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xkcd: Where Do Birds Go
[via: "It’s been raining a good deal here in central Texas recently, and whenever the rain comes and the birds disappear from our bird feeders I have the same thought, one which is memorialized in one of my favorite xkcd comics."
https://buttondown.email/ayjay/archive/notebooks-a-monk-and-the-death-of-a-poet/ ]
via:ayjay  birds  rain  weather  humanism  nature  interconnected  universal  universalism  xkcd  comics 
14 days ago by robertogreco
Un muro invisible se alza entre los buitres de España y Portugal | Ciencia | EL PAÍS
[via: https://twitter.com/TurbanMinor/status/1113352919301218304

"1/ A vulture can fly up to 400 kilometres each day in search of carrion. Little should it care whether this flight takes it from one country to another. The vultures of Spain, however, skirt around the Portuguese border with uncanny accuracy. [image: map showing the areas inhabited by to carrion birds]

2/ Eneko Arrondo (@BIOEAF), an ecologist at the Doñana Biological Station (@ebdonana), in Spain, was monitoring the distribution of 60 tagged griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) and 11 cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) for his PhD project when he noticed the sharp pattern. [image: one photo with what seems to be an individual from each of the bird species]

3/ During a 2-year study period, only 13 birds visited Portugal, and they all quickly turned back, Arrondo and his colleagues reported last year in Bio. Conservation. Why the rest flew close to the neighbouring country, but never entered it, was a mystery. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320717315550

4/ The Portuguese-Spanish border follows river valleys and is not associated with abrupt changes in climate or land-use. What is different on either side, the team learned from Portuguese ornithologists, is the law. [image: map of watersheds on Iberian Peninsula]

5/ Spanish farmers don’t collect dead cattle, but in Portugal, they must bury or burn all carcasses. This leaves no food for vultures, who have learned that the grass is always greener on the eastern side. [photo of birds feasting on a carcass]

6/ A handful of nesting colonies remain in Portugal, says Joaquim Teodósio, a biologist working for the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (@spea_birdlife), but the vultures that occupy them spend the daylight hours abroad.

7/ The reasons for the mismatch are historical. In 2001, Europe’s answer to the mad-cow disease (BSE) crisis was banning the abandonment of dead livestock. Spanish vultures, which account for 95% of all scavenging birds in Europe, suffered especially.
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ES/TXT/?qid=1456745645114&uri=CELEX:02001R0999-20160203

8/ Conservationists at the time made a strong case against the ban, which convinced European Union 🇪🇺 legislators to delegate the choice to member states. Some countries, like Spain, resumed cattle abandonment under special conditions. Portugal never changed its laws. [photo of a dog and a cow amidst garbage]

9/ Representatives of BirdLife International, a nature conservation partnership, in both countries (@SEO_BirdLife 🇪🇸 / @spea_birdlife 🇵🇹) argue wildlife will benefit from the integration of sanitary policies across European borders.

10/ It's not just vultures at stake: the collection, transportation and disposal of dead animals is costly and polluting. [animated GIF of a smokestack]

11/ One study, published in Scientific Reports, calculated that taking these jobs from scavengers in Spain involved annual payments of around $50 million to insurance companies and the emission of 77,344 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide every year. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep07811

12/ Activists in Portugal are pushing for change. They ask for carrion abandonment permits for farmers, or at least for designated feeding stations where dead cattle may be allowed to rot. Until such measures are granted, an invisible ecological barrier hovers above the border. [GIF showing an old-time film "The End" marking]

13/ This story was published in Spanish for El País last year. Lo recordé hace poco por una conversación y quería compartir en inglés. Dejo aquí el enlace: https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/15/ciencia/1518707418_741915.html "
spain  portugal  españa  2018  animals  multispecies  borders  law  laws  vultures  carrion  birds  wildlife  nature  morethanhuman  cattle  farming  ranching  brunomartín 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Birding gets new life in this YouTube nature series - The Verge
"Jason Ward brings the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world of birding to YouTube in the new video series, Birds of North America. The series follows Ward as he tracks birds through New York’s Central Park, talks bird-themed tattoos, and studies the preserved remains of extinct birds at the American Museum of Natural History.

The video series is only three episodes into season 1’s 12-episode run, and it’s hosted on the YouTube channel of digital storytelling brand Topic.com. In the videos, the camera shakes as it chases Ward to bird sightings, where Ward brings a lively approach to what’s often stereotyped as a stodgy pastime. Ward compares speedy peregrine falcons to sky Lamborghinis, and the hard-to-describe call of the rose-breasted grosbeak to the squeak of a basketball shoe on hardwood. The camera alternates between views of Ward, and his views of tiny birds hiding in branches.

Ward’s view of nature isn’t all peaceful bird-watching. “People occasionally think we live in this Disney-inspired world, where all the songbirds are just singing and getting along,” he says. “But no, these birds are all attacking each other.” Raptors eat smaller birds, songbirds shove each other off food sources, and hummingbirds? “Hummingbirds will attack everything,” he says."
jasonward  birds  birding  youtube  television  animals  multispecies  nature  2019 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
anja kanngieser on Twitter: "this is a long thread on #nauru, where i spent last week. nauru is currently most visible as a site for australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees. it is also the location of a longstanding #phosphate mine
"this is a long thread on #nauru, where i spent last week. nauru is currently most visible as a site for australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees. it is also the location of a longstanding #phosphate mine which covers over 2/3 of the island 1/22

#nauru is experiencing considerable #climatechange. im going to outline some of the social-environmental stresses i observed that nauruans, refugees and asylum seekers are facing, and why we need to talk about #colonialism and #environmental racism for #climatejustice 2/22

#nauru is a beautiful island. its main resource is #phosphate. germany colonised nauru in the late 1800s and in the early 1900s the british found phosphate and started to exploit it for fertiliser and munitions with australia and nz, who became nauru’s trustees in the 1920s 3/22

during both world wars #nauru was a strategic imperial site and was occupied by multiple nations. in the 1960s nauru gained independence and took over mining activities 4/22

these days its extremely hard to get onto #nauru. i was invited to do work on community #mitigation and #adaptation measures. my work involves speaking with community leaders, environment organisations, government workers, activists 5/22

it also involves making #bioacoustic recordings of environments - #nauru's mine, the reef, the lagoon. this means i spend a lot of time listening. this is some of what i was told: 6/22

#nauru is running out of land. there are too many people living on the coast, as topside (the mining site) has not been rehabilitated. its a moonscape up there - huge phosphate pinnacles segregated by steep drops. its hot - it feels like 50 degrees, and its super humid 7/22

no one really goes up there, except people working in the mine, ihms employees and the border force. and refugees and asylum seekers, because thats where the detention centres are. you cant play there or just hang out, its too hot, and if youre not in aircon its unbearable 8/22

#coastal erosion is bad around the north of #nauru. sea walls protect one area but then other areas get flooded. #kingtides flood the single road that runs around the island, meaning people cant get around to access services 9/22

houses on the coast side of the main road on #nauru get #inundated. because of a lack of land, people cant really move far 10/22

much of the ground water in #nauru is #contaminated, by waste, from overpopulated cemeteries leaking into the water lens, run off from the mine and sea water. there is a huge stress on water supplies 11/22

most of #nauru gets its water from the desalination plant, but it takes a long time to get water and if it breaks experts need to be flown in to fix it. not everyone has a water tank, so there are water shortages 12/22

its hard to grow food on #nauru so food is imported. there are long lines of people whenever a shipment of rice is due to arrive. cucumbers cost $13AUD, a punnet of cherry tomatoes $20AUD. people do not earn anywhere near enough money to be able to afford it 13/22

kitchen gardens have been established on #nauru, but they only feed the families that have them, a lot of people feel their soil is not adequate to growing food 14/22

reef fish stocks are depleted on #nauru, so there is a plan to build milkfish supplies in peoples home ponds. as the water is contaminated that means that the fish are contaminated. if people feed the fish to the pigs and eat the pigs, then that meat is also contaminated 15/22

the #phosphate dust from the mine causes respiratory issues in #nauru. it covers houses near the harbour and people refer to it as snow. while primary mining is almost complete, secondary mining is planned. this should last around 20 years, then the phosphate is gone 16/22

#nauru is getting hotter. its so hot that kids dont want to walk to school, which is not aircon. its so hot that no one is really outside during the day. the heat on the coast is not as bad as the heat on topside. but its still hot enough that you dont want to move 17/22

i was told that people remember it being 20 degrees cooler when they were kids. #nauru goes through extreme #droughts 18/22

there are issues with #biodiversity loss and strange movements of sea creatures. i recorded a dusk chorus at a mining site and heard only one bird. at the start of the year dead fish littered the reef. this happens periodically, no one could tell me why 19/22

the noddy birds, which people rely on for food, got a virus earlier this year and there were fallen noddy birds all over the roads. people have spotted orcas in #nauru’s waters. a dugong also washed up on shore. they are not known to inhabit that area 20/22

as i said, these issues affect everyone on #nauru. nauru is highly vulnerable to #climatechange. it is also hugely economically reliant on aid, on the money from the incarceration of refugees and asylum seekers and a rapidly diminishing natural resource: phosphate 21/22

this is why conversations about human rights and environmental justice in #nauru and the #pacific also need to include strong critiques of #neocolonialism, #racism and #paternalism. nauru wasnt always like this. these are ongoing impacts of colonisation 22/22"
nauru  climatechange  globalwarming  2018  anjakannigieser  environment  climatejustice  colonialism  islands  polynesia  australia  newzealand  activism  adaptability  oceans  fishing  health  biodiversity  multispecies  pacificocean  vulnerability  neocolonialism  racism  paternalism  colonization  birds  nature  animals  wildlife  water  waste 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Corvid Research | School of Environmental and Forest Resources
"I’m Kaeli Swift, a PhD candidate at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. I have been passionate about animal behavior all my life, but what started as an early love affair with wolves has turned into a fierce ardor for corvids. Specifically, my area of research is the thanatology of crows.

Crows, like a number of other animals that includes non-human primates, elephants, dolphins and other corvids, appear to respond strongly once they discover a dead member of their own species. Among these animals the responses can include: tactile investigation, communal gathering, vocalizing, sexual behaviors, or aggression. For people who live or work closely with animals it’s tempting to anthropomorphize these behaviors based on our opinions of how smart or emotional the animals we care about are. But as a scientist my job is to separate my personal feelings about animals, and use research techniques that allow me to objectively ask questions about animal behavior. By conducting field experiments and employing brain scanning techniques developed by our team, I hope to gain insight into the purpose of crow funerals. Perhaps they play a utilitarian purpose of learning about danger or social opportunities, or perhaps they are akin to the grieving process we experience as humans. The brain scanning technique we use allows us to peer into the brain of a living, thinking crow, without ever having to euthanize the animal.

Studies that provide bridges from humans to other animals are critical to fostering a culture that respects and protects the natural world, and this is one of the reasons I most enjoy working with crows. No matter their feelings for them, nearly everyone has a story about crows, even those people who otherwise feel quite separated from nature. The fact that they are conspicuous and thrive in all kinds of human dominated environments, means that crows are a uniquely accessible animal, and offer a wealth of opportunities to connect people of all interests and backgrounds to science. It’s my hope that our research will provide a more compassionate lens with which to understand crows, and contribute to a growing movement of corvid enthusiasts. Feel free to ask questions or share your own stories in the comment section!"

[See also:
https://twitter.com/corvidresearch/

Via: https://twitter.com/corvidresearch/status/1018901912106647552
via: https://twitter.com/ekstasis/status/1019064131754872832 ]
corvids  crows  animals  multispecies  kaeliswift  birds 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Robert Macfarlane on Twitter: "Word of the day: “sea-raven” - common name for the cormorant (the word is from the Latin “corvus marīnus”, “sea-crow”); also “water-buzzard”. Cormorants are often seen standing cruciform on rocks or snags, w
"Word of the day: “sea-raven” - common name for the cormorant (the word is from the Latin “corvus marīnus”, “sea-crow”); also “water-buzzard”. Cormorants are often seen standing cruciform on rocks or snags, wings held out to dry in the sun"
birds  animals  multispecies  cormorants  words  robertmcfarlane 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Kauai 'O'o - YouTube
[See also: Kauaʻi ʻōʻō on Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaua%CA%BBi_%CA%BB%C5%8D%CA%BB%C5%8D

[via: https://twitter.com/Rainmaker1973/status/1011873160273317889

"The Kauaʻi ʻōʻō was a bird common in the subtropical forests of Hawaii until the early twentieth century, when its decline began. This is its last song that was last heard in 1987: it is now probably extinct"

via: https://twitter.com/somebadideas/status/1012093976021749760

"Memories in the anthropocene: loss at something impossibly beautiful you never knew of."]
birds  foreden  animals  nature  anthropocene  wildlfide  multispecies  extinction  audio  hawaii  sounds  sounf  birdsong  kauai 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Birds Art Life - Kyo Maclear
"In Birds Art Life, writer Kyo Maclear embarks on a yearlong, big city adventure chasing after birds, and along the way offers a luminous meditation on the nature of creativity and the quest for a good and meaningful life.

For Vladimir Nabokov, it was butterflies. For John Cage, it was mushrooms. For Sylvia Plath, it was bees. Each of these artists took time away from their work to become observers of natural phenomena. In 2012, Kyo Maclear met a local Toronto musician with an equally captivating side passion—he had recently lost his heart to birds. Curious about what prompted this young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature, Kyo decides to follow him for a year and find out.

Birds Art Life explores the particular madness of loving and chasing after birds in a big city. Intimate and philosophical, moving with ease between the granular and the grand view, it celebrates the creative and liberating effects of keeping your eyes and ears wide open, and explores what happens when you apply the core lessons of birding to other aspects of life. On a deeper level, it takes up the questions of how we are shaped and nurtured by our parallel passions, and how we might come to cherish not only the world’s pristine natural places but also the blemished urban spaces where most of us live."
books  toread  kyomaclear  2018  birds  birding  nture  life  creativity  writing  art  urban  cities  observation  wildlife  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  vladimirnabokov  johncage  butterflies  mushrooms 
june 2018 by robertogreco
xeno-canto :: Sharing bird sounds from around the world
"What is xeno-canto?
xeno-canto is a website dedicated to sharing bird sounds from all over the world. Whether you are a research scientist, a birder, or simply curious about a sound that you heard out your kitchen window, we invite you to listen, download, and explore the bird sound recordings in the collection.

But xeno-canto is more than just a collection of recordings. It is also a collaborative project. We invite you to share your own bird recordings, help identify mystery recordings, or share your expertise in the forums. Welcome!"

[via: https://twitter.com/RobGMacfarlane/status/1010604840416894978

"In case you don't already know it, Xeno-Canto is an astonishing resource: more than 400,000 recordings of wild bird song & sounds from almost 10,000 different species worldwide, freely available & explorable by region, taxonomy etc Remarkable. Listen here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/ "]
birds  sounds  birdsongs  birding  nature  foreden  audio  recordings  sound 
june 2018 by robertogreco
The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps. - YouTube
"Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.

It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.

Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She's a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them."
biomimicry  design  classideas  janinebenyus  biology  nature  trains  shinkansen  japan  birds  sustainability  biomimetics  form  process  plants  animals  2017  circulareconomy  ecosystems  systemsthinking  upcycling  cities  urban  urbanism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
My website is a shifting house next to a river of knowledge. What could yours be? – The Creative Independent
"The web is what we make it

While an individual website could be any of those metaphors I mentioned above, I believe the common prevailing metaphor—the internet as cloud—is problematic. The internet is not one all-encompassing, mysterious, and untouchable thing. (In early patent drawings depicting the internet, it appears as related shapes: a blob, brain, or explosion.) These metaphors obfuscate the reality that the internet is made up of individual nodes: individual computers talking to other individual computers.

[image]

The World Wide Web recently turned 29. On the web’s birthday, Tim Berners Lee, its creator, published a letter stating the web’s current state of threat. He says that while it’s called the “World Wide Web,” only about half the world is connected, so we should close this digital divide.

