Friday, February 28, 2014

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No, It's a Pteromyini

Pteromyini is part of the squirrel subfamily that includes 44 species of flying squirrels.  These squirrels don't actually fly, but are capable of gliding due to extra membrane between the wrists and ankles.  Flying squirrels may well have been the inspiration for the wingsuit.

Source:  Wikipedia

Here are some flying squirrels in action.  Do you see a resemblance?

The southern flying squirrel and the northern flying squirrel are the only species found in North America.  Northern flying squirrels are specialists.  Their main diet is truffles which they find by smell and spatial memory.  They also eat mushrooms, insects, tree sap, flower buds, and nuts.

Flying squirrels are mostly nocturnal which helps them evade birds of prey that would hunt them during the day.  And their "flying" ability also is believed to have evolved to help them avoid other predators.

Bhutan Giant Flying Squirrel   Source: Wikipedia

I didn't know there were flying squirrels here in Rhode Island, but evidently there are.  Would love to see one but will have to wait for warmer weather and a full moon.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Piteous Pigeon

I got home from work on Friday and was greeted by the sight of bird feathers all over the sidewalk almost directly under the bird feeder.

I thought 'oh no, one of the cats got a bird'.  But then I was informed by my next door neighbors that they witnessed an attack on a pigeon not by a cat, but by a hawk.

Probably with all the snow on the ground for the last couple of weeks, the song birds are not the only ones finding slim pickings in the food department.  My neighbor across the street said he found feathers all over and blood in the snow in back of his house too. Could very well have been another hawk attack.

I had seen hawks around a few years ago, but hadn't seen any this past year at all.  Here's a not so great photo of one sitting on top of a telephone pole that I took a few years back.

I first noticed there was a hawk around when I was sitting in my living room and saw a hawk snatch a sparrow off the roof of my neighbor's house.  It took me a few minutes to realize what I had just seen.

We've had some warmer weather the past few days, but still not enough to melt all the snow.  Colder weather on the way for next week, so it's very possible the pigeon population may be reduced some more before the winter is over.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Butterfly Bliss

A Butterfly

A butterfly came into my room
And the drab walls began to bloom,

It lent colors from its wings
Even to my most mundane things.

Male Yellow Pansy   Source: Wikipedia

I felt rainbows sprouting all around
And also heard a strange and faint sound

Was it the whisper of that butterfly
Conveying a message from the yonder sky?

Blue Pansy   Source: Wikipedia

It flew away to become a dot of bliss,
Yet I felt its parting kiss.

It has gone but I still hear
Its mysterious song in my ear.

By Portia Burton

Peacock Pansy   Source: Wikipedia

I really like Portia's poem.  You can click on her name and check out her blog and other poems.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow, Snow Go Away

More Sunday afternoon and overnight.  We lucked out compared to other places and only got 4 or 5 inches. The Northeast has been hammered with snowstorm after snowstorm and like many areas we're running out of places to put it!

Everybody here is ready for spring.  At least this week we're supposed to have temperatures in the 40s and a little rain which will help get rid of some of this snow.  Or maybe even all of it.  The warmer air is not supposed to last though.  But even a little relief is welcome.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Crested Black Macaques

I just watched a Nature program on PBS about Crested Black Macaques.  They are endangered and only live in a very small area of Indonesia, mostly on the island of Sulawesi and a few smaller islands.  They are literally being hunted to extinction, by man for their meat. 

Crested Black Macaques, also known as Celebes crested macaques, are rain forest dwellers and spend the majority of their time foraging for fruit, seeds, and insects and socializing, grooming and sleeping in the forest canopy.

These special monkeys have a special look - for a monkey - with their yellowish-brown eyes and distinctive Mohawk hair-dos.

Source:  Wikipedia

Source:  Wikipedia

Scientists and educators are trying their best to educate the people about how special these monkeys are and the Nature program was about creating a film to show in the people's native language to show in the local village where the particular family group was filmed and across the Sulawesi.  One particular macaque was highlighted - one male named Peanut who bit off his own hand to escape a poacher's snare.

Here's a short clip from the program:

Good program - catch it if you can.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hide In Plain Sight

The phrase 'hide in plain sight' might well have been created after scientists discovered the potoo, a bird species found in Central and South America, if indeed you can actually spot one.  Their coloring helps them blend in with the scenery during the day when they are mainly inactive because they are nocturnal insect hunters.  They are masters at freezing in place if a potential threat is near and use minimal movement waiting for their prey to fly past them.  Their main diet is beetles, moths, grasshoppers and other flying insects.

Common Potoo  Source: Wikipedia

Another reason for their camouflage is because they don't build a nest.  The female lays a single egg on top of a rotten stump or a depression in a branch of a tree.  Minimal movement during the day also helps protect the chick as it doesn't draw attention to the nest.

Andean Potoo  Source: Wikipedia

Their head is proportionately larger than the rest of the body and its broad bill helps catch the flying insects they eat.  Their large eyes help them to see their prey at night, and their eyelids have unusual slits in them to they can see predators during the day even with their eyes closed!

Northern Potoo  Source: Wikipedia

Here's a video about the common potoo.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy(?) Groundhog Day

Here is Punxsutawney Phil's prognostication in case you didn't hear it.

And here is stray kitty Van Gogh's reaction to the news of six more weeks of winter!

Yoda didn't think too much of the outcome either.  She hid under the covers for almost four hours!

I think she's got the right idea.  Wake me up when spring shows up!