Red-Lored Amazon Parrot

Red-Lored Amazon Parrot

I found this lovely bird at the Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary in Captain Cook, Hawaii. Large version available here.

California Scrub Jay

California Scrub Jay

Large version available here. I followed this one around for about fifteen minutes, and he let me get surprisingly close. It’s almost like he’s striking a pose…

Ready For Your Close-Up?

Ready For Your Close-Up?

I found this gull at San Francisco’s Municipal Pier over by Aquatic Park. I swear, it was posing for me…

Where Do Birds Go In Winter?

You probably already know, but it’s more complicated than you might think. Joe at  It’s Okay To Be Smart breaks it down.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs, Or: Haleakala Nene Crossing

Haleakala Nene Crossing

This week’s challenge is all about signs, so I was reminded of something I saw near the peak of Haleakala on Maui. The Nene is the rarest species of goose in the world; it’s exclusive to the Hawaiian islands, and Maui’s population is hidden on the upper slopes of Haleakala. I was lucky enough to see four of those rare birds during my journey. Great trouble has gone to ensure the Nene’s survival, and this crossing sign on the volcano is just one example of it.

Opting For Octopi

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about hybrids. Not cars, but the unusual combinations of humans, animals, or objects that result in interesting powers or characters. Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Beast are the most obvious examples, though the basic idea has been a part of various cultures since the beginning of recorded history. Though less spectacular in real-life biology, it’s still a common and important aspect of the natural world. Being able to augment and enhance your own abilities by combining with other beings is a fascinating – if occasionally terrifying – aspect of fantasy.

As for me…Hmmm. This is actually kind of hard. The knee-jerk reaction would be to say bird wings, thus granting me the ability to fly. However, that one might be more trouble than it’s worth. Think about it. From a physics perspective, my wings would have to be a good 12 feet or so; the sheer bulk of muscles needed for flapping them would be like having a hang glider strapped to my back. Can you imagine the logistics involved with that? How would I sleep? Put on clothes? Get through doors? How much food and oxygen would I have to consume to have enough energy to fly? Not to mention all the people trying to hunt me down for experiments. I’d much rather have magnetoception, which is what allows birds and other animals to sense the planet’s magnetic field. It’d be like having a GPS uploaded into my mind; I’d be able to explore the world without ever getting truly lost!

The last part of the hybrid would probably involve octopi. They’re my favorite animals, and for good reason; not only are they highly intelligent, but they’re brimming with all kinds of abilities. Being able to change skin pigmentation and texture on a whim would be great for blending in to different environments and avoiding unwanted detection. It’s not full-blown invisibility, but it’s definitely worth having. If I’m in a fight, I’d have some extremely lethal poison as my trump card. My skeletal structure would be altered just enough to make me more limber, and an additional statocyst would help with balance and overall athleticism. With my improved sense of touch, I could better analyze objects and develop tactile technology. Depending on what species I choose, I could produce my own private light source. I could create my own custom inking business, too! Unlike bird wings, I could easily tie my extra appendages back and save them for when I need to do some extra-heavy lifting.

Also, I have to give an honorary mention to Cthulhu. Hybrid cephalopods don’t get any cooler than that, though I’m not exactly keen on having mastery of madness and mind alteration. I’ll stick to the squids of Earth.