Thursday, September 24, 2009

MIgration begins in earnest

Sometimes they come in bunches, often they are singles. Some are neatly packaged in a tight, folded tuck piercing the air like a missile while others are
in full sail displaying to the world beneath their every feature. Some fan the air with their wings rather lazily, others frantically. Pete Dunne calls these
migrating birds “wind masters.” Most folks refer to them simply as hawks.
Let?s be clear on definitions. The term “hawk” can be loosely tossed about and mean different things to different people. For today?s discussion, I am
referring to the diurnal raptors – hawks, eagles, falcons, kites and vultures.
Hawk watching is a specific subset of the birding hobby and one which gathers considerable steam during this time of year. It?s the fall migration after all.
Most of the American raptor species nest to the north of us making passage through our area inevitable twice a year. The trick in seeing them is catching
the right day.

Read the rest here.


So you've brought your young kids to an event set up specifically to entertain the children. The kids are there, whispering to each other in a semicircle around the clown, who is making balloon animals. He entertains them by twisting and twirling the balloons and handing out the animals to the children.

One special girl is called up on stage. She stands next to the clown twining her hands nervously in front of her. Maybe it's your kid, or your niece, and just as the clown is leaning over to get the next balloon that the girl is holding in her hand, a grown man, dressed in a chicken costume assaults the clown, smashing food into his face.

The children scream. They don't know if this is supposed to be funny, or if the innocent clown is being attacked. The self righteous chicken sniggers to himself as he bolts from the stage, cowardice speeding his steps.

Way to go PETA. I love the way you promote respect for all living things. I am sure that you have left a positive image with the children at that party. Check out PETA's own words at their peta-file web site.

PETA tells SFist:

The protest is part of PETA's campaign to convince McDonald's to switch to an improved slaughter method that would eliminate the worst abuses of chickens,...

Hat tip to the Rasch Chronicles for this one.

Wow. If the whole thing wasn't so terribly sad, it would be funny.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cool Post

I loved this post from Camera trap Codger.

When we walked up the draw a large bird flushed from one of the junipers.

The flushed bird was a loner, but according to Craig these junipers were the winter roosting area.

We caught a better glimpse of the owl a few minutes later.

Finding the remains of the meals of owls is always a treat. read it here. Good stuff

Banging a different drum

My posts have been off topic a lot lately. I haven't been talking about my birds and other animals, I've been posting more about the outdoors and the conservation debate in general. It is easy to pick and choose your battles when it comes to the environment. You can rail against animal testing, hunting, habitat loss, driving Hummers. Take your pick really, but what it all boils down to is sex.

Yeah, I said it. What is really working against the environment is that people keep reproducing. The real fight that needs to be fought if we are to change the planet is population growth and how to control it.

But telling people to stop having kids is, of course, taboo. No politician would ever suggest that maybe a few future voters could be sacrificed. Everyone has the basic right to procreate, isn't that true?

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry should have the right to reproduce as prolifically as he wants. But in reality, this is the real enemy. The only real way to save the planet is to stop it. Sterilize.

Sounds terrible doesn''t it. How can we put the brakes on a basic human need(?)?

According to 60 Second Science, we need to start a serious discussion about population growth and birth control.
Population growth, now at roughly 78 million extra people per year, is the don't-go-there zone of modern environmentalism and political discourse.

But let's go there for the moment: The biodiversity crisis. The water crisis. The climate crisis. Lurking behind all these crises is at least one shared factor: human population. Species extinction? Think land clearing for agriculture to feed a growing population of 6.8 billion people. Water? The majority of water goes directly to growing that same food supply. And giving a helping hand to all these other crises as a result of all the fossil fuel burning needed to power our lives and lift billions out of poverty: anthropogenic climate change.

So is birth control policy and access the answer to the environmental challenges of our time? So argues an editorial in The Lancet, as well as recent research from the London School of Economics, and statisticians at Oregon State University, just to name a few recent examples.

Remember, all these people need to be fed, clothed, housed, and more and more, pampered. Can we sustain a planet if we continue to reproduce at the current rate. There is no way.

But how much difference does one extra child make? You can't look at it that way. It not just one child. How much does every families "one more" child cost?

