Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vet Visit Birding Trip and a Tern for the Worst

...after my loonacy post I decided I should use more bird puns.

I made kind of a trip to get my dog neutered, but since it was an hour and a half drive I just stayed in the area until the deed was finished, which took four-and-a-half hours.  So I planned a birding trip to coincide with it.  As well as an exotic meats trip.  Anyway...

First stop, Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve!  Gordon Bubolz greeted me upon walking through the door with a very up-close-and-personal Sandhill Crane!
Sandhill Crane

It's not prime season necessarily, but there were still other birders there, one of whom told me there were wrens and thrushes.  While I was talking to him I saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a new bird for me.  "New bird for me" is kind of a theme in this post.
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
 I walked down some of the trails and found a sign explaining that there were nest boxes specifically set up for bluebirds, which had declined in population due to invasive starlings and sparrows.  Sure enough, there were a couple of these, although they were shy so I didn't get any clear pictures of them.
Eastern Bluebird.
I walked around the lake, trying to get better pictures of Kinglets.  I saw a Brown Creeper on a pine tree, another new bird for me, but I couldn't get its picture; it kept creeping to the other side of the tree whenever I tried!

I continued my trek and found what I believe are Hermit Thrushes.  I'm going with Hermit Thrush, but they are certainly thrushes.  Once I saw one, I saw several, and I stayed a while to listen to one sing.  They have wonderful, melodious voices.
Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush
Here's where I started getting pictures with mistaken identity. I wound up taking a picture of a House Wren while totally thinking it was a thrush, even though the two are only superficially alike.
House Wren
Then I photographed what I think is a Swamp Sparrow, new bird.
Swamp Sparrow
 Then I took a string of photographs of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, another new bird.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Also at Gordon Bubolz I saw Buffleheads, Mallards, American Robins, American Goldfinches, a Downy Woodpecker, and some other various animals.

At this point I left and went to a store called "All Things Jerky."  It's not so much a jerky store as it is an exotic meats store.  A friend of mine told me I should go because it would be a worthwhile stop in my quest to eat as many members of the animal kingdom as possible.
Meat sticks. And a box of insect larvae.
Upon my departure I went to Telulah Park, which was swarming with Yellow-rumped Warblers, another new bird for me.
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
And also I saw another Ruby-crowned Kinglet:
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
At this point the vet called me and said that Ike was ready to go home.  Hooray!  So I left to pick him up.

But before I close this entry, I did see a Forster's Tern yesterday, another new bird for me.  This was at Lakeside Park West, which I've just begun to realize is a goldmine for birds.
Forster's Tern
At Lakeside Park East I saw some prettier Horned Grebes:
Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe with Bonaparte's Gull
Horned Grebe
Finally, the pelicans have begun to change into their badass plumage:
American White Pelicans
To recap, new birds to go on my life list today include:
  • Forster's Tern
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Brown Creeper

Monday, April 22, 2013

Optimism is a Privilege

A few things about me:  I have depression.  I have anxiety.  Neither of these are nearly as bad since I began testosterone, but they're still there.  Like many people with depression and anxiety, I have good days and I have bad days.  Lately I've had quite a few bad days, manifesting themselves due to lack of money and health problems I can't afford to get checked out, as well as the general angriness that comes with being a social activist.

But I'm also an optimist.  I have always had the ability to see that it's likely I will wind up successful and stable in the future.  I see things getting better for people like me.  In short, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And you know what?  That's a privilege.  It's a privilege I have received by being reasonably well-educated, having a place to live, having enough food, having a strong support system, being in some privileged majority groups, and simply having my depression and anxiety manifest in its own unique way.

People who have depression or anxiety do not always have that privilege.  Neither do people in oppressed groups.  Plenty cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.  For some, the tunnel remains dark all the way through; I cannot in good conscience say that everybody will wind up fine in the end.  I don't know that.  I'm not arrogant enough to believe that everybody's unique situation would be improved by optimism.  It's simply not true.

This is why when I see my Facebook feed pebbled with posts about optimism, it makes me feel physically ill.  It's not just me; I have several friends with depression, anxiety, or who are going through tragedies who get seriously offended when these things pop up only to be told they're being oversensitive when they explain why.  One was being pelted by these two weeks after her mom died and she wound up exploding on every one of them.  And really, I don't blame her.

