Wednesday, December 30, 2015
I really hope they can pull of the wildlife highway tunnel and that starts a movement.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Lots of geese in the sky today and freezing rain tonight.
Winter is coming. And working on the "last" game of thrones book as well. My nerd fantasy is to finish this in the snow at the Jacobs property. Thankfully I'm a horribly slow reader. So it might be the end of January when I get there.
The authors of the original paper report that this species caches live, but disabled, prey (small birds) in rocks, purportedly to keep the prey fresh. The falcons disable the prey by removing primaries (outermost 9-10 wing feathers) and retrices (tail feathers) and stashing them in rock crevices.
I think a commenter in the blog brings up a very good point. Injured prey are very likely to seek out crack and crevices and hide. My students will tell you that if you give a the smallest crack in your hand you'll lose the bird. Like mice, many birds are extremely adept at moving with their feet and I'm skeptical that birds could be held in the manner described.
I suspect that the falcons are exploiting the escape behavior of the birds. Still, and to entirely anthropomorphic, this stuff has got to be terrifying for a small bird.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
- Organize the Galapagos trip including a few days in Ecuador
- finalizing logistics
- Organize the Galapagos course
- what we read and when
- Update Biostatistics notes
- move from OpenOffice to Google Docs
- Update biostatistics lab
- need to spend an afternoon turning verbal hypotheses in equations (this is how I approach statistics when I see a problem for the first time). For example, you might ask "what is the relationship between getting diabetes and the amount of sugar intake and exercise" -> p(diabetes) = sugar + exercise
- Finish the West Georgia manuscript on urbanization and birds
- intro needs work
- results and discussion and graphics (ugh).. why is it that paper is so damn hard to work on?
- Contact... I totally forgot what I was saying
- Update the Academic Planning Committee website to include a clickable flowchart
- Send out the survey of undergraduate programs in ornithology survey to start building up a database of ornithologists at undergraduate institutions
- Get out to birdwatch four times
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
I had to laugh because I thought it was a nose whistle at first.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Friday, December 18, 2015
Newton's Principia from 1755
Einstein and Infeld's The Evolution of Physics (signed)
Darwin's Variation of Animals and Plants
Monday, December 14, 2015
Also, two pairs of mourning doves flew past - not at a normal speed but as if they were being pursued. But no pursuer. I've seen this many times before and always at dusk. Is this part of pair bonding or courtship? Are they trying to escape a predator that was waiting for them to roost at dusk.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
That's awesome! Thanks so much.
This semester I've been focused on teaching and getting my notes in order online as well as committee tasks. Semester ends in 9 days and I'm ready to head out to the woods and doing some writing. I applied to the study abroad director position and I have an interview with the deans tomorrow. Nervous but I have nothing to lose and I think I have a great vision for the position.
Reading over my daughter's freshman bio report. Holy cow it's good.
More later and thanks again peeps.
For your good behavior.. a pair of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Apparently, kiwis have a side to them that was unknown to ornithologists. Apparently, like many many organisms, they enjoy bird eggs. In this case, the New Zealand Robin was the victim.
Here is a link to the video http://phys.org/news/2015-12-footage-captures-kiwi-robin-revealing.html
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The authors, however, make a crucial mistake by saying that they have vision like ours. They don't. Birds' eyes are superior in many ways including spatial resolution, color resolution (they have UV and see more gradations than we do), and a higher flicker rate.
Knowing this perhaps they could incorporate higher res images that include UV and they could increase single bird efficiency. Though, even with standard images, a flock of pigeons are 99% accurate! Amazing.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
168 people were killed by Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols - both of Scottish descent - in April 1995. Using Facebook logic we should (1) demand Scots to apologize for their actions and (2) have a moratorium on Scots immigrating to the US.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Monday, November 9, 2015
I was given a data set that was weevils placed in different soils and monitored for 8 weeks - most had died at that time. A previous study showed that weevils survived much better in soil with oak matter so we did another test. Not super happy with it and I'll explain after I impress you.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The home we live in was flooded in 1972 with Hurricane Agnes and water reached the second floor. We just removed all the paneling and random pieces of wood and were down to the studs. Then the electrician came and the inspector after that. Initially they said two weeks for the whole project but we're in the third week already and we just finished putting up the insulation last night - then immediately went to bed. Who knew insulation became so heavy after three days of installing it.
