05 March 2008

Migration and Molt

One of the inevitabilities of Spring is the departure of our wintering bird species. With March in full swing I've seen the first signs of the migration right here at home, and it's given me renewed hope that our summer residents will be here before I know it. Monday morning, as I was getting dressed upstairs I heard a familiar bird call from the back yard. Although I recognized it, it took seeing the bird on the feeder for me to put two and two together . . It was a male Red-winged Blackbird, and he was soon joined by one more before the two flew off together. I distinctly remember the first one of them from last Spring as well, and if the pattern holds the Brown-headed Cowbirds will be back soon as well. I plan to get my hummingbird feeders hung up this weekend too, as the first migrating Ruby-throats should be passing through very soon.

Then, later in the day Monday I was outside playing with the kids when I saw what looked at first like a really big gull soaring overhead. As it came literally directly over our house I realized that it was not a gull, but rather an Osprey. There was at least one pair of Osprey that nested along the South end of the Coddle Creek Reservoir last summer, and I hope to see them set up shop there again this year. This picture of an Osprey is one that I took in Ft. Myers, Florida last December. They were so abundant there that the sight of them almost became mundane. Here, however, they are a bit of a rarity, so the first sighting of an early migrator was quite exciting.
I've also started to see the first signs of the pre-alternate molt (also known as the Spring molt) in my winter American Goldfinches. Their bright yellow mating plumage is starting to peek through in small spots, and I imagine very soon they'll disappear, only to be replaced in the coming months by our summer population. I think I'll actually miss the almost military-looking white stripes on their otherwise drab winter wing feathers. They've been my most reliable feeder visitors this winter, almost like an adopted part of the family.

04 March 2008

The Potty Saga Continues

This potty training thing has turned into a bad recurring dream. Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, except in that case he figured out how to improve his situation each time he woke up and it was the same day again. In my case, I wake up each day completely perplexed by Lily's inability to make it through a day without an accident. Some will start poorly, with a pee in the pull-up less than five minutes after she wakes up. Others, like yesterday, have seen her wear big-girl panties for long stretches without an accident. But it always seems like complacency sets in (either with her or with me), and we fall short of a full day's success.

Over the weekend, we tried the "party" technique I've read about . . have a freakin' party for the kid when she uses the bathroom so it creates positive reinforcement. Obviously, as is evidenced by my need to make this post, that has only been mildly effective as a means of encouragement. She enjoys the parties, but she's just fine without them.

The part that makes it even more frustrating is her increasing ability to communicate what she needs, at least biologically. Yesterday, after her friend Matt left at around noon, Lily marched directly upstairs and climbed in to her crib. She got under the covers, and before I even realized where she'd gone, she was calling for me to come put her to bed. Similarly, last night at around 7:30 Mandi and I were relaxing on the couch when Lily came in from the playroom and matter of factly exclaimed, "Daddy, I'm ready for bed now!" If you are aware enough to tell me that, surely you're aware of the fact that just an hour earlier you were standing in front of the TV pooping in your big-girl panties . . right? Apparently the TV show that was on while she was pooping was more interesting than the one at bedtime. So the potty training saga continues thusly, and alas, I have yet to discover the magic bullet that will put us over the top.