I regret to inform those who knew her, but today was Cinnamon's last day. I disapprove.

How do yo say goodbye to a creature who shared a hotel room with me when I got stranded in a blizzard in Nebraska?  A rabbit who helped launch my freelance career?  A rabbit who brought me over a decade of laughter on a daily basis?

If you have a pet hug them tight.  I know many people have enjoyed Disapproving Rabbits and at this point, I don't know where it's going to go.  If you feel compelled to do anything, please donate to your local animal shelter or rabbit society.  Had it not been for someone dropping off this delightful ball of velvety fur to the St Paul Humane Society all those years ago, life would have been a bit more boring for us.

Here's one of my favorite memories of her:





MN Bun Fest–Meet Cinnamon

A little non birding news: Non Birding Bill, Cinnamon and I will be at Bun Fest tomorrow (Saturday) at 11am.  This is a rare public appearance of our dear rabbit in her old age.  We'll sign Disapproving Rabbits books, answer bun questions and encourage you to support this great rabbit foster organization.  If you have ever considered a rabbit as a pet, this is the perfect organization to learn about rabbit ownership and finding a rabbit that works for your family.

When The Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society asked me to bring Cinnamon I was hesitant, she's pushing 13 years old--that's geriatric in bunny lifespan.  Years ago, a tiny dog with a big book and calendar series was on KARE 11 the same day I was on answering bird questions.  I thought the animal was puppet, because it didn't move naturally.  When I finally realized that it was a "live animal" in the handler's lap, I could see the dog looked a little off, didn't seem to be able to stand on it's own, eyes not registering all that was going on around it, almost as if it looked it was either drugged like crazy or barely alive.  After I went home, I googled the dog and discovered at the time he was over 10 years old and I guessed that the owner had created this whole publishing series around him and couldn't get out of personal appearances no matter how old that dog was.

I never wanted to do that to Cinnamon--I never take her out unless she's "up for it".  She likes people--when I worked at the bird store, she was practically an employee--she was our store greeter.  Now, Cinnamon has her good and her sleepy days.  Some days she's her frisky self, albeit slower or she has days when she just wants to sleep.  She doesn't do speeding laps in the hallway anymore but shuffles around the apartment.  This week she has been feeling her Wheaties.  She actually tried to sneak into the kitchen--something she does when she wants you to play with her and as I type this, she's flipping around a spoon.  She loves canned pumpkin or squash and we usually give her a spoonful in the morning.   Sometimes when she's finished eating the pumpkin, she flips the spoon around--one day we found it wedged in on of the openings of her toddler gate--about a foot up...

So, she looks old, but she's feeling frisky and we made the decision yesterday to bring her out.  If you'd like to meet the original Disapproving Rabbit,  tomorrow is the day.

Speaking of Cinnamon, I love it when people tell me they have been inspired by Cinnamon and make art like this or the Disapproving Rabbit pumpkin or this portrait.  This week, Heidi Brenegan who works at Animal Emergency Clinic in Oakdale, MN made painting for the clinic's lobby of all the varieties of pets they work with and she made one of Cinnamon:

If you happen to be at that clinic, check out Heidi's original.  Thanks, Heidi, we're honored!

Venting My Bunny

I love my pet rabbit Cinnamon, I really do. I miss her when I travel and she is home with Non Birding Bill. But she is driving me up a wall!

I'm still catching up from Texas, I still have Rio Grande Valley birds and critters to talk about and I'm also in the middle of National Novel Writing Month (you try to write a novel or 50,000 words in the month of November). Both Birdfreak and I are giving it go...because you know, we don't write enough as it is. I was off to a good start, but lost momentum in Harlingen. I've been trying to catch up and was really on a roll yesterday--I typed 7086 words! I'm still behind for the month for a total of 11,587 but I'll keep going.

Cinnamon is not helping! Here she is right after I have yelled at her for nibbling my Swarovski back back. After a gave her a firm "no" and resumed typing (I have a very certain tone of voice that I use that Cinnamon understands is the I-Mean-Business-Tone). She waited and moment and then she started licking the backpack. You can't tell me rabbits aren't smart.

