This study examines the ability to see one’s self in the mirror and understand that the reflection is that of the self.
In non-human animals, this is measured through the use of a mark test.
A mark is placed on the animal in a spot where it cannot be seen without the use of a mirror. The animal is then presented with a mirror and observed for self-directed behavior toward the mark.
The biggest problem with many of the attempts to find MSR in birds is that sample size is limited to 1 or 2 birds in a laboratory setting. Therefore, this study seeks to enlist the help of the parrot-keeping community to increase the sample size.
The mark test is fairly simple to conduct in a participant’s home. All that is required is a mirror, food coloring or finger paint of a color that contrasts with your bird’s feathers, and a video recorder (one from a phone or camera is fine as long as there is sound).
If interested in participating, specific and specialized instructions will be provided on the procedure, which must be followed with due diligence to ensure the quality and usability of the data collected.
Participants will also fill out a short questionnaire which asks some basic questions about your bird and his/her previous experience with mirrors.
The website http://psychology.csusb.edu/facultyResearch/ includes instructions, a sample video, the survey, and a link to upload finished video by participants. The research staff will provide a small amount of food coloring to participants for use if necessary.
The site also contains a language supplement to inventory a list of words participant’s birds speak during the course of a week-long observation. Because this requires a longer commitment, this not part of the actual MSR study, but an additional data collection component which would greatly enhance the data collected for this and future similar studies.
To elicit participation and thank participants for their time, each completed video/survey pair received is entered into a drawing for one of five book prizes sponsored by the university. If you have access to more than one bird, feel free to test as many birds as you wish! Those completing the additional week-long word observation will receive an additional entry to the drawing. Book prizes will be a choice of book from the Psychology 101 series found here:
It is with sadness I share news about my male budgie, Blue Moon, passing away overnight. We found him this morning on the floor of the cage, and it was hard to bear.
Blue Moon was hopping around on his perch, singing and calling to our other birds so we don't think he was injured or ill. Hopefully this was just the slow decline of old age, and perhaps he drifted off to sleep for the last time last night and died peacefully in his sleep.
I adopted him from Phoenix Landing Foundation http://www.phoenixlanding.org/ on January 15, 2005. I remember well the drive from Richmond (Virginia) to Fredericksburg to meet the PLF volunteer at a half-way point to pick up my new flock member. He was very quiet and still, and made no sounds at all when I got him. The PLF folks related that he and several other little birds just like him were all part of a raid and seizure by the authorities on a house that had neglected and abused animals, drugs, stolen property, and a variety of other egregious offenses. The police turned the birds over to PLF, and that's how I eventually learned about him.
Blue Moon proved to be a good friend and companion to my oldest bird, Morning Sun, who was left alone after all her other flockmates passed away having succumbed to age and ailments so common to American budgerigars. She'd been alone for nearly 9 months before I was able to adopt Blue Moon, and the minute he got home to us, he started to change: he actually started to sing ! He started out making a few little sounds here and there, and then graduated to twittering, and then to full-fledged singing. And he was a good singer, too.
When we moved to Georgia, the family grew tremendously, and Morning Sun and Blue Moon met their new siblings (other parrots who belonged to my domestic partner). They made friends, sang and became part of a larger flock. Many here know that in November 2007, Morning Sun passed away of complications of cancer and age. Blue Moon missed her immensely, but he was strong and courageous. He sang to the other birds and passed time keeping them company.
We moved to Florida and the entire flock then got to live outdoors, but within a nice lanai. Blue Moon really liked that, and he was our "little instigator," the first to greet the sun as it would rise over the horizon. His melodious song made my partner smile as he used got ready in the morning since Moon's cage was right by the bathroom window, and bird and man would watch each other and greet each other. I believe he enjoyed being outside in the fresh air of southern Florida, and hope he liked it here.
We'll miss him and his cheery singing, his cobalt-bluish-violet colouring, and his bright-button eyes. Go safely into the hereafter, little boy; mommie and daddy will see you again when the time comes.
Many thanks to the folks here for letting me tell his story, and for sharing yours with us.
Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in the East Limestone, Alabama on Friday, March 2, 2012. A reported tornado destroyed several houses in northern Alabama as storms threatened more twisters across the region Friday.
It's clear from this photo that Mr. Cook was grateful to find a member of his family alive and well - Coco the dog. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans in 2005, this familiar scene happened hundreds of times all over the devastated areas. Our hearts go out the tornado victims - the known and unknown victims, human and animal.
(Credit: AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)
By now, many Floridians have heard the shocking news regarding the state's largest and oldest tree, a Bald cypress known as "The Senator" and "The Big Tree," located in Seminole County (central Florida).
On the morning of January 16, 2012, the 3,500 year-old tree, standing 165 feet high, caught fire and smoldered, collapsing to the ground. Though fire crews promptly responded to intervene, they could not save the old giant, and unfortunately, a piece of Florida's natural history has been forever lost. Only 25 feet of charred wood remain where a magnificent old giant once stood.
