Tuesday Video Lunch: Crows Have Hobbies Too


Crows again!? These birds are beginning to freak me out. First, I read about how they are ganging up on the British to steal their cheeseburgers. Then, we looked at how crows have learned to use automobiles as automatic nutcrackers (AND wait at the pedestrian crossing to collect the food.) Finally, on this week’s Video Lunch, we bring you the most terrifying crow news of all: they like to go fishing. Well, not fishing exactly, but the principles are all there. Crows prepare a special rod and then stick it into holes in tree trunks. The grubs inside the hole bite the stick in defense, then the crows reel them in!

Let’s review:  Crows like fast food, cars, and fishing. Next thing you know, they will be watching television and joining our bowling leagues. Watch out, humans! The crows are gaining on us!

Birds Finally Get In On The Gif Game


Oh Yeah.

Harris's Sparrow Migration Pattern, or the dripping of Canada

In a link too cool not to post, ebirds.org has posted a bunch of migratory gifs for the US.  I just like how cool they look.  You should check them out.  Additionally, you should read the little stories that accompany them, which show the research that went into making these gifs, and what was revealed when they were made.  Very cool.  Thanks to io9 for the heads up.

What is a mammal? Bonus points edition.


Let’s go back to the last science class to answer today’s question. Not last last science class. Not physics or chemistry for non-science majors or forensic whatevertheelective, let’s go back to around 5th grade animal science.

What is a mammal?

A mammal is warm-blooded.

A mammal mommy produces milk for its young.

A mammal bears live young (except in Australia….of course)

That’s fine, I guess. But it’s not good enough for me, children. I am the student who demands bonus points, the finest in Lisa Frank stickers and additional pluses after my A. Let’s step up our mammal game.

For bonus points:

A mammal has true hair. Before you start imagining animals wearing wigs or merkins, think about what are considered ‘hairy’ non-mammals. Spiders and that yeti crab come to mind for me.

Children, are you ready for a new brushably soft animal companion? It's Kiwa! The Yeti Crab.

These hairs are actually “setae” which are connected to the nervous system of the animals used to sense the world around them. So remember that next time you want to really torture a spider (I’m not here to judge why), just give it a haircut.

A mammal has a four chambered heart. Fish get by with two and amphibians three. Reptiles have three or three and half chambers. And birds think they’re as good as us with four chambers. But we mammals have  sweat glands and more middle ear bones so we still win.

Stupid, panting bird. Can't even sweat.

A mammal has baby teeth and big boy teeth. Also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth and permanent teeth, respectively.  On the last podcast, I pondered what the deal with sets of teeth was all about. We guessed correctly that other animals (polyphyodonts) just burn through multiple sets of teeth. Unlike sharks that can go through 30,000 in a lifetime, we mammals (diphyodonts) get a special hardy set of two to do all the chewing we’re so famous for.

No, it's not some little gif on loop. This is actually a 5 hour gif of a cow doing what cows do best - Nothing of interest.

Of course, there are exceptions. Elephants get up to 6 replacements. They come and go in regular intervals up until that last set, after those are worn out the elephant kind of just starves to death. Tough break. Manatees are the other exception. They get the same marching molars system to compensate a hardy diet of veggies mixed with sand.   The reptiles scoff at our puny set of molars but at least we have all kinds of tooth shapes.

A mammal is a heterodont. We have all kinds of teeth in a mouth: molars, canines, incisors, buck (although I have see buck toothed fish *shudder*) The shapes vary depending on the mammal and what a variety it is!

Like a boss.

Pretty. Pretty cool. I don’t know about you but I feel more informed about mammals.There are probably some even more advanced level mammal distinctions but I just wanted to get to the teeth.

On the 11th Day of Xmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Eleven Vipers Viping


For Christmas this year, little Jimmy asked for night-vision goggles. He had been extra good, wrote Santa several nice letters, and had even spent time working at the local soup kitchen. He really, really wanted night vision goggles. They were exactly what he needed for a tactical edge over his friends in imaginary covert ops and would also come in handy when spying on his sister’s hot friends during sleepovers.

Green tint notwithstanding, boobs are boobs.

