Friday, December 30, 2011

Northern Flicker

Ahh - warmer, sunnier days! These pics were taken of a Northern Flicker in the parking lot of a playground, near a park by my house. There was obviously some industriousness in trying to find some protein in the ground.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BCCH's and WBNU's

Hope all had a wonderful holiday! With out amazing weather here in the Cities, I took a quick spin through a local park and found the usual suspects. These two - White-breasted Nuthatch and Black-capped Chickadee - were extremely amiable.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More SD

More random shots of SD - golden eagle, and some mule deer. Can you pick out the two bucks in the pics?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twas the Night Before Playoffs

A hallowed tradition at the Steelers family is Dick LeBeau's reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas. Here is my own - unauthorized - take on this favorite classic:

Twas the night before Playoffs, when all at Heinz Field
Were dreaming of homefield advantage, with no Red Zone yield
The helmets were hung by the lockers with care,
In hopes to contain Polamalu’s very large hair.

The players were working out, the coaches had met
While visions of a seventh Lombardi trophy danced in their heads.
Coach Tomlin, as ever, looked fine in his cap,
With the last thing on his mind, a much-needed nap.

When out on the field there arose such a clatter,
The team sprang from the clubhouse to see what was the matter.
Wallace, Sanders and Brown were there in a flash,
Keisel and Smith tore apart the shutters and most of the sash.

The field lights on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the stadium below.
When, what to the Steelers’ wondering eyes should appear,
But the evil Baltimore Ravens, each with a terrible sneer.

Rotten Ray Lewis, who thinks he’s so quick,
And stupid Ed Reed, as dumb as a brick
More Steelers poured out, more rapid than eagles they came,
And they whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Flacco! now, Ngata! now, Suggs, Webb and Carr!
To come to our house to steal trophies has just gone too far!
To the top of the concourse! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

Ray Rice was so fast, he looked as if he could fly,
But he met with an obstacle, Casey Hampton, as big as the sky.
It scared those Ravens, so up to the rooftop they flew,
Bare-handed, no trophies taken, and stupid looks, too.

And then, in a twinkling, they all heard on the roof
A last ditch effort from Ravens defensive back Emanual Cook
As the Steelers turned their heads, and were turning around,
To help defeat the Ravens, former Steelers came with a bound.

Terry Bradshaw was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
With Franco Harris, Jack Hamm, and Mel Blount, all covered in soot
A bundle of Superbowl Rings, plus the greatest all-time stats
The Ravens looked frightened to behold such a pack.

Mike Webster’s eyes – how they twinkled! Lynn Swann’s dimples - how merry!
Mean Joe Greene’s eyes were red like a cherry!
Current Steeler’s DE Aaron Smith mentioned he could hunt with a bow
And James Harrison’s bared teeth were as white as the snow.

Newly acquired former Viking Bryant McKinnie was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And the Steelers laughed when they saw him, in spite of themselves!
With a wink of Lamar Woodley’s eye and a twist of his head,
Told the Ravens they would soon have something to dread.

The Steelers spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
Ridding Heinz field of these onerous jerks.
No concussions were given, not one broken nose,
Take that, Roger Goodell, (no rhyme here).

Ravens coach Harbaugh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all ran, like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“We’ll see you in playoffs, but just not tonight.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Genomes of Falcons

Genomic sequence of two falcon species - peregrine and saker - decoded with interesting biological and populational effects. Also - don't beat your boobies. And finally - a new population model, which I better start learning for next semester.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SD Beauty

Finals are really taking their toll on my time to keep up with this. While I ready some more bird-y shots, enjoy these from SD -

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SD raptors

Just got back from a trip out to SD. Lots of raptors; a few here are a Short-eared owl, snowy owl, prairie falcon and golden eagle. Snowies are being seen in large numbers this year; in most cases it signals that their main food source - lemmings - are at a low point in their cycle, and young birds are coming south looking for food. Oddly, though, some that have come into Raptor Center clinic are adults, not young, and not starving.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Purple Finches

At a recent Springbrook banding, we were lucky enough to band three individuals. Purple Finches are less common at feeders in this part of the world than House Finches, though many people see the latter and assume they have Purples. There are certainly many dark and striking House Finches, but once you have seen a Purple, it is quite easy to tell the difference. Look at the absence of brown streaking on the breast, the dark "eyeline" and overall plumage of this individual.