According to Live Science:

A child's impact

Under current conditions in the United States, for instance, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent – about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is responsible.

The impact doesn't only come through increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — larger populations also generate more waste and tax water supplies.

Other offbeat environmental impacts have been in the news recently:
  • One 2007 study found that divorce squanders resources, because people who once shared resources such as energy now use twice as much under two roofs.
  • The current obesity epidemic may also be hurting the climate, because food production is a major contributor to global warming.

The impact of having children differs between countries. While some developing nations have much higher populations and rates of population growth than the United States, their overall impact on the global carbon equation is often reduced by shorter life spans and less consumption. The long-term impact of a child born to a family in China is less than one-fifth the impact of a child born in the United States, the study found.

Terrierman has talked about population control on his blog quite a bit. Population studies is how he earned his living for a long time. So what does he say, a guy who writes about terriers?

Next time some vegan spouts nonsense to you about how the world is going to hell in a hand cart because there are too many people eating cows and chickens, do what I do: Suggest they get themselves sterilized and that they support immigration reform.

If that sounds harsh, be advised that voluntary sterilization is the most common form of birth control in the world. And yes, I advocate men get the procedure as it's a simple in-and-out operation for us.

So, instead of railing against industrialization. Instead of blowing up subdivisions because they plowed the trees. Instead of trying to stop well meaning people from raising their own food.

Control your own behavior, get yourself fixed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Giving conservation a bad name

My grandmother gave PETA lots of money. She would get the fliers in the mail and see the propaganda. She wanted to help save the little creatures. She had a tender heart, and Alzheimers. She was the classic target for PETA and their ilk: target the young, the old, the infirm.

When the family found out, they put a stop to it. There was no convincing my grandmother that many of the loudest mouthpieces for animals did the animals the least good. As a matter of fact, they were actually harmful to the animals and the environments that they purported to protect.

A few simple searches and you come up with violence, mayhem. Crazies getting in and attempting to destroy normal peoples lives:

The judge cited the difficulty of setting a sentence for a “promising young man of 27 years” who plotted bombings as a radical eco-saboteur 2001


Five luxury homes in a subdivision marketed as “built green” were destroyed or severely damaged by fire. The initials of a group linked to acts of ecoterrorism were found at the scene.


A celebrity ex-convict in the underground world of environmental and animal rights faces charges for describing an incendiary device after a speech in 2003.

it keeps going....

May 19 A federal grand jury has indicted four people on arson charges for the devastating fires at the Vail Mountain resort in 1998 that shocked the tourism industry and drew attention to the shadowy terrain of environmental extremism.

These are all examples of terrorism brought on the American people by extreme environmentalists. People like these, organizations like these, make it easier for the mainstream population to categorize conservationism, environmentalism tree-huggers as crazy. Granted, these are headlines mostly describing the group ELF. But there are others that do the same thing.

A few years ago a friend of mine in California was affected by one of these fringe groups. The Animal Liberation Front, in an effort to stop animal testing for the treatment of terminal diseases, decided to firebomb the lab where this guy worked(I gotta wonder about the thought processes going into the decision making here). So they snuck in under the cover of night and firbombed the lab, slowly roasting the hundreds of animals inside. What did they achieve besides the slow torturous death of hundreds of perfectly healthy animals? The labs themselves were in a seperate building.

Now, regular animal rights organizations like PETA would have nothing to do with these types of activies, this, this .... Eco terrorism..... They just want to get naked and save the furry little animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals provides aid and comfort for the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The two groups are responsible for more than 600 crimes since 1996, causing (by a very conservative FBI estimate) more than $43 million in damage. ALF’s “press office” brags that in 2002, the two groups committed “100 illegal direct actions” -- like blowing up SUVs, destroying the brakes on seafood delivery trucks, and planting firebombs in restaurants.

The FBI calls ALF and ELF the nation’s “most serious domestic terrorism threat.” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s “vegan campaign director” and third-in-command, didn’t seem to care when he addressed the Animal Rights 2001 convention in Virginia, telling a crowd of over 1,000 activists that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation.”

