Though we’re in no danger in Pittsburgh my family lives within 10 miles of the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Massachusetts and New York so I was particularly interested in those places. Alas, there is no map for Hampton Roads but the others are available.
Using the tool I zoomed in on a favorite birding location: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge off Titusville, Florida.
One foot of sea level rise will put some of Merritt Island underwater and surround the access road from Titusville. Two feet will make it impossible to cross from Titusville and will bury Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. Here’s a screenshot of the two-foot rise.
Try the tool yourself.
Watch the video above to see how it works.
Click on this link to use the Beta version (my preferred version).
A window will ask if you want to go back to the regular version. Stay on Beta by clicking the gray [Close] button at bottom right to make the window go away.
Choose a place on the map using the controls at top right. [Zoom to State or Territory] gets you there fast.
Now use the controls on the left panel. Move the blue sliding bar to make the water rise. (My red arrow below points to that bar.) Watch what happens on the map.
It’s amazing what a little rise in sea level can do. Some day Merritt Island will disappear.
As things stand now this intelligent, resourceful, omnivorous bird may go extinct in the 21st century. Why? Because he lives in a shrinking bubble.
For a long time scientists could not figure out why the Ethiopian bush-crow (Zavattariornis stresemanni) lived in only one 6,000 square mile area of southern Ethiopia. He’s really smart, eats anything, and nests cooperatively but the bush-crow does not expand his range even though the habitat bordering his domain appears to be exactly the same.
His size and threatened lifestyle resemble that of the Florida scrub-jay whose range was 7,000 square miles but an area of suitable habitat much smaller. Scientists approached the bush-crow with the same tools they used on the scrub-jay and came up empty. The bush-crow’s bordering habitat was the same. Why didn’t the bush-crow use it?
Then in 2012 a team headed by Dr Paul Donald of the RSPB figured out that the Ethiopian bush-crow lives in a cool, dry climate bubble where the average temperature is less than 20oC (68oF). Outside his range it’s hotter and he won’t go there. Terrain and elevation created his zone but climate change is raising the temperature and the bush-crow’s bubble is shrinking.
If his problem was caused by loss of habitat, as it is for the Florida scrub-jay, laws and habitat restoration could increase the bush-crow’s available land but climate change is a much thornier problem requiring international political will. This bird is endangered.
Right now there are about 9,000 breeding pairs of Ethiopian bush-crows on earth. But for how long?
Click here to read about the Ethiopian bush-crow’s climate preference. Click here for his range map.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)
By now scientists are quite convinced that crows are smart but the physical layout of crows’ brains puzzled them for a long time. Our seat of intelligence, the “smart” part of the human brain, is small in crows. In fact it’s small in all birds. So where does all this braininess come from? A different part of the brain.
Tübingen neurobiologists Lena Veit and Professor Andreas Nieder proved this by having trained crows run memory tests on crow-accessible computers. The crows tapped the touchscreen with their beaks to select the answers.
The test was this: Here’s an image. Remember it. Now here are two images: one matches what you just saw, the other does not. In this battery of tests, pick the similar one. In the next round, pick the different one.
The crows not only mastered these tests but according to Science Daily when Veit and Nieder “observed neuronal activity in the nidopallium caudolaterale, one group of nerve cells responded exclusively when the crows had to choose the same image while another group of cells always responded when they were operating on the “different image” rule. By observing this cell activity, the researchers were often able to predict which rule the crow was following even before it made its choice. … This high level of concentration and mental flexibility is an effort even for humans.”
Crows make and use tools. They remember faces. They remember a large number of feeding sites. They plan their social behavior around what others are doing.
“I thought we were going to the dump this morning,” says a crow to his buddy. “We aren’t? OK. Whatever. I’ll follow you.”
Ever since the first snowy owl showed up at Presque Isle State Park on November 23 Erie’s resident pair of peregrine falcons has been on the warpath. Peregrines hate owls and snowies are no exception. How dare an owl invade their territory!
On November 26 a second snowy arrived and perched near the first at Gull Point. On November 30, a third and darker owl came to Beach 6. The snowies like the banquet at the lake. They’re eating visiting waterfowl.
Their arrival has kept the peregrines quite busy. Many observers have seen the peregrines attacking the owls.
