frazzled & fantastic

The Blog of Phaea Crede

Robot Songs (I’ve Been Forced to Make Up)

Mabel Louise is my two-year-old daughter. She is very smart, very funny, and very specific about the things she likes. For example, Bah Bah Black Sheep MUST be the first song I sing to her at night. And for a long time, it was the only song she allowed me to sing to her at night. As she rejected the time-honored lullaby songs that had served me so well with her brother one-by-one (NO to Somewhere Over the Rainbow, NO to Summertime, NO to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, NO TO EVERYTHING) I was growing desperate.

Finally I asked her, what songs would she like to hear? Robot songs, was her answer. This was good and bad news, because I at least knew how to sooth the savage beast (yes I know that’s a misquote) but also literally there aren’t any robot songs. So, I made some up. They weren’t brilliant, but they were a hit and now we sing them every single night.

So if you have a Mabel Louise in your life, and you don’t have the energy to make up your own robot songs, please feel free to use ours:


Beep beep robot

Have you any data?

Yes ma’am, yes ma’am

Some that matters.

Some for the Doctor.

Some for the clerk.

Some for the lab assistant always hard at work.

Beep beep robot

Have you any data?

Yes ma’am, yes ma’am

Some that matters.


Jingle jingle robot friend

I’m glad to see you again

I love coming here for tea

I love you and you love me

Jingle jingle robot friends

I’m glad to see you again

SIX ROBOTS (Sung to the tune of SIX LITTLE DUCKS by Raffi)

Six robots that I once knew

Big ones

Little ones

Square ones, too

And the one robot with the rockets in its feet

It led the others with a beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep

It led the others with a beep, beep, beep


Down to the factory they would go

Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble

To and fro

And the one robot with the rockets in its feet

It led the others with a beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep

It led the others with a beep, beep, beep


Back from the factory they would come

Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble

Rum tum tum

And the one robot with the rockets in its feet

It led the others with a beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep

It led the others with a beep, beep, beep

I HAD A ROBOT (Sung to the tune of I HAD A ROOSTER)

I had a robot and my robot pleased me

And I fixed my robot in lab number three

And my little robot says beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.


I had an android and my android pleased me

And I fixed my android in lab number three

And my little android says “Affirmative!”

And my little robot says beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.


I had a cyborg and my cyborg pleased me

And I fixed my cyborg in lab number three

And my little cyborg says “Exterminate.”

And my little android says “Affirmative!”

And my little robot says beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.


I had a K-9 and my K-9 pleased me

And I fixed my K-9 in lab number three

And my little K-9 says “Woof BOOP Woof!”

And my little cyborg says “Exterminate.”

And my little android says “Affirmative!”

And my little robot says beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.


(sung to the tune of I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD)

I’ve been working on the robot

All the live long day

I’ve been working on the robot

Just to pass the time away

Can’t you hear the robot beeping

Booting up so early in the morn?
Can’t you hear the robot calling

“I’ll do you no harm.”

Robot don’t you do

Robot don’t you do
Robot don’t you do no harm

Robot don’t you do

Robot don’t you do
Robot don’t you do no harm

Someone’s in the lab with robot

Someone’s in the lab I know oh oh oh
Someone’s in the lab with robot

Watching the robotic floor show

Beep boob beadily beep boop

Beep boob beadily beep boop boop boop boop

Beep boob beadily beep boop

Watching the robotic floor show


Good luck with your little robot fans!

I am totally obsessed with a free giveaway Facebook group and it’s starting to ruin my life

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Facebook is a fantastic resource for moms. We can share advice, offer support, like baby photos and, of course, complain. I belong to several very helpful mom groups that offer breastfeeding support, community news (and gossip), and a handful of yard sale groups named things like Everett Online Yard Sale & Melrose MA Yard Sale Group where we can pass on used items for a few bucks. Awesome and convenient. Then one day I discovered Everything is Free Medford and everything changed, especially my sanity level.

