brood x, baby.

It’s BROOD X, BABY! Brood X is back in a big way and they’re ready to crawl around and make some noise and breed and also get eaten by some birds! BROOD X IN DA HOUSE.

On the news I’ve heard them say “Brood ten” but I personally prefer the “Brood EXXX” pronunciation because it’s WAY MORE BADASS and these bugs are BADASS AS FUQ.

I spent some time communing with them this past weekend and I’d like to give you a full report.

First of all, I was super pumped for them to come out.

I knew they were coming because we all did, and I started to think about the last time they were here. When the cicadas came out 17 years ago in 2004 I was 19 years old, between my freshman and sophomore year of college. It was an interesting time. It felt tumultuous but I think I was just dramatic. I remember thinking about what my life would be like now, 17 years from then. And I reflected on it like “the next time these cicadas come, who will I be?” I didn’t think about how old I would be, it wasn’t a number. It was more a…vibe? What would my LIFE VIBE be. I kind of didn’t know. I just wondered.

It’s weird how something that happens periodically can be used to track growth or decline or whatever. The cicadas, the olympics, the seasons. A reference point for a place and a space in time and the person we were at that particular space and place.

Back then I was off school for the summer and working at our community pool as a lifeguard and also teaching cheerleading camp. I definitely had more than one “boyfriend”…IT WAS THE NAUGHTY AUGHTIES. Also I was 19. Like come on. Who DIDN’t have more than one “boyfriend”?!

I remember partying like all night every night and sneaking into the pool we worked at for late night swims. Legit scaling a large fence and running and jumping into the pool. Shh, don’t tell my old boss.

I guess that was probably illegal.

During the day the cicadas took over THE WORLD and crashed into everything and made little kids cry and many dogs ate them and barfed. It was a whole thing.

Back then I tried to think about/remember if I had seen them 17 years before THEN, in 1987, but I only would have been 2 years old so I didn’t remember. Apparently they were around, but more in Long Island. I guess. According to the Internet.

So fast forward to now and I am who I am now and only have one boyfriend (like a real one, no “quotations,” a significant improvement from multiple in quotations ones) and I was excited for them to come back around mostly because I love birds and especially my mom’s chickens and they love to feast on regular-ass end-of-the-summer cicadas so I thought they would be PUMPED to feast on a whole big swarm of them.

It’s part of their cicada strategy! There are so very many of them that they expect to, as a majority, get gobbled up by predators. They “expect” it from like an evolutionary level. I don’t think they really planned this with actual cicada thought processes.

Or maybe they did.

BUT there are so many that even though a ton get eaten there are still a healthy amount of them that breed and produce larvae and the larvae end up underground and the whole party starts again.

Unfortunately there weren’t very many at my parents’ house this time. They live in a river valley and I wonder if that has something to do with it but what do I know. My sister’s house, on the other hand, HAD A TON. And it’s very near the pool I once worked at that also had a ton. Both places are at a high elevation for the area. Maybe that has something to do with it but again what do I know.

Either way I made my parents take me up there so I could see more than the insufficient amount of periodical cicadas I was seeing at their house.

We got out of the car and could hear a low echoing creepy sound. They make the craziest weirdest robot dinosaur alien sound. I don’t even know what it comes from as far as a part of their body generating it but it’s kind of like a weird screech or scream. There are groups of them in trees and grass kind of constantly singing and calling out to each other, but if you pick one up or it flies into you and gets pissed it FREAKS THE HECK OUT. I mean I don’t know if they can get mad, I think they’re just disoriented and screaming out to their pals for validation or whatever.

They seem to have a lot of trouble navigating, overall. They just kind of randomly fly around and bump into stuff. I question whether their freaky red eyes can even see sight. I guess I should Google it.

If I looked up toward the sun, I could see them skittering past in a flutter of translucent wings. In some spots it was a cloud of them, in others just a few random stragglers.

There were a ton of them dead on the road, on the sidewalk, in the swimming pool.

One day we went back to the river at my parents’ house and the Brood X crew seemed to be having a ton of trouble dealing with open water. The dragonflies mocked the cicadas that fell to their demise, their thin wings so wet they could never fly again, screaming as they were swept away by the current.

I used a small stick to save a few, mostly because I wanted to pick them up and check them out. Fish jumped up out of the water to eat the others.

IT WAS A FRENZY.

Overall it was most weird to hear the cicada noise at the beginning of the summer instead of at the end. There are always regular cicadas every summer and I’m sure they’ll be back this year in August, but it’s a very “end of summer” feeling I get when I hear that sound and I had to keep reminding myself it’s still the beginning.

IT IS STILL THE BEGINNING, YOU GUYS.

I’m pretty sure they’re fading away now and they’ll all be dead soon, and the larvae will be safe underground to appear again in 17 years.

Who will we be then?! What will be our life vibe?! How many boyfriends will we have?! WILL THE ACTUAL ALIENS COME TO SAVE US FROM OURSELVES?! I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

pantry moths.

What are pantry moths and who the hell do they think they are? The internet says they can be Indian meal moths, grain moths, flour moths, raisin moths, seed moths, tobacco moths, or almond moths. At least according to the chart below I came across when I Googled “types of pantry moths.” All I know is that they’re stupid dicks and I hate them.

