Are northern saw-whet owls the cutest birds in the world?
Earlier this year, my family adopted a northern saw-whet owl for me. I couldn’t wait to meet the little critters in person, plus participate in some community science. So I waited for the announcements from the National Aviary to join in Project Owlnet.
Unfortunately, the spring lockdown meant it was cancelled. But in the fall, we were able to join Project Owlnet while safely socially distancing outdoors.
We walked through dark woods to the mist nets that waited to catch the owls as safely and softly as possible. A recording of the saw-whet call, an insistent “toot, toot, toot” echoed through the trees. The owls are migrating south and don’t actually make noises as they fly. But the recording calls them low to the ground – why, researchers don’t exactly know. They wait in the net until we released them. We checked the nets frequently. The owls are about as big as an adult’s hand. But they are feisty. They snapped their beaks to scare us. But their big golden eyes were endearing and their soft feathers were irresistible.
We carried the owls back to the picnic table and took several measurements. We measured wing size, tail length, and estimated age by looking at wing feathers. We blew open feathers on their chest to measure fat tissue. We put them upside down in plastic cups to weigh them! All the owls we caught were big, for saw-whets, and were female. They were brave little ladies.
After recording all the data, we took turns stretching out our arms like tree branches, setting the owls on them, and watching them fly away. We quickly lost sight of them in the dark, but I’m sure they could see us perfectly.
I’m chugging through revisions of The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci. This book is coming out fromNomad Press in May 2021). I really love all of the activities included in the book. I can’t wait to see readers try them and share their results!
Revisions can be hard, but how often in life do we get a chance to fix our mistakes? One of the reasons I love being a writer.
Do you use a standing desk? I’m trying out a new standing desk in my office.
I used to have a very tall craft desk. I thought I might stand to write, but I couldn’t stand for eight hours. I ended up buying a tall drafting chair so I could sit sometimes. Then I ended up sitting all of the time.
So when I bought this little standing desk, I did NOT buy a TALL CHAIR.
I’m not sure it will be easy for actual writing, but when I’m researching – reading, taking notes, watching videos, listening to zoom lectures – I’m going to try to stand.
My new desk is adjustable and rolls around on wheels! I won’t be walking and writing though. If I want to do that, I can always pop down to the treadmill and put my laptop on an old shelf. I rest the shelf on the arms of the treadmill and get walking. That’s easiest when I’m watching videos.
Are you a teacher or author looking for a virtual author visit? I love connecting with classrooms and talking about nonfiction. We can work with a local bookstore to get kids copies of signed books. We have great discussions about research and writing about technology, medicine, mistakes, and more. I can do author Q&As or brainstorming activities!
This is a great time to have authors interact with students when you don’t have to worry about travel fees or bad weather cancelling events.
Contact me about fees, timing, technology and any other questions. Stay safe!
I’m excited that Spider magazine recently accepted a fiction story and a recipe. They will be in print at some point. Magazines work very far in the future (think eight months to two years!) Eventually I’ll be able to share the actual publications.
I also received a rejection for a word game that I submitted. Rejections always sting, but it’s important to take a breath. Remind yourself it’s (usually) not personal.
For me, it helps to have lots of projects going on and to try a revision. How do you handle rejection?
But there are many more writing groups active in our region. There is so much going on. There are so many opportunities even though we can’t gather in groups. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed trying to pick between different events, but I would never want the pendulum to swing the other way. No, there’s no need to feel like a lonely writer toiling away at your craft. Stay connected, share events with other writers, be nosy, and be involved.