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The Finster Log
Archive — January 2003
Posted on: 01/31/03, 16:13:59 | | link
The Nest Game
Posted on: 01/30/03, 16:41:08 | | link
One of Peanut's favorite games — and one he made up himself — is the Nest Game. Now, the nest is a good toy that sits in the corner of his house. Once, and usually twice a day, I put a couple of snacks (Cheerios, bird snacks, the favorite sunflower seed) in the bottom, fill it with paper strips from a cross-cut paper shredder, and put a small cap from a vitamin jar on top. Peanut flicks the cap off (a crash that often wakes me up in the morning), flicks the paper strips out, and eats the snacks. He'll go back to the nest several times during the day to make sure he's found all the snacks, make spit balls out of the paper strips, and chew on the nest itself.
The Nest Game, however, is different. Every morning I take the nest out of Peanut's house so I can clean it out. One day while I was doing this Peanut jumped onto the edge and went for a ride. Then, he started flicking the leftover paper strips, looking for more snacks. Being the pushover that I am, I "hid" a sunflower seed under the few strips that were left, and a new game was created!
Sometimes he finds the seed right away, eats it, and goes back to his house, and sometimes he walks around and around the edge of the nest, hunting for more snacks. This isn't a great photo, but it's a really good game.
How Do You Tell? Part 4 — More Societies
Posted on: 01/27/03, 10:19:01 | | link
All creatures of the same species look alike, and it takes a lot of observing to tell them apart. The two tea-colored Societies in the photo below are very different: the one on the left has a white "cap" on his head, and the one on the right has white "eyebrows."
The problem is, I have two tea-colored birds with white caps, and two tea-colored birds with white eyebrows. I tell Tea and Darjeeling (white caps) apart by looking more closely: Tea will sing his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song, and dance his Hunka Hunka Burning Love dance, plus he has a line on the right side of his beak. But, you can't tell either of those things from this photo. Until I started telling their stories in this Finster Log, I never really had to pay closer attention than that.
Earl Grey and Decaffeinated (white eyebrows) also have subtle differences: Earl Grey sings and dances, and Decaffeinated has a broken back toe that curls up. Again, this photo doesn't show those differences, so I'll have to start watching them more closely. I think
Decaffeinated is on the right, because that bird seems a little bigger from this angle, and Decaffeinated, at a porky 20 grams, knows a tasty seed when she sees one. But I could be wrong. (That's Bosco's tail in front of the bird on the right.)
I've figured out the differences between Earl Grey and Decaffeinated. Earl Grey has more white on his throat and below his eyes. So, in the top picture, it's Earl Grey on the right, and in the bottom picture, it's Earl Grey on the left. The power of observation.
So Many Ways To Snack
Posted on: 01/22/03, 14:54:04 | | link
Peanut goes through phases in the things he's interested in, and the ways he plays with them. For example, sometimes he likes to climb around on the Finsterium, and sometimes he simply stays in his house. Lately, Peanut's favorite way to interact with his play gym is to climb up the "stairs," climb down the swing, drop down to the bookshelf, and snack on the oat groats I've "hidden" there. Today he went back to an "old" way of playing with the gym: he climbed up the stairs, climbed down the swing, and snacked on the oat groats I've stuffed into the holes I drilled into the wooden dowels. Click here to see a bigger picture
, with the holes circled in green. He's already gotten the groats from the top three, now he's working on the bottom.
Sometimes, if he's in the mood, this turns into a game. I try to keep all the holes filled with groats, and he tries to eat them all. It's a pretty good game. Peanut usually wins.
That Goober Is One Hot Chick
Posted on: 01/21/03, 12:07:40 | | link
Three birds on a perch: Frank, Tea, and Goober. Tea sang his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song, and danced his Hunka Hunka Burning Love dance, to Goober. Frank was watching, and kept hopping closer and closer to Tea. Tea kept hopping closer and closer to Goober, but Goober — who was only a couple of inches away from the end of the perch anyway — wasn't moving. Finally, Tea flew around to Goober's other side, but by then the mood was gone, and he stopped singing and dancing. Then, the usual post song and dance activity took place between male and female: they touched beaks a few times, and made brief motions to preen each other's faces, although preening didn't really take place. Here's the catch: Frank and Goober touched beaks and almost preened, not Tea and Goober! Cross species hanky panky!
Posted on: 01/19/03, 12:19:24 | | link
Sometimes when Bruce is over, he plays Halo
. Lately, he's been totally stuck on Level 3: The Truth and Reconciliation, at the point where the Master Chief catches the gravlift to the ship and faces several sword-carrying Elite aliens. So stuck, that Peanut has started squeaking in response to the death cries of the Marines and some of the aliens. Waaaa!
Well, to be more precise, Peanut squeaks when I
mimic the death cries of the Marines and some of the aliens. Waaaa!
It'd be pretty funny if that's the first human word Peanut learns to mimic.
To be fair to Bruce, he is playing at the "Legendary," or hardest difficulty level of the game, and even the Halo community agrees that Truth and Reconciliation is the toughest scenario. Click here
to see a bigger screen shot of the Elite alien; thanks to the Bungie web site for both images.
Brown Bird Sandwich
Posted on: 01/18/03, 09:56:14 | | link
Birds on a perch: Frank, Tea, Darjeeling, Bosco. Tea was singing his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song, and dancing his Hunka Hunka Burning Love dance, to Darjeeling. Both Frank and Bosco were leaning over, watching. Tea stopped singing and dancing, Frank hopped away along the perch, and Bosco hopped on top of Darjeeling, presumably to have sex — it happens so quickly it's a little hard to tell. (And yes, Bosco and Darjeeling are both females.)
How Do You Tell? Part 3 — The Societies
Posted on: 01/16/03, 17:27:15 | | link
Society finches are monomorphic; although some claim to be able to tell them apart, realistically there is no way to tell males from females just by looking at them. Instead, you have to study their behaviors. Given half a chance, and a female nearby, a male will almost always sing his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song, and dance his Hunka Hunka Burning Love dance. A serious breeder of Society finches once described his method: he took a known female and put her in a cage by herself. Then, he took an "unknown" bird, and put it in a nearby cage. He'd wait for a day or two and watch: singing and dancing meant a male, no special reaction meant a female. If you're serious about breeding any bird, you need to be sure not only of gender, but also of blood lines. This breeder would then put a band on one of the "discovered" bird's legs that not only visually told him which sex the bird was, but also helped quickly identify the bird's family heritage. That way he wouldn't let related birds breed with each other.
The National Finch and Softbill Society
sells both closed bands (put on baby birds to prove they were raised in the US), and open bands in 10 different colors and five different sizes, which can be used to help identify individual birds. (Frank and Sally arrived with open bands, but they came off after awhile.)
If you look carefully at this photo of Bosco (on top) and Goober (in the box), you can see differences in the coloring of their feathers. Bosco's head and top beak are much darker. These birds are both females, but the sorts of differences you see here are exactly the kinds of things I have to look for when I'm trying to tell all my Societies apart. These differences are subtle, and particularly hard to discern when it's dark, and I'm trying to catch them.
How Do You Tell? Part 2 — Peanut
Posted on: 01/12/03, 15:52:03 | | link
Most varities of parrotlets are sexually dimorphic. In general, the females have less blue, and more yellow, than the males. Green rumps, like Peanut, follow this rule of thumb: If Peanut were female, the area between and around his eyes would be yellow/green, like a Granny Smith apple. This photo
(from Shady Pines Aviary
) shows the color differences between male female green rumps: the female is on the right.
Posted on: 01/11/03, 16:25:16 | | link
Computer problems, and now proposal deadlines, have kept me away. Finster updates should be back soon.
Somebody, I don't know who, has laid three eggs (two with soft shells) in the Finsterium. Lots of calcium everywhere! Wish I could get that problem to go away.
One other bit of big news: Bruce thinks Peanut is trying to imitate human words! Bruce gets close to Peanut and repeats phrases to him. Peanut pays close attention, and makes different kinds of noises than the usual squeaking or kissy noises. That's the first step!