It’s rare for me to talk shit on an animal and even more rare for me to want them dead, but I’ve had enough of these idiots. Why am I writing about this? I don’t know. Because it grosses me out and I hate it and I need to get it out there into the world. Maybe you have pantry moths too. I don’t know your life.

Pantry moths come inside your house as eggs or larvae INSIDE YOUR FOOD. I’m sorry to say it but they’re in there. We have a feeling these moved in with some birdseed we brought home when we first got our bird Elvis.

That was last spring.

I’ve been putting up with the moths since then because they kind of come and go. I don’t always notice them and there aren’t that many. Pet birds can also die from a number of normal household items in their environment so I was scared to even try any traps or pesticides out of fear that my avian children would drop dead.

Their lungs are delicate!

The pantry moths would fly around sometimes at night while we were watching TV and it was gross and weird and annoying and they are also hard to catch and smash. Like they fly around in an erratic pattern that makes no sense and they’re not even that fast but somehow they manage to evade your determined moth slap 80% of the time. I don’t believe science can explain this.

We also would sometimes see small larvae dangling and those just got smashed and trashed. Not even a chance at life for them. They actually really upset me, because at first I thought they were inchworms and I LOVE inchworms. They make me think of the summer and how they used to delicately dangle over our above ground pool when I was a kid. We would gently put them on our fingers and watch them do their little inching crawl, WHICH IS ADORABLE YOU GUYS.

But these were pantry moth larvae, not adorable inchworms.

AND NOW THEY’RE DEAD SO BYE.

The final straw came a few weeks ago when I wore I sweater I had only worn once and I noticed a hole in the shoulder. I thought that was strange but as the night went by I noticed more holes in the sweater and they were all about the same size and I was like WTF I wore this ONE TIME.

And finally I had a realization: IT WAS THE MOTHS. THE MOTHS HAD MESSED WITH MY CHERISHED WARDROBE IN MY SACRED CLOSET-ROOM AND THEY NEEDED TO BE ELIMINATED IMMEDIATELY.

Google actually said that moths that eat clothes and pantry moths are different so like I guess we have both in residence. Ugh.

But I think the traps I got are supposed to work for both. They have PHEROMONES that attract the male moths only but they fly into them and get stuck on them because they’re sticky and then they die. The females eventually die because they don’t live very long but without any males THEY CAN’T MAKE ANY MORE PANTRY MOTHS. And that’s what we want.

The traps advertise their “double potency and ALLURE” and that was making me giggle because that seems intense but as soon as I opened the sealed packages to set them up the moths CAME FLYING! They usually don’t come out in the morning and there were like 3 that literally came out of the woodwork and flapped around as if something had excited them.

It was the ALLURING PHEROMONES.

I don’t know if it was the males looking for females or the females LOOKING TO FIGHT rival females but no one got stuck in the trap…YET.

The traps were placed on the kitchen counter, in the pantry, and in my beloved closet-room. By this afternoon there was one dead moth in the pantry trap and I look forward to finding more as the days go by.

Hopefully one day the pantry moths will be eradicated. I’ll keep you posted.

notable animal residents of jersey city – lincoln park turtles.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything, and it’s been a longer while since I wrote about notable animal residents of Jersey City. So I would like to bring to your attention the Lincoln Park turtles.

YOU GUYS. THESE GOSH DARN TURTLES. HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE THEM?!

I don’t know what kind they are. Don’t ask me what kind they are. Maybe YOU can tell ME what kind they are?

My biggest thing with them is that they live in the middle of Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is an urban park! And it’s a lot of fields of sport and also regular fields and that doesn’t say “turtle,” to me. BUT they do have a seemingly man made (but I don’t know its life) lake/pond/small body of water and THAT is where the turtles of Lincoln Park reside.

Are they always there? Even when it’s cold? The truth is, I don’t know, you guys. I’ve recently been googling “torpor” and what that means for some types of animal pals and I have a feeling turtles are involved in a torpor-like situation once the temperatures drop. I mean, AT THE VERY LEAST, torpor ADJACENT.

JK I think it’s just straight up regular torpor. And if they’re doing what that post says they have been in the lake/pond/small body of water THIS ENTIRE TIME. THEY WINTER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WATER WHERE THE WATER DOESN’T FREEZE AND THEY GET OXYGEN FROM THE WATER HOLY SHIT.

So that’s where they must go! NOWHERE. So freaking cool!

Either way they’re back now and they are SUNNING THEIR COLD-BLOODED BUNS right there on the cement shores of the Lincoln Park Lake.

AND THEY ARE LOVING IT.

They climb up out of the water to sunbathe AND I GOT A VID OF THE CLIMB TODAY AND IT WAS SO ADORABLE.

It did have this kind of Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High vibe but I’m not mad about it.

Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a TREASURE. Not like in Drop Dead Fred where she is a WIMP who SUCKS for most of the film.

But back to the turtles of Lincoln Park. I’m so happy to see them. I look forward to learning their spring and summer habits as I go to the park at different times of day and communing with them when they’re feeling brave and don’t jump off the cement and back into the water when humans approach. I know children like to commune with the turtles too but the turtles are braver when children aren’t around so do with that what you will.