She has also taken to just sitting on my bag, and trying to root around inside. I think she either can smell that I have had apples in there or that I have some fruity gum (I don't give her chewing gum, but I'm sure that smells edible to her). She seems to go through phases. We have a large closet that we have converted into a "bunny room" with a Cottontail Cottage, toys, food, etc that is blocked by toddler gate when she cannot come out, usually when NBB and I are away. Sometimes she goes through a mellow phase and she sleeps under our bed or hangs out in her little hidey holes around the apartment and I know I can leave and not worry about her getting into mischief while I run errands.

But she also goes through phases of mischief obsession and is hell bent on doing the opposite of whatever we say. Last night, she kept hopping on the futon with me as I was typing, I kept putting her back down. NBB left a box of cookies on the couch and though she was insisting that wasn't her main purpose for hopping up time after time...

...if I did not pay attention, she would open the box to get at the sugary goodness on the inside. She is also going for the kitchen constantly. She's not allowed in there because she gets in the trash and I'm worried that she might find a bottle of cleaner or inappropriate bunny food. But as soon as a door closes in our apartment, she runs right for the kitchen. NBB headed out last night to help his friend Ari with his computer. Door closed, Cinnamon made a mad dash.

"Oy!" I shouted at her in that tone, "Get out of the kitchen."

She hopped out, waited for me to resume typing and went right back in. I yelled again, she did not leave. I set my lap top on the coffee table and she came tearing out of the kitchen (uh-oh, it's serious if mom puts down her laptop). From there it was an endless parade of chasing her out of the kitchen, chasing her away from chewing/licking my backpack, removing her when she hopped on my keyboard, taking her off the futon when she hopped up to steal cookies--BUTThead! I started an auction for one naughty bunny on FaceBook.

By the time NBB returned, Cinnamon was dozing on top of her Cottontail Cottage--the amount of mischief was just exhausting. He didn't believe that this peacefully sleeping bunny could be so naughty.

Disapproving Rabbits At The Science Museum

Last night I was working at the Mississippi River Visitor Center at the Science Museum listening to the cool song stylin's of the Brass Messengers (they were there for a wedding reception held at the museum) when I looked up from the counter and saw two people approaching me with Disapproving Rabbits shirts--the old school brown shirts. Two Cinnamon fans came up from Iowa to visit the Twin Cities and had me on the itinerary. Since they arrived about 45 minutes before I closed and Non Birding Bill was coming to pick me up, I called and asked if he would mind bringing Cinnamon with him. They were happy to hang around the VC and the museum to wait for NBB.

Because of the collections, animals aren't allowed in the Science Museum but Cinnamon frolicked on the front lawn and we got a photo. They even stuck around while we got a fast Sunday Cinnamon photo. She really seemed to enjoy the night air and she always enjoys attention--even at the ripe old age of nine (my Cinnabutt is nine, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around her mortality).

Thanks so much for visiting us Iowans!

Eagle Nest and Tons on the Horizon

For the readers who don't go to Disapproving Rabbits but would like to hear some of the sounds rabbits can make, check out this video of Cinnamon grunting.

So much to blog and so little time! I got the word from Lorraine that the bees have landed. I was hoping that they would arrive tomorrow or Friday and I would hive them on Friday but they came today. Right now I'm trying to rearrange my schedule to install them on Thursday. I'm hoping Non Birding Bill will come and use his mad video directin' skillz to make a short on how we install our bees. I can't help but giggle and think of two years ago when we first hatched the crazy bee plan. Mr. Neil and I with visions of hexagons and buzzing and Lorraine and NBB heavily protesting. Both saying we were not going into the bee business because Mr. Neil would be out of the country writing and I would be at some bird thing and Lorraine and NBB would be the ones to have to deal with the bees and they under no circumstances would not be helping with the bees...and here was Lorraine dealing with early bee arrival while Mr. Neil was away and I was doing a bird thing.

5 8 Club Eagle Nest

I stopped by the bald eagle nest at the 5-8 Club to get a last view of it before the trees leaf out. The chicks have hatched and the male and female are stopping by to feed them throughout the day.

