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Plant Safety Tips for Pets

Luke Strauss sent us this valuable chart that might be a good guide to the safest plants to have around pets. He says:

Plants and pets have been proven to reduce stress and improve cognitive ability, but can you safely have both in your home? To help reap the many benefits of both furry friends and potted plants, my team created a guide that lists 27 non-toxic plants as well as tips on how to keep your pets safe around toxic ones.

My favorite tip is to hang plants where pets can't reach — my dangling snake plant keeps me company at work without compromising my dog Angie's safety!

Plant safety tips


The World's Oldest Living Land Animal Is ....

The world’s oldest living land animal? At age 190, it’s Jonathan the tortoise.

This great article from the Washington Post highlights Jonathan and his longevity.

Jonathan the tortoise has lived on one of the most remote islands in the world for 140 years. He has become somewhat of a media star recently, as he just got a lofty distinction: the oldest living land animal in the world. Jonathan is turning 190 this year. Well, that’s the best guess about the age of the 440-pound chelonian. “To be honest, I suspect he’s older, but we can never know,” said Joe Hollins, the veterinarian who cares for Jonathan on St. Helena island, a tiny volcanic British territory more than a thousand miles off the coast of Africa.

Jonathan has spent most of his life wandering (albeit slowly) with three other land tortoises around the grounds of the St. Helena governor’s residence, Plantation House. Jonathan is estimated to have hatched in 1832, according to a letter that mentions he arrived “fully grown” on St. Helena in 1882 from the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, he said. “Fully grown” in turtle context meant at least 50 years, Hollins said.

A photo taken between 1882 and 1886 shows Jonathan grazing at Plantation House, where he’d been presented to the governor of St. Helena as a gift, according to Hollins.

This historical photo taken in the late 1800s shows Jonathan, left, with another tortoise, now deceased. (Courtesy of Joe Hollins)

“It was quite traditional for [tortoises] to be used as diplomatic gifts around the world, if they weren’t eaten first,” he said, noting that they were harvested by ship crews because they were stackable and didn’t need food or water for days.

The tortoise has seen 31 St. Helena governors come and go and was likely alive for President Andrew Jackson’s second inauguration in 1833, as well as the inaugurations of the next 39 U.S. presidents.

 

It isn’t unusual for giant land tortoises to live up to 150 years, said Hollins, but Jonathan has endured longer than most people expected.The previous known longevity record was held by a radiated tortoise named Tu’i Malila, reportedly given to Tonga’s royal family in 1777. When Tu’i Malila died in 1965, she was about 188 years old, according to Guinness World Records.

Read the full article here.

 

 


Climate Change is Transforming the Bodies of Amazon Birds

Alex Fox of Smithsonian writes about the evolution of Amazon birds in response to climate change:

Bird golden crownA 40-year study found 77 species of rainforest birds weigh less on average, and many have longer wings, than they used to. Here is a short excerpt:

When the first ever World Climate Conference concluded in February 1979, the scientists in attendance issued a statement calling on world leaders "to foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity." On October 17 of that same year, scientists deep in the Brazilian Amazon unfurled a set of 16 mist nets at 6 a.m. to begin a study of the birds living in the understory beneath the rainforest’s green roof.

In the 40 years that followed, climate change went from a far-off-seeming idea to a grave reality that grips every square inch of the planet, and hundreds of dedicated researchers kept opening the mist nets at dawn to capture and study the feathered inhabitants of an intact patch of Brazilian rainforest about 40 miles north of Manaus.

Now, a new paper leveraging this long-running study, originally aimed at testing the impacts of forest fragmentation, shows that as human activities have altered Earth’s climate, the bodies of birds living in the understory of this remote, undamaged patch of rainforest have been changing in response. The authors of the paper report today in the journal Science Advances that all 77 species of birds surveyed by the study weigh less on average than they did 40 years ago and nearly 80 percent of those species also have developed greater average wing-lengths.

Researchers aren’t yet sure what the consequences of these physiological changes might be or the precise mechanisms that gave rise to them, but the team’s analyses suggest the rising temperatures and changes in rainfall seen at the study site offer the most powerful statistical explanation for the birds’ transformation.

“This is the middle of the Amazon rainforest, far away from deforestation,” says Vitek Jirinec, an ecologist at Louisiana State University and the paper’s lead author. “But even here, in this place that is teeming with life and looks totally undamaged, you can’t escape the consequences of climate change.”

Jirinec and his co-authors embarked on this study in earnest in 2020 after finding that 21 species of birds at this site north of Manaus, known to researchers as the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP), were in decline. Even within this protected area, buffered from logging and pollution, some species had declined by as much as 40 percent, especially insect-eaters. Those results, published in 2020, led Jirinec and his colleagues to try to tease out what might be going on, and, in particular, to probe the role of climate change.