Stay away from my turtles, kids. Is what I’m saying.

Okay, okay I’m sorry, it’s fine. The turtles of Lincoln Park are notable animal residents of Jersey City and we all deserve to be among them. Go check them out! BUT DO NOT SCARE THEM I WILL BE SO PISSED.

humane mouse trap.

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about my humane mouse trap. I set it a couple of weeks ago and finally caught a mouse this morning. It seems like there’s a certain amount of staking out the area that the mice do so it didn’t work right away. But it worked now because here is the mouse!

This mouse…IS SO INCREDIBLY CUTE, you guys. I can’t even look at him. It brought tears to my eyes to see how big his little ears are compared to his little body. His big-little ears? Either way, THE EARS.

And I forgot how very tiny mice are up close. Just so so delicate with tiny little feet and eyes and whiskers. I’m going to cry again ugh.

We started having a “mouse problem” a couple of months ago. They kind of just hung out a little at first and I would see them run along the wall sometimes early in the morning and I’d be like “haha mouse!” But I honestly didn’t really care because I looked around and cleaned and they hadn’t made a mess or any trouble anywhere so it didn’t seem like a big deal.

But about a month ago some mice ate a WHOLE LOAF of wheat bread on the counter. Like they didn’t eat the entire thing but they started at both ends and tunneled through it. They had a FEAST and they met in the middle and probably had sex on it. That’s expected behavior. And they also BROKE INTO a box of coconut Belvitas and chewed up some and took some to go and left them strewn about.

Although I’m not afraid of mice and I think they’re adorable and actually enjoy their company, I do know that they’re filled with terrifying bacteria and germs due to their life on and under the ground and inside of walls and among garbage. Like you can get pretty sick from a mouse or stuff that lives on a mouse and that’s not ideal.

So the fact that they had infiltrated the apartment’s food supply led me to order some traps online.

These mice lost their little rodent minds and normally it wouldn’t bother me too much BUT THEY MESSED WITH MY FOOD AND NO ONE MESSES WITH MY FOOD.

I know mice have to eat too, I get it. But I don’t want them to eat my food that I have not offered to them. They broke the rules and are being bad friends so they gotta go.

But I cannot BEAR to see a dead animal in my home under any circumstances and it’s simply not good for my mental health to set a TRAP OF DEATH rigged with a TRICK SNACK so that another LIVING BEING can go to try to eat the snack and get its NECK BROKEN.

I just CANNOT be the cause of that.

If it gets eaten by a cat, fine. That’s the circle of life. A hawk, even better. EVEN MORE BADASS.

Do you know what’s NOT badass? Tricking them into death. I won’t stand for it. I can’t do it. I’m going to barf just thinking about it.

I’m sorry.

So the humane trap! I ordered some! I set one up! First I put peanut butter in as bait and no mice came by. After a week I tried more peanut butter. Still no customers.

Then I got an idea! Belvitas! They loved those and even tried to carry them away! Let’s get em!

During this same time period I also put all foods present in the apartment inside air tight plastic bins, which is what I’ve done to get rid of mice in the past and it’s always worked. Now that I’ve caught this mouse maybe I should just stop trying to lure more here and stick to the plastic bin thing? I’m not sure. Because one did not show up for literally weeks.

But eventually, this guy came to visit and I trapped him, safely AND HUMANELY. I studied him for a moment and looked up some facts. He was a house mouse. That’s an actual species of mouse. They can breed at 1 month old, have a gestation period of 21 days, and litters of 5 or 6 babies…and they can have a litter of UP TO 14.

This is why they are snacks for other animals. Like rabbits and other rodents, THERE ARE SO MANY AND THEY QUICKLY MAKE MORE. Their whole community is essentially a bag of chips. Or maybe like a box of donuts. I guess it depends on how big the predator is.

I also learned that they only live 16-18 months, which is interesting and kind of made me sad.

I vowed that I would make sure this mouse lived his best life. Or something like that. Basically I just carried him a little over a mile from my house and released him in a large, vacant grassy lot. I think the best idea would have been to bring him to Lincoln Park but it takes me 15 mins to walk over there and I had other shit to do so I dropped him on my way.

He ran right into the road and under a blue minivan, because no good deed goes unpunished. But then he came out on the other side and dove safely into a gutter. He was on his way!

I’m pleased with the results of the humane mouse trap and would use it again. WILL use it again if I notice other mice poking around and eating my food that I DID NOT OFFER THEM.

Mice aren’t ideal to have inside your home but they’re very cute so I forgive them. It’s always fun and exciting to see local wildlife so I’m still riding high from this morning’s encounter.

HOUSE MOUSE!

miles: a tribute.

This is going to be a tribute to my parents’ dog, Miles. Also my dog! The family dog, although he moved into their house when I already was living on my own.

On Monday, Miles had to be “put down,” as they say. He was 11, old for a large dog, and his back legs didn’t work well and it got to the point where they didn’t work at all and he couldn’t walk or even live. My parents had to make the terrible decision that pet parents must make every day – it was better for him to be guided by science into a peaceful eternal slumber than to live another day feeling scared, confused, hurt, and unable to do anything he loved.

