Monday, October 19, 2009

No wonder we birds are so much nicer than people!

Check THIS out!

Plastic?! Yuck.

This is distressing. Plastic always eventually ends up somewhere--and too often works its way into the ocean. See more distressing photos of deal albatross chicks filled with crap (for some reason their parents sometimes screw up and feed them really bad things!) here.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Barred Owl
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
Oh, noooooooooooooooooooo!

Who the heck is in charge??

It's October 16. Not November 16 or December 16. Why is there snow on the ground in Ithaca???!!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Since we can't buy antibacterial soap...

Tufted Titmouse
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
A lot of birds add bits of green vegetation to our nests. I love how scientists work so hard to tease out why we do the things we do. All they'd have to do is ask--oh, but they can't speak our language! It's like the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, only where they thought those extraterrestrials must be smart because they could make musical tones, they don't seem to realize the same thing is true about us other species right here on earth.
But check out the news story:

Say WHAT???!!!

Great Gray Owl
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
Okay, so I'm reading my morning email and news feeds (no, I don't plug my laptop into a current bush--but how I get my computer fired up is for me to know and you to find out) when I come across this little tidbit in today's Slate, about the "science" of physiognomy and how humans look at facial features of others to tell how aggressive they are likely to be:
The idea is not far from what William Sheldon proposed in the 1940s. Certain excitable meat-headed mesomorphs, he wrote, were prone to "muscular unreasonableness" and could be "as destructively dangerous in a human setting as a great gray owl in a colony of Snowshoe rabbits." (These, of course, were the Great Gray Owls.) Sheldon suggested not only that mesomorphic men were prone to aggression but that they were more likely to be criminals. So, was he right?

I have no clue whether he was right about humans, but he sure had us Great Gray Owls pegged wrong. Snowshoe hares are HUGE suckers! I and all of my friends are drawn to meadow voles--nice bite-sized, tasty morsels way way WAY tastier than Dove bars or any kind of rabbits or hares. Our large facial disks allow us to hear voles buried in their grassy tunnels, even when those tunnels are themselves buried under a meadow of tall grasses or 18 inches of snow. We're specialists, and we're focused, and no way do those silly physiognomy studies apply to us.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sad news

Bald Eagle detail
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
Ithaca the Golden Eagle has died. He was 37 years old. West Nile is an evil disease--it kills us without mercy, and people seem to think it's us birds that transmit it when it's those horrid mosquitoes.

Of course, when they do think through that element, they try to poison the mosquitoes without realizing that every single pesticide designed to kill adult mosquitoes is harmful. The only thing that somewhat reduces them without hurting much else is the Bt designed to kill mosquitoe larvae. Of course, the disease probably made it to America via either a horse or human who had been infected elsewhere before arriving in the U.S., or carelessness in allowing standing water and mosquito larvae to make it here from the Middle East via shipping.

The worst mosquitoes for transmitting the virus are the ones the breed in gutters and other backyard standing water. Diligent people really do make a difference.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009--Not a good year for Whooping Cranes

Whooping Crane
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
Operation Migration is getting ready for a new migration of a pretty large flock of young cranes. They've had more setbacks than usual the past two years, and the wild Whooping Crane flock that migrates from Texas to northern Canada every year is having real problems Please support them in any way you can. Check out Operation Migration's Field Journal today, with lots of important information from Tom Stehn about the wild Whoopers.