Saturday, April 05, 2014

Is Franklin Institute's T3 Related to Pale Male? White-tailed Deer Do Eat Placenta, and an Oklahoma Owl Cam!

Photo courtesy of

New York City Hawkwatchers report all is going well (and normally) at Pale Male and Octavia's Nest on 927 Fifth Avenue.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Vaughan

 Photo courtesy of Kevin Vaughan
 And over in Philadelphia, there is talk of Pale Male as well.  According to some hawkwatchers, T3 the new male who has bonded with Franklin Mom, definitely has a resemblance to the Monarch of Central Park.

The distance between New York City and Philadelphia is only about 95 miles.    

Next up, a thought concerning the Deer eating Deer innards issue.
My Eureka moment occurred in the shower and had nothing to do with water as opposed to  Archimedes original Eureka moment in the bath when he realized that the volume of an object could be figured using the amount of water it displaced.      
No I did not in the heat of the moment run down the street naked I was in such a rush to test my theory.
 Photo courtesy of animals.national

 Instead  I sat down at the computer to find out if what I was thinking, matched previous known White-tailed Deer behavior.

The question?  Do White-tailed does eat the placenta after they give birth?

And YES, they do.  But first the doe waits for the fawn or fawns to get up on their skinny little legs.  Then she leads them into hiding.  Fawns safely hidden, she then returns to the birthing site and eats the placenta.  

Indeed it is nutritious, but it is thought to be a survival strategy to avoid attracting predators to the area.

Is it not possible that the eating of hunter's leavings is now triggered by the same survival strategy impulse? 

 Yes, this behavior appears to be new.  

Is it possible that as hunters have gotten sloppier,  a deer whose genetics triggered the urge to eat the leavings, reduced the appearance of predators in their territory due to the leavings and therefore lived longer to reproduce? 

Whereas the deer that wasn't triggered to do so, was in an area to which predators were attracted  and therefore did not tend to live as long and therefore reproduced less?

Let me know what you think!

And from Jackie of Tulsa,  an Owl Cam trained on a window box of a house that has hosted an owl pair for three seasons.
(And has produced a tremendous amount of biophilia in the family daughter.)

Tomorrow-  Its WAR!!  Crows vs Turkey Vultures

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Wednesday Contributor Miscellany-Imping, Decorah Eagles First Hatch, and Does T3 Have the Look of Pale Male?

 A Red-shouldered Hawk Nest in a tree just across from the entrance of  the Port Orange Regional Library in Florida.  It seems the parents have been dive bombing the borrowers as they go in and out.

Do the patrons freak out and want the nest torn down?  Nope.  Does the town scream liability and want it torn down too?  Nope.   They put up these signs.

 And numerous folks appear to be hanging out just to watch the hawks, dive bombing or no.
Many thanks to Robin of Illinois for sending in the link!  Check it out-

I asked myself why this episode of hawk bombing hasn't sent people screaming down the walk as it has in other locales?

Could it be because library patrons read books?

Next up, courtesy of  Jackie of Tulsa,  the Decorah Eagles have their first hatch of the year.

A little surge of biophilia anyone?
And Mom looks on....

I just took a moment to look at the cam and heard eaglet cheeping from under Mom as she re-situated herself on the nest.  It's great the Decorah Cam has sound!

Snowy Owl Feathers to be used for imping.  I'm quite taken with the fact that they tape the replacement feathers to the wall.  Makes perfect sense though as if you did't batten them down somehow they could waft all over over the place.

A Snowy Owl with singed wing feathers gets an expert imping job.  Yes imping! (I love that word.)  It is a falconer's technique in which saved feathers of the correct position are clipped to the right length and are connected to the shortened feather shaft of the damaged feather... which is still connected to the bird.  Bamboo is often used as the stabilizer between the two shafts.

And as  I love the word here is a rundown complete with origin..

  Imping, a verb used in falconry

a. to graft (feathers) into a wing. furnish (a wing, tail, etc.) with feathers, as to make good losses or deficiencies and improve powers of flight.