The death of a pet is a nightmare many of us know too well. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my mom and dad, I’m sorry for me, I’m sorry for all of you. Animals like cats and dogs do not live nearly long enough. Birds can live like 80 years and turtles like 100…but not cats and dogs, our closest animal companions.

You KNOW I love birds and turtles (tortoises?). But this is a tribute to Miles. So here goes.

We got Miles in Spring 2009 and he was very small and cute. AND SOFT. I just love puppies and I feel like I don’t get to hang out with enough of them.

I don’t know if it was the day we got him or just the first time I met him, but we went into the “back field” behind my parents’ house and he was running around after us on his little puppy legs and we loved him so much. He instantly was very sweet and kind and cuddly and fit right in with all of us.

Miles was a dog that loved people and always needed to be around people or he’d be sad. Not even mad or agitated, just sad. Crying and howling and jumping out and breaking our kitchen window one time, cutting himself on the glass so he needed stitches. This was how desperate he was to be next to us. There is not a love so pure anywhere else in the world.

Miles was cuddly if he felt like it, but not too cuddly. You may be aware I dislike cuddling overall so he was the perfect dog for me. He would sit right next to me on the couch and be cute but not smoother me with himself. Unlike my sister’s pitbulls, who are cuddly in the way that they seem like they want to be INSIDE of you, acting like fully merging their bodies with yours so they can FULLY BE A PART OF YOU is their only goal in life.

It’s fine, they’re still cute.

Another characteristic common for large dogs is just like…fear? They’re very big but somehow they’ve evolved to be terrified of certain things: fireworks, thunderstorms, the sound of an NFL game on the TV because they know their dad might yell. Miles was really very scared of many things: he had a thunderjacket for storms and patriotic celebrations, and he would hide behind my mom and I when the sports game was on. He also got really scared of gunshots or the sounds of trucks in the distance when we were walking in the woods and we would have to reassure him.

I always thought it was so sweet that he would look to us for comfort and he would usually accept our reassurance. He was a good boy.

Miles loved walking and running in the woods and breaking off his leash to chase deer and rabbits. He did this a few times and he was in BIG TROUBLE and then he was not allowed that kind of leash freedom again. We didn’t want to lose him!

Although he was part lab, he wasn’t much of a swimmer. He preferred to occasionally wade in the river to cool off and take a drink, but he certainly wasn’t jumping in and swimming around like a true lab would. If we were out in the water he liked to stand on the shore and whine until he got tired and went to lay down in the shade.

Miles really was a big baby. A great dog! But a baby. He never wanted to be away from us. I already said that but like, HE REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO. We were his reason for existing and if we weren’t around or not paying attention to him he was beside himself.

Over the years I made a ton of silly videos of Miles barking at me while I was babysitting him. He would always bark NONSTOP and I don’t know what he was trying to say but it seemed along the lines of “HANG OUT WITH ME I MISS MY MOM I HATE YOU I LOVE YOU,” over and over again. It made me NUTS when I was trying to work or get something done or take a nap. But eventually I figured out that if I hugged him in the same style as his thundershirt he would calm down.

What a weirdo.

He often climbed up onto couches or chairs next to us and would paw at our arms to get us to pet him. He wasn’t much of a “fetcher” but he would bring a toy over just for a little toss so he could engage with us for a minute and then sit back down, curled up happily with the toy. He loved his squeaky blue football and had it for many years.

Everyone loved Miles, and he loved everyone. Every visitor that ever came over was his friend, even if they sucked he still liked them.

He loved to go out to eat and calmly sit under the table at outdoor restaurants. He love, love, LOVED the All About Downtown Festival in Jersey City and attended it like 5 years in a row. It was his favorite day. I know because he told me.

He spoke to me, he spoke to all of us.

He was such a good dog, and we love and miss him so much, and I just wanted to think about him for a minute, so thanks for listening.

Miles is survived by my mom and dad, my brother and sister in law and niece and nephew and their dog Leroy, my sister and my brother in law and their pitbulls Apollo and Ziggs, and Finn and Smee the goats, and Pony the pony, and Jax the horse. And my boyfriend and our 4 budgies Elvis, Birdie Sanders, Blondie, and Franz Birdinand. And me. Also, his closest companion and partner in crime Guinness, the oldest dog alive. He has a big family and he made many people and other creatures happy and we love him so much. That’s all I wanted to say.

So now, at the end of this dog obituary/eulogy, I invite you to think of the pets you have lost over the years. And think about how great they were, and how much you miss them. And know that it’s okay and normal to miss a pet and still think about them, years later.

Because I say so.

Rest in power, Miles. But like, also in peace. I hope you’re not too scared without us there to hug you. </3

meet the birds.

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Meet the Breeds? Well, that will have to wait. Because this is meet the birds.

The birds! We love them! We got them a few weeks ago on New Year’s Eve at Paterson Bird Store and we’ve never looked back.

Actually, we HAVE looked back because some of them are grumpy and screech a lot and this adds to the pain of my constant daily headaches.

