What Crazy People Do For Fun

I got a bird report from my family in Indiana: My sister Monica sent this photo of a Cooper's hawk her husband Dave took in their yard. Look at that flat head! Textbook Cooper's hawk.

In this weather I would just prefer to hole up and hibernate sampling various tea concoctions, toddies, soups, and stews. Non Birding Bill still wants to go out. Since it was his birthday he got to choose where we were to go and what to do so we headed for the Maul of America. It actually isn't too bad an idea, walking its halls as quickly as possible is remarkably good exercise. As we were leaving he thanked me for spending the afternoon with him at the MOA and asked where I wanted to go for my birthday. "Firing range." I responded. He smiled, nervously.

Meanwhile, the WingScapes Camera captured the freezing birds on the ledge. The nice thing about that camera is that if I can't be home to watch the birds it will watch them for me. The batteries didn't last too long since the temps never made it above -7, but I got a few fun and strange shots. Of course the starlings armada was the first to move in. A cardinal is actually the first bird to show up on our ledge, but they come while it's still dark out and the camera is off. One morning I found a cardinal feeding in the dark on one side of the ledge and a flying squirrel on the other side. Just two strangers passing in the night...or at least the early dawn hours.

After the starling armada has conquered the ledge the pigeons decide that they want a piece of the action and stage an overthrow.

Eventually, the pigeons realize that no matter how much they lunge at the starlings, it's a waste of energy to keep at them. The starlings are small enough to maneuver around the larger lumbering bodies of the pigeons. As a pigeon is pushing one starling away, two more will sneak behind the pigeon and get in a few mouthfuls. The pigeons eventually start snapping up what precious seed they can before the starlings get it all and peace is reached momentarily.

When the ledge quiets down the woodpeckers move in for the suet on the wall. This poor downy got one piece of suet stuck to his breast. He eventually got it off. Nice to know that I'm not the only one who has that problem.

Last night was the Luminary Loppet:

Blocks of ice are hollowed out and filled with a candle. Then the blocks lined up in a path on the frozen Lake of the Isles and around the islands. Cross country skiers can go around the trail in a race but along the way are stops for hot cider, snow shoeing, etc.

Above is a press photo from the website of what the blocks lined up on part of the trail look like. It would be a gorgeous trail to take at night with all the candles and the view of downtown Minneapolis. Some of the homes along Lake of Isles keep their holiday lights out, so it's kind of a romantic view. With the wind chill at -31, NBB an I thought we would just drive around the lake to see the luminaries and the people crazy enough to ski on the lake. Then something caught our eye:

Someone had built a fire right on the lake itself. NBB and I looked at each other and we could see the same thought crossing our minds. We can't pass a fire built on ice on a lake and not go check it out. Plus, we wanted to get an up close photo of one of the blocks of ice. We ran from the car out onto the ice to the fire--surely we would get some warmth from the fire? The wind was fierce and only two people were tending the fire. They seemed both sad and relieved not to have a larger crowd for their efforts. Sad because it's such a cool event, relieved that with a small crowd they wouldn't be tending the fire in this ass freezing wind for long. A few skiers passed and we cheered them on. NBB snapped a photo of the fire and the above photo of the ice block and after three minutes we were sprinting back to the car. My fingers got so frozen so fast they already had the pre frostbite ache, which was worsened when I realized that I couldn't fish the car key out of my coat pocket with my glove on. I removed my glove, retrieved the car key shouting copious amounts of profanity with every step. I hadn't planned on being outside so I didn't even have some Hot Hands with me. Arrrgh. I'm fine with cold, until it's below zero, then I earn my husband given nickname of Sharon Q. Whinypants.

We laughed our way all the way home at the crazy things people do for entertainment in February. Then had some much earned birthday cake and scotch. Good times in a marriage.

And now, it's Super Bowl Sunday and I have to watch--the Indianapolis Colts are actually in the Super Bowl--my mind is blown. I remember when they were brought to Indy from Baltimore and all the arguing about what a waste of money that was--now look at 'em playing in the Big Show.