Unfortunately, little Jimmy has found himself in the middle of Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas, so he is bound to get something a little more… exotic. Even more unfortunate for little Jimmy, everybody over at Animal News: The Podcast is sick to death of birds. So I’ve eschewed the OBVIOUS choice of “Sand Pipers Piping” for day eleven.

Stupid bird! That'll give you cancer!

No, Jimmy is getting a box of rattlesnakes this year. Tough nuts, Jimmy. But hey, we aren’t just here to jerk people around. Rattlesnakes were chosen specifically to address Jimmy’s wishes. See, Rattlesnakes are pit vipers. And pit vipers come with built-in infrared night-vision.

The eponymous pits on the face of pit vipers are heat sensing organs. They are some 30 times more sensitive than military issue infrared cameras. Also, since there are two of them, pit vipers can actually “see” heat in stereo, making it possible to not only identify the location of prey but also determine where and how it is moving.

However, the pits do pretty much look like giant nostrils.

The heat sensing abilities, combined with the snakes’ ability to smell in stereo (so that’s why they have a forked tongue,) the hypodermic needle-like fangs, and the ability to strike in a third of a second, make vipers awesome killing machines and awful Christmas gifts.

And just in case Jimmy’s box o’ rattlers doesn’t kill EVERYBODY in the family, we hid an eyelash viper in the poinsettias.

Happy Holidays!

On the 7th Day of Xmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Seven Sloths a-Swimming


The 7th day of Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

Enough with the birds already! Why would you give one person so many fowl? This song is going to give somebody avian flu. Or at least terrible foot infections.

No, the only way I can get my head around this song is if at least a half-dozen birds are replaced with sloths.

Most of the birds in this song are for eating, but the eating of swan is taboo these days. So imagine getting seven useless swans… for six straight days. They will, given the opportunity, run amok. I can’t say that sloths would be any better for eating, but an equal number of sloths would certainly be less troublesome. Running amok, or running at all, is simply not something of which they are capable.

"You run amok. I'm just going to hang out."

And swans, like just about all birds, defecate often. What’s worse, they don’t seem to care much about where they do it. As many a golf course greens-keeper knows, swans will deuce wherever they please. Do you really want to spend every day cleaning up the leavings of a large bevy of swans? I thought not. Sloths, on the other hand, only relieve themselves once a week. And then they bury it.

"A little privacy, please!"

But mostly, sloths are just wicked cool. And swans are jerks.

"I'd like to see a stupid swan try THIS."

And if you are really caught up on the wording of the song, we can get around that too. See, sloths may only be able to crawl along the ground at a top speed of 2 meters per minute, but they really are decent swimmers. So this year, don’t give geese, give sloths. Or cash, cash is always good.

Happy Holidays!

Red Gree. Jellyfish

12 Days of Christmas, Animal Edition


We here at ANTP will take any excuse to post about animals we like or want to eat or dislike or whatever and Kristin likes Christmas.

Here’s what we got so far:

1.Instead of partridges, we got Fancy Bird Hairstyles

2. Instead of 2 Turtle Doves, we got Two Footless Doves

3. Instead of 3 French Hens, we got Nonsense Hens

4. Instead of 4 calling birds, we got Bird Dopplegangers

5. Instead of 5 golden rings, we got Hardcore Goldfish

6. Instead of 6 Geese, we got Six Monsters Laying

7. Instead of 7 Swans, we got Seven Sloths a Swimming

8. Instead of 8 Maids, we got Eight Milk Jokes Milking

9. Instead of 9 Dancers, we got Nine Glowing Nightmares

10. Instead of 10 Lords, we got Lords of the Animals

11. Instead of 11 Pipers, we got 11 Vipers Viping

12. Instead of 12 Drummers, we got 12 Puppet Parents

On the 4th Day of Xmas My True Love Gave to Me: Bird Dopplegangers


It’s another edition of

Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

Yes, we’re still in the bird portion of this epically tedious song.

For calling birds, I’m going to go for the low hanging fruit of interpretations by which I mean the literal one. When I think of calling birds, the first one that comes to mind is the parrot in this video who is impersonating Brian Fellow to order luxury bird furniture.