But at the same time, Berners Lee wants to make sure this thing we’re all connecting to is truly working for us, as individuals: “I want to challenge us all to have greater ambitions for the web. I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfill our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions.”

[image]

“Metaphor unites reason and imagination,” says George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their book, Metaphors We Live By (1980). “Metaphors are not merely things to be seen beyond. In fact, one can see beyond them only by using other metaphors. It is as though the ability to comprehend experience through metaphor were a sense, like seeing or touching or hearing, with metaphors providing the only ways to perceive and experience much of the world. Metaphor is as much a part of our functioning as our sense of touch, and as precious.”

Instead of a cloud, let’s use a metaphor that makes the web’s individual, cooperative nodes more visible. This way, we can remember the responsibility we each have in building a better web. The web is a flock of birds or a sea of punctuation marks, each tending or forgetting about their web garden or puddle home with a river of knowledge nearby.

If a website has endless possibilities, and our identities, ideas, and dreams are created and expanded by them, then it’s instrumental that websites progress along with us. It’s especially pressing when forces continue to threaten the web and the internet at large. In an age of information overload and an increasingly commercialized web, artists of all types are the people to help. Artists can think expansively about what a website can be. Each artist should create their own space on the web, for a website is an individual act of collective ambition."
laurelschwulst  knowledge  webdev  webdesign  internet  web  online  2018  websites  design  flexibility  purpose  creativity  learning  howwelearn  accumulation  accretion  making  murmurations  metaphor  clouds  birds  georgelakoff  markjohnson  completeness  unfinished  wonder  fredrogers  storage  archives  html 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Lunchbox Poems : THE LANGUAGE OF THE BIRDS
"1

A man saw a bird and found him beautiful. The bird had a song inside him, and feathers. Sometimes the man felt like the bird and sometimes the man felt like a stone—solid, inevitable—but mostly he felt like a bird, or that there was a bird inside him, or that something inside him was like a bird fluttering. This went on for a long time.


2

A man saw a bird and wanted to paint it. The problem, if there was one, was simply a problem with the question. Why paint a bird? Why do anything at all? Not how, because hows are easy—series or sequence, one foot after the other—but existentially why bother, what does it solve?

And just because you want to paint a bird, do actually paint a bird, it doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished anything. Who gets to measure the distance between experience and its representation? Who controls the lines of inquiry? We do. Anyone can.

Blackbird, he says. So be it, indexed and normative. But it isn’t a bird, it’s a man in a bird suit, blue shoulders instead of feathers, because he isn’t looking at a bird, real bird, as he paints, he is looking at his heart, which is impossible.

Unless his heart is a metaphor for his heart, as everything is a metaphor for itself, so that looking at the paint is like looking at a bird that isn’t there, with a song in its throat that you don’t want to hear but you paint anyway.

The hand is a voice that can sing what the voice will not, and the hand wants to do something useful. Sometimes, at night, in bed, before I fall asleep, I think about a poem I might write, someday, about my heart, says the heart.


3

They looked at the animals. They looked at the walls of the cave. This is earlier, these are different men. They painted in torchlight: red mostly, sometimes black—mammoth, lion, horse, bear—things on a wall, in profile or superimposed, dynamic and alert.

They weren’t animals but they looked like animals, enough like animals to make it confusing, meant something but the meaning was slippery: it wasn’t there but it remained, looked like the thing but wasn’t the thing—was a second thing, following a second set of rules—and it was too late: their power over it was no longer absolute.

What is alive and what isn’t and what should we do about it? Theories: about the nature of the thing. And of the soul. Because people die. The fear: that nothing survives. The greater fear: that something does.

The night sky is vast and wide.

They huddled closer, shoulder to shoulder, painted themselves in herds, all together and apart from the rest. They looked at the sky, and at the mud, and at their hands in the mud, and their dead friends in the mud. This went on for a long time.


4

To be a bird, or a flock of birds doing something together, one or many, starling or murmuration. To be a man on a hill, or all the men on all the hills, or half a man shivering in the flock of himself. These are some choices.

The night sky is vast and wide.

A man had two birds in his head—not in his throat, not in his chest—and the birds would sing all day never stopping. The man thought to himself, One of these birds is not my bird. The birds agreed.

RICHARD SIKEN"
poems  poetry  birds  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  richardsiken 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The Story of the Most Common Bird in the World | Science | Smithsonian
"Even if you don’t know it, you have probably been surrounded by house sparrows your entire life. Passer domesticus is one of the most common animals in the world. It is found throughout Northern Africa, Europe, the Americas and much of Asia and is almost certainly more abundant than humans. The birds follow us wherever we go. House sparrows have been seen feeding on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building. They have been spotted breeding nearly 2,000 feet underground in a mine in Yorkshire, England. If asked to describe a house sparrow, many bird biologists would describe it as a small, ubiquitous brown bird, originally native to Europe and then introduced to the Americas and elsewhere around the world, where it became a pest of humans, a kind of brown-winged rat. None of this is precisely wrong, but none of it is precisely right, either.

Part of the difficulty of telling the story of house sparrows is their commonness. We tend to regard common species poorly, if at all. Gold is precious, fool’s gold a curse. Being common is, if not quite a sin, a kind of vulgarity from which we would rather look away. Common species are, almost by definition, a bother, damaging and in their sheer numbers, ugly. Even scientists tend to ignore common species, choosing instead to study the far away and rare. More biologists study the species of the remote Galapagos Islands than the common species of, say, Manhattan. The other problem with sparrows is that the story of their marriage with humanity is ancient and so, like our own story, only partially known.

Many field guides call the house sparrow the European house sparrow or the English sparrow and describe it as being native to Europe, but it is not native to Europe, not really. For one thing, the house sparrow depends on humans to such an extent it might be more reasonable to say it is native to humanity rather than to some particular region. Our geography defines its fate more than any specific requirements of climate or habitat. For another, the first evidence of the house sparrow does not come from Europe.

The clan of the house sparrow, Passer, appears to have arisen in Africa. The first hint of the house sparrow itself is based on two jawbones found in a layer of sediment more than 100,000 years old in a cave in Israel. The bird to which the bones belonged was Passer predomesticus, or the predomestic sparrow, although it has been speculated that even this bird might have associated with early humans, whose remains have been found in the same cave. The fossil record is then quiet until 10,000 or 20,000 years ago, when birds very similar to the modern house sparrow begin to appear in the fossil record in Israel. These sparrows differed from the predomestic sparrow in subtle features of their mandible, having a crest of bone where there was just a groove before.

Once house sparrows began to live among humans, they spread to Europe with the spread of agriculture and, as they did, evolved differences in size, shape, color and behavior in different regions. As a result, all of the house sparrows around the world appear to have descended from a single, human-dependent lineage, one story that began thousands of years ago. From that single lineage, house sparrows have evolved as we have taken them to new, colder, hotter and otherwise challenging environments, so much so that scientists have begun to consider these birds different subspecies and, in one case, species. In parts of Italy, as house sparrows spread, they met the Spanish sparrow (P. hispaniolensis). They hybridized, resulting in a new species called the Italian sparrow (P. italiiae).

As for how the relationship between house sparrows and humans began, one can imagine many first meetings, many first moments of temptation to which some sparrows gave in. Perhaps the small sparrows ran—though “sparrowed” should be the verb for their delicate prance—quickly into our early dwellings to steal untended food. Perhaps they flew, like sea gulls, after children with baskets of grain. What is clear is that eventually sparrows became associated with human settlements and agriculture. Eventually, the house sparrow began to depend on our gardened food so much so that it no longer needed to migrate. The house sparrow, like humans, settled. They began to nest in our habitat, in buildings we built, and to eat what we produce (whether our food or our pests).

Meanwhile, although I said all house sparrows come from one human-loving lineage, there is one exception. A new study from the University of Oslo has revealed a lineage of house sparrows that is different than all the others. These birds migrate. They live in the wildest remaining grasslands of the Middle East, and do not depend on humans. They are genetically distinct from all the other house sparrows that do depend on humans. These are wild ones, hunter-gatherers that find everything they need in natural places. But theirs has proven to be a far less successful lifestyle than settling down.

Maybe we would be better without the sparrow, an animal that thrives by robbing from our antlike industriousness. If that is what you are feeling, you are not the first. In Europe, in the 1700s, local governments called for the extermination of house sparrows and other animals associated with agriculture, including, of all things, hamsters. In parts of Russia, your taxes would be lowered in proportion to the number of sparrow heads you turned in. Two hundred years later came Chairman Mao Zedong.

Mao was a man in control of his world, but not, at least in the beginning, of the sparrows. He viewed sparrows as one of the four “great” pests of his regime (along with rats, mosquitoes and flies). The sparrows in China are tree sparrows, which, like house sparrows, began to associate with humans around the time that agriculture was invented. Although they are descendants of distinct lineages of sparrows, tree sparrows and house sparrows share a common story. At the moment at which Mao decided to kill the sparrows, there were hundreds of millions of them in China (some estimates run as high as several billion), but there were also hundreds of millions of people. Mao commanded people all over the country to come out of their houses to bang pots and make the sparrows fly, which, in March of 1958, they did. The sparrows flew until exhausted, then they died, mid-air, and fell to the ground, their bodies still warm with exertion. Sparrows were also caught in nets, poisoned and killed, adults and eggs alike, anyway they could be. By some estimates, a billion birds were killed. These were the dead birds of the great leap forward, the dead birds out of which prosperity would rise."
sparrows  birds  2018  animals  nature  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Birds can see Earth's magnetic fields, and we finally know how that's possible
"The mystery behind how birds navigate might finally be solved: it's not the iron in their beaks providing a magnetic compass, but a newly discovered protein in their eyes that lets them "see" Earth's magnetic fields.

These findings come courtesy of two new papers - one studying robins, the other zebra finches.

The fancy eye protein is called Cry4, and it's part of a class of proteins called cryptochromes - photoreceptors sensitive to blue light, found in both plants and animals. These proteins play a role in regulating circadian rhythms.

There's also been evidence in recent years that, in birds, the cryptochromes in their eyes are responsible for their ability to orient themselves by detecting magnetic fields, a sense called magnetoreception.

We know that birds can only sense magnetic fields if certain wavelengths of light are available - specifically, studies have shown that avian magnetoreception seems dependent on blue light.

This seems to confirm that the mechanism is a visual one, based in the cryptochromes, which may be able to detect the fields because of quantum coherence.

To find more clues on these cryptochromes, two teams of biologists set to work. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden studied zebra finches, and researchers from the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg in Germany studied European robins.

The Lund team measured gene expression of three cryptochromes, Cry1, Cry2 and Cry4, in the brains, muscles and eyes of zebra finches. Their hypothesis was that the cryptochromes associated with magnetoreception should maintain constant reception over the circadian day.

They found that, as expected for circadian clock genes, Cry1 and Cry2 fluctuated daily - but Cry4 expressed at constant levels, making it the most likely candidate for magnetoreception.

This finding was supported by the robin study, which found the same thing.

"We also found that Cry1a, Cry1b, and Cry2 mRNA display robust circadian oscillation patterns, whereas Cry4 shows only a weak circadian oscillation," the researchers wrote.

But they made a couple of other interesting findings, too. The first is that Cry4 is clustered in a region of the retina that receives a lot of light - which makes sense for light-dependent magnetoreception.

The other is that European robins have increased Cry4 expression during the migratory season, compared to non-migratory chickens.

Both sets of researchers caution that more research is needed before Cry4 can be declared the protein responsible for magnetoreception.

The evidence is strong, but it's not definitive, and both Cry1 and Cry2 have also been implicated in magnetoreception, the former in garden warblers and the latter in fruit flies.

Observing birds with non-functioning Cry4 could help confirm the role it seems to play, while other studies will be needed to figure Cry1's role.

So what does a bird actually see? Well, we can't ever know what the world looks like through another species' eyes, but we can take a very strong guess.

According to researchers at the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose researcher Klaus Schulten first predicted magnetoreceptive cryptochromes in 1978, they could provide a magnetic field "filter" over the bird's field of view - like in the picture above.

The zebra finch study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and the robin study was published in Current Biology."
birds  science  vision  navigation  2018  animals  nature  wildlife 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Interactive Map: See How Birds Migrate Throughout the Western Hemisphere
[via: https://twitter.com/rileydchampine/status/968553128177143808

"Behold – a triumph in interactive cartography that shows the amazing migration patterns of 7 different bird species. Round of applause for @btjakes for this huge undertaking: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/03/bird-migration-interactive-maps/?beta=true … #WorkAtNatGeo = [animation]"]
birds  data  maps  mapping  nature  animals  migration  wildlife  cartography  classideas 
march 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 57. John Crowley & John Michael Greer in “The Slow Decline” // Talking Crows, Pocket Utopias & the Future of Storytelling
"John Michael Greer joins the show to chat with author John Crowley about his latest novel, “Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr”, as well as Frances Yates, creative writing, pocket utopias, the future of storytelling and the slow decline of industrial society."
johnmichaelgreer  ryanpeverly  johncrowley  occulture  decline  2017  crows  corvids  literature  fiction  occult  storytelling  birds  animals  stories  myth  mythology  utopia  pocketutopias  animism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
When Scientists "Discover" What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries | Science | Smithsonian
"Our knowledge of what animals do when humans aren’t around has steadily increased over the last 50 years. For example, we know now that animals use tools in their daily lives. Chimps use twigs to fish for termites; sea otters break open shellfish on rocks they selected; octopi carry coconut shell halves to later use as shelters. But the latest discovery has taken this assessment to new heights—literally.

A team of researchers led by Mark Bonta and Robert Gosford in northern Australia has documented kites and falcons, colloquially termed “firehawks,” intentionally carrying burning sticks to spread fire. While it has long been known that birds will take advantage of natural fires that cause insects, rodents and reptiles to flee and thus increase feeding opportunities, that they would intercede to spread fire to unburned locales is astounding.

It’s thus no surprise that this study has attracted great attention as it adds intentionality and planning to the repertoire of non-human use of tools. Previous accounts of avian use of fire have been dismissed or at least viewed with some skepticism.

But while new to Western science, the behaviors of the nighthawks have long been known to the Alawa, MalakMalak, Jawoyn and other Indigenous peoples of northern Australia whose ancestors occupied their lands for tens of thousands of years. Unlike most scientific studies, Bonta and Gosford’s team foregrounded their research in traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge. They also note that local awareness of the behavior of the firehawks is ingrained within some of their ceremonial practices, beliefs and creation accounts.

The worldwide attention given to the firehawks article provides an opportunity to explore the double standard that exists concerning the acceptance of Traditional Knowledge by practitioners of Western science.

Traditional Knowledge ranges from medicinal properties of plants and insights into the value of biological diversity to caribou migration patterns and the effects of intentional burning of the landscape to manage particular resources. Today, it’s become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnobotanists, climatologists and others. For example, some climatology studies have incorporated Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) to explain changes in sea ice conditions observed over many generations.

Yet despite the wide acknowledgement of their demonstrated value, many scientists continue to have had an uneasy alliance with Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous oral histories.

On the one hand, these types of knowledge are valued when they support or supplements archaeological, or other scientific evidence. But when the situation is reversed—when Traditional Knowledge is seen to challenge scientific “truths —then its utility is questioned or dismissed as myth. Science is promoted as objective, quantifiable, and the foundation for “real” knowledge creation or evaluation while Traditional Knowledge may be seen as anecdotal, imprecise and unfamiliar in form.

Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world, past and present?

Ways of Knowing

There are many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

For instance, in the past two decades, archaeologists and environmental scientists working in coastal British Columbia have come to recognize evidence of mariculture—the intentional management of marine resources—that pre-dates European settlement. Over the course of thousands of years, the ancestors of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other Indigenous groups there created and maintained what have become known as “clam gardens”—rock-walled, terrace-like constructions that provide ideal habit for butter clams and other edible shellfish.

To the Kwakwaka’wakw, these were known as loxiwey, according to Clan Chief Adam Dick (Kwaxsistalla) who has shared this term and his knowledge of the practice with researchers. As marine ecologist Amy Groesbeck and colleagues have demonstrated, these structures increase shellfish productivity and resource security significantly. This resource management strategy reflects a sophisticated body of ecological understanding and practice that predates modern management systems by millennia.

