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Oct 17, 2021
This week’s theme
Bird words

This week’s words
raven messenger
war hawk

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 1007

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: “Cards Against Humanity for unhorrible people.” Are you sick of quarantines and vulgarity? Wise Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Party Card Game has 100 Question Cards that are “way harder than Harvard” -- What’s Sleeping Beauty’s real name?, or, What’s the Gini Coefficient? But wait! There are also 50 devilish Challenge Cards, e.g., Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands, or Swap shirts with the player to your left. AWAD exclusive Buy Two for Only $30 Fall Special. A fabulous gift.

From: Paul Lipari (paul.lipari hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dovecote

I don’t have any personal stories to share, but your moving introduction made me think of one of my favorite poems by Thomas Hardy.

The Caged Goldfinch

Within a churchyard, on a recent grave,
I saw a little cage
That jailed a goldfinch. All was silence save
Its hops from stage to stage.

There was inquiry in its wistful eye,
And once it tried to sing;
Of him or her who placed it there, and why,
No one knew anything.

There is an equally fine one by Hardy, a truly shattering one, entitled The Blinded Bird. You can perhaps imagine what that is like.

Paul Lipari, Neuilly, France

From: Ivan Tomek (ivan.tomek acadiau.ca)
Subject: Birds in a cage

Thank you for your compassionate words, Anu. I feel the same way, and not only about birds, but about all captive creatures.

Ivan Tomek, Wolfville, Canada

From: Katie Kreis (ktkreis14 gmail.com)
Subject: Bird words

Pardon my harsh words, but I’ve been shat on by more birds than I care to admit. Once in my hair as a child -- the camp counselors had a field day with that one. Another time on my leg while watching a parade. They are beautiful and terrifying. Eagles and vultures and pigeons and doves -- none are exempt. I don’t have much more to say than I feel overwhelmingly negatively about these essential creatures.

Katie Kreis, Waterloo, Iowa

From: Susan Balogh (susan_balogh hotmail.com)
Subject: Avian Adoration

The older I get, the more I appreciate and steward birds. It’s heartbreaking to know that since my childhood our world population of birds has fallen off by the billions and that most seabirds ingest large amounts of our plastic waste. Alas, micro-plastics are a lament for another day.

I do not let our cats be outdoors without a leash and supervision as cats kill lots of birds. I feed birds with guidance from the Audubon Society. I grow flowers and keep a freshwater source in our small urban backyard to attract and benefit birds and as a bonus we are rewarded with their singing, gorging, and overall beauty.

Susan Balogh, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Megan Tremelling (mtremelling tds.net)
Subject: Releasing birds

I agree with you that life in a cage can be a miserable one for any creature, and there are many, many caged birds out there with an unacceptable quality of life. But the solution to the problem is not “let them go.” The budgies, cockatiels, and finches populating the local petstore and your auntie’s sunroom are captive-bred. If they were released into the wild, the only question about their destiny would be whether they would have time to starve to death before becoming a snack for the nearest predator.

We need to get people to stop buying birds. Like puppy-mill owners, many commercial bird breeders are hoping to make a buck on their young birds. If there is no market for them, many breeders will stop breeding, thus reducing the numbers of birds spending their lives in captivity. And there would be no need for border inspectors to stop people from smuggling in wild-caught birds for the pet trade if there were not suckers waiting stateside to pay for them as a status symbol, a part of their collection, or some other function that live birds were never meant for.

Megan Tremelling, Port Washington, Wisconsin

From: Glen Glater (glen oldmoose.com)
Subject: Releasing pets

Releasing pets is how invasive species such as the Burmese python in Florida get introduced and established. I get that you don’t want people to cage animals but releasing them in foreign environments is a bad bad bad idea. See here and here.

Glen Glater, Natick, Massachusetts

From: Ellen Feld (ellen.sue.feld gmail.com)
Subject: About freeing birds

I’m a dedicated vegan. My veganism is based in my love of and belief in rights for animals of all kinds. (I’ll take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate your philosophies of fairness, kindness, and respect for our fellow beings, human and other animals.)

Sadly, long before I became vegan, I bought a pet parrot. What those few words mean makes me cringe with shame and regret today. I thought I knew what I was doing. I studied. I researched. But nothing really taught me what I now see as the truth. Through the years, my understanding has grown, and now I believe any bird’s life as a pet is a life enslaved -- cruel, unfair, unnatural.