In a lot of ways, I am the Mr. Fellow of this podcast. I spout animal facts like I know what I’m talking about yet still refer to things like “pollen pants”

Anyhow, parrots are quite good mimics but tend to take on more actual phones than people reciting their credit card numbers.

Laughing birds will always upset me.

Not a parrot but damn if it doesn’t mimic like the pros.

On the 3rd Day of Xmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Nonsense Hens


Welcome to the 3rd installment of

Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

In addition to being delicious, chickens clean up nice when it comes to the fascinating, ever-expanding world of Show Poultry. French chickens in particular, Faverolles, are something to behold in the pageant circuit. Yet,  they are by no means the definitive birds of the pageants. So strongly do I feel about this that I refuse to even put up a single picture of a faverolle.

Although it is my dream to have this blog launch my career as a poultry show judge, I’m content (for now) to judge these birds with my co-bloggers.

Aracuana

Kristin : Does the animal win points for being unable to see past its massive eyebrows? If so, plus a million points to the Araucana.

Matt: 15 points for aviator style goggles and helmet.

Jake: E for effort.

 Belgian D’Uccle

Matt: Two thumbs left for fluffiness.

Kristin: This chicken has perhaps witnessed great atrocities based on its hairstyle. 20 pity points.

Jake: I was gunna give it a score but instead give it a hearty handshake.

Houdan

Matt: I give it a blue ribbon for dogness because it looks like a dog to me.

Kristin: I don’t like this one’s attitude. Minus 10 points.

Jake: 87% Fresh

Japanese

Kristin: Very alert and stately bird. Short leggged and good natured? A+

Jake: On a scale from 1 to 7, I give it a “good”

Matt: 3 Fans for tail.

Modern Game

Kristin: This animal was bred to show. Look at that alluring stance, the smize, the turn. Best points.

Matt: Two chicken boners. [K: That doesn’t even work, it’s a male chicken…]

Jake: Don’t judge homosexual chickens. 3 1/3 stars.

Pekin Bantam

Kristin: I don’t really understand what the hump on this bird is but am intrigued by the prospect of extra meat. 2 million points.

Matt: One Golden Globe. It looks like a globe.

Jake: It looks like a squirrel from where I’m sitting. I give it a squirrel! Just kidding. Two squirrels!

Note: Jake is not wearing his glasses.

Polish

Kristin: I don’t need to see other entries. This one wins.

Matt: 10/10

Jake: Full credit.

Silkie

Matt: 0 points for effort.

Kristin: No, I refuse that answer. We hold a high calibre of judgment here. Do not be the Paula Abdul of this competition.

Matt: Fine, I’d say it’s a 21.

Jake: I give it a Paula Abdul…of this competition.

Fluffiest bird ever SO Soft

Winner: Poland. This country turns out a great chicken.

Of course that just the consensus of hungover, half-blind podcasters. Feel free to to make your choice in this poll.

Kissing a Pigeon on the Mouth or Beak

On the 2nd Day of Xmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Two Footless Doves


It’s Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

Did you know that half this song is birds? HALF. That’s kind of a messed up deal present-wise if you ask me. Anyway, footless doves.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about real [read: fancy] doves, I’m talkin’ ’bout Rock Doves and not the fancy versions of those either. Fancy birds don’t lose their feet, everyone knows this.

Perched high on their silk pillows, fancy birds never have to worry about foot problems.

Anyway, take a second and wonder What is it with all those toeless, nubby street pigeon feet? For the longest time, this was barely worth a wonder to me. I just assumed that city people  were constantly stepping on or running over the pigeons’ feet and they just broke off. Then, some time later, I realized that that doesn’t make any sense.

Footlessness

"I simply must learn to look both ways before crossing the street"

Pigeons are slow, goofy-lookin’ walkers to be sure but they can fly and are excellent flyers.

Kissing a Pigeon on the Mouth or Beak

But they don't know to get away when it really counts.

After some minimal detective work and a short study montage, I now know that the foot issues are due to an adorably named affliction, Bumblefoot, or some wayward string or hair that wraps around the area and cuts off circulation until something falls off. Both of these are really terribly painful ways to lose your feet.