The (mostly) moms in this group give (mostly) household goods away, but the list of random booty doesn’t end there. Just this week I’ve seen frames, chairs, Simulac, Sonicare toothbrushes, maple wood gourmet smoking chips, zucchinis, a jug of milk,  a used hair brush, and sand.

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You better believe parents are interested in free sand!

In the past people have given away — for free — everything from half a purple cabbage to a functioning car, and that was the same day. I myself have given away toys, baby gear, and a huge jar of peanut butter to my fellow moms. But please, don’t call me a hero.

My favorite part of the group is that we moms never, ever meet face to face. We communicate via comment, trade addresses via messenger, and then leave the bounty out on our porches for each other to pick up, usually in the dead of night…or more accurately…the dead of late afternoon. It’s all very hush hush, like we are members of a secret society of other peoples used stuff.

The secret society group’s rules are super simple. Once an item is posted, the first person to comment with interest gets to pick it up from the previous owner’s porch at a mutually agreed time. If you weren’t first, but are still interested you can post “next” or “back up.” These are usually very optimistic posts, although I have seen it work out. As you can imagine, things can get preeeeeetty competitive.

Here is a short list of some items I’ve been blessed enough to pick up for free:

  • 10 envelopes
  • Stack of middle grade & YA books
  • One dozen toddler clothing hangers
  • A double stroller
  • A bag for the cat to play in

As you can see, these are all treasures and I am grateful every day that I was able to snag them. But sadly, I am not satisfied. Not NEARLY. Because here are all the things that I WAS NOT FAST ENOUGH TO GET:

  • 6 pairs of size 7 toddler shoes
  • A cat tree
  • Some pre-made 9 Miles East meals
  • A bunch of 5-year-old boys pants

As you can these are even BETTER treasures and I missed being the first commenter by mere minutes. I realized that I needed to step up my game and started visiting the group more often, multiple times a day.

And. It. Kept. Happening.

A small bag of women’s clothes size small? Missed it by five minutes. A kid’s sized Mini-Boden jacket? Four minutes! I didn’t even both to post “next” because there were already two “nexts” ahead of me. Can I just add that I’ve been searching second hand stores high and low looking for Mini-Boden stuff??? This was suddenly becoming personal.

The final straw was when I missed a second cat tree by ONE MINUTE. 60 seconds. What was I doing in that 60 seconds that couldn’t have waited 60 more seconds? Playing with my baby? Please. From that moment of failure on I became a broken person. I now refresh the group page every 30 min at least, and often just leave it open on my desktop refreshing it every minute or so. The second I let my guard down, I miss a velour bed-spread-type-thing by SECONDS. Honestly, I can’t even tell if I really want or need a velour bed-spread-type-thing, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I CAN’T HAVE IT.

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Picture: Not mine and it never will be

Maybe it’s something about this time of year. The weather is changing. Money is tight. My birthday is coming up. The kids are having growth spurts. Christmas is coming. Our country’s leaders are a nightmare flock of evil idiots most of which don’t really consider me a person. Typical stuff. So, I have a lot of stress. If I had extra cash, perhaps I would be out there trying to shop my way to feeling secure again. But I don’t! So instead, I’ve turned my attention toward getting free stuff that I could definitely, sort of, kind of use.

Like these!
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So until the stress of stalking Everything is Free outweighs the stress of living through America, 2017, you’ll find me happily refreshing Facebook every minute or into the new year…and maybe beyond.

My Husband is a Better Stay-at-Home Mom Than I Ever Could Be


Originally published on

The happiest time of my life was the two years I spent as a stay-at-home mom. I was my son Harvey’s primary caregiver from the day he was born to age 2. I put him down for naps and read him his first books. I nursed him through colds and teething pain. I lived for playdates and baby classes. As stay-at-home moms went, I felt like one of the best, and I loved it.

But when my husband confessed that his day job was killing him and he needed a change, I knew that going back to work was the only answer. We’d always kicked around the idea of trading off primary care-giving duties –although I admit I’d never actually thought he’d take me up on it. Luckily, I found a job right away and in Oct. 2014, I drove to work for the first time in a long time, leaving my toddler son in the arms of his dad. I thought it would last maybe 6 months.

