Justice and spring birds

A few short weeks ago I posted a blog entitled “I’d rather be blasting homeopathy“, and provided two letters that I had written. One was addressed to my local Nebraska congressman, and asked that he be considerate of science and the NIH budget. The second was an irate response to an unjust parking ticket that I received when attending a dance performance in downtown Omaha.

I challenged OT readers and colleagues to take my multiple choice question, and speculate which of the two letters (both, none, either) would receive a response. While I think most of my fellow scientists have been saturated with exams over the years and did not feel compelled to answer, those that did invariably predicted a response from the congressman, but not from my appeal to the parking ticket collection agency.

Well–good news and bad news. My parking appeal was accepted–albeit without an apology or personal note. But $63 is–well, $63.

On the other hand, no response from my congressman–who I understand did not vote for a more favorable NIH budget. The situation for scientists is becoming rather frightening here in the US, and perhaps we need to join up with the “Science is Vital” campaign as suggested by Stephen Curry and Jenny Rohn.

Finally, I can’t resist another nerd bird photo, and request the help of my superior qualified ornithologists with this one. Unlike the downy woodpecker I posted last month, this one is considerably larger. Although it looks like a hairy woodpecker in size, it has a full red nape (but not head), and the unmistakable “red mustache” that I thought was typical of certain flickers. Can anyone help me out? Kristi? grrlscientist? Ricardipus?

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of about 10 students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery that is now in press! All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising. http://www.stevecaplan.net
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5 Responses to Justice and spring birds

  1. KristiV says:

    I think it might be a female Red-bellied Woodpecker, Steve; their range extends well into Oklahoma and Nebraska. In the male bird, the red extends all the way across the top of the head.

    I’ve had several Lesser Goldfinches in my backyard this week – not at the feeder, but rather on the dandelions that have gone to seed.

  2. ricardipus says:

    Saw a photo of one of these handsome birds on another Flickr contact’s photostream recently. Like then, I thought it was a Yellow-Shafted Flicker, and like then, I was wrong. Kristi’s nailed it, Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

    See here:
    http://birding.about.com/od/birdprofiles/ig/Woodpecker-Gallery/Red-Bellied-Woodpecker.htm

  3. Steve Caplan says:

    Kristi and Ricardipus– thanks for the ID! I guess I missed it due to the classic ornithological male chauvinism–the Audubon guide I have only shows the males…

  4. Stephen says:

    Hey – congrats on getting off the mis-applied parking fine! Justice is sweet…

  5. Steve Caplan says:

    Can’t resist posting this photo of what must be the male version of the red-bellied woodpecker–they are so beautiful!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/60661816@N02/5566817576/

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