But I also know my companion parrot would not survive if I set him free. He was bred and raised by humans. He’s undergone a forced adaptation to an indoor environment in which his needs for food and water are met. We are the only flock he’s known. Not only is he attached to us as we are to him, but he does not have the necessary survival skills required for life outside of this environment.

He has lived with my family for 15.5 years and may have decades more ahead. We are dedicated to giving him as good a life as a caged bird can have. (Yes, he enjoys time out of his cage, but it’s never enough.) We will fulfill our responsibility for all his days. At any opportunity, I explain this to anyone who says they want a “pet parrot”. I do my best to explain to them how wrong it is to cage a bird. I hope I serve at least as one small voice to give someone pause, to support the end of the pet bird trade.

Ellen Feld, Ridgewood, New Jersey

From: Lori Norden (lorin846 gmail.com)
Subject: Birds

As a kid, my Mom loved watching birds. So much so that when we went to the zoo, we chose monkeys, lions, elephants, and she chose birds. I live near woods, and naturally have observed various birds over the years. I am now as much in love with watching birds in nature as she was. And only with my camera.

It bothers me a great deal to see any animals in captivity. I decided to stop going to the circus, the zoo, and aquariums as I was left feeling hopeless on their behalf.

I’ve now been a vegetarian for nearly twenty years, choosing not to end a life for my consumption. Thanks so much for your words. They touched me.

Lori Norden, Lexington, Illinois

From: İclal Usanmaz (usanmaziclal4 gmail.com)
Subject: Birds

Hi, I’m İclal. I am a university student and studying ELT 😊 I want to say something about birds. I’m not a birder but I like them so much because their colorful wings bring me joy. 🐦 My sentences are so basic, I know but I’m improving myself newly. Sometimes, I am afraid of their beaks because when they bite my finger, I feel pain. 😥 After all, I like so much birds, especially budgerigars. They speak as a human and it is very interesting, isn’t it? 😀 Speaking of birds, I want to write about peacocks. I think, they are the most beautiful birds in the world. ❤ My paragraph that’s it. I want to write to you later on. Because I want to improve my foreign language and be best in my profession.

İclal Usanmaz, Turkey

From: Vanessa Cooling (vanessa.cooling gcc.tas.gov.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dovecote

When I was younger, I had goldfish in a bowl, tropical fish in a tank, and mice in a cage. I really never saw it from the animal’s point of view. Over time my view changed, so I kept homing pigeons. They could fly out at will during the day, return whenever they liked, and I fed and housed them. These days my partner and I just have a well-frequented bird bath, a platter for bread and rice a day or three a week, an insectory garden for insects, and two piles of rocks for skinks (the “lizardries”). They are all welcome to go about their business in our garden.😊

Vanessa Cooling, Hobart, Australia

From: Beth Tallmadge (btallmadge aol.com)
Subject: Birding

Birding reminds me that after nearly 25 years of the book club I’m in one of the universally favorite books of our little group is still The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. He is a journalist who turned to writing non-fiction books when our local Denver Post newspaper cut staff over the years. For us non-birders, Mark’s book was a captivating introduction to the world of North American extreme birders. We all loved The Big Year so much that someone offered to try and invite the author to come join us at our Christmastime gathering for a dinner conversation at a restaurant, and he accepted. It was years ago (2008), and he was finalizing his next book, Halfway to Heaven. He brought his laptop and shared hundreds of photos that had been taken on the hikes with his son up all our fourteeners here in Colorado. The group of us at that dinner were enthralled by his stories and his passion for his topics.

Last spring during the pandemic I started a new obsession with watching bird cams, those web cameras scattered around the country watching bird nests. Watching bird parents hatch their eggs and feed them fascinates me. I knew that my interest in remote bird watching had perhaps gone too far when I sobbed far too long when our local eagle’s nest camera in Westminster, CO, showed that the solo 5-week-old eaglet had died that day when its nest had crashed to the ground unexpectedly. Grandly however, that eaglet was given a proper private burial via an agreement with the local Native American tribes (see here and here), which I didn’t even know was a thing.

