Some of you may have noticed on the blog page that I have a Twitter Update. If you are not familiar with Twitter, it's a form of micro blogging. I can send a one or two sentence update, it cannot be any longer than 140 characters. Sometimes I type an update in from my computer and sometimes I send one from a cell phone via text message.
If you wish, you can get a Twitter account and follow anyone you know or find on Twitter. For example, you can follow people like friends or bloggers you know like Born Again Bird Watcher or Picus, or you can follow celebrities like Stephen Fry or Jonathan Coulton, or characters like Darth Vader, companies like Dunkin Donuts, your favorite news organization like I follow MinnPost, or just the plain bizarre like Bacon Friday. I use mine to test out ideas for future blog posts (is this link appropriate) or if I'm busy at a bird festival then I will type in quick updates. Non Birding Bill used it for me when I had to work the RNC as a park ranger. He was able to follow the rioters twitter feeds and let me know where tear gas was being sprayed.
The other day I was at the Minnesota River Valley Visitor Center just doing some digiscoping. I find it relaxing when I'm stressed and now that I have my favorite digiscoping camera (the Fuji FinePix E900, thank you National Camera Exchange for digging one up for me) I just love playing with it.
I joke when I give digiscoping programs that you suddenly find yourself with a renewed interest in common species like house sparrows and starlings. Isn't that a pretty house sparrow? I know, I know, bluebird people are reading that last sentence and think that my choo choo has really gone round the bend. But there were other cool sparrows too:
We still have some fox sparrows hanging out in MN! There were about four working the grounds underneath the visitor centers feeders. I wrote a text on my phone to Twitter that I was seeing fox sparrows.
There were quite a few house finches around too. This was one of the healthy looking ones. There was one male who looked rather puffy and spent too long at the feeders when everyone else would fly away. It looked sick. It didn't have the eye disease you typically see with house finches, but it didn't look good.
Soon, many of the birds left and I noticed this one lone downy woodpecker doing her best to blend in with the column on this feeder. I figured that there must be a Cooper's hawk or sharp-shinned hawk perched nearby, but could not see it. Suddenly, there was a flash of gray, black and white. I first thought "mockingbird" but remembered I was in Minnesota so it must have been a northern shrike. That id was confirmed when Mr. Gray, Black & White took off in hot pursuit of the sick looking house finch. I wrote a text to Twitter:
"A northern shrike just tried to nail a house finch at MN River Valley Headquarters."
To which Born Again Bird Watcher responded:
"@birdchick Oooh, kinky!"
And then PicusBlog adds:
Apparently, my texting is just chock full of double entendres and now I know what a house shrike would look like.