Well, three years (and a second kid) later, my husband is still a stay-at-home parent. And I’m not even mad. Why? Because he’s freaking awesome at it.

Justin does everything that I did, just as well as I did. From booking playdates and doctor appointments, to attending baby classes and putting the kids down for naps, he took being a stay-at-home parent to the next level.

One summer, when we only had one car that I used to commute to work, my 6’5” husband spent three months biking Harvey around local playgrounds on my small lady bike. When Harvey started pre-school at a co-op 30 minutes away, Justin was the one who drove him there every school day for two years. He was the one who got to know all the parents and teachers, and he built an amazing community for our son’s class. And once we had our feisty daughter Mabel and she was thrown into the mix, Justin learned to successfully juggle two children at once — a feat that took me literally a year to master.

Justin also maintained Harvey’s friendships with other kids, bonded with myparent friends, potty-trained Harvey before he was three, taught him how to read and do basic math before he was four, taught Mabel 65+ words in baby sign language, and introduced his kids to the Violent Femmes, to name a few other super-dad accomplishments.

On top of all that – he makes us dinner every single night. Let that sink in for a moment. I come home from a day at the office to a home-cooked meal on the table every day. Not only is that something I never did when I was a SAHM, but I would argue that cooking dinner is a task no person taking care of two kids all day should ever be expected to do. But he does it, because he is just that great. He also bakes pies and cookies on a weekly basis. I know it seems like I’m bragging right now, because I am. My husband is a manly Martha Stewart mixed with Mary Poppins, minus the magic — although to be honest, maybe he is magical. That would explain how he manages to also get all the laundry done.

Being the stay-at-home parent hasn’t always been easy for my husband. Not just because staying home with your two kids is probably the hardest thing that anyone of any gender could ever do, but because even though it’s 2017, and stay-at-home dads are a lot more common than they used to be, being a man on the playground can still be a little bit isolating. Other moms didn’t warm up to him as much as they might have to me, although he did eventually form a close friendship with another stay-at-home dad. He also worries that he is not contributing to the family, but of course he is contributing in the most valuable way I could imagine: he’s raising our kids right.

A strong, loving dad is a gift for both our son and our daughter, as is a hard-working, breadwinning mom. Our house is truly a place of gender equality where everyone pitches in and does what needs to be done. My kids still come to me for cuddles and comfort – I’m their mom, after all. But recently, when Mabel was sick and couldn’t settle down at bedtime, she asked for Daddy. I delivered her to him in the living room (where he was resting after putting our son to bed) where he rocked her gently to sleep. As I tip-toed her back to bed, she roused momentarily and blew her daddy a kiss before settling in for the night. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.

Sure, sometimes I wish he hadn’t taught them how to play hockey inside the house. But honestly, you can’t win ‘em all.

Name That Bird: Bird & Squirrel Series

See the rules for Name That Bird here.

Bird & Squirrel Series
Written and Illustrated by James Burks


Bird and Squirrel are the stars of my son Harvey’s favorite comic book series, which includes Bird & Squirrel on the Run, Bird & Squirrel on the Edge, Bird & Squirrel on Ice, and the latest, Bird & Squirrel on Fire. Squirrel is nervous and practical, Bird is carefree and gung-ho. Together they travel far and wide, finding adventure at every turn. With his bluish color, we can assume that Squirrel is a common gray squirrel. But…what kind of bird is Bird?

James Burks resides in Valencia, California, so I am going to assume we’re looking for a West Coast bird that’s about the same size as a gray squirrel, 9 – 12 inches. We need a long-beaked bird with orange wings and tail feathers, and a yellow breast. A strong bird would best, because Bird carries Squirrel around, like, a lot. Let’s look at some of the obvious yellow/orange birds first.