These published research studies now prove that Indigenous communities knew about mariculture for generations—but Western scientists never asked them about it before. Once tangible remains were detected, it was clear mariculture management was in use for thousands of years. There is a move underway by various Indigenous communities in the region to restore and recreate clam gardens and put them back into use.

A second example demonstrates how Indigenous oral histories correct inaccurate or incomplete historical accounts. There are significant differences between Lakota and Cheyenne accounts of what transpired at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) in 1876, and the historical accounts that appeared soon after the battle by white commentators.

The Lakota and Cheyenne can be considered more objective than white accounts of the battle that are tainted by Eurocentric bias. The ledger drawings of Red Horse, a Minneconjou Sioux participant in the battle, record precise details such as trooper’s uniforms, the location of wounds on horses, and the distribution of Indian and white casualties.

In 1984, a fire at the battleground revealed military artifacts and human remains that prompted archaeological excavations. What this work revealed was a new, more accurate history of the battle that validated many elements of the Native American oral histories and accompanying pictographs and drawings of the events. However, without the archaeological evidence, many historians gave limited credence to the accounts obtained from the participating Native American warriors.

Hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights. The travels of Glooscap, a major figure in Abenaki oral history and worldview, are found throughout the Mi’kmaw homeland of the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada. As a Transformer, Glooscap created many landscape features. Anthropologist Trudy Sable (Saint Mary’s University) has noted a significant degree of correlation between places named in Mi’kmaw legends and oral histories and recorded archaeological sites.

Opportunities at the Intersection

As ways of knowing, Western and Indigenous Knowledge share several important and fundamental attributes. Both are constantly verified through repetition and verification, inference and prediction, empirical observations and recognition of pattern events.

While some actions leave no physical evidence (e.g. clam cultivation), and some experiments can’t be replicated (e.g. cold fusion), in the case of Indigenous knowledge, the absence of “empirical evidence” can be damning in terms of wider acceptance.

Some types of Indigenous knowledge, however, simply fall outside the realm of prior Western understanding. In contrast to Western knowledge, which tends to be text-based, reductionist, hierarchical and dependent on categorization (putting things into categories), Indigenous science does not strive for a universal set of explanations but is particularistic in orientation and often contextual. This can be a boon to Western science: hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights.

There are partnerships developing worldwide with Indigenous knowledge holders and Western scientists working together. This includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge informing government policies on resource management in some instances. But it is nonetheless problematic when their knowledge, which has been dismissed for so long by so many, becomes a valuable data set or used selectively by academics and others.

To return to the firehawks example, one way to look at this is that the scientists confirmed what the Indigenous peoples have long known about the birds’ use of fire. Or we can say that the Western scientists finally caught up with Traditional Knowledge after several thousand years."

[See also:
"How Western science is finally catching up to Indigenous knowledge: Traditional knowledge has become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, climatologists and others"
http://www.macleans.ca/society/how-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-indigenous-knowledge/

"It’s taken thousands of years, but Western science is finally catching up to Traditional Knowledge"
https://theconversation.com/its-taken-thousands-of-years-but-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-traditional-knowledge-90291 ]
science  indigenous  knowledge  archaeology  ecology  biology  climatology  climate  animals  nature  amygroesbeck  research  clams  butterclams  birds  morethanhuman  multispecies  knowing  scientism  anthropology  categorization  hierarchy  hawks  firehawks  fire  landscape  place  nativeamericans  eurocentricity  battleofgreasygrass  littlebighorn  adamdick  kwaxsistalla  clamgardens  shellfish  stewardship  inuit  australia  us  canada  markbonta  robertgosford  kites  falcons  trudysable  placenames  oralhistory  oralhistories  history  mariculture 
february 2018 by robertogreco
“A Super Wild Story”: Shared Human–Pigeon Lives and the Questions They Beg - Pauliina Rautio, 2017
"The three coincidentally shared human–pigeon lives discussed in this article challenge the established conceptualization that when species meet habituation occurs, a smoothing over of differences over time because it does not account for the dynamic, affectionate, and productive nature of shared human–pigeon lives. The concept refrain works better. Concepts like habituation and refrain can be thought of as answers to questions posed by the world. Concepts are answers insomuch as they are certain ways of thinking about and acting within the world—always excluding other ways. In living and working with answers, as we do, it is easy to forget the original questions: What did the world ask of us again, and could there be other possible answers? In this article, the kind of answer that refrain is is mapped through three cases of human–pigeon lives. Rather than mechanistic and anthropocentric, refrain is an answer that directs our attention to what is dynamic, unpredictable, productive, and nonanthropocentric. It also offers possibilities to pose new questions."

[See also:
https://sandpost.net/2017/08/30/out-now-a-super-wild-story-by-pauliina/

"My family runs a small wildlife rehabilitation shelter at our home. Our patients are mostly birds. I once ended up sharing my home with a pigeon I had hand-reared as an orphaned nestling and who—through accidental events—became too habituated to leave us. As a consequence, I came to know people around the world in person and through social media who share their lives with pigeons and other wild birds for various serendipitous reasons. I am fascinated by these multispecies lives and have a particular interest in their unique productivity as indicated in Instagram images’ rhythmic hashtags as well as processes of surrogate pregnancy and motherhood. I have unexpectedly lost my #unlikelyfriend, and the personal motivation of this article is to explore what happened during our shared lives such that I came to mourn a pigeon so intensely.

[…]

The human–animal relations described here don’t fit into existing categories. The pigeons living with the humans are not conventional companion animals (i.e., pets), livestock, zoo animals, wild animals, or laboratory animals. The humans living with the pigeons are not animal trainers, zoo keepers, veterinarians, laboratory personnel, or farmers. Trying to explain the accidental or sudden encounters and shared lives between unusual couplings of species using preexisting knowledge, habits, or directions just doesn’t work. These lives are made up as they are lived. And rather than smoothing over differences using habituation, the shared lives begin to produce something new, difference, and to give different life in unexpected, serendipitous ways. In this way, we learn that habituation is an insufficient answer and makes us wonder what it was that the world asked us in the first place."]
multispecies  morethanhuman  pauliinarautio  2017  birds  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  refrain  unpredictable  productivity  habituation  pigeons 
february 2018 by robertogreco
A new tool-using bird to crow about
"The Hawaiian crow has been revealed as a skilled tool user, confirmed by testing the last members of this endangered species that survive in captivity. The finding suggests its behavior is tantalizingly similar to that of the famous tool-using New Caledonian crow and has implications for the evolution of tool use and intelligence in birds."
crows  corvids  tools  intelligence  2017  hawaiiancrows  newcaledoniancrows  animals  birds  behavior  morethanhuman  extinction  multispecies 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Spy Birds
"Of the many military projects conducted by ABE, those involving birds were among the most intriguing.

Birds were used to save lives, as shown in the Rescue Birds page, but they were also used for reconnaissance and espionage. ABE used pigeons, ravens, and crows for this work. For example, birds were taught to deliver or pick up packages from windowsills or similar locations. They were directed to the appropriate location with a laser pointer. ABE was among the first company to use large laser pointers as they became available. Today, a key feature of Robert Bailey�s workshops is teaching chickens to follow a target in the form of a red-dot delivered by a laser-pointer.

Other projects involved teaching ravens standing on exterior building ledges to take pictures of the interior rooms of the building. The raven would carry in its mouth a small camera that was triggered whenever the camera was pushed against the window pane. The exact location of this window was also indicated to the bird with a laser pointer.

In another body of work, pigeons were trained to detect ambushes and snipers hiding along well-traveled roads. This work was conducted during the Vietnam era. The bird was launched from a transport vehicle and flew ahead on the road. Attached to the bird was a device that continued to send a radio signal back to the vehicle as long as the bird was flying. If the bird detected a sniper on the side of the road, the bird would alight nearby. This would turn off the radio signal traveling back to the transport vehicle and indicate to the person monitoring the radio signal that the bird had stopped flying and probably had detected a person hiding on the side of the road. These demonstrations were remarkable in that they indicated that these birds could accurately discriminate persons from the surrounding environment even when these persons were well-hidden in the underbrush. Further, these birds could discriminate persons lying in wait from ordinary citizens walking along the road, which might be the situation in an environment like Vietnam."
cia  birds  ravens  animals  morethanhuman  multispecies  pigeons  corvids  foreden 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human | History | Smithsonian
"As a former trainer reveals, the U.S. government deployed nonhuman operatives—ravens, pigeons, even cats—to spy on cold war adversaries"
morethanhuman  multispecies  cats  pigeons  ravens  corvids  birds  animals  cia  2013  foreden 
february 2018 by robertogreco
What Happens When You Put a Hummingbird in a Wind Tunnel? | Deep Look - YouTube
"Scientists have used a high-speed camera to film hummingbirds' aerial acrobatics at 1000 frames per second. They can see, frame by frame, how neither wind nor rain stop these tiniest of birds from fueling up.

DEEP LOOK: a new ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe and meet extraordinary new friends. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

How do hummingbirds eat?

With spring in full bloom, hummingbirds can be spotted flitting from flower to flower and lapping up the sugary nectar inside. These tiniest of birds have the highest metabolism of any warm-blooded animal, requiring them to consume their own body weight in nectar each day to survive.

By comparison, if a 150-pound human had the metabolism of a hummingbird, he or she would need to consume the caloric equivalent of more than 300 hamburgers a day.

But it's not just an extreme appetite that sets hummingbirds apart from other birds. These avian acrobats are the only birds that can fly sideways, backwards and hover for long stretches of time. In fact, hovering is essential to hummingbirds' survival since they have to keep their long, thin beaks as steady as a surgeon's scalpel while probing flowers for nectar.

How do Hummingbirds fly?

Hummingbirds don't just hover to feed when the weather is nice. They have to keep hovering and feeding even if it's windy or raining, a remarkable feat considering most of these birds weigh less than a nickel."
hummingbirds  flight  classideas  video  windtunnels  2015  birds  nature  animals 
february 2018 by robertogreco
See Hummingbirds Fly, Shake, Drink in Amazing Slow Motion | National Geographic - YouTube
"They move so fast that human eyes see only a hovering spot of color, a blur of wings. But when frozen in time by high-speed cameras, hummingbirds yield their secrets."



"Hummingbirds live exclusively in the Americas. The smallest can weigh less than two grams. The largest, the giant hummingbird found in Peru and Chile, tips the scales at around 20 grams. You could send something that weight in the U.S. mail with a single first-class stamp. World’s smallest birds is just one of several distinctions that hummingbird species claim. They’re the only birds that can hover in still air for 30 seconds or more. They’re the only birds with a “reverse gear”—that is, they can truly fly backward. And they’re the record holders for the fastest metabolic rate of any vertebrate on the planet."

[See also: "Unlocking the Secrets Behind the Hummingbird's Frenzy"
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/07/hummingbird-secrets-speed-worlds-smallest-bird/ ]
birds  hummingbirds  flight  video  classideas  2017  nature  animals  videography  anandvarma 
february 2018 by robertogreco
How Birds-of-Paradise Produce Super-Black Feathers - The Atlantic
"Blackbirds, it turns out, aren’t actually all that black. Their feathers absorb most of the visible light that hits them, but still reflect between 3 and 5 percent of it. For really black plumage, you need to travel to Papua New Guinea and track down the birds-of-paradise.

Although these birds are best known for their gaudy, kaleidoscopic colors, some species also have profoundly black feathers. The feathers ruthlessly swallow light and, with it, all hints of edge or contour. They make body parts seem less like parts of an actual animal and more like gaping voids in reality. They’re blacker than black. None more black.

By analyzing museum specimens, Dakota McCoy, from Harvard University, has discovered exactly how the birds achieve such deep blacks. It’s all in their feathers’ microscopic structure.

A typical bird feather has a central shaft called a rachis. Thin branches, or barbs, sprout from the rachis, and even thinner branches—barbules—sprout from the barbs. The whole arrangement is flat, with the rachis, barbs, and barbules all lying on the same plane. The super-black feathers of birds-of-paradise, meanwhile, look very different. Their barbules, instead of lying flat, curve upward. And instead of being smooth cylinders, they are studded in minuscule spikes. “It’s hard to describe,” says McCoy. “It’s like a little bottlebrush or a piece of coral.”

These unique structures excel at capturing light. When light hits a normal feather, it finds a series of horizontal surfaces, and can easily bounce off. But when light hits a super-black feather, it finds a tangled mess of mostly vertical surfaces. Instead of being reflected away, it bounces repeatedly between the barbules and their spikes. With each bounce, a little more of it gets absorbed. Light loses itself within the feathers.

McCoy and her colleagues, including Teresa Feo from the National Museum of Natural History, showed that this light-trapping nanotechnology can absorb up to 99.95 percent of incoming light. That’s between 10 and 100 times better than the feathers of most other black birds, like crows or blackbirds. It’s also only just short of the blackest materials that humans have designed. Vantablack, an eerily black substance produced by the British company Surrey Nanosystems, can absorb 99.965 percent of incoming light. It consists of a forest of vertical carbon nanotubes that are “grown” at more than 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The birds-of-paradise mass-produce similar forests, using only biological materials, at body temperature.

Vantablack is genuinely amazing: It’s so good at absorbing light that if you move a laser onto it, the red dot disappears. But McCoy has created a similar demonstration with her super-black feathers. In the image below, you can see two feathers, both of which have been sprinkled with gold dust. The left one is from the lesser melampitta—a bird of average blackness—and it looks as golden as its surroundings. The right one comes from a paradise riflebird—one of the 42 species of bird-of-paradise. Yes, it is covered in gold dust. And yes, it still looks black. The gold settles within the grooves of microscopic forest, and all of its glitter is lost.

This opens up several other questions, says Rafael Maia from Columbia University, who studies the evolution of bird colors. “Is this something unique to birds-of-paradise, or have other species evolved similar optical solutions?” he says. “If they have, do they use the same type of feather modifications?”

Many animals and plants use microscopic structures to produce exceptionally vivid colors with metallic sheens; this is called iridescence. Comparably fewer species use microscopic structures for the opposite purpose: to absorb colors entirely. These include a few butterflies and the Gaboon viper.

The viper—whose fangs, at two inches, are the longest of any snake—likely uses its super-black scales for camouflage, breaking up its outline so that the rest of its body better blends into the leaf litter of a rainforest. The birds-of-paradise, meanwhile, probably use their unfeasibly black blacks for the same thing that seems to motivate everything about them: sex.

“These likely evolved as an optical illusion, to make adjacent colors seem even brighter than they are,” says McCoy. “Animal eyes and brains are wired to control for the amount of ambient light. That’s why an apple looks red whether it is in the sun or the shade, even though the wavelength hitting our eyes is quite different in those scenarios. A super-black frame inhibits this ability, so nearby colors look like they are very bright—even glowing.”

The male birds use this illusion to great effect. The magnificent riflebird—that’s its adjective, not mine—splays out his super-black wings and flicks his head between them, showing off his electric blue throat. The superb bird-of-paradise—again, that is literally its name—spreads a cape of super-black feathers to highlight the electric blue patches on his cheeks and chest. He ends up looking like a spectral, wide-mouthed face. The six-plumed bird-of-paradise erects a super-black tutu and shimmies about to show off his kaleidoscopic throat bib.

Feathers on birds-of-paradise contain light-trapping nanotechnology that makes some of the deepest blacks in the world.

The illusions work best when viewed straight on. From that angle, the little barbules and spikes are pointing straight at you, and they become better at trapping light. When viewed from the side, the super-blacks lose some of their blackness. That’s why the dancing males take such care to face the objects of their attention, bouncing around so their audience never gets a side view.

Super-black surfaces have plenty of uses for humans, too. They could camouflage military vehicles, help solar panels collect more light, or stop stray light from entering telescopes, improving the ability to spot faint stars. Vantablack can already do all of the above, but McCoy thinks the structure in super-black feathers might still be useful to engineers. “If these could be really cheaply 3-D printed, that would be amazing,” she says."
birds  nature  color  black  biology  biomimcry  science  2018  edyong  nanotechnology  vantablack  blackness 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How birds' genes influence adaptation to climate change
"As Earth’s climate changes, species must adapt, shift their geographical ranges, or face decline and, in some cases, extinction. Using genetics, biologists involved in the Bird Genoscape Project are racing against time to find out the potential for adaptation and how best to protect vulnerable populations of birds.