This morning, the St. Lucie County Fire Department was called to a tree fire in White City Park (Treasure Coast). Witnesses state that early morning fisherman lit a sable palm stump on fire, reportedly to "keep warm." The irresponsible fire-starters then simply packed up and left the scene as the stump smoked heavily, having done nothing to put out the embers. Passers-by called the fire department for assistance, and within minutes, fire fighters arrived to quell the smoldering and ensure another tree fire wouldn't happen in Florida today.
What were those fisherman thinking? They were fishing on the banks of the St. Lucie River, only feet from where the stump was, but they couldn't bother to scoop a bucketful of water to pour over the fire they started? What sort of people do things like this - or rather - what sort of people won't clean up after themselves, endangering others and threatening yet another park with a forest fire of human making?
Though fire authorities in Seminole County have preliminarily ruled out arson as a cause of the fire which engulfed and destroyed one of Florida's natural history landmarks, there had been reports of people camping in the woods without permission, setting fires for warmth and to cook.
What were these people thinking? Florida is suffering a 10-year drought, one of the worst in known recorded history for the state, turning everything into tinder. Worse, we're in the normal dry season (winter), when authorities plead with residents to resist the urge to burn anything outside.
All of these things are known to everyone - the public is bombarded by messages from well-meaning public officials, civil servants, and non-governmental organizations such as science and conservation entities reminding Florida's residents and visitors that the state's flora and fauna are vulnerable now, especially because of the drought.
And yet, "The Sentator" likely burned because of human carelessness, and a palm stump mere feet away from a river was left to burn after it "wasn't needed" by whomever set it alight. Thankfully, other park patrons didn't hesitate to do the right thing, and the county's fire department wasted no time arriving and rendering the smoldering stump inert.
Personal responsibility toward the environment and parks in general has apparently hit an all-time low, as evidenced by this and so many other incidents that occur each day. How can we as a species continue to pretend as though our actions have no consequences, or that the consequences aren't meaningful?
Please - don't start fires. If you are absolutely must start a fire, make sure you are in a location with access to water and sand to put out the fire properly before you leave. We are all responsible for our actions, and we all suffer the consequences of those actions, whether it makes the news, or not.
We are soliciting public assistance with a research study being conducted this semester (Spring 2011) at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA.
Many birds are killed each year by various forms of human technology and activity. Some of these human-made hazards attract much more attention than do others.
We are interested in how various factors that have been shown to influence people’s perceptions of the risks posed by nuclear power or sources of water pollution (e.g., is it a ‘new’ hazard, how 'natural' does the hazard seem) may also contribute to peoples’ perceptions of various hazards to birds.
This information will be useful in helping to strategize campaigns to raise awareness with regard to different threats to wild birds and natural ecosystems.
We would greatly appreciate your participation by completing the following survey:
Participant responses are anonymous and confidential. No personally-identifying information is requested in the survey. The survey takes about 25 minutes or less to complete. This research project has met Muhlenberg College’s Institutional Review policy requirements.
At the end of the survey, participants will be re-directed to a separate page upon which to request a summary of research findings, if desired.
If you have any questions about this project, please do not hesitate to contact me directly as principle investigator.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and assistance with this research, it is appreciated.
Jacques and I took a drive locally to get out of the house since it'd been raining for 3 days straight, just about, and we have cabin fever (especially since were both stuck in the house over several days of rain and him being chained to the desk working).
We'd passed by this little Caribbean cafe several times, and always meant to check it out, but never did. Today, we did. Great food! He got me some of my favourite Jamaican food, a leafy green (similar to collards) grown in Jamaica used for a dish called "callaloo." We ate, and enjoyed.
He stopped not far from there at a local pet store, and came out presenting me with a 10-day old baby duck!She was my easter surprise.
OK, so what does getting a baby duck and Jamaican have in common?
When we got back to the house, the duckling ran around the living room floor, exploring and cuddling in my lap. I was eating "peas and rice" with the callaloo, and set the bowl down on the floor beside me to help her into my lap. She instead helped herself to the grains of rice and specs of callaloo left in the bowl and ate it all up!
After eating her fill and playing, she cuddled up on my chest to take a snooze, and since her bill was right near my nose, guess what? I could smell the callaloo she ate. She smelled like she'd rolled in it, actually...LOL
I hadn't thought of a good name for her, and the persistent aroma of the callaloo made me think that the Jamaican comfort food on a rainy day eaten by a little fuzzy yellow duck might make a fine name after all!
We came home from an outing a little after 5:00PM today, and after we greeted our birds and got our things out of the truck, Jacques watered the garden out back and I began watering the front yard's plants.
As I pulled the hose up near the mums, I noticed a male Northern Cardinal flopping around in the leaves. He looked like something was biting him and he couldn't get his bearings.
I picked him up and he calmed down, so I brought him into the house and we got a small cardboard box, laid a thick dishtowel in it, and set him in. I put the heating pad under it to help the bird keep his warmth, and brought him to the back bedroom, where it was peaceful and quiet so he could rest.
The odd thing that really worried me were his symptoms: He threw his head backward, almost touching his back, and didn't seem to have much control of his neck muscles; he was breathing heavily, too, but strangest of all, his head seemed slightly swollen with his eyes actually watery looking and slightly bulging a bit.