Word on the street with the banders is that many eagles are about two weeks behind from last year because of the long winter. Some banding of eagle chicks was supposed to start next week and they are now scheduled to start on May 12. Eagles are usually good with starting early, they don't need water to be open, but osprey do. I know many lakes in northern Minnesota are still frozen, I wonder if they will be late this year too? Speaking of which, the are talking flurries again for the Twin Cities this weekend--for the first weekend in May. If that happens, that means that we will have had a six month winter. Our first snow was last November 5. That's the hardcore Minnesota winter we know and love!

i'm evil

The weather can't put a hold on the rest of migration. We had one intense day of banding at Carpenter Nature Center today, which I will get to tonight. The towhee above is just a hint. Boy, wasn't it just the other day that I blogged about wanting to get a photo of that crazy towhee eye? Sometimes, wishes do come true in the short term.

Here are a couple of other hints: What bird hates black sparkly nail polish more than titmice hate purple nail polish?

And, what bird caused this blood bath? That's not my finger...dodged a bullet with that bird!

Easter Morning With Cinnamon

We tried to get Cinnamon to pose with some peeps this morning, but that seemed to not dignify our girl, however having her own MySpace Page and BunSpace Page is ok. Don't worry, she's not being held down in the above photo, Non Birding Bill is petting her. You can see more photos of her and her Peeps at Disapproving Rabbits and below is a video of her gettin' some bunny lovin' (bonus points to those who can id the two people singing in the duet in the background):


Cinnamon's face right after I accidentally sneezed on her.

Sorry, bunny.

I Just Bring It Out

I took this photo of Cinnamon during the interview last night. This is the stare down--she does this hoping that if she stares at me long enough, she will have willed me into giving her a treat.

Well, last night's online show (The Rabbit Show) took a weird turn. I guess when you have an online show hosted on Talk Shoe, you can have a forum going where people can ask questions and it's very interactive. And as happens in forums, someone joined and started asking...well let's just say they were questions that Cinnamon would not approve of. The poor host seemed surprised and flustered. My inclination would have been to just giggle quietly and ingore it, but the host was trying to delete them, which I think just made the anonymous posters pose even worse questions. Then, there was an odd sound and I couldn't hear the host. I figured I was on hold or the show was stopped because of the questions. Non Birding Bill was in the other room listening live and shouted, "Hey keeping talking--he's not on, but I can hear you, fill the dead air."

So, I kind of "umed" and "ahed" and "you knowed" my way into getting rabbits from humane societies, it was very strange. And fortunately, there were people asking questions that didn't involve impossible rabbit mating processes (thank you to all those kind folks) and I was able to speak to those.

The host made it back on--he had a power surge from his house and got knocked off the show. An eventful interview to say the least. You can download a podcast version here. I guess I was the first author he had on his show--I hope the experience didn't sour him on future guests on his show. Thanks, Dan, for having me on and for promoting the book.

After it was finished, NBB shook his head and said, "You just bring that out in people, don't ya my little trouble maker."

City Birds Country Birds

"Hey, I'm not in this book at all--I didn't approve that!"

Check it out, it's a mock up of my next book. Remember a long time ago I blogged about a book I wrote called City Birds Country Birds? Well, I think it's actually coming out this spring--which is a total relief because I wrote this way before Disapproving Rabbits and I had dedicated this book to my mom and Disapproving Rabbits to my in-laws. And wouldn't you know it, the book dedicated to my in-laws came out first--AWKWARD! Actually, right after one of the radio interviews I did for Disapproving Rabbits, the hosts started talking the dedication and about people who have better relationships with their in-laws than with their own parents. I cried out, "Noooooooooooooo!" and tried to phone back in to the studio while Non Birding Bill said, "Oh, Sharon, it's just a segue into another segment, don't take it too seriously."

Yeah, easy for him to say because it was his parents not mine. For the record, I love my mom and my in-laws.

So, if you sent a photo and it got used in the book, you are still getting a free copy. Incidentally, anyone have a good photo of a black-capped chickadee nest? Needs to be in focus and needs to be print quality. If you so, email it along with your mailing address to sharon at birdchick dot com.

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.