I watched four crows badgering an adult bald eagle feeding on a dead deer in a farm field. The crows appeared to relish the opportunity to hector the raptor.

Phil Morreim of Albert Lea has up to 20 cardinals coming to his feeders. I try not to be envious, but I fear that I am. I have a pair that visits my feeders. I am thrilled to have them.

I watched large numbers of common redpolls set upon the feeders. Redpolls are small finches (slightly larger than American goldfinches) that are brown and white with rose-pink breasts, red caps (polls), and black chins that come readily to feeders offering nyjer, millet or black oil sunflower seeds.

Common redpolls are capable of surviving temperatures as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit. One study found that redpolls have as much as 31 percent more plumage (by weight) in winter than they had in summer. They are capable of tunneling into the snow to stay warm during the night.

This redpoll breeds in Alaska and northern Canada. Redpolls have throat pouches for temporarily storing seeds, allowing the birds to fill the pouches with seeds and fly to a safer and warmer spot to consume the food.

New Year's resolutions

How are you doing on those promises you made to yourself? Are you one of those who couldn't resolve your way out of a wet paper bag? I believe in setting goals, but I don't make New Year's resolutions.

The last one I made was to juggle three chainsaws. I came close. I juggled three instruction manuals for chainsaws.

Craig Ferguson said, "Resolutions just set you up for failure. My resolution last year was to learn Spanish, and that only lasted dos weekos."

Jimmy Kimmel joked, "My New Year's resolution this year was to get a gym membership, use it twice, and then never use it again. I'm already halfway there."

Oscar Wilde wrote, "Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account."

My neighbor Weasel told me that he'd resolved to inhale, exhale and blink.

Steve Goodier wrote that he has a lot in common with a wooden pencil. He has an eraser to correct mistakes and does better if he were sharpened occasionally.

I told Weasel that he should resolve to be more like a pencil. He erased my suggestion.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

"So you're remodeling the house, eh?"

"Do you think I could put the wallpaper on myself?"

"I'm sure you could, but it would look better on the walls."

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors - both named Bruce - who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: I shouldn't worry. I can't do everything wrong at the same time.

I've learned

If criticism had any power, skunks would be extinct.

When the game ends, the king and the pawn go into the same box.

Airplanes should load window seat passengers first instead of loading by rows.

The news from Hartland

Lindsay Lohan, the Kardashians and Donald Trump were not seen in Hartland during the past week.

Employee injured while putting up "Safety First" sign sues for damages due to irony.

A pile of discarded toilets proves to be an ancient goldfish burial ground.

The cafe chronicles

The table of infinite knowledge was filled with lip flappers of some renown. It was a place to enjoy the breeze. It's hard to believe that in school, these guys chanted that silent mantra, "Please don't call on me."

They don't need to be called upon to offer their perspectives today. They don't raise their hands to say, "How many angels can dance on your head?"

They can forget, but still remember. Some keep ancient phone books to refresh their memories. One kibitzer wondered when cars stopped being do-it-yourself projects and eliminated hand-cranked windows. None could remember their junior high school locker combinations. They have little memory of the periodic chart of the elements.

What they remember are things said in hospital rooms.

A peregrination

My wife and I attended the Cancer Auction held in Geneva. Whitey Hagen and the others make donating a jollification. On the way there, we drove by a 430,000-bushel grain bin owned by a couple of fine fellows who were brothers even before they were farmers. I drive by it often. I call it Big Bin. It's no Big Ben, but thanks to it and Geneva, I can imagine I'm driving from London to Switzerland.

From over there

I stood next to a 17,400-pound ball of twine. The 12-foot diameter ball was in Darwin, Minn., and it's claimed to be the world's largest twine ball rolled by one man. Francis A. Johnson rolled twine for four hours a day for 29 years. We had a rope-making machine on the farm that allowed me to turn baling twine into rope. I didn't do that for four hours a day for 29 years. If I had, I might have an exceedingly long rope for people to come to see after they'd been to Darwin. Weird Al Yankovic might have sung about it.

Did you know?

A University of California-Santa Barbara study found that our minds wander at least 30 percent of the time while we do routine tasks and as high as 70 percent when we drive an uncrowded highway. Research showed that people whose minds wander often are more creative and are better problem solvers.

Not the Green Jay Packers

Let's talk a bit about great-tailed grackles as I saw them everywhere as I birded about the Rio Grande Valley in southernmost Texas. This 275-mile stretch of the river is recognized as a world-class birding destination. Birders flock to it because of the more than 500 bird species recorded in that four-county area. I spent great (and Grande) days in and around Weslaco.

Estero Llano Grande State Park, Valley Nature Center and Frontera Audubon Center never ceased to amaze me. The birds were up early so I could fly. Green jays, great kiskadees, plain chachalacas, common pauraques, golden-fronted woodpeckers, red-crowned parrots, long-billed curlews, green kingfisher and crested caracaras entertained me.

The birds were amazing and if they weren't enough, there was sinfully good grapefruit.

Nature notes

"Do crows mate for life?"

Unless a mate dies or is incapacitated, crows seem to stay with the same mate year after year. There are exceptions. If a young pair bred unsuccessfully, they might break the pair bond. Only the female incubates the eggs.

Meeting adjourned

The true test of manners is to meet bad ones with good ones. Be kind.

Thanks for stopping by

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else." - Judy Garland

"Frost grows on the window glass, forming whorl patterns of lovely translucent geometry. Breathe on the glass, and you give frost more ammunition. Now it can build castles and cities and whole ice continents with your breath's vapor. In a few blinks you can almost see the winter fairies moving in. But first, you hear the crackle of their wings." ― Vera Nazarian


©Al Batt 2013