Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ten Birds to Respect

This photo by unknowndomain is used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.
People often forget that birds are wild animals, not pets, and will aggressively defend their territories against intruders, even the smallest of them. I well remember the day that I innocently ventured too close to the nest of a Brown Thrasher to check the contents. The bird in attendance delivered a sharp blow to the top of my head that drew blood and left a nasty welt

Top 10 lists seem to be gaining popularity these days. Among those that I’ve stumbled across recently is the Top 10 List of Birds That Could Kick Your Ass (complete with entertaining videos). A few of the birds on this particular list will no doubt surprise you.

If there is a lesson to be learned from all this silliness, it might be this: Birding is not a sport for sissies!

Friday, February 27, 2009

One more Mini Re-Cap

As I am stilly tallying the numbers, I can tell you that I am very impressed with the generousity of our friends, family, and Let's Eat Cake! supporters!

I know we had a lofty goal! And times were different 2 years ago when I set that goal, so although we'll come close, I know that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will appreciate every thing that we are doing!

I wanted to thank these folks for blogging about our event, and posting pictures! We should have ours back soon, I want to make the official announcements!!! (so check back Monday)

Steamy Kitchen - for writing about the event so quickly, for loving the cakes, for being a fantastical judge, and loving food as much as me!!! You are the best Jaden!!!

Blissful Bride - Amanda, you are so sweet! Thank you for your friendship, for blogging about Let's Eat Cake!, for volunteering at the event, and just being all around amazing! I am blessed to have you as my friend!

Unique Designs - Where to start! You guys designed the most amazing bakers invitations, the posters were amazing!!! People stopped me on the street to tell me how swank they are! And for helping make this event so classy and fun! (and for helping my sister!) You are true friends! Thank you!!!

Tampa Tribune - Yup! Tampa Tribune! Jaden Hair (see above) wrote an awesome article for the paper, and I love you for it!!!

K-Gallery - Thanks Matt and Krystal for coming to Let's Eat Cake! and for loving my sister's cake unbiasedly!!! You both Rock!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Powers Photography- I know Stewart and Susan are waiting for me to blog the pictures, before they do- but they deserve a huge THANK YOU, for always being there for me, and for Let's Eat Cake! for bringing my sister to tears (in a good way), for photographing our entrie event, and for being my friend! Thank you!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bird Science News 1

Selected stories about culled from the world's newspapers and other news outlets, particularly as it relates to wild birds, as gathered with the aid of Google news alerts (key words: wildlife, biology, biologist, ornithologist, ornithological, ornithology):
  • Turkey harvest study going well (Allentown Morning Call, Pa.)—Wild Turkeys are being banded in Pennsylvania to study impacts of hunter harvest on populations.

  • Hunters target overpopulated geese (WHYY, Ithaca, N.Y.)—Snow Geese in Delaware; slide show and audio interview.

  • Songbirds killed by salmonella (The Chattanoogan, Tenn.)—In Tennessee.

  • Twitterpated owls are an amorous lot (The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.)—Twitterpated is “a perfectly acceptable ornithological term” to describe the springtime courtship of owls and other birds, says Laura Erickson, science editor at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Funny, I don’t recall that particular term being mentioned in any of my college ornithology texts, but it IS in the Urban Dictionary.

  • How a new theory of bird evolution came about (ScienceDaily, U.S.A.)—Laboratory studies by Ken Dial of the University of Montana suggests that flight in ancestral birds evolved from the ground up through a behavior that Dial has dubbed WAIR, or wing-assisted incline running.

  • The mathematics of murmuring starlings (Telegraph, U.K.)—Those immense, twisting flocks (known as "murmurations") are all about survival. In 1949, so many birds roosted on the hands of Big Ben that they stopped the clock. In the U.K., the starling population is down 73 percent since 1970. In the U.S., the 60 birds released in Central Park in 1890 have grown to a continent-wide population of 200 million birds.

