Tag Archives: Master Gardener Program

Pooky Visited Missouri Botanical Garden Yesterday

Pooky at Missouri Botanical Garden

Pooky is one of my two pet European Starlings. I adopted him in 2011 at three months of age. When I heard that the Master Gardener Winter Book Club was meeting at Missouri Botanical Garden to discuss the book Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt I offered to bring my starlings so that the attendees could meet a real-life pet starling and see how they interact with people. I ended up only bringing Pooky because Attila and Pooky started fighting when they were put in the travel cage. Pooky is slightly prettier (sorry Attila!) and sings more so he is the one I chose to bring.

It went better than I expected! Once he had some time to settle in, Pooky was not intimidated by being around a large group of people he didn’t know. He sang and talked for the group with gusto, giving a good demonstration of how tame starlings sound when they imitate human speech, whistle tunes and make starling-only sounds. I haven’t read this particular book but I have read a lot of articles on Mozart and his starling and I am familiar with the rudiments of that historic bird’s story.

Besides the book itself, we discussed specifics of starling biology and behavior and talked about the implications of invasive species. Other topics included bird behavior in general, bird conservation, avian language abilities and intelligence, experiences with unusual pets and other related topics.

After the discussion I gave Pooky some “out” time so that those who wanted a closer encounter could let Pooky land and sit on them for a bit. Both of my birds will readily land on people they don’t know and Pooky did not disappoint on this occasion. My starlings love attention and judging from the avian and human interaction I think members of both species enjoyed the encounter.

Some resources if you want to learn more about starlings:

My photo album of Attila and Pooky

Some videos I took of Attila and Pooky

Previous articles I have written about European Starlings

Starling Talk – the best resource to learn about starling care, and lots more about starlings.

Help! I’m Being Predated by a Starling! – great video that shows what the starlings’ prying behavior looks like.

Amazing starling videos by researcher Richard Smedley. Includes next box footage, starling fights, wild starlings imitating alarms and much more.

It’s Ok to Hate Starlings – I disagree with this opinion, and I said so in the comments, and the abuse that resulted I think is very educational. Do you think there is a connection between human and animal abuse? Read the comment section and see what you think. I got very involved in this discussion because I was testing a hypothesis about abuse.

New Electronic Display Installed At Schnarr’s Hardware Webster Groves Store


Pictured at the right is Mark Rice of Displays That Pay installing the SHOWCloud interactive marketing display at the Schnarr’s Hardware Webster Groves location. I’ve been working with Mark since 2005. I work for both Schnarr’s Hardware and Displays That Pay which gives me an exciting opportunity to experiment with Display’s That Pay’s SHOWCloud marketing communications application to best serve Schnarr’s customers.

If you want to stop by Schnarr’s Webster at 40 East Lockwood to see the new display, it’s located on top of the drinks cooler across from the registers. It’s also been playing for some time toward the bottom of the front page of the Schnarr’s web site – my presentation can be embedded within a web page. That’s one of the things I really love about using SHOWCloud – versatility. A wide variety of devices that have the capability of running a web browser or that have an HDMI port can run my SHOWCloud presentations. Such devices include laptop computers, desktop computers, iPads, smartphones, e-book readers, and flatscreen TV’s. Sometimes when the computer in the paint department at the Schnarr’s Ladue store is not in use I’ll go over to the paint counter and open a window to this url so that paint department customers can see it:
http://www.daasx.com/chasenfratz/ladiesnightpreview

SHOWCloud on a desktop computer monitor
SHOWCloud on a desktop computer monitor

As you might guess from the URL (web address), I started out using this presentation to promote one of Schnarr’s past Ladies’ Night events. Over time the content has changed and will be ever evolving and updating. If needed I can make multiple presentations tailored to different locations or different devices within one store. For example, if a store has different departments there could be different content at each station. The application can show more than just slides – I can add in web pages, video, live content and fun interactive applications.

Any place with access to wireless Internet can display SHOWCloud. Here is a picture of me last fall at Missouri Botanical Garden using an iPad to show a presentation promoting the Master Gardener program and the topics prospective participants would study. If you want to see the slides close up, here is the url:
http://www.myshowcloud.com/chasenfratz/stlmg

SHOWCloud displayed on an iPad
SHOWCloud displayed on an iPad

Below is a picture of me and my Displays That Pay colleague Jason at the Startup Connection 2016 event held in November at Washington University. There are a variety of examples in our booth showing how SHOWCloud can be used on different devices, including a multi-screen variation that gives additional flexibility, functionality and impact.

Displays That Pay at Startup Connection
Displays That Pay at Startup Connection

I can also update these presentations from anywhere that has an internet connection – from home or on the go. That’s very convenient and is a quick way to get timely information to our customers. I’m excited about the possibilities! Stop in to Schnarr’s Webster to see how we’re using this great new tool!