Grandchildren's Corner:

What is different in this picture?

 

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Click the picture to see it larger: A turkey buzzard is standing on the bench with the red head. Turkey buzzards have a keen sense of smell and will lead other carion birds to dead meat. They will stay with a mate until it dies, and then they may move on and pick another mate. A Turkey Vulture will soar for long periods of time –possibly up to 6 hours – without flapping its wings. When they do flap, the wing beats are slow, perhaps only 1 flap per second.

The other two birds are black vultures. They have no sense of smell. This pair is mated for life. Black Vultures flap their wings more frequently and quickly when flying. When soaring, the Black Vultures do not teeter back and forth as the Turkey Vulture does.

Grandchildren's Corner:

Why do some trees change colors in the fall?

 

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Leaves have color because of four kids of pigment chemicals in each leaf: ChlorophyllXanthophylls, Carotenoids, and Anthocyanins. In the spring and summer, sunlight triggers leaves to make lots of chlorophyll. That chemical helps plants make energy from sunlight (photosynthesis). Trees are very sensitive to environmental changes. As summer becomes fall and daylight shortens, less sunlight signals the leaf to prepare for winter. A leaf won't need energy, so it stops making chlorophyll. The green color fades and the reds, oranges, and yellows (that have always been there) become visible.

Grandchildren's Corner:

Why don't birds run into one another flying?

 

These are black skimmers. My approach caused them to take to the air at the exact same instant. Why didn't they collide and knock each other out of the sky?

One answer: Air flows naturally generated during flight may prevent collisions, allowing even individuals with different flapping motions to travel together. Another answer: Researchers put parakeets into an air tunnel and had them fly towards each other. They found that each bird always veers right and changes altitude to avoid mid-air collisions. 

 

But what about instantaneous flight, as in this picture of migrating snowgeese taken by Ray Hennessey via Birdshare:  
 

These birds are too close for thought, yet not one bird knocks another out of the group, and no one bird is the leader. Instant flight changes and missed collisions may be the result of a group cognition, meaning one thought is shared by a large group acting as a single being.

 

Is it possible? Bees show this behavior, too. Wild dogs seem to be of one mind when they hunt in a pack. Many beings sharing instant connected behaviors -- is that an expression of a higher "mind" than we humans DO NOT seem to have, so we try to dismiss it with other explanations?

 

It's Nature's magic -- and brilliance -- is what I think.

 

Grandkids' Corner

Grandkid's Corner: Osprey

You’d think it’s an eagle if you saw it flying majestically overhead, except that an Osprey’s head has a dark mask on the sides of its eyes. This one also has a crown on its head and brown bands on its tail (an adult bald eagle has a pure white face and tail). But Ospreys do have a wingspan of nearly 6 feet, and when perched, it stands about 2 feet tall. Its striking gold eyes give the bird that intense eagle look.

Watching an osprey fish is an incredible experience. It can catch a fish about every 12 minutes. The huge bird flies gracefully over the lake looking for a target. It then glides downward and at the last second it extends his talons forward. If a fish is close to the surface, the osprey will grab it and continue forward, climbing slowly with its prize.

 

Sometimes the birds will actually dive completely under the water feet first and come out of the water with a fish. The lake water weight could slow them down, but as they climb skyward, they shake violently to get it off.

Grandchildren's Corner:

Five fun facts about sheep

 

1. Their wool will grow forever. Unlike wild sheep which naturally shed, the wool of domestic breeds like the Merino will just keep growing. They have to be sheared!

2. They have nearly 360-degree vision. Sheep have rectangular pupils that give them amazing peripheral vision, and depth perception. These are great assets when you’re a prey animal. It’s like surround sound for the eyes.

3.  Some are gay. While nearly all animal species have some gay members, sheep are the only animals besides humans that show a same-sex preference for life. In flocks of domestic sheep, up to eight percent of the males prefer other males, even when breeding females are there.

4. The upper lip of a sheep has a pronounced groove (a philtrum) dividing the left and right side. Sheep are very selective grazers, preferring leaves and blades over stems, and their philtrum helps them get close to the ground.

5. Sheep can’t right themselves if they’re on their back. There’s even a term for the situation. They’re called cast sheep. So if you see one in this position they’re probably stressed and freaking out so find a farmer and help roll ’em back over.

Grandchildren's Corner:

Why do turtles worship the sun?

 

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Turtles are cold-blooded animals which means they can't generate heat in their bodies themselves. These turtles are sunbathing to get heat from the log as well as the sun. This is how they warm up and how they dry their shell, which prevents parasites and leeches from attaching to them. Leeches dry up and fall off in the sun.

 

Turtles actually need the vitamin D that they get from 12 hours of sun each day to live.

Grandchildren's Corner:

Is that bird an Anhinga or a Cormorant?

 

Both Cormorants and Anhingas lack oil glands. so their feathers are not water repellent. Although they can easily cruise and fish underwater (when both birds look like snakes with their heads above water), they have to get to a tree branch or land to dry their wings throughout the day -- or they would drown. 

It's easy to mistake one large bird for the other. They both have duck-like webbed feet and they commonly roost and fish together. However, Cormorants have a curved, hooked bill and crystal-like blue eyes. Anhingas have a straight, long bill, longer tail, and small, white markings on their backs. Their eyes often appear red or a dull light green, as you can see from my photos below:

Cormorant

Anhinga

Grandchildren's Corner:

Fun Facts About Llamas

 

Llamas are smart. They can distinguish between the neighbor’s dog and a predatory coyote.

Llamas are the camel’s hippie cousins. They belong to a group of animals called camelids that also includes alpacas. All camelids spit or stick out their tongue when they are annoyed.

Llamas make excellent guards for herds of small animals. They are very social and will ‘adopt’ a group of sheep or goats as their own herd. Then they will protect the herd by chasing off coyotes and other predators.

One of the ways llamas communicate is by humming.

2021: Jody Glynn Patrick; all rights reserved