  • Fish and Game changes set extremism, hypocrisy loose (Anchorage Daily News, Alas.)—Not about birds, but about scary efforts underway to “privatize widespread predator control” in Alaska under Gov. Sarah Palin.

  • Odd year for snows (Denver Post, Colo.)—The oddity is that 40,000 to 70,000 Snow Geese have wintered in southeast Colorado rather in traditional zones to the south, likely a function of weather.

  • Celebrity eagles get too much attention (—Broward County’s first successful Bald Eagle nest since the 1970s. I find that fact alone amazing.

  • DNR to help ease kestrel housing crunch (Coosa Valley News, Ga.)—In a cooperative effort between the Georgia DNR and Flint Engergies, nest boxes are being erected on power poles to benefit the southeastern subspecies of the American Kestrel.

  • Nest in Wichita could mean Bald Eagles year-round (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)—Officials have confirmed a nesting pair along the Arkansas River in Sedgwick County.

  • How to spy on a black duck (Bethany Beach Wave, Del.)—Black Ducks captured at the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware are being outfitted with satellite transmitters to study their movements.

  • Biologist recommends longer trail closure for herons (Aspen Daily News, Colo.)—A proposal to extend the closure of a popular hiking trail until May 31st to encourage nesting by Great Blue Herons is meeting with resistance.

  • Airport uses radar, noise to prevent bird strikes (CNN)—Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

  • 'Not-so' friendly skies (ESPN)—A good public relations piece about efforts underway by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Service's program to eliminate wildlife-plane collisions; making themselves appear invaluable in a time of severe Federal budget cuts.

  • Interior residents notice an invasion of ptarmigan this winter (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alas.)—For reasons unknown, Willow Ptarmigan have been exceptionally numerous in and around Fairbanks this winter.
  • iPhone App'imation: Randy Cartwright writes an Animation timing app for Apple.

    Randy Cartwright: animator, story guy, committed iPhone geek. My kind of fellow. With a self-taught ability to program, this veteran Disney artist has created a neat little application for lucky owners of Apple iPhones and Touchs: an animation timing program called(aptly enough) Animation Timer.

    Randy taps the Timer

    It wasn't long ago that Randy told me he had this idea to write his own program for the iPhone, something that would be eminently useful and that no one else had yet done. As there are already a gazillion apps of all kinds for the thing, that would be an admirable feat. A very short time later, he'd done it and voila! It lives. Simple to use and at $2.99 a lot less than the old Minerva stopwatch Cartoon Colour used to sell.

    Randy's official App store statement(reiterated on his app website) is as follows:
    "Animators can use a stopwatch to time out actions but there has always been an annoying problem. Stopwatches show time as 1/100ths per second but movie film runs at 24 frames per second. To find out how many frames you need to do a tiresome calculation containing 41.66667 each time. I’ve always wanted a stopwatch that would show the time in exactly the format I need so I decided, what the hey, I might as well make one{...}."
    The stopwatch action starts with either shaking the phone or tapping the screen. Each additional tap marks the time, which can be shown in either film footage, film frames, NTSC video frames or PAL video frames, as well as in seconds.

    If you're interested, all you need to do is search for "Animation Timer" in the iTunes App store. And you don't need the iPhone to use it--it works with the iPod Touch. Very cool.

    The man and his program

    Birdwatching with Conan

    I’m not normally a fan of Conan O’Brien, but I found this video of his birding trip to Central Park quite humorous:

    Acknowledgment: My thanks to Rob Fergus and Sherrie Duris for bringing this video to my attention.

    Birding in the News 2

    Selected stories about birders and birding culled from the world's newspapers and other news outlets, as gathered with the aid of Google news alerts:
  • Popularity of birding looking up (Providence Journal, R.I.)—More bird enthusiasts are visiting national wildlife refuges, Audubon Society refuges, and other areas to observe and photograph birds. California and Hawaii rank at the bottom of the list in term of the percentage of residents who consider themselves birders, while Montana and Vermont are at the top.

