Emerald
  • Diamond & Pearl
  • Platinum
  • HeartGold & SoulSilver
  • Black & White
  • Black 2 & White 2
  • X & Y
  • Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
  • Sun & Moon

Some of the spin offs include (most of which have their own sequels):

  • Pokemon Snap
  • Pokemon Stadium
  • Pokemon Colosseum 
  • Pokemon Pinball
  • Hey You Pikachu!
  • Pokemon Ranger
  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon
  • Pokemon Conquest
  • Pokemon Rumble
  • Pokemon Shuffle

 

This year is Pokemon’s 20th Anniversary. I couldn’t be more happy. As it is my favorite game series I am so pleased that it is still very popular today. I have been playing for 17 years (at the time of this post), and I hope to play for 17 more. Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Complete Pokemon Chronology

 

 

References Cited

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/History_of_Pok%C3%A9mon

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_games

“Qwill Pen” #12: Nuthatch Birds

Nuthatches are a popular song bird at bird feeders. There are 25 species in genus Sitta of small passerine birds belonging to the family Sittidae. Passerine means a bird  has three toes pointing forward and one toe pointing backward. Over 50% of bird species have this trait, including most song birds. Nuthatches eat mostly insects, with some seeds. They eat insects (and spiders) during summer, supplementing these with seeds in winter. The proportion of seeds in their diet may vary from zero in summer to more than 60% in winter. Seeds are high in fat and provide good energy in winter since most insects have died off for the year.  Nuthatches lay 5-9 eggs at a time. They are white spotted with reddish-brown. They are incubated by the female for 12-14 days. Both parents feed the babies. It is somewhat uncertain as to when they leave the nest, but it’s thought between 14 and 26 days. They only have 1 set of babies per year.

There are four main species of nuthatch seen in North America: white-breasted, red-breasted, pygmy, and brown-headed. For those who feed birds or for avid bird watchers, it’s important to know where nuthatches live and in what habitats. White-breasted nuthatches can be found all over North American (see picture below) and are usually a permanent resident. In occasional years, numbers may move south in the winter. They live in forests, woodlots, groves, and shade trees. Typically in mature deciduous forest, but also in mixed forest with some conifers. Often favors woodland edge; may be in suburbs or parks as long as large trees are present. Red-breasted nuthatch winter range varies tremendously from year to year, especially in the east. Big southward invasions occur in fall of some years, perhaps mainly when cone crops are very poor in the northern forest. Their nesting habitat almost always has many conifers, such as spruce, fir, hemlock. Mature forest is preferred, perhaps because old decaying wood is needed for nest sites. In migration and winter they may appear in any wooded habitat. Pygmy nuthatches live in the western US and Mexico. In years with poor cone crops, mountain birds sometimes wander to lowlands, and very rarely move far out onto plains. They prefer pine trees. In some places they will live in pinyon-juniper woodland and redwood canyons. Brown-headed nuthatches live only in the southeast United States. They rarely travel north. They live in open pine woods. Pine species (such as loblolly, longleaf, slash, and pond pines) are almost always present in habitat.

white-breasted-nuthatch_map

There are many ways to attract nuthatches to your yard. One way is to feed their favorite foods. Suet is a block of fat birds like to eat. A suet block in a cage-like feeder is sure to lure in nuthatches. In the winter months red-breasted nuthatches searching for food will likely stop at feeders for a suet snack. Add peanut butter to your suet and white-breasted nuthatches will love it even more! Black oil sunflower seeds are another favorite. Because bully birds also seek out black oil seeds, a tube feeder with small perches is best. Unsalted, shelled peanuts are another good choice. Red and white-breasted nuthatches will entertain you for hours scurrying up, down and around a peanut feeder. Many birds enjoy meal worms. They don’t require anything fancy; just toss some meal worms in a shallow tray or platform feeder.

Water is another important element that all birds need even if they don’t stop at bird feeders. A bird bath should be shallow to attract nuthatches, and they are more attracted to moving water from drippers or misters. Nuthatches have even been known to flutter in oscillating sprinklers, so timing lawn or garden watering to birds’ activity periods can help entice them to visit. Placing the bird bath near a tree where nuthatches are more likely to feed regularly will help make it more noticeable to the birds.

Shelter is also very important. Nuthatches will readily use cavities, so you can put up a house for them. Dead trees should be left intact as much as possible so the birds can take advantage of natural cavities as well. On warmer nights, both coniferous and deciduous trees can provide adequate shelter for all types of nuthatches to stay safe, though larger, more mature trees are preferred.

Nuthatch Facts:

  • The Red-breasted Nuthatch will line the entrance to its nesting cavity with drops of sticky conifer resin. It is thought that this may be a tactic to discourage predators or nest competitors from entering the cavity
  • The White-breasted Nuthatch is known as the “upside down” bird, it is often observed creeping head-first down tree trunks while searching cracks and crevices for insects
  • The Pygmy Nuthatch is the only songbird that uses three different survival techniques simultaneously to endure cold winter nights. It roosts inside a protected tree cavity, it huddles together with other nuthatches and it conserves energy by lowering its metabolism and body temperature
  • The Brown-headed Nuthatch is one of the few birds known to use a “tool” to find food. It will take a loose flake of pine bark in its bill and use it to pry up other scales of bark in search of prey

I haven’t gotten a new bird feeder and so don’t feed the birds, but I hope to continue doing so soon. Nuthatches seem like fascinating birds and I look forward to seeing them at my feeder.

 

 

 

 

References Cited

http://www.audubon.org/bird-family/nuthatches

http://www.birdsandblooms.com/birding/attracting-birds/feeding-birds/4-foods-to-attract-nuthatches-to-your-yard/?1

http://birding.about.com/od/Specific-Birds/a/How-To-Attract-Nuthatches.htm

http://www.wbu.com/birds/nuthatches/