The project’s most recent study, published in Science, focuses on the yellow warbler. Found across most of North America, the bird spends its winters in Central and South America, and flies as far north as Alaska and the Arctic Circle in the summer, filling wildlands and backyards with color and song along the way.

Using more than 200 blood, tissue and feather samples from across the breeding range, the researchers discovered genes that appear to be responding to climate, and found that bird populations that most need to adapt to climate change are experiencing declines.

Senior author Kristen Ruegg, a research scientist at UC Santa Cruz and adjunct assistant professor at UCLA, said previous studies focused on how long-term changes in temperature and precipitation cause bird species to shift their geographic ranges. Genetic mapping offers the opportunity to look at another option—the capacity to adapt to climate change.

“With this research, we can say, based on these gene-environment correlations, here’s how populations will have to adapt to future climate change, and here are the populations that have to adapt most,” said Ruegg, who also is co-director of the Bird Genoscape Project.

Whether the yellow warbler will be able to adapt is another matter. “That’s our next big question,” Ruegg said.

Valuable information for conservationists

The new study uncovered some of the challenges yellow warblers already face. In some populations, genes associated with climate adaptation are mismatched to environments. These populations will likely have the hardest time adapting quickly enough to future climate shifts.

That’s been the case in the past, too. Comparing the genetic findings to breeding bird surveys dating back to the 1960s that track changes in bird abundance, the researchers determined that the populations that need to adapt most are already in decline. Using genetic maps, the habitats of the populations most vulnerable to climate change can now be targeted for protection, said Rachael Bay, lead author of the study and a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. The findings offer valuable information for conservationists who hope to protect species like the yellow warbler in the future, she said.

“Evolution has the potential to matter a lot when it comes to climate change response,” Bay said. “It’s a process we should start to integrate more when we make decisions, and it’s shown a lot of promise that hasn’t been realized yet.”

The yellow warbler is not currently endangered. It was selected for the study to give researchers a better understanding of how genes relate to climate variables across its broad range. But the bird may serve as a canary in the coal mine for species that are more at risk.

“This is an alarm bell,” said Tom Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA and director of the Center for Tropical Research. “We spend a lot of time asking what is going to happen under climate change, what the effects will be and what we need to do to manage it. Our results shocked us—it’s happening now.”

The study sets the stage for two important next steps, Smith said. First, it means additional studies need to be done to learn how other species adapt to climate change. Second, the findings can be used now to tailor and inform future conservation management."
birds  nature  climatechange  adaptation  genetics  genes  evolution  survival  globalwarming  2018  animals  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  kristenruegg 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Brave Sparrow – Buried Without Ceremony
"You’re a sparrow, brave and terrified. Brave Sparrow is an alternate reality experience, a game for one, a journey toward recovering your wings."

[game: http://buriedwithoutceremony.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/brave-sparrow.pdf ]
games  toplay  arg  birds  sparrows 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Emery, N.: Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"Birds have not been known for their high IQs, which is why a person of questionable intelligence is sometimes called a "birdbrain." Yet in the past two decades, the study of avian intelligence has witnessed dramatic advances. From a time when birds were seen as simple instinct machines responding only to stimuli in their external worlds, we now know that some birds have complex internal worlds as well. This beautifully illustrated book provides an engaging exploration of the avian mind, revealing how science is exploding one of the most widespread myths about our feathered friends—and changing the way we think about intelligence in other animals as well.

Bird Brain looks at the structures and functions of the avian brain, and describes the extraordinary behaviors that different types of avian intelligence give rise to. It offers insights into crows, jays, magpies, and other corvids—the “masterminds” of the avian world—as well as parrots and some less-studied species from around the world. This lively and accessible book shows how birds have sophisticated brains with abilities previously thought to be uniquely human, such as mental time travel, self-recognition, empathy, problem solving, imagination, and insight.

Written by a leading expert and featuring a foreword by Frans de Waal, renowned for his work on animal intelligence, Bird Brain shines critical new light on the mental lives of birds.

Nathan Emery is senior lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary University of London. His research interests focus on what corvids, apes, and parrots understand about their social and physical worlds, especially others' mental states, insight, and imagination, as well as the psychology and evolution of innovation and creativity. He is currently working with the ravens at the Tower of London. He is the coeditor of Social Intelligence: From Brain to Culture and The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour, and is on the editorial board of the journals Animal Cognition and Journal of Comparative Psychology. He is the author of more than eighty publications, including papers in Nature, Science, and Current Biology. His work has been extensively covered by international newspapers and magazines, in books, and on TV."
multispecies  birds  intelligence  animals  corvids  via:eden  nthanemery  parrots  empathy  tools  self-recognition  imagination  fransdewaal  problemsolving 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Anting (bird activity) - Wikipedia
"Anting is a self-anointing behavior during which birds rub insects, usually ants, on their feathers and skin. The bird may pick up the insects in their bill and rub them on the body (active anting), or the bird may lie in an area of high density of the insects and perform dust bathing-like movements (passive anting). The insects secrete liquids containing chemicals such as formic acid, which can act as an insecticide, miticide, fungicide, or bactericide. Alternatively, anting could make the insects edible by removing the distasteful acid, or, possibly supplement the bird's own preen oil. Instead of ants, birds can also use millipedes. More than 200 species of bird are known to ant.[1] In addition, other animals such as squirrels and pangolins may exhibit anting-type behavior.[citation needed] Stoats are known to roll around in moss in a similar way."

[More here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mystery-bird-anting ]
birds  behavior  ants  anting  nature  multispecies  corvids  animals 
january 2018 by robertogreco
10 Fascinating Facts About Ravens | Mental Floss
"Edgar Allan Poe knew what he was doing when he used the raven instead of some other bird to croak out “nevermore” in his famous poem. The raven has long been associated with death and dark omens, but the real bird is somewhat of a mystery. Unlike its smaller cousin the crow, not a lot has been written about this remarkable bird. Here are 10 fascinating facts about ravens.

1. Ravens are one of the smartest animals.
When it comes to intelligence, these birds rate up there with chimpanzees and dolphins. In one logic test, the raven had to get a hanging piece of food by pulling up a bit of the string, anchoring it with its claw, and repeating until the food was in reach. Many ravens got the food on the first try, some within 30 seconds. In the wild, ravens have pushed rocks on people to keep them from climbing to their nests, stolen fish by pulling a fishermen’s line out of ice holes, and played dead beside a beaver carcass to scare other ravens away from a delicious feast.

If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another. Since the other ravens are smart too, this only works sometimes.

2. Ravens can imitate human speech.
In captivity, ravens can learn to talk better than some parrots. They also mimic other noises, like car engines, toilets flushing, and animal and birdcalls. Ravens have been known to imitate wolves or foxes to attract them to carcasses that the raven isn’t capable of breaking open. When the wolf is done eating, the raven gets the leftovers.

3. Europeans often saw ravens as evil in disguise.
Many European cultures took one look at this large black bird with an intense gaze and thought it was evil in the flesh … er, feather. In France, people believed ravens were the souls of wicked priests, while crows were wicked nuns. In Germany, ravens were the incarnation of damned souls or sometimes Satan himself. In Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. And in Denmark, people believed that night ravens were exorcized spirits, and you’d better not look up at them in case there was a hole in the bird’s wing, because you might look through the hole and turn into a raven yourself.

4. Ravens have been featured in many myths.
Cultures from Tibet to Greece have seen the raven as a messenger for the gods. Celtic goddesses of warfare often took the form of ravens during battles. The Viking god, Odin, had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night about what they saw. The Chinese said ravens caused bad weather in the forests to warn people that the gods were going to pass by. And some Native American tribes worshipped the raven as a deity in and of itself. Called simply Raven, he is described as a sly trickster who is involved in the creation of the world.

5. Ravens are extremely playful.
The Native Americans weren’t far off about the raven’s mischievous nature. They have been observed in Alaska and Canada using snow-covered roofs as slides. In Maine, they have been seen rolling down snowy hills. They often play keep-away with other animals like wolves, otters, and dogs. Ravens even make toys—a rare animal behavior—by using sticks, pinecones, golf balls, or rocks to play with each other or by themselves. And sometimes they just taunt or mock other creatures because it’s funny.

6. Ravens do weird things with ants.
They lie in anthills and roll around so the ants swarm on them, or they chew the ants up and rub their guts on their feathers. The scientific name for this is called “anting.” Songbirds, crows, and jays do it too. The behavior is not well understood; theories range from the ants acting as an insecticide and fungicide for the bird to ant secretion soothing a molting bird’s skin to the whole performance being a mild addiction. One thing seems clear, though: anting feels great if you’re a bird.

7. Ravens use “hand” gestures.
It turns out that ravens make “very sophisticated nonvocal signals,” according to researchers. In other words, they gesture to communicate. A study in Austria found that ravens point with their beaks to indicate an object to another bird, just as we do with our fingers. They also hold up an object to get another bird’s attention. This is the first time researchers have observed naturally occurring gestures in any animal other than primates.

8. Ravens are adaptable.
Evolutionarily speaking, the deck is stacked in the raven’s favor. They can live in a variety of habitats, from snow to desert to mountains to forests. They are scavengers with a huge diet that includes fish, meat, seeds, fruit, carrion, and garbage. They are not above tricking animals out of their food—one raven will distract the other animal, for example, and the other will steal its food. They have few predators and live a long time: 17 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.

9. Ravens show empathy for each other.
Despite their mischievous nature, ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a raven’s friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. They also remember birds they like and will respond in a friendly way to certain birds for at least three years after seeing them. (They also respond negatively to enemies and suspiciously to strange ravens.) Although a flock of ravens is called an “unkindness,” the birds appear to be anything but.

10. Ravens roam around in teenage gangs.
Ravens mate for life and live in pairs in a fixed territory. When their children reach adolescence, they leave home and join gangs, like every human mother’s worst nightmare. These flocks of young birds live and eat together until they mate and pair off. Interestingly, living among teenagers seems to be stressful for the raven. Scientists have found higher levels of stress hormones in teenage raven droppings than in the droppings of mated adults. It’s never easy being a teenage rebel."
ravens  corvids  classideas  birds  animals  behavior  myth  myths  2016  play  intelligence  ants  tools  empathy  toys  adaptability  gestures  communication 
december 2017 by robertogreco
These photos show some unexpected friendships between humans and their animals - The Washington Post
"Over the summer, The Washington Post partnered with Visura in an open call for submissions of photo essays. The Post selected three winners out of more than 200 submissions. We are presenting the second winner today here on In Sight — Diana Bagnoli and her work “Animal Lover.”

Bagnoli is an Italian freelance photographer based in Turin and has always loved and lived with animals. What started as a personal project in her free time has blossomed into an award-winning personal series.

“I wanted to explore the special relationship that people establish with what I would call ‘unusual pets.’ I had a feeling that I would discover interesting situations and be able to document how someone can be involved in a different kind of friendship,” she said.

Bagnoli finds her subjects in the countryside near her home town in northern Italy. She visits animal sanctuaries, meets animal activists and finds everyday animal lovers, each with a unique story and special connection.

“One man entered in a factory with a balaclava in the middle of the night to save a pig, and another one explained to me how he deeply loves toads because he’s so proud of their survivor spirit,” Bagnoli said.

She photographs her subjects where they are most comfortable, at their homes. She chooses a location that might yield an interesting interaction and show the animal’s connection to the world of the humans who care for them. Bagnoli says her subjects are always happy to share their stories and how passionate they are about their animals.

She recently started a new chapter of her series dedicated to insect lovers. She discovered an unexpectedly large community of people who bred insects or had them as pets. She found them to have an even more personal and tender relationship with their insects, valuing their beauty, character and how important they are to the planet. Her most unusual subject so far is Andrea Bonifazi and his stick insect, Phasmid. Andrea has bred stick insects for 10 years and spends most of his free time observing them.

“They’re like a living book, it’s enough to watch them to understand how their world works,” he said.

Bagnoli learned that pigs squeal quite loudly when they are not coddled and that Alpacas are faithful companions, but most of all that the animals she photographed sought affection and companionship from their humans and vice versa. She is not sure that her series has changed perceptions about our relationships with animals, but she hopes it will."
multispecies  animals  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  photography  2017  geese  alpacaspigs  sheep  bees  turtles  rabbits  cats  butterflies  insects  chickens  classideas  donkeys  goats  snakes  birds  via:anne  dianabagnoli  italy  italia 
november 2017 by robertogreco
dead dove do not eat
"To the people in the comments saying the guy is doing this “just for show”

He’s not

With this kind of bird, they are VERY attached to their cages, so if you need to replace the cage, you need to the show the bird you’ve destroyed it so it will accept the new one. It’s upset bc the cage it liked is gone, but the cage was too small for it so it needs to be replaced. The bird is fine."

[via: https://twitter.com/ChappellTracker/status/930279195619536896 ]
birds  cockatoos  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  cages 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Blind Birdwatcher Sees With Sound - YouTube
"Juan Pablo Culasso is a birdwatcher in Uruguay, but he doesn't see birds the way that most birdwatchers do. In fact, he doesn’t see them at all. Born without sight, Culasso listens to the birds and has developed a keen ability to identify their distinct calls and melodies. He has also embarked on a quest to record their sounds to help conserve his country's natural heritage in an audio archive."

[via: http://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/blind-birdwatcher-sees-with-sound ]
birds  blind  birding  sound  nature  animals  classideas  juanpabloculasso  birdsongs  2017 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing - A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man - YouTube
"To take seriously the concept of the Anthropocene—the idea that we have entered a new epoch defined by humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems—requires engagement with global history. Using feminist anthropology, this lecture explores the awkward relations between what one might call “machines of replication”—those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets—and the vernacular histories in which such machines erupt in all their particularity and go feral in counter-intentional forms. This lecture does not begin with the unified continuity of Man (versus indigenous ontologies; as scientific protocol; etc.), but rather explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster.

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.

This Helen Pond McIntyre '48 Lecture was recorded on November 10, 2015 at Barnard College."
annalowenhaupttsing  2015  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  ecology  disentanglement  feminism  naturalhistory  anthropology  ecologies  plantations  capitalism  humans  entanglement  interdependence  animals  plants  trees  birds  farming  fordlandia  rubber  environment  hope  science  humanism  agriculture  annatsing 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Beasts Of Iceland: The Icelandic Raven - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"After a trip around the Golden Circle, you—our tourist reader—might be wondering: “How the hell does any animal survive on this godforsaken mid-Atlantic rock?” It’s a fair question. With a lack of vegetation, a merciless climate, and generally inhospitable conditions, Iceland isn’t an easy place for any living creature to survive.

That said, there are a number of cool fauna in the country. So, let’s meet the…

Icelandic Raven

From Edgar Allen Poe to Bran Stark, the hypnotic black eyes of the raven have captivated society for millennia. Iceland is of course no exception. In the Sagas, the birds were considered symbols of wisdom and prophecy. Even Óðinn himself had two raven bros—Huginn and Muninn (“Mind” and “Memory,” in English).

Upon first sight, the Icelandic raven, or corvus corax varius, might resemble your average run-of-the-mill creepy raven, but their feathers are actually noticeably less glossy. This is probably because, like Lancome Juicy Tubes, gloss is tacky. Icelanders are way too classy for that shit.

Beauty fades, though, while dumb is forever. Luckily, ravens are one of the smartest birds out there. Not only can they do somersaults, but they have also been known to follow fishing boats and pull up unsuspecting seaman’s lines for a quick snack—a level of avian MacGyver-ness far beyond losers like Huey, Dewey, or Louie.

Nevermore, bitches

Unfortunately, the population of Icelandic ravens has been steadily decreasing for years—so much so that they are now a vulnerable species on the Icelandic Red List of Birds.