One owl is annoying, two are worth shouting about. On Friday while Shawn Collins was on his way to Gull Point he heard a peregrine whining and warning at Beach 10. The peregrine was so upset and distracted that it remained perched and whining on a telephone pole while Shawn snapped several pictures.
Angry and swift, the peregrines teamed up to convince the owls to leave. Would it work?
The owls are bigger and know about large, powerful falcons. They come from the land of the gyrfalcon.
Fifty years and fifteen days ago, the island of Surtsey emerged from the sea off the southern coast of Iceland.
On November 14, 1963 the cook on the trawler Ísleifur II saw smoke on the water. The captain motored over to see if it was a ship on fire or a volcano (in Iceland you know to include “volcano” on your list) and yes, it was a volcano.
From a spot of smoke it grew quickly into an island. Here it is erupting in 1963.
Named for a Norse fire giant, Surtsey continued to erupt for the next three and a half years until it grew even larger than it is today. The island is literally losing ground. It was 1 square mile at its maximum; now it’s only half. The ocean immediately took away the loose rocks leaving behind hard volcanic cliffs. They will eventually erode as well, it’ll just take longer.
For now Surtsey has settled down to a bland, quiet existence as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most studied places on earth. What began as barren hot rock now hosts at least 69 plant species and 15 species of nesting birds (nice cliffs!). Even spiders have drifted in and set up housekeeping.
Two unexpected plants arrived with human visitors and had to be eradicated lest they became invasive. A tomato plant grew from a seed deposited by diarrhea (yes, it happens) and some boys planted potatoes. Wrong! Those had to go.
Right now Surtsey is probably under snow as in this photo from January 2009.
Very quiet, but she has an amazing history. See great photos of her fiery birth and read more of her history, including the bizarre French territorial dispute, at the VolcanoCafé blog.
(photos of Surtsey from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see the original)
Chances are these turkeys are brothers, working together to chase the police out of their territory.
Wild turkeys are very social birds whose flocks are often composed of siblings. This habit starts young when they’re all poults together and continues as adults.
Each sex within the flock develops a pecking order. Literally. Who has the right to peck someone else? The ladies figure out the hierarchy and tend to leave it at that without a lot of jostling. The guys, on the other hand, are always stirring things up. Which of them is most dominant? They fight about it. In this case they’re fighting a police car.
Turkeys are brothers in love and war. Groups of male turkeys strutting and displaying together are usually brothers, collaborating to attract the opposite sex. One of them is dominant and he’ll get to mate with the ladies. His brothers display but they don’t become fathers.
But don’t feel sorry for the lesser guys. Soon enough they’ll fight about it and a different male may achieve dominance in the band of brothers.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons of two male wild turkeys chasing a police car in Moorhead, Minnesota on April 29, 2013. Click on the image to see the original. Today’s Tenth Page is inspired by page 338 of Ornithology by Frank B. Gill.)
The plants are grown commercially in bogs completely surrounded by dikes. When the flower becomes a ripened fruit…
…the field is flooded for harvesting. Harvesting machines, nicknamed “eggbeaters,” knock the berries off the plants. The floating berries are corralled to a conveyor belt. (This Good Morning, America video shows the cranberry harvest on Cape Cod.)
After the harvest the berries look like this…
They have enough natural pectin that their juice jells on its own if it’s boiled with sugar.
So you could boil them in sugar, strain out the solids, pour the juice in a mold, chill it and voilà. You have the same jellied cranberry sauce but it doesn’t look like a can.
But really. I like the magic of a jiggling food shaped exactly like the can it slid from.
A natural fruit in an unnatural shape.
(photo of canned cranberry sauce by busbeytheelder, Creative Commons license. photo of cranberry flower by Dianne Machesney. All other photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see their originals)
At this time of year I often forget to retrieve snapshots from the peregrine falconcams because so little is going on. When I finally did so this month I found a surprise at the Gulf Tower.
For two years the Downtown peregrines have shunned the Gulf Tower nest. In the early days Louie visited alone but Dori stayed away. The nest had been so inactive that I forgot the camera was still running.
But look who came to visit on November 16!
The visitor puttered at the nest for about two minutes — a fairly long time for a peregrine in November. Here are two more snapshots.
Assuming this is one of the resident Downtown peregrines, which bird is it? Dori or Louie? Here are links to other Gulf nest snapshots for comparison: