Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A troubling news story

This is the first, and possibly last, political item I will post on this blog - but I feel as if I have good reason to. Read this story. As a concerned citizen, biologist and supporter of science in general, I cannot believe that this would occur - and as a proud Brown biology department alumni, I am saddened that a fellow Brown biology major (Bobby Jindal) would facilitate this nonsense.

Blow this picture up and look at the bill on this juvenile Snail Kite - perfectly evolved to eat large snails. 

I see two problems with this:

1) Obviously evolution is being horribly misconstrued, though perhaps it is heartening to hear that the books claim the Loch Ness monster is real, if that is the best anti-evolution defense they can come up with, they cannot expect to be believed wholeheartedly (perhaps). If we wish to continue to advance as a society, we need scientists working on biological questions (among all the sciences, clearly). As evolution is the backbone of biology and has informed our profitable (not monetarily, perhaps) research into human health issues as well as conservation/environmental science issues, we need to acknowledge its existence.

2) Science in general is being cast doubt upon. The credibility of evolutionary biologists/climate geologists/etc have been questioned publically by (imbecile) politicians without a firm grasp of the science, simply with a political agenda. While this is ridiculed and many of the arguments downright laughable, it is giving the public a perception that scientists perhaps are not to be trusted and their findings not true. To continue to advance and learn (I would argue a necessary part of any society) we need incorporate science better: fund it better, apply the findings in all fields, and simply understand it better (teach it better). The Louisiana system here is a regression to the middle ages. 

I wrote this in haste, perhaps it is a bit digressive and certainly a bit of a rant, but it should be brought to attention of more (as I know this blog has at least 4 people that read it!). 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Peruvian Hummingbirds

I have been remiss in updating this, and have only a few moments, so just pictures... During the month of May I saw 48 species of hummingbirds, a few of which are below. See how many you can name...

The rarest hummingbird in the world?

A bad picture - but does it matter?

Jimmy's favorite humminbird, I think. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nantucket Barn Owls

Julia, upon getting back from New Zealand, went back to Nantucket to continue studying the Barn Owl population there - the largest population in MA (it is a state-listed species) and one of the most northern in the United States (maybe the world!). Perhaps unsurprisingly for a species at its northern extent, they are going great guns after the really mild winter - she has found over 60 chicks this year thus far, a number way above all other years.

An older chick awaiting banding - from the 2011 season.
She put a camera in one of the nestboxes this year and compiled many of the "highlights" of the first bit of the season into a video:

Delicious, aye? Crazy to think that they swallow almost all their prey whole - how lucky we are to have teeth! (not to mention utensils).

Another baby of the 2011 season, a little younger.