Thursday, January 20, 2011

Go Fly A Spanish Black Kite

NPR aired an interesting piece this afternoon on Spanish scientist who have an abundance of patience and time (link here).  For 5 years, these evolutionary biologists have been studying and video taping 127 black kites and their nesting behaviour.  The scientists added white plastic to the nests, and the biggest, strongest kites with the most vitality not only kept the white plastic in their nests, but they gathered up more.  The younger and most elderly, weaker Spanish kites had no interest in the white plastic, and actually removed it from their nests.

The Spanish scientists observed that the kites are a war-like bunch of birds, with the white plastic drawing attention to nests and causing birds to try and attack the nests.  The strongest black kites powerfully defended their nests, and backed up the advertising that the plastic implied "Hey baby, I'm here and I'm available!"  The smaller and less physically strong black kites who could not back up bravado jettisoned the plastic the scientists added.  This is very interesting from an evolutionary sense, but 5 years on kites?   I do enjoy my afternoons in the back yard in the company of various species of hummingbird, lizard, tarantula hawk, wasp, and honey bee, but I do not have the patience (or the grant funding) to videotape 127 nests for 5 years.

In a nod to evolution and observation of the natural world, I did catch this image of His Noodly Majesty yesterday afternoon as he appeared to me, after I finished a few hundred sit ups.  Ramen.

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