Just about any time of year is a great opportunity to walk the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. The birds are busy competing for mates and nesting spaces.
The nest boxes for the tree swallows are up. Already, vacancies are few. Their iridescent feathers are dazzling.
The music in the first part of the video is a piece called “There Are Chirping Birdies In My Soul” by Reed Mathis.
In the second part of the video, we let the birds themselves make the music. The birds don’t just show off; they sound off. All the birds are singing—except for the one killdeer for some reason. I managed to save a few clips of them singing their songs. They are in the last minute or so of the YouTube video. The first is the tree swallow. The next is the red-wing blackbird. Last is the song sparrow.
You’ll need to crank the volume to hear them. The tree swallows have a subtle trilling chirp. The male red-winged blackbirds have a distinctive call that probably sounds very familiar to most of us. We also saw and heard a song sparrow, a first for us.
We were bird watching the other day and saw a few birds we definitely recognized. One of them we puzzled about but finally decided was a sparrow.
The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is familiar. We think it was a male. The Blue Jay is still interesting because when it’s not in the sunlight it looks like what it really is—a blackbird. When we first saw it, the bird looked sort of grayish black. Finally, it turned just right and its feather bent the light into the familiar blue color. The Northern Cardinal is instantly recognizable, especially the male. They like to sit a long time, which is great for getting pictures.
The last bird looks like a sparrow but the tail seems longer and the bill is narrower. The breast is not streaked. It has head feathers which stick up. It resembles a female house sparrow, but it seems a bit larger than that. We looked around the web to try and identify the sparrow-like bird we saw.
We wonder if it might be a Cassin’s Sparrow. Although it would be out of its range since it’s found mostly in the southwest United States, Cassin’s Sparrow has been known to wander.
On the other hand, it’s not listed on the websites we saw featuring sparrow species seen in Iowa.
I think the reason it had a greenish breast was because it was reflecting the surrounding tree leaves. We’re calling it a Cassin’s Sparrow for now, but if you know better, shout it out.
I found another juggling trick I might be able to handle. It’s the claw catch. I saw a number of YouTube demonstrations. As usual, I tend to confuse them.
I slapped the balls down instead of catching them. And I think I’m going to need safety goggles or just quit wearing my eyeglasses when I juggle. I miss a few throws and the ones I do get look pretty wild. That’s how I get my exercise.
The claw catch really does look better if you use both left- and right-hand throws. I hope my left shoulder holds up. Being ambidextrous will help me do continuous right and left claw catches—maybe.
This is a progress report on Sena’s progress in juggling. She has been dedicated to practicing 2 or 3 minutes every other day. Frankly, she does more than that on some days.
She has been trying to move up to doing a 4-ball toss and catch. She thought she got it yesterday, and for a while so did I, even as I filmed it. The practice routine is to toss the balls 1-2-3-4 and catch. We thought she nailed it.
Then I looked at the video clips in slow motion. She wasn’t getting to 4 but she was getting to 3 more consistently. And part of what fooled us is that she’s now beginning to be ambidextrous. She can start the cascade from both her right and left side now!
Sena suggests I change the title of my YouTube section on juggling. As of yesterday, I changed it from Ugly Juggling to Ordinary Juggling. This distinguishes it from all the jugglers from whose videos I learn so much. They are extraordinary.
I saw the off the head juggling trick on the Juggle Man YouTube. This maneuver is off the wall. I looked at a couple of other videos because I just could not get the hang of it. One juggling teacher says it’s an “easy” trick. After fumbling a couple hundred times, I’m wondering why I’m hitting this wall with it.
I got the pattern wrong to start off—but that was the only way I could do it at all. When I started getting the pattern right, I was even more impressed with the jugglers who can make it look easy.
The two-ball practice I saw on one juggler’s video was painful. If you’re a guy and you’re doing the claw catch as instructed by some teachers, watch out. You can see what I mean in the video, and I’m not acting in that clip!
And once again, I’m having trouble letting go of a key ball that would allow me to finish the trick by smoothly moving back into the cascade.
I’ve been working on my juggle tricks using my non-dominant side and it’s a little easier than I thought it would be. It didn’t take nearly as long to train my left side to handle the right-side tricks compared to the right.
I’m not sure I how to explain that. Those who teach juggling usually advise practicing with your non-dominant side at the same time you train your dominant side. I didn’t start until after about seven months.
A while ago, I tried doing the behind the back trick on the left. I felt a sudden muscle spasm in the left side of my neck. I told myself I was too old to switch sides and left it at that. But then I discovered later there were certain tricks I couldn’t do unless somehow, I got ambidextrous.
It took me less than a day to teach my left side to do the right-side tricks like behind the back, under the leg, and the finger plex.
I still don’t know how the finger plex trick got its name.
Sena got me a spectacular gift—glowing juggling balls! They’re not like any of the juggling balls we have. You plug them into a wall socket and they light up.
They are not much bigger than the other juggling balls we have, so not much of a learning curve. In a way, they’re kind of like stage balls, only not as big as most of those are. And the light show is fantastic, especially in the dark. There are several colors, they can be bright or dim and programmable to change colors as you juggle.
And they’re solid, not filled with millet. When you charge them up, they sort of “breathe” red color (meaning they wax and wane with brightness). And when charged (takes about and hour and a half), they “breathe” green.
OK, I’ve found out that there’s more than one way to hit the shower pertaining to the juggling trick called “The Shower.”
As usual, my form is ugly because I’m in the early practice phase of trying to learn the shower. But then, even when I think I’ve got a trick down—it’s always ugly.
Anyway, different experts have different instructions for the shower trick. A couple of them tell you to throw the two balls in your dominant hand one right after the other. “Go for it” the guy says, who wrote the Learn to Juggle manual I still use. A YouTuber also tells you to just throw the two balls up there. Another expert doesn’t suggest that—but I can’t do it at all unless I toss two balls up sequentially.
I keep my two hands two close together and too high for the “slap” part of the pattern, which is tossing a ball straight across from my nondominant hand to my dominant hand. I also throw a ball too far out from the pane of glass (which is a pain in the ass!).
As usual, you can see all my mistakes in my ugly juggling on my own YouTube video, which you should not use as an example of anything but the wrong way to learn the shower.
By the way, Sena is making progress learning to juggle!
We always thought of Robins as birds who are the harbingers of spring. On the other hand, we’ve seen Robins in the middle of winter. We saw them today.
I realize that you technically can’t call a Robin a Sunbird. There is a species of Sunbird. It’s a small tropical forest bird. And you could call a person who travels from hot, humid parts of the country to cooler parts a sunbird—sort of the opposite of snowbirds; those who migrate from the cold north to the warm south in the winter months.
And so, I think you could call the Robin a sunbird—sort of. They’ll stick around all winter as long as the berries hold out.