6. Archaic. to add a piece to; mend or repair.

before 900;  (noun) Middle English impe, Old English impa, impe  shoot, graft < Late Latin impotus, imputus  grafted shoot < Greek émphytos  planted, implanted, verbal adjective of emphŷein  to implant ( em- em-2  + phŷein  to bring forth); (v.) Middle English impen  to plant, graft, Old English impian, geimpian,  derivative of the noun (compare Old High German impfōn, impitōn  > German impfen  to inoculate); sense “demon” < phrase imp of the devil
 "Imping." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 03 Apr. 2014.
Sally of Kentucky just sent me some photographs of T3, the hawk who has been courting Franklin Mom.  Sally reports that there has been some talk that T3 has the look of Pale Male.  And he DOES.  Will post some pix as soon as permission comes in.


Donegal Browne

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Quicksilver and Squirrel the Cat Etc. Part 3 PLUS Deer Eating Deer,-Why Not Anthrophagy (cannibalism)?

 This is Part 3, so if you haven't seen Part 2 scroll down and then come back up.

It is then that I realize that this is the laundry room, which Silver is convinced is his nest site, he's standing on the edge of his "cavity", and is about to launch himself at the cat.  (I'll crop the photo with just Silver so you have a better view.)
Look at his eyes and slightly open beak.  This is a parrot who is no longer playing and not even rational.
                 SILVER!!!!!  STOP!!!!
WHAT?  Okay guys, that's it! I put Silver back on his play area and change the position of  the ladder so the trunk is closed except for a few inches for air flow.

What was that old adage, about curiosity and the cat?

Never fear, not even Squirrel who is a Houdini of cats can get back into this one.  And if he did he could get back out and if somehow the lid came down, this is a cat with a very good set of lungs.  He is constantly getting shut in cupboards, accidentally shut in a room upstairs or at the least ending up on the wrong side of doors.  He meows very loudly until someone comes to let him out.

Next up,  there have been a good many responses concerning the post of April 1st, (No, it wasn't an April Fools joke.), in which I wrote about the deer eating deer study.

Karen Anne Kolling of the Gonzo Deck wrote:

It would be interesting to know why the taboo against eating one's own species developed, while there are many societies in which it is okay to eat other species. 

Indeed, Karen, that question crossed my mind as well.  Just why is anthrophagy forbidden in most human societies.  

My first thought was that it has lately been proved that cooperative  efforts in Homo sapiens is an evolutionary advantage and part of the reason we are still around.  For instance, if you eat your brother in law, he won't be around to help you do chores that need a couple of strong guys to finish. Or help you fend off Homo antecessor, who did eat Homo sapiens. Besides your sister wouldn't like it and she'd possibly do you in some dark night.

A case in point...

- The world's first known cannibals ate each other to satisfy their nutritional needs.
- The cannibals belonged to the species Homo antecessor, related to both Neanderthals and modern humans.
- Homo antecessor appears to have preyed on competing groups, treating victims like any other meat source.
The world's first known human cannibals ate each other to satisfy their nutritional needs, concludes a new study of the remains of cannibal feasts consumed about one million years ago.
The humans-as-food determination negates other possibilities, such as cannibalism for ritual's sake, or cannibalism due to starvation. In this oldest known case of humans eating humans, other food was available to the diners, but human flesh was just part of their meat mix.
"These practices were conducted by Homo antecessor, who inhabited Europe one million years ago," according to the research team, led by Eudald Carbonell.
For more...

And guess what, Homo antecessor is extinct.  Not much of an evolutionary advantage in the practice, it turns out.  

Though in science we want things to be able to be nailed done to only one "reason", I think that in the evolutionary game often multiple factors may enter into the process of which species survive.  

My second thought as to possible evolutionary disadvantages of eating each other, and this may have contributed to the demise of  sections of  Homo sapiens who practiced cannibalism or other Homos who did as well, is the contraction of disease.

I couldn't find it anywhere this evening, but I do remember reading many years ago about a tribe of headhunters who ate the brains of the warriors they killed in battle in order to ingest their courage and or other personal attributes.  

Which is just a super way to be infected by prions, which cause various kinds of encephalitis.   And of course if a human eats another human who is infected with anything and the meal isn't well cooked or not cooked at all there is a good chance of passing it to the diners.


Not a great evolutionary advantage to say the least.  Therefore even if some groups of Homo sapiens took up the practice, due to the pitfalls, they would be less likely to survive than those of us who have perhaps a native or acquired "aversion" to it.

Speaking of aversions,  if  your personal aversion also extends to not eating other primates you are far better off.

