Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Corvid Takes Up Sledding, Plus "Take a Gander" and "Craning"

For those who may not have heard, January 9th was National Crossing Guard Appreciation Day. Well the local paper had sent me out to take some photos of Crossing Guards doing their job over at the elementary school. While I was waiting for said Crossing Guards to have some children in which to do their job with, I noted a group of crows which had been foraging in the school lawn.

By some unknown signal unheard by me, perhaps the closing bell of the day, the Crows took to a tree across the street. Then proceeded in a trickster kind of way, no physical attacks you understand, to attempt to steal each others stashes of food. It was all rather playful in a Crow kind of way.

For Crows are very clever if you pay attention to what they are doing.

I told you all that, to introduce a rather spectacular piece of of bird behavior in the video below. And the bird in question from the look and behavior might well be in the family Corvidae.

Corvidae includes Jays, Crows, and Ravens.



(Any one familiar enough with the Old World Corvids to know the species of the video bird?)

In my opinion, yes the bird in the video is definitely indulging in a "play" behavior. Corvid is not pecking at the bottle cap in order to "eat It" as some have suggested. I believe that Corvid is pecking under the bottle cap in order to get the "sled" moving again.

Corvids are notorious for various kinds of "fun" behaviors. I watched a piece of film (Perhaps on NATURE?) in which numerous Crows were perched on the fence of a hog pen. They took turns riding the pigs. One rode while the others watched. Then she got off and another bird got on a pig. Rather like a Corvid Rodeo.

Definitely take a gander at the video.

Bird Vocabulary Alert- Above I used the phrase, "take a gander". Why is gander used for a male goose and also for a certain kind of look?

I don't have a OED to hand but doing a Google search brought several citations claiming that the phrase "take a gander" was first used in print in 1887. While gander for a male goose came much earlier, perhaps around 1100 or so.

Why did the noun gander become a verb for a look?

Perhaps because an adult male in a gaggle of geese is the group sentinel and if you've ever gotten a bit too close to a group of geese the sentinel will first give you a penetrating look and then likely will crane his neck (oh no, there is yet another bird vocabulary word- to stretch one's neck at an angle )
in order to get a better view of you-- the INTRUDER.

Do be advised that a human habituated goose will take you on in a New York minute and they can give you quite painful pinches with their bill plus they will whomp your soundly and repeatedly with those big wings while hissing. You heard me. They really do HISS.

But then you were rude for intruding now weren't you?
Corvids may be clever but it seems Canadian Geese for instance, are sticklers in the civility department.

(As Linda Maslin's comment points out, oh so correctly, it is Canada Geese. Thanks for the correction!)

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Comparisons of Bobby of Washinton Square Park, Comparison for the New Girl of Washington Square Park, and the Inexplicable FAA

Photo by Pon Dove

Here are three photographs by Pon Dove, one of the moderators of the NYU/NYT Livestream chat room . She identifies the hawk as Bobby. Compare the three shots with Francois Portmann's photo of the hawk in Washington Square Park below.

Photo by Pon Dove

Photo by Pon Dove

Photo by Francois Portmann

The consensus of local watchers appears to be that yes, the hawk photographed by Francois Portmann a few days ago in Washington Square Park, is Bobby as opposed to Bobby' s new mate.

Photo by Francois Portmann (Link below)

Compare this photo with the photo below, attempt to take into account the difference in light and exposure.

Photo by Pon Dove, who suggested that we look at the area under the neck compared with Francois' photo above.

The fore-neck is streaked in both cases but is it streaked in a way that one could consider this the same bird?

Since Dominatrix is less frequently in Tompkins Square Park these days, two youngsters have taken to the area and photographer Francois Portmann has been busy taking their pictures.

Hey Donna,

The 2 derelicts of TSP at: -square-park-nyc/
Greetings Francois

And more on the totally bizarre behavior of FAA bureaucrats that has held up the assisted Whooping Crane migration, from Robin of Illinois--

That link takes you to a news article on the subject, but take note that you can leave comments. I cannot find any way or e-mail address for the FAA, so this may be the only way to make ourselves heard. The clear consensus in the already posted comments, is that the FAA is filled with nitwits who don't have enough real work to do.
Some of the comments (quoted):

So don't pay the guy for flying, pay him for bird management. There are no passengers. Re write the law to make sense.

Simple solution, the pilot makes the flight for free and charges the charity for writing a report.

And the best one of all.....
Petrel44 wrote:
Well, let's see: I'm a government employee, a pilot and have a degree in fisheries and wildlife and more than a passing familiarity with ornithology. So I can hit this from a number of perspectives. But only one is worth a hoot here: you've likely got a couple of bureaucrats that feel that their territory is being violated and have decided to whiz all over the project, making everyone involved toe the line in simple acknowledgement of their domain. You can bet that a waiver could be granted in a couple of hours by reasonable people. Instead we're informed that the birds will have to wait until spring, likely in an unfamiliar environment that has potential for improperly patterning the migratory processes of some of the rarest of North American birds. And this in order to "send a message" to those who might profit from toting others around in experimental aircraft.

For a link to sign a petition in hope of stopping all this nonsense go to the comments section of the post titled "Is this Bobby?" Link discovered by Karen Anne Kolling of Rhode Island.

Donegal Browne