Friday, March 31, 2006

Fish Friday: Largemouth Bass, Micropterus salmoides

This is a largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides (click the pic to enlarge). My fishing buddy caught this one last summer at a reservoir on my dad's farm. The place is packed with bass which are fun to catch and great to eat. I don't remember how much it weighed but I would guess about 2-3 pounds. That is about the size I like to eat; big enough for a good fillet, but not so big that the meat is too tough. The largest largemouth bass recorded were 22+ and 25+ pounds, but the largest one I have heard about coming out of our reservoir was about 9 or 10 pounds. The key identifying features of largemouth bass are the ragged dark stripes running the length of the body, the notch between the two dorsal fins and the large mouth. The upper jaw extends beyond the back of the eye. The color is green to olive dorsally and white ventrally.

Both Florida and Alabama claim the largemouth bass as it official state freshwater fish. Georgia and Mississippi have named it as their only official state fish.

Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia!

I now know that this has been all over the web, but I haven't seen it again since it was shown on Saturday Night Live. This video short, also known as "Lazy Sunday" is from the NBC web site and it is the funniest thing I've seen from SNL in a long time.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Backyard Bird Blogging: Mourning Doves - Zenaida macroura

These common birds are mourning doves, Zenaida macroura (click the pic to enlarge). I photographed them around the same time as the rest of my recent bird pictures, during the last snow several weeks ago. They are medium sized, grayish brown birds. The tops of their wings are scattered with black spots, they have long tails with white outer tail feathers. Their characteristic sounds can be heard here. Both of these sounds are very familiar to me but I have only associated the whistling sound made during flight with this bird. As for the classic and mournful cooOOoo-coo-coo call, I had no idea. I have heard it all my life, and sometimes even make the call myself because it is so familiar. I guess I just thought it was a ghost bird or something because I had no idea it was this dove until now. Oh well, you live and learn.

Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Goose Friday

These Pictures (click the pics to enlarge) are all from a visit to a nearby lake a few weeks ago. The top two geese are Canada Geese, Branta canadensis. The key features include a white area on the cheek with a dark neck, back and tail, with a white undertail. This is North America's most common goose.

The two geese in these pictures were a little more difficult to classify. I did so with the assistance of Kevin J. McGowan's webpage on Confusing Domestic Geese (and hybrids). On the right is the Domestic Greylag Goose, Anser anser. Here and here are good descriptions of the wild form, which was domesticated over a thousand years ago in Europe for its meat and down.
I believe the bird on the left is a Domestic Swan Goose, Anser cygnoides, which is also discussed here. The Swan Goose is a native of eastern Eurasia and is also known as the Chinese Goose. The features I am using to identify this bird in comparison to the domestic swan goose seen in the above link, include the knob behind the bill, the white patch behind the bill, and the dark line down the posterior neck. One of the more noticeable differences between the domestic breeds and their wild counterparts is that the domestic versions have thicker necks and larger bulkier bodies.

Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Backyard Bird Blogging: Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens

This is an example of truth in advertising. The above pictures are of downy woodpeckers, Picoides pubescens (click the pic to enlarge). The small inset picture is shown because the small red spot on the back of its neck can be seen. Though these birds are apparently very common, I have never been aware of their presence around my house until I recently started buying birdseed for the backyard. I happened to buy the woodpecker bar seen below, without any real expectation that it would actually attract woodpeckers, but it took less than 2 days before the birds began feeding on the bar.

Find out more about the downy woodpecker at Animal Diversity Web.

And don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark!

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thursday Backyard Bird Blogging: Cardinalis cardinalis - Northern Cardinal

This is a Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis (click the pic to enlarge). It was the only picture I could get because this bird would not stick around long. The picture is not very good but since cardinals are such pretty birds, I thought I would post it anyway.

THE professional sports team that uses the Cardinal as its mascot: The Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Stanford Cardinal is not a bird but the official color of the school's teams.

And don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark!

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Webiocosm Pet Link Round Up

One of my favorite subjects to follow lately has been the Mimivirus. Now the March editon of Discover Magazine has a good article on the mimivirus. The article begins with the following question on the cover: Are viruses the mother of all life? Then, in the process of answering the question (which appears to be YES), the article itself gives a rundown of the history of viruses, the mimivirus, and some of the people who have been working on it. The final paragraph ties it together by stating that "we owe our existence to viruses" and that "As it turns out, they are not the little breakaway shards of our biology—we are, of theirs."
Here are a few links to some of the recent buzz:

Nobel Intent talks directly about the Discover article.

Neil Struthers of Through the Megatonne Marble contemplates what he would do with his genome if he were the unintelligent designer.

Wheat-Dogg proclaims that Yo Mama was a Virus!

As usual, Keats' Telescope has some good insight and links.

My previous posts are here, here, and here.

Braingate / Neural Interface System

CNN-Brain Chip Research Aims for Future Movement 03/02/06

News 14 Carolina Tech Talk - Implant might help paralyzed people 02/07/06

My previous posts are here, and here.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Backyard Bird Blogging: Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor

These are tufted titmice, Baeolophus bicolor (click the pic to enlarge). I photographed them a few weeks ago on my deck after a snow. I had never been aware of them until I began throwing out birdseed. They are pretty birds, but I had some difficulty getting the pics because they didn't stick around long and it was an overcast day. Here is more information on the tufted titmouse with a description and sounds from All About Birds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Key features of the Tufted Titmouse include a short tuft on the head, eyes are black and prominent in a pale gray face, a black square on forehead, gray crest, rust colored flanks, a whitish belly and chest, and a black bill.

I don't think there are any college or high school sports teams that use the tufted titmouse as a mascot, but Team Tufted Titmouse won the fish and fowl division at the Florence-Town Creek Wild Game Cook-Off in May 2003.

Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark.

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