Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conan Goes Birdwatching in Central Park

This is an oldie but a goodie. I didn't know it was archived on Hulu, but Piffle posted it on his blog.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Sibley Books

Bookstores are my crack houses. I can't resist entering, buying a cup of coffee and browsing books. I just can't. The same is true of online bookstores. Not quite as fun, but engrossing nonetheless. Coffee's not quite as good, but hey, I get to wear my pajamas. Anyway, I'm browsing Amazon for bird-related and road trip-related items, when I run across two new Sibley books that will be available in the coming months.

The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior looks really interesting. It might have helped me with my chickadee question in my last post, and a slew of other questions I have while watching birds. I can't always have an ornithologist at my side, so maybe this will be the next best thing.

I want it to be exhaustive, but it can't be, but at 608 pages, it's not exactly light reading, either. The description does say that he's broken it down by bird family. Maybe that's all that's necessary for the recreational birder. Hopefully, there's more informatio than you'll find from some of the free online resources, like Cornell Lab of Ornithology's, All About Birds, but for those of us infinitely more curious, will Sibley's book have more or less information than Cornell's pay for use guide, Birds of North America Online. I guess we'll see.

The Sibley Guide to Trees sounds interesting, but I'm honestly not sure if I'll buy it. I am interested in habitat, and I can name most trees in my region, but beyond that, I'm more of a, "Ooohhh, what a pretty tree!" This is definitely one that I think I will have to flip through at the store and read the reviews for.

The interview with David Sibley in the Amazon description has some interesting information and is worth a read. Below is just a small excerpt from the interview.
The tallest tree ever measured was a Coast Redwood in California at 377 feet tall. The largest single tree by volume was another Coast Redwood with a trunk measuring over 88,000 cubic feet of wood and estimated to weigh over 3300 tons! The oldest tree is a Bristlecone Pine in Nevada known to be nearly 5000 years old. But these records of age and volume are both challenged by the Quaking Aspen, which often grows multiple trunks from a single large root system, and can be considered a single organism. One such plant in Utah covers over 100 acres with 47,000 trunks, and contains an estimated 6000 tons of wood, making it the largest single organism known. Estimates of its age range from 80,000 years up to one million years. The average age of any individual trunk is about 130 years, new trunks are constantly being produced by the root system.
He also talks a little bit about trees that are facing extinction, and he mentions the American Chestnut, which was wiped out by the Chestnut Blight of the 1900s, which reminded me of Bill Bryson, author of A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. He discussed the loss of native plants in North America and the ever changing landscape, even in protected lands, but he specifically mentioned the American Chestnut. By the way, if you like to hike or you love nature and quirky facts, you have got to read that book. I finished this book a few months ago, and I highly recommend it. It has inspired me to try to hike the Pacific Coast Trail... in sections... but I'm still inspired!

Certain oaks are experiencing strain on their populations. In California, the coast live oaks are faced with Sudden Oak Death disease, which can adversely affect the foraging activities of many of the birds that rely on oak arthropods. Chickadees may survive, but the oak titmouse will have more difficulty. I've been trying to photograph a titmouse, but no luck yet.

I've found a hummingbird nest and baby. I'll post that a bit later.

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Day

I think I'm going to start my next five posts with, "Moving is tougher and longer than I remember." :) Unbelievably, my husband wanted to move us in himself, maybe with a little help from the kids. Thankfully, he gave in to my teases about after-move hospital bills. It was hard enough watching the movers!

The first real day at my place, I got a glimpse of some of my new noisy neighbors. There was a huge chirping commotion outside the window, and lo and behold, there were about 3-4 chestnut backed chickadees in the pine tree right off the balcony.

They made the cutest, strangest call. One of my birding books describes it as a "buzzing" noise, which is fairly accurate, but the buzzing is accompanied by little, quick high notes.

Originally, I thought the buzzing sound was somehow made by the rapid flapping of their little wings, but I was wrong.

I also thought that maybe a parent was feeding a fledgling, but through some internet searching, it seems that this behavior might be a courtship ritual. One of the birds, presumably the female or baby, just sat on a branch and screamed at another bird that would fly out and bring back food. The bird being waited on hand and foot would focus their call directly at the foraging bird. The very specific direction of the calling, or screaming if you prefer, was what made me think it might have been a fledgling-parent relationship. The jury's still out on that, but if anyone knows for certain, give us the scoop!

No More Dragon Tails?

Getting settled into a new place took much longer than I expected, but it's finally starting to come together. I miss my squirrels, but I saw them a few times before we were completely out of the old place.

If you might recall, we were worried about a few things, primarily the fate of Preggers' young and Dragon, because his tail was injured. Well, Preggers did in fact have one baby left. She came by with a little squirrel that got so scared when we opened the blinds that it jumped up and over the porch's lower railing. It desperately tried to hang on with its claws to the decking, but it fell (just a foot or so) and ran off. Preggers caught up with it after grabbing a bite to eat.

Dragon also came by, which was a nice surprise. He was getting along okay with his limp tail, but we were worried about how long he would last.

Unfortunately, just like the cat Crazy57bus mentioned in the comment section of my previous post, it appears Dragon's tail fell off because of the injury. We were hoping that it would heal over time because he was getting more and more use out of it, little though it was.

You can see the broken tail bone. Poor little guy.

Now to some old business.

@Daffy - How about naming your two-toned squirrel "Tommy Two-Tone"? That's my husband's idea. I came up with some really stupid names, like... two-tone. :)

@Ratty - I haven't seen very many tame squirrels either. I think some of the squirrels at my new place may be more tame. They at least don't run when they see a human, but I've only seen a couple and they don't know me yet.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Puppy Flushed Down Toilet (Loo)

A cute, goofy little boy in the UK flushed his 1 week old Cocker Spaniel down the toilet while trying to give him a bath in the bowl.

There's more of the little boy in this video, and you can hear the poor little puppy whimpering in the drain pipe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Comic Book Guy & Me

I've been in the middle of what The Comic Book Guy from The Simpson's would deem, "Longest Move Ever."  I'll miss the squirrels, but I still have some of their stories to tell.

In the mean time, this is a little acrobatic Black Phoebe that's usually flitting around snatching bugs in my yard. 

Be back soon.