Category Archives: Nature Journal

PelicanSmall

PeliCANs

PeliCANs CAN Do A Lot Of Amazing Things

That’s why they’re called pelicans, not pelican’ts. They are just the coolest! Here’s why:

Peli-CAN Hunt

  • They are super amazing hunters! When they spy their potential prey from the sky they catch it by folding in their wings and diving toward it with impressive accuracy.
  • When hunting they can swallow up to 3 gallons of water and their prey, all in their elastic-throat-pouches. But before swallowing lunch, they push out the excess water and move the food around until the prey faces downward. Then they swallow it whole. Yum! They eat about 4 pounds of catch per day.
  • They love hunting fish, turtles, crustaceans, tadpoles, and babies! (just kidding about the babies part)
  • When they are really, really hungry pelicans will even attack, drown and eat seagulls. *Sometimes, I think the seagulls deserve it.
  • They have a wingspan of 10 feet! That’s huge! They can also weigh over 30 pounds. That’s a big bird. Luckily they have air sacs under their skin and in their bones keeping all 30 pounds of them pretty buoyant in the water. Their air sacs also cushion the impact of their body crashing into the water surface when diving to catch fish.
  • They can fly to the height of 10,000 feet using warm wind currents, but they are never found more than 20 miles offshore. They like to stay close. So if you see a pelican while lost at sea, you know land is not terribly far away!
  • Sometimes they hunt cooperatively in groups by splashing the surface of the water with their wings, scaring fish toward shallower water, where they scoop them up easily with their bills. Pretty clever.

Peli-CAN Get It On

  • During mating season male pelicans develop lots of colorful feathers, which they then flaunt around knowing they look good. Some even have the ability to change the color of their pouch, neck, and bill. It’s all for the ladies.
  • When two pelicans make it official, they actually remain monogamous! But they only share that bond when they’re around the nesting area; they are otherwise completely independent. And that commitment only lasts for a single season. After their chicks have left the nest for good the romance is over. But at least they keep it sweet for a little while for the chicks’ sake! Sounds like some couples I know.
  • Males and females build their nests together and take turns incubating their 1-3 eggs for 30 days in March or April.
  • Both parents care for and feed their chicks by regurgitating lots of fish and other lovely seafood for a full 10-12 weeks until they fledge. That’s a lot of fish vomit.
  • Out of the three eggs, usually only one makes it to fledgling stage since the sibling competition among pelicans is super fierce. The biggest lil’ pelican will push the smaller ones out of the nest to keep all the parents attention and fish-vomit-lunches to itself. It seems cruel, but that’s the working reproductive model that 30 million years of evolution designed. I’m glad the sibling rivalry in my house wasn’t that extreme.
  • The winning survivor pelican baby will reach sexual maturity in  2-5 years, when it will also find a temporary love match, build a nest, and vomit fish for its competitive babies. Nature is sweet.

Peli-CAN Live and Thrive

  • Like I mentioned above, they’ve been around for 30 million years. That’s 26 million years before even our earliest ancestors started walking the earth! Over that time pelicans have evolved into 8 distinct species.
  • They can happily live in the wild for 10-30 years.
  • They are found on every continent except for Antarctica.  They have so far said nope to that frigid piece of earth.
  • Their throat pouches double as as a cooling device when they swing it back and forth. It makes for living in the tropics not a bad option when you come equipped with a natural air conditioner.

And Just So You Know

  • Pelicans are associated with death and the afterlife in Ancient Egypt.
  • And they are non-kosher, un-clean animals, forbidden to be eaten under Jewish Dietary Law. Just in case you were wondering!

PelicanPoem

NinjaHawk

Hawks Are Flight Ninjas

Hawks are flight ninjas. They’re stealthy and agile and equipped with sharp weapons. They can see eight times better than we can, and in color, too.  Their eyes are on the sides of their heads, allowing them to see 280 degrees around them. And they can locate their prey from a distance of 100 feet and can even dive 150 miles per hour to catch their lunch, both in the air or on the ground.

Birds, frogs, snakes and rodents beware…hawks may be watching. And they can fly through impressively small spaces to get you.

They also hunt and nest in the same territory every year and most mate for life.  And like all birds, they make great parents.  I guess ninjas can be sweet, nurturing parents too, raising their little badass feathered ninja babies. Unlike the popular pun, they are not ‘hawkward’ at all, they’re awesome!

References:

http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/facts-about-hawk-8570.html

http://www.frontiernet.net/~friendswithfeathers/ourhawks.html

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Explore The Natural World From Your Couch!

Explore.org!!!!!!

I’m completely obsessed with this website.  I’ll bet you’ll be too! As I’m typing this in the corner of my laptop I have a live camera feed of a peaceful sound off the coast of British Columbia. And I’m watching a pod of humpback whales leisurely swim by!

For a long time now, the top of my bucket list  has been whale watching in an area like this, and now I can do that anytime from the comfort of my couch! It may not be quite the same as actually being there, but it’s great until I do one day!

