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Birdchick Podcast: #100 Vultures, Vomit & Web Cams

How did we get here to the 100th Podcast? Thank you for listening!

Someone in the New York Daily News was really excited to use the phrase “vomit bird” in a headline.

Community upset about vultures roosting in their neighborhood and running amok.  The reporter calls them turkey vultures but they sure look like black vultures to me.

In other vulture news researchers say vultures are changing the way we should age dead bodies left in the wild.

It was so sweet the way The Monitor wrote up about the awesome webcam at the Sabal Palm Sanctuary…too bad they didn’t link to it.  Don’t worry, I will.  Check it out here (you might see a green jay live). Tho all we’ve seen is at night and it’s full of raccoons:

 Birds are found dead on the University of Central Florida (migrating birds hitting windows).  I almost ignored the story apart from this guy, Adam Hull and what does he have to say about it? “Birds are known to do that. They’re kind of stupid.”  I’m guessing he’s not a biology major…and looks to have a promising career in establishing guidelines for the TSA.

For those with two brain cells to rub together this a good reminder that it’s migration and time for Lights Out.  Learn more at FLAP.

 

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3 comments to Birdchick Podcast: #100 Vultures, Vomit & Web Cams

  • Congratulations on podcast #100! I can’t believe I’ve listened to all of them. Is than an incredible waste of time or what? Actually, I listen while I do other things…so that’s good right? I’m already looking forward to the next 100 podcasts…if your marriage can take it!

  • mthgordon

    Bill: check your levels; it sounds like Sharon’s getting clipped at times. You, not so much, but your voice was shot. The previous episode had similar problems. Also, Carthage, back before it got all delenda’ed by the Romans, was in what is now Tunisia.

    Sharon: Under at least one notable metric, birds (with the noted exception of European magpies) aren’t as bright as great apes, some cetaceans, or elephants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test Some college students might know about this test and understand that birds, excepting magpies, typically fail and extrapolate to window hits. Granted, the relevance of this metric to window hits is questionable; JFK Jr. flew into the sea, and bats using echolocation presumably avoid window hits, but intelligence is secondary in both cases.

  • The student quote was probably just the standard effect of amplification of the unusual because it makes a “good” news story. They may interviewed a dozen kids for 5 minutes each, and that’s the quote they used. I was interviewed once for a NYT article about something I was working on. The interview was 20 minutes plus, maybe 30; they used one one-sentence quote that was completely peripheral to the science of the story.

    Comparing the birds to a bat and JFK Jr. are comparing three different disparate situations.

    The bat isn’t (as far as we know) self-aware. However, as far as its sonar is concerned, the window is opaque and presents no illusion, so it’s not relevant.

    Flying in hazy conditions over water does effect humans. The conditions under which JFK Jr. went down are very dangerous. Because of the situational awareness enhancement of gyroscopic instruments, a properly trained human can fly in those conditions just fine, but although he’d begun his instrument training, he wasn’t instrument rated.

    The birds being self-aware in a mirror or not is irrelevant. The problem is one of gathering tactical information; am I about to fly into something or not. On a bright day, a window from certain angles looks like sky. If you’re far back enough from the window, the fact that the frame is there clues you in to there being something there. It’s quite possible that there’s a distance at which all the bird can see is the reflection in the window, and it loses sight of the edges, and so has no clues pointing to the presence of the pane of glass.