Thursday, March 14, 2013
Sunday, March 03, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Danny Vanzandt May Have Died From Spontaneous Human Combustion
I think this is possible, but not by a flash of fire and you are incinerated. My guess is a slow smoldering fire that finally transforms the body into cinders.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam's jungle canopy. They are scientists' prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.
Most of Guam's native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island's thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II.
There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.
More than 3,000 miles away, environmental officials in Hawaii have long feared a similar invasion — which in their case likely would be a "snakes on a plane" scenario.
That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam's airdrop strategy succeeds.
"We are taking this to a new phase," said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. "There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam."
Brown tree snakes are generally a few feet long but can grow to be more than 10 feet in length.
Most of Guam's native birds were defenseless against the nocturnal, tree-based predators, and within a few decades of the reptile's arrival, nearly all of them were wiped out.
The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies.
They use venom on their prey, but it is not lethal to humans.
The infestation and the toll it has taken on native wildlife have tarnished Guam's image as a tourism haven, though the snakes are rarely seen outside their jungle habitat.
The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.
The strategy takes advantage of the snake's two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn't kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.
The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage and if compromised would offer the snakes a potential ticket off the island. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.
U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.
To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.
Experts say the impact on other species will be minimal, particularly since the snakes have themselves wiped out the birds that might have been most at risk.
"One concern was that crows may eat mice with the toxicant," said William Pitt, of the U.S. National Wildlife Research Center's Hawaii Field Station. "However, there are no longer wild crows on Guam."
The mouse drop is set to start in April or May.
A 2010 study conducted by the National Wildlife Research Center found brown tree snakes would cause between $593 million and $2.14 billion in economic damage each year if they became established in Hawaii like they are on Guam.
Power outages would cause the most damage, followed by a projected decline in tourism. The cost of treating snake bites would account for a small share.
Native Hawaiian birds "literally don't know what to do when they see a snake coming," said Christy Martin, a spokeswoman for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, a partnership of Hawaii government agencies and private organizations.
"Once we get snakes here, we're never going to be able to fix the situation," Martin said.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Frog makes the cutest noise!
Dean Boshoff shot this video of a Namaqua Rain Frog. He found the cute little critter in sand dunes along Port Nolloth in South Africa.
Namaqua Rain Frogs are burrowing creatures that spend most of their time underground. They're also less than 5cm long.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Library Of Animal Sounds
The murmurs, whispers, shrieks and growls of 9,000 species are now digitized in a huge library of animal sounds, including some songs that will never be sung again.
Housed at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Macaulay Library's audio archive contains roughly 150,000 high-resolution recordings, all available online. It’s the largest collection of wildlife sounds in the world, and routinely called upon by students, scholars, scientists, and filmmakers.
“Sound has a remarkable ability to transport someone,” said audio curator Greg Burney. “You play a sound, and it’s as though the person or the animal is alive, right there in the room with you.”
Digitizing the collection took 12 years. Now, the 10 terabytes of tracks have a total playback time of more than 7,500 hours. Supplementing that auditory cacophony are thousands of video clips, and a photo archive is on the way.
The collection's inaugural recordings date back to 1929, when a song sparrow, rose-breasted grosbeak, and house wren were recorded singing near the shores of Cayuga Lake. The youngest bird in the collection is an ostrich – recorded while still in the its egg.
Also tucked into the collection are recordings of the now-extinct Kauai Oo and the (most-likely) extinct ivory-billed woodpecker. Preserving these natural sounds for future generations is certainly one of the collection’s functions.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
JUDY LOST THIS ONE!
I have always said that Judy has the gift of saving birds that fly into our windows. This white throated sparrow was an exception. Friday morning, this beautiful bird flew into our atrium door so hard that I am certain its neck was broken. Sad! Throughout the years, we are lucky to have very few birds meet their end by flying into the windows. Most seems to bounce and head back to the feeder to eat!
There are two color variations of this bird- white striped and tan striped. Studies indicate that the white striped adults (seen here) tend to mate with the tan striped birds. No indications why.
White and tan-striped males and white striped females sing, but the tan striped females do not. Strange indeed!