Wednesday, September 27, 2006

National Aviary

My trip to the National Aviary was a success. And not just because I got some flashy great blue heron earrings at the gift shop (thank you, Eric). The keepers do little informational presentations when its feeding time, and they encourage the patrons to help feed the birds. I held up a fish and an Inca Tern flew by and snatched it out of my hand. It was pretty sweet. Eric held up a grape that was picked out by a fairy bluebird. The little kids on the tour really loved it. For a zoo experience, it was really pretty sweet to have birds eat things out of your hands.

Feeding the Inca Terns

Thursday, September 21, 2006

City of Champions

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Sophy Naess's father, a fellow birdwatcher. He told me he's seen screech owls in Central Park, and I told him about the herons in Newtown Creek.

Tonight I leave for Pittsburgh with Eric, Josh, and Laura for Rosh Hashana. I've never been to Pittsburgh, and I'm most excited about being promised a trip to the National Aviary. Looks like Xanadu.

National Aviary

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I can't believe people actually paint this stuff

So I was really excited when I heard that Brody Railton had found some really nice pictures while google image searching "pipe". I tried image searching "pile", and came up with a sweet fantasty drawing of Chevy Chase with rippling muscles. Pretty messed up.
Anyway, I started searching for more fantasy drawings, and I found this super sweet gem:

Now that's a fantasy....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Bird Species

An amateur birdwatcher in India discovered a new species - New Bird Discovered In India. Nice work!

Bugun liocichla

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Not-so Secret Cattle

New info on kouprey, the extremely rare wild cattle in Cambodia. According to a new study of DNA, kouprey might not be a real species at all. Instead, it's a feral population of a cross-breed of two domesticated Asian cattle species, the bateng and the zebu. At least some of the DNA of the kouprey and the bateng match through the maternal side of DNA. But if what this means isn't' exactly clear, and it's still being debated.

I am definitely pretty excited about this.

NY Times: A Celebrity Among Ungulates May Soon Be Dismissed as a Poseur

Friday, September 08, 2006

Condors Eat Lead

There's an article in National Geographic online about how California condors have been getting lead poinsoning. The condors eat dead animals that were shot with lead bullets, and ingest some of the lead.

When I was 3 years old, I went to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, where they have tons of stuffed animals. When I saw the California condor, which was nearly the same size as a tiny Katie, I burst into tears and made my father carry me on his shoulders for the rest of the day. For a few years, I still had trouble looking at it, and would be very scared when visiting the museum that I would accidentally turn a corner and be face to face with this horrible beast.

So imagine my relief when I learned a few years later that the condor was near extinction. I was pretty perplexed that people actually wanted to save this miserable beast, and I hope they would die out.

I suppose now that I am a little older, wiser, and considerably taller than a condor, I can reluctantly say that the species should be preserved.

I've been thinking about condors a lot recently after finishing Mark A. Hall's Thunderbirds. He dismisses the notion that condor could be responsible for some of the thunderbird sightings, but I'm not totally convinced. It seems like it could be just as possible that a condor could be sighted outside of its normal range as it could that there's an entirely new species.

Missing Night Herons

Eric Emm and I went to the Grand St bridge last night to look for the black-crowned night herons that have been nesting there all summer. We found none. Perhaps they were just out fishin' for a few minutes, or perhaps they have migrated on for the winter.

I miss them terribly.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Monk Parrot Researcher

There was an article in the New York Times on Tuesday about a parrot researcher who is interviewed about monk parrots and conservation. There's a bit on the monk parakeets in Greenwood cemetery. Mostly it's about why people like parrots as pets.

The video clips offered are kind of funny if you're into, you know, older women who look like a beat up Blythe Danner.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wacky Warblers

Micky Hervitz and I went to the Prospect Park Zoo this weekend. The zoo isn't great; the best animals are the kangaroos and sea lions. It's has a large collection of indoor cage animals - tropical frogs and lizards. I always thought those were the boring stuff, but Micky loved those most of all. This was almost as surprising as discovering that Paul Manley's favorite section at the Natural History museum is the gems and minerals. It's like finding out someone you know likes the yellow Starburst best.

In the public restrooms, we saw two blue and yellow birds flying back and forth through the vaulted ceiling of the pavilion. They would stop and rest for a few seconds at the lamp that hung down, then fly around the ceiling. I couldn't figure if this was a mating ritual or if the birds just couldn't figure out how to get out of the pavilion. The bizarre behavior caught the eyes of more than a few other restroom patrons.

I made a quick call to Amy Hunt, who I described the blue and yellow markings of the birds, so she could look through the New York state birds guide book and identify them. We were pretty sure it was a type of warbler, and after consulting a second book, I am pretty sure that they were Canada warblers. More like Totally Mental warblers.

Canada Warbler

Friday, September 01, 2006

secret cattle

According to a Thai newspaper, there was a possible sighting of a highly endangered animal called a Kouprey in a Cambodian forest. I never even heard of this animal, but it's a huge wild cattle species, and hasn't been seen since 1957. Apparently, since there are so many landmines in Cambodia, no one can go look around the jungle for them.

The fact that such a large animal species can go unseen for so long gives some hope that maybe other animals that haven't been seen in over 50 years might still be around - thyaccines, ivory-billed woodpeckers...

I am totally scared of the Cambodian jungle.

Mourning doves

Yesterday was the third time in as many weeks I've seen a mourning dove in Manhattan. Twice I saw one walking on the scaffolding outide my window in midtown, and once in on a sidewalk in the east village. I can't think of the last time before that I've seen a mourning dove around here. I wonder if the NYC population is growing, or if these were just isolated sightings. Perhaps this is the time of year the mourning dove migrates through, though I assumed that mourning doves do not migrate, like pigeons.

I will certainly have to investigate this.