“It would be great,” he added, “if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow.”

In case you skimmed that - PETA's third in command said:

“blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation.”

Why can't we trust extreme enviromentalism? Because they are crazy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes it is hard to see the forest....

Those damn trees get in the way. One of the problems with the conservation debate that you see so often is that people focus on one animal; this deer, that goose, instead of looking at species as a whole.

Most animal species in America are doing better now than they have in the last one hundred years. Deer management has improved and in most places deer herds are busting at the seams. Turkeys have come back and extended seasons are taking place in many areas. Elk herds are showing up in the mountains of North Carolina. Right here in Eastern North Carolina the Red Wolves are staging a comeback of their own.

Wolves have been delisted in many states, and peregrine falcons have recovered. Bald eagles can be seen everywhere along the east coast (I saw one Sunday). The United states has more wild lions than all of Africa. (Thanks Terrierman) Yes they are a completely different cat, but either way it is impressive.

All of these successes can be placed directly at the feet of good, scientific, wildlife management.

But folks don't want to hear it. They spend too much time anthropomorphizing the animals, pretending that they live in a Disney film. They don't want to accept that even wildlife needs checks and balances, and in the United States, one of the most successful balances we have is the American hunter.

I've said it before, I've never owned a gun used for hunting. I've never shot an animal with a bow or any other projectile, but I realize the importance of the hunter in the web of life that has become the American landscape.

What most animal rights people need to learn, is that decisions cannot be made based on pictures of fuzzy little cubs, or chicks. Good decisions cannot be made by pretending that animals are people in fur suits that need lawyers to speak for them. Good decisions cannot be made by looking into the eyes of the squirrel you fed in your back yard and knowing he was destined for bigger and better things. Decisions need to be made based on what will most benefit a species as a whole.

Grey wolves in many states have made a tremendous comeback and the responsibility for their management has been given over to the states in which the wolves reside. A hunting season has been opened up on them to help control their numbers. The decision was based on sound scientific evidence so that the wolf numbers can be maintained and stay healthy.

People are screaming that this decision cannot happen. The evil hunters might shoot the cute little fuzzy creatures.

Besides hunters, there are no checks or balances on the wolf population except car impacts, starvation, and disease.

The Nature Conservancy has a great article on the issue.

Many environmentalists are mad as hell that wolf management has been turned over to the states in Idaho (and soon Montana), leading to hunting seasons for these large, majestic predators.

As such, there is a very concerted effort to stop the wolf hunt – even after a federal judge ruled the hunt could tentatively continue.

This effort is certainly a great way to mobilize people into action.

But opposing the wolf hunt is not, ultimately, good for wolf conservation.

Stopping the wolf hunt essentially concerns saving individual wolves.

Conservation, by necessity, must concern a much broader view:

  • How can we keep wolves a part of large, intact landscapes?
  • How can we preserve the large forests necessary for wolves in the face of subdivision, climate change and energy development?

Such issues, unfortunately, don’t lend themselves to simple slogans or simple solutions.

Opposing the wolf hunt seems, on the other hand, to be a simple case of “crying wolf”: creating a conservation crisis where none really exists.

Gray wolves were reintroduced to parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho in 1995. By all accounts, they have thrived, much better than anyone expected. And so, as promised at the time of reintroduction, the states now have control over wolf management.

That means more wolf control and wolf hunting seasons: unacceptable to many environmentalists.

But sound science has never been an issue for many of the fringe environmentalists. I hate to generalize, but you can see the craziness of them in oh, so many of their rantings and ravings. Think about Peta, and ALF, and Elf, and now members of IDA spewing nonsense. I thank the Outdoor Chronicles for talking some sense.

So what to do? I don't always agree with decisions the government makes, and science (unbiased science) does change from time to time, but I think the best bet is to trust the science that manages our wildlife and the hunters that are initmately involved in true conservation. They are doing a pretty fair job.

And get involved with wildlife in a responsible and sustainable way, whether it be through hunting, or camping, fishing, or hiking.

Shoot, take up falconry if you want.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


First off - I love Cabelas! I love the idea of it. I love getting the catalogs throughout the year, but the big fall catalog is my favorite. They send me the hardcover master copy - they might send that one to every one, but it makes me feel special.

