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May 17, 2012

Ghost?

420 .JPG Hi,

So, before I begin my 'encounter', I'll just ask you if you believe in ghosts... "Well, do you?" Now, here's my story complete with a possible explanation...

A few weeks ago I was working on this computer (in the living room) when I heard a distinct 'flop' sound come from the computer room. (We have computers scattered all over the house, but the computer room is down the end of the main hallway.) At first I thought that perhaps the cat had knocked over one of the piles of books that I keep on the floor in that room, but upon investigation I found the stack or papers (right and below denoted by the standing white and red ruler) smack on Terra Firma. Keep in mind that that bundle is apx. 3/4" and bound with a stout rubber band. Normally, it's stored about four and a half feet off the floor on a very stable platform, yet there it was plunk on the floorboards. Here are a few things I know didn't put it there...

  • The cat didn't knock it off its platform -- Toby is horrified of heights...
  • All windows were closed, and even if they were open, it would have taken a hurricane to budge that pile...
  • We certainly didn't have any seismic activity or massive settling of the house...
  • There is no way that I had precipitously balanced the papers and they just fell off their perch -- Not a chance by the river Styx...
  • I was alone...
  • I don't do drugs, and I can't drink in excess because it bothers my gut...

420 closeup_.JPG

And yet, there that bundle sat trying to get splinters... So what did happen? I can only come up with a couple of explanations... Either I dozed off while working on the computer and dreamt the whole thing, or I wasn't quite alone as I thought I was. The former is entirely within the realm of the possible, and the latter is by my way of thinking extraordinarily unlikely -- I don't buy into the supernatural stuff. (Read my skeptical critique of my own UFO experience...)

But issues like this are quite important... If ghosts do exist, then at the very least, we are made up of more than the stuff of flesh and blood. And much more compelling would be a very robust argument for the existence of the soul and by extension, God Himself... Hmmm...

By the feeders with Casper...

CapeCodAlan


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February 19, 2011

Weird Bird News

Well, we haven't had this subject in a while...

Believe it or not, the photo below is of a rare Cassowary, an emu-like 140 pound beast native to Australia with 4"+ talons and a bad attitude.

Photobucket

Photo credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

The Telegraph (UK) is reporting that Australians should be cautions around these huge birds:

"Residents of communities around Mission Beach, on the north Queensland coast, which was almost flattened by the category five cyclone earlier this month, have been advised to beware of the 6ft tall birds, which are known to attack if they feel threatened.

"Famed for their long talons - their dagger-like middle claws measure 12cm long - and powerful legs, the birds, which are unique to the rainforests of northern Australia, are said to be able to disembowel humans, dogs and horses with just one kick."

In other words, Aussies should be wary of the Cassowary!

A little too exotic for you? How about a plain old story about an unwanted library patron?

A happy ending for all involved!

Then there's a neat photo series on purple martins and their homes... (O.K... So it's not so weird, but cool nonetheless...)

And don't forget the famous Cornell Backyard Bird Count!

See you by those strange feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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January 6, 2011

Follow Up on "Dead Red-Wings", Hutch Mishaps

Hi,

Last time I noted that birds (and fish and crabs) are dropping dead at alarming rates... Here's a likely explanation from National Geographic:

But the in-air bird deaths aren't due to some apocalyptic plague or insidious experiment--they happen all the time, scientists say. The recent buzz, it seems, was mainly hatched by media hype.

At any given time there are "at least ten billion birds in North America ... and there could be as much as 20 billion--and almost half die each year due to natural causes," said ornithologist Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society in Washington, D.C.

Not exactly the stuff of "The X Files", but still disturbing. You know, a part of me wonders if wildlife was like this before humans were around. Yeah, I know something like 99% of all species that ever existed on this planet are gone (Mr. Life, meet Mr. Darwin, existentialist), but it truly bugs me to see needless suffering and death... If it does turn out that something like fireworks did start the Arkansas panic, that would really be a shame... (On the other hand, I wonder if a shifting magnetic north pole had anything to do with this???)