Besides the possibility of contracting Green Monkey Disease and there is still a battle raging in some parts of the world over whether or not AIDS is or isn't a mutated form of monkey autoimmune disease.

And on that note...

Donegal Browne

Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot and Squirrel the Cat with a Cameo From Tig the Basenji Part 2

This is where we left off.  Quicksilver and Squirrel pretending they are completely ignoring each other and investigating the trunk.  Though upon thought perhaps Silver is actually checking the trunk as he's been investigating just about any cavity type of space as a possible nesting place.

Silver might have been investigating the trunk, but when Squirrel hops out and starts coming his way he's alert to the change.
Tig the Basenji comes in, nudges the cat and Silver says loud and repeatedly  "Bad dog."  "BAD DOG!", until Tig leaves.
Silver then calls, "Kittykittykittykittykittykitty", until Squirrel comes back.
Squirrel saunters further in and snuffs the trunk.
I tell Squirrel to stop.  Silver gives me the "why" look.  (Sigh)
Knock it off guys.
Squirrel decides he was actually sniffing the rug waiting to go into the washer.  Silver gives me "the what" look.
Squirrel crouches and Silver monitors whether they are likely to get into trouble.
Squirrel's tail begins to tic and Silver whets his beak on the trunk.

DRAT!  Blogger won't load the last few photos so off I go to start a new page.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Nurturing Biophilia Feedback and Do Some Deer Actually Eat the Remains Of Dead Deer That Have Been Left Behind by Human Hunters? And Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot, Squirrel the Cat, and Tig the Basenji Check Out A Trunk

                            The late Athena of the Triborough Bridge Nest in Queens

 FROM SALLY OF KENTUCKY, regarding the importance of naming wild creatures that urban people in particular watch in various neighborhoods foster biophilia...

Agreed! Although I think that numbers might be able to have the same affect in watchers. The discussions of the recent disappearance and apparent loss of the Franklin Institute male "T2" are no less sad than those who mourn the loss of Lola or Athena or Hawkeye or Tristan. the eagle nest watchers on the website use tag numbers as "names" for the most part, and when A27 a female that had been nesting for years at one nest went missing last year they were as upset as if hse had had a "real" name. They talk about the birds using their ID wing tag numbers as endearingly as you could want. I prefer names,I think it is easier to quickly connect to "Ziggy" or "Sabre" or "Atlas" than it is to attach to A40 and A48. But the attachment does develop in those that watch nests, whatever the bird is "named". Might be an interesting graduate thesis for someone to pursue.

Yes it would Sally.  I  wonder how one would quantify the biophilia for an animal with a number name vs a descriptive name.  Well...I have my masters and have been thinking about pursuing my Ph.D. and naming is one of my "things"...

I think it might take a little longer for an uninitiated person in a neighborhood to bond with an W712 name than say a descriptive name like Pale Male, which also helps in identification, but I might be wrong.  And certainly over time any "handle" for an animal does become a "name".

And next up long time blog correspondent Betty Jo of California--

  I loved your piece on Biophilia, Donna.  I had never heard the word before. Now I want to read Wilson's book.
Yes, Pale Male does look sweet!  Oh my--this spring he'll turn 24-- how amazing considering the dangers of life in NYC.  I too love behavior!  I don't have to see rare birds--I just love watching my backyard birds.
I even love the Monarch caterpillar's behavior--which mostly consists of eating very fast.  However they do go on "walk abouts"--sometimes just down the side walk and they can travel faster than I expected.  I don't name them because they move around too much, but I know now that they leave the milkweed and go to nearby plants and sit very still when they are ready to shed their skin.  
A casual observer may think they also eat the plant on
which they are resting.  I think they move off to suppress the urge to eat that milkweed must encourage. ?  a guess!
Anyway--thanks so much for your always interesting blog,
Betty Jo McDonald

Thanks Betty Jo. Grand to hear from you again.  Watching a creature just going about their business completely makes my day. 

Fascinating hypothesis:  They move off the plant that would distract and tempt them to eat instead preparing for the next "step".  I like it!

What would happen if they were in a huge field of milkweed with absolutely no other plants I wonder?

Would they then take a very long walk to find something else or would they just keep eating and the whole cycle would be disrupted?

