Boing Boing 

Traffic noise annoys songbirds to the point of harming them

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New research suggests that traffic noise (apart from pollution and general hectic motion) degrades the natural habitat of songbirds, and perhaps other animals. Boise State University biologists created a "phantom road" using speakers to create traffic noise in a natural, roadless songbird habitat.

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Watch this birdie do a pretty much perfect R2D2 impersonation

“We taught Bluey the budgie how to do R2-D2 and now he drives us crazy! He has two other budgies in his cage, and I think he's driving them crazy too!”

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Poop on everyone as a beautiful seagull

"You are a seagull. A beautiful, fragile seagull. You poop uncontrollably. Your purpose is to poop on things." That's the entire introduction to the game Sploot, and it's all you need.

It's surprisingly satisfying to poop on everyone and everything, as I quickly learned. The game allows you experience the world of a charmingly incontinent bird from a first-person perspective, soaring through the skies of a island village, while emitting a endless trail of poop everywhere you go. You need only steer yourself above your chosen target, and the payload will drop itself.

Although all you really see of yourself is your own beak poking out in front of your face, the game provides a small but very satisfying picture-in-picture view as each payload it hits its target, so that you might hear the lamentations of your enemies and see them driven before you.

You gain points by dousing people (especially rich people), houses (especially rich houses) and cars (especially rich cars) with a fecal spray worthy of a garden hose. While it's not always easy to tag the fast-moving vehicles while moving at seagull speed, if you fly in low you can almost always make a very personal deposit with the townsfolk walking around the street.

It's not a complex game, or a complex joke, but it's a fun one—especially for the price of pay-what-you-will. Although originally created for the Oculus Rift by Elijah O'Rear of Renegade Interactive, if you're willing to have a less immersive bird-pooping experience, you can also play Sploot on Windows and Mac.

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Homing pigeon caught dropping off drugs at prison

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Guards at the La Reforma jail near San Jose, Costa Rica caught this homing pigeon as it flew into the prison carrying a bag of cocaine and marijuana.

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Soar on the wind as a flock of birds in Gathering Sky

You begin Gathering Sky as a bird. Move your cursor, and it follows. But as you guide it through the sky, slowly adding other birds to your aerial coterie, the nature of your relationship quickly changes: you have become a flock. You not any one bird, but all of them, moving together with the smooth prescience you often see as birds loop through the sky, making hairpin turns in an eerie unison.

Here, you're the guiding force behind those movements, as the flock glides over the beautiful painted landscapes of the world below. You can also guide them into wind currents, which feel a bit like sky expressways that zip you forward through the level. Although these channels of wind are visible, you can only see a short ways ahead as your flock barrels forward, so if you want to stay in the fast lane you need to anticipate and respond quickly to the twists and turns. It can feel a bit like you're swaying in the thrall of some larger momentum, just like the birds are swaying in yours.

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Created by the small studio A Stranger Gravity, Gathering Sky takes only about an hour to play and there are five levels, each with its own challenges—hawk attack! thunderstorm!—and aesthetics, like the level where your birds start to cut through the clouds instead of over them, making colorful designs as the ground below peeks through the trails you leave behind. The score, composed by Dren McDonald and recorded at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, adds measurably to the experience, brightening the more cheerful moments and intensifying the tension the thunderstorm level, where you fly in near-darkness illuminated by lightning cracks. .

Although the game is mostly a soothing experience, The only points of tension I experienced was the moments when my subpar navigation skills left some birds cut off from the flock, trapped behind obstacles as the rest moved forward. I felt guilty, and sometimes doubled back to retrieve them—I didn't want to leave any birds behind. Going backwards tends to lead to minor chaos, however, sending your flock spiraling in different directions and perhaps even entrapping more of them. The game is at its most elegant when you don't hesitate—when you simply move.

Gathering Sky is available now on iOS, Android, Steam, and the Humble Store.

Watch an eagle take down a drone

"Eagle was fine - she was massive, and used talons to 'punch' the drone out of the sky," writes the drone operator from Australia's Melbourne Aerial Video.

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Watch the solar-powered flight of this robotic raven

The University of Maryland Robotics Center's new Robo Raven III V4 soars on larger flapping wings that "have flexible solar cells giving the vehicle an extra 10 Watts of power. This allows this robotic bird to fly longer and recharge outdoors."

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Watch this parrot sing "Everything is Awesome" and other tunes

Amazon parrot singing sensation Princess Yellowfeather resides at the Birds on Safari store in Stuart, Florida.

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Audubon Society's 2015 bird photography winners

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The Audubon Society received 9,000 entires for their annual photography contest and chose nine winners, including Mary Angela Luzader's Fine Art Honorable Mention for her shot of fighting Purple Gallinules, above.

