I am thrilled to announce that the ducklings are back, and as adorable as ever. There were, in fact, two separate groups. I shall call them the Itsy Bitsy Group and the Fluffily Adorable Group. Both groups were down in the pond and the creek that run near my house. Having seen these precious little babies last year, my fiance and I have been going on walks solely to see them again this year.
We saw the Itsy Bitsy Group first:
They were definitely the younger group, so tiny and squee! But they were a little shy, so this is as close as we could get:
There’s no feeding the ducks in this area, which I do understand, even if I would love to lure them closer.
On our way back, the trail runs alongside the creek, and we got up-close and personal with some more ducklings! These were far less shy, although they kept a weather eye on us.
Now we’re just waiting for the quail to hatch their ridiculously tiny offspring. Nothing like some darting, fluffy pinballs to make your day!
So, dear readers, which baby animals do you like to go out and *squee* at?
Drones are an increasing problem, cluttering the skies, poking their noses where they shouldn’t be, and getting up to all kinds of mischief. Dutch police have gone back to nature in trying to solve this problem: eagles.
That’s right, these here are drone-killing eagles:
Drones are now readily available to the public (and let’s face it, they’re pretty cool). My fiance even has one. I mean, it’s tiny and the battery only lasts about 10 minutes, but still. They’re proliferating. And when they’re getting too close to airports and flight-paths, measures need to be taken to protect the more important objects hurtling through the air – you know, the ones carrying people.
There is technology that “detects radio signals from rogue drones and uses tracking technology to force the drone to land,” which is pretty cool, even though it’s only in the research stage. But we all know as software improves, some drones will become impervious to that.
CNN lists some other countermeasures:
Countermeasures cited in the report included signal jamming, lasers, and the deployment of missiles, rockets and bullets, where it’s acknowledged there is high risk of collateral damage, and potential for “catastrophic damage” if they miss their target.
But eagles are pretty awesome. Let’s hear it for more eagles. Because what could possibly go wrong?
So it turns out that birds are terrifying. Majestic, oh yeah, but beneath that majesty are some twisted little birdies.
There are some falcons in Morocco that, around egg-hatching season, take some pretty extreme measures to keep their food “fresh.” Why eat rotten bird when you can “[stuff] small birds into small crevices, ensuring they were tightly wedged in and unable to escape,” or dropping “small migratory birds [into] holes and fissures with their flight and tail feathers removed” so they couldn’t fly away. Now, I know nature can be cruel, and I don’t doubt that having fresh food for the hatchlings is an evolutionary advantage, but…yikes. This is downright creepy.
Haven’t had enough cruel animal brilliance? How about this one. There are many stories and evidence to suggest that birds of prey in Australia are starting fires to flush out prey. They’re not just taking advantage of existing wildfires that drive small creatures from their homes. Oh no, They are “picking up smoldering sticks and dropping them in unburnt territory.” It’s another creepy, evolutionarily advantageous behavior.
“Reptiles, frogs and insects rush out from the fire, and there are birds that wait in front, right at the foot of the fire, waiting to catch them,” Gosford said. Small fires often attract so many birds that there is insufficient fleeing prey for all, so a bird that was being beaten to its lunch might benefit from starting a new fire with less competition.
So yeah, you could say that these birds are scarier than you. When was the last time you started a fire to flush out lunch?
Y’know, I’ve never actually looked into all that prenatal learning stuff, but I’ve always idly wondered about those mothers who press earphones playing Mozart against their swollen bellies… are they crazy, or is there something to it?
Well, for wrens, the babies definitely learn in the egg. Scientists played various sounds and calls and reached the conclusion that yes, baby birds learn in their eggs. Cue the rounds of aaaaaaw. (I have a mental picture of a little baby bird rocking out to earphones inside his egg.)
As it turns out, baby cries both animal and human have a lot in common, too. Mothers of various animal species would attempt to locate the source of distressed baby cries regardless of the species making the cry. Turns out parenthood unites mothers of all species.
Although really… scientists needed to do a study to verify this? I think most of us have felt our heartstrings tugged by the cries of distressed baby animals before. There are too many adorable internet videos for that not to be the case. INTERNET, PROVE ME RIGHT FOR SCIENCE!
Hummingbirds. Beautiful. Tiny. Surely these are the sweetest of all birds.
Spoiler alert: no.
I once heard hummingbirds described as miniature fighter pilots with pit bull personalities. From what I’ve seen, this is entirely accurate.
Throughout my childhood, my mom had a single hummingbird feeder hanging over our deck, and let me tell you, hummingbirds are a scrappy lot. They’re territorial and constantly dive-bombing one another. When two males challenge each other, I’ve seen them fly around in tight circles, feathers spread in challenge displays. They get so focused on each other that I’ve seen them bounce off branches, windows, and even the side of our house!
Don’t believe me? Check out this article: Male Hummingbirds Use Beaks As Daggers To Stab Opponents’ Throats
Here’s a really good quality video of normal hummingbird footage, including what they sound like. Hummingbirds don’t just make sound by “tweeting” (or squeaking), they also make sounds with their wings. Their “humming” (created with their feathers) will vary depending on what they’re trying to communicate. An angry hummingbird is a loud, buzzing hummingbird (it’s usually very vocal, too). Individual hums also vary.
At one point in the above video, you can actually hear them whack into each other.
After 0:27 the dive-bombing starts.
Around the 1:56 mark, you can see one hummingbird poke his tongue out the end of his beak. They actually do it quite a few times over the course of the video. It always reminds me of the Road Runner sticking his tongue out at Wile E. Coyote.
Hummingbird mating dances are really cute though. I remember seeing one kind at home. The male would fly straight up in the sky with a little “zoop zoop zoop” sound, and then dive back down with a high-pitched “pew” sound. I tried to find footage of it for you guys, but apparently given how tiny they are and how fast they’re moving over a large space, it’s really hard to catch on video. I did find this cute, puffy hummingbird “singing” a courtship song:
But I think this might be my new favorite kind of hummingbird. Look! Kite tails and fluffy legs!
Remember folks, they’re only cute because they’re squeaky.
So, readers? Did you know that hummingbirds were really mean little fighting machines? Or did this come as a surprise? I’d love to read your hummingbird stories!
Some animals have the most extraordinary navigational abilities. Some days it seems like there’s nothing new for science to discover when it comes to the mammals we’re so familiar with, like birds and cats, but really, we’ve barely scratched the surface. The article above shares an anecdote about someone’s cat: the cat belonged to a local family, had been lost on a trip two months earlier, and had traveled 200 miles (322 km) in that time to arrive back in her hometown. Scientists have no idea how the cat was able to do that.
I can find my way home.
We do understand how some animals navigate. Dung beetles use the stars, as do seabirds (seabirds use the sun too). Some use Earth’s magnetic fields; sea turtles are born with a magnetic map of the ocean in their heads, allowing freshly hatched babies to run to the ocean and find feeding and breeding grounds. Of course, we’re not sure how exactly they sense and use magnetic fields to navigate, but we know that’s how they’re doing it. Seabirds get lost when it’s overcast, and sea turtles will go the wrong way when presented with artificial magnetic fields. Many animals can also sense things we can’t; a dog’s sense of smell is a prime example.
Maybe this is a reminder for us human beings to keep in mind that there’s more to our world – even the more obvious parts of our world – than we know.