Other stuff... We've finally got the hutch upstairs...

resized_IMG_1691.JPG

But the project didn't come without its more-than-fair-share of "ouchies". Each of the four major components (bottom and top carcases, drawers, and back) bear my initials in blood...

blood initials resized_IMG_1577.JPG

That really isn't so bad in that this was a large endeavor using a very hard wood (cherry) and lots of sharp tools. But the beast did have one last tantrum left in her. We were placing the 50 pound top when it noted my lack of leverage and felt the insidious urge of gravity... It dropped 40" (without the doors thankfully) taking out the bookshelf, phone, birdhouse, and yours truly. The noise was something spectacular really - sort of a sickening, chain-reaction roar. Here's my damage...

bruise resized_IMG_1778.JPG

The immediate aftermath found me et al scattered helter skelter. Mrs. CCA kept yelling, "Are you alright?!? Are you alright?!?", to which I kept saying, "'Bleep' me, how's the hutch?!?", "'Bleep' me, how's the hutch?!?". Thankfully, I tend to overbuild things (in the extreme), and the monolith is now fine, all secure, and ready for the finish team. (Read that, "The wife and my old cabinetmaker boss, Rick...") Another day in Paradise... All told, it was a great undertaking - I learned so much.

And what's next? Well, the next adventure will probably be this work skiff - a cakewalk compared to the brute above... Time will tell...

See you by those never-boring feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 4, 2011

Dead Red-Wings

Hi,

Well, this is what a red-wing looks like when it's alive...

400_ 08-11-07 red wing.JPG

As you're reading this, odds are that you already know of the significant "die off" of blackbirds in Arkansas... But that's not the entire story... Check out the following from AFP:

The second unexplained mass bird death within a week has been discovered in the southern United States, this time in the state of Louisiana, officials said Tuesday.

The latest incident affected some 500 birds which were discovered dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, said Olivia Watkins of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Watkins said an investigation was underway into the cause of the deaths, which occurred just a few days after thousands of birds were discovered dead in neighboring Arkansas.

"We sent samples to a lab in Missouri and are waiting to get some results," she said.

Nancy Ledbetter at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission said officials in that state were awaiting test results to find the cause of death of as many as 5,000 blackbirds in the small town of Beebe as well as deaths of 80,000 to 100,000 fish found floating in the Arkansas River about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.

That's not good. Regardless of whether each case is related to the others or not, that's still not good. While I don't believe in UFOs or other foolishness, I do believe in "nature talking"... I say that we keep a close eye on this one...

Antsy by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 19, 2010

Another Cam Bids Adieu, Night Creatures, UFO, and Hutch

Hi all,

We've got a lot to cover, so let's get started...

First off, yet another camera has decided to stop playing nice with us. This time it's the Cobra video camera that exited stage left. Oh goody. It's not that the cam was pivotal, but it was a fun test bed.

Onward...

We've had a pretty good stint of backyard night fishing (BNF). (And you thought that only birds use those feeders and seed.) The first photograph is that of a possum...

BNF possum_resized_with circle.JPG

Yeah, I know... The image isn't the greatest. But that's OK. I still bagged my possum. (I like to think of it as a "Catch a Snapshot and Release" program.) The pic below is much worse, but it is indeed that of a coyote. I watched for some time as the animal moved back and forth before hitting the "Print Screen" button.

coyote_400_2010-01-19_004959_circled.JPG

Now about that UFO I saw way back when... This is what it looked like... Take away the trees, raise the light to about 30', and you've got it.

strange light_2010-01-19_010326_resized.jpg

Obviously, this light was a spot from a neighbor's house, but the actual UFO I saw was at least three quarters of a mile away from the nearest facing building, moved rapidly, and then shot off... I still say swamp gas or, "I dunno."

And finally, there is the great hutch project...

full hutch_400_IMG00022.jpg

and...

hutch door_mortise_400_2010-01-19_214637.jpg

A long time ago, I used to be a cabinetmaker, and every so often I like to dabble in the pastime. This hutch has been years in the making, and is all cherry. (Note to self - never work in cherry again. It's so hard it eats tools.) But why cherry and why such solid construction? Because I'm not just building for the wife and I... I'm building for generations unborn and complete strangers. It's a weird feeling really...

I'm just going to be over here by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 6, 2008

Things that go Bump in the Night (or Day)

turkeys on neighbors' chimney_PICT1207_resized.JPG Yup... Long ago when we were little kids, we heard them... Boogeymen, chupacabras, hobgoblins... We all heard them up there and our parents just told us that it was our imaginations and to go back to sleep. We could hear them up on the roof, or worse yet in the attic trying to get in, but the adults dismissed the sounds as "the house settling" or "that old furnace". Decades later, the truth can be told... There were things up there - it's just that the old geezers didn't have the open mindedness and youthful hearing we had.

