Daily Smart Fact

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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Daily Smart Fact #16: Unlike mammals, birds are not affected by spiciness

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Key takeaway: Spicy peppers use bird droppings to disperse their seeds because birds have iron stomachs and buttholes.

I was reading this awesome infograph about insanely hot peppers and was intrigued to find out that birds are impervious to spice!  In fact, crazy hot peppers need birds to disperse their seeds because birds, unlike mammals, don’t have molars and therefore keep the seeds intact (instead of grinding them down to powder).

Here’s some info:

  • Capsaicin is what makes chili peppers hot and is also an irritant for mammals [according to wikipedia, man’s best friend]
  • Birds are the predominant disperser of capsaicin seeds because they don’t have receptors that capsaicin binds to and therefore unsusceptible to capsaicin as an irritant
  • Since mammals destroy capsaicin with their molars, the “spiciness” factor is probably an evolutionary defense to irritate the crap out of us mammals
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Written by Bea

May 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Birds

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Daily Smart Fact #14: Crows scare the shit out of me

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Key Takeaway: Crows are freaking scary.

Ok, clearly this is not a “fact.”  But its my blog and I’ll write what I want.  I’ve recently blogged about my growing fascination with birds (Smart Daily Fact #2: The California State Bird is the California Quail).  Well one type of bird I seriously dislike is the crow.  I was talking with my husband the other day about why exactly I disliked crows and he mentioned something that I think was interesting – crows are completely “murdered out.”  That’s cool kids lingo for black on black.  Like “that car is murdered out!” it means its a black car with black leather, black tint, black everything.  And seriously, I think that might contribute to the freakiness of crows.  There are adorable small black birds but they have orange beaks.  But crows?  Everything’s black.  Here’s some other things that freak me out about them:

  • They’re smart. Crows are considered one of the most intelligent birds and are known to use tools (sharpen twigs and other objects) to forage for insects and larvae. There have also been studies that indicate they may be able to count up to 3 or 4.
  • Their call is scary as hell.  “Crows can mimic sounds made by other birds and animals and have been taught to mimic the human voice.” (can anyone say creepy?)
  • They’re predators and scavengers. Crows’ diets consist of insects, mice, roadkill, frogs, even eggs and nestlings of other birds.
  • A group of crows is called a MURDER. You know why?? Because a group of them will sometimes kill a dying cow.
Resources: PBS.org, Critter Control

Written by Bea

May 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Birds

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Daily Smart Fact #2: The California State Bird is the “California Quail”

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I recently moved in to a house at the top of a very large hill that looks over a preserve.  In my backyard I can find tons of wildlife including little bunny rabbits, deer, and beautiful birds.  In fact, since I have moved, I’ve become quite a bird enthusiast which just makes me feel a bit old.  But I’m embracing my new found interest of birds with this Daily Smart Fact.

I’m ashamed to admit that I only recently learned that the California State bird is the “California Quail.”  A friend mentioned it to me in passing when I told her that there were tons of quail behind our house with funky king-like feather caps on top of their heads.  They also  wake me up every morning with their loud calls.

They scurry around every morning pecking at the ground, eating closely with their brown bunny brethren.  And thanks to this blog, I have been inspired to learn a little more about them.

Here are some “cool facts” (courtesy of: All About Birds):

  • The California Quail digests vegetation with the help of protozoans in its intestine. Chicks acquire the protozoans by pecking at the feces of adults.
  • Several California Quail broods may mix after hatching, and all the parents care for the young. Adults that raise young this way tend to live longer than adults that do not.
  • Pairs of California Quail call antiphonally, meaning that the male and female alternate calls, fit them into a tightly orchestrated pattern.
  • The California Quail’s head plume, or topknot, looks like a single feather, but it is actually a cluster of six overlapping feathers.
  • As an adaptation to living in arid environments, California Quails can often get by without water, acquiring their moisture from insects and succulent vegetation. During periods of sustained heat they must find drinking water to survive.
  • The California Quail is California’s state bird and has had roles in several Walt Disney movies, including “Bambi.”
  • California Quail nests can contain as many as 28 eggs. These large clutches may be the result of females laying eggs in nests other than their own, a behavior known as “egg-dumping.”
  • California Quail are pretty as well as popular with game hunters. They’ve been introduced to many other parts of the world, including Hawaii, Europe, and New Zealand.
  • The oldest known California Quail was 6 years 11 months old.

Written by Bea

May 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

Posted in Birds

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