Here is the Lesser Goldfinch, a West Coast and Central American native. Pros, this sort-of-the-right-color bird likes to travel! Sometimes all the way down to Peru. Also, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes their sound as “jabbering”, a very Bird word. Cons, this bird is way too small. Under 5 inches usually. But maybe Squirrel is just a very small squirrel? That would explain some of his anxiety!

On the orange end of the color spectrum we have the Hooded Oriole:


For me, the body shape is dead-on, especially that long beak. The yellow-orangey plumage makes a strong case as well, especially when you consider how much yellower the juvenile’s look:


Youth would certainly explain Bird’s fearless and fun-loving personality! At just 7.9 inches, this species is still on the small side, but they are also “super strong” according to Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Yes, the black throat is totally off, but Bird might be a special morph. Could a slightly large juvenile Hooded Oriole partnered with a slightly small grey squirrel be the right combo?

I’m feeling okay about these two options, but since gadgets only make birding better, I’ve decided to round out this investigation with my favorite app: Merlin Bird ID. This is run by – WHO ELSE – Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is really helpful for identifying birds out in the field.

I go through the few steps…

…and this little darling pops up:


The Ash-throated Flycatcher. Am I crazy, or does this actually seem like a good choice, puffy head aside? I mean, in a world where a grey squirrel is blue, couldn’t a brown bird be yellow and orange?


Ash-throated Flycatchers also tilt their heads in curiosity, and don’t need much water – both perfect qualities for adventuring. Plus, Ash-throated Flycatchers can be as long as 8.3 inches, the closest we’ve found to squirrel-sized!

So, who will it be? The Ash-Throated Flycatcher? The Hooded Oriole? The Lesser Goldfinch????

Bird is….a juvenile Hooded Oriole!


I know this is a teeny-tiny image, but look how light the black throat patch is on this young Hooded Oriole? Maybe Bird just hasn’t grown into his yet! And Squirrel being a smaller-than-normal squirrel totally justifies his nervous demeanor.

Feeling pretty good about this deduction. What do you folks think??

How to Go Birding with Little Kids


Originally published on the Friends of the Fells blog

Patience. Stealth. Nuanced binocular adjustments. As far as hobbies go, birding isn’t what you’d exactly call “kid friendly.” But as a big bird nerd, I’ve been determined to get my little kids into bird watching one way or another. And I’ve learned two major things:

  1.     Looking through binoculars while wearing a wiggly baby in an Ergo is difficult.
  2.     With a few minor adjustments to my birding routine, taking the kids for a birding walk is totally possible.

So, if you want to get your fledgling brood out there trailing towhees and chatting with chickadees, here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

Gear up

Everyone knows the BEST part of a hobby is the gear, and birding is no exception. One simply must have a killer pair of binoculars to hit the trails. Harvey and Mabel both love to play with my Canon binocs, but are too young to actually use them. Happily, there are many toy binoculars available to buy, but you can go even more low tech and make your own out of two toilet paper rolls, tape, and a piece of yarn. Have your kids practice finding a stationary object through the “lenses,” like a street sign. Then have them:

      Look at the street sign just with their eyes.

      Without moving, raise the binoculars to eye level.

      Move binoculars as much as needed to center the street sign.

This is real-life binocular training!

Pick an easy species to look for

Recently, Harvey, Mabel and I went for a birding walk around Bellevue Pond with one goal and one goal only: spot american robins. We talked about what they looked like (grey with an orange chest) and what they’d be doing (singing in trees or foraging on the ground). Then we set out on our merry way.

And what do you know… we saw a bunch of them! Once Harvey (my older kid) saw one robin, it was easier and easier to see others digging through leaf piles. By the end of our 20-minute walk, he was a total expert on how to find and identify robins. Even my 20-month-old, Mabel, was getting into it, pointing and screaming in excitement. Which was cute – although it did scare the robin away…

Focus on ground birds

Robins, Grackles, Starlings, even the humble House Sparrow spend a lot of their time on the ground foraging for food. And that’s pretty convenient for kid-sized birders. Spotting a bird in a tree is much harder for my kids than noticing one hopping along a trail, so I always tell my kids to look down – not up.