It’s quite a quandary. Ravens don’t taste good, nor do they make tasteful wall ornaments like tigers and lions. Why then are Icelanders so raven-ravenous? The answer, obviously, is that all Icelanders are secretly White Walkers and, like Stalin, want to control the amount of information that’s available about Iceland, globally. Don’t worry though, considering Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen just fucked, things aren’t looking too rosy for our blonde, blue-eyed brethren. Long live the raven!

Bonus: here is a cute video of a raven flying around a cat."
iceland  ravens  corvids  birds  nature  2017 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Animals Week - CityLab
"Urban citizens of all species"

[See also: "When City Life Is Wild: This week, we’re fishing up stories about urban animals of all species."
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/when-city-life-is-wild/536097/

"Curbing Your Dog, All Around the World: This blogger has the inside scoop on cities’ cheekiest signs."
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/dog-poop-signs-around-the-world/535920/

"When Crows Attack: One man is on a mission to map bird-on-human aggression around the world."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/when-crows-attack/536409/

"Will Cities Ever Outsmart Rats?: The age-old strategy is “see a rat, kill a rat.” The new plan is to end an infestation before it ever begins."
https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2017/08/smart-cities-fight-rat-infestations-big-data/535407/

"Urban Monkeys Are Too Chunky: Put down that banana! Eating human food is making the world’s city-dwelling simians sick."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/urban-monkeys-are-too-chunky/536055/

"'We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots': American crow populations are swelling in cities. Perhaps by better understanding them we can better understand ourselves."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/we-thought-we-would-be-ruled-by-robots/536118/

"The Deer in Your Yard Are Here to Stay: The deer population of the eastern U.S. has exploded and cities are trying to keep it in check. But the options available to them are limited, and fraught."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/the-deer-in-your-yard-are-here-to-stay/535938/

"Green Roofs Are Saving Birds and Hatching Bird-Watchers: When landscape architects attract flocks to urban centers, city dwellers are keen to look up."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/green-design-has-changed-urban-birding/535839/
animals  cities  multispecies  2017  wildlife  pets  nature  birds  deer  monkeys  dogs  rats  crows  corvids 
august 2017 by robertogreco
'We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots' - CityLab
"American crow populations are swelling in cities. Perhaps by better understanding them we can better understand ourselves."
crows  corvids  cities  nature  multispecies  wildlife  animals  birds  ravens  2017  arielaberg-riger  urban  urbanism 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Lens of Time: Secrets of Schooling - bioGraphic
"Shimmering schools of fish have dazzled scientists for centuries with their synchronized maneuvers. Now, high-speed video is revealing how—and why—they do it."



"Collective behavior is embodied in swarms of insects, flocks of birds, herds of antelope, and schools of fish. In each of these cases, individuals move through their environment and respond to threats and opportunities almost simultaneously, forming an undulating enclave that seems to operate as a single entity. Such coordinated movement requires the rapid and efficient transfer of information among individuals, but understanding exactly how this information spreads through the group has long eluded scientists. Studying this behavior in schools of fish has been incredibly challenging, because the cues that drive it occur at lightening speed, come from multiple directions and sources, and of course because all of it takes place underwater. Now, Iain Couzin and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology at the University of Konstanz, Germany are using new observation techniques and technologies—including high-speed video, motion-tracking software, and advanced statistical modeling—to reveal the mysterious mechanics of schooling fish. Their findings may shed light on the evolution and benefits of collective behavior across the animal kingdom."
nature  animals  multispecies  collectivebehavior  fish  birds  herds  antelopes  insects  science  iaincouzin  video  towatch  motion  movement 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Birdhouses: Miniature mansions of Istanbul - Daily Sabah
"A very compassionate offering to feathered friends, the history of bird houses adorning mosques, inns and bridges around Turkey go back a long way. An important expression of love for animals, these birdhouses are an element of Ottoman-era architecture with their intricate designs and tiny architecture

The Ottomans established foundations (Waqf) for helping street dogs to find food, birds to drink water on hot days, storks to be treated when they are injured, wolves to be fed with meat or wounded horses to receive treatment. They built birdhouses on the facades of mosques, madrasahs or palaces that had sunlight and no wind, at a height that people couldn't reach. They also placed small plates on graves from which birds could drink water.

Bird love

In the past, more people had a reputation for bird loving. There were many families feeding birds at home. Children were treating them as if they were family. More or less, birds helped people to cure their loneliness. Storks, pigeons, sparrows and swallows used to fearlessly make their nests on rooftops or chimneys of any building. Located in the western city of Bursa, the "Gurabahane-i Laklakan" (The Home for Homeless Storks), which still stands, was built to treat wounded storks centuries ago.

On the other side, birds, particularly pigeons, were the regular guests of mosques. Muslims observing prayers at the mosque used to feed these birds and the mosque courtyards were surrounded by birds.

A special element in Ottoman-era mosque architecture, gracious birdhouses have a unique place. These small houses helped to provide birds with shelter and prevented bird droppings from polluting and corroding mosque walls. From a religious perspective, it was believed that if a person builds a bird house, he gains good deeds because the birds find shelter there.

The birdhouses were designed to shelter any bird flying freely around such as sparrows, wisecracks, swallows, pigeons and storks. A small nest carved into the walls is actually an architectural masterpiece. Birdhouses also have other names given to them by the public such as "kuş köşkü" (bird pavilions), "güvercinlik" (dovecots) and "serçe saray" (sparrow palace). They can be seen not only at mosques, but also in inns, libraries, madrasahs, schools, aqueducts, fountains and even on walls. By doing so, locals from every age group and social class were infused with love and mercy for animals.

During the Ottoman era, functionality and aesthetics were both important while creating. The birdhouses were built using very elaborate techniques. There were either one-story and one-section houses or multiple-story and multiple-section houses. Among those that were built as multi-story, there were even some birdhouses that were built in the shape of a palace or mosque. There were two steps for building birdhouses. The first one was carving the wall and the second was assembling it to the wall. With elaborate door and window details, the houses were crowned with a roof, dome and vault.

Reminiscent of a palace

Some birdhouses have managed to survive until today. The oldest birdhouse in Istanbul is located on the Büyükçekmece Bridge. Those which were built in the 17th century, are still seen on the walls of Eminönü Yeni Valide Mosque. Other birdhouses that were built with different techniques at the end of 18th century and are located on three facades of the Üsküdar Yeni Valide Mosque are some of the well-preserved examples of this architectural style. One of them is in the shape of a house and the other two are in the shape of a mosque with two minarets.

However, the birdhouses built in 1760 and located in Ayazma Mosque in Üsküdar set the most brilliant examples of this type. Birdhouses in different styles, such as one-story houses, pavilion's and palace's, sparkle on three facades of the mosque. The plate of Eyüp Mosque, which dates back to 1800, is encrusted with birdhouses. One of the birdhouses in the shape of a two-story pavilion is located on a console. Also, the hemstitched windows of a two-story birdhouse in Üsküdar Selimiye Mosque opened in 1801 are striking. There are also two birdhouses in the mausoleum of Sultan Selim III in Laleli.

It is possible to see birdhouses in other formal or civil architecture examples. The birdhouse on the wall of Seyyid Hasan Pasha Madrasa in Beyazıt, which dates back to 1745, differs from the others with the "Malakari" technique. It was built in the shape of a mosque with two minarets. There is another birdhouse that is in the shape of a pavilion covered with two vaults on the Bereketzade Madrasah.

The birdhouse on Taksim Maksemi, a building that was built in 1732 for the aim of distribution of water in the city is one-story, but has three rooms. Another birdhouse on İbrahim Tennûrî Fountain in Kayseri is one of the remarkable examples of Anatolian birdhouse architecture.

There is a birdhouse on the wall of the library of Fatih Mosque, which was built upon the commission of the Sultan Mahmud I, with two stories and six rooms. Apparently, Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I, who was known for his passion for books and the libraries he built, also loved and had mercy for birds.

The golden age

There is another birdhouse with remarkable brickwork and chambers carved into the wall in Ragıp Pasha Library in Laleli. Another birdhouse from 1800, which is in the shape of a two-story pavilion, is located on a fountain in front of Şah Sultan School in Eyüp, while another one in the inner court of Darphane in Istanbul is in the shape of a magnificent chateau. Most birdhouses that survived until today are from the 18th century. Similarly, all of the works that were done by Sultan Selim III, one of the sultans in the 18th century, included these birdhouses.

The Taş Han in Laleli sets a good example of the application of birdhouses of inn architecture. One-story, multiple-story and multiple-chambered bird houses were built on the limestone that goes along the wall. The Spice Bazaar in Eminönü also has different birdhouses. Shopkeepers put food on these houses, which are located on the bazaar's section facing the Marmara Sea every morning before they open their stores.

There are birdhouses on the walls of houses in Istanbul and Anatolia, too. Some of them were built at the same time as the home itself and some were added to the homes later. Even though there are a limited number of these houses, few can still be seen. Some of the birdhouses on some homes along Bağdat Avenue have also survived until today."
via:tealtan  birds  birdhouses  istabul  multispecies  2016  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  animals  nature  architecture  classideas 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Wake up to Gentle Birdsong with This New Smartphone App | Audubon
"For many people, the idea of waking to the sweet trills of birdsong is idyllic. But the reality isn't always as pleasant—will that Mocker ever be quiet?—and not everyone has a morning routine that aligns with the lives of their local songbirds. But now none of that matters, because there's a way to create your own avian wake-up calls thanks to Dawn Chorus, a new smartphone app from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History and its design lab The Studio.

The free app, available for iPhone and Android, lets you mix a birdsong alarm using audio files from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For each alarm, you pick five species (out of 20 options native to the northeast United States) whose songs play in the order you select at whatever time you set. As the melodies gently wake you, the app displays softly painted renditions of the birds by Sam Ticknor, an artist with The Studio. Ashley Cecil, Carnegie’s 2016 artist-in-residence, created the accompanying flower designs.

If you're a new birder, the alarm clock can also double as a learning tool. I was able to customize my alarm to mix birdcalls I know, like the Black-capped Chickadee’s buzzy chickadee-dee-dee, with others I still want to learn, like the Magnolia Warbler’s whistly weta-weta-weta. The app also offers descriptions of each bird, along with information about the museum and BirdSafe Pittsburgh, a joint project from Carnegie and the American Bird Conservancy that works to study and reduce bird-glass collisions.

<<Freebie Alert! Download our Audubon Bird Guide app, which offers detailed profiles, sound libraries, photographs, and range maps for 821 North American species. Available for iPhone, Droid, and Kindle devices.>>

Dawn Chorus still has some kinks to work out, especially for fussy sleepers. Some reviewers have noted that the alarm played for only a minute until it snoozed itself, a feature which could cause problems for those prone to oversleeping. On the other hand, light sleepers worry that the app will inadvertently keep them up; unlike the built-in alarms on most phones, Dawn Chorus does not sound when your phone is in silent mode. This means that to use the app, you also have to endure the pings of texts or phone calls while you are sleeping—a possible dealbreaker.

The rest of us, however, can now rise with the birds we choose, and on our own schedule. Download Dawn Chorus from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store."

[See also: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dawn-chorus/id1146931666 ]
applications  birds  birdsong  sound  alarms  alarmclocks  android  ios  iphone  brids  nature  animals 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Towards an Internet of Living Things – OpenExplorer Journal – Medium
"Conservation groups are using technology to understand and protect our planet in an entirely new way."

"The Internet of Things (IoT) was an idea that industry always loved. It was simple enough to predict: as computing and sensors become smaller and cheaper, they would be embedded into devices and products that interact with each other and their owners. Fast forward to 2017 and the IoT is in full bloom. Because of the stakes — that every device and machine in your life will be upgraded and harvested for data — companies wasted no time getting in on the action. There are smart thermostats, refrigerators, TVs, cars, and everything else you can imagine.

Industry was first, but they aren’t the only. Now conservationists are taking the lead.

The same chips, sensors (especially cameras) and networks being used to wire up our homes and factories are being deployed by scientists (both professional and amateur) to understand our natural world. It’s an Internet of Living Things. It isn’t just a future of efficiency and convenience. It’s enabling us to ask different questions and understand our world from an entirely new perspective. And just in time. As environmental challenges — everything from coral bleaching to African elephant poaching— continue to mount, this emerging network will serve as the planetary nervous system, giving insight into precisely what actions to take.

It’s a new era of conservation based on real-time data and monitoring. It changes our ecological relationship with the planet by changing the scales at which we can measure — we get both increased granularity, as well as adding a truly macro view of the entire planet. It also allows us to simultaneously (and unbiasedly) measuring the most important part of the equation: ourselves.

Specific and Real-Time

We have had population estimates of species for decades, but things are different now. Before the estimates came from academic fieldwork, and now we’re beginning to rely on vast networks of sensors to monitor and model those same populations in real-time. Take the recent example of Paul Allen’s Domain Awareness System (DAS) that covers broad swaths of West Africa. Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg feature:
For years, local rangers have protected wildlife with boots on the ground and sheer determination. Armed guards spend days and nights surrounding elephant herds and horned rhinos, while on the lookout for rogue trespassers.

Allen’s DAS uses technology to go the distance that humans cannot. It relies on three funnels of information: ranger radios, animal tracker tags, and a variety of environmental sensors such as camera traps and satellites. This being the product of the world’s 10th-richest software developer, it sends everything back to a centralized computer system, which projects specific threats onto a map of the monitored region, displayed on large screens in a closed circuit-like security room.

For instance, if a poacher were to break through a geofence sensor set up by a ranger in a highly-trafficked corridor, an icon of a rifle would flag the threat as well as any micro-chipped elephants and radio-carrying rangers in the vicinity.

[video]

These networks are being woven together in ecosystems all over the planet. Old cellphones being turned into rainforest monitoring devices. Drones surveying and processing the health of Koala populations in Australia. The conservation website MongaBay now has a section of their site dedicated to the fast-moving field, which they’ve dubbed WildTech. Professionals and amateurs are gathering in person at events like Make for the Planet and in online communities like Wildlabs.net. It’s game on.

The trend is building momentum because the early results have been so good, especially in terms of resolution. The organization WildMe is using a combination of citizen science (essentially human-powered environmental sensors) and artificial intelligence to identify and monitor individuals in wild populations. As in, meet Struddle the manta ray, number 1264_B201. He’s been sited ten times over the course of 10 years, mostly around the Maldives.

[image]

The combination of precision and pervasiveness means these are more than just passive data-collecting systems. They’re beyond academic, they’re actionable. We can estimate more accurately — there are 352,271 elephants estimated to remain in Africa — but we’re also reacting when something happens — a poacher broke a geofence 10 minutes ago.

The Big Picture

It’s not just finer detail, either. We’re also getting a better bigger picture than we’ve ever had before. We’re watching on a planetary scale.

Of course, advances in satellites are helping. Planet (the company) has been a major driving force. Over the past few years they’ve launched hundreds of small imaging satellites and have created an earth-imaging constellation that has ambitions of getting an image of every location on earth, every day. Like Google Earth, but near-real-time and the ability to search along the time horizon. An example of this in action, Planet was able to catch an illegal gold mining operation in the act in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.

[image]

It’s not just satellites, it’s connectivity more broadly. Traditionally analog wildlife monitoring is going online. Ornithology gives us a good example of this. For the past century, the study of birds have relied on amateur networks of enthusiasts — the birders — to contribute data on migration and occurrence studies. (For research that spans long temporal time spans or broad geographic areas, citizen science is often the most effective method.) Now, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phones, birding is digitized and centralized on platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. You can watch the real-time submissions and observations:

[image]

Sped up, we get the visual of species-specific migrations over the course of a year:

[animated GIF]

Human Activity

The network we’re building isn’t all glass, plastic and silicon. It’s people, too. In the case of the birders above, the human component is critical. They’re doing the legwork, getting into the field and pointing the cameras. They’re both the braun and the (collective) brain of the operation.

