1. I have a new favorite app.
Last Wednesday, I walked past some trees in a neighborhood-y area on my way home from work and saw a little bird flitting around. Something about this bird made it look different than the usual finches and such you see around town, so I stopped and watched it for a bit. Four things in particular struck me about this bird: its size (very small, much smaller than a house finch), its tail (SUPER long, especially considering the size of the bird itself), its beak (also disproportionately long) and the fact that I was positive I had never seen anything like it before in my life.
I took dozens of pictures of the bird and sent the best ones to my mom, asking her if she knew what it was. She consulted the bird book at home, but none of the suggestions she sent me really seemed to look like the bird I had in mind. Last year, I went to Merlin to identify a heron I saw in a tree in Lincoln Park, but I wasn’t by a computer, Merlin doesn’t work on mobile, and I wanted to know RIGHT NOW, DARN IT. I tried Googling the bird’s description and still came up blank. Finally, I discovered that while Merlin’s technology doesn’t work on mobile, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology does have a Merlin Bird ID app, which I downloaded immediately.
HOLY SMOKES, you guys. This app is the greatest thing I’ve ever discovered on the App Store. Once you download the app, you can add your region and import the app’s collection of local birds, or you can download the entire U.S. and Canada collection like I did. Once you have the pack installed on your phone, you answer five simple questions (Where did you see the bird, when did you see the bird, what size was the bird [with helpful diagrams of bird sizes], what were the main colors [up to three], and under what conditions you saw the bird [flying, eating, on a tree, on the ground, etc.]). After you answer these questions, Merlin comes up with a list of possible birds, and lo and behold, the second bird suggested was the exact bird I saw!
I saw a Brown Creeper, a bird I had never even heard of, let alone seen.
These itty bitty little guys hang out in the Midwest and South during non-breeding season, and spend their lives spiraling up trees, feasting on bugs as they hop to the top of a tree before flying to the next tree over and starting the process all over again. The picture Merlin showed certainly matched the bird I saw, but beyond that, the behavior description perfectly lined up with the behavior I witnessed. Little birds like that, in my experience, don’t hop up trees–that’s what woodpeckers and the like do, not sparrow-sized birds–which was one of the things that really struck me when I saw the bird in the first place.
I was just beside myself with delight when I realized I had finally IDed my mystery bird, and I was blown away at the app’s accuracy and ease of use. It also comes equipped with sound samples, and though it doesn’t have a Shazaam-like feature that would allow me to record a bird’s song and ID it that way, I think this is an AWESOME thing to include. If you have any interest in birds whatsoever, I can’t recommend this app enough. (Though I will warn you that it’s a pretty large app, so if you’re one of those people who tends to push your phone to its storage limit like me, you may have to be picky about what else you keep on it.)
2. I’m writing this on Monday because I have time to write it on Monday and am not counting on having time later this week, so this could either be totally irrelevant, somewhat relevant, or way too relevant come Thursday, BUT: I’m so stressed about the World Series. The fact that there’s not actually any guarantee that the Cubs will win it all is a source of much angst for me. I want the Cubs to win SO BAD, but it’s not like World Series wins are just handed to you, and unfortunately, the team you’re up against is, theoretically, the other best team in baseball (I say theoretically because if you define “best team” by “best record,” a not-best team could make it to the World Series by doing better in the playoffs than whichever team did best in the regular season). I realize it’s been a decade or seven since Cleveland last won the World Series, but they did win the NBA Finals this year. It’s been over a CENTURY since the Cubs last won the World Series, so really, I think it’s pretty clear which team deserves this the most.
I would be beside myself if I could go to a game this weekend, but unfortunately my money tree hasn’t been sure how to handle the fluctuating temperatures this October and died, so I don’t have $5,000 at my disposal to spend on Cubs tickets. The cruelty of this world!! I would pay a pretty penny to be in Wrigley on Saturday (or Sunday if needed), but ticket prices on StubHub are a bit outside of my “pretty penny” definition, so I’ll resign myself to watching the games on TV like some schlub. Sigh.
3. Maggie hosted a clothing swap on Sunday, so guess who got rid of a bunch of old stuff and came home with a bunch of new-to-me stuff?
I love clothing swaps. I don’t enjoy anything about the process of buying clothes, so going to a clothing swap where I 1) don’t have to spend money and 2) have a relatively limited number of choices (compared to, say, going to Macy’s) is much more my speed. The only problem I usually run into at clothing swaps is having a decent number of clothes to contribute to the cause from my own closet, since I don’t have too many clothes that I rarely wear outside of t-shirts and such, but since I haven’t been to a swap in nearly a year and a half, and am one of the most tragically lazy people you’ll ever meet when it comes to bringing my old clothes to one of those donation drop-off boxes, I had plenty to give away this time. Now I need to sort through everything I picked up, which will probably take me about the amount of time between now and Maggie’s next swap (see: tragically lazy).
Have you ever been to a clothing swap?
Who wants to make a donation to the Bethany Wants to See the World Series in Person fund? 😀