Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
May 21st, 2008

ROBIN REPORT

Our baby robins have hatched. I can’t tell you how many there are. There were only two eggs the last time I looked and now there is just movement in a pile of grayish fluff. There aren’t too many opportunities to take a peek as the mother is almost constantly in attendance. Don’t want to spook her, you know, or they tell me she won’t come back.

When we had baby rabbits, the mother would line her nest with fur from her belly. I understand that the eider duck lines her nest with down plucked from her breast, and that eider down is harvested from the nests when the ducklings leave. But, from what I read, robin nests are lined with very fine grasses (though there was mention of one robin that persisted in taking fur from a Golden Retriever) and the fluff mentioned above is the down that the baby birds are covered with at first.

Sometimes there are two parents feeding the babies, presumably the mother and father. Since mother and father aren’t politically correct terms anymore, perhaps I should call them Cock Robin and Hen Robin? Or parent XY and parent XX. How do you suppose the robin parents recognize each other? They all look the same to me–one robin face looks like another robin face. In the MARCH OF THE PENGUINS I learned that mates could recognize each other, that the mother penguin could always find her mate who was hatching her chick after she trekked miles to the water to bring back nourishment. It’s my guess that they know each other somehow by scent (pheromones) and song.

My research tells me that birds generally have small olfactory bulbs and very poor sense of smell. No bird pheromones have been discovered. However, birds have excellent eyesight and perhaps color vision plays a role in mating. We’re all familiar with Darwin’s discussion of the displays of the male bird (the peacock is the ultimate example) in order to woo the female bird. And birds have MARVELOUS hearing in spite of the fact that there are no visible external ears.

This bird-watching is raising a lot of questions. Is there a robin expert somewhere out there?

Next day:
My babies! They’re gone! The nest is EMPTY! Who — or what — has done this thing? The mother robin had so much invested — the nest, the eggs, the brooding, the feeding. Is she grieving as much as I am? It’s always so sad to see new, innocent life destroyed — the promise nipped in the bud. Will she have the heart to try again?

Is there a robin expert somewhere out there?

May 4th, 2008

HOME BIRTH DOCUMENTARY

Do you know what a doula is? Most people don’t. Do you know anyone who has had a home birth? Most people don’t, at least in these United States. A doula, according to Merriam-Webster is “a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth.” Home birth, or natural birth without medication or intervention, is what most women worldwide still have. The funny thing is that the countries where natural birth is considered ordinary have better maternity and newborn statistics than do we in the United States with all our technology and C-sections. And we have a lot of C-sections!

This morning I received a link to one of Ricki Lake’s documentaries, The Business of Being Born, showing midwives assisting at home births. Produced with Abby Epstein it is a full two-hours long and riveting. I have found that such free offerings on the internet have a tendency to be “no longer available” in short order, probably because there is more profit in selling DVDs.

So, you are invited to view mothers giving birth, brand new babies, and midwives at work. The link is here.

Good luck.

April 9th, 2008

A DISTURBING TURN-AROUND

1. This morning on my e-mail I read that Google, the world’s largest internet search engine, is being sued by a Christian lobbying and education organization, the Christian Institute, a UK registered charity. The Institute had wanted to advertise on Google’s AdWords with an ad reading: “UK abortion law: news and views on abortion from the Christian Institute. http://www.christian.org.uk.” The company told the Institute, “Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain ‘abortion and religion-related content.’”
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April 7th, 2008

THE ABORTION / BREAST CANCER LINK

It seems to be a little known fact that one of the best ways to reduce a woman’s risk of having breast cancer in her later years is to have a baby while she is young. There are many factors that are reputedly related to the development of breast cancer, including family history, obesity, hormone therapy, birth control pills, alcohol consumption, radiation, and amount of exercise, but among these nulliparity is a very important one.

Nulliparity? You haven’t heard of it? Surely you don’t have that! In layman’s terms, nulliparity simply means that you have never borne a child. Having a full-term baby at an early age turns out to be one of the best cancer preventives. Now at last we can understand something that has long been noted: that nuns have a higher breast cancer incidence than the rest of the female population.
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March 30th, 2008

THE PHEROMONE CONNECTION

Whatever has happened to libido? Lately it seems to be much sought after. Pill manufacturers and porn producers rake in billions of dollars catering to those looking for a “turn on” or “enhancement.” Time was – and not that long ago – that men were able to get it on, women were able to conceive, and babies were produced one after another. It may just be that no one talked about arousal difficulties back then. But maybe things actually worked better than they do now.

In women, some libido loss has been attributed to hormonal imbalance. Low libido is reportedly a major side-effect of the high estrogen birth control pill. Pills containing both estrogen and progesterone have been shown to double the incidence of depressive symptoms. It’s hard to be perky when you’re depressed. Millions of women taking these pills not only suffer themselves but urinate measurable quantities of these hormones into the public water supply. But, according to George Harden, a board member of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, “If you’re killing mosquitoes to save people from the West Nile virus, you can count on environmentalists to lay down in front of the vapor truck, claiming some potential side-effect that might result from the spray. But if birth control deforms fish – backed by the proof of an EPA study – and threatens the drinking supply, mum will be the word.”
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