Keeping humans in the loop has it’s benefits. It’s allowing these networks to scale faster. Birders with smartphones and eBird can happen now, whereas a network of passive forest listening devices would take years to build (and would be much more expensive to maintain). It also makes these systems better adept at managing ethical and privacy concerns — people are involved in the decision making at all times. But the biggest benefit of keeping people in the loop, is that we can watch them—the humans—too. Because as much as we’re learning about species and ecosystems, we also need to understand how we ourselves are affected by engaging and perceiving the natural world.

We’re getting more precise measurements of species and ecosystems (a better small picture), as well as a better idea of how they’re all linked together (a better big picture). But we’re also getting an accurate sense of ourselves and our impact on and within these systems (a better whole picture).

We’re still at the beginning of measuring the human-nature boundary, but the early results suggests it will help the conservation agenda. A sub-genre of neuroscience called neurobiophilia has emerged to study the effects on nature on our brain function. (Hint: it’s great for your health and well-being.) National Geographic is sending some of their explorers into the field wired up with Fitbits and EEG machines. The emerging academic field of citizen science seems to be equally concerned with the effects of participation than it is with outcomes. So far, the science is indicating that engagement in the data collecting process has measurable effects on the community’s ability to manage different issues. The lesson here: not only is nature good for us, but we can evolve towards a healthier perspective. In a world approaching 9 billion people, this collective self-awareness will be critical.

What’s next

Just as fast as we’re building this network, we’re learning what it’s actually capable of doing. As we’re still laying out the foundation, the network is starting to come alive. The next chapter is applying machine learning to help make sense of the mountains of data that these systems are producing. Want to quickly survey the dispersion of arctic ponds? Here. Want to count and classify the number of fish you’re seeing with your underwater drone? We’re building that. In a broad sense, we’re “closing the loop” as Chris Anderson explained in an Edge.org interview:
If we could measure the world, how would we manage it differently? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves in the digital realm since the birth of the Internet. Our digital lives — clicks, histories, and cookies — can now be measured beautifully. The feedback loop is complete; it’s called closing the loop. As you know, we can only manage what we can measure. We’re now measuring on-screen activity beautifully, but most of the world is not on screens.

As we get better and better at measuring the world — wearables, Internet of Things, cars, satellites, drones, sensors — we are going to be able to close the loop in industry, agriculture, and the environment. We’re going to start to find out what the consequences of our actions are and, presumably, we’ll take smarter actions as a result. This journey with the Internet that we started more than twenty years ago is now extending to the physical world. Every industry is going to have to ask the same questions: What do we want to measure? What do we do with that data? How can we manage things differently once we have that data? This notion of closing the loop everywhere is perhaps the biggest endeavor of … [more]
davidlang  internetofthings  nature  life  conservation  tracking  2017  data  maps  mapping  sensors  realtime  iot  computing  erth  systems  wildlife  australia  africa  maldives  geofencing  perú  birds  ornithology  birding  migration  geography  inaturalist  ebird  mobile  phones  crowdsourcing  citizenscience  science  classideas  biology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Meet the Bird Brainiacs: Common Raven | Audubon
[See also:

"Crows and Ravens are Masters of Self-Control: New study shows that corvids know when patience pays off." (2014)
http://www.audubon.org/news/crows-and-ravens-are-masters-self-control-0

"Remarkably Curious and Intelligent, Crows and Ravens Deserve a Closer Look: A new book offers a close look at the lives of these wonderfully smart, charismatic birds." (2013)
http://www.audubon.org/magazine/may-june-2013/remarkably-curious-and-intelligent-crows-and ]
2016  ravens  corvids  birds  animals  alisaopar  2013  2014  nature  crows  intelligence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Ravens have paranoid, abstract thoughts about other minds | WIRED UK
"Cementing their status as the most terrifying of all the birds, a new study has found that ravens are able to imagine being spied upon -- a level of abstraction that was previously thought to be unique to humans.

The ability to think abstractly about other minds is singled out by many as a uniquely human trait. Now, a study from the Universities of Houston and Vienna have found that ravens are able to adapt their behaviour by attributing their perceptions to others.

The study, published in Nature Communications, found that if a nearby peephole was open, ravens guarded pockets of food against discovery in response to the sound of other birds -- even if they didn't see another bird. This was not replicated when the peephole was closed, despite hearing the same auditory clues.

According to the study's authors, the discovery "shed[s] a new light on Theory of Mind" -- the ability to attribute mental states to others. A number of studies have found that animals are able to understand what others see -- but only when they can see the head or eyes, which provide gaze cues. This suggests that these animals are responding only to surface cues, and are not experiencing the same abstraction as humans.

The ability to hide food is extremely important to ravens, and they behave completely differently when they feel they are being watched -- hiding food more quickly, for example, and are less likely to return to a hiding place for fear of revealing the location to a competitor.

The study replicated this behaviour. Two rooms were connected by windows and peepholes, both of which could be opened and closed. The ravens were trained to look through the peepholes to observe human experimenters making stashes of food. Finally, both windows were covered while a single peephole remained open -- and, though no bird was present, the ravens still hid the food as if they were being watched.

"Completing this evolutionary and developmental picture will bring us much closer to figuring out what's really unique about the human mind" —Cameron Buckner, University of Houston

"We showed that ravens can generalise from their own experience using the peephole as a pilferer, and predict that audible competitors could potentially see their caches through the peephole," the authors wrote. "Consequently, we argue that they represent 'seeing' in a way that cannot be reduced to the tracking of gaze cues."

Although ravens may not seem similar to humans, the two species do have something in common -- their social lives. Like humans, ravens go through distinct social phases, from fluid interaction with other birds as adolescents to stable breeding pairs in adults. "There is a time when who is in the pack, who's a friend, who's an enemy can change very rapidly," said Cameron Buckner, lead author of the research. "There are not many other species that demonstrate as much social flexibility. "Ravens cooperate well. They can compete well. They maintain long-term, monogamous relationships. It makes them a good place to look for social cognition, because similar social pressures might have driven the evolution of similarly advanced cognitive capacities in very different species".

It's not the only thing ravens can do -- they've also been found to mimic human speech, complete complex logic puzzles and show empathy for fellow birds, which Buckner says could "change our perception of human uniqueness". "Finding that Theory of Mind is present in birds would require us to give up a popular story as to what makes humans special," he said. "Completing this evolutionary and developmental picture will bring us much closer to figuring out what's really unique about the human mind"."
ravens  theoryofmind  corvids  birds  2016  animals  nature  psychology  intelligence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Like Humans and Apes, Ravens Have the Foresight to Save Up for the Future | Audubon
"Even to a casual observer, it’s fairly obvious that corvids—a family of birds that includes crows, ravens, and jays—have got more going on between their ears than most birds. They’re masters at curbing impulses, are cognizant of familiar faces, and meticulous when taking stock of their stash.

A new study, published today in Science, suggests that ravens are even smarter than suspected. The series of experiments shows that ravens are able to use past experiences to plan ahead for future events, and exhibit some self-control in the process—behaviors previously observed only in humans and apes.

“Evolutionarily, there is a vast separation between great apes and corvids,” says Can Kabadayi, an author of the study and graduate student in cognitive science at Sweden’s Lund University. The last time ravens and apes shared a common ancestor was 320 million years ago, he says, “yet ravens show similar skill sets and combine them, similarly to great apes.”

In a first set of experiments, similar to those conducted on great apes and humans, Kabadayi and Lund University’s Mathias Osvath looked for signs of corvid foresight by studying how Common Ravens use and store objects with no immediate use, but in the future might provide them with a reward. Five adult ravens were presented with a selection of objects: some could be bartered with a person for treats, and others could open a puzzle box with a treat hidden inside. The ravens quickly learned that they could trade certain tokens for treats, or use the correct tool—in this case a small stone—to release the treat from the box. They began saving tokens and stones, as though they planned to use them when the next opportunity to trade or open a box presented itself.

“Ravens like to hide and cache items, but not at random,” Kabadayi says. “Caching shows that they value items for a specific purpose. In this context, ravens cached boring stones and tokens because they saw value based on how they used the items before.”

[video]

The researchers then tested whether the birds could remember how their ‘boring’ objects worked, first after 15 minutes, and again after 17 hours. During the waiting periods, the ravens continued to fixate on the tokens and tools they’d need for future treats, and ultimately, they excelled at the task. Even after the delays, they were better at planning future trades than orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees, and they matched apes at planning and using tools—despite the fact that they never need tools to gather food in the wild.

“These experiments nicely show that ravens flexibly tackle a certain problem outside of what they do naturally,” says Markus Böckle, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge who wrote an opinion piece for Science about the new research.

In a second set of tests, the researchers wanted to see if ravens could show some self-control. They presented the ravens with a number of objects on a tray, including bartering tokens, box-opening stones, miscellaneous items, and a treat that was subpar compared to the treat in the box. Instead of going for the instant gratification of the subpar treat, the ravens opted to use the tokens and tools to get the superior treat from the box—100 percent of the time when they could nibble on their prize immediately after opening the box, and about 70 percent of the time when they had to wait 15 minutes. The longer they had to wait, the less they valued a future reward.

Even though the ravens’ abilities matched those of apes—or even surpassed them—they actually evolved separately. “In the early 1990s, we discovered that birds share several neurobiological structures with mammals, showing the capability of complex cognition,” Böckle says. “We are sure that the common ancestor of ravens and great apes didn’t have complex cognitive behavior, so somewhere along the line, we believe birds evolved cognition independently.”

The discoveries by Kabadayi and his team open up new avenues for understanding how intelligence has developed in different branches of the evolutionary tree. And for many birders, this work confirms what we’ve long known: Raven smarts aren't too far off from our own."

[Study referenced:
"Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering"
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6347/202
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2017/07/12/357.6347.202.DC1/aam8138-Kabadayi-SM.pdf ]

[See also:
"Evermore: ravens can plan for the future, scientists say"
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/13/raven-think-about-future-planning-science-experiment

"More Evidence That Ravens Are Ridiculously Intelligent Birds"
https://gizmodo.com/more-evidence-that-ravens-are-ridiculously-intelligent-1796882085

"Ravens Surprise Scientists By Showing They Can Plan"
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/13/537040868/ravens-surprise-scientists-by-showing-they-can-plan

"Ravens ignore a treat in favor of a useful tool for the future: Planning ahead means they're even smarter than we thought."
https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/ravens-ignore-a-treat-in-favor-of-a-useful-tool-for-the-future/ ]
ravens  corvids  birds  intelligence  animals  nature  2017  cankabadayi 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
OUT NOW! Shitgulls and environmental education – SAND
"“We were standing at the edge of an uncovered compost area with the child. Rest of the children were further away. The area was filled with birds scavenging for food. A Seagull flew over our heads. ‘That’s a SHITgull!’ said the boy pointing at the bird. ‘My dad says they’re SHIT birds and they ought to be SHOT’ he said, looking at me.

The shitgull as a child–within–nature configuration was a fleeting bond that was simultaneously enabled by and transgressed the boundaries of ‘child’ and ‘nature’. The bird was looking for food when we interrupted him. Leftover food that had been collected from humans and dumped in the huge open compost. Causing seagulls, ravens, crows and magpies to flock and populate the compost heaps, attracting also rats and smaller rodents. Causing the landfill personnel to put up scarecrows and nets to which the birds would get tangled and hang flapping upside down until their slow death. Because of eating human waste. Shit. The relation between the Seagull and the boy was that of mutual disaffect and avoidance – of categorical, concrete and symbolic using of each other. The Seagull for food, the boy for seeking a let out for his feelings and confusion over his dad, it seemed. Without the bird, the boy could not have been an unhappy, angry, death-wishing child – an adamant and intentional non-child. Knowing that I take care of injured birds, plenty of seagulls included, his wish for the bird to be dead, pointed at me, was especially weighty. As the child declined his childness the bird declined his wildness. He survived on human waste and witnessed his fellow gulls dying, tangled in the nets above the compost. The ‘shitgull’ was an event of ill-being for all involved; yet it was an event of the utmost interdependence. An interdependence gone wrong.”"

[points to: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2017.1325446 ]
multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  2017  pauliinarautio  riikkahohti  riita-marjaleinonen  tuuretammi  seagulls  gulls  animals  nature  birds  children  ravens  crows  corvids  magpies  interdependence  independence 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Thinking about life and species lines with Pietari and Otto (and garlic breath) (PDF Download Available)
"Concepts can be thought of as answers to questions posed by the world. Concepts are answers insomuch as they are particular ways of thinking about and act- ing within the world – to the exclusion of others. In some cases we have grown accustomed to certain answers or conceptualisations to the extent that the original questions are no longer easily available. For example, having grown up and been educated in a Nordic welfare state context of post-enlightenment era anthropocentrism and natural scientific rationality (Snaza et al. 2014), like the generations before me, I tend to keep falling back to the concepts of “human” and “animal”. To get to the question of animate life on Earth, and then to envisage new answers, is to overcome decades of sedimented ontologies – settled ideas, lived constructs and understandings of what it is to be human, what it is to be an individual defined by the construct of species.

This paper is dedicated to my non-human/more-than-human co-authors Pietari of the Columbae family and Otto of the Corvidae family. Together we write about how the notion of “life” can be understood beyond species categories, beyond individual bodies and beyond linear time. That is, when “a life” refers to some- thing shared, something multiple, rather than something singular. We also write about and take up concepts as methods in a multispecies inquiry (Rautio, in press). In this paper, multispecies inquiry is not only an inquiry with and between species but inquiry into the very idea of there be- ing multiple species – it is a deconstruction and a reconsideration of life divided by species lines."
animals  multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  birds  crows  pauliinarautio  corvids  pigeons  morethanhuman 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Sounds of Extinct Birds – Earbirding
"Ever wondered what a Dodo sounded like? Or a Great Auk? Or a Kaua’i ‘O’o?

On a whim, I went looking for sounds of extinct birds on the internet, and I found a lot more than I bargained for — in more ways than one. I managed to turn up some of the rarest, most remarkable, saddest and most haunting recordings I’ve ever heard…and also some of the looniest. I’ll save the loony for last; let’s start with the poignant."
birds  sounds  recordings  anthropocene  artifacts  nature  animals  extinction 
june 2017 by robertogreco
xeno-canto :: Sharing bird sounds from around the world
"xeno-canto is a website dedicated to sharing bird sounds from all over the world. Whether you are a research scientist, a birder, or simply curious about a sound that you heard out your kitchen window, we invite you to listen, download, and explore the bird sound recordings in the collection.

But xeno-canto is more than just a collection of recordings. It is also a collaborative project. We invite you to share your own bird recordings, help identify mystery recordings, or share your expertise in the forums. Welcome!"
audio  birds  nature  sound  animals 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What Animals Taught Me About Being Human - The New York Times
"Surrounding myself with animals to feel less alone was a mistake: The greatest comfort is in knowing their lives are not about us at all."



"Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. The purpose of animals in medieval bestiaries, for example, was to give us lessons in how to live. I don’t know anyone who now thinks of pelicans as models of Christian self-sacrifice, or the imagined couplings of vipers and lampreys as an allegorical exhortation for wives to put up with unpleasant husbands. But our minds still work like bestiaries. We thrill at the notion that we could be as wild as a hawk or a weasel, possessing the inner ferocity to go after the things we want; we laugh at animal videos that make us yearn to experience life as joyfully as a bounding lamb. A photograph of the last passenger pigeon makes palpable the grief and fear of our own unimaginable extinction. We use animals as ideas to amplify and enlarge aspects of ourselves, turning them into simple, safe harbors for things we feel and often cannot express.

None of us see animals clearly. They’re too full of the stories we’ve given them. Encountering them is an encounter with everything you’ve ever learned about them from previous sightings, from books, images, conversations. Even rigorous scientific studies have asked questions of animals in ways that reflect our human concerns. In the late 1930s, for example, when the Dutch and Austrian ethologists Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz towed models resembling flying hawks above turkey chicks, they were trying to prove that these birds hatched with a hard-wired image resembling an airborne bird of prey already in their minds that compelled them to freeze in terror. While later research has suggested it is very likely that young turkeys actually learn what to fear from other turkeys, the earlier experiment is still valuable, not least for what it says about human fears. To me it seems shaped by the historical anxieties of a Europe threatened for the first time by large-scale aerial warfare, when pronouncements were made that “the bomber will always get through,” no matter how tight the national defense."