Beth Tallmadge, Lakewood, Colorado

From: Larry Alden (overlook nycap.rr.com)
Subject: Birding

I’ve been a birder for over a half century. (We generally prefer “birder” over “bird watcher”.) I’ve been a lover of words for less than that, but it’s fun to combine the two.

Most bird names consist of a family name (sparrow, swallow, wren, etc.) and a descriptor to differentiate one species from another. While most descriptors are pretty run-of-the-mill (e.g., eastern, northern, common), there are a few interesting ones out there. There’s pileated (woodpecker), ferruginous (hawk), plumbeous (vireo), prothonotary (warbler), lazuli (bunting), fulvous (whistling-duck), glaucous (gull), calliope (hummingbird), pomarine (jaeger), and flammulated (owl), to name a few. The majority of these describe nuances of color. Although I don’t think I’ve ever used any of them for any purpose other than in a bird name, it’s nice to know what they actually mean.

Larry Alden, Altamont, New York

From: Judee Doyle (justjudee gmail.com)
Subject: Birds

I am a fan of your page. I have been for well over 10 years. Thank you. I am also a fan of birds. Mostly big birds... such as raptors and herons. I live on Vancouver Island and follow the birds along the shoreline during low tide! I spend hours watching and capturing birds photos... Except when humans of a less intelligent knowledge of birds bring their dogs off leash to frighten the beauties away. That is a different story! I have found myself surrounded by 30 to 40 bald eagles while the moms teach their young how to fish! I have been brought to tears being in their presence...and being part of nature. It helps me to put my world into perspective!

Judee Doyl, Vancouver Island, Canada

From: Bill Stephens (bill_stephensca yahoo.ca)
Subject: Birding

For a look at competitive birding, check out the movie The Big Year, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. You’ll come away with a better understanding of the lengths competitive birders will go to to win the competition.

William Stephens, London, Canada

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy WISE UP! -- Game on!

From: Marc J Chelemer (mc2496 att.com)
Subject: Competitive birding

I’ve been a birder for 51 years. My father got my two brothers and me interested when I was about 10. Our first real “birdwalk” was in April of 1972 when I was 12, and we saw sixty (!) species of birds, including a Pileated Woodpecker... now the largest woodpecker in North America (since the declared extinction of the even-larger Ivory-billed Woodpecker from the deep south). Well, I was hooked.
Decades later, I participated in the Oland Birding Competition in Sweden, a 12-hour event in which teams tried to see or hear the most birds on the island of Oland, off the eastern coast of Sweden.
In 2014, I joined a team in New Jersey for the “World Series of Birding”, a rather inflated name for an event which, while it draws participants from many places, takes place only within the boundaries of the state, and, among certain teams, only in one county or one part of one county. I’ve been on that same team ever since.

Competitive birding is not “birding” as anyone would know it: the intent is not to see a particular bird, enjoy its behavior, its plumage. The only intent is to identify its existence by any means (sight or sound), to “tick” it on a list, and to move on to searching for the next species. No one who competitively birds mistakes a short-duration event like the World Series (one 24-hour period from 12:01:01 AM to 11:59:59 PM) for either the thrill (e.g., finding something very rare and being able to share it with others) or the calm (e.g., strolling through woods and fields on a spring day and just listening to the myriad of songs being offered by birds seeking a mate or staking out territory) of day-to-day birding. But it has a certain adrenalin rush... that moment when a sought-after species is heard off in the woods; a quick high-five among the teammates for another “tick,” and then the rush to a car, bicycle, canoe, or one’s feet as the quest for the next species resumes.

A more “civilized” competition was conceived by Rockjumper Tours of Capetown, South Africa. In early 2019, teams of 8 or 9 birders, gathered from around the world, competed in the “Kruger Challenge,” a NINE-DAY event designed to highlight Kruger National Park in South Africa. In the event, teams traversed the entire length of the gigantic park (larger than many small countries) in the company of a guide (drawn from among South Africa’s best birders) and a driver, earning points for seeing or hearing not only birds, but also mammals. Rarer birds or mammals earned more points than common ones. The event was intended to raise money to try to save an endangered species resident only in Ethiopia and South Africa (a secretive marsh bird with a rather unfortunate name: White-winged Flufftail).

