Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Holy Kreuzschnabel!! Look at that beak pry open a pine cone!

I just discovered - a bit too late for my Birds and Reptiles class this semester, but I hope students retain enough interest to check this out - the YouTube channel of Cornell's Lab of Ornithology! Some lovely hi-def videos of birds there, including the one above.

These birds remind me of the year and half I spent a decade ago working with (and cleaning the scheisse off of the cages of) these birds' cousins, the Red Crossbills, the favorite Kreuzschnabel of my postdoc mentor Tom Hahn, then in Princeton. We had a whole colony of the Red birds, most of them (when not part of an experiment) up on the roof of Guyot Hall in an outdoor aviary that it was my charge to look after. Busy little birds who constantly needed something to sink their twisted little beaks into and shred to pieces - so we had to keep providing things like cat-scratching boards (cardboard ones from the pet shop) and pieces of wood. What really made them happy was when, around New Year's, Tom and I drove around the upscale suburbs around the Princeton campus picking up discarded Christmas trees to bring back to the aviaries. Oh how the crossbills loved that! Got really excited to have entire conifer trees to play on, and eventually shred to bits over several months - which, of course made my clean-up tasks that much harder! Some of them got excited enough to actually build nests in the trees and even fledge a few young. I wish I'd had a video camera back then, for I could've captured some wonderful acrobatic behaviors. At least I can now watch this Lab of O video and sigh nostalgically... I miss the naughty little beasts!


Amanda November 4, 2013 at 5:12 AM  

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