Anyway, I bought the Trekker T-200 blind from them last year for merlin trapping. I'm planning on using it again this year for peregrins. I don't need anything fancy,just something to keep out of sight from the migrating raptors. I couldn't justify spending the big bucks on a blind. This one was in the $70 range.

I used it twice. On the second time the support pole snapped. It is one of those extension poles that you find on modern day tents that break apart and fold up. The blind wasn't much good after that.

The trapping season was pretty much over soon after and forgot about it. This season, I got the blind out to check the equipment. I was reminded of the pole problem.

I called up Cabelas to see what they would do to help me out. The lady on the phone was nice enough, but she informed me that there was nothing she could do.

They don't make replacements. So sorry, those pieces are made in India.

Well crap.

Yes, there are places that I can order them, but I'm going to try and cut down and retrofit some old tent poles instead. We'll see how it goes.

Other Hawks

There are tons of different types of hawks out there, most of which we don't use for falconry. The reasons for this are many, but mostly we don't use them because their natural habits and prey base are not suitable for falconers. Sometimes, their physical attributes are wrong (small feet), and sometimes they aren't too bright.

That doesn't mean that these birds are not appreciated in their own right. I love to see red shouldered hawks hunting in the trees, and Broad winged hawks are a favorite for those who watch migrating raptors.

They are numerous and easy to see. And now they are moving south.

Broad-winged hawks are reasonably easy to distinguish from other hawks.

The birds are roughly crow-sized and stocky, with females about 10 percent larger and heavier than male birds. The back is uniformly mud-brown. Underparts are off-white with brown chevrons on the chest and belly. The legs and bill are yellow. The brown chevrons on the chest are replaced by brown teardrop markings on the belly of immature birds, who also sport black “moustache marks” on the face.

Broad-winged hawks are easiest to identify when aloft: from below, note whitish wings broadly outlined in black.

The primary feathers are often drawn and tapered to a point, giving the mistaken first impression that this is a large falcon of some sort or other. And look at the tail. There should be a conspicuous broad white band – perhaps the best field mark for the species.

In fall, these quiet, unobtrusive little hawks, who summer in forests and woodlands hunting for small rodents, reptiles, and large insects, become far more social. They gather in numbers ranging from handfuls to hundreds. These bands of migrating hawks then follow ridgelines and other features that would generate thermal lift to aid them as they move on toward South America and swirl and “kettle” to great heights on the rising air currents.

Read the rest of this article here and thanks to Falconry Today.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Getting the birds out

I always have tons of projects going on and with trapping season here, and hunting season right around the corner, I'm all of a sudden rushing to get things done.

I got out the new scale and attached an old perch to it.

I've built a new hawk box. It is bigger than some of my old ones, and only houses one bird. I already have a double, and my triple needs work as well.

My son helped with the painting some. He is always great when it comes to helping around the house.

I took the birds out and checked on Gonzo's leg. It seems to have healed very well. Actually, Without looking too close, you can't even see a scar.

Then I brought up Tess and took and perched her next to where we were working. Her weight is still way high 1130 grams, so I will need to do some cutting. But she was surprisingly responsive. You have to love harris' hawks, they are the most biddable of birds. Even after not being handled all summer long (March to now, 7 months) Tess came down to the fist overweight and acted as if she'd been there all along.


We don't have these hawks here on the east coast. I don't know that I would be able to identify them if we did. But they are cool nonetheless.

Thanks Querencia for the pics

Save the Wine

Around here, we take the whole family out and pick the wild grapes which grow prolifically on our little island. Sometimes we head to the mainland and pick blueberries or strawberries. The kids help us make jam or syrup, then we put the rest in a big bucket and get the kids stomping the fruit for wine.

Apparently, starlings are a big problem for grape growers and they need to figure out ways to reduce their losses. I've heard of owl boxes being built and surrounding a farm to protect them from destructive rodents. Many vineyards are finding that nothing is quite so effective as a good falcon in the air if you want to protect you vines from the birds.