That is another trademark of many “competitive birding” events: they are fundraisers for worthwhile ecological causes, and teams often spend as much time raising money before the competition as they do “scouting” the territories they’ve chosen visit during the event. Most birders are, by nature, conservationists and strong supporters of efforts to preserve the natural world from the influx of humanity’s affects (noise, pavement, pollution, invasive species). In that sense, I think most are “noble warriors,” vying against each other in the spirit of friendly competition, but keeping in mind the larger more important effort: ensuring that there WILL be birds around for the next generations of humans who walk, earth-bound, on this planet, so that they can look up, enviously, as an eagle... or just a finch... flies overhead, effortlessly moving through the air in the ultimate expression of a living thing’s freedom.

Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey

From: Ian McFadyen (ian.mcfadyen wdc.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dovecote

In Scotland, the word is dookit. More commonly, these days dookit is used to mean a small cubbyhole, or alcove. Elementary school children might store their outdoor clothes or backpack in their dookit in the classroom; the teacher might have dookits in which she puts each student’s marked homework.

Ian McFadyen, San Jose, California

From: Jayapadma RV (rvjayapadma gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dovecote

I have been making my acquaintance with birds for a few years now. I felt the connection with birds more acutely during the pandemic. As a teacher I tried to help my students connect with nature even while we connected in the virtual mode. I wrote about this experience here.

And then I came down with COVID in April 2021. Through the recovery, I am sure the birds I saw through the window helped me in the healing process. I captured them through sketches and a parody rhyme I wrote, which I stitched together in this video: Ten Days of Lockdown (3 min.).

Jayapadma RV, Bhubaneswar, India

From: Bill Venables (bill.venables gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dovecote

Speaking about allowing “the crows to peck the eagles”, it actually happens quite often. See here. So Coriolanus may have to put up with the plebeians after all.

Bill Venables, Dutton Park, Australia

From: Diana Hadley (diana.hadley gmail.com)
Subject: Coriolanus

For an absolutely stunning British production of Coriolanus, go to the British National Theater website and stream for a fee the stage show filmed live in 2014. You will get to hear Tom Hiddleston (who is marvelous in the role) utter, “I flutter’d your Volscians in Corioli.” Warning: It does get gory! Site states it is currently available until Nov 30.

Diana Hadley, Dallas, Texas

From: Steven G. Kellman (kellman1 gmail.com)
Subject: Dovecot

One of the finest short stories in Russian literature is The Story of My Dovecot, Isaac Babel’s 1925 account of how a pogrom in Odessa traumatizes a gifted Jewish boy.

Steven G. Kellman, Professor of Comparative Literature, Department of English, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

From: Corrie Verbaan (trips iafrica.com)
Subject: Bird

I share your sentiments totally regarding the unhealthy, even cruel, practice of caging birds. They experience a three-dimensional environment (as do fishes) and such imprisonment of the innocent is never justified.

Here’s an account of the magpie we rescued while campervanning through Turkey in 1991. The story is told from his POV.

It was heartbreaking to leave him behind after three weeks travelling together, but we were en route to the mayhem that is a big city (in this case Istanbul) and, as we had discovered a bird sanctuary, what better lodgings could we find for him. He didn’t want to stay there as witnessed by his flight back to the camper to perch on the steering wheel when we wished to hand him over to the Turkish proprietor, but it had to be, for his sake, even though it pulled our heart-strings as we drove off.

Corrie Verbaan, Durban, South Africa

From: Dave Shelles (writesdave gmail.com)
Subject: Birds

Early one morning, as I ran out of my subdivision to the main road for my daily bout of exercise, I felt a weight and sharp edges into my skull. I turned my head in time to see a pair of jagged-edged wings perching on a nearby branch. I rubbed my hand over a spot on my skull and a little bit of blood dotted my fingers.

As I work at a university and have access to some serious scholars, I asked a biology professor whose research involves birds why an owl (or a hawk?) felt the need to defend its turf when I posed no threat. She suggested that the bird had been stalking some prey, like a mouse or a chipmunk, and I had scared the rodent away, so the bird saw fit to let me know in no uncertain terms I had deprived it of a meal. Okay, I get it. Sorry, Bird.