Explore.org has over 100 live camera feeds from all over the world. I’ve seen a grizzly bear momma catch a fish and feed it to her cub in Alaska and puffins chillin’ on rocks off the coast of Maine.  There are webcams filming the daily activities of osprey nests, sharks and a huge variety of fish underwater in various locations as well as live feeds from zoos of pandas and jellyfish.  Even live puppy and kitty feeds! And many more!

Explore.org is constantly adding new multimedia material like films, photos and interviews with experts as well as new webcams.  I’m new to this site but as a learn more I’ll share! Hope you enjoy this site as much as I do!

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Blackberry Flower

Blackberry Flowers

First comes flowers, then comes berries. And they sure are tasty! Until the Devil gets to them…

Blackberrys are yummy.  And their flowers are pretty! But here’s a fun fact I just learned about our well-loved, juicy little fruit treats. Folklore from the United Kingdom warns that blackberries should never be picked after Old Michaelmas Day (October 11th) because that’s the day the Devil decides each year to ruin them for us.  How? By stepping, spitting and throwing poo on them. Or pretty much ruining them for human consumption by any means possible.  What a jerk!

Apparently there may be some value behind that legend as the colder and wetter October weather can make any remaining berries left moldy and sometimes toxic.

Yum.  So, thanks Devil man for saving us from icky toxic and moldy berries? Something like that.  Anyway, the flowers are still pretty.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackberry

 

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Hairy Bitter Cress

It’s like mustard, but different

At least from what I’ve read, Hairy Bitter Cress is somehow related to the mustard family.  I guess that means you could potentially grind up the edible leaves, seed pods and flowers into a lovely bitter paste for your hotdog, along side your ketchup and onions and stuff. Don’t you just ‘relish’ that idea?

Anyway, it gets its Hairy name because the plant is hairy.

Makes babies like nobody’s business

This hairy, almost-mustard like weed can complete its entire lifecycle in only three to four weeks! Each plant can disperse thousands of seeds, all of which can germinate to release their own set of thousands of seeds in three to four weeks. Holy crap.

References:

http://www.naturessecretlarder.co.uk/wild-food-useful-plants/hairy-bittercress-cardamine-hirsute.htm

http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/problems/weeds/hairy-bitter-cress/471.html

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Death by Flower

Mountain Laurel is beautiful. It’s the state flower for both Connecticut and Pennsylvania and is recognized and well loved up and down the east coast! But don’t let its good looks fool you, because this is one daaaaaangerous shrub. Apparently the alluring flowers, the seemingly innocent leaves and pretty much every other part of this charming flowering bush are alarmingly poisonous. Even Chuck Noris isn’t exempt from this surprise killer fauna and its killer leaves, shoots and stems.  And if you’re sick all ready? It might even be responsible for your ultimate and untimely death. Death by flower. What a ridiculous and unexpected way to meet your maker.

Nectar from Hell

These flowers often form a large, delicious drop of aromatic, sweet and lovely nectar which can be very enticing to lick for goats, sheep, horses, cows birds, children and maybe even your cousin while on acid.  Yes. Lick the Mountain Laurel.  Lick it.  It’s just. so. beautiful. 

If you do lick it, get ready for some vomiting, staggering, difficulty breathing, drooling, stomach pains and a runny nose. And while you’re puking your guts out and drooling, the toxin gets busy messing with your blood circulation, lowering your blood pressure and making you very drowsy. And once your drowsy? The toxin starts building and concentrating until it suddenly attacks your central nervous system, forcing you into horrifying convulsions which can often be quite severe. And then starts the paralysis.  A slow, creeping kind of paralysis, leaving you unable to move, muscle by muscle.  That’s when you might die. And you lay there and wonder, why? Why did I have to lick that bush?

Devil’s Honey

Sometimes bees collect  the pollen and nectar from these fatal attraction flowers, and they unknowingly make big batches of poisonous honey! If you ever feel like total crap after opening a new jar of honey, that could be the reason. Please stop eating the honey.

Wash Your Hands Yo

Just touching the leaves or flowers of this sinister shrub can give you mild doses of the above ill effects too. Even the dead leaves.  Don’t touch the dead leaves. Don’t touch any of the leaves! And wash your hands if you do! And for God sake’s, don’t lick it.

Reference: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/poisonous-plants-the-dangers-of-mountain-laurel-flowers#b

Baby Spider

Baby Spiders

Baby spiders are almost cute

They’re my favorite spiders to catch on film. It’s pretty cool witnessing newly hatched babies gracefully floating in the wind at the mercy of their hand spun web parachutes, hoping to land somewhere suitable for a home. Hopefully not in a bird’s mouth. Or in a fire. Or in a cow’s water bucket.

Don’t land in my hair

One little dude somehow landed on my drawing table one night. He looked so very tiny against my art supplies. They are almost cute when they’re that tiny! As long as they don’t land in my hair. My table is ok. Anywhere on me is not. Not Ok. No sir. I don’t like it.