She took her shot at Venetian Gardens, a public park in Leesburg, Florida:

Venetian Gardens is a wonderful place to photograph Purple Gallinules in a natural, parklike habitat. Someone called my attention to this pair chasing and fighting each other. I have never witnessed this behavior, and I was so excited I almost forgot to snap a few shots! When the fight was over, the victor got the girl, and the loser was chased away, with a few less feathers . . . and perhaps a headache!

The Top 100 is well worth the time if you admire birds and or beautiful photography.

Announcing the 2015 Audubon Photography Awards (audubon.org)

2015 Top 100 photos (audubon.org)

Turkey testicle eat-off founder is pretty relaxed about nearby town copying his festival

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There are plenty of turkey testicles for everyone.

That's the message of peace given to the world by the owner of Parkside Pub, a Chicago area bar that's been holding its Turkey Testicle Festival for 32 years. It now faces competition from a similar bird-balls-eating festival in East Dundee. Same time, same date, same delicacy: turkey testicles.

From an article in the Daily Herald, a local paper covering the Chicago suburbs:

Citing a need for a family-oriented fall event, East Dundee leaders announced this week they'll be holding their first Turkey Testicle Festival, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

That's the same name and time frame for a 33-year tradition in not-so-distant Huntley.

J.R. Westberg, whose Parkside Pub has been hosting a Turkey Testicle Festival for 32 years, took the competition in stride. "Our only thought to this was that there was no originality placed on their event," he said, noting that Parkside's fest often brings in more than 4,000 attendees.

"We've perfected the execution over the years," Westberg said. "Thirty-three years of tradition is probably not going away for us."

But East Dundee downtown businessman Cliff Surges, who is organizing the fledgling event, said the village is not trying to upstage or compete with the Huntley event; there are plenty of turkey testicles to go around.

"Huntley has their market," he said. "We're looking at a different demographic coming in. There's more than enough to go around for everybody."

"Citing a need for a family-oriented fall event," they say.

"East Dundee jumping on the Turkey Testicle Festival bandwagon" [Daily Herald, Illinois]

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New NASA imagery reveals extent of tar on Santa Barbara beaches left by Refugio oil spill

AVIRIS-NG red-green-blue (visible) aerial image of the Refugio Incident oil spill, showing oil on the water and on nearby Santa Barbara Channel beaches. NASA/JPL-Caltech


AVIRIS-NG red-green-blue aerial image of Refugio Incident oil spill, showing oil on the water and nearby beaches. NASA/JPL-Caltech

When an oil pipeline ruptured near Santa Barbara, California, on May 19, it leaked 105,000 barrels of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach, and another 21,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean in the north Santa Barbara Channel. The Refugio Incident created an environmental nightmare for local beaches and wildlife, which continues still.

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This is the best funny video on the entire internethole

This. Looping. Forever.

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Bird wedged in car roof is freed and survives, thanks its savior by pooping

Ron Holan, the man who shot and uploaded this amazing video, says:

While driving over the mountains in Norway I saw a bird passing over my front window and assumed it got killed.

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WATCH: High-speed camera reveals path of each starling in a massive flock

Dennis Hlynsky filmed an enormous flock of starlings at 600 frames per second, revealing the path and "personal space" of individual birds. The result turns complex mathematical order into a beautiful abstract effect.

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Birdscapes: A Pop-Up Celebration of Bird Songs in Stereo Sound

I’m filled with wonder at the engineering and imagination needed to create the magical eye candy of pop-up books. Elaborate scenes come alive as I unfold each page. I’m always surprised the first time I open a pop-up book, but with Birdscapes more than my eyes were opened. There are bird songs and bird calls, tweets and warbles, sounds of nature from the Arctic Tundra to the Great Plains of North America – all in stereo from the back pages of this book!

Birdscapes presents seven intricate, delicate and very realistic pop-up bird habitats along with the sweet melodies of the birds that live there. Each soundscape is pared with text about ecosystems and bird species that’s easy to follow for the novice and specific enough for the expert. Spotted Owl, Western Meadowlark, Ruffed Grouse and even a Woodpecker are seen and heard. This is definitely one book filled with lots of oooh and aah moments.

Batteries are included in the book for long lasting listening pleasure. – Carole Rosner

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Missing parrot returns speaking Spanish

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When Nigel, an African grey parrot who was missing for four years, was reunited with his caretaker, the bird was chattering in Spanish, not the British accent he had when he disappeared. (The Daily Breeze)

Documentary about people and vultures

Help fund Requiem For A Bird, an artistic documentary about Mumbai's Parsi people who ritualistically gift their dead to vultures whose population there has been decimated as a consequence of an anti-inflammatory drug previously given to cattle.

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