Dave Shelles, Acworth, Georgia

From: Loretta Schumacher Carlson (lscarlson mac.com)
Subject: Birding

When our youngest child went off to college, my husband and I were looking for a new activity we could share. I suggested season tickets to the opera and ballet. He suggested mountain climbing. We settled on birding -- and each go our own way for those other pursuits. I was not prepared for the joy I have gained through bird watching and bird listening. Until I started learning about birds and their songs, the world around me was a chorus of unknown melodies. Now, I can pick out the everyday mockingbird, cardinal, and wren and the summer visitors like flycatchers, grosbeaks, and wood thrushes.

Birding truly opened a whole new world for me. (breaking into song ...)

Loretta Carlson, Bear, Delaware

From: Andrew Baxter (a.d.baxter25 gmail.com)
Subject: Birding

I love birding and I have also taken a keen interest in photographing birds as well. I am a 4th grade teacher in Atlanta, and I have become known as the unofficial bird expert at my school. I get to share this with my students, and that has been great fun.
When I got into birding, the vast variety of birds I did not know existed astounded me. A whole world of creatures was right outside my door and overhead, and all I had to do was take a look. I also have interest in increasing awareness about birds and the kind of help they need from us humans. I want to get more people interested in birds because decisions we make affect birds too. To that end, I have written some books about birds, and I would love you to check them out.

Andrew Baxter, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Judith Stein (jasheibley gmail.com)
Subject: Bird words

The Brits have a word for competitive bird-watching: twitchers. It figures prominently in one of the Midsomer Murders episodes, where the competition becomes intense, one could say “murderous”.

Judith Stein, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Pigeon eggs

From: Patricia Ross (prmft94123 gmail.com)
Subject: birds

I’m not really a birder, but a few months ago I had the thrill of seeing, for the first time in my life, an egg hatch. Then the next day, the first hatchling seemed to help the second egg hatch. They were pigeons, in a planter in front of my front door, and alas they only lasted around 12 days before predators got them.

I was heartbroken, but didn’t know how to save them without taking on a full-time job of feeding them every two hours and keeping them warm and then ending up with two pigeons in my home! Still, I’ll never forget the awe I felt to see this tiny creature work its way.

Patricia Ross, Mill Valley, California

From: Louise Dawson (ltdawson telus.net)
Subject: Birds and linguistic birding

The great British physicist Denys Wilkinson who, in spite of being knighted by the Queen, was not at all pompous and had a wicked sense of humour, once told us about his early days when he stopped at a youth hostel in the Alps. He joined a group of German youths who had congregated around the fireplace and were exchanging information about their hobbies. When his turn came, his elementary German had no word for bird-watching, so he converted the word Vogel, bird, into a verb and said: Vögeln. They collapsed with laughter, because in German slang it meant to go cruising for girls (birds of a different feather)! Since then, the word has acquired a more vulgar sense starting with f, and I don’t mean flying.

Louise Dawson, Vancouver, Canada

From: Sally Anne Hubbard (sahubbard1 netzero.net)
Subject: Birds

I enjoyed the sentiments in the A.Word.A.Day for Oct 11, 2021, regarding taking a picture of birds instead of killing them. It reminded me of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence “A Robin Red breast in a cage puts all heaven in a rage.”

Sat, Oct 9, I saw two wild turkeys on my front lawn. They have lost so much of their habitat. It made me happy to watch them but also sad that on a day of Thanksgiving next month so many will be slaughtered. A true day of thanksgiving would be to let all beings live by having a plant-based dinner.

Sally Anne Hubbard, Milford, Connecticut

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--raven messenger

If there were only two ravens aboard Noah’s Ark, male and female, and one of them never returned, why are there ravens today?

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Richie Sevrinsky (sevrinsky gmail.com)
Subject: Timely raven messenger

Amazingly, in the annual cycle of Torah reading, this past week was the section of Noah. Your timing is impeccable!

Richie Sevrinsky, Tel Aviv, Israel

From: Tom Koehler (tvkoehler lakeconnections.net)
Subject: raven messenger

For me, raven messenger conjures up Odin’s ravens who traveled the world to keep Odin apprised of all that was going on.

