Time to listen to Bird Song Radio - A 'filler' radio station that played on DAB radio in the UK until this week has been pulled from the air, much to the chagrin of thousands of listeners. Reportedly, Terry Pratchett is a fan, saying "There's something about the sound of the outdoors that adds texture to a room. It cools the room down, makes you feel relaxed." [more inside]
The universal grammar of birdsong is genetically encoded. "A new study, published online in the journal Nature, shows that the songs of isolated zebra finches evolve over multiple generations to resemble those of birds in natural colonies. These findings show that song learning in birds is not purely the product of nurture, but has a strong genetic basis, and suggest that bird song has a universal grammar, or an intrinsic structure which is present at birth."
Because there are so many birds around the world, and because they often look very similar, you likely need a field guide to help you figure out what bird is in your backyard. Well, just in time for spring, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has redesigned their wonderful All About Birds site and they can help you with building your skills. Don't forget to bring your checklist!
...the Department of Transportation will not keep secret the data we collect on birds striking airplanes. - Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of TransportationFrom the dreaded mourning dove to the nefarious Canada goose to the humble armadillo, the FAA's recently released National Wildlife Strike Database ON-LINE contains information on aircraft/wildlife strikes from over 100,000 reported incidents between 1990 and 2008. [more inside]
The entirety of David Attenborough's wonderful nature series The Life of Birds is available on the new YouTube TV Shows section, which is its Hulu-clone. The old PBS Life of Birds website is also worth a visit.
Tree of Bees? Hills that move? A reflective humorous post about living in Southern California via mockable.org
This is a metaphor for something.
"Unlike virtually every other feather color, no pigment turns feathers blue. We've known that for decades. Instead, it's long been thought that a layer of cells on blue birds' feathers reflected light at blue wavelengths, similar to the phenomenon that makes the sky blue." Now, however, scientists have another explanation. [more inside]
The Internet Bird Collection has over 28000 videos of birds from all over the world. The brain-child of Josep del Hoyo (who also started the Handbook of the Birds of the World) it contains footage of more than half of all the bird species in the world, which number around 10000. Just browsing randomly I found such charming clips as a pair of gang gang cockatoos, a pair of preening and feeding Siberian cranes, a hoatzin displaying, Temnick's tragopan displaying, Kerguelen petrel swooping between waves, green hermit feeding on heliconia flowers, in flight, a pair of hamerkops mating display and American avocets mating. Or you can just go look up your favorite bird species and see if they have videos of it. Happily they had plenty of videos of my favorite bird, sterna paradisaea, the arctic tern, and I like this one best. Each bird has taxonomic and distribution information.
Mike O'Connor, owner of Bird Watcher's General Store in MA, writes a column "Ask the Bird Folks", for The Cape Codder newspaper. Five of O'Connor's short but humorously enlightening pieces were chosen by Steven Pinker to be included in the 2004 edition of the Best American Science and Nature writing. Those five can be read here: ,,,,. The full set of articles here. He started in 2001 and is sort of a "Car Talk" of bird watching.
Post-Thanksgiving Friday Flash Fun: Damn Birds is a point and shoot game with a humorous twist. You are a statue sick and tired of bird crap and have decided to defend your honor. [more inside]
Beware of Dog. Nepali artists paint signs on metal. Before and After. The story behind Danger Dogs. Click on the names of the different artists at the top of the page for various styles. [more inside]
You may know of Kitundu as a sound artist (previously on Mefi). But did you know he also takes amazing pictures of birds? [more inside]
A new round of genetic tests has confirmed it: The 'big lizards' of our childhood fantasies were more likely 'big birds.' In fact, they probably even had feathers, and looked more like this than this. Mind blowing, I know, but I guess this demonstrates that, despite what some may think, science really doesn't have a problem admitting that it got something wrong when new evidence comes to light.
