47 grackles fell from the heavens on the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston this weekend, with at least 32 dead. Two cats who ate the remains also ran out of lives.
City officials have sent the dead grackles, which are a type of songbird that travels in flocks, to Tufts University to help determine the cause of death. It is currently unclear whether the birds perished due to a virus, some sort of environmental pollution or intentional poisoning. Test results are expected next week.
“We don’t know what is going on,” John Meaney of the city of Boston’s Inspectional Services told NECN. “So we are investigating all avenues.”
Local resident Willien Pugh told the Boston Herald that his cat Sally B was found dying on the back porch as deceased birds fell from the sky.
“We took the cat from outside and we thought it was a girl so we named it Sally – then when we took it to the vet, we found out it was a boy, so we started calling her Sally B,” Pugh said. “Real good cat.”
Are they happy, mad, or experiencing an emotion that's utterly alien to us? Read the rest
The secretary bird looks and moves like I'd imagine a dinosaur looked and moved. Here is one giving a rubber snake the business.
From Reuters: "Scientists are studying the snake-hunting ability of the secretary bird from sub-Saharan Africa, which can kick a snake to death with a force five times its own body weight." Read the rest
Beautiful Birds by Jean Roussen (author) and Emmanuel Walker (illustrator) Flying Eye Books 2015, 56 pages, 8.9 x 12.2 x 0.4 inches $17 Buy a copy on Amazon
In Beautiful Birds, author Jean Roussen and illustrator Emmanuel Walker fly through the alphabet with dozens of feathered friends. It begins, of course, with “A is for albatross, the admiral of the skies,” and progresses all the way to “Z is for zos-ter-o-pi-dae…” with details about all kinds of avians in between. The writing brims with clever rhymes and colorful words (ogling orbs, polychrome quills) making it delightful to read out loud. If I had to guess, I’d say Roussen is a fan of E.B. White’s idea that “children are game for anything... They love words that give them a hard time, provided they are in a context that absorbs their attention.”
Walker’s vibrant illustrations give kids all the context they need. His graphic, full-bleed drawings feel like those of mid-century masters Saul Bass and Charlie Harper. As an added bonus, the book’s design is also gorgeous. It’s bound in a neon salmon linen, with patterned endpapers to match. The neon color can be found on almost every page in varying doses, giving the optical effect of spying a ruffle of feathers in the wild. – Sara Distin at Tinybob Read the rest
A robin made its nest under our deck, giving us a wonderful birds' eye view of the nest through the boards. Today we noticed one of her three eggs had hatched! Here is footage of the new level 1 robin that emerged.
UPDATE: Wednesday, May 11. Then there were three! Video by Heather.
UPDATE:May 20. They grow up so fast. (Photo: Heather)
UPDATE:May 25. Look at these handsome young boids. Read the rest
Below, an intense photo that the contest's "youth winner," Carolina Anne Fraser, snapped of Great Frigatebirds in the Galápagos.
We live in a world of backgrounded miracles, entire worlds of wonder and beauty that we either can’t see or stopped noticing a long time ago. Look closely at the wings of a fly on your window sill, stare into a bisected piece of fruit, or look carefully at a growth of mold on a dish. Millions of such micro worlds surround us, breathtaking examples of design, engineering, and evolutionary artistry. When we bother to look.
Feathers is a photographic examination of one such overlooked natural wonder, the lowly bird feather. A single bird has thousands of feathers, of different types, and there are some ten-thousand species of birds. Feathers takes a broad view of the evolution of the bird and its feathers while focusing its lens on the plumage of 75 or so notable species. Each species gets a few pages, with one or two impressively photographed feather close-ups and a brief explanatory text.
This book reminded me a lot of Rose Lynn Fisher’s BEE (which I loved). Both books are minimal in content and feel, but that only helps to narrow and maintain your focus on the world under examination. The text in Feathers doesn’t try to tell you everything about the species of the bird and feather that you’re looking at, but the bits of fascinating science it does contain are probably far more memorable. Like BEE, I felt like I got to peer into a world I don’t normally see and came away greatly enriched by the experience. Read the rest
“Luna and Lily have grown from helpless little chicks to near adult barn owls and now they're beginning to learn how to fly.”
That is one pottymouthed bird.
The Dutch police have partnered with Guard From Above, a raptor training company based in Denmark, to determine whether eagles could be used as intelligent, adaptive anti-drone weapon systems. The eagles are specially trained to identify and capture drones, although from the way most birds of prey react to drones, my guess is that not a lot of training was necessary. After snatching the drone out of the sky, the eagles instinctively find a safe area away from people to land and try take a couple confused bites out of their mechanical prey before their handlers can reward them with something a little less plastic-y. The advantage here is that with the eagles, you don’t have to worry about the drone taking off out of control or falling on people, since the birds are very good at mid-air intercepts as well as bringing the drone to the ground without endangering anyone.
Except maybe the eagles?
"Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones" (IEEE Spectrum)
You're supposed to be a bird in Trills, a two-player jousting game by Crudepixel, but for some reason when you collide with another bird, it sounds like two swords clashing. Maybe birds can also be swords, in this beautiful, minimalist world of light gravity and elegant collisions? I'm not an expert in imaginary ornithology.
You and a friend take on the role of either a turquoise or black sword-bird, and have to soar and dive your way to victory, which can take a couple of forms: knocking each other out of the arena, gaining the most territory, or scoring goals with a ball. The controls are relatively simple; it's all about spinning around to angle your bird for the perfect, elegant divebomb when you close your wings like a fan.
It's a few years old, actually, but this video of a cute baby owl "dancing" to a fuzzy owl-shaped comforting toy that sings “Monster Mash” is well deserving of a viral revival. Read the rest