  • A case for capitalization? (Nantucket Independent, Mass.)—Many species of gulls are little, but there is only one Little Gull.

  • Kingston Field Naturalists release new edition of bird book (Kingston Guide, Can.)—Birds of the Kingston region by Ron Weir, the first update to this comprehensive work in 20 years.

  • Bridget Butler on changing migratory bird patterns (Vermont Public Radio)—Audio Interview with local birding expert about links to global climate change.

  • Climate change may have delayed pelican migration (San Jose Mercury News, Cal.)—Brown Pelicans migrating south from Oregon and Washington about two months later than usual encountered harsh winter storms, resulting in disoriented and frostbitten birds.

  • Birders flock to Jekyll Island event (Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla.)—The aim of the Bird Education Network’s 5-day conference—attended by 112 birding educators from across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Panama—is to "promote bird conservation by supporting people who teach birding." We’re teaching people how to teach birding? Yikes! I’d much rather that they learn how to teach basic bird ecology and conservation.

  • Tiny bird 'backpacks' help to track migration habits (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, N.Y.)—These devices are now small enough to affix to songbirds.
  • Sir Penguin

    To be filed under old but still indisputably newsworthy:

    From the normally staid BBC comes the incredible news (complete with video clip) of a captive King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) with the improbable name of Nils Olav who received a Knighthood from the Norwegian King’s Guard during a celebration at the Edinburgh Zoo. Sir Olav has been an honorary member and mascot of the Norwegian King’s Guard since the 1980s.

    Budget Saver!

    I know you hear over and over again, that the biggest way to safe money is to cut your guest list, but what if that just isn't an option for you?

    Some people just can't cut the number of people. And I understand that!

    But what if you cut the food - I mean, don't invite people and expect them to starve. But what are your options?

    Southern Style:

    What about a Tea and Cake Reception, or Champagne and Cake? If you plan your ceremony after 8PM, and note on your invitation, "Dessert Reception to Follow" you'd be in store for this:

    and this: {Dressed up the Champage with different kinds of fruit}
    cakes by Posh Pastry {for 2 Year Old birthday party}

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    Additional Bird Blogs of Britain and Ireland

    Today, I added 93 blogs to the list of known bird blogs of Britain and Ireland, bringing the total number of known active bird blogs from that area to 219. For easy access, the 219 blogs can be found in my comprehensive list of the Bird Blogs of Britain and Ireland. There are some great reads here, folks. Enjoy!

    Matt and Tracey - Beautiful, inside and out!

    Matt and Tracey are amazing!!!! I knew after we had the first meeting with them that they were extraordinary! As we've gotten to know each other more and more - I love them more and more.... then... well - these pictures are just incredible!
    They are so beautiful {the clients and the pictures!} Pure by Lindsey took the pictures, and I love them!!!

    On a side note, Matt and Tracey were huge supporters of Let's Eat Cake! and I thank them so much for that!!! I heart you guys!!!

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Wedding Planners Gone Wild!!!

    When you are in a small town like Gainesville - the competition is fierce! Like two wild kittens!!! I mean, two wild pug puppies!

    No seriously. there is always going to be competition, whether it is photographers who interview with the same bride - she is going to pick the one that she feels best suits her needs and wants. The same with any vendor... there is usually only one that has the honor of working with a bride.

    Sometimes you've gotta duke it out!

    Angela and I, are true friends, and both have tremendous respect for one another. There is something to be said for having a great relationship with someone that you know can value your opinion, and be able to understand the stressors that life will throw at you.
    {and the fact that she admits fully - that I won this fight... means even more} ;)