No, seriously, take a look at the picture above and imagine some poor 5-year-old kid trying to take a daytime nap and watching a couple of those big guys flash by his bedroom window and "thunk" up on the roof. Would his parents believe his screams and warnings that there were beasts out there trying to get in? Of course not, they would have been too busy eating pie and watching "Green Acres". Besides, they had hair in their ears, so what did they know? What adult would believe that huge birds even existed on Cape Cod, let alone were stomping on the roof? And those were just the daytime beasts.

Do you remember the ancient "Twilight Zone" episode starring a very-young William Shatner as the airline passenger who looks out his window on a dark and stormy flight and comes face to face with a hideous creature bent on tearing the plane apart?

Now we're dialed in... Oh, we heard 'em alright... We heard something. And even if it was only turkeys, that's more than enough for me.

See you by those spooky feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Don't forget our September '08 Bird Photography Contest!


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July 17, 2007

Weird Bird News, July 16th, 2007

weird logo_300A.jpg

July 16th, 2007

Hi gang,

Time for yet another "Weird Birds News, etc." post.

The first bit of weirdness comes from of all places the Middle East. (Barn Owls Unite Israelis, Jordanians) As the title suggests, at long last the Israelis and the Arabs might have something that they can agree upon - an owl. Only on planet earth.

Next is the story of "Stumpy", the once four-legged duck (who's now a three-legged duck), and has a girlfriend. Anyone care to guess how many legs the ducklings will have? Weird Daddy-O, just weird.

And finally comes the story from Chad, a friend who reads this blog... Seems that for a couple of weeks, there were times when Chad was outside, his phone would mysteriously ring and then go silent. Hey, it happens to everyone... Darned telemarketers! Still, it was kind of strange that the problem only happened when he was outside.

But just a few days ago, Chad was on his porch quietly listening to the songs of a mockingbird. And then suddenly it hit him... One of the "songs" was that of his phone's ring tone... At one point or another, the bird had listened to the ring and learned to mimic it. In retrospect, it all makes sense and is funny. But at the time it had to be maddening for Chad to keep running into the house only to discover that the phone had stopped "ringing". (I vote for funny!) Anyway, here's a shot of the typical culprit below...

Mockingbird_final.jpg


See you by those aggravating feeders,

CapeCodAlan
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April 23, 2007

Chukar in New Jersey (AND Update with Photo!)

Hi all,

Wow! Reader Brenda in N.J. just blew us out of the water with her recent sighting of a chukar...


Alectoris_chukar_hm_300_enh.jpg

Forgive the "slightly-less-than-perfect" picture above, but the public-domain drawing by Mr. Wilson speaks volumes... Is that wild or what? (With a little luck, Brenda or others can take pictures and attach them to emails directed to: capecodalan@ebirdseed.com. We want to see these rascals and others!!!)

A chukar in N.J.? Cool...

Alectoris chukar is a type of pheasant that normally inhabits Europe and Asia. It was brought to America as a game bird, and has taken hold in California, Nevada, Utah, and as far north as Washington state. Because it is a prized (and hardy) game and table bird, hunters frequently trap and move the "quarry"... Its appearance in New Jersey shouldn't be all that impossible. Its a rough world for birds.

For more information about this bird, (easily confused with the Red-legged Partridge by the way...) check the sites below as well as Chukar site in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Thanks to Brenda!!!

(Who knows what we'll see by the feeders next!)

CapeCodAlan

Keep those comments coming!

UPDATE! Brenda sent us the following photo she snapped... Amazing, and thanks again!
nj_mystery_bird_400_enh.jpg
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March 14, 2007

Weird Bird News, etc.

weird logo_300A.jpg

March 14th, 2007

Hi troops,

Time for another "Weird Birds News, etc." post.

Ok, the first bits of weirdness come from Gerry Ashley in Florida. (Gerry won the “Give the Latin Name to That Bird!” contest) and he has given me permission to use some of his pictures, and poke fun at him at the same time. (If you'd like to use Gerry's pictures, contact capecodalan@ebirdseed.com, and I'll pass the request along to Gerry.) Here goes!

The first shot is that of a Grey Heron, (Ardea cinerea). The edited version of Mr. Ashley's account follows...

Grey Heron_300.jpg

"Don't let that tall swamp grass throw you... [T]o give you some idea, this bird comes up almost to my chin. Although they are not known to attack humans or animals, they WILL defend themselves if they feel threatened. And the sound they make when trying to scare off predators... Well let's just say it's like something out of a Wes Craven movie."

Say no more!