"For some weeks, I’ve been worried about the health of family and friends. Today I’ve stared at a computer screen for hours. My eyes hurt. My heart does, too. Feeling the need for air, I sit on the step of my open back door and see a rook, a sociable species of European crow, flying low toward my house through gray evening air. Straightaway I use the trick I learned as a child, and all my difficult emotions lessen as I imagine how the press of cooling air might feel against its wings. But my deepest relief doesn’t come from imagining I can feel what the rook feels, know what the rook knows — instead, it’s slow delight in recognizing that I cannot. These days I take emotional solace from understanding that animals are not like me, that their lives are not about us at all. The house it’s flying over has meaning for both of us. To me, it is home. To a rook? A way point on a journey, a collection of tiles and slopes, useful as a perch or a thing to drop walnuts on in autumn to make them shatter and let it winkle out the flesh inside.

Then there is something else. As it passes overhead, the rook tilts its head to regard me briefly before flying on. And with that glance I feel a prickling in my skin that runs down my spine, and my sense of place shifts. The rook and I have shared no purpose. For one brief moment we noticed each other, is all. When I looked at the rook and the rook looked at me, I became a feature of its landscape as much as it became a feature of mine. Our separate lives, for that moment, coincided, and all my anxiety vanished in that one fugitive moment, when a bird in the sky on its way somewhere else pulled me back into the world by sending a glance across the divide."
animals  multispecies  posthumanism  humans  2017  helenmacdonald  crows  corvids  rooks  thomasnagel  birds  nature  wildlife  human-animalrelations  anthropomorphism  human-animalrelationships  nikotinbergen  konradlorenz 
may 2017 by robertogreco
How Do Pelicans Survive Their Death-Defying Dives? | Deep Look - YouTube
"Brown pelicans hit the water at breakneck speed when they catch fish. Performing such dangerous plunges requires technique, equipment, and 30 million years of practice.



California’s brown pelicans are one of two pelican species (once considered the same) that plunge from the air to hunt. The rest, like the white pelican, bob for fish at the water’s surface.

The shape of its bill is essential to the birds' survival in these dives, reducing “hydrodynamic drag” — buckling forces, caused by the change from air to water — to almost zero. It’s something like the difference between slapping the water with your palm and chopping it, karate-style.

And while all birds have light, air-filled bones, pelican skeletons take it to an extreme. As they dive, they inflate special air sacs around their neck and belly, cushioning their impact and allowing them to float.

Even their celebrated pouches play a role. An old limerick quips, “A remarkable bird is a pelican / Its beak can hold more than its belly can…” That beak is more than just a fishing net. It’s also a parachute that pops open underwater, helping to slow the bird down.

Behind the pelican’s remarkable resilience (and beaks) lies 30 million years of evolutionary stasis, meaning they haven’t changed much over time.

--- What do pelicans eat?

Pelicans eat small fish like anchovies, sardines, and smelt.

--- How long to pelicans live?

Pelicans live 15-25 years in the wild.

--- How big are pelicans?

Brown pelicans are small for pelicans, but still big for birds, with a 6-8 foot wingspan. Their average weight is 3.5 kg.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2017/04/25/volunteer-brown-pelican-count-aims-to-measure-recovery-of-once-endangered-birds/ "
pelicans  birds  science  animals  nature  2017  classideas 
april 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: A Strike Looms in Hollywood [bookmark not about this] - The New York Times
"To escape the concrete and clamor of San Francisco, you might drive 45 minutes to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge and slip into a redwood forest.

Or you could go the center of the city.

There rises Mount Sutro, an 80-acre hill forested by blue gum eucalyptus trees. Nourished by the enveloping San Francisco fog, many are more than 100 feet tall.

Among the reserve’s inhabitants are coyotes, red foxes, hoary bats and ringneck snakes. At least 80 species of bird have been spotted, including great horned owls. [http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L1011743?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec&hs_sortBy=taxon_order&hs_o=desc ]

Sarah Gustafson, a reader in San Francisco, said she walks regularly with her dog along Mount Sutro’s meandering five miles of trails. [http://www.peasepress.com/sutromap.pdf ] She shared a picture she took in December.

Entering the forest is almost immediately transporting, she said. After a few minutes of walking, the clatter of the city fades to silence.

“It’s really a fascinating place, especially on a foggy day,” said Ms. Gustafson, 27. “It’s got this sort of ethereal vibe.”

Mount Sutro has not been immune to the tree death sweeping California’s drought-stricken forests. A survey last year found that roughly a quarter of its trees were dead. A revitalization plan calls in part for clearing out the dead trees and introducing more native species (the eucalyptus are from Australia). [https://www.ucsf.edu/sites/default/files/Sutro-Management-Plan-TAC-Draft-081216.pdf ]

If you want to pitch in, they’re looking for volunteers.

Sutro Stewards [https://www.sutrostewards.org/ ], a nonprofit conservation group, invites people to help with trail and habitat restoration on the first and third Saturdays of each month. Get the details here. [https://www.sutrostewards.org/events] "
sanfrancisco  nature  mountsutro  glvo  2017  animals  parks  birds  coyotes 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Walking Playground – Linda Knight
"Edges are an interesting concept to consider. Do edges exist? Does everything have an edge, even the atmosphere or air? If edges do exist, are they sharp, sudden? Do edges sit alongside each other without space between them? What might be between the edge of an object and the edge of air? Ideas about matter are being reconceptualised and ‘things’ are being thought about less as discrete bodies, but as clusters of forces, what Karen Barad calls ‘transmaterialities’, energy fields of particles moving in times and patterns with lively edges that move back and forth. Barad’s research into theoretical physics exposes how even seemingly inert matter is not dormant or static but consists of particles busily moving and experimenting with possibilities and futures.

These theoretical reconceptualisations around matter enable thinking about taken-for-granted notions of how space, structures and forms can be allocated particular purposes. Playgrounds are static, demarcated architectural sites, however I’m curious about where the edge of a playground sits. Clearly, invisible force fields do not surround a playground so at what point does the playground end?

My work explores the pedagogies that occur in pedagogic sites and how ideas about pedagogy as a human exchange, might be rethought. I also explore the pedagogic in/of the other-than human, including surfaces, light, time, animals, birds, sounds, gestures, shade, rain, and noises. In rethinking where and what is pedagogic, the static playground loses its edges and becomes a series of moving, traveling, multispecies events, shifting locations in unpredictable ways. This project investigates the walking playground through a series of inefficient mappings."
lindaknight  edges  karenbarad  maps  mapping  multispecies  playgrounds  walking  birds  animals  light  time  morethanhuman  human  surfaces  gestures  shade  rain  noise  sounds  sfsh 
march 2017 by robertogreco
A letter to Rosa Luxemburg
"The socialist pioneer Rosa Luxemburg was killed in Berlin in 1919. In 2015, John Berger sits down to write a letter to her."



"Of the eighteen birds on the labels, I perhaps recognise five.

The boxes are full of matches with green striking heads. Sixty in each box. The same as seconds in a minute and minutes in an hour. Each one a potential flame.

“The modern proletarian class,” you wrote, “doesn’t carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern worker’s struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight.”

On the lid of the cardboard box there is a short explanatory note addressed to matchbox-label collectors (phillumenists, as they are called) in the USSR of the 1970s.

The note gives the following information: in evolutionary terms birds preceded animals, in the world today there are an estimated 5,000 species of birds, in the Soviet Union there are 400 species of songbirds, in general it is the male birds who sing, songbirds have specially developed vocal chords at the bottom of their throats, they usually nest in bushes or trees or on the ground, they are an aid to cereal agriculture because they eat and thus eliminate hordes of insects, recently in the remotest areas of the Soviet Union three new species of singing sparrows have been identified.

Janine kept the box on her kitchen windowsill. It gave her pleasure and in the winter it reminded her of birds singing.

When you were imprisoned for vehemently opposing the First World War, you listened to a blue titmouse “who always stayed close to my window, came with the others to be fed, and diligently sang its funny little song, tsee-tsee-bay, but it sounded like the mischievous teasing of a child. It always made me laugh and I would answer with the same call. Then the bird vanished with the others at the beginning of this month, no doubt nesting elsewhere. I had seen and heard nothing of it for weeks. Yesterday its well-known notes came suddenly from the other side of the wall which separates our courtyard from another part of the prison; but it was considerably altered, for the bird called three times in brief succession, tsee-tsee-bay, tsee-tsee-bay, tsee-tsee-bay, and then all was still. It went to my heart, for there was so much conveyed by this hasty call from the distance – a whole history of bird life.”"
johnberger  rosaluxemburg  2015  birds  objects  matches  matchboxes  phillumenists  imprisonment  freedom  proletariat  struggle  living 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Case Against Cats - Los Angeles Review of Books
"IMAGINE THERE’S NO CAT. Imagine there’s no mouser, no pet, no fuzzy thing rubbing against your leg, meowing for dinner. Imagine there’s no word for jazz hipsters, nothing to always land on its feet, nothing for animal hoarders to hoard, nothing to dangle from a tree limb telling you to “Hang in there!” Imagine there’re no cat memes, no Grumpy or Nyan Cat, no cat playing keyboard or framed by a misspelled catchphrase. Imagine a world without cats.

It’s not that easy to do. The cat has become ubiquitous in our lives, whether serving as pest repellent, loyal friend and companion, inexhaustible reservoir of metaphor and cultural association, or internet content. This last is the latest, but not the least, of the cat’s accomplishments. Of all the things that get shared, retweeted, liked, favorited, loved, or memed on any given day of our networked lives, up at the top of the list is always cats: cats with their heads between slices of bread, cats trying to fit into a cardboard box, cats riding around on Roombas in shark costumes. Because we love them, we put them anywhere and everywhere, spreading their images far and wide.

Cats are colonizers: this is what they do. They have colonized the internet just as they have colonized so many other habitats, always with the help of humans. This is the lesson of Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer, a new book by conservation scientist Peter P. Marra and travel writer Chris Santella. From remote islands in the Pacific to the marshes of Galveston Bay, Cat Wars traces the various ways in which felines have infiltrated new landscapes, inevitably sowing death and devastation wherever they go.

Perhaps the most famous case of genocide-by-cat is that of the remote Stephens Island in New Zealand. Before the end of the 19th century, it was home to a unique species: the Stephens Island wren. One of only a few species of flightless songbirds, the wren ran low to the ground, looking more like a mouse than a bird. After a lighthouse was built on the island in 1894, a small human settlement was established; and with humans, invariably, come pets. At some point a pregnant cat, brought over from the mainland, escaped and roamed wild. The island’s wrens, unused to facing such a skillful predator, were no match for the feral cats that spread throughout the island. Within a year, the Stephens Island wren was extinct. It would take another 30 years to eradicate the feral cats.

This is not an isolated incident. Cats have contributed to species decline and habitat reduction in dozens of other cases. Because they’re so cute and beloved, we have little conception of — and little incentive to find out — how much damage cats are doing to our environment. When researcher Scott Loss tallied up the number of animals killed by North American housecats in a single year, the results were absolutely staggering: between 6.3 and 22.3 billion mammals, between 1.3 and 4 billion birds, between 95 and 299 million amphibians, and between 258 and 822 million reptiles.

¤

It is undeniable, then, that cats are a menace to animal society, particularly those cats that are allowed to roam free outdoors. We have known this for almost a century. In 1929, the ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush commented that “the widespread dissemination of cats in the woods and in the open or farming country, and the destruction of birds by them, is a much more important matter than most people suspect, and is not to be lightly put aside, as it has an important bearing on the welfare of the human race.” Forbush, having tallied up an impressive anecdotal record of death and destruction, concluded that the cat “has disturbed the biological balance and has become a destructive force among native birds and mammals.” The cat doesn’t much care if its prey is threatened with extinction. Any small mammal, bird, or reptile is fair game, regardless of its rarity.

In one of Cat Wars’s more enlightening analogies, Marra and Santella compare housecats to the pesticide DDT. The cat, they argue, is one of the earliest known invasive species, and invasive species, they argue, are “simply another form of an environmental contaminant; like DDT, they can cause great harm and, once introduced, can be exceptionally difficult to remove from the environment.” Both started out as human technologies used to rid the landscape of unwanted pests, and both came with unintended side effects and unwanted additional destruction in the wild. Given the amount of energy we have devoted to banning DDT and ridding the environment of its consequences, it’s noteworthy that we seem so uninterested in a similar remedy for the scourge of cats, which, by most metrics, are far more destructive. The authors note that, while cats have been implicated in the decline and extinction of some 175 different species, “there are no confirmed bird extinctions from the pesticide DDT.”

The news that housecats are laying waste to wide swaths of biodiversity has not, like revelations about climate change or other ecological evils, led to some kind of scientific consensus about what was to be done. It’s led, instead, to the establishment of two warring camps: the cat people and the bird people. The bird people think that the wholesale slaughter of the world’s bird population is a problem requiring human intervention, namely the banning of feral and outdoor cats, forced sterilization, and euthanization. The cat people are aghast at these solutions, and argue instead that cats, being innate predators, should be allowed to fulfill their natural directive. When University of Wisconsin professor Stanley Temple published a report noting the high number of birds being killed by cats, he was besieged with death threats. “Many Wisconsites (at least those who wrote letters to the editor and hate mail to Temple),” Marra and Santella write, “were much more concerned that cats were being blamed for songbird deaths than with the fact that millions of songbirds were being killed. And some were more troubled about the possibility of cats being killed than they were about the life of a researcher.”

In the ensuing stalemate, legislation has been halfheartedly introduced, allowed to languish in committee, and finally scuttled altogether. Half-measures have been introduced that do no good. Invective has been hurled from both sides with increasing ferocity. And, meanwhile, cats continue to kill all manner of creature of field and stream.

¤

Cat Wars raises an interesting ethical question: is it justifiable to kill one animal because that animal kills other animals in disproportionate numbers? The authors cite Bill Lynn, an ethicist who has supported the culling of one species as a means to protect another, calling such work a “sad good.” But Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, contends the opposite: that the life of each individual animal must be weighed separate from a concern for species and for diversity. This kind of dilemma — is it morally acceptable to sacrifice the one to save the many, or the many for the one? — has long vexed philosophers of human ethics, and it is fascinating to see it here played out with regards to interspecies warfare.

Rather than explore this difficulty further, though, Cat Wars remains mostly about the war between cat people and bird people. Marra and Santella are clearly bird people. (Marra, after all, is the head of the Smithsonian’s migratory bird center.) The pro-bird, anti-cat thrust of their book is not subtle. “Allowing owned cats to roam freely outside,” they write, is an example of “irresponsible pet ownership,” a message they drive home with increasing emphasis. (Full disclosure: I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m a dog person.)
Cat Wars is one of those strange books, reading which one can feel generally comfortable with the authors’ conclusions while growing increasingly frustrated with their bad faith arguments, rhetorical sleights-of-hand, and other abuses of the reader’s trust. A chapter that focuses on cats as disease vectors is the worst offender. They point out, correctly, that housecats can be carriers of bubonic plague (an Arizona man died in 1992 after catching plague from a cat) as well as rabies, and that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat feces, has been linked to behavioral changes in humans. It’s true, of course, that cats can transmit plague and other diseases, but this trait is not unique to them, nor are toxoplasma cysts restricted to outdoor cats. The haphazardness of these arguments makes the book seem indiscriminate in its anti-cat bias. Repeatedly, Marra and Santella offer rhetorically strong arguments that fall apart under scrutiny. They claim, for example, that “[w]ild birds and mammals […] have rights that do not seem to receive as much attention as the claimed rights of cats to wander freely outdoors.” It’s true that threatened and endangered species are protected under law, as are pets (mostly in the form of animal cruelty laws). But what can it mean to say that other, non-protected birds and mammals have “rights”? What kind of rights? Moral rights? Rights under some unstated but presumed “natural law”? Is this a call to extend legal protection to all American animals? Are all animals created equal? Does the equally invasive black rat lack rights that more charismatic native songbirds have?