Fly

Flies

Flies are gross

They have been gross for about 65 million years. There are over 300,000 species identified and many of those are now known to carry nasty-ass bacteria that can cause diseases like Gangrene, tuberculosis, dysentery, anthrax, plague and all kinds of other fun poisoning.

They poop out eggs everywhere

Another thing that makes flies gross, is the fact that they like to lay eggs on their food, which is sometimes your food. Oh, and they can lay up to 3,000 eggs in their lifetime, which is usually about 30 days. So, that’s like, 100 eggs a day, per fly? Ew.

They vomit and poop on your lunch

Like spiders, flies don’t have teeth and therefor can’t chew their food. They exist solely by consuming liquids. So what’s a fly to do without the help of venom and webs to turn their lunch into a tasty milkshake? Their answer is to just barf on it. Their vomit apparently does a great job liquifying their menu until they can just slurp it up. They also tend to poo every 4-5 minutes, on whatever they might be standing on for the moment. So, if a fly gets some alone time with your sandwich, it most likely has left liquifying fly puke and poop poop all over it. Another fun fact is that with the help of some glue like stuff on their feet they can stick to just about any surface, even upside down. So I bet there might even be some fly foot gunk on your lunch as well.

Instructions on fly squishing:

Flies have over 4,000 lenses per eye which is pretty cool! But apparently even with all those lenses they still can’t see worth a damn. But like the T-rex in Jurassic Park, they are pretty good at detecting movement. So keep that in mind when you are trying to swat one, move very, very, very slowly. They’re likely to ignore you and not even notice your slow death moves. Not that I’m condoning smacking the crap out of these fine creatures of evolution.

References: http://www.bugfacts.net/house-fly.php#.U8_Kg4BdVWI
http://voices.yahoo.com/interesting-fun-facts-flies-519505.html
http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/house_fly_facts/552/

Ladybug

Ladybugs

They bleed rank yellow crap from their knees

Ladybugs are probably some of the most recognizable and well-loved beetles in the history of the world ever. Besides Paul and Ringo. But they’ve got some crazy stuff going on behind their cute, white dotted, red shell exteriors. I just learned that they bleed toxic yellow crap from their knees when scared, they can smell with their feet and when in their larvae stage, they look more like tiny weird alligators then anything resembling a beetle.

So the whole bleeding knees thing? That’s a defense mechanism when ladybugs are feeling threatened. The gross yellow stuff that oozes out of these guys is toxic to some animals, pretty rank and it stains whatever it lands on yellow, including your fingers. It’s an effective but gross deterrent. It’s exceptionally special when it’s cold out and they decide to hibernate in your house, sometimes leaving yellow stains on your walls. I guess scaring the yellow pus out of them with a broom or vacuum is a great way to finally get that lovely faint yellow finish you’ve been longing for in that room.

They are not lady-like eaters

Stinky yellow goo aside, ladybugs are often welcomed by gardeners. They have insane appetites, sometimes consuming up to 50 crop-destroying aphids a day. Daaaaaaaang that’s a lot for one little ladybug. I’m not sure how they even got their name, because they don’t seem very lady like to me.

They eat each other

Our sweet little ladybugs are also sometimes cannibals. In lean times, they will lay both fertile and infertile eggs, so that when the fertilized larvae do hatch they can eat their unfertilized, food-source siblings. Giving them a better shot at life after a first big meal of undeveloped brothers and sisters. Adult ladybugs also get in on that action, eating any and all eggs, pupae and newly emerged adults that are still soft enough to chew with no consideration or hesitation. Awwwww, isn’t that cute?

Actually, I do still think they’re really cute.

References: http://insects.about.com/od/beetles/a/10-facts-ladybugs.htm
http://www.ladybuglady.com/

Cranefly

Crane Flies

Crane flies are not mosquitos

In case you thought they were. If you were one of the many people out there that get their panties all in a wad every time one of these huge-ass, scary motherfin flying insects enter your house with it’s creepy erratic flying patterns and long scary mouths that just seem like their lusting for your blood, you can now take a deep breath and fix your panties. Crane flies don’t bite. They can’t even eat.

They’re just looking for love

When these guys hatch out of their eggs, they have only 1 month to live as happy little plump larvas, living underground gorging themselves on roots and other organic matter. But once they morph into flies their relaxed days of feasting are no more. They have only one mission in the few days they live as flies, and that is to make whoopee, lay eggs and then eventually keel over from exhaustion.

72 hours later, the eggs that were just laid by the now deceased crane fly lovers mentioned above, hatch and the entire life cycle starts all over again. Eat, shag, die. What a short but well lived life!

So next time you spot one of these large, long legged flies dancing awkwardly around your light bulb, don’t hate, just remember that what your seeing is just a love thirsty little crane fly Romeo looking for his Juliet so they can do it and then die tragically young.

References: http://www.bugfacts.net/crane-fly.php#.U8_KoIBdVWI
http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/crane_fly.htm