Bumblefoot refers to the staph infection that sets in after the bird gets a cut or scrape from a rough surface. Pigeons tend to perch almost exclusively on pointy, abrasive things without wearing socks or shoes. One time, I swear I even saw one standing on the pointed end of a statue’s spear: they really just don’t care. And we all get cuts n’ scrapes but what makes the city pigeon even that much more careless is that he’ll expose himself to bacteria with the staph. And by “expose himself to bacteria ” I mean “stand in his own shit.”

To be fair, shit is probably warmer than concrete... Or, this is evolution at work.

The feet don’t grow back, and usually it’s the nub that’s now exposed to the rough, Staphylococcus-y environments so that the whole cycle might start again and again until the pigeon is completely legless  (otherwise known in the wild as “dead”)

Happy Holidays!

On the 1st Day of Xmas, My True Love Sent To Me: Fancy Bird Hairstyles


Welcome to Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

Let’s pretend that I’m going to go through each of days in that god awful song and give my own Animal News spin on it. I can’t make any promises that I’ll actually finish because I tend to lose interest when the lyrics get into dancing slaves or lepers or whatever. Let’s begin!

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “partridge” I think of the family from a show I never actually watched or a silhouette of the bird in a silhouetted tree full of silhouetted pears. Because, what other relevance does a patridge really have in my life?  It’s basically a lil’ pheasant and if they all died yesterday, no one would be surprised.

Anywho, what these animals might be remembered for is their unique hairstyles which in the grand scheme of bird hairstyles, or featherstyles, is really just mediocre. Behold a list of stylish birds!

Behold their finery!

Let’s start with an actual partridge. But not a typical, unfancy one. While most birds are content with “tufts” or “cowlicks”, the Crested Wood Partridge sports a bad ass, fiery red mohawk which communicates in no uncertain terms that it could give a fuck about the holiday season.

Bird with Mohawk Sensibilities

You've never seen this hairstyle on a Christmas card and you never will.

That’s not really a bird you would take home to mom and dad though. The Barred Eagle Owl however presents a slightly more serious front unless you can’t get past the fact that those feathers are NOT EARS.

Creepy, Staring Eagle

All of us watch The Muppets and think In what frickin world is Sam the Eagle anything like a real eagle? It's obviously based on this seriouser-than-death Barred Eagle...Owl.

For some reason, when I think of exotic birds, I think of this Crowned Crane strutting around looking mostly like a normal crane with dead sea urchin for a hat.  So “crown” just refers to weird feathers on the head? Dumb.
No one has ever worn a crown like this.
Stately Bird Crown

The original title of this post was Birds With Afros because "fancy bird styles" usually evokes the image of this afro'ed "Crowned" Crane.

For some reason, I’ve seen a lot of pigeons in asian zoos. No, not raggedy street pigeons, you silly goose. I meant the Victoria Crowned Pigeons which are bright blue and over two feet tall.
The Fanciest Bird Alive

This bird's hair reminds me of going to church as a child. I imagine this pigeon would settle for a church with nothing short of its own feathers as decoration.

 I don’t know if birds bred to fashion-forward perfection deserve a place here but here’s the Crested Gloster anyway. The bird-happy equivalent of a crazy cat lady used to work in my school and bred these in the school’s attic. He got offended when I laughed in their tiny faces.

Too cool for canary school, the gloster and its bowlcut are found among avid bird enthusiasts who protect the birds from the savage beatings they’d get in the wild.
Scrolling this far you were wondering where all the birds of paradise were. I have a few to be sure, but let me just say that they are cheating at this game. Within the bird family of Paradisaeidae, there’s all kinds of crazy hair styles. I tried to stick with the best of the best but you’ll notice that most of these birds tread the line between fancy and ridiculous (I think that’s called ‘avant garde’ in the fashion world)

I don't know what the fuck I am looking at. What part of the bird is that?

Birds of What the Fuck

This Western Parotia is best known for its bouncy, in-your-face dance routine during which it somehow transforms into what I guess looks like a Christmas tree ornament. Listen, animal. Maybe if you looked less like a decorative hair piece you wouldn't be hunted downed and used as such.

King of Eyebrows

All bird hairstyles will bow down before the great King of Saxony!!! (actual name)

So, I hope you liked those birds and this beautiful post because it only goes way downhill from here. ^_^