Friday, October 13, 2017

Seaside birds

Gull shaking a paper bag

Until it acquired its prey... a scone!
Extractive foraging is the process of extricating food from a container, e.g. nuts from their shells. It is seen in primates, corvids, and octopi, and is a hallmark of intelligence. Gulls are fairly good at it too, and evidently regard food packaging as just another type of "shell."

Egret with a big Sculpin

"Hey, can I have some of that?"

A chase, which I didn't see how it resolved, over the tidal rocks

Grebes afloat like fuzzy boats

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Campus birds

Recently, many ravens have been circling over the building where I attend most of my classes, and calling from high perches.

Last spring, some ravens were hanging out near the dining halls and would often share students' food, though I haven't encountered them since.

Just like grad students, birds never pass up free food.

Even if it's currently on someone else's plate. The owner of this meal had to keep shooing the cowbirds away:

Cowbirds are brood parasites, and hence they have come up in several lectures and discussions I've attended about issues of language innateness and "nature vs. nurture." (The academics who mentioned these birds weren't aware, I found, that real live ones could be seen right on campus.) The term "parasite," incidentally, comes from a Greek word meaning "one who eats at another's table" or "one who plays the flatterer and buffoon, with a view to getting invited to dinner.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Octopus fight!

A small California Two-Spot Octopus oozing its way around a tide pool:

Then a rival appeared from under a rock:

Tentacle tug-a-war

Finally, one octopus turned a paler color, ejected ink, and shot off under another rock:
"I'm keeping an eye on you, land apes."

Monday, October 2, 2017

Floundering gull

A western gull flew in with some sort of flounder or flatfish, which I suspect it stole from a diving bird. Then it had some difficulty actually consuming its prey:

Darn,  dropped it...

How do I eat this thing?


Note the featureless pale "underside" of the body

And the two eyes on the "top side"



Not quite...


This isn't even the most awkward prey gulls eat.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Bronze Mannikin

Another of the introduced finches now populating California. I am not sure whether these have a breeding population, but according to Wikipedia they are "incessant nest builders" and very prolific. If they do establish themselves, they will probably be used as brood-hosts by the whydah, like their cousins the munias