The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa.—physicist Werner Heisenberg, summing up his famous Uncertainty Principle, a cornerstone of quantum mechanics and the study of atoms and sub-atomic particles
The more closely the coloration of the bird matches the photo in the field guide, the less likely some other element of the bird is to match the photo in the field guide. And vice versa.—personal observation, based on personal observation
In this episode of CSI: Maine, (CSI as in Coastal Species Identification), we try to figure out what was sitting in the tree outside our house at 7 this morning.
Pamelia and I knew it was some sort of hawk. We studied it with binoculars and snapped some grainy photos with a pocket camera. The raptors the two of us most often see here are bald eagles and red-tailed hawks, but this wasn't either. It was way too small. Pamelia wondered if it might be a kestrel, but it wasn't quite that small.
Out came the bird books. For once, the descriptions and photos seemed consistent with what we'd seen—well, mostly. The color pattern, the size, the tail shape, the range map, the habitat, the proclivity for hanging out around feeders looking for small birds to kill...everything said that our raptor had been a sharp-shinned hawk except that we couldn't see its shins, which are supposedly exposed and thin (thus seemingly "sharp").
So, with a degree of uncertainty, we declared our sighting a sharp-shinned hawk. Among birds of prey, it falls in the category called accipiters, or bird hawks, from a Latin word meaning "to take or seize." Goshawks and sparrowhawks are also accipiters. Accipiters are able to maneuver deftly between trees because of their short wings and long, rudder-like tails.
I wasn't sure if our camera was to blame for the red eyes the hawk seems to have in the photos, but it turns out that all North American accipiters have red eyes as adults and yellow eyes as juveniles.
All you need to see them, of course, are the eyes of a hawk.
Art Events For Your Calendar (At Least If You're Going to Be in New York City) •
Rocco Alberico, whose inventive multi-media architectural constructions have delighted Naturalist's Notebook visitors for the last two years, will be showing pieces at the Fountain Art Fair in New York from March 9 to 11. The specifics: 69th Regiment Armory 68 Lexington Avenue at 25th Street Hours: 1pm – 7pm daily $10 day pass / $15 weekend pass www.fountainartfair.com
• Works by filmmaker and Notebook friend Nancy Andrews, who teaches at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and whose works are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, will be shown at the 92nd Street Y Screening Room (200 Hudson Street) on Wednesday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Here's part of the Y's writeup of the event: "Nancy Andrews and Jim Trainor [who also has films being shown] create highly original work that borrows freely from existing film genres both high and low—shaped, inverted and recombined to their own ends.
"Both filmmakers share a fascination with animals, with the uniqueness of sensory apparatus in other species, and with how their consciousness in turn differs from that of the human animal. To do so demands a certain speculative empathy and a willingness to embrace the humor that comes with the territory—animation, in this endeavor, lends itself well to the task. Andrews’ multi-styled “montage of attractions”—including puppets, pixilation, costumed animals and song—exhibits all the no-holds-barred moxie of a vaudeville revue as produced by paranormalist Charles Fort."
The two films of Nancy's being shown are Behind the Eyes Are the Ears (26 minutes) and On A Phantom Limb (35 minutes). Nancy will be on hand to discuss the movies. Go see her and Rocco!
Answers to the Last Puzzlers
1) Here are the unscrambled nature, science and art words:
a) mexipreten = experiment
b) tbraib = rabbit
c) creatorlow = watercolor
d) yaneh = hyena
2) The Water in the Cup riddle from braingle.com asked you to figure this out: A man in a restaurant asked a waiter for a juice glass, a dinner plate, water, a match, and a lemon wedge. The man poured enough water onto the plate to cover it. "If you can get the water on the plate into this glass without touching or moving this plate, I will give you $100," the man said. "You can use the match and lemon to do this." A few minutes later, the waiter walked away with $100 in his pocket. How did the waiter get the water into the glass?
Stumped? Here is braingle.com's answer: First, the waiter stuck the match into the lemon wedge, so that it would stand straight. Then he lit the match, and put it in the middle of the plate with the lemon. Then, he placed the glass upside-down over the match. As the flame used up the oxygen in the glass, it created a small vacuum, which sucked in the water through the space between the glass and the plate. Thus, the waiter got the water into the glass without touching or moving the plate. You can try this experiment at home with appropriate supervision.
1) Unscramble these words from nature, science and art:
2) What is the nature-based origin of the word kite?
a) The Norse word kitte, meaning small, lively animal
b) The Old English word cyta, which described the type of hawk that we now call a kite
c) The Chinese word qi tao, meaning flying dragons of the sort that nowadays are displayed in Chinese New Year parades