Friday, November 19, 2010

Salt lick, or watering station, or both?

I mean, there's clearly a water tank there, but the amount of trails coming in there, and it's placement at the bottom of drainage from some hills makes me think it's also a salt lick. Look at all the trails leading into it. I suppose cows could do that in just a few years, but I like to imagine that it's one of those special places that people and animals have been traveling to for thousands of years: a salt lick. I guess I could go find out. It's right by Santa Fe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yo Apples and Carrots, why do you always make me hungrier?

She obviously hasn't found it, as she is dusting an apple.

Asking Google pointed to a lot of diet forums where this is a problem. I mean I know the key to not feeling crazy when eating apples and carrots is to eat some protein with it (most of the time it's peanut butter), but come on, why are carrots and apples so effective at stimulating the appetite? The best non-expert opinion I could find on any of these threads is that apples and carrots both have decent amounts of fructose and/or sucrose, which will spike your blood sugar and make you crash if you only eat that. Still, it's different from eating a bunch of candy, which makes my stomach turn sour and definitely doesn't make me extra hungry, and, it's really immediate. I'm just gonna write the question on a paper airplane and throw it at Los Alamos now.

Next up: "Why you gotta be makin' my stomach feel all weird popcorn?" and "Is the Italian Beef the most satisfying sandwich?".

Are there really birds that have no feet and never land (and why would people think that this is a possible thing)?


Last night someone told me that they were told that in the Bahamas there is a bird with no feet that never lands. I told him that is ridiculous, as any bird that wants to reproduce is forced to land and sit on a nest. Of course I was right, and I think I've found the source of this strange belief.
As you can see, it does have feet.

And it is called the Chimney Swift.

According to this birding column in the Cape Cod newspaper, a young swift will drop out of the nest, take flight, and not land again for three years, when it's ready to nest. Other sites, such as Lords Chimney (cool name, huh) disagree and claim that the birds roost all the time, which makes a lot more sense to me. The thing they can't do is perch, so they spend all their roosting time clinging to the vertical sides of chimneys and hollow trees. This awesome website points out that the Swift's family name, Apodidae, is Latin for footless (I double checked. Also, if you want some fun, right click, or whatever you do to steal images for a mac, on the photo of April "Nature" Lorier.).

So we have birds that old blind taxonimists told us have no feet, and are always flying when they aren't holed up in a chimney or hollow tree. These seem to fit the criteria.
Myth Busted.

Upon checking the Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds, they also claim that it is entirely possible that swifts could go for years without landing. People see them at night, sky cruising. Airplanes see them way up high. So, I guess they really do only need to land to make the babies. Anthropomorphically speaking, they probably keep roosting after that, you know, settlin' down and all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

You know who's got a classic mariner's tale?

Dick Van Dyke.

He was on the Craig Ferguson show recently, where he related a classic tale of cetacean neighborliness (or maybe it's just that they want you out of their turf, but are too nice about it to just kill you). Well anyway, he said that one time, back in the old days of longboarding on Virginia Beach, he fell asleep on his board and woke up out of sight of land. He started paddling with the swells and was surprised to be surrounded by fins. For a moment he thought he was about to be eaten by sharks (he probably always thought it would be the ottoman that got him in the end), but lo, it was porpoises, ushers of the sea! He claims that they pushed him all the way in to land. Excellent.
Here's the full interview. Go to 8:20 for the porpoise story. Bonus: Craig Ferguson appears to comment extensively on his own YouTube clips, which I was unaware of.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Would you throw rocks at an adorable bear cub?

Even if he just wanted your delicious human food and dog and cat food? Oh man.
The guy in the video is very cool about everything. He seems to be aware of what the bear wants, what cuteness is, and the limits of cuteness, yet he chases the kid off pretty well.
Should he have thrown something to really seal the deal? Like the opposite of food, whatever that is?
Also, NJ seems to have maybe the biggest black bear to human ratio of any state. I'm about to go check that, if it's checkable, but for now, I'm laying it down.
NJ=tons of bears.In fact, this is the weird distribution map from a south Jersey newspaper. It tells us almost nothing, except for that bear range seems to be expanding. Double link that tells us nothing.