It’s harvest time for California’s winemakers, and no one knows that better than starlings. The grape-loving birds can eat their way through a vineyard pretty quickly. Over the years, wine growers have tried a number of methods to scare the birds away, and some are now turning to an ancient art: falconry.

On one early morning in the Camatta Hills Vineyard, falconer Tom Savory and his crew are on the job.

“The birds, the dog and myself — we are a team,” he says. Their small camper truck rolls slowly over the dusty dirt road. Sadie, his dog, sits up front. And behind them, sitting calmly on their own perches, are five falcons.

It’s the falcons’ job to scare off the starlings in this vineyard, where Savory stops his truck.

This would be the perfect job. But then I have to wonder - if it is your job, do you one day wake up and resent having to go out and fly your falcons. Do you not want to go to work?

Check out the article - there is video to go with it from NPR. Thanks Falconry Today.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


There is a bunch of hoopla over at the Outdoor Blogger's Network. Apparently some guy named Dell has gone in and made some verbal attacks against the bloggers.

I don't know much about the guy, but I assuming he is young and fully indoctrinated into some fringe animal rights group. He wants the hunting bloggers to justify canned hunts or varmint huning, or something. Most of what he says makes little sense, really. He talks in circles and quotes half truths about hunting.

It is hard to argue with someone who has so few facts that he can actually back up. To help him argue his point he has printed of a statement from the IDA website. It states all the reasons about why hunting is bad, but it only contains half baked truth and opinion. I see very little in the way of verifiable facts. But apparently it is the gospel to this guy.

The IDA seems to want to elevate animals to the same status as humans in the world view, with all the same rights and privileges. It also seems that their main goal is to create a world of vegans. It is all so very anthropomorphic.

Below you will find a version of an energy pyramid.

Notice, herbivores are always at the bottom.

While I would never expect Dell to really poke around and try and understand the other side of the argument. I encourage you, dear reader, to poke around their website, see what you can find. Some of their goals are noble, though I think Dell does them a disservice by acting as their potty mouthed representative.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On the Move

I just got an email that the merlins are on the move.

In most states, trapping season has begun. Some people already have their birds for the year.

I like to wait a bit, not only because migrating raptors haven't found their way here just yet, but also, if I train them right, they will be ready to hunt before hunting season opens.

Unless I am trapping small raptors. If that is the case, my intended quarry is often starlings and sparrows, and their is no closed season on those birds.

So, as we gear up for trapping merlins and peregrines, we watch the skies and we watch the coming weather.

Generally, I watch the NOAA website and watch for the cold fronts swooping down from the north, pushing the birds in front of it.

Another good place to keep an eye on is the hawk watch websites.One of the most famous, of course, is the one in Pennsylvania,but there are others all across the nation. We wait and watch to see where the birds are coming from, and more importantly, when.

So, I get an email today, and apparently, the birds are moving down from Minnesota, or at least starting too.

It is time to start gearing up for trapping.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The American Apprentice system

One of the great things about falconry in America is its apprentice system. Historically, brand new falconers have to find an experienced falconer to sponsor and train them in the sport of falconry for two years. This is a great way to introduce new blood into the sport, while ensuring (or at least trying too) that the hawks in the care of the new falconer will be treated well and hunted often.

The best part in my opinion though is that the new apprentice must acquire their first bird by trapping either a first year red tail or a kestrel out of the wild.

This rule forced me, as an apprentice, to learn more about birds than I ever thought I could. I had to learn where they lived, how they hunted, their prey, and how to identify them from a distance.

These skills then aided me in learning about the quarry that I hunt. I wasn’t a hunter before I became a falconer. I went on to research squirrel and rabbit. What was their sign, what was mast? Where would I find a drey (squirrel house)?

It increased my powers of observation. I can tell what type of bird I see on the wing from a long way away, simply by the way it flaps its wings. I can tell a hawk on a branch by its silhouette.

I know where to look.

The need to trap my first raptor has made me more aware of my surroundings, and of three dimensional space, and raptor behavior. If you are a sponsor – help you apprentice learn the natural habits of birds – it will serve them well into the future.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Falconers in the news

This is a good article with a nice basic overview of Falconry in America. It discusses caloric intake, the apprentice system, as well as the use of wild raptors for falconry.