Could this have been a case of the bird ingesting some sort of poison? Did that cause the swelling? Maybe the bird was stung by a small scorpion or a wasp or other stinging creature? Maybe a snake bit the bird as it tried to flee?
I'll never know for certain, just that he struggled to right himself as he lay in the shelter box, but died a little after 8:00PM this evening. I feel very bad for him and I've never seen these symptoms before. I hope he has peace now and isn't in pain...and I hope that he doesn't have a family waiting on his return..
The weekend was very bird-filled, in all sorts of ways!On Saturday we drove north to the mountains in Helen, Georgia.Helen is a little “alpine” tourist town loosely modeled after mountain villages as seen in Germany and Switzerland, with Dutch influence, too.It’s loved by a good many people because there’s Oktoberfest in the autumn and tubing on the Chattahoochee River in the summer, to name but two loved activities.We had a good time there shopping in the Dutch and German store, and getting pretzels in the Bavarian-styled bakery. We also went to the crafter’s village just a few miles away in Sautee Junction, and had lunch there and shopped for wild bird goodies at High Flyers.So, armed with lots of good things to eat for ourselves and the birds, we came back to the house and did a little yard work.It was warm, in the upper 70sF, so the greenhouse doors were opened and plants were fussed with. Feathered Flourish We’d purchased two new feeders, freeze-dried meal worms, and hummingbird nectar.So, first the existing feeders were filled up, and then we brought out the new ones and filled and hung them, too.Jacques cleaned and filled the water feeders, and almost immediately, a flurry of birds appeared in numbers, dashing about.Some dove down onto the feeders with an elaborate swoop, others fluttered back and forth busily, selecting seeds and eating them on a secret branch.Amongst the birds we stood and watched from the kitchen were Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatch; Carolina Wren, Blue Jay, American Crow, House and American Gold Finch; Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-rumped Warbler ( “Butterbutts” ), Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin; Chipping, Savannah, Song, and Tree Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Pileated Woodpecker (heard calling in the woods), and a stealthy Red-tailed Hawk flew in to spy on all the activity. Avian Opportunist We took a few plants out of the greenhouse to check them and do some light pruning, and amongst them was a loquat seedling, about as long as my forearm.As I’d water all the plants over the course of autumn and winter, I watched some of the loquats add some height.One particular plant I brought out had what I thought was clump of leaves and pine needles, probably leftover from the time we put them inside, bunched up on the side of the planter.I noticed it a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t pay attention and thought maybe the water from the hose had bunched up the detritus.Jacques looked the plants over and pruned a little here and there.I was carrying some garden tools around the corner when I notice Jacques holding the lump of pine needles and dead leaves, beckoning me over. “I think we might want to put this one back.” “Why?That’s just stuff water from the hose must’ve moved around.” “I don’t think so, Eva.Looks like someone has been very, very busy.” He tilted the clump to reveal three, tiny white eggs with faint speckles. A nest?!With eggs, too! I examined the nest more carefully; its shape and building materials looked familiar.
“It’s a wren’s nest, I’m pretty sure of it.I bet she's the one that Mike saw in there a little while back. But how is she getting in and out with the doors closed all the time?"
Well, now that was an interesting question. Jacques put the nest back into the potted plant and handed it to me.
“There’s got to be an opening somewhere.Maybe one of the wall panels or a window panel on the roof?” We carefully walked around the perimeter of the greenhouse looking, but didn’t see anything…at first.Then Jacques saw a clue…an almost infinitesimal pinch of mulch from the floor of the greenhouse, a few crumbs, really, were laying perpendicular to the frame of the structure.He bent down and felt carefully with his fingers, and lo: there was a gap about the length and width of an index finger, between the ground and the frame. “Ah, ha” he nodded, “I see what she did now, slick little thing. She pushed some of the mulch out of the way and created a little hole she can fly in and out of.”
I was truly in awe of the Mother Wren.How did it occur to her to do that?What motivated her to dig her way in when the doors weren’t open at reliable times?She must’ve flown in when we had the doors open and identified it as a suitable nesting site.But what about when we closed doors again?She must’ve set about looking for a way out, and as wrens are well-known for flying under sheds and into brush piles, probably investigated the every square inch of the greenhouse until she found a weak spot she could excavate to allow exit and entrance.And a hidden entrance, at that! So, the ever-clever Carolina Wren decided that our greenhouse was a safe, warm and plant-filled environment to rear her brood…how lucky are we to have her vote of confidence! But this also presented a problem – the potted plant with nest of eggs I still carefully held.It had to be put back, and I had to make it appear as though the nest had not been disturbed by bungling, nosey humans.Attention-to-detail skills are useful, such as remembering odd and random things such as the direction the clump had been facing and which side of the potted plant it sat from greenhouse entrance.Hoping I’d remembered correctly, I set the plant and nest down on the garden table where it had been, and then rotated the pot to the angle I remembered.The nest entrance roughly faced the doors of the greenhouse.I peered in at the three lovely little eggs and smiled, hoping their mother would never know that we had moved the nest accidently. On Sunday