E.J. Peiker, Nature Photgrapher There are a lot of nature photographers out there -- some better than Peiker and some worse -- but what fascinates me about Peiker's site is the number of photos available. A birdwatcher's dream, it features pages of photos of over 500 different species of birds, including an index devoted solely to wild waterfowl. Maybe animals are more your speed? How about nearly 150 pages of photos of wild animals (including my favorite - a quite handsome, flower-eating porcupine.) There's also a section for scenic photography featuring 23 states and 20 countries (or you can search by national park.) The photos are, unfortunately, not that big but there a ton of them, many of them quite pretty.
John James Audubon's Birds of America with Audubon's original text. It's laid out by family and genus but there is also an alphabetical list of plates which has bigger versions of the bird pictures. There are also links to the state birds as well as birds driven to extinction since Audubon's time.
The Brooklyn Pigeon Serial Killer vs The Brooklyn Pigeon Advocate. Related to The Brooklyn Pigeon Blowdart Attacks of '98?
The male Superb Bird of Paradise has an unusual courtship routine. First he sings. Then he hops. Finally, he busts out a spectacular finishing move, which the female finds attractive and/or totally scary. [more inside]
Wild turkeys up to 4 feet tall are strolling on the sidewalks of Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline, Mass. Animal control officer Pierre Verrier suggests shooing turkeys away with a purse. But some people need to be near the turkeys.
Clever Ravens: "They have a long evolutionary process of espionage and counter-espionage to build on, in the course of which they became masters of deceit and problem-solving. They got better and better at guessing the intentions of others and concealing their own."
Gregory Colbert's Ashes and Snow has been linked to twice before on Metafilter. However, you can now view 10 minutes of his film as part of his Ted Talk--it's the most stunning nature footage I've ever seen. In the talk he also mentions a new concept he's developing called Animal Copyright, which I think is long overdue.
Birds that rap and cows with accents. The big picture is urban adaptation, which is pretty cool. (...and the egg wins.)
RavenViewer. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers free sound analysis software that allows you to simultaneously listen to and watch spectograms of animal communication, such as the uncanny mimicry of a lovesick Satin Bowerbird or the chilling call of the Common Loon. If birds aren't your bag, there's lots of other animal sounds (and stunning video) to explore.
Ask A Man? "You have come to the right place for love, relationship and dating advice. Ask a man will provide you with the love, relationship and dating answers you seek. Our staff of amazing men have agreed to break the "man code" and tell you the absolute truth about what your man is really saying to you." For example: "Men want respect. In a man's world, men are nothing without respect. In a relationship, a man needs to know his woman respects him. "
Kitty litter was invented in 1946. Birds were the first pets to have their own full lines of products. Canned dog food first appeared in the 1910s. Lots of interesting stuff [wav] at the University of South Carolina's Pets in America site.
We're Schleswig-Holsteins, darling. (Ah, from the Low Countries.) Cows have accents. Some other animals with accents: birds, otters, frogs, monkeys.
The Feather Book, digitized by and on display at McGill University: A seventeenth-century book containing illustrations of birds and men -- composed of real feathers, beaks, and claws. More information about the book and its contents and history can be read here.
Birds As Art: Photographer Arthur Morris shares his dazzling images of (mostly) feathered creatures in his (up to 196 so far) email bulletins. It's quite worth wading through the archive.
the new urban jungle. . . is a growing movement led by cities like San Francisco, New York, and Leiden to restore active and vibrant natural systems in urban areas. Far from the eden-like depictions of nature of yesteryear, i.e. the garden of earthly delights (nonetheless, still attracting some dynamic new christian converts), the movement has morphed into today's backyard and grassroots environmental movement which is more and more a picture of hybridity, compromise, mixed-use, and ultimately, taking nature out of the walled islands of zoos, aquaria, national parks and other thick-walled institutions and offering a different kind of everyday "unmediated" community experience with the new urban wilderness. VIDEO LINK
A good resouce for bird idenification / watching: USGS's Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter includes calls, photos and population coverage maps and seasonal birding checklists. And on a completely unrelated note, they have a sweet guide on the morphology of tadpoles. -mi-
Searchable Ornithological Research Archive a site containing back issues of avian journals dating back to 1884. Some highlights: The landing forces of domestic pigeons, [pdf] an 1889 comparison of bird brains [pdf]
Bird flu update: "At this moment, birds that travel flyways in Asia, where most bird flu cases have been found, are mingling with birds that fly through North America." Officials in Kansas and Ohio warn it will arrive this fall, as those birds fly south for the winter on North American migration pathways. The Onion jokingly predicts the government's response.
