When birds attack

Morning Update: Thursday, June 2

In this newsletter

When birds attack
Image via Flickr user Becky Matsubara

Good morning, Madison!

As we move gently from soft spring months into the warm embrace of summer, we must acknowledge the dangerous mini-season we're currently in: red-winged blackbird nesting season.

Yes, it's once again that time of year to be extra vigilant of where your step during any outdoor strolls. Red-winged blackbirds are busy building and protecting their nests, which, as the Cap Times reports, are often found closer to the ground in parks or in tree branches in urban settings like Madison.

Though beautiful, red-winged blackbirds can be vicious, often flying into and attacking passersby who get too close.

Don't fight back though, the birds are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, meaning you could face fines or even jail time for hurting them.

So tread lightly, Madison, and maybe wear a hat (or helmet) next time you go to the park.

— Hayley

🗒️ The county wants to conduct a racial climate assessment across all of its departments.

  • Some context: Reporting from the Wisconsin State Journal uncovered allegations of racism and toxicity in the workplace at the county-owned Henry Vilas Zoo. A separate recent investigation from Wisconsin Watch highlighted allegations of bullying and toxicity at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office.
  • Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced this week he will seek to conduct an externally led racial climate assessment across the entire county government.
  • As Cap Times reports, this is a change of heart for Parisi, who initially pushed back against the idea of an independent investigation into the zoo. Parisi has proposed allocating $150,000 toward the effort.

⚖️ Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell announced his run for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

🦠 Covid-19 cases at MMSD are down for the first time since spring break.

🔎 MMSD is lacking in sunshine.

  • The district is facing two lawsuits surrounding its open records practices, Cap Times reports.
  • One case was filed by Madison Teachers Inc. (the union that represents MMSD teachers) about a delay to respond to a records request and the other comes from the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and centers around the district's refusal to supply requested records.
  • These lawsuits, however, point to a larger issue with the district's handling of records requests. “I'm frequently seeing lengthy delays, exorbitant fees, and downright illegal denials from the district,” president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project Tom Kamenick told the news outlet.

🥡 Vengan Pa' Ka is saying goodbye to its food truck and hello to new opportunities.

Chalk writing outside of Fiddlesticks reads "Trans rights are human rights." Image by Hayley Sperling
Chalk writing outside of Fiddlesticks reads "Trans rights are human rights." Image by Hayley Sperling 

🧶 Stitching together a community.

  • After "words of hate speech" were scrawled on the doorstep of Fiddlesticks Knits, the east side fiber arts shop hosted a counter protest by inviting community members to fill the sidewalk with LGBTQ+ affirming chalk messages.
  • "[W]e will not let hateful people make us feel that we don’t belong, Fiddlesticks is our place of community. We keep each other safe, we’re here, queer we're not going anywhere," the shop wrote on their Instagram.

🐶 Your lunchtime read: ‘I’d rather be flying dogs.’

  • From Madison Magazine: "Since retiring from a 40-year career as a military, professional and private pilot, Middleton’s David Tan has flown more than 360 rescue dogs to safety. He’s also helped rescue 23 skeptical cats, three frostbitten goats, one scruffy potbelly pig and even a bat destined for a nature preserve in Ohio. 'Naturally, we named him Bruce,' Tan says, poker-faced — a reference to Batman’s true identity, Bruce Wayne."
  • There are a lot of great dog photos in this story, highly recommend!

📅 Events: Thursday, June 2