Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
Richmond, California, USA
February 2015
Member of the Kites, Eagles, and Hawks Family
§A Tower of Hawks§

~true bird fact~ Has quite conflictual relationships with several other birds. While they often are mobbed by crows, it's also true that Red-shouldered Hawk has teamed up with crows to drive a Great Horned Owl out of his area. Not only this, but said Owl has been known to prey on Hawk chicks, and vice-versa. It's fair to say the Great Horned Owl is his bird nemesis. Also occasionally preyed upon by his cousin, the Red-tailed Hawk. At a certain point you just have to recognize a pattern, and I think it's fair to say this bird has bird issues.

Has a creative spark
Low self esteem, very sensitive to criticism. Projects aloofness to conceal this
Catastrophises, assumes the worst
Love him or hate him kinda bird

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Common Murre (with Special Guest!)

Common Murre aka. Common Guillemot aka. Thin-billed Murre

Moss Landing, Monterey Bay, California, USA
November 2015
Member of the Puffin, Murre, and Auk Family
§A Fragrance of Murres§ (?)

~true bird fact~ Like his distant, convergantly evolved cousin, the penguin, Murres are water experts. Although they have good flight, they couldn't be described as agile in the air, and are most at home in and under water. They feed by diving after small fish, swimming with their wings. Murres on a mission can go as deep as 600 feet, which is about 3 times as deep as a very good human diver could go without equipment. I wonder what else likes to feed on small fish...

Cheerful and easygoing
Approaches new experiences enthusiastically
Cusses like a sailor, to the surprise of most who first meet her
Feels a sense of community with other seabirds and sea mammals

Oh... Well.. Since it came up, I guess I might as well. Might as whale...

Humpback Whale
Moss Landing, Monterey Bay, California, USA
November 2015
Member of the Rorqual Family
§A Pod of Whales§

~true whale fact~ There are too many cool whale facts to possibly even begin here, but they are super smart and interesting and you should really look into them. Did you know that this type of whale has two nostrils that form his blowhole? Certain other sea mammals (mainly dolphins, but some whales) have lost this second nostril, it having evolved into their echolocation organ. So without echolocation, how do these whales maintain such a good sense of direction and spatial awareness? They have small guide hairs all over them that react to slight changes and give them information about their surroundings. Those little bumps you see on their faces are the places the hairs stick out of. Another fun fact, this whale can feel empathy, which is a very rare quality in animals.

Leads an austere but rewarding life
Frequently goes out of her way to help others. Is this whale a busybody?
Loves to splash and play
A good pen pal

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grey Plover

Grey Plover aka. Black-bellied Plover
Hayward Regional Shoreline, Hayward, California, USA
August 2015
Member of the Lapwing and Plover Family
§A Wing of Plovers§
★North America's Largest Plover★ (Loyal readers may remember that we've also covered N. America's Smallest Plover)

~true bird fact~ Although he only breeds in the arctic, this classy gentleman has nearly worldwide coastal range the rest of the year. He appears on the beaches of six different continents. His other unique quality is that he is more anxious and sensitive than most other shorebirds, often acting as an early warning system when something is amiss. In fact, because of this tendency, he retains a healthy population even in places where other shorebirds are quite threatened by natural or human predation.

Finding his own way in the world after a childhood of luxury
Has a psychoanalyst
Worldly affectations, like using loose tobacco for cigarettes, or wearing a pea-coat
Impossible in a relationship. Just impossible

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Domestic Greylag Goose

Domestic Greylag Goose
Kennedy Park, Napa, California, USA
October 2015
Member of the Ducks, Geese, and Swans Family
§A Skein of Geese§

~true bird fact~ Remember our African Goose from a few weeks ago? And how he was a descendant of the Swan Goose? Well, even if you don't, that's what happened. Anyway, this fancy gentleman here is the domestic form of the Greylag Goose, which is the species from which almost all domestic geese originate. All of them except those that came from the Swan Goose. Anyway, now that we've got our goose family tree straight, here's an interesting fact- The Greylag Goose was one of the first animals to be domesticated by humans. It happened at least 3000 years ago, and the ancient Egyptians are responsible.

~true bird myth~ This goose has held cultural significance for over 5000 years. It was considered a symbol of several gods and goddesses throughout history, including Ishtar, goddess of fertility in Sumeria, the sun god, Ra in Egypt, and Aphrodite, goddess of love in Rome. In fact, Geese have long held a sexual connotation, and Goose fat was once a major aphrodisiac.

~true bird history~ Konrad Lorenz, a German scientist who did seriously important research on the biological process of imprinting, used these Geese in his studies. Basically he postulated that many creatures form an intense and instinctual emotional bond with the first moving thing they see upon being born, and proved this theory by becoming surrogate mother to a flock of Geese. Lorenz's work was not only significant, but he also conducted it extremely ethically, only using natural settings and conducting his experiments in a non-invasive way. Unfortunately he was also a member of the Nazi party... as most Germans were during WWII, whether they wanted to be or not. After the war he did say he regretted the decision. An extremely important figure in the development of behavioral psychology, your blog author personally learned about this story during his undergrad days.