Sunday, May 20, 2018

Of the Collective

Collective nouns, that is.  There are cool words to describe groups of critters.  You know, a herd of cattle, a hum of bumblebees, a bucket of pheasants, a kindle of kittens, a business of ferrets....

A crow considers participating in a murder.

This member of an army of frogs is on guard duty.

Here we have a small charm of finches.

A bunch of ants are called a colony, clump or swarm.  The correct term probably depends on the activity going on or type of ant being described. We know this for sure.  Ants of the magic marker variety are called a drawing of ants.

This squirrel is on time out from his scurry.

A gang of turkeys looking for trouble.  Such hoodlum turkeys are also known as a raft.

A term inspired by famous bad guy George Raft?

Ducks stand in a puddling.

A dole of doves sit on a rock.

This is not a knot of toads.

One walking stick short of a faggot.  (OK.  I made that one up.)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Robin vs his Doppelganger

It began innocently enough.  Mr. Robin sought a mate with which to nest.

The trouble began during that necessary part of the courtship process that involves chasing away romantic rivals.

Mr. Robin had the tools:  manly good looks, courage, persistence.   Somehow, it went wrong.

You know that game where you stand before a mirror and chant taunts to dare evil to come through?

Mr. Robin played that game.  He's spending the season battling his own reflection.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Robin has moved on to nest with a mate that isn't going the way of Narcissus.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 67

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Let's get on with it.

Yesterday was Earth Day.  What is Earth Day?

Earth Day owes it's origin to Ira Einhorn.
He killed his girlfriend then put her body in a trunk.
Naturally, dangerous fluids leaked from her decaying body.
This raised awareness on the importance of disposing of girlfriends and 
other garbage in an environmentally friendly manner.

Hostmaster:  incorrect.

It's a hunting competition where
Dachshunds and short legged terriers
hunt critters in holes.

Hostmaster:  you're describing Earth Dogs not Earth Day.  Good effort though.

Earth Day is a global initiative
to educate people about the fragility
of our planet and how we must protect it.

Hostmaster:  that sounds official.  

Yes, the fragile earth rife with volcanoes spewing lava,
quakes that leave huge crevices, tidal waves that  burst onto the
shore and pulverize everything somehow survived 
billions of years without our help.

People are ruining the planet.

So they must be controlled, right?  

Yes.  Over population and landfills
and fossil fuels in the air and animals
going extinct and forests decimated.
This cannot be allowed.  So people
must be forced to recycle and not pollute
the air and everything.

People have been recycling things since
there were people.  Do you really believe
that such common sense solutions are not
 good enough?

Of course not.  Not enough people
 have common sense so laws
must be passed.

And grocery stores should refuse to
offer their customers plastic bags
 to save the jellyfish.

And customers must be forced to use
cloth bags that require washing.
Better to waste the jellyfish's water
than clog up a landfill!

This round has become a landfill. 
 Happy day after Earth Day everybody!  

Round 67
Fluffy/Molly  33
Bryan/Cyndi   31

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole is a medium sized songbird about 7-8 inches in length. Their favored habitat is tall deciduous trees, often placing their nests on the highest branches.  They eat nectar, fruit and bugs.

Orioles migrate north in spring from their winter digs in Central and Northern South America.  The males arrive at the breeding grounds first.  They stake a territory claim and sing about it.  These territories are rather small and often right next to other Oriole territories.  Soon the females arrive, there's more singing and posturing too.  By mid May, most of the birds have paired up.

image of range map for Baltimore Oriole

Thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the cool map!

  Male Orioles are have a deep orange chest and rump with black head, shoulders and wings.  The female is yellowish  orange with olive gray trim.

Female Oriole photo courtesy of Bad Dog Ranch.

The female makes a nest using fibers from plant stalks, a favorite is Milkweed.  She weaves a nest.  This it is not artful weaving but holds up very well even in high winds.  The male does not assist but stays close by during the 5-8 days it takes to construct the nest.  He sings.

Some Oriole Family Facts

- a pair has 1 brood per year

-  3-6 eggs in a brood

-  incubation 12-14 days, done by female

-  nesting:  12-14 days, both parents feed young

-  fledging:  approximately 7 days

Photo of male Oriole from Macaulay Library

During the fledging period, the female goes into molt, abandons the family and leaves the territory.  The male remains with the youngsters until they are independent.  The male then goes into his molt but remains in the territory through late summer. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

He is Risen

We need an Easter reading.
How about some Paul?

OK.  I got one.  O death, where is your
victory?  O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power
of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who
gives us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ.

And Paul goes on to say: Therefore,
my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the
word of the Lord, knowing that in the
Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:55-58


Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Public Service Announcement

Lily offers a few thoughts for today, Thursday March 29, 2018.

Spring is the time to get your blood test for heart worm.  It doesn't hurt!  Well, hardly at all. The Vet Techs are nice.

Springtime means the ground gets soft and your people become agitated about MUD.  There is nothing you can do about it.  Your best bet is to cooperate when they want to wipe your feet.  Trust me on this.

Today is Opening Day in Detroit.

Go get em Tigers!

Thank you.  Good bye for now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Let's Look at Dog Eye Movements

Some researchers from the Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine at the University of Helsinki conducted a study on the effect of oxytocin in domestic dogs.  Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that effects social behavior and emotional reactions in mammals.  It is commonly called the "affection hormone".

To see what adding more oxytocin might do, the researchers taught a bunch of dogs to rest their chins on a little bar (like at the eye doctor) so their eye movements and pupil dilation could be measured while they looked at pictures of unfamiliar human faces- some angry, some happy.  One group of dogs were given a placebo of nasal saline, the other group was given nasal oxytocin.

Dogs that snorted saline reacted more strongly to the angry faces.  Dogs that snorted oxytocin reacted more strongly to the happy faces.

The researchers concluded that oxytocin, when snorted "changes the allocation of attention and emotional arousal in domestic dogs".

What does this mean?  Well, similar studies were done with humans and monkeys but the results were not the same as with dogs.  The oxytocin caused the dogs to focus on the happy faces while the other species only reacted less strongly to both the happy and angry faces when under the influence of oxytocin.  Researchers think this selective response in dogs will maybe "facilitate communication between humans and dogs" (and monkeys and dogs, presumably).

It's clear to see, that there's still some kinks to be ironed out.  For one thing, in general, monkeys and people don't consider looking into someone's eyes as threatening as dogs do.  Does this skew the results?  It is difficult to imagine that it wouldn't.  Maybe the researchers will look into it.

Read the study here.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Seasonal Music

Spring is on the way.  Birdsong fills the air.

  Have you ever wondered about birds that cannot sing?