Cat Wars also bends over backward to paint cat-owners, particularly those who advocate for outdoor lifestyles, as unstable and poorly educated. As Marra and Santella become increasingly polemical, they resort to refuting a straw-man “leading outdoor-cat advocate’s website” bullet-point-style:
CAT ADVOCATE CLAIMS: Cats have lived outdoors for more than 10,000 years — they are a natural part of the landscape

SCIENCE SAYS: Domestic cats are an invasive species throughout their current range, including North America

This … [more]
cats  colinedickey  2016  literature  petermarra  chrissantella  animals  environment  colonization  books  housecats  pets  multispecies  biodiversity  ethics  billlynn  marcbekoff  life  nature  birds  wildlife  invasivespecies  songbirds 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why ravens, crows are more common now in Bay Area - SFGate
"Not so long ago, common ravens were uncommon in the Bay Area. A 1927 reference calls them "rare" except at Point Reyes. American crows lived mostly along the Marin County coast, not in the East Bay.

In 1991, Audubon Christmas Bird Counts tallied 17 crows and 54 ravens in San Francisco; 60 crows and 23 ravens in Oakland. The 2011 San Francisco count reported 599 ravens and 566 crows; Oakland had 1,152 crows and 193 ravens.

Remarkable, especially considering that crows, if not ravens, are highly susceptible to the West Nile virus. California Department of Public Health statistics show more dead crows than any other bird species testing positive for West Nile: 1,792 in 2008; 468 last year. (Raven mortality was minor.) The disease devastated crow populations in the East and Midwest, but California populations weren't dented.

Much of the crow and raven boom is urban. Birder Josiah Clark has seen flocks of 90 ravens in San Francisco. City crows are hard to miss in Berkeley and elsewhere in the East Bay; they're certainly, noisily, all over our neighborhood.

What brings them here? Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes that they don't get shot in cities; they benefit from both federal protected status and local firearms ordinances. That alone may encourage boldness. Also, he says, cities tend to be warmer than the countryside, and have large trees for night roosting. Urban crows are less likely to encounter their mortal enemy, the great horned owl, and city lights let crows spot owls before the owls spot them.

There's food, too: not so much the landfill smorgasbord (more the gulls' beat) as the fast-food parking lot buffet. "We eat so much out of doors now that these very intelligent birds can access all those food scraps we just drop or toss on the street," said Dan Murphy, compiler of the San Francisco Christmas Count. Some people feed them on purpose, too."

[See also:

"Clever crows, ravens crowd the Bay Area"
http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/thedirt/article/Clever-crows-ravens-crowd-the-Bay-Area-2738443.php

"They’re everywhere! Crows, ravens overrun Bay Area"
http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/02/14/theyre-everywhere-crows-ravens-overrun-bay-area/ ]
sanfrancisco  crows  ravens  birds  corvids  bayarea  2012 
january 2017 by robertogreco
How to Tell a Raven From a Crow | Audubon
"You’re outside, enjoying a sunny day when a shadow at your feet causes you to look up. A large, black bird flies over and lands in a nearby tree. You wonder: is that a crow or a raven?

These two species, Common Ravens and American Crows, overlap widely throughout North America, and they look quite similar. But with a bit of practice, you can tell them apart.

You probably know that ravens are larger, the size of a Red-tailed Hawk. Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

Listen closely to the birds’ calls. Crows give a cawing sound. But ravens produce a lower croaking sound.

We’re back looking up at that tree. Now can you tell? Is this an American Crow or a Common Raven?

That’s a raven. The bird calls you hear on BirdNote come from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To hear them again, begin with a visit to our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein."

[audio here: http://birdnote.org/show/ravens-and-crows-who-who ]
crows  ravens  corvids  2012  birds  animals  nature 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Pigeons track air pollution in London with tiny backpacks
"A small flock of pigeons have been given tiny backpacks to monitor air pollution in London. The project was dreamt up by Plume Labs, a company focused on the environmental problem, and the marketing agency DigitasLBi. The rucksacks are fitted to the birds using small fabric vests, and the sensors inside are able to measure nitrogen dioxide and ozone levels. Only 10 birds are in flight at any one time, so the amount of data being collected is pretty small. However, it's still a creative way of analysing the air that millions breathe in every day in the capital.

If you're interested in tracking the birds' progress, a live map is currently available on the project's microsite [http://www.pigeonairpatrol.com/ ]. Alternatively, you can tweet the @pigeonair account on Twitter for a quick summary of a specific borough or neighborhood. The project is a three-day affair, designed to attract new beta testers for a wearable pollution monitor built by Plume Labs. As such, the new "Pigeon Air Patrol" feels more like a marketing campaign than an evolution in air pollution management. Still, it's neat to know that there are birds in the sky with backpacks -- and maybe, just maybe, there's scope to expand and refine the idea if these experimental test flights take off."
pigeons  multispecies  pollution  birds  london  2016  animals  datacollection  data 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Hummingbird Whisperer - YouTube
"Near the UCLA Court of Sciences, there is a wing-flapping, darting, squeaking colony of 200-plus birds that make their home around the campus office of the “hummingbird whisperer,” as Melanie Barboni is sometimes called."

[See also: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/researcher-s-200-plus-fairy-birds-make-their-home-at-ucla ]
hummingbirds  birds  animals  nature  melaniebarboni  ucla  wildlife 
december 2016 by robertogreco
An Evening with Lawrence Abu Hamdan | MoMA
"MoMA presents the US premiere of an “audio essay” by Beirut-based Jordanian-British artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose work attempts to trace and highlight the relationship between the act of listening and politics, human rights, international law and borders, testimony, and truth. Using audio documentaries and essays, as well as audiovisual installations, Abu Hamdan expresses his fascination with different types of listening at work in today’s legal and political forums. MoMA has recently acquired three important works dealing with similar themes: The Whole Truth, Conflicted Phonemes, and The Aural Contract Audio Archive.

In this new audio essay (a term the artist prefers to “lecture-performance”), he focuses on Saydnaya prison, near Damascus. Working with Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and the survivors of Saydnaya, Abu Hamdan captures “ear-witness accounts,” as detainees reconstruct events and the architecture of the prison they experienced through sound. The work raises pivotal questions about the politics of the field known as “forensic listening.”

The artist will be joined for a conversation by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a 2015–17 Vera List Center Fellow."

[Casey says:

"he’s… just about the smartest person ever… Super dense speaking/listening/visuals on secret prisons, gunshots, birds.

Precedent for the kind of surveillance we’re dealing with, he argued, isn’t ~the Panopticon~, but Cage’s 4’33 (Silence).

(Listening to foley reconstructions of military prison torture sounds for 2 hrs…"]

[See also:
"What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening - Keynote presentation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan"
https://vimeo.com/129018344

What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening
April 24 - 25, 2015
The New School, Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Auditorium
66 Fifth Avenue, New York City

What Now? 2015 is a two-day annual symposium, organized by Art in General in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, which investigates critical and timely issues in contemporary art. Dedicated to the topic of “The Politics of Listening,” the 2015 symposium comprises four panel discussions spanning Friday and Saturday, a keynote delivered by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, and a program of sound installations, audio works, film screenings, and performances.

For more information on What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening, visit:
artingeneral.org/exhibitions/592

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a multi-media artist with a background in DIY music. In 2015, he was the Armory Show commissioned artist and participated in the New Museum Triennial. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are made as part of the Forensic Architecture research project at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he is also a PhD candidate and associate lecturer. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at institutions such as The Showroom, London; Casco, Utrecht; Beirut, Cairo; and forthcoming at Kunsthalle St Gallen and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.]

[See also:
"LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN: Introduction"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8UAwxoeIi8

"VOICE ~ CREATURE OF TRANSITION

“[…] the voice is elusive, always changing, becoming, elapsing, with unclear contours […]“ – Mladen Dolar in: A Voice And Nothing More (2006)

Conference- festival that took place from 20-23 March, 2014 at De Brakke Grond, a theater space located in the heart of Amsterdam’s old city center.

Gabriëlle Schleijpen, head of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited  Lawrence Abu Hamdan, If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Ruth Noack and Mark Beasley to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day.

Thursday March 20

The Right To Silence, curated and presented by Lawrence Abu Hamdan

A daylong exploration of how voices are both heard and silenced; listening itself will be interpreted in its many forms and affects, allowing us to understand both the frontiers of the voice and the tireless battle to govern and contain it.

With contributions by Noah Angell, Ali Kaviani (Silent University), Anna Kipervaser, Maha Mamoun and Haytham El-Wardany, Kobe Matthys (Agence), Niall Moore, James Parker and Tom Rice."]

[And more:

"Artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan Demands the Right to Stay Silent"
http://www.vice.com/read/artist-lawrence-abu-hamdan-demands-the-right-to-stay-silent-981

"THE RIGHT TO SILENCE: An event series in three parts"
http://www.electra-productions.com/projects/2012/silence/overview.shtml

"Lawrence Abu Hamdan on Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself"
http://www.newmuseum.org/calendar/view/452/lawrence-abu-hamdan-s-contra-diction-speech-against-itself

"LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN: THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF SOUND AND SILENCE"
http://www.digicult.it/articles/lawrence-abu-hamdan-the-political-implications-of-sound-and-silence/

"The Right To Silence I"
http://www.theshowroom.org/events/the-right-to-silence-i

"The Right To Silence II"
http://www.theshowroom.org/events/the-right-to-silence-ii

"Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Aural Contract: The Freedom of Speech Itself"
http://www.theshowroom.org/exhibitions/lawrence-abu-hamdan-aural-contract-the-freedom-of-speech-itself
http://sound-art-text.com/post/34633829824/lawrence-abu-hamdan-aural-contract-the-freedom ]
via:caseygollan  lawrenceabuhamdan  listening  politcs  humanrights  tolisten  borders  law  internationallaw  testimony  truth  audio  politics  saysnayaprison  damascus  syria  amnestyinternational  forensiclistening  gunshots  birds  soundscapes  classideas  earwitnesses  hearing  anajanecski 
november 2016 by robertogreco
King Middle School
"King Middle School serves the most racially, ethnically, and economically diverse neighborhoods in the state of Maine. More than 120 of King's approximately 500 students speak 28 languages and come from 17 countries.

King Middle School is dedicated to the idea that we can create a school where all kids succeed at a high level. Our school wide model is Expeditionary Learning. Our students engage in eight to twelve week experiential learning expeditions. These expeditions are in-depth and interdisciplinary in nature and require students to engage in sophisticated research, use the community in authentic ways, and represent their knowledge with high quality products which are presented to legitimate audiences.

Students at King Middle School have been using their Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) Grant on a project called “It’s for the Birds.” In order to better understand their local ecosystems and the problem of shrinking bird habitats, they have been observing local bird species as well as creating a set of species cards for the Audubon Society. Check out their progress below in a report from 7th Grade Science Teacher Ruth Maclean. Congratulations on a fantastic start to your project!

In the fall of 2014 the National Audubon Society published a report in which they listed 314 birds across the country that are endangered by human activity. The Maine Audubon Society has identified 84 birds from that list that are residents in Maine for at least part of each year. This fall in our expedition titled, “It’s for the Birds,” seven students at King Middle School created species cards on these birds that will educate the public about these birds and their needs. They learned about the connections between these birds and native insects and native plants with the goal of identifying areas in Portland where native plants can be introduced to help improve habitat for both the birds and the insects that they depend upon. Here are two examples of finished species cards. We put drawings created in art class on side 1 with a poem created in language arts class. On side 2 each student put facts learned in science, math, and social studies about the bird’s ecosystem relationships and ways for humans to help the bird. A full set of the species cards has been sent to Maine Audubon for use in their nature centers. Each student also did an adobe slide presentation on their work during phase one of the project. Here is a link to a student summary slideshow of her fall investigation into the life and needs of the ovenbird: https://slate.adobe.com/cp/te6gl/. In phase 2 of our expedition this spring, students will add native plant species to their own backyards and teach Portland residents how to garden for habitat. We are looking forward to learning how to germinate and cultivate native seeds."

[via: https://twitter.com/steelemaley/status/799713232403300353 ]
portland  maine  education  schools  middleschools  expeditionarylearning  sfsh  experientiallearning  learning  curriculum  science  interdisciplinary  nature  via:steelemaley  ecosystem  birds  publishing 
november 2016 by robertogreco
These Beautiful Maps Reveal the Secret Lives of Animals
"New technology lets mapmakers follow baboons, vultures, and everything in between."

[See also: http://wheretheanimalsgo.com/

"Tracking wildlife with technology in 50 maps and graphics

For thousands of years, tracking animals meant following footprints. Now satellites, drones, camera traps, cellphone networks, apps and accelerometers allow us to see the natural world like never before. Geographer James Cheshire and designer Oliver Uberti take you to the forefront of this animal-tracking revolution. Meet the scientists gathering wild data – from seals mapping the sea to baboons making decisions, from birds dodging tornadoes to jaguars taking selfies. Join the journeys of sharks, elephants, bumblebees, snowy owls and a wolf looking for love. Find an armchair, cancel your plans and go where the animals go."]
maps  mapping  animlas  multispecies  wildlife  books  2016  via:anne  technology  migration  jamescheshire  oliveruberti  birds  oceans  sharks  elephants  bumblebees  owls  seals  baboons 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Palomacy: Pigeon and Dove Adoptions
"Palomacy is pigeon diplomacy.

When we started doing this rescue work in 2007, it was because there was a strange and deadly gap in the animal welfare network. Shelters got in domestic (unreleasable) pigeons every week but, instead of providing them with the care and service that all the other shelter animals received, they were for the most part ignored until they were euthanized. Even in the best shelters, even in the ultra animal-friendly San Francisco Bay Area.

If they had any injury or illness, no matter how minor, they were euthanized rather than given vet care.

While other animals were named and photographed and promoted on the adopt-a-pet websites, the pigeons were not. No one even knew they were in need of homes and not surprisingly, they didn’t get adopted.

And while all the other animals brought to the shelters- the dogs and cats, rabbits and parrots, rodents and reptiles, wildlife and farmed animals- had at least one rescue dedicated to trying to save them, the pigeons did not.

Why?

This gap is especially strange when you consider not only how closely connected humans and pigeons have been throughout our history but how common they are. Humans have been breeding and using pigeons, as meat and messengers, for sport, hobby and ceremony, for thousands of years. Pigeons were the first domesticated bird.

Right here in the Bay Area, there are lots of pigeon racing clubs, fanciers and hobbyists breeding thousands of domestic birds they fly the wild skies every year. But no one was rescuing the pigeons who predictably get lost or injured yet lucky enough to make it to a shelter.

And all of this is made even more surprising by how smart, gentle, charming and wonderful pigeons are as companions. They are easy to help! They don’t bite. They’re not destructive. They’re quiet and calm and make wonderful pets. They are domestic and unable to live in the wild.

When we started rescuing and rehoming these domestic pigeons and doves, we had to begin bridging this strange and fatal gap. We had to do something that wasn’t being done. We have a name for this work we do: We call it palomacy.

We believe that everyone deserves compassion, everyone deserves a chance. We advocate for pigeons and doves- all of them- wild, feral and domestic– every day of the year. We know that pigeons are a gateway to compassion. While most of the thousands of people we meet may never see another domestic pigeon, all will encounter the feral Rock Pigeons who are somehow able to live their gentle lives on our mean streets. We speak up for those birds, we debunk the myths, we inspire compassion. Pigeons don’t spread disease. Petting a dog or cat or eating meat are greater risks to your health than pigeons are. Those pigeons foraging for crumbs on our sidewalks are highly intelligent; they remember and recognize faces; they mate for life; they can fly 55 mph. They deserve compassion- as we all do.

Palomacy is pigeon diplomacy. And while our name is changing from MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue to Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions, our mission stays the same. We save homeless domestic pigeons and doves in the San Francisco Bay Area from being killed. We provide guidance, referrals, education, foster care, avian vet treatment and adoption services. Thanks to the support of our many volunteers, donors and partners, we have saved the lives of more than 600 birds since we began in 2007 and helped countless others. "
sanfrancisco  pigeons  sfsh  classideas  animals  birds  palomacy  doves 
september 2016 by robertogreco
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