Archive for the 'entertainment' Category

May
30th 2008
Salmon Festival in Oakland this weekend

Posted under entertainment & local wildlife

I’d never before heard of “The Oakbook”, an online newspaper, but I think I’ll check it out regularly now that I’ve discovered it.  Today they have an article about salmon in the Bay Area, including a plug for this weekend’s salmon festival at Jack London Square (starts at noon both days).  Their article includes this dismal paragraph. 

As recently as the mid-1990’s, 4,000 salmon trawlers from Bay Area ports would slip under the Golden Gate to chase Chinook or King Salmon. Now only 400 boats claim to be viable commercial fishing boats — and this season, none of them will be able to earn money from salmon. On May 1, the Pacific Fishery Management Councilclosed the West Coast salmon fishing season because the fishery is near collapse. Ninety percent of the salmon that are found off the coast of California and Oregon came from the Sacramento River system.  The river, which used to support a run of nearly a million fish, only supported 68,000 fish this year. 

Turn out, listen to the music, have some food, and show that you care about salmon.  It does matter: one of the huge problems is water diversions for both agriculture and personal use, and much of that water is wasted because EBMUD and others won’t take even small steps to conserve or to make people conserve — they think their customers won’t support it.  If they see that we want conservation measures, they’ll be more willing to implement them. 

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April
24th 2008
Go see the weaver-birds

Posted under entertainment


Katrina Zerilli passes along the following: “For my BFA Exhibition I am focusing on six birds that have inspired me growing up. I have painted them in watercolor and then adapted their colors to large striped tapestry weavings. I have been fascinated by birds my whole life but am only now finding the birder inside of me. I do not know if you are interested in local art exhibits about birds, but if so I would be delighted to have birders see my show!”

birdlines
The BFA Exhibition of Katrina Zerilli
April 29 - May 3, 2008

Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 30, 5:30 - 7:30pm

North Gallery, California College of the Arts, 5241 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618

Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 6pm

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April
3rd 2008
Flying penguins!

Posted under entertainment & humor

Somehow I missed seeing this incredible documentary footage when it was released two days ago. 

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February
13th 2008
Crow adopts cat

Posted under bird behavior & entertainment

Here’s a video people have been sending around (thanks to my wife for passing it along to me!)  Cross-species adoption isn’t unknown — in fact, female lions have been known to adopt impala, though this always ends badly when another lion comes around for a visit — but a bird adopting a cat is a new one on me!

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January
24th 2008
The Music of Wild Birds

Posted under bird behavior & entertainment

Someone just told me about this: National Public Radio has an interesting story from 2004 about a book called “The Music of Wild Birds” by Judy Pelikan (nice name!). Pelikan’s book is a “re-illustrated and reissued” version of a 1904 book by F. Schuyler Mathews that, among other things, transcribes birdsong into standard music notation.  The NPR story (which you can listen to on that link) includes some examples, including the song of a robin, and then the same song played on a flute. 

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January
23rd 2008
Birds like music. Kinda.

Posted under bird behavior & entertainment & science

A letter to the editor in the Science Magazine issue of September, 2007 (sorry, I’m a little behind) says that birds like music.  The letter is by Austen Gess, and cites the work of J. McDermott, M.D. Hauser, S. Watanabe, K. Sato, and M. Nemoto.  It says these researchers have shown that Java sparrows can discriminate between Bach and Schoenberg (OK, but how hard is that?), and between other classical and modern composers too.  Given the option of three perches — silent, or one or the other of the musicians — “the sparrows preferred Bach to Schoenberg and Vivaldi to Carter.”  They also preferred Bach to silence, which is perhaps more remarkable.  No word on whether they prefer listening to Bach or to other birds.    

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January
15th 2008
Bird Brains

Posted under entertainment & science

Birds can do some pretty amazing mental feats, especially considering how small their brains are.  A test that is used on some (human) IQ tests is to show a sketch of an object like a set of cubes joined together into an L or something, and then four other sketches, only one of which represents the same object rotated to a different angle.  The goal is to identify which object is a rotated version of the original object.  Fine.  OK, here’s the fun bit:  pigeons can be trained to do this about as accurately as college students…but the pigeons are faster. This is one of a surprisingly large set of mental feats at which some animals can outperform humans.  I think it would be fun to have a TV game show — maybe it would have to be a one-time special — in which a team of humans competes against a team of animals.  You’d have a pigeon versus a college student at the object-rotation task, and a 1-year-old human baby versus a 1-year-old chimp at some “Concentration”-like symbol-matching task, and so on.

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