Go birding listening, not bird watching

Instead of trying to see birds while walking, which can be tricky, tell your kids to listen for birds. Bird calls and songs, the rustling of leaves, the peeps of begging hatchlings, even the whistling sound of Mourning Dove wings are all signs of avian life. I bet they’ll be amazed at how many different bird-adjacent sounds they hear. And once they are in the habit of listening for the birds, finding and identifying the birds will be that much easier later on. And along those same lines:

Look for signs of life

Nests. Feathers. Poop piles. These signs all mean that a bird has been there recently, and have the added benefit of being stationary. And touching a feather or pulling apart an owl pellet gives birding a nice physical aspect that my kids love. I bet yours will, too.

Celebrate the common

The beauty of common birds like blue jays, mallard ducks and pigeons is that they are big and easy to identify. I never pass up a chance to point out one of these big birds to my kids, and make just as much of a fuss about seeing a canada goose as seeing a canada warbler. (The bird nerds out there totally got that joke.) Harvey still talks about the day we saw 100 pigeons take off together and Mabel’s first few baby signs included “bird” and “duck.” An interest in these big, common birds now will only help grow their interest as they get older.

Birding with your family is a wonderful way to experience nature and discover wildlife, especially in the beautiful Fells sanctuary. And it’s never been more important to educate our children about birds. A recent study reported that half of North American birds are facing extinction due to climate change. While we must work as hard as we can to combat this dire news through political action and more, the only way to guarantee our birds will survive is to get the next generation involved. What starts out as a hobby might just blossom into a lifetime of stewardship, making a real impact of the lives of birds.

My family will be hitting the trails again soon. Hope to see you out there!

My Favorite Non-Fiction Picture Books About Birdies

I’ve been working on a picture book about North American birds for a little while, and in my research, have compiled a list of truly special non-fiction (or non-fiction adjacent) bird books that introduce kids to either several species of birds or the fun of birding itself. Getting children tapped into the natural world outside their doors is especially important right considering the uncertain future of many environmental protections.


A Bird is a Bird
Author & Illustrator: Lizzy Rockwell
Holiday House, 2015
Description: Expertly takes the facts about birds as animals and shares them as a story – a page turning story at that.


A Place for Birds
Author: Melissa Stewart
Illustrator: Higgins Bond
Peachtree, 2009
Description: The incomparable Melissa Stewart has done a few incredible bird books (Feathers: Not Just For Flying is wonderful!) but this one is my absolute favorite because of its focus on conservation efforts and species that are being directly affected.


About Birds: A Guide For Children
Author: Cathryn Sill
Illustrator: John Sill
Peachtree Publishers, LTD, 1991
Description: A nice introduction to the general world of birds with a lovely “birds are important to us” message on the last page. All off Sill’s bird books are very good, but this one is a great intro to birds.


Birds: Nature’s Magnificent Flying Machines
Author: Caroline Arnold
Illustrator: Patricia J. Wynne
Charlesbridge, 2002
Description: Kid’s encyclopedia that breaks down all the parts of being a flying creature from bones and feathers to wind shape, lift, hovering, gliding, and migrating.

everyday birds

Every Day Birds
Author: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Illustrator: Dylan Metrano
Orchard Books/Scholastic, 2016
Description: Simple rhymes introduce common North American birds in one long poem.


Look Up! Birding Watching in Your Own Backyard
Author & Illustrator: Annette Leblanc Cate
Candlewick, 2013
Description: This unique, award-winning book/graphic novel isn’t simply about birds, but the art of birdwatching itself. A personal favorite.


Mama Build a Little Nest
Author: Jennifer Ward
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Beach Lane Books, 2014
Descriptions: Playful rhymes and helpful facts about fascinating birds and their unique nests. Fabulous illustrations, too.


Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf
Author & Illustrator: Olivia Bouler
Sterling Publishing, INC/Sterling Children’s Books 2011
Description: Written by an 11-year-old inspired to save the gulf after the oil spill, this is an exciting and dynamic introduction to birds. Each page is a different theme, like Everyday Birds, Weird & Wacky Birds, and Bird Beauty. Created with the National Audubon Society.