    Birders and Birding in the News 1

    Selected stories about birders and birding culled from the world's newspapers and other news outlets, as gathered with the aid of Google News Alert:
  • San Francisco is a bird watcher’s paradise (San Franciso Chronicle, Calif.)
  • Last tip of the wing to a birder and a friend (Corpus Christi Caller Times, Tex.)
  • Windmill study shows impact on bat populations [but not birds] (Cumberland Times-News, Md.)
  • Bird convention drawing strong interest (Mohave Valley News, Laughlin, Nev.)
  • Robins flock by millions to Old Tampa Bay (Tampa Tribune, Fla.)
  • Birds in the News 160 (Living the Scientific Life)
  • Birder’s likely to flock to rare cranes (Omaha World-Herald, Nebr.)
  • FAA testing radar to avoid bird strikes (CBS Evening News, New York)
  • Reaching a birder’s milestone (Pembroke Daily Observer, Ont.)
  • Monday, February 23, 2009

    Le Crem, FUN!!!

    So, we recently had a vendor mixer - ya know, when all of the local vendors get together and network, chat it up... and just have fun.

    Well, K-Gallery offered up a Photo Booth... how could I say no!!!

    Here are some of the Photobooth Pictures!!! {and my commentary}

    {Gosia and Ali - fantastical Wedding Musicians!!!}
    {My Kristin and Krystal... love them!!!}
    {Left: Kathy and Erica - KB Kakes}  
    {TJ and Danielle - Jazz Hands - Awesome!!}

     Danny, Gio, Kenya, Kristy, Me... being Goofs!!
    {Barb the Harpist - Love her!!!}
    {Matt and I.... getting it onnnnn - shhhhhh, don't tell our spouses!}
    {Kristin and I.... laughing!!!}
    Next post... Wedding Planners gone WILD!

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    North American Bird Phenology Program

    The North American Bird Phenology Program (NABPP) has been launched by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

    NABPP consists of approximately 6 million 3x5 index cards (known as Migration Observer Cards) containing information on arrival and departure dates of nearly 900 species of birds gathered by 3,000 volunteers over a span of 90 years (1881-1970).

    Initiated by Wells W. Cooke (.pdf), who was honored upon his death as America's "foremost student of bird migration," this data set provides an unparalleled opportunity for researchers to investigate what effect, if any, climate change has had on the movements and seasonal status of migratory birds in North America.

    The success of the program depends on the recruitment of a cadre of volunteers to transcribe the information from the index cards into an online database. This can be done from the comfort and convenience of your PC or laptop. Here's your chance to take part in history. Help make the information stored all these years on those dusty index cards come to life.

    Registration is quick and easy. You’ll be asked to download and watch a 15-minute video that describes the various types of information contained on the cards and how to interpret it. After that, you’ll be ready to start transcribing!

    Elsewhere, NABP has been reviewed by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and was the focus of this feature story.

    Let's Eat Cake! Mini Re-Cap

    I know I posted at 2:30AM the day after the event and gave you a brief overview... but I received some pictures and wanted to show you!!!

    The cakes were definately the centerpiece{s} of the event!!! There was talent oozing from every pore of every baker there!

    Here is a sneak preview of some of the amazing cakes that were at Let's Eat Cake!:

    {before you see them... I must thank Stewart and Susan Powers, they were seriously incredible photographers, capturing moments that were perfect, in every way, and I cannot thank them enough!!!}

    Here is just a few of the 36 cakes that took part in Let's Eat Cake! {more to come, promise!!!}

    Cake Made by: Sarah Watts (Amateur) Gainesville
    Cake by: Unique Cakes by Frances, Orlando
    Cake Made by: Katie Codney (Professional) - Naples
    Cake Made by: Maria Rizzo, Gainesville (Amateur)
    Cake Made by: Party Flavors, Miami (Professional)
    Cake Made by: Heavenly Cakes by Neil, Miami (Professional)
    More to come and the announcement of the winnners!!!!

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    From the Priests Point of View

    I love doing weddings with Father Tim! He is always so happy, and such a joy to work with! This time he brought his camera to document the events.

    This wedding was really special to Father Tim, because he has now married all 3 sister's in the Casile family! He took tons of pictures, but I wanted to show you the pictures he took of us... :)

    We had a nice sized team at the reception, there were more than 40 vendors to keep track of, so we needed lots of people to orchestrate a beautiful event, just as the bride had wanted!