Tom Koehler, Two Harbors, Minnesota

From: Kath O’Sullivan (pudsyduck gmail.com)
Subject: Re Thought for Today

The age difference between myself (29) and the oldest House members is ~60 years. For better or worse, young people will live in the world Congress leaves behind. That’s why I focus on our future: addressing climate change and runaway income inequality, ending school-to-prison pipelines, etc.
-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress (b. Oct 13, 1989)

As a 95-year-old Kiwi woman, I believe there should be an age limit on people running for office, a cut-off date. The world belongs to our youth, they should be the ones who design its future. I agree with the writer full heartedly.

Kath O’Sullivan, Auckland, New Zealand

From: Ches Applewhite (chesmobile35 gmail.com)
Subject: How cool!

I love the quotation from AOC -- a woman much younger than your usual folk! When Republican Chuck Grassley announced he’s running again at age 88, I was dismayed. I hope a very young person -- Democrat of course -- beats him!

For the past year I have loved saying I’m age 85! After my Oct 2 birthday, I’m saying 85 plus One!

Mary Ches Applewhite, St. Petersburg, Florida

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pigeonhole

Way back in an old job, we could tell whenever someone had either joined our department or left: the pigeonholes for internal mail (no email in those days) suddenly moved. ... After a while it became a bit of a game amongst us, figuring out the staff changes (not to mention where our new pigeonholes were).

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Roberta Eisenberg (bobbi alumni.nd.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pigeonhole

I am sure that I will not be the first nor the last to mention the mathematical pigeonhole principle. Also, see here.

Roberta M. Eisenberg, Douglaston, New York

From: Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai (rcnakai telusplanet.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--war hawk

The war of 1812 was not a draw! The Canadians/British won. Calling it a draw is for Americans’ egos only.

R.L Collins-Nakai, CM, MD, MBA, FRCPC, FCCS, MACC. DSc (Hon), Canada

From: Raymond Pasinski (rpass att.net)
Subject: war hawk

I would like to share my definition of war.

What is War?
War is Impermanent Being fighting Other Impermanent Beings
What are they Fighting Over?
Impermanent Things
How Silly

Raymond Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois

From: Dirk Schenkkan (dschenkkan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--war hawk

Like your post today. It reminds me of a Ukrainian proverb I once came across: When the flag is unfurled, all reason is in the trumpet.

Dirk Schenkkan, San Francisco, California

From: Christopher Wallace-Tarry (chriswallacet gmail.com)
Subject: Eisenhower quotation as a thought for the day

The Eisenhower quotation is a noble sentiment, but it rings quite hollow when you consider the deeds and character of the man who said it. Eisenhower personally authorised and orchestrated a military coup in Guatemala; he was persuaded in this by members of his government who were involved with the United Fruit Company. This company had been losing profits as Guatemala’s new democratically elected president had passed laws which outlawed exploitative and highly profitable labour practices. This coup involved a military invasion of a foreign nation, the bombing of its capital, and a campaign of psychological warfare, and resulted in the installation of a military junta, which Eisenhower’s government and the government of his successors supported. The junta committed mass killings, disappearings, and campaigns of torture, and was the first in a series of US-backed authoritarian dictatorships which ruled the country for 40 years.

Christopher Wallace-Tarry, Brighton, UK

From: Peter Cao (bikechina gmail.com)
Subject: Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key owned slaves and prosecuted Dr. Reuben Crandall, a white abolitionist, merely for the owning of abolitionist pamphlets in the privacy of his own home, tucked safely out of the way in a trunk in his home.

Peter Cao, San Francisco, California

From: Henry M. Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Birds in literature

If we’re going to mine literature for bird references, then don’t forget the Commedia. Here is one of the most famous: in Canto V of the Inferno Dante encounters those punished for their lust by being whirled through eternity, just as they were carried away by their passions in their life on earth.

E come li stornei ne portan l’ali
nel freddo tempo, a schiera larga e piena,
così quel fiato li spiriti mali
di qua, di là, di giù, di sù li mena
nulla speranza li conforta mai,
non che di posa, ma di minor pena.
(As starlings riding on their wings form wide dense flocks in winter, so does the wind carry those wretched spirits, downward, upward, now here, now there, without any hope of rest or lesser pain to comfort them.)

Dante’s staccato phrasing (“di qua, di là, di giù, di sù”) even mimics their quick changes in movement, just like the flock of starlings he describes.