To do that, the researchers compiled the weights of 14,842 individual birds and the wing lengths of 11,582 birds recorded by BDFFP scientists between 1979 and 2019 and paired those data with the last 50 years of changes in temperature and precipitation in the region. 

In terms of climate change, the team found that compared to 1966 this region’s wet seasons have become 13 percent wetter and its dry seasons are now 15 percent drier. The average temperature for both seasons has also increased over that time span, with temperatures rising by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit in the wet season and 2.97 degrees in the dry season.

Among the birds, all 77 species in the study showed average decreases in body weight over the last four decades, with some species losing nearly 2 percent of their mass every decade, and 61 species showed increases in average wing-length. Statistical analysis linked those changes to climatic shifts.

The results fall short of demonstrating cause and effect, but show a strong association. “The relationship between body size and climate change is correlational, naturally,” writes Mario Cohn-Haft, an ornithologist with Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research who wasn’t involved in the paper, in an email. “But both several-decade long trends and year to year trends are demonstrated here with a monstrous amount of data to support them.”

The study found that birds tended to be lighter following hotter and drier conditions than usual, especially if those conditions fell during the dry season, which is the most stressful time of year for birds because food is harder to find.

 


2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Lion laughingThe Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have been unearthing hilarious and heartwarming photos of creatures basically being their best selves since 2015.

And this year is no exception. The recently announced winners and finalists of the 2021 competition include a visibly uncomfortable monkey, a trio of gossipy raccoons, a joyful bird reunion, gravity-defying fish and an all-powerful prairie dog.

A panel of judges sorts through thousands of submissions from expert and novice photographers alike, and determines one winner for each of the several categories — except for the peoples' choice award, which is left up to members of the public. The overall winner gets a handmade trophy from a workshop in Tanzania and a weeklong Kenyan safari.

Read the full article on NPR 


Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? New Study Offers Clues

The adorable behavior may be a sign of concentration and memory recall


New Zealand's Bird of the Year Is a Bat

The winged mammal is critically endangered and won the award to raise awareness about their existence and importance to the island ecosystem


Superstitions and Other Bird Thoughts

This is by far one of the most popular posts on our sister blog, Madam Lichtenstein's Cosmic World. I thought that I would share it here for all of our blog's bird lovers. What do you think?

Bird in window

 

 

 

 

 

Today a bird flew into our door window and I felt a shudder of superstitious fear. I recalled that when a bird flies into a house or hits the door or window that it could portend something terrible. In hoping that I was wrong, I began to search superstition sites and I found a great one that I would like to share. Haunted Hamilton is a great site that offers a list of different superstitions and even some background as to where they came from.

So as for the bird, which was black, brown and white and recuperated after its hit and flew away, the superstitions are --

  • A bird that flies into a house foretells an important message. However, if the bird dies, or is white, this foretells death.
  • Signs of Impending Doom - Birds flying into a house or banging against the window.

    Of course Snopes always likes to weigh in on this. And I did find an encouraging reading apropos of a bird flying into a window again on Keen:

Bird Flies at the Window, Death Knocks at the Door? Reposted by Request. I've heard this ominous saying for years, and it still sends chills over my body. My question, however, is what does it really mean when a bird flies at your window? Not just once, but again and again? My sister told me months ago about a little red bird that has been flying at her window every day, sometimes a dozen times. When he isn't hitting the window, he is perched on the arm of a patio chair, and it was at the point where she was really becoming concerned because she, too, had heard the ominous phrase.

I finally did a reading for her and was told that this bird was there to protect her, and he was also warning her of potential danger. Clearly, not a death, but just telling her to be aware of potential dangers around her. She took the warning to heart, took extra care to avoid accidents around the home, and she even went so far as to have a security system installed. Three days after having the system in place, she was awakened to the screeching sound of the security alarm, and found someone attempting to open her downstairs door. Fortunately the police were called out and the intruder was apprehended. Coincidence? I think not, and neither does she.

Her bird has since stopped flying into the window, but he still sits on the chair, her little guardian angel, watching over her. My point in all of this? Be aware that our Guardian Angels take many forms, and I believe that their attempts to get our attention will continue and become stronger until we get the message. So don't force the little bird to break your window. Be aware of the sights and sounds, the seen and the unseen around us, because the protection and the message is always there.

If you want to check out more bird superstitions, check out Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition


Sea Turtle Surgery

Sea turtle
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Honest Paws Reports that 66% of Dog Owners Would Consider Quitting If ...

Axios reports: Two in three dog owners would consider leaving their jobs if their companies no longer offered remote work, according to a survey of 400 dog owners by the pet care company Honest Paws.

A whopping one-third of the dog owners surveyed by Honest Paws got their pets during the pandemic. That means many of these puppies (including mine!) have gotten used to a certain kind of lifestyle and won't be too happy about a full return to work.

https://www.honestpaws.com/blog/work-from-home/