Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Common Grackle

Grackles live, nest and migrate in colonies.  Unlike other birds who fiercely defend a designated area, the only time Grackles define or defend a territory is when they are nesting- that territory is the immediate area around the nest. 
In spring, courtship is on every Grackle's mind.  Thus, a bunch of males descend on a female and wow her with song and feather ruffing and bill tilting and other assorted manly behaviors.  She picks one.  The other males move on.
Now the pair hangs out together and sings together and eventually gets around to building a nest.  After a few weeks of flying around with long strands of grass in their bills, they finally settle in to  use the grass to build the nest.  The female does the building.  Nests are built near to other Grackle nests, often in big trees.  The female lays 4-5 eggs.
Incubation is 11-13 days.  The female handles the incubation.  (At this point, many male Grackles desert his mate and find another, who, presumably he also deserts during incubation.)  Nestling lasts about 12 days.  The youngsters then fledge for a very short time.  Soon they are independent and join other juveniles in a sort of gang.  Females have one brood per year. 
Male and female Grackles look very much alike.   It is only during mating season that it is clear which is which, for the males do a macho flying technique whereby they flex, just so, to show off their V shaped tail.    
Common Grackle plumage is black with bronze and purple iridescence.  They are 11-13 inches long with a long tail, long bill and yellow eyes.  A Robin, for comparison, is 9-11 inches long.

Robin on the left.  Grackle on the right.
The range of Grackles includes parts of Canada and throughout the US.  Many colonies of Grackles do not migrate at all, but remain pretty much in the same area all year. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 13

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  In an effort to maintain my interest in this game, we're going to do things a little differently this Round.  I will ask a question to which the answer is not now known.  The winner will be the one with the answer that most pleases me.  Now, let's get on with it.

Jimmy Hoffa, or rather, his remains, are in the news again.  It seems some old wise guy suddenly remembered that Hoffa's body was in the floor of a barn somewhere in Oakland Township.  The FBI are digging around there right now. 

Here's my question.  What really happened to Jimmy Hoffa?

He was conked on the head then hung up in the walk-in
 refrigerator inside the Machus Red Fox restaurant kitchen. 
Later that day, he was featured in the Chef's Special.

Hostmaster:  that sure explains why he was last seen at the Red Fox.

He was garroted and now he sleeps with the fishes.

Hostmaster:  that is so Godfather.
After waking one morning to find an
 engine block in his bed,
he fled.  He now works
 for the IRS. 

Hostmaster:  Godfather Part 1 was better than Part 2, that is one of the reasons. 
Yeah.  He fled and reinvented himself, but as an actor. 
 You know, like George Raft and Al Pacino.

Hostmaster:  there's a method to acting.
 He is working at a McDonald's in Kalamazoo. 
 It's the same McDonald's that Elvis works at.

Hostmaster:  curious twist of fate.  A non union job.
He went up north and hung around in rough bars.
  Eventually he tangled with those guys from Mio
 who beat him up and fed his body to pigs.
Hostmaster:  I'm hungry.  I declare the Chef's Special the winner.
This is the end of Round 13.  Who's up for a burger?
Round 13
Fluffy/Molly 6
Bryan/Cyndi  7

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dog Bone of Contention

The dogs living in my house are designated "aggressive"  or "powerful" chewers by makers of dog bones.  These dog bone manufacturers offer toy bones that are "durable" and "virtually indestructible".  You buy these bones for your dog so they can enjoy a good aggressive chew without breaking off chucks of non durable bone material and ingesting it.  Something fun and safe for dog play.  That's the theory anyway. 

Yes.  Good safe fun.  That's the ticket!

Here we have a new durable virtually indestructible bone (top) lying beside a briefly used durable virtually indestructible bone (bottom).

That used bone looks pretty good, you may be thinking. 
Look closer.

 Notice how the bottom new bone is rounded at the edges, while the slightly used bone is sharp at the edges.

Like a shiv.

Look around my house.   Multiple dog bones. 

Multiple shivs. 

This used to be shaped like a turkey leg.

Aggressive chewer enjoying safe play with the shiv at the top of the stairs.

My perspective following a lively bit of fun and safe play with my aggressive chewer's shiv.  It occurs to me as I lie here:  you need a thumb to use a shiv properly, traditionally.
Looks like my dogs have taken their aggression to a new level.  They have expanded their power chewing beyond the chewing. 
It's what you might call Out of the Bone Thinking.