For other bird sightings, go to Canto II of Purgatorio, where those recently arrived at the foot of Mount Purgatory scatter like doves when Cato the Judge alarms them, and Canto XX of Paradiso, where Dante compares souls in the sphere of Jupiter to a lark that first soars singing in the open air, then falls silent, satisfied with its song’s sweetness. But these are only a few; there are many more.

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California

From: D. George Prisbe-Przybysz (prisbe.przybysz gmail.com)
Subject: A birdwatcher thanks you

I have been a birdwatcher/birder for almost 40 years and my perspective and relationship with these marvels has changed. I find the comment “This isn’t birding, this is war” abhorrent.
Here’s an essay I wrote about my metamorphosis.

George Prisbe-Przybysz, Hanna, South Dakota

From: Ayala King (ayalaking2 gmail.com)
Subject: Animals

Apropos bird brain, you probably know this: goats and donkeys (ass...) get an uncalled-for bad name too: both are very intelligent and social animals, capable of forming close relationships with nice humans too :)

Ayala King, Haifa, Israel

War and Peace
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: War hawk and raven messenger

In this scenario, our American Eagle, in the guise of a bellicose four-star general, presents as the quintessential war hawk... even though he’s an eagle. The iconic Peace Dove is more stupefied than frightened, as the late peacenik and pacifist John Lennon tries to bring some amity into the tense confrontation.

Quoth the Raven 'Nevermore'
Here, our raven messenger arrives a tad late, as he brings some disappointing news... not the message on the strip of paper in his bill. “Don’t kill the messenger” translates as don’t blame the messenger for being the bearer of bad news, since they aren’t responsible for the disappointing tidings. This saying has a venerable history, its core sentiment appearing in Plutarch’s Lives, Sophocles’s Antigone, and Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Anthony and Cleopartra.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Bird words
1. dovecote
2. puttock
3. raven messenger
4. pigeonhole
5. war hawk
= 1. coop
2. hawk
3. whether he went, won’t go back to vessel
4. rank
5. despised soviet regime murder
     This week’s theme: “The Bird’s the Word!”
1. dovecote
2. puttock
3. raven messenger
4. pigeonhole
5. war hawk
= 1. pigeon nest tower
2. hawk, shrike
3. the late-to-never corvid
4. warm shed; to peg
5. the Bushes we mocked
     This week’s theme: Bird words
1. dovecote
2. puttock
3. raven messenger
4. pigeonhole
5. war hawk
= 1. which old-age home?
2. when covetous
3. tired postman
4. knew error skewed Peke’s <b> tag
5. strive
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


That a woman should vote was perceived
As a notion at once ill-conceived.
“Place such trust in a hen?”
Cried the dovecotes of men.
“Given Eve was the first one deceived?”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Two doves, truly birds of a feather,
Are nesting forever together
In their snug little dovecote.
They call it their love boat,
Afloat in all marital weather.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The girl never saw what young Bud wrote,
‘cause a pigeon purloined the boy’s love note.
Said the beady-eyed bird,
“I can’t read a word,
but I needed a rug in my dovecote!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The birds in the dovecote who coo
Are loved by their owners, it’s true.
I don’t understand
What they all find so grand --
These pigeons I’d normally shoo.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

We found this retirees’ dovecote,
where though nothing much happened of note,
The biddy’s club was in stress,
with many options to guess,
Why 3A picked lint off 4B’s coat.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

When passengers boarded The Love Boat,
They’d begin the cruise calm as a dovecote.
Although staid and sedate
On Day 1, by Day 8
All the bonking made Cupid above gloat.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“He’s a ravening puttock -- the beast!”
“Who, my dear? Genghis Khan?” “No. Our priest.
Peddling guilt door-to-door,
He wrests alms from the poor,
And takes most from the ones who have least.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

There once was a young man in Lubbock.
Rapacious was he like a puttock.
He felt much deprived,
Having barely survived,
Being born having only one buttock.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

There once lived an old man, such a puttock,
He just thrived on his greed and his good luck.
With the dames so demure,
He behaved immature.
‘Til one pushed him down hard on his buttock.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“Since Nature designed us this way,
We manage to eat every day.
With talons and beak,
We grab what we seek.”
The puttocks all say, “Let us prey.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