If you can write something like this, non-facetiously, then you are speaking out of the privilege of optimism.  What follows are a few Facebook posts and comments about them. There are some brief mentions of suicide, but no descriptions.

Text: "Actually, I just woke up one day and decided
I didn't want to feel like that anymore, or ever again.
So I changed."
Depression isn't something you can just decide not to have.  Saying things like this makes the assumption that people who are depressed or pessimistic are making the conscious decision to be that way.  For many, though, these feelings are either based on chemical imbalances in their brains or on a string of extremely shitty things happening to them.

Imagine telling somebody who was just the victim of a major catastrophe that they can simply decide not to feel shitty about it.  What kind of person does that?  But we do this all the time with depression and anxiety.

Text: "Optimism is key.
If you expect the worst, the worst will happen.
You are your own stress, your own anger,
your own sadness and frustration.
If you let things bother you, they will.
So don't let them. Just be happy.
Nothing in life is easy, so make the best of all of it.
Don't dwell on the negatives.
Optimism. is key."
If I mention that I have depression or am going through a major struggle, the last thing I need to hear is "Just be happy, nothing in life is easy."  No shit, Sherlock.  Life isn't easy.  That doesn't mean people don't have the right to let things bother them.

This entire passage places the catalyst for "negative" emotions on the person experiencing them.  Anger is your fault, not the fault of people who make you angry, for any reason.  Stress is your fault, not systematic oppression that forces you to work twice as hard to get half the recognition.  How many of these emotions are directly caused by things like oppression or lack of opportunity?  And you're going to tell people in those situations that their stress is something they brought upon themselves?  If somebody confides in you and tells you that they've just experienced major homophobia or transphobia are you going to tell them that they should just not let it bother them?

People have told me not to let things like that bother me.  It's such an insensitive thing to say to somebody experiencing a hardship that I just don't even.

Text: "Please don't let a bad day convince you
that you have a bad life."
A woman I worked with at a summer camp used to respond to camper complaints with "Suck it up, Nancy."  After a while she was told to stop.  And, well, good: It was dismissive bullshit.  And that's exactly how I feel about these posts.

I've heard this a lot when the subject of suicide comes up.  It's similar to "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."  What both of these assume is that the depressed person or suicidal person is only experiencing temporary upset.  The problems that typically lead to suicide are not temporary, petty issues, and by making the case that they are you do nothing but belittle the suicidal person for having the gall to be upset about something which is probably quite crushing and major.  People treat the suicidal feelings as the problem instead of dealing with why a person would feel that way!

Although depressed people are not necessarily suicidal, the same thing applies.  If the depressed person has a chemical imbalance, there's no way things are going to get better for them until that gets treated; it's not something you can dismiss as a "bad day."  Plenty of people do have really rough, difficult-to-manage lives, people who experience daily oppression, bullying, lack of food or medical access.  It's insulting to assume they're just being hyperbolic when they say so.

Text: False: When things change, I will be happy.
True: When I am happy, things will change.
Another victim-blaming post.  Sigh.  Alright, people, please be realistic.  How many major world changes have occurred because people just decided to be happy?  Did the civil rights movement happen because black people just decided they would be happy with Jim Crow, and then magically the law changed?  If I just decide to be happy, will that get me the medical care I need?  Fuck no.  So stop saying shit like this.

But wait, here's my personal favorite:

Text: Never forget that God only gives you
what he knows you can handle. There is no
situation that you are experiencing alone. God walks
beside you always.
We all fight struggles.  It's easy, when you are a person who can handle the obstacles put in front of you, to believe that if other people just have faith or try harder they can jump over their own obstacles just as easily as you did.  And that's just not true.  We don't have an even playing field.  There are people out there who really can't handle their situation, who need help they don't have access to.  Does God just hate them?  Because you know, this assessment includes people of all faiths and all levels of faithfulness.

As a person of faith, I find that ridiculously insulting.  I find no reason to believe that God--any God--is up there in the clouds giving people just enough struggle to help them build character, forcing people to walk the line between just enough and total helplessness to see what side of the fence they happen to fall on.  If they happen to fall on the eternal depression side of the fence, oh well, so sayeth God.