But we still love ‘em so let’s meet ‘em.

elvis costello.

Elvis is our first bird and we already had him so you may already know him. But he is a GOOD BOI. He is quiet and patient and he tries to keep order in the cage.

He’s kind of the boss of the others because he was here first. When they start to act crazy he begs them to calm down.

They usually don’t listen.

Elvis loves to fly in laps around the living room and eat kale and basil. He’s the only one that can leave the cage right now because we are trying to train the rest and it’s taking literally forever.

Elvis is so cute.

blondie.

Blondie is mean and grumpy. I’m sorry to say it but she is. She yells the most and she bites the most.

Yes they bite! My parakeet when I was little didn’t bite, and Elvis doesn’t bite, BUT BLONDIE BITES.

They just bite when they’re scared, so since I do my best not to scare them, Blondie has luckily only bitten two or three times, when we’ve needed to move her around. They hate it when you grab them and I don’t blame them but occasionally you have to do a gentle little grab to get them from one place to another quickly and safely.

Now that they’re in their cage and we’re trying to train them we shouldn’t have to grab her anymore so hopefully she’ll feel less scared and won’t bite anymore.

HOPEFULLY.

Blondie is very pretty and she’s kind of my dream when it comes to coloring. I didn’t realize that there were so many different color mutations for budgies and as soon as I saw ones like her on the internet I was like, “it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.”

She was my number one pick at the store and it makes me sad that she’s so grumpy but we’re doing our best to win her over.

According to the internet they take a long time to train and to like you or even just tolerate you so I guess it’s going to be a long ride. Blondie also always YELLS and it is ANNOYING.

Like not a nice little peep or even a loud but clear and sweet chirp but like a SCREECHING YELL. She is OUTRAGED. No amount of “talking to her in a calm soft voice” helps.

Sometimes she does make a pretty, sweet chirp and I’m like “Blondie you look so pretty when you smile!” And I know, saying that to her is UNFAIR.

And I’m sorry.

birdie sanders.

Birdie Sanders was my boyfriend’s number one pick at the store and he’s pretty cute. He just hangs out most of the time.

Eek I need to clean these branches.

I felt terrible for him when we got him because the people at the store trimmed all their nails and one of Birdie’s nails was cut too short (a common accident) and started to bleed. The blood looked super red and dark and dramatic coming out of his tiny pink foot. It actually really hurt my feelings.

They cleaned him right up and he was and is fine but that’s how I’ll always think of him, with his bleeding little foot. Ugh I’m gonna cry.

A lot of the time Birdie sits apart from the others and I’m not really sure why. At first it seemed like they picked on him a little but now it just seems like he likes to do his own thing. I also think he’s older than the rest of them, maybe even older than Elvis, because of the way his eyes look.

You can tell their age by their eyes, kinda. When they’re no longer babies, they start to have a lighter part around the their eye, and Birdie has that.

franz birdinand.

Speaking of eyes, Franz Birdinand is a straight up tiny baby because his eyes are HUGE and dark. He’s always just staring with his huge baby eyes, looking for an answer.

Franz is peeking out behind Blondie🤣

Franz and Elvis get along best and it seems like they’re really close pals. They often sit close together and groom each other and it’s really cute.

Franz still gets pretty scared when you approach the cage or put a hand in. He won’t even join the others as they eat millet treats out of my hand. He remains very suspicious of humans, but we’re working on it.

I also kind of always wanted a bright yellow one and Franz checks that box, he’s very bright and pretty, WITH HIS BIG ASS EYES.

So those are the birds! Expect to hear more about them as I get to know them better and continue with their training. They are so cute and I love them so much but the training really takes forever please let it go faster thanks.

They also have an Instagram account that they set up all by themselves and it’s called @herd_ofbirds

paterson bird store.

Today we got 3 new birds! At Paterson Bird Store in Totowa, NJ.

I’m not going to tell you much about the birds yet because I’m honestly scared it’s too soon and they’ll just up and die. Maybe that’s irrational but I just get nervous. After a few days I will properly introduce them. Also two of them still need names! And we want the names to be bird puns and I’m terrible at thinking up puns even though I really love puns so if you have any good bird puns to use for their names PLZ ADVISE.

I WILL tell you more about Paterson Bird Store because I enjoyed it. It’s not IN Paterson, at least not the one I think of when I think of the (NATIONAL PARK!) waterfall or the train station where my friend from Woodland Park comes to pick me up when I visit her. It’s not just my thinking because it’s not Paterson, it’s Totowa. So don’t get confused (I got confused). It’s all in that general direction anyway.

Whatever.

Paterson Bird Store was highly enjoyable! I was looking for a place to get another budgie so my budgie had a budgie to budge with, and I came across it on the Google. I located their Instagram and I thought it seemed like a happy place for happy birds. I also knew I could take a 30min Uber ride there so I was sold.

They were very responsive to DMs and let me know they had a lot of budgies for sale and were open today, New Year’s Eve. YES.

Sadly it was raining, so as we rode through the Meadowlands I didn’t spot any of the outside birds I like to see there, like snowy egrets.

STUPID RAIN.

