Friday, February 13, 2009

The Birds and the Puhleeze...

Hi, Guys!  It's been only a few days since my last post, but I got tired of reading the thousands of pages of the Porculus Bill, so I found this in The Washington Compost this morning.  They never fail to start my day with laughter.

Here's the quick summary.  Researchers put small transmitters on songbirds and then tracked them during their migration to Latin America and back in the fall/spring of 2007-08.

"As one researcher held the bird still, another would slide a Teflon loop around one of the animal's legs -- in much the way that a parent slips a backpack over a child's shoulders -- before working a second loop around the other leg and then stitching the loops together with Kevlar thread.  Set free, the 14 wood thrushes and 20 purple martins took off that fall on their epic seasonal voyages to South America, with the 'geolocators' resting 
comfortably on their backs."

I would like to see the transcript of the birds being polled as to how comfortable the little backpacks were.  When the birds returned, even though their 'geolocators' allowed researchers to "calculate where each bird was on any given day," only SEVEN of the 34 birds were found.  This appears to have been a flight test in which only one fifth of the tested aircraft survived....

At the same time, the researchers tracked the bird's flight path both soutward and northward.  Much to their surprise, the birds took more direct flight paths to get to Latin America, while flying the long routes heading back north.  These researchers obviously have never gone to a vacation site in record time, then come home a little slower...  However, one researcher noted:

"One northbound wood thrush, opting for the scenic route, took 29 days to fly 2,852 miles, choosing not to cross the Gulf of Mexico.  The fact that it did not attempt the more than 12 hour non-stop crossing could indicate that it was underfed and tired because its wintering ground in South America had become degraded."

There it is!  The obligatory reference to how global warming is harming even the most lovable of creatures - small songbirds.  No mention of the possibility that the cute little 'geolocator' backpack may have had any role in the wood thrush's being tired  and hence his choice of northward routes. 

The scientists concluded:

"There's no sign at all that the songbirds even know they're wearing the backpacks.
The team is hoping to collect more data this spring; it placed 'geolocators' on 20 more purple martins and 35 wood thrushes in 2008.

The scientists still do not understand why they were able to recapture only two of the purple martins last year but will continue to pursue the research unless they find out this year that only a few purple martins return."

I suppose it's the birds fault for being unable to give signs that humans understand, like, "Get this stupid thing off my back!" 

Looks like it's gonna be a tough year for the purple martins trying to avoid be captured and fitted with the "cute little backpack of death."

Meanwhile, the National Association of Birds Doing Research on Humans (NABDROH) has proposed a similar experiment to track humans in their annual movements.

Large birds will be used to select and capture human "volunteers" for the "cute little backpacks" the small birds will place on them.  Head for the high ground.


Apis Melliflora said...

You would have made a good lawyer. You manage to find nuanced absurdity in even the most harmless-seeming article.

It's a bit wierd that Big Brother is watching and tracking even the smallest songbird.

Lastly, I'll pass on the human backpack or any other "comfortable" microchip, thank you very much!

Spymommy said...

I feel really bad for the poor birds who became the "backpack" test subjects.

I would think you were making this stuff up if it weren't for real.

Jean/ladyjosh said...

migration patterns of many species have been tracked for forever.Now we can do it electoniclly. I only have one thing to say:

Birdie Birdie in the sky why'd you do that in my eye,
I won't worry, I won't cry
It's a damm good thing that cows can't fly. (A slightly different version then the most modern one. This one comes from long long ago)

You have to much free time on your hands---lol. You are having a good time on the high ground;(maybe I should be looking to see if you need some oxygen) Take care my friend.

Tobi said...

Polar bears, snakes, whales and now small songbirds. Are any animals safe out there in the wild kingdom. Apparently they are all on the verge of dying out if you listen to the Compost.

Also my blog got a Junior High reading level from the little gadget on the bottom of your blog. OHHHH! THAT STINGS!

The Queen Vee said...

We are all mystified by the comment you left on Vanessa's blog. Maybe you could leave an explanation comment so we mere mortals could understand it. I tried to figure it out but it doesn't even make sense to me.