I do not see an end in sight to these so-called "inspirational" posts, but  I still think it's important that people put them in perspective.  These are the kinds of things a person can only write if they either are very privileged or have been tricked by privileged people into thinking they'll one day be privileged themselves.  Because despite what these quotes may say, being depressed and angry isn't necessarily your fault.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Gets My Hackles Up About Zach Wahls

I'm writing this because many of the site hits going to my essay about why it's ludicrous that queer people should just accept that people have the "right" to trash us at public institutions are clearly from people looking for Zach Wahls.  Now, this is a difficult topic in a way.  Not because Wahls isn't ridiculously critiqueable, but because most of the critiques I have of him are more general critiques of marriage than they are critiques of Wahls himself.  As I said in my earlier essay, Zach Wahls is speaking the narrative that he is familiar with and which the majority of the LGB community has been pumping out for years.  So part of why I didn't write an actual critique earlier is because most of what I have to say is very been there, done that.  If you read the "critiques of marriage" link up there you already have like 3/4 of the story.

There are a few others, though, that I'll bring up.  They aren't all based on the speech you've probably seen on YouTube.  Most of them are based on the speech he gave at my college and likely to many other colleges.  There aren't that many, but they're really important.

Zach Wahls has a serious self-congratulatory ally thing going on.

I think most allies go through a period of self-congratulatory activism; I certainly did.  I still fall into it sometimes.  Self-congratulatory allyship is when you're working with a community you aren't a member of--even if you're really close to people who are--and use this to further your own social prestige, or at least don't do any hard questioning when it results in that.  I was in the second row cringing when he started talking about all his TV appearances.  "And then I was on Ellen! And then I was on The Daily Show!  And I met with politicians!  And I wrote a book!"  I didn't really want to hear his gushing about himself, and it real touches on some of the issues with allies making a career out of being allies.

On the other hand, Zach Wahls doesn't identify as an ally, having been as he would consider it "raised into the community."  I think this is arguable and I have a visceral reaction to heterosexual cisgender people trying to claim a vestige of queerness.  One of the differences in his case is that unlike many other allies, children of same-sex parents are directly affected by things like the legal status of their parents' relationships.  So I guess I'm willing to give him that, but it doesn't make the self-congratulatory part of his speech less annoying.

"Kids of same-sex parents might wind up like ME! I'm so AWESOME!"

I guess this is a sub-set of self-congratulatory allyship, but it's a big enough issue to justify its own category as well.  Wahls sets himself up in his original speech as this clean-cut, all-American, middle-class, educated white hetero cis male who all of us should look up to because that's the perfect thing to be.  He says he's an Eagle Scout and a small business owner and he scored high on the ACTs and he goes to church with his family and do you see where I'm going here?

The entire premise of this guy's speech is that same-sex parents can pump out perfect little hetero emblems of capitalism just as opposite-sex parents can.  It has a really targeted and oppressive definition of "success" that a lot of people--especially queer people--do not identify with.  Wahls' success has more to do with other forms of privilege than the fantasy that he's "normal."  He's not "normal."  He's privileged.  Most children of same-sex parents do not wind up like Zach Wahls.  This is demeaning to children of same-sex couples who don't wind up small business owners while they're in college.  Lack of recognition for same-sex couples is something that affects all their children.

And you know what else?  Even if having one poster boy was a good tactic that didn't create a success bar for other children of queer parents, anti-queer bigots don't believe things like this anyway.  Like I said in my original essay, Zach Wahls' question and answer session wound up being hijacked by somebody who was able to listen to a very poignant story about why same-sex couples need legal rights and still yell a bunch of hogwash about "traditional marriage."  Social conservatives still write ludicrous op-eds about how damaging same-sex parenting is to children without any actual evidence.

"The real issue here is marriage ceremonies!"

I learned something that made me mildly upset.  Zach Wahls actually wrote on separating legal rights from marriage early on in his "career."  Like many he was arguing that all couples should be joined by civil unions with marriage being a religious ceremony.  This makes a lot of sense: When same-sex couples fight for marriage, what they're really fighting for is the legal recognition of their relationships.  Religious marriage is something available to anybody able to find a willing minister.  Keep in mind that there was a woman who was able to find a person to officiate a wedding ceremony between herself and the Eiffel Tower.  Or this guy who married his dog in Australia.  You will find somebody willing to religiously or socially marry you to whoever or whatever the fuck you want.  And there are plenty of people who don't believe you need an officiant; a socially conservative religious guy I met at an anti-everything protest he was putting on told me he believed same-sex marriage was totally legal because in his faith marriage is between you, your partner, and God--not the State (so God hates gay marriage, but it exists).