On Long Island, past Nassau, in Suffolk,
The Hamptons house many a puttock.
That scene in the summer
To Dems is a bummer;
Those billionaires Bernie can’t stomach.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Should we send out another one, Dad?”
“No, they’re too unreliable, lad.
Raven messengers go
Where it suits them, and so
We will send out a dove in a tad.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

My mailman’s as late as can be.
A slow raven messenger’s he.
Where’s the mail, where’s my bill?
I’m afraid now I will
Have to pay a substantial late fee.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

She texts him at quarter past eight.
There follows a measureless wait.
At last, raven messenger,
sweetly addressing her,
texts: “I lost track of the date!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A messenger raven’s no good;
He’ll never come back as he should.
When push comes to shove,
You’d best send a dove,
Who’ll always return to the ‘hood.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“You think I’m some dumb raven messenger?”
Shouted Moses. “The rules didn’t register?
No tablets for you!
Oy gevalt, a calf? Eww!”
You could hear him from Sinai to Leicestershire.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“There! You now have your own pigeonhole --
It’s so useful and gives me control.
When the moment is ripe
For your stereotype,
All I’ll need do is mentally scroll.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

She pigeonholed notes on her dreams,
Some fantasizing to extremes.
Whenever bored she would
Realize that one should
Escape reality, it seems.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

My wife always thinks I’m in sin;
If I’m late, it’s a mean, “Where you been?”
Pigeonholing fatigues me
Divorce now intrigues me,
If only at gambling I’d win!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“White supremacists shouldn’t be pigeonholed,
Nor should porn stars our Christian religion scold!”
Said Donald. “Their place
In our lives let’s embrace!”
(With Melania, things are a smidgeon cold.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Julius Caesar, he loved a good war
With gore and with glory galore.
A war hawk was he,
But clear as could be,
Cleopatra, he loved even more.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

As they marched at the beach yesterday,
protesters created a fray.
Cops warned them, “This boardwalk’s
no place for you war hawks!”
and threatened to use pepper spray.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It’s too bad that he wasn’t a war hawk;
We’d nod off when we heard poor Al Gore talk.
“Saddam, we will rub ya
The wrong way with Dubya,”
We thought, and saw peace out the door walk.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

This week’s lim’ricks are for the birds.
Who knew of these avian words.
Puttock, raven, and dove,
Hawk and pigeons we love.
I guess that we are bird word nerds.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)


In preparation for the annual bird parade, the dovecote(d) its wings with peace symbols.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Let Dovecote your skin with smooth, softening moisturizer while cleansing you from head to toe,” urged the ad.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The novice golfer finally made it to the green, but then the puttock several more attempts.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“You’re hogging the whole chair,” said one puttock to the other.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I wonder who puttock after tick when describing clock sounds?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“What’s that raven messenger carrying on about?” the Israelites wondered about Ezekiel.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The crazy courier was a raven messenger.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

After informing the police, the stool pigeonholed himself up in a hiding spot.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“I’m so hungry I could eat this pigeonhole,” said the sparrowhawk.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

This year the girls war hawk outfits at the annual Bird Festival.
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

The soldier who stole some guns from the war hawk(ed) them to the enemy.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Thought Dick Cheney, “Invading will create a great opportunity to my weapons of warhawk.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Bear Necessities
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: The Bear Necessities and McConnell & Schumer Can-Can Follies

Environmentalists and Native Americans are celebrating President Biden’s recent restoration of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments to their original “footprint”. Trump drastically downsized both, opening them up for mining and drilling. Here, a jubilant bear and Native American (Laguna Pueblo) Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, share their joy in bringing back these sacred parklands to their rightful glory.

McConnell & Schumer Can-Can Follies
Even though this week Congress managed to avert a government shutdown with a stop-gap vote to raise the debt ceiling by roughly four billion, it will be déja vu all over again come Dec 3, when the nation is faced with the same danger of a debt default. Congress is merely kicking the proverbial can of worms down the road, as illustrated here by Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, doing just that. Dysfunction on The Hill is clearly alive and well, as obfuscator McConnell continues to block all the Dems’ long-term plans.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. -Arthur Miller, playwright and essayist (17 Oct 1915-2005)

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