I WANTED TO SEE BIRDS ON THE WAY TO GET SOME BIRDS.

On the way, I had reached the decision that we would get two new birds, for a total of 3 in our home.

We rode past “American Dream” – hadn’t seen it yet. Well…it was there. We saw it.

We finally arrived at Paterson Bird Store and IT WAS TIME TO PICK OUT SOME BIRDS.

You guys, this is a really nice store. It’s birds and birds only. Special stuff for pet birds. A whole bar/buffet of different kinds of bird seeds and snackies! Tons and tons of toys!

BUT WHERE WERE THE BIRDS?!

“In the back.”

As we entered “the back,” a cacophony of beautiful bird sounds echoed in our ears and we knew true joy.

These birds were having the time of their goddamn lives. They actually seemed really happy and were chirping and flapping and hanging out with each other. It really made me happy and excited to see them all partying in such a way. I feel like my bird Elvis is very quiet and it made me sad, like he’s been so lonely with no bird friends to party with.

This set the stage for me deciding to get 3 birds. It had to be done.

As far as the party birds, I’m only talking about the budgies they have. They had some very pretty finches but I didn’t hang with them too much. They also seemed happy! But I don’t really know their lives so who knows.

A blue and gold macaw, a scarlet macaw, and an African grey were also in residence!

These three are all super cool looking and smart and large birds, and it was a treat to see them and say hi.

Yes. I said it was “a treat.” Accept that. They were lovely and perfect. And I love them forever.

It was really hard to choose a budgie! They were all cute and lively and had fun patterns and feathers. I wanted to go with a bird or two with a wacky color mutation because the one we already have is a very handsome standard version and I wanted to mix it up. I think we did a good job in choosing a standard looking blue one, a bright yellow one, and a gray/white/blue/yellow one. Those are not the scientific names for the colors. But they break them all down here and it’s interesting as hell, if you care.

The gray/white/blue/yellow one was my favorite to choose but he also bites so…yeah. I think he’s just nervous though! Let’s give him a chance, please.

The kind women at the store expertly retrieved our chosen birds and gave them a quick nail and wing trim. Elvis has his wings grown out and can fly around but we thought it might keep these new guys safer to have them short to start, as they learn their way around the apartment. I hope it works for them but they seemed really sad when I was moving them from the travel cage into a bigger cage and they tried to fly away from me and they couldn’t get off the ground.

Not that they had space to fly around before but their wings worked differently and felt different and they were dealing with accepting that and it made me so sad.

Maybe I’m just projecting…but I was like “They WILL grow back you guys!” <sobs>

Anyway they’re adorable and we packed them up and brought them home.

They have to quarantine from Elvis for a week so they are in a cage nearby to allow tweeting and meeting. I can’t wait to hang out with them more once they settle in and stop feeling shy.

And angry.

notable animal residents of jersey city: red-tailed hawks of lincoln park.

The red-tailed hawks of Lincoln Park on the West Side are most certainly notable animal residents of Jersey City. I mean come ON.

Without even bringing up the fact that Lincoln Park is a full-on urban ecological TREASURE, although I just brought it up, the hawks are truly a sight to see and I’m so glad they call Lincoln Park home.

From my personal in the field research I would deduce that there are 4 of them, but I’ll look that up when I’m done writing this and post what I find, at the end. JUST SO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT INFO.

I’d also like to get this out of the way – I don’t have any good pics of them. I have one video that’s okay and a few videos that are very silly But I don’t have a great camera or even any camera skills to go with the camera I have so my bird photographs of actual wild birds living their lives are terrible.

Their noble visages are seared into my heart and mind because I love them very much but I have no concrete evidence of our relationship.

And I’m sorry. You can find a cool video of them earlier this year from Wild Jersey City here.

Also how about you go to the park and see if you can find them.

As we’ve learned before, red-tailed hawks are around! They are friends of urban life. Lovers of urban life. They ARE urban life.

They like to hang out in tall trees by open fields so they can scope out the area for pigeons, squirrels, mice, and teacup Yorkshire terriers to eat. I’m not joking about that. Yorkies HAVE been eaten by red-tailed hawks. And probably other types of hawks. My mom’s chickens would probably eat one if they could.

HOLD ON TO YOUR YORKIES.

Birds are dinosaurs and the sooner you accept it the better.

The red-tailed hawks in Lincoln Park are so cool to me because if you go to certain spots at a certain time you will almost CERTAINLY see them. And I love seeing them! It makes my day. Now that there are no leaves on the trees it’s even easier to see them, you just have to know where to look and then look there.

Where should you look? In tall trees, I already said. They hang out up there and watch you. They can see your face from up there. I swear it! They’re judging you.

JK they’re cheering for you. At least I feel like they’re cheering for me when I run on the track and I’m almost dead and then one flies over me like, “helloooooooo thereeee shannnn” and inspires me to run even faster. Hawks are inspiring! Sometimes they even do their loud ass screech as they fly over, which is the perfect hawk/large scary bird sound as heard in film and TV.

One day when I was running some little children were also running around as their mom did laps around the track and I yelled, “look at the hawk!” to them and I think they were scared of strangers or maybe just haters of cool stuff because they ignored me. I don’t really know.

