Saturday, August 11, 2007

What happened to the parrots when the tornado hit Brooklyn?

I know I should be working, but Peggy M., a reader of this web site, sent in a link to the parrot web site. Here it is

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fall migration walks

Jack Meyer has sent in his schedule for Fall, 2007

My Fall Birdwalks in Central Park will begin Thursday August 16, and end Sunday October 28.

Walks will be four days a week, Thursday through Sunday.

Walks leave at 7:30AM from 72 St and Central Park West (NE corner).
Walks will last until about 11:00, with a brief coffee break mid-way
through.Those with other obligations are always free to leave early.

The cost is $6. No reservations are needed.

If there are any questions, you can reach me at 212-563-0038
(Not after 8 PM please) or email

I'll be looking forward to seeing all my birding friends again, and to
meeting some new ones.
Jack Meyer

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Note to readers

Cape Cod --Wellfleet/Truro -- between Newcomb Hollow Beach and Ballston Beach

Fewer postings until September 7. (Unless, of course something exciting happens). Another big deadline and then a vacation by the sea with family and WITHOUT computer. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

I'm afraid Thomas Mann's quote sums it up:
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.”

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My annual posting about the annual Mars hoax

Have you gotten your annual Mars hoax letter.

Here's Neil Tyson de Grass's alert:
1 August 2007

Dear Museum Community,

Nearly everyone I know receives annual e-mails about Mars from an anonymous source, but sent to them by friends who could not resist forwarding the message to their entire address book. The e-mail declares that at the end of this month (August), the planet Mars will sit closer to Earth than it has in the past 60,000 years, thereby offering spectacular views of the Red Planet. The commentary proclaims, with liberal use of exclamation marks, that Mars will appear as bright as (or as large as) the full Moon in the night sky.

This Martian hyperbole dates from August 2003, when the message was mildly
actual, but vastly over-stated, leading people to believe Mars would be so bright that you might need sunglasses at night while driving. The rapid spread of this nformation was like some sort of brain info-virus, and led to at least one daily newspaper comic that showed Mars crashing into a home while the husband and wife were indoors, debating how close the planet will come.

Every 26 months, or so, Earth makes a close approach to Mars, as our smaller, swifter orbit "overtakes" Mars around the Sun. Because both the orbits of Mars and Earth are mildly elliptical, some close approaches between the two planets are closer than others, but by barely perceptible amounts.

So the proximity of Mars to Earth in August 2003, while indeed closer than in the past 60,000 years, was nonetheless no more meaningful than me swimming a hundred yards out from the California coast (instead of my usual seventy yards) and then declaring to the world "I have never been this close to China before."

During close approaches, Mars slowly becomes one of the brightest objects in the night sky. But how bright is that? Slightly brighter than Jupiter's' average brightness. And not as bright as that of Venus. Yet nobody has ever issued warning statements about the visibility of Jupiter or Venus. In any case, Mars has had a "close approach" 3,000 times in recorded history, and, of course, billions of times in Earth's history.

Now it's time for you to send this antidote to ail the infected people in your address book.

As always, keep looking up.

-Neil deGrasse Tyson

Department of Astrophysics
& Director, Hayden Planetarium
American Museum of Natural History

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Caption Contest winner

I know, you just love me for my apartment
photo by Eleanor Tauber

The winning caption contributed by
Allan Miller*
*O.K. he's my husband. But that shouldn't disqualify him, should it?

Runner up:
Why did I eat those worms? I coulda had a V8!
by Bob Levy [Club George author and photographer]

Monday, August 06, 2007

This animal looks worried

Photo by Eleanor Tauber

If it were a cartoon, can you suggest a caption?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Nothing wrong with this hawk's eye! -- AND a CORRECTION

Courtesy of

Just to forestall anxious inquiries from readers who check out many hawk websites, there's nothing wrong with this bird's eye. What you see in the photo above is the nictitating membrane, a kind of third eyelid lying under the "main" eyelids. Most birds have them. It keeps the cornea moist and clean. Most birds actually blink more with their nictitating membrane and only close their main eyelids when asleep.

[Source: The Birdwatcher's Companion by Christopher Leahy.]


Shortly after I posted this, a letter arrived from hawkwatcher Robert Schmunk. It's below, followed by one of the pictures he sent. It's hard to see the membrane even when you enlarge the picture as much as possible. That's because it's transparent, soimething I hadn't quite realized. But the bottom line still is: There's nothing wrong with this hawk's eye!

Marie, In the picture you posted today in connection with the blog post about the nictitating membrane on a hawk's eye, the membrane doesn't seem to be actually visible. That big white area is the lower outside eyelid. Attached are a couple pictures I have taken of cathedral fledglings (one last summer, one this summer) which better show the membrane. In one the membrane is in the middle of closing, so you can see that it actually moves sideways rather than up and down. In fact, I didn't even know that hawks had nictitating membranes until I took that particular picture last year. rbs
-- Robert B. Schmunk

How to avoid a mess when feeding your baby

Bob Levy [Club George author] found this Papa cardinal feeding a fledgling near the source of the Gill in the Ramble. The birds were only twenty feet from their nest site.

Don't forget to click [twice] on the photo to enlarge and see it more clearly.