“It’s not just a sport, it’s a way of life,” says Spence Wise, a Merritt Island resident and avid falconer. “It isn’t like other sports that you can put aside for awhile, it’s a full-time commitment.”

Sportsmen interested in becoming falconers must first obtain a permit from their state and federal wildlife agencies, a process that can take up to a year or more just for apprentice status. Also, a written exam acknowledging the hunter’s understanding of raptor care and handling, safety, equipment and laws pertaining to falconry must be passed.

Falconers must be able to house a raptor in a large enclosure, known as a mews, which must be inspected by a game warden. Once the housing is approved, the warden may return at any time to ensure the bird is being properly cared for.

As an apprentice hunter, one must practice the art of falconry under the guidance of a sponsor, a previously permitted and licensed general or master falconer who has been hunting for two to five years. Apprentices may practice falconry on their own after two years. They must trap their own juvenile, wild raptors.

Hat tip to Falconry Today for this one. Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I don't know scat

I went for a short walk the other day. It was a short one, no longer than 15 minutes. With cooler weather moving in, I'm finding that the wander-lust is upon me.

It happens every Fall. I get a yearning to travel, to start something new. This is the time of year I like to walk, to go places. So, a short walk to satisfy this hunger.

It is a well used path, and I saw the normal things. Lots of tracks; deer, fox, raccoon, mountain bike.

There are lots of spiders out this time of year and these are some of my favorite.

Presently, I came across some scat, smack in the middle of the trail. It looked like large dog and being that this is a well traveled path, I didn't think much about it.

As I passed I noticed that it was completely full of hair. I mean, it was completely hair.
My flip flop is a size 10.

Anyone have any ideas? Or is it just domestic dog.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Don't forget to celebrate Vulture Awareness Day!

I've seen it mentioned here and there, but tomorrow is Vulture Awareness Day. Hat tip to Cool Green Science for this one:

Consider celebrating by stocking your feeders with carrion (which reminds me of several bad jokes, but I’ll put those at the end), cruising your local highways for road kill (aka, vulture food), or just getting out and observing these magnificent animals.

n the northern parts of North America, we have three species of vultures:
  • The most common and widespread is the Turkey Vulture, which can be found pretty much across the lower 48 U.S. states and southern Canada.
  • In the southeastern United States is the Black Vulture which, oddly enough, though very common just south of the U.S. border in Mexico, is very rarely found in border states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
  • The third species is the endangered California Condor, reintroduced populations of which now exist in California, Arizona, and northern Baja California, Mexico.

Vulture species diversity increases as one moves south into Mexico and Central and South America, where we find the Andean Condor, King Vulture, and the Lesser and Greater Yellow-headed Vultures.

Two interesting factoids about vultures before I let you go and enjoy them:

  • First, worldwide, vultures are an intriguing example of convergent evolution. The New World vultures (which I’ve listed above) share similar diets, behaviors, and even appearance to the Old World vultures (e.g., Lappet-faced Vulture), but the two groups are not related taxonomically.
  • Second, many vultures in North America, particularly Turkey Vultures from the western states and provinces, are highly migratory. In fact, Turkey Vultures are one of the most numerous migrating species of raptor at the famed Veracruz River of Raptors hawk migration site in Veracruz, Mexico.

And don't forget - they vomit on themselves to scare away predators - kind of like those old fraternity parties back at school.

The Devil visits once agian

The never ending feud continues. I walked out to the pigeon cage the other day and found feathers everywhere. In one corner of the cage, a single pigeon leg hung from the bars, attached to the cage with only sinew.

Blood and gore were strewn about. One of the pigeons was gone. No way for the raccoon to enter, he must have been able to catch a hold of a pigeons leg and pull him through the bars in pieces.

He was still there, the pigeon. He had been pulled to pieces, limb from limb. His body was long dead and cast into a corner near the cage. Killed for no reason, his body left uneaten.

There was no doubt what had committed the dastardly deed. So I moved my trap. The one that had been untouched for weeks.

Lo and behold, a particularly feisty racoons was banging back and forth inside the next morning.

I hate these things.