Category Archives: Birds

I saw some.

D. Attenborough natural history pieces

The BBC has an audio feature entitled David Attenborough’s Life Stories in which David Attenborough reports about sundry natural history topics. I heard one on local radio about Komodo Dragons and found another on the Web about Archaeopteryx. As usual, Mr. Attenborough’s writing and speaking command attention. Fascinating stuff.

It appears that the BBC site only makes them avialable for a limited time. The page for the Archaeopteryx segment says “Available since Friday with 5 days left.” It’s not clear to which Friday the text refers, especially because it gives a date in late August. I couldn’t find one about the Komodo Dragon, though; he starts with references to a 16th-century author cataloging the types of dragons, not including the Komodo Dragon, and then proceeds to provide a many-minute long account of Komodo behavior (e.g., feeding) and biology (parthenogenesis).

Because it appears to me that the shows are not archived, I recommend repeated trips to the site to check on what’s available there. I need to construct an agent that will go download them for me periodically. Meanwhile, perhaps I shall create a calendar entry that reminds me to check.


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Headless chicken stories

There apparently is some truth to what I thought was cartoon hyperbole. At least one chicken apparently survived beheading and lived for a long time, supposedly with a little brain stem and esophagus.

In animated short videos that I saw as a child, I remember watching illustrations of the concept. Replete with classical music and goofy actions (chicken raises its wing to feel for its missing head?), this was a commonplace.

Chickens were raised and (though I don’t do so any more) eaten at my house when I was a child. However, I don’t recall ever seeing un pollo sin cabeza in the chicken yard.

But I hadn’t encountered the story of Mike the Headless Chicken. Mike was a roster who lost his head in the 1940s and then went on to a career as a featured performer in a road show. His story is now the basis for an annual festival in the town of Fruita (CO, US), near where he hatched.
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Building with beak and talons

Creating a nest when one doesn’t have an opposable thumb must be a serious job. Over on Peace, Caffeine, Linux Scott Fraser posted video of a Coopers Hawk working on a nest. Check it by following this link to Mr. Fraser’s blog entry. While you’re there, poke around a bit; he has lots of interesting content.


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Thanks are in order

If you do not yet know about the campaign to express appreciation to legislators who have counseled resistance to the teaching of creationism, here’s an alert for you. Clay Burrell, who teaches English in South Korea and contributes to (Note: That’s .org, not .gov), published a piece recognizing Texas legislators Rodney Ellis and Patrick Rose for promoting oversight of the US state of Texas education group, the State Board of Education, that has too strongly supported anti-scientific treatment of evolution.

This is how Mr. Rose characterized the problem:

As scientists and educators across Texas and the nation mark the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin with calls for a renewed commitment to science education, the State Board of Education continues to engage in narrow theological debate about the validity of evolution. If Texas schoolchildren are to succeed in the 21st Century economy, the SBOE must focus less on internal philosophical differences and more on improving science instruction.

Mr. Burrell headed his post, “Thank Two Congressmen for Saying No to Creationists,” even though neither legislator is a representative to the U.S. Congress. Still, it seems like a good thing to do!

Read Representative Rose’s statement. Fortunately, some savvy folks (e.g., PZ Myers) have warmed to this idea. I’ve posted before about evolution, creationism, and Texas (see, Texas schools and creationism and TX profs on ID: Skip it. I suppose my site could be considered by some to be “messin’ with Texas,” and that’s purportedly a bad thing. Sigh.


Filed under Amusements, Atheism, Birds, Eco-stuff, News, Notes and comments, Politics, Science, Skepticism, Thanks for reading

Tree of Life

As a part of the 200th celebration of the birth of Charles Darwin (‘m supposing that there were some sorts of birthday parties for children in the early 1800s, so that there have been 199 previous celebrations; do you think that in those days fathers distributed bubble-gum cigars?), the wonderful Wellcome Trust and the BBC joined together to produce commemorative products. One of my faves is a video featuring Richard Attenborough narrating a ~7-min recounting the evolution of species as we now understand it: Watch the video and explore the very fine resources at

Please be aware that there is a Web site with a very similar domain name (just an extra dot separating wellcome and treeoflife, which I won’t enter or link as I don’t want to send traffic to the home page), but it does not refer to the excellent product I’ve described here. Instead, it features the text “Gloria In Excelsis Deo,” an image of a sprouting plant, and a favicon ico that, if I had to guess, was an image of a cross (as in the Christian crucifix).

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Filed under Amusements, Atheism, Birds, Birthdays, News, Notes and comments, Science, Skepticism, Technology, Thanks for reading

T’day retrospective

As I reported earlier, P, C, and I drove to Roanoke for dinner with at my sister’s where my cousin was visiting. In this photo, taken by P, the other four of us are sitting around the table tumescently, with parts of a carcass and other remnants of the meal on the table. The famous cranberry kitty is visible near the dark red bowl.

Menu: Cheeses (Irish cheddar, St. Andre, and a local goat camembert) with crackers. Spiced nuts. Artichoke with dressings with fresh bread from ABC. Chilled carrot soup. An Amish turkey. Stuffing. Black beans (for me). Salad. Three pies (cranberry, pecan, and pumpkin).

It was good to visit. There was the usual period of time when lots of cooks were crowded into the kitchen. We got to talk with Ang about ideas for design of the kitchen in our new house (she’s a pro at such designs). Later, several of us had fun playing Scrabble.

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I and the Bird

Bird friends, please set aside a while to go to I and the Bird #81 that is hosted by Seabrooke Leckie at her site, The Marvelous in Nature. I don’t have anything of the quality of those she’s collected in this “carnival,” but I know some of you do. There’s another carnival coming, so you can contribute.

Of course, you can also later peruse Ms. Leckie’s other posts; she has a keen eye for graphics and a marvelous grasp of the language (if I’m qualified to judge either; see, e.g., her post about a milksnake or another about banding migratory birds).

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