So Zach Wahls, during this speech, gives this really good, really emotional story about his mom having Multiple Sclerosis and having to go to the emergency room.  She almost died and her partner wasn't allowed in with her even though they had the legal documentation to prove she had that right.  This was an excellent, important story.  This is the kind of story people need to hear to understand just how much same-sex couples are disadvantaged even when they try to do everything legal.  This type of occurrence is not rare.  I've known many people who were not allowed to visit their long-term partners in the hospital, either because they couldn't get documentation or because they didn't want to carry a bunch of paper with them absolutely everywhere and their partner had an accident away from home.

So he goes through this long and emotional speech and then the entire end of his speech was dedicated to making the issue about wedding ceremonies.  This was the most disturbingly offensive part of Wahls' speech.  He said when we picture "marriage" we don't picture going to a courthouse, we picture a church wedding, and that legitimacy is what same-sex couples really need.  By the way, my parents were married in a courthouse and I fail to see how that makes a difference.  It was such a heartbreaking oversight that I had to leave.  Zach Wahls, the allies' ally who was essentially there to tell straight people why marriage is important, had entirely missed the point and strengthened a pervasive myth people have about same-sex couples: They already have everything they legally need--or can get it through existing civil unions--they just want social prestige.

I may not agree with legal marriage as a concept, but if you're going to fight for marriage it has to be for a reason that makes some fucking sense.  "My moms should have a church wedding" is not a reason that makes any sense.  They can have that already.  They did have that already if their bio is believed.  The marriage issue absolutely IS about the right to get a marriage license at a courthouse, not the right to walk down an aisle.  The social prestige element is only limited to the fact that people are unlikely to view civil unions as equal to legal marriages even where they are legal, hence why a hospital might deny legally acquired rights to a same-sex couple because it's not called "marriage."

The worst part is that what he's saying here isn't even what mainstream gay activists have been saying.  "We are fighting for legal rights" is one of the most important distinctions activists make, and he failed in that regard by even mentioning this point.

There were probably other critiques to be had, I assume, but these are the three major issues that really stuck out, having not felt like taking a bunch of notes that day.  Zach Wahls is a powerful figure for changing social perspectives on same-sex parenting, so I think it's a shame that in many ways he's making the same mistakes capitalism-preserving mainstream gay organizations do.

Transgender Baltimore Oriole

For a while I've had this idea in my head of a bird painting himself from female colors to male colors.  The problem is that I don't work very well with color, so it just sort of sat in the back of my head.

Before my aunt died she gave me all her art supplies and they've just been sitting in my drawer.  So I decided to make an attempt, which didn't turn out nearly as bad as I would have expected.

Prints are here.
 I don't know that my drawing quite gets the point across what's happening, but I hope it does.  In retrospect I feel like if I had made the tip of the paintbrush black instead of orange it could be a painting relevant to both women and trans men, but what's done is done.  Maybe next time.  For now I'm satisfied.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bonaparte's Gulls

I had a big recycling thing to do today (electronics, thousands of them) and planned on visiting a friend after that, but Lakeside Park is between those two activities so I stopped by for a few minutes to see if there was anything new.  And there was!  Bonaparte's Gulls, and lots of 'em!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Antlered Butterfly King

I'm getting into art again, because it's art and I like it.  I haven't felt like finishing my Set and Horus painting (although mark my words I one day will!) but I did draw an antlered butterfly nature spirit type deal today who turned out pretty cool:

I'm selling prints of this through CafePress, although eventually I plan on putting the original on Etsy (I feel silly putting only one thing on Etsy).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Blue Corn Waffles

That's right.  I'm doing corn now.  Deal.

These waffles don't taste like wheat waffles.  They taste more like cornbread in waffle form.  Which, at least in my opinion, is freaking awesome.

I adapted it from a cornbread pancakes recipe that was on the package, but as I still don't do wheat I changed some ingredients.  I also was too lazy to mix the ingredients in order. To be honest, I use the following batter mix for pretty much everything... cornbread, breading for baked/fried food, pancakes, waffles, and so on.
  • 3/4 cups cornmeal (I used blue, it doesn't matter what color you use)
  • 3/4 cups masa harina (a corn flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Enough water or buttermilk to make a batter (around 1 1/4 cups, I just eyeball it)
  • Optional: Sweetener (I use a couple tablespoons date sugar)
Mix all ingredients together.  Pour small portions in waffle maker.  Close waffle maker.  I usually let them cook around five minutes or so, they're done when they start to brown or there's no more steam.

To make cornbread I use the same mix, put it in a greased loaf pan, and bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about a half hour.  For pancakes... I really hope you can already figure that out.

Language, Heteroromantic Demisexuals, and Appropriation of Queer Struggle

Note:  When I originally wrote the essay that appears on this page, it was an entirely different essay.  I typically go back and partially re-write essays to correct spelling and grammar, update language I didn't realize was offensive, or add important information to them.  It's very rare that I completely revamp an essay, especially in the manner I have done so for this one (which in many respects now reflects an entirely opposite viewpoint to the one I started with).  That said, if you are coming to this page through a link on somebody else's website, keep in mind that anything they have said about it may be out of date. -- Edited May 17, 2014

I have had to do a little soul-searching before updating this essay, because I have tried for at this point over a year to psychologically and practically conform to the original thing I wrote here.  I'd written something that, in a nutshell, said that we need to pay more attention to whether or not people understand the privilege they have than whether or not they have the "right" to a queer identity.  And in most cases I still agree with that statement.  Not all queer people have an equal struggle.  How much oppression we experience as queer people is directly related to whether or not we're in an opposite-sex couple, how our religious community and families are, our race and color, what region of the world we live in, our gender expression, and a myriad of other traits about us.

After revisiting my own words, though, I had to admit that I don't always feel that way about every identity, and that some of the ways people have tried to claim queerness actually are legitimately insulting to me as a queer person.  The gold standard of this is (cisgender) "heteroromantic demisexuals" who claim that this identity makes them queer and/or oppressed*.  In a nutshell, heteroromantic demisexuals are people who do not feel that particularly sexually attracted to people they don't have a strong emotional connection to... but oh, only people of the opposite gender though.

There is nothing about that that I can read as anything but "normal straight person."

Because this is, quite frankly, one of the most socially acceptable sexual orientations ever.  This is the kind of sexual tendency that typical parents preach to their children when telling them about the birds and the bees.  There's nothing about it that is anything other than "straight," and yet people are calling themselves some other label as if it's a queer identity instead.  I've even seen (albeit thankfully rarely) people write out pissy "coming out stories" that usually end in them being upset that their parents or friends didn't think "I only want to have sex with people I have a deep connection with" was a big, life-changing thing like coming out as, say, gay or lesbian.

Like I said before, being queer isn't necessarily about how much oppression you personally go through.  I once went to a panel meant to discuss being openly queer in the workplace that had four white gay cis men who basically said they had never been discriminated against in their lives, whose advice was limited to "just find a job that accepts you, then."  This is an entirely different experience set than had they been women, and/or trans, and/or people of color, and/or any number of other things.  But these men are still a member of a group that is specifically denied legal rights, that in many states can still get you fired, that can get you kicked out of your house, that can result in coercive and damaging "conversion therapy," and many other things.  Their other privileges mitigate that, but don't eliminate it.

You can't take the most privileged, oppressor-class sexual orientation and gender identity and then call it "queer" just because you think your cisgender heterosexuality is slightly different than other peoples' cisgender heterosexuality.  So no, cisgender heteroromantic demisexuals, you are not queer, you do not experience oppression for being queer, and it is insulting as hell when you continue to insist you do.

But why, exactly, is this a problem for me?  I have a couple of reasons.

First, it assumes that the language the queer community is using is offensive without appropriate reasoning and discourse to explain "why."  This is something I call "forcing the language escalator while jeering at people who use the stairs."

Several years ago it was briefly fashionable for people to insist that they were not bisexual... but bigenderal (with parallels homogenderal, heterogenderal, and so forth).  This thankfully didn't last that long, both because nobody outside of fancy activist communities knew what the fuck anybody was talking about and because the hard distinction so many people make between "sex" and "gender" is actually really harmful to trans people.  The premise, though, was that using the -sexual prefix was not appropriate because we weren't interested in peoples' "biological" sex, but in their gender.  In some fringier communities, calling yourself a "-sexual" rather than a "-genderal" was met with feigned indignance.  It was a bizarre linguistic detour and it thankfully fell by the wayside soon after.

