February 27, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Ring-necked ducks

Thanks to an alert from Augusta Bird Club member Starke Smith, I was able to see some Ring-necked ducks for the first time this winter. They were on the farm pond on Goose Creek Road near Fishersville, the same place where I saw a Black swan in November, again thanks to Mr. Smith. There were two male Ring-necked ducks and one female, in good late-aftenoon lighting conditions at close enough range to see the distinctive bill and other field markings.

Smart jay birds

The weekly Science column in the Washington Post reported on a study of the ability of Scrub jays (relatives of Blue jays) to plan ahead. The birds were put in compartmentalized cages with specific kinds of food placed in certain places on a steady routine, so that the birds could begin to anticipate what would happen the next day. If they got it wrong, they'd go hungry for two hours in the morning. With such motivation, they soon began to store food in the compartments where no food would be placed the next day. Adapting to survive!