It is officially spring! Not only is the day and night the same length, the star clusters that make up Pisces still rises in the East but better for me, this night is clear as a bell and at sunrise, the Great Square of Pegasus will reappear and begin His summer travels across the Heavens! Alas, Spring herself did not come: it is below zero tonight .
Akamaru is the red dog at the top, here is our English Shepherd, Colleen. She used to have her own flock of woolie lambies who normally would be having cute babies right now but I had to sell them off, alas. But she remains with us and herds wild deer and the cats.
Note all the flowers and lovely grasses....oops. Sorry. Everything is deep in snow, the snow banks tower everywhere and ice covered everything else. So much for global warming. Heh.
WASHINGTON - Nuthatches appear to have learned to understand a foreign language — chickadee. It's not unusual for one animal to react to the alarm call of another, but nuthatches seem to go beyond that — interpreting the type of alarm and what sort of predator poses a threat. When a chickadee sees a predator, it issues warning call — a soft "seet" for a flying hawk, owl or falcon, or a loud "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" for a perched predator.
The "chick-a-dee" call can have 10 to 15 "dees" at the end and varies in sound to encode information on the type of predator. It also calls in other small birds to mob the predator, Christopher Templeton of the University of Washington said in a telephone interview.
"In this case the nuthatch is able to discriminate the information in this call," said Templeton, a doctoral candidate.
Silly scientists. All creatures understand the Chickadee language! After all, these tiny birds with their even tinier black caps rule the world. I pay them tribute in the form of sunflower seeds. This costs a lot of money. They eat many seeds and if the feeder runs low, a bunch of them come to the office window which is where the apricot tree is. They then begin to scold me until I come outside and feed them.
Thank goodness for my husband, he can defy these little upstarts and still feed them. They will complain about his height and weight. Chickadee, dee, dee, they yell. They want us to know they are bigger than us.
The cats know them, too. So do nuthatches. These cute little guys can walk up the sides of houses and hang upside down like bats. They are climbers. They love the Chickdees because these little guys hate the cats and attack them whenever Fluff tries to climb the tree. They will sit on the highest twigs and yell, 'Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-deeeeeeeee' with tremendous volume and power.
The mighty eagle cannot endure this. But Fluff doesn't listen. He tries to pretend he is part of the trunk of the tree and hopes if he is very, very still, the Chickadees will get weary of deeing him and a Nuthatch will then try to climb him instead of the trunk.
At this point, one of us humans come outside and yell, 'Bad cat! Get down from there!' From both the Nuthatch and the Chickadee, the racket the Chickadees made caused me to come outside! Their language works!
When the hummingbirds arrive, they contest with the Chickadees, who rules the roost. Instead of yelling, they buzz people. Bzzzzzzz. Like an angry bee. Flicking the tongue. This is almost as scary as a Chickadee's dees.
By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 19, 2007; Page A06
When Emory University primatologist Frans de Waal read a news story that said Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, had hurled a chair across the room on hearing an employee was going to work for rival Google, the scientist immediately made a connection with his own research: "When I see such behavior, I think of a chimpanzee."
Chimpanzees and gorillas are more civilized than humans. We eat them and they don't eat us.
Furthermore, humans make up all sorts of investment schemes that cheat people out of their bananas. Few apes can do that. And none make political speeches full of lies and false promises. We do lose our temper like them but then seldom do the apes draw guns and shoot back.
The idea that human behavior -- not just our physical bodies -- may have long evolutionary antecedents raises complicated questions about human agency and about how much of what we do and think is hard-wired. It is one thing to say we have eyes because our ancestors had eyes, but should we also credit our evolutionary predecessors for our highly complex social and political arrangements?
Scientists such as de Waal argue the research suggests that, much as people believe in the originality of their thoughts, a lot of human cognition probably takes place at an automatic level, guided by inborn tendencies. About the woman with the possessive boss, for example, de Waal said: "I am sure her boss is not consciously doing that. It just bothers him if she has a chat with a rival."
Anyone who thinks we didn't evolve our many mannerisms is nuts. Few actions are 'thought out'---mostly we react on the lowest possible level, namely we do stuff without much thought at all. If we did think, we would be like Hamlet and we know what happened to him! Everyone died! Violently!
Here is the gist of the article:
In a study of 457 lance-tailed manakins in Panama, DuVal found repeated instances of two males performing a skilled dance for the benefit of a female bird who was watching. The group performance, however, helped only one of the birds -- the alpha male. If only one lance-tailed manakin got to mate, why did the other bird, the beta male, cooperate in the dancing ritual when he had nothing to gain?
In a paper she published in the April issue of the American Naturalist, DuVal found there was evidence that good "wingbirds" were more likely than other birds to become alpha males themselves. What makes the behavior especially interesting is that one lance-tailed manakin might be helping another because some other bird will help the helper down the road. Such behavior suggests an intricate social system where investments pay off in the distant future.
It is the beginning of mating season for the Chickadees here. All afternoon, males were chasing each other all over the place, back and forth. They would zoom all around the bare trees and up onto the deck and then pause, pick out a seed, peck it open and then chase each other again. The pine siskins that are as silent as the nuthatches, watch this, bemused. The males of their species get really pretty golden feathers which shine in the snow. So they pose and primp. While the Chickadees fight furiously, making a tremendous racket. DEEEEEEDEEEE.
The birds in this story are aping each other but not using bananas. The younger one 'helps' the older one by copying his poses. So if they hang out with the Old Man, they learn how to pick up chicks. It is pretty simple. And it doesn't involve chasing each other all over the place, yelling, either. For some reason, Chickadee females don't care for pretty colors and cool poses.
They want a man who is loud and obnoxious. The louder, the better.