In the same way, people started clinging to the idea that words like "heterosexual" were inappropriate to their experiences because they aren't typically interested in sexual activities.  But that's not what the "-sexual" suffix means.  The suffix refers to a person's preferred gender.  A person who only desires romantic love with members of the opposite gender is still heterosexual... regardless of whether or not they want sex.

That doesn't mean that words don't fall out of favor, but it's important to consider why they fall out of favor.  The "-romantic" suffix comes explicitly from a misunderstanding of what these words actually mean.  This is different from, for instance, the shift away from "homosexual" which was largely due to the medicalized manner in which it's used by anti-queer bigots.  There was a prominent anti-queer organization once that was found to have been editing the titles of articles they linked to so that words like "gay" and "lesbian" were replaced by "homosexual" (this was discovered when somebody with the surname "Gay" was posted on the site with the surname "Homosexual").  It didn't fall out of favor due to perceived inaccuracy, though, which is what's happening here.

But more important to me is the appropriation of the language and identity of queer struggle.   The reason queerness can (with appropriate self-identification) include gays, lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, trans folk, and so forth is these groups all experience certain common oppressions at least to some extent.  "Coming out" as a heteroromantic demisexual might get you called a special snowflake on the Internet and confuse some people.  Any other flack you experience will be because you used a label that is sounds queer... this has absolutely nothing to do with the actual reality of your sexual and romantic experiences.  I can practically guarantee that if you sit your parents down and "come out" by explaining you only desire sex with the opposite gender, but only when you have a deep connection with them--without using queer-coded terminology--they will wonder why the fuck you felt you needed to even tell them.  They might wonder why you felt you needed to "come out of the closet" as straight, and that's exactly what you're doing.

Worst case scenario?  People taking on identities like this as an "in" to invade queer space.  I haven't seen it often.  But it happens, and it's extremely offensive.

I know I'm probably not going to change too many minds here (and suspect at least somebody'll go on Tumblr and write a hate screed about what an oppressor I am), but what I would like--at the very least--is for people to really consider what they even want to get out of a queer identity that they are willing to come to it in such a contrived way.

* - It's important to specify that the problem isn't necessarily identifying with this label, but identifying with it while claiming it is an oppressed or queer identity.  While doing personal research for this essay I found many people who call themselves this who very openly oppose the problems I am detailing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Birding at Lakeside and Fond du Lac

Today was an excellent day for birding!  The sun was out!  It was warm!  I wound up having to buy new shoes because mine cracked down the middle.  Fuck.  But here are the birds I saw, including several new ones both for the county year list and for my life list.  Including:

This homely little thing is I believe a young Horned Grebe.

Blue-winged Teal hiding in the leaves.

I just realized Blogspot yet again put my pics in hideous order.
This is a Tree Swallow from the Arboretum in Fond du Lac.

Northern Pintails! Gorgeous birds!

A Northern Shoveler.

A Killdeer, one of two.

Another Northern Shoveler!

A  pretty Mallard drake.

I spotted some white off in the distance and took a high-zoom photo.
This is likely a Trumpeter Swan, but as it's really far away I'm not 100% sure.
It is, however, a swan.

A Pied-billed Grebe.

A pair of Canvasbacks. There were hundreds of Canvasbacks.

A Canvasback flapping in the wind.

In my last Horicon birding post I noted that I had accidentally
photographed a Ring-necked Duck. Today there were dozens of them.

Another Shoveler. I probably have at least twenty pictures of Northern Shovelers.

American Coots.

Dad and I were almost home when Dad turned the van around
and said "Did you see that?!"  He took a couple pics because I couldn't see
it very well.  It's a Meadowlark, Eastern I believe (but I'm not sure).

Eastern (?) Meadowlark.

And, of course, some more Shovelers.
I didn't get pictures of everything I saw today, including some new ones.  New life-listers today include (subject to change if I find my identification is off):
  • Horned Grebe
  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
New birds to go on my Fond du Lac county year list include all these plus:
  •  Blue-winged Teal
  • Tree Swallow
  • Killdeer
In addition, we saw another Northern Harrier.  This was another gray adult male, but in a different place than we saw the other two.  I have to say that I just love those birds and how they swoop so slowly over fields looking for food.  This may be the next animal I experiment with shapeshifting with.

Speaking of animals I shapeshift into, I happened upon a random zoo in which the only animals were deer and an incidental squirrel.  Whitetailed deer are my primary power animal, with squirrels being another imortant power animal.

I liked this deer.