World of Birds: A Beginner’s Guide
Author and Illustrator: Kim Kurki
Black Dog & Leventhal, 2014
Description: Wonderful comic book-like encyclopedia featuring facts and information about birds around the world divided by habitat. Created with the National Wildlife Federation.


You Nest Here With Me
Author: Jane Yolen & Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Boyds Mill Press, 2015
Description: Cuddly and poetic book that weaves bird facts with a nighttime story of nesting with your family. Habitats start “local” (suburbs/city) and work their way out to wider environments. Not to brag, but I have a copy signed by Jane, Heidi AND Melissa. Yeah, NESCBI Spring Conference 2017!

Do you have a favorite that I missed? Let me know, because I friggin’ love bird books!


Name That Bird: Bertie Wings It!

See the rules for Name That Bird here.

Bertie Wings It!: A Brave Bird Learns to Fly
Author: Leslie Gorin
Illustrator: Brendan Kearney

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Bertie Wings It! tells the story of Bertie, a bird excited to take his first flight, only to be grounded by some bird-splaining feathered friends who claim he ain’t ready yet. Themes covered include believing in yourself and the inanity of bureaucracy! Bertie, a little yellow bird, is our adorable, determined protagonist.

Bertie is a cutie for sure with his small, compact body, warm yellow color, streaked breast, green sides and stylish black and white glasses. Illustrator Brendan Kearney lives in England (FYI: Brendan draws species-specific birds like, really well. Check out this  amazing gallery here.) so you’d think birds of the U.K. would be my target here.


This book actually has TONS of other birds in it, but only three of them are named by species:




Also, a very clear Flamingo as a background character. (And Toucans…but I’m just going to assume those are some escaped pets.)

Conclusion: these aren’t your mama’s English birds.

Doing a little research I discovered that there is one place on Earth with both Penguins and Emus, plus a history with Flamingos –  and Kiwis just a boat ride away.

Australia! Bertie is a Aussie. And since he’s clearly not a Kookaburra or a Splendid Fairy-wren (aka the only two Australian birds I know) this just turned into an adventure Y’AAAAAAALLL!

A little more research led me to the very wonderful and useful site, Birdlife Australia. I learned a lot about Australian birds and found a quite few candidates for Bertie’s species.

First up, the Pale-yellow Robin:

Photo source:

Compact body? Check. Yellow and green coloring? Check! Streaked breast? Check check! Even the nest looks dead on:

But, is the head too grey to be a good match? May-haps.

Next, we’ll take a look at the humble Yellow Thornbill.


This little bird is a tree dweller, like Bertie, and is serving a perfect combo of yellow and olive green. There is even some streaking on it’s throat (and face, but we won’t mention that.) But, the nest of the Yellow Thorn Bill is domed…and while Bertie’s has a nice canopy, the nest itself is decidedly dome-less.

Next up, the Golden Whistler:


I know what you’re thinking: Phaea – that bird has a back and white hood! What are you, blind?? First of all, calm down. Second, what if Bertie’s black and white glasses are just a clever interpretation of the Golden Whistler’s head and chin field marks? After all, we have our yellow and olive sides present and accounted for. Add in their “shallow bowl nest” and I think we have a real contender here.

But…there’s also this fine fellow:


Meet the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. Isn’t that sweet? For me, the coloring is dead-on, and the black pattern on it’s face even LOOKS like glasses (or sunglasses…? Close enough!) The only downside is that long, long tail. Bertie has a short one. Hmmmm.

Never before in the weeks-old history of Name That Bird has a decision been so hard! Clearly, Bertie is a bit of an outlier within his species. So, is he a short-tailed Honeyeater? A thornbill with a bizarro nest? A Pale-yellow Robin with a strangely yellow head? A Golden Whistler with glasses instead of a hood???