The guys are at the house to put up the sheet rock and that is supposed to take three days from start to finish. Exciting just to start the next phase.
Here's what it looks like with insulation (and you can still see mud on the studs).
Monday, October 26, 2015
But I've made a 180 on pin oaks and I realize they are hugely important to a number of birds in the northeast US (and probably elsewhere pin oak occurs) and probably host a number of invertebrates and other unpopular but crucial species.
Today I spent an hour on the roof of Cohen and had three species come by. Blue Jays were there grabbing and flying off with several acorns in their crop. The one group of jays was coming from the other side of the Darte Center, which is 500 m away. They're flying over open areas where they could cache. Perplexing!
Crows ignored me and came by and ate a few acorns and took off. A titmouse looked be pounding an acorn to open it - not sure if it was successful. Last year there was a Red-bellied Woodpecker carrying off acorns. So pin oaks are not the fig trees of the tropics (which are known to be eaten by anything that can make up a tree) but they must be crucial to many birds.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
We ended up catching three house sparrows, a song sparrow, and two white-throated sparrows. Best part of the day was watching the kids I've trained work with the kids in the class.
The first application would be to identify the invertebrates we've been catching for our grassland food web project. My idea was that we just needed to get a bit of tissue, amplify the DNA using PCR, send it off, get the sequence, ID the species, and DONE.
If I have gone through with this I could get our critters identified but with lower confidence and the work with be of little use for other researchers. A shame and near waste of work.
At the barcoding meeting, we met up with a Smithsonian scientist, Caroline, that agreed to come up and discuss with us barcoding issues. So, last week, she came up and gave a two day workshop for Ned and I and a number of students. It was incredibly enlightening. We found (many) issues with our protocols and we were pointed to a number of resources to help us with technical issues. More importantly, we were given a work flow that greatly expands on the flow I outlined above. The biggest missing piece is building a library of local organisms that are identified independently of DNA barcodes. These organisms you barcode and then use a reference. This seems a bit circular (and it is) but you can use your reference collection to identify bits of organisms or organisms in other stages, such as larvae and eggs. This sounds simple but it means getting specimens and organizing them. Organizing them. That is completely new to our lab and will be a challenge. But it's a challenge I'm willing to take up. One of the first things to do is to create an outline for the whole project and I'm doing it here.
So, the workflow is this, get specimens (mostly, go out and collect insects), give them a number, get them identified, pin them in an organized way (presumably by order), bar code a small bit of them, link the barcode to the specimen. Now unknowns can either be ID'ed through the vouchers are barcoded. Everything is organized through BOLD Systems.
It was a hugely useful workshop and Caroline was a blast. She stayed at the Hillard House, which has an awesome breakfast menu. Students enjoyed the workshop as well and I hope they're inspired as well.
Monday, October 12, 2015
Our house was flooded in 1972 during Hurricane Agnes and you can still see mud from the flood on the supports. We're going to tweak the electric, insulate, sheet rock, and paint. Looking at a finish date of Thanksgiving.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Thursday, October 8, 2015
|Acanthostega - nice intermediate between fish and amphibians|
|Archaeopteryx - close enough to dinosaurs!|
|Deinonychus manus - note the reduced number of digits and carpels|
|Deinonychus skull - built for ripping your face off|
|Diatryma - a bird, taller than me and three times as kick ass|
|Plateosaurus - an early quasi-bipedal sauropod - note the reduced outer digits|
|Prestosuchus - early archosaur|
|Gallimimus - very bird-like dinosaur|
|Temnospondyl - early amphibian|