I also don’t really know much about the red-tailed hawks in Lincoln Park, just that I admire them and wanted to talk about them here. It makes me glad to see something “wild” almost daily and it makes me even more glad that they are walking distance from my home, hanging out in my park.

They’re my friends. That’s all. Deal with it.

I looked up how many there are to get confirmation and I couldn’t find anything so the mystery remains for now.

Deal with that, too.

<hawk screech that fades into the distance bye>

pigeons aren’t rats but rats are also okay.

YOU GUYS. Earlier today I heard someone call a group of pigeons “rat birds” and look at them in disgust and I had to do everything in my power not to flip every table in sight.

Luckily there were no tables in sight

Pigeons are intelligent and can be trained to DELIVER MESSAGES. This is such an uncanny ability that we don’t even REALLY KNOW how they do it. Like science HAS NOT FULLY FIGURED IT OUT.

These birds are a marvel of the natural world, just like everything in the natural world, and they deserve your RESPECT, my friends.

I know that people see pigeons as “dirty” or “messy,” and they are. All birds are. But do you know who else is dirty and/or messy? HUMANS. And if you don’t believe that you’ve never seen the episode of Mad Men where they go on a picnic on the side of the highway and when they leave they just shake all the garbage off their picnic blanket and leave it there.

Currently doing a Mad Men re-watch.

Humans make a mess all over the place. They’re gross and they smell bad. I pretty much hate us but we’re not different from other animals in that respect.

I do understand that many people fear pigeons, and birds overall. They hang out in gangs and they fly around erratically. I get it that it seems like one might get tangled up in your hair or go to the bathroom on you. Or go to the bathroom in your hair.

And yes, that HAPPENS. But I will submit that having a pigeon go to the bathroom on you is way less gross than changing a human baby’s diaper or a dog making a bathroom mess in your house. The pigeon stuff seems like the easiest to clean up and deal with quickly, in my opinion.

Ugh. Bathroom stuff. Ew.

Also birds are essentially dinosaurs. But instead of FEARING that, I’m calling upon you to EMBRACE it.

Don’t even get me started on how people talk about rats. Actiually I’m already started so here we go.

FIRST OF ALL, it is rude as hell to describe a pigeon as a “rat” with a disdainful and disrespectful tone. It is ALSO rude to the rat.

VERY RUDE TO THE RAT.

I don’t need to show you “Templeton at the Fair” yet another time to get you to be cool with rats, do I?

Okay here it is just in case.

But like, rats are fine. Get over it already. Yes they crawl on the ground so they attract a ton of germs. But liking them or at least thinking they’re “okay” doesn’t mean you’re going to like, go up to them and lick them or something. Just allow them to occupy the space. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE SECRET OF NIMH?!

HAVE SOME RESPECT.

THIS WHOLE PART TERRIFIES ME TO THIS DAY.

They do medical tests on rats because THEY ARE VERY SIMILAR TO US. Their bodies age the same way. Disease affects them the same way. Even their little brains react to scientists messing with them in the VERY SAME WAY that our little brains react to scientists messing with them.

It’s important stuff.

Rats have done us a great service AND THEY CONTINUE to show up for us in the lab. Even though they don’t know that they’re “showing up” and they didn’t choose to be there. Either way we owe them.

Enough about the lab rats because the rats that live on these streets are also pretty badass. First of all they’re not even FROM here, they came here on BOATS, just like people. I like to imagine it was a real Fievel’s family in An American Tail vibe but yes you’re right those were mice not rats.

Personally I get a big thrill whenever a rat runs across the sidewalk or wanders over the PATH tracks or tumbles into view screeching while locked into a rat-battle with one of its rat brethren. It’s the circle of life. And it…moves us all.

In conclusion, pigeons aren’t rats but rats are also okay. I could have made all of these facts up and I encourage you to fact check them BUT I ALSO ENCOURAGE YOU TO IMMEDIATELY RESPECT BOTH PIGEONS AND RATS.

thx.

*I’ve included some pigeon and rat photos from my cherished personal collection. JK I don’t have any good rat photos. They move too fast!

flat rock brook birds of prey presentation.

This past weekend, during what I considered my birthday weekend and therefore an extension of my birthday, I attended a Flat Rock Brook birds of prey presentation in Ercel Webb Park.

IT WAS INCRED. I love birds and birding and all things bird and have been waiting for the opportunity to see one of these presentations. I saw their recent presentations at Lincoln Park and another park I forgot on social media and couldn’t wait for the chance to go to one myself.

THIS WAS MY CHANCE.

I do think that these presentations are probably intended for children and like…FINE. But I signed up and I went and I saw some birds and you’re never too old to learn something new and hang out with birds. Deal with it.

On Saturday afternoon I headed over to Ercel Webb Park and I was super pumped. First of all in my mind this particular park was called “Lafayette Park” because it’s by Lafayette Pool/Aquatic Center/whatever. I feel like I have even referred to it as “Lafayette Park” and other people have known what I was talking about.

It’s not called “Lafayette Park.” Sorry.