Next up is a picture taken by Gerry of a baby alligator.

baby_gator_400.jpg

And invariably, where there are baby 'gators, there are larger 'gators.

Alligator_400.jpg

Gerry does note that even though he was using a zoom lens for the shot above, his dog Copper thought it was best to move on - at least Gerry's dog ain't weird! ;)

What else? Spring is almost here, and there's a lot of work to do. Projects include:
  • Construction and placement of that new bluebird house.
  • Finding a decent bird cam. (We're looking at several types, though I'm still trying to find a way to set up a live bird "web cam"... We'll get there.)
  • Purchasing a killer digital SLR camera... (Right now we're leaning heavily towards the Canon Rebel XTi 10 MP brute. All recommendations (via the comments button below or email) are much more than welcome!)
Ok, it's late...

See you by the feeders,

Capecodalan
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February 20, 2007

weird logo_300A.jpg

February 20, 2007

As the mission statement of this blog notes, these posts are here to help you ”Learn about birdseeds, suets, feeders and techniques for attracting a variety of wild birds to your backyard.” Obviously, our objective hasn’t changed, and you can always ask any sort of related question via the “Comments” link below. But sometimes (when other issues aren’t so pressing), we like to have a little fun…

So we’re introducing an occasional “Weird Bird News, etc.” post. (You folks seemed to have had a lot of fun with the “Give the Latin Name to That Bird!” contest, as well as the tales of Toby and Otis, so from now on, any time a sufficient amount of weird bird news creeps up, we’ll make another installment.)

Let's start today's issue with a previous comment by Gerry about large birds. Reports of large birds are nothing new... Consider the following:
  • Google on "large bird" and see what you get. It makes for very interesting reading and viewing. (But beware that there are at least two videos of eagles hunting large game that aren't for the faint of heart.)
  • Consider this wild CNN story.
  • The Snopes.com Web site has a fantastic photo of an eagle in action. Does the animal have a ten foot wingspan? I doubt it. Does that matter concerning Gerry's story? Not to me - the animal still looks plenty big.
Next on the menu is the story of Stumpy the duck. Pieces like this always give me the willies. We know for a fact that chemicals and radiation can cause strange mutations and disease. (Think of what DDT did to eagles' eggs, thalidomide did to human babies, and what Chernobyl did to the thyroid-cancer rate in the Ukraine.) And the examples just go on and on. We need to keep an eye on this.

And finally from the "Weird Newsroom", the "injured/wounded" fox is back.
Injured Fox_Feb_07_5_300.jpg

This may be the same animal that we first saw back in the "Mysteries of Cape Cod"

I say "may" be the same creature because close ups of the above picture show some scarring on the front legs. On the other hand, the fur color is different. If it is indeed the same fellow, it's getting better. But if it's a different fox with the same condition, we've got a real problem out there. Any input on this issue would be more than welcome.

See you by the feeders,

"Not quite wired right" CapeCodAlan
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January 31, 2007

Weird Bird News

Have you heard the story about “Perky,” the duck that just wouldn't die? Seems that Perky almost fell victim to a hunter’s shotgun. The hunter picked up the seemingly-dead Canadian ring-neck, took it home, and stuck it in the fridge. Two days later the hunter’s wife opened the refrigerator door and the duck raised its head. Fast forward the story to the veterinarian’s office where they were trying to repair Perky. It appeared to die on the operating table, but was revived by CPR. Whoever ends up with that creature had better be careful… It sounds like it flew in from the Twilight Zone.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/01/28/tough.duck.ap/index.html

And on a much less happy note (but weird nonetheless), an eagle met its fate after apparently hitting a power line in Juneau, Alaska. As far as the experts can tell, the creature was too heavily laden because it was trying to fly off with the head of a deer. (I’m not making this stuff up.) The accident knocked out power to 10,000 locals for roughly 45 minutes. http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2007-01-29-eagle-outage_x.htm?csp=34

According to Snopes.com, the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles CA is home to a brood of chickens. It looks like there’s still some confusion as to how the birds got there. (I’ve driven that highway… I don’t think the appropriate question is, “How did they get there?” But rather, “How do they stay alive?”)

Anyway, the expression on the face below speaks volumes for Weird Bird News


Ostrich.jpg

If you have any weird bird stories (or just general thoughts) pass them along using the “Comment” button below.

See you by the feeder,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Keep an eye out for the winner of the “Give the Latin Name to That Bird!” contest.

P.P.S. Also watch for the next installment of the “Let’s Build a Birdhouse!” entry.
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