he US Forest service has Smoky the Bear (“only you can prevent forest fires”). McGruff is the crime dog (“take a bite out of crime”). Scam911 has Vera and Vern: “Be smart, be wise, always verifies”. Actually, the complete motto is a bit longer:
“We’re birdbrains when it comes to grammer,
But we know how to deal with scammers–
Be smart
Be wise–

Vera (right) and Vern (left) are 2 closely related but different species of vireos. Vern is an endangered Least Bell’s Vireo, while Vera is a white-eyed vireo, who, in California, was very far away from her normal territory range. That posed a problem for her in terms of mating with her own species, but Vern, rather literally, embraced the opportunity. They raised at least 4 chicks to maturity that we know of.

Vern & Vera, Scam911 Mascots
This photo is courtesy of Lisa D Allen, Ecologist, USGS Western Ecological Research Center. Thank you for your public service, Ms. Allen.

And here’s a sample of the 2 lovebirds (I mean vireos) singing to 1 another.

Vern’s song was recorded by Matt Wistrand,
and Vera’s was recorded by Robert C. Benson at

Both songs were shared under Creative Commons Licenses. Thanks, gentlemen. I performed a final mix, reducing traffic noise and copying the songs into 1 clip, as well as identifying the 2 songsters.

I hope all these individuals would be glad to know their hard work has been employed in the service of celebrating diversity, fighting scams, and helping victims. Thank you all again and wishing you much success in all your endeavors.