After much deliberation, I have concluded that Bertie is, in fact a…

Pale-yellow Robin!

source: wikipedia

Why the yellow head? Well, since he is just flying for the first time it’s obvious Bertie is still a juvenile with more muddied coloring. His head will turn grey in a few months! CASE CLOSED.

To catch a glimpse of this adorable bird IRL, check along the edges of rainforests and eucalypt forests in both Northeastern Queensland and Australia’s southeastern coast.

What do you think – did I get this one right? I’d love to hear from any Aussie birders out there!

Name That Bird: Peek-a Who?

See the rules for Name That Bird here.


Peek-a Who?
Author & Illustrator: Nina Laden

The original Peek-a Who? book is one of those books that makes me – as a writer – both delighted and angry because it’s so simple, perfect, and appealing to kids. Never in a million lives could I come up with something this amazing. Nina Laden is an American hero.

Plus, the book starts out strong with this grumpy lil’ owl:


What a darling grump! This compact owl is a ruddy brown color with yellow eyes and short horns. Our author-illustrator was born in NYC but lives in Washington State, so I’m going to consider and owls from the Northern part of the U.S.

Let’s start with the obvious choice: The Great-Horned owl.

Great_Horned_Owl_s36-36-026_l Johann Schumacher
Photo by Johann Schumacher/

Plumage and eye color is about right, but those those classic feathery tufts are too long to for our owl. And the GH is a big, long owl. Perhaps a smaller, stockier owl is a better choice. Someone like…the Eastern Screech Owl:

Easter Screech Owl
Photo by Greg Page/

Screech owls come in red, grey, and brown morphs (brown pictured above – and yes they do look much more brown sometimes), have yellow eyes, and are stocky like our bird! One problem. Screech owls don’t say “whooooo”. They make a spooky whinny.

Saying “who” is sort of key for this owl. Peek-a Who being the title and all…

Maybe it’s time to move West? Consider the Short-Eared Owl:

Short-eared Owl
Photo by Brad Bolduan/

Honestly when I read about this owl, I thought I’d found a winner. Brown? Check. Small horns? Check. Yellow eyes? Check! But…apparently it’s “ears” are sooooo little that they often disappear. Our owl definitely doesn’t have that problem. Plus, while the SE does hoot…sometimes…most of the time they say “rep! rep!”

So…what owl…is brownish and smallish and has yellow eyes and says “whoooo?”

Photo from

An adolescent Great-Horned Owl! Look at those cute little feather tufts! And those angsty big yellow eyes! Sure, Great-Horned Owl chicks normally make a sound more like “eep!”, but clearly the bird in this book is a Great-Horned Owl teen on the cusp of adulthood, and that “who!” call may be one of her very first “who” calls ever! Peek-a-bird-finding-her-voice!

This is 100% backed by science. Ask any scientist. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

List: Reasons That Lady is Crying in Whole Foods

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Originally published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency 

There is a 25-minute wait before the rotisserie chickens are done.

Her husband is in grad school for screenwriting.

The avocados are no longer on sale.

She took a Buzzfeed quiz that correctly guessed her age.

There are no container tops at the salad bar.

She forgot to take her Celexa but remembered to take her stool softeners.

Something Trump related, probably.

The guilt about buying pre-made food instead of making a hearty, home-cooked meal is getting to her.

She’s worrying about Richard Simmons.

Even if she made up her mind to make a hearty, home-cooked meal, she would have no idea how to go about it.

She’s trying to break into the kid lit industry.

She’s now imagined making a hearty, home-cooked meal and her children summarily rejecting it, so she’s full of resentment.

She’s starting to doubt that she ever was “cool.”

She’s been at her marketing job for three years and still doesn’t really know what A/B testing is but it’s too late to admit it at this point.

Health insurance is complicated. Who knew?

She keeps unsubscribing to Carter’s emails but they keep sending them to her and it’s starting to feel personal.

She can’t recall the difference between further and farther.

She misread the price on the organic, vegetable-based food dye and it’s $13.99, not $3.99.

She’s realizing that she may never, ever get to that web comic idea.

She’s trapped in a middle-class prison of her own creation.

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