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A Newsletter from Whoop Jenny! 

June 5, 2021
Female birds, enemies of birders, old women walking

I didn’t post any new blogs since my last newsletter. But here are a few things on my mind:

Female Birds

Last weekend was Female Bird Day. It seems that historically, we have not been paying proper attention to female birds. This article from the Audubon Society explains how terribly off track we can get by ignoring or making assumptions about female birds. 

Bird comic writer Rosemary Mosco made a special poster for the occasion.  She said she learned a lot of new field marks by simply shifting her attention to the female of the species.

I’ve been guilty of gender-biased bird blindness. Just this year, my sister and I were stumped by a flock of little brown birds that turned out to be female red-winged blackbirds. Kristine Rivers, League City’s bird lady, explains that it’s easy to be confused by female red-winged blackbirds.  


Enemies of Birders

Such goofs remind me to not take my own bird-watching too seriously. After all, I don’t want to end up like this guy and make a lot of birding enemies. Nor do I want to end up like this guy and his evil/genius effort to keep squirrels out of the birdfeeder


Old Women Walking

My friend Resa and I walked with Opal Lee when she was in Galveston on Memorial Day.  Ms. Lee is a 94-year-old woman who walks around the country to promote making Juneteenth a national holiday. 

I have a lot of admiration for Opal and for all old women who walk with a purpose. Women like Emma Gatewood, who, starting at age 67, walked the entire Appalachian trail three times--solo. You can read her story in Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, a truly good wayfarer’s tale.

And then there’s Ann Sieben, aka The Winter Pilgrim. She’s a former nuclear engineer who is now a "mendicant" pilgrim, meaning she walks with no money and relies on the goodness of strangers to provide. Sieben has walked 43,000 miles through 55 different countries.  

I learned about Sieben through this episode of Dave Whitson’s The Camino Podcast. She's a charming, near-nonstop talker with fantastic stories that include being surrounded by packs of giant wild dogs in Anatolia, traversing the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap, and winning a stand-off with heavily armed drug cartels in northern Mexico by taking their prayer intentions.  

These old women are entirely eccentric, brave, full of faith, and somewhat wacky.  What an inspiration!


Thanks to my husband Steve for finding the squirrel video, to my friend Resa for first telling me about Female Bird Day, and to my friend Carol for proofing every issue of this newsletter.  Photo image of female house finch, by Steve Dudley.



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