Saturday, November 17, 2012

Go to the Birds!

Why Birds?  I have had extraordinary experiences with birds. 

For example, a few years back I was feeding the birds around and in a large bush in front of my living room window.  I had been in the kitchen, and when I went to the living room, I saw a bird with a very long tail. It was sidewise to me, and then it turned directly towards me.  I caught the feeling of this bird, wanting food but unable to get at it because of it's long tail. 

I watched, and waited, and finally it did find a way to get out of the bush. 

In the aftermath, it felt important to see what kind of bird this was.  With help from an ornithologist (a bird specialist) I discovered this was a juvenile cormorant.  Now a cormorant is almost always found on the edge of the sea.  It eats fish.  So the food I had for the usual bird wouldn't have worked anyway.  I wonder still whether that juvenile bird found his way to the bay off the Pacific Ocean some few miles away.

More recently, I saw a juvenile Northern Harrier Hawk.  It was on the roof in a place that it was visible from where I was standing.  At first I didn't see much of it, and the back feathers were mostly grey, so I didn't think of it as unusual.  And then it flew.  The underbelly was mostly gold and some grey, and as the bird flew, I saw a round patch of white just at the base of the body.  I had never seen anything like it.  So I got out my Audubon book.  Nothing like it there.  But I wouldn't give up -- I went to Sibley, and quite quickly identified this beauty.  Sibley says the juvenile's gold/orange fades to whitish by spring.  Sibley also said the white rump is always obvious.  I also found that it is a rare occurrence, even though the Northern Harrier is widespread.

Finally, a hawk has been taking refuge in the trees, near to the suet.  I am not sure what kind of hawk, though I suspect it is a Swainson's Hawk.  My guess is that there is actually a pair, nesting in the Rhododendron.  Last year there was a pair of Starlings nesting in a large, 10 foot stump.  There was a hole just enough for the birds to get into it. 

There are lots of usual birds: right at this moment there is a flicker feeding at the suet cage.  There are Finches, Juncos, Chickadees, Sparrows and a Stellar Jay.  I love them all!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Day After

I had an interesting phone call yesterday evening - a young woman wanted to convince me to vote for same sex marriage.  It was late in the evening, but she was determined.  I told her I had voted a week before, and that I did vote yes on same sex marriage.  I told her I think it is essential.  It is really way past time.

I have friends who are devoted to their partners.  Two women friends have been together for more than twenty years.  They created their own wedding in a park.  I was in the wedding party. The brides were ecstatic.  Some years later they went to Canada:  July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage.

My friends had moved to California, and then the same sex marriage became law there.  The period of granting such licenses began on June 16, 2008, due to a ruling by the Supreme Court of California based on an equal protection argument and ended November 5, 2008, due to the passage of Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that limited marriages to those between one man and one woman.

Before the passage of Proposition 8, California was only the second state to allow same-sex marriage. Marriages granted by any civil entity, foreign or otherwise, anytime before the passage of Proposition 8 remained legally recognized and retained full state-level marriage rights. Subsequent state legislation established that any same-sex marriages granted by other jurisdictions after the passage of Proposition 8 retain the state rights that come with marriage, except for the legal term "marriage" itself.

Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger), 671 F.3d 1052, is a case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 7, 2012. A three judge appellate panel of the Ninth Circuit held that California's Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative  that amended the state constitution state constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples, was declared unconstitutional. 

This was an historic decision, which opened the way for states to allow same sex marriages.  For me it was important because of my friends, male and female, who are in a same sex union.  The two women I have mentioned went through everything they could in order to be legally married.  There are many challenges for same sex partners who do not have a legal right as married partners.  One of the most basic is part of the usual marriage verbiage: in sickness and in health.  I know some same sex partners who were not even allowed in the hospital room when their beloved were sick or even dying.  Think about it -- it is heartbreaking.

So YES, it is essential!