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Sophie, Bee-Eaters & Writing

We spent yesterday at the Bronx Zoo. Here are pictures and a brief video of the zoo biologist feeding crickets to the White-Throated-Bee-Eaters, birds that lives free in East Africa. L to R: Sophie (with pigtails) watching the biologist reach into a plastic bag full of live crickets. Bee-Eaters on branches. They catch a cricket mid-flight and then “smack” it on a branch to make it easier to eat. The”cliff” is where they build nests (last year they produced 9 fledglings). In captivity, the birds eat “cat chow” (you’re not hearing things in the video; that’s what she says), softened with water, enriched with calcium. The cricket feeding activity, she explained, is for “fun,” i.e., to keep the birds from “getting bored.” When the weather gets warmer, she collects bees from the hives that are on the top of the building (The World of Birds) and releases them for the birds to chase and consume. The exhibit is open, i.e., above the railing in the first picture (the birds stay put because of the branches, “cliff”, and food), except when the bees are released. Then a curtain is drawn to keep the bees from escaping. The “smacking” ejects the toxin and stinger from the bees. Later while we were eating dinner, I asked Sophie what she liked about writing: “Using my imagination,” she replied, rolling her eyes. “Looking in my brain.” “Imagination is interesting,” I said. “You can use it to make up things to write or you can use it to remember something that really happened to write about. That’s what I mostly write about–things that really happened.” As an example, I suggested, we use our imagination to describe the White-Throated Bee-Eaters. “Their beaks are like bananas,” she said.

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