    Emily, Maggie {aka Mags}, Amanda, Kristin
    Thank you!!! Emily, Maggie, Amanda and especially Kristin who organized everyone and everything beautifully!!!

    You are a team that I don't know what I'd do without!

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Avian Radar at Sea-Tac

    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has become the first airport in the country to install an avian radar system to track bird movements. The three experimental radar systems have been mounted on top of the airport’s office building. The basic tenets of Sea-Tac’s Wildlife Hazard Management Plan can be viewed here.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009


    I am writing this at 2:30AM, the day {after} Let's Eat Cake!

    It was amazing, incredible, and I have so many people to thank!! SO MANY! I am afraid to forget people!

    So, I'll start with where my mind is now. Thank you to my husband, and my family, they have been so incredibly selflessly supportive of me!!! And I cannot thank them enough!!!

    The event was a sucesss, and as with every "first" it wasn't without some minor boo-boo's.... but it wasa success none-the-less!

    I promise a FULL recap, with picutres and play, by, plays...

    Coming up....

    Mistakes, Kerry Vincent, The Twins, Cake, Photographs -thanks to Powers Photography!, Cake, Fun, and more!!!

    Thank you to everyone who supported our event, our judges {more on them later}, our volunteers, and really everyone...okay, I am going to forget someone...going to bed...

    "A Chick’s Latest Deposits"

    This off-beat commercial parodies a David Attenborough natural history documentary.

    400 North American Bird Blogs!

    Caption: This card is available for purchase from
    I now fear that what began innocently enough as a simple quest to compile a list of North American bird blogs has become a never-ending, unhealthy obsession. Today, I added an additional 64 blogs, bringing the total to an even 400! Can 500 be far behind? Click here to see the entire list.

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Let's Eat Cake!!! is TODAY!!!!!!!!


    In just a few hours we'll be picking Kerry Vincent up at the airport, our cakes will be arriving, the general public will start tasting, then bidding on cakes!

    So get your tickets now, and we'll see you soon!!!

    Cute Topper!

    Personalized Gator Cake Toppers!

    KB Kakes is now offering Personalized Gator Cake Toppers!

    Check out the topper she made for Eiryn and Vince! He's a doctor and she's a nurse! {gotta love the glass of wine in his hand!}

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Start Fasting Now!!!

    If you haven't purchased tickets yet, go to and click donate here.


    Visit us at MasterPiece Weddings or Solutions Bridal - $25 in advance or $35 at the door!

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Holy Moly!!!!

    Picture Perfect!

    We had a beautiful wedding in December, photographed by TJM Studios - we went to 5 different locations, and had such a fun time doing it! Check out more images here: TJM Studios Blog, and while you are at it, add it to your Google Reader!
    Handsome guys in uniform!

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Ducks' Revenge

    A funny commercial for Woodpecker Beer (or is it a cider?), an Australian brew:

    Real Simple!

    About a month ago, I received an advance copy of Real Simple Magazine: Wedding. And I was instantly in love!

    The Magazine has clean lines, and very limited advertising, the only ad's in the whole mag are Crate & Barrel! The magaizine is so helpful! There are flower planners with guides explaining which flowers are which - cake explainations, all is very easy to read and understand language.

    Plus you don't have to sift through a gazillion and a half ad's - which I love!

    The cake on the cover dorns lovely soft pale green fondant, and those gum paste barely open peonies! So prety right!

    Some of my other fav's are:

    Beautiful Bouquets!

    More fun cakes: (used at table numbers and centerpieces)

    Beautiful Table Settings:

    Fun Out of Town Bags:
    So, when you are at the store this week, don't delay, pick up a copy today!