JK I LOOKED IT UP AND IT IS REFERRED TO AS “LAFAYETTE PARK” IN A LOT OF PLACES ON THE INTERNET. There must be some kind of transfer of power/responsibility going on but I’ll have to look into that another time because THIS IS ABOUT THE BIRDS. But PS “Friends of Ercel Webb Park” helped get this event going and introduced the birds and bird pros.

As I was walking over I saw two hawks flying over MLK Drive. I am NOT LYING, they were there. I don’t know what kind but I DO know they weren’t seagulls or turkey vultures because I checked. I CHECKED. So I was super pumped that I saw some birds on my way to see more birds.

When I arrived at the park I saw that they had a cute little pumpkin patch set up for the kids. Since I AM a kid and I had registered myself for the event I took a pumpkin and I don’t regret it. I love pumpkins.

They provided Thanksgiving stickers to put on the pumpkin which I felt was very inclusive and respectful to this most valuable but often ignored November holiday. Great work!

After securing my pumpkin and stickers I proceeded to an open area where there were circles spray painted on the grass, 6ft apart. This was the first place I saw circles like this in person! I’ve seen pics of them doing it in parks in NYC but never experienced it for real and I liked it.

I laid out my blanket, put some turkey stickers on my pumpkin, and took out some knitting to work on while I waited impatiently for the birds to be revealed.

They really built up the suspense with the bird reveal because they had the birds in dark boxes! I’m no expert but I do know that birds feel safe and calm and probably like it’s time to take a nap when they’re in a dark, enclosed space. My pet budgie really likes it and I think he’s qualified to tweet for all birds.

It felt like actual years went by but it was finally time to take the birds out and I’ll tell you all about what I learned!

tilly – eastern screech-owl.

Tilly the Eastern Screech-Owl was napping HARD when they took her out of her box. Since she’s nocturnal it was during her sleep time.

Tilly ended up with Flat Rock Brook because she got attacked by a cat and is blind in one eye. She wouldn’t be able to live her badass screech owl life in the wild, so she lives a badass screech owl life as a bird ambassador and I think that seems okay with her.

During Tilly’s time in the spotlight she started to wake up and move around a little and she was really, REALLY cute.

But also a fierce predator that dines on small rodents and insects. YUM.

Toward the end they played a screech owl sound for us. They said they were going to play it before they played it and I was like “OMG Tilly is gonna LOSE IT!” because that’s what my pet bird does when I play pet bird sounds.

Tilly did not lose it and actually didn’t even notice. I guess she’s just too cool for school.

titus – american kestrel.

Titus, on the other hand, LOST IT. As soon as they took him out of his little box he was yelling and flapping and seemed completely outraged.

Sorry I couldn’t get a good pic of Titus but he was a lovely bird.

Kestrels as a species maybe get a little outraged sometimes, I’m not sure. They’re a type of falcon and were described as “feisty.” They’re common in cities, so be on the lookout!

I also learned that Titus was hit by a car and had one wing that didn’t heal correctly so he couldn’t be released back into the wild. Because he can’t fly. HE IS A BIRD AND CAN’T FLY. HOW RUDE OF THE WORLD.

Honestly I think he’s still pretty pissed about it and I guess I would be too.

jones – red tailed hawk.

Jones! Hello! I love you!

Before they took Jones out they were like, “Just want to warn you, this thing is huge.” And they took her out and SHE WAS HUGE.

I’m used to seeing these guys in the sky in the field behind my parents’ house, up in tall trees at Lincoln Park, and in every state I’ve ever traveled, soaring over the highway. They’re all around!

But it’s super nuts to see one so close because they are ENORMOUS. So large and beautiful and perfect and asking to be my best friend.

Sure!

Loving. It.

Poor Jones was shot by a shotgun and honestly if I remember correctly I have met other hawks that were similarly disrespected. LIKE WHY?!

Additionally Jones has a female Red-tailed Hawk friend named Ramona she lives with, and SHE got hit by a car. I’m so glad there’s a place for the birds to live that will take care of them and watch out for them and also bring them out into the community to hang out with me and other children.

josephine – great horned owl.

Josephine the Great Horned Owl was hurt by garbage humans in a slightly different way. She was found as an owlet, and because she was very, very young, she imprinted on the (not owlet professional caregivers) people that were taking care of her and never learned how to live that owl life.

So now she needs human assistance to live some kind of owl/person hybrid life. SHE IS LIVING A LIE.

But she was very beautiful. VERY. And the most amiable of all the bird ambassadors, I guess because she was the most comfortable around humans and/or didn’t feel like taking a nap like Tilly.

They talked a bit about bird body language with Josephine, I think as a way to highlight how comfortable she seemed compared to the other guys. She really was just hangin out, owling around. And stuff.

I study my pet bird’s body language very closely and I think he wants me to get out of his face most of the time so I found this part very interesting.

And then it was over! It went by so fast! It also started to get cold as the sun went behind the buildings around the park, so I was ready to pack it up and go home.

I can’t wait for there to be another bird presentation in a local Jersey City park. I don’t care if it’s the same birds and bird pros and the same presentation with the same information, I will go INFINITE TIMES.

MAYBE I’LL SEE YOU THERE.