Thank goodness that even if there was miles of milkweed, which is unlikely of course,  though some people have suggested should be planted to help the Monarchs to thrive again, there would be some "weeds" as no herbicides would be used the Monarch caterpillars would be able to move away from their temptation to eat and  do what they need to do.

Though many have taken phenological notes about what some creatures eat and when they reproduce for instance here is an example of why behavior study is important. The Monarch caterpillar needs another species of plant to go to shed their skin.  It is amazing how many creatures who's other behavior beyond the bare basics has not been thoroughly notated yet. 

In fact Wilson's belief is that there are still hundreds of thousands of species, most teeny in size, who are as yet unnamed scientifically let alone studied for behavior.

By the way, do you have any idea about how long they "rest" before shedding their skin?

My daughter Samantha who works at Dr. Pepperberg's Parrot Lab at Harvard, while getting her undergraduate degree, a double major...Ecological Science with an emphasis in Behavior and a second major in Theatre, (and what's theatre besides the behavior of Homo sapiens) at Brandeis has opened my eyes to just how much the "expected behavior" of those involved in science has changed in at least some quarters these days. 

 I was utterly delighted when she told me her Animal Behavior prof,  Dan Perlmann, (a former student of E. O. Wilson)  paused a slide presentation on various creatures during class one day and said, "Aren't they cute?"

I cannot  tell you how vindicated I felt.

There is no question that "Science"  now allows joy and humanity in at least some of its halls.  And let me add whimsy and a sense of humor, Perlman has also invented a water soluble "glue" to make sand castles last longer.

 But back to biophilia and Ed Wilson,  readers can stream the NOVAepisode, "Lord of the Ants" (beginning with one of Wilson's Bioblitzs in Central Park) and the Bill Moyers Journal featuring Ed Wilson on your computer at the links below.  He is brilliant enthusiastic optimistic scientist  and writer (25 books and counting) who is also pretty much a hoot. Go for it.
 Lord of the Ants

 Bill Moyers  The Journal: E.O. Wilson 


 Deer browsing on the verge between a cornfield and a woods.

These deer are doing what one would expect deer to do.  When the snow melts, deer often browse in spots where field corn has collected.  Normal behavior for an herbivore.

Well, the other day I was talking to Samantha (the daughter studying animal behavior) on the telephone and she asked me if I'd heard about deer eating the remains of human killed deer that had been dressed in the field, and the innards, organs, etc. left in the woods?  

Hunters are supposed to deeply bury or carry out the parts they aren't keeping but sometimes the bad mannered and lazy don't.

I said, NO!  I hadn't heard of that.  

As it turns out there had been reports of this sort of deer behavior in recent years.  And as you might imagine these reports were originally discounted...too much Pabst Blue Ribbon. 

Come on Deer are herbivores.  Besides everything else they don't even have the teeth for the job.

Finally a study was done and yes, just in, some deer have begun to consume hunter's leavings.

As Sam said, "I always did wonder how omnivores evolved."

How could this happen? 

 Well, there are far fewer members of natures clean up crews than there used to be due to poisons, trapping, "varmit control", and lack of proper habitat.  Therefore many ecosystems are missing many of the creatures that once evolved to live in those systems and do various and sundry jobs.

It appears other creatures are now adapting to fill in the voids.

How creepy is this?

Nature is beginning to fill in.

P.S.  This is new stuff and  I've not found anything about the topic online.  If anyone does find more information on this behavior do please let me know.

And as you might have found the above disquieting...a preview of a whimsy....  Remember some time ago I went to see what "the junk man" had for possible cheap storage?   Well I'd gotten an old trunk for a couple of dollars and it had been in the garage ever since.  Today I dragged it into the laundry room to make an attempt at cleaning it. I went off to find the vacuum and now a preview of .... Quicksilver, Squirrel, and Tig Check Out A Trunk....

I hadn't been gone more than two minutes and Squirrel was already in the trunk and Quicksilver was thinking about joining in.

 Squirrel then checks out the nail sharpening capability of  vintage trunk wood....

Silver bombs down to the trunk from above and Squirrel almost leaps out but puts on the brakes.  If he had leapt out Silver would have laughed and that would be embarrassing and that's what Silver had in mind in the first place.
Silver scrutinizes and Squirrel sniffs.  Both pretending that they aren't paying any attention to the other. be continued.

And last but not least in from Robin of Illinois, how prevalent were  lemmings this Snowy Owl breeding season?