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Great Backyard Bird Count

    The Great Backyard Bird Count always provides just the excuse you need to get out of the house and explore your backyard, a neighborhood park, a local nature sanctuary, or a nearby hiking trail to document the variety and abundance of winter birds that those and other habitats support. It’s also just what the doctor ordered to cure those winter blues and get the blood pumping again! Recruit your spouse, loved one, or friends to join in the fun. Take advantage of the educational opportunities and involve your kids or grandkids.

    The GBBC is coming to your area this weekend, February 13-16th. Put your town on the interactive GBBC map. Sign up now—it’s fast and easy. You'll be glad you did.

    Precipitation Summary for January 2009

    Precipitation totals were recorded daily at our home (Station MI-BN-3) on Crescent Lake near Buchanan, Michigan, following protocols established by CoCoRaHS (the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network).

    Precipitation Summary:
  • Totals.—Precipitation in the form of rain or snow was recorded on 24 days; measurable amounts of precipitation (i.e., ≥0.01 inches water equivalency) were recorded on 20 (64 percent) of 31 days, with a total accumulation of 2.39 inches (0.08 inches/day, 0.10 inches/day with precipitation, and 0.12 inches/day with measurable precipitation).

  • Rainfall.—Moisture in the form of rain or a rain/snow mix was recorded on 2 days; measurable precipitation attributed solely to rain was recorded on 1 day with a total accumulation of 0.02 inches (0.0006 inches/day, 0.01 inches/day with rain or a rain/snow mix, 0.02 inches/day with measurable rain or a rain/snow mix).

  • Snowfall.—Measurable accumulations (i.e., ≥0.1 inches) of snow fell on each of 22 days, totaling 36.2 inches (1.17 inches/day, 1.64 inches/day with snow, and 1.64 inches/day with measurable snow); the water equivalency from new snow was 2.37 inches as measured from a core sample taken from a snowboard (0.066 inches/1.0 inch of snow). The highest 1-day total snowfall was 5.0 inches on the 22nd.

    On average, the rain gauge underestimated the water content of new snow by 25 percent (i.e., 1.76 inches of water from snow captured in the rain gauge versus 2.37 inches of water as measured from the snow board, a deficit of 0.61 inches). For this reason, precipitation totals reported above under Precipitation Summary reflect the water content of new snow as measured by a core sample taken from the snow board.

  • Snow Cover and Snow Depths.—The areal extent of snow cover was 50 percent or more on 29 days, and 100 percent on 27 days. Average snow depth on the 29 days with 50 percent or more snow cover ranged from a trace to 17.0 inches (on the 16th), with a median of 11.5 inches. On days with 50 percent or more snow cover, the amount of water on the ground in the form of snow or ice ranged from 0.03 to 3.09 inches (on the 28th), with a median of 2.18 inches. On average, each inch of snow on the ground (new and old combined) yielded 0.155 inches of water (range 0.06 to 0.24).
  • Comparisons:
  • At the official weather station in South Bend, Indiana (located 12 miles SE of this station), the precipitation total for the month (1.57 inches) was 31 percent below the 30-year (1971-2000) norm of 2.27 inches. By contrast, total snowfall (29.4 inches) was 27 percent above the norm of 23.2 inches. Comparable totals for Buchanan this month were 2.39 inches of precipitation and 36.2 inches of snow.

  • The 30-year (1951-1980) mean December precipitation at Niles, Michigan (located 4.5 miles ENE of this station) is 2.51 inches, while the mean December snowfall for the same period is 17.2 inches.
  • Temperature, Relative Humidity, and Dew Point (at 7:00 AM):
  • Temperature.—High (32 on 4th), Median 16, Low (-5 on 16th and 20th). Freezing or sub-freezing temperatures were recorded on 31 days.

  • Relative Humidity.—High (92 on 3rd), Median 75, Low (59 on 5th).

  • Dew Point Temperature.—High (27 on 4th), Median 6, Low (-14 on 16th and 20th).
  • A Match Made in Heaven!

    You've already met Audrey and Nate a few times on this blog, with the amazing photography by Pure: by Lindsey - she recently shared a few more, and I wanted to show you how fun!