Friday, November 21, 2008

Ice Crystals, V Migration, and Part I of Crows and Pork Cutlets.

Since it became cold there have been spectacular sunsets. And yesterday, the sunset was not only spectacular but also quite strange. Look carefully on the left side of the photograph, see where the pink seems to have floated upward and almost reaches the break in the clouds? Not having noticed color floating in sunsets before I decided to try and track down the effect. It turns out the reason is the refraction of the light through tiny ice crystals floating in the air.

And here is today's sunset. No floating ice crystals that I can see but pretty spectacular none the less. The Crow (mid left) flew into it, I assume, in hopes of loosing me after I pointed my camera at him while perched.

Here is a photo that answers Greg of Utah's question concerning whether other species of birds beyond Canada Geese fly in Vs. Unfortunately it was too dark for me to see which kind of water birds these are, but they definitely aren't geese.

I looked for a list of V migrating species and haven't discovered one yet, but I did find out that previous to 2001 there were two schools of thought when it came to why some migrating birds fly in Vs. One group said it was aerodynamics and another said it was easier for the birds to follow each other that way.
In 2001, the French monitored a V of eight White Pelicans flying over Senegal for heart beat, wing flaps and other relevant criteria and aerodynamics won.
I do remember that in the 70s there was a question among scientists as to whether the lead bird changed or whether it was the same strong bird that flew point for the whole migration. The answer came from a gentleman who had a trained flock of working geese who would fly in formation for commercials and movies. He'd known the answer for ages, it's just that no one had asked him. And they couldn't put it down to anecdotal information as he had birds capable of demonstrating the fact.


First the back story. I was digging around in my parent's chest freezer and discovered an unlabeled plastic bag with some sort of mystery meat in it. I thawed it. It turned out to be the above pork, which I then put in the oven to cook. After about 10 minutes I realized that beyond the heating pork aroma there was a distinct fragrance of "too long in the freezer". Nope. Not happening. Out they came, out I went into the dark backyard, and onto the goodie stump they went.

The next day, upon walking through the kitchen I heard a Crow giving the three Caw Alert. I looked outside and there was a Crow on the stump a foot on the cutlet attempting to pull fat off the side of the meat with her beak, totally ignoring the sentinel.

A second Crow then hopped up on the stump nabbed a piece of pork and hopped off. The first Crow continued to wrestle with the fat. By then I had the cameras but Crow One had taken off towards the park.

Crow Two was still standing on his piece of pork and using his needle-nose-pliers-beak to pull sections off.

Sentinel Crow is still cawing but so far no one seems to care.

A Crow lands on the stump. I assume it is Crow One returning as she immediately begins pulling off bits of fat again.

She changes her grip and goes for it again.

She doesn't seem to be swallowing the fat but rather collecting it in her beak. Suddenly Crows One and Two fly away.

A few moments later, two Crows land in the yard and begin to circle the stump. I don't know if they are the same or different birds. They continue to circle.

One Crow looks to fly onto the stump then veers away, lands, begins walking back. The second is obscured by the stump.

The Crow behind the stump walks to the piece of meat on the ground.

He begins to eat.

The other Crow hops onto the stump. Conceivably these are the same birds.

She gives me a look.
Then swallows a morsel.

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