Owls are rad. Sometimes they look kind of metallic and scary, sometimes wise, sometimes puzzled, and sometimes like skulls, (Index); sometimes they sound like dogs or pigs, sometimes they sound like a little train, sometimes they sound alarmed, (Index of MP3s); sometimes you come across an extensive gallery of Central and North American owls with pictures, ranges, video, and even a description of the '04-'05 Northern Owl Invasion; sometimes it's a dynamic range map of Owls of the Western Hemisphere; sometimes it's the OwlCam homepage with downloadable owl movies, sometimes it's a series of articles on all things owl; sometimes at BiologyBase it's a printable owl sighting lifelist, sometimes it's Ruru, the morepork, New Zealand's native owl at NZBirds. Or, w0t! w0t!, it's attracting barn owls and building nest boxes at World Owl Trust. Previous MeFi birding FPP.
Nectivorous!!! Those that eat nectar: hummingbirds, honeyeaters, miners, honeycreepers, spinebills, wattlebirds, friarbirds, lorikeets, warblers, some parrots, and of course some bats!!! Many plants are adapted to such creatures!
It wouldn't make sense if I explained it. Dogs go backwards slowly in Vitalic video. Vitalic 's last video was posted here, but this is better. (Vitalic is the last electronic artist I can remember being excited to find out more about. His Bjork remix, streamable though his site, is amazing).
This little old lady is kind enough to teach us how to make delicious deserts and canned goods, while her husband instructs us in the intricacies of caring for wild birds. Don't you just love these simple, old fashioned folks? By the way, their web site gets 78,000 hits a month, they're world travelers and they're more tech savvy than I ever hope to be.
"Lost World" found in Indonesian Papua (with audio)
The Birds of Shakespeare No, not Juliet and Ophelia. "The eagle is cited some forty times. The two birds of this kind native to Britain [are] the golden eagle and the white-tailed or sea-eagle. [Shakespeare] may have occasionally seen…[eagles] on the wing, though his allusions hardly suggest any personal familiarity with the birds. Recognizing the lofty rank of the eagle and its acknowledged dignity above the other birds of prey, he makes the birds themselves, in the arrangements for the obsequies of the Phoenix and Turtle, admit this supremacy."
Songs of Brazilian Birds A fantastically diverse collection of .au files, including the beautifully evocative Organ Wren or Uirapuru, the mooing of the Capuchinbird, the sci-fi minimalism of the Short-tailed Antthrush and a duet of Laughing Falcons (they'll make you laugh at the end).
Turduckens are for the WEAK. A stuffed roast consisting of ten different birds, just in time for the holidays. No, seriously. Just in time. You should start all the prep work now.
Suicide by exterminator. "Not since Cock Robin has the death of a tiny bird caused such emotion". An endangered bird killed for "knocking over a few dominoes for a game". Granted, 23,000 dominoes in a world record attempt taking over a month to set up, but still, less than 1% of the final goal. Geenstijl.nl offered a bounty of 5000 euri for anyone who "willen saboteren" but it is now too late. klik heir for a tv clip of the record.
Parrot outrage! Though their existance is a bit of a curiousity, the fact that a population of parrots exists in the wild in southern New England isn't really news to anyone who visits this site frequently. But the way a local power company is choosing to deal with them is making news in southern Connecticut. The monk parakeet builds huge nests out of sticks and twigs, mostly in trees but sometimes on power poles. The large nests present a growing safety problem, often leading to transformer fires and explosions. It was recently reported in both major southern CT newspapers that United Illuminating has begun a secret program of dismantling nests found on power poles and sending the birds to the government for eradication. Previous programs in other states have ended the way this one appears headed: eventually, the utility gives way to public pressure and either leaves the nests intact or destroys the nests but not the birds themselves.