Sunshine Travel

First and foremost--THANK YOU to everyone who came to the owl talk on Sunday at The Raptor Center! Early in the week we only had 15 people signed up and with the sub zero temps and the Packers game I expected a low turn out, but the room was completely filled! Whoot! Thanks, and the fee went to TRC, a great cause in my book.

Today was an unexpectedly action packed day that started with a bird segment on KARE 11 and then a meeting at Sunshine Travel Co. but the day ended up much more hectic with a slippery snow shower that started at "oh just a dusting" according to local weather reports and then ended up being 3 - 5 inches, which made for very slippery driving. Note the little bits of snow specks on the house sparrow in the above photo. On the upside, the high today was 9 degrees-which honestly felt great. Seriously, if it's above zero degrees--it's a good day in my book.

The funny part with KARE 11 was that I was having all kinds of mic problems and the stage manager was still trying to get me wired up after the segment started. When the camera cut to me, the stage manager was still crouched behind me trying to adjust my mic. It wasn't working properly and the camera cut away and they added another mic. It was hard to concentrate on smiling and talking while having someone run wires in and out of my shirt. Non Birding Bill had today off and actually got to watch the segment, he said that he didn't notice while watching the show, whereas I felt like I had wires appearing all over. Ah well, good times!

This is our friend Dawn who runs Sunshine Travel Co and is helping to create some bird tours to Harlingen, TX this fall and to San Francisco, CA next January. She is in shows around the Twin Cities with NBB and is just an all around hoot. I'm not sure if she really likes me or is just using me to get to Cinnamon. Every time I have a meeting at her office, she insists that I bring the Disapproving Bunny. It's hard for me to concentrate and look her in the eye during meetings because of all the bird activity. Note in the far left corner of the window behind Dawn--there's a junco lurking. I told Dawn up front that my lack of eye contact was not some sign of disrespect, but more my distraction from so much bird activity. She said that she has the coolest office ever and I agreed.

She has lots of suction cup window feeders placed on the windows of the office. The birds are not bothered by humans all that much. I was able to walk right up to the feeder and snap a photo of a chickadee at the window feeder without the aid of a spotting scope. This was a good idea, window feeders will help keep the birds from hitting the windows too hard. They slow down to check out a potential food source.

I had a good time just sitting next to Dawn's windows and watching the birds come right up for some food. I did note that there was some milo on the window and I advised Dawn that since we live in the East without a huge number of pheasants and quail coming to feeders that this seed wasn't the best seed idea. I even snuck out during a break in our meetings and tossed some black oil sunflowers on the milo. The chickadees totally dug that idea.

During the meeting, one of the chickadees grabbed a sunflower and tried to stuff it away for a later date. It kept trying to wedge the sunflower in this overhang above the windows. If you look just to the right in the above photo, you will see a very dark crack. This chickadee would cling to that and try to peck the sunflower into the crack. It didn't succeed, but it was interesting it watch it try.

I did do a minor bit of digiscoping since the birds were so close and I was not too anxious to get back onto the highways with the snow. I can't help but fall in love with juncos in falling snow.

My intent had been to drop Cinnamon off at home after my meeting with Dawn and then go to the grocery store, but the roads were so slick and I had to drive so slow that there wasn't time and I had to take her with me to pick up dinner. Even though she has a fur coat, she is in an indoor rabbit and not used to the outside and it was far too cold to leave her in the car. I decided to risk bringing her in the grocery store with me. I don't like to do this--who knows who is allergic to what animal and I don't want to be an annoying pet owner who assumes her cute pet can go anywhere. But my grocery store offers disinfecting wipes for carts and Cinnamon is litter box trained, so I decided to risk it. I hoped no one would notice because A. I didn't want to get kicked out of my favorite grocery store and B. when people notice an unusual pet, everyone wants to pet her and that can add some time to what would otherwise be a quick errand. When we got there, I put my scarf in the basked around Cinnamon and put in a few bunches of parsley on either side of her. I relied on an old trick from my days of being a magician's assistant and didn't look down at her in the cart--don't look at what you don't want people to notice--they usually won't.

Alas, this plan worked until I dashed down the final aisle when I heard behind me, "Is THAT a BUNNY?!?" and like little old ladies near Sir Andrew Llyod Weber, we were surrounded. Everyone was super nice and I was happy to let them pet Cinnamon--and goodness knows she was lovin' it, but I didn't want to push my luck at my favorite grocery store. We made it to the line, I got checked out without the manager's notice, wiped out the basket she had been riding in and all was right with the world.

Cinnamon really needed a day out. It's hard for her to be cooped up and this morning she was making her rambunctiousness known. After the alarm went off and I walked past the rabbit room, she was hopping in all directions and digging out her litter box. The second time I walked by, she was up on her hind legs, pressed against the toddler gate, her front paws stretched as high as they would go, as if to say, "Mom, I need an adventure NOW!" Dawn's office was a treat since it's carpeted and she could run. But the grocery store is what set her over the edge--what rabbit doesn't love the chance to be with their human to pick out the freshest bits of parsley and carrot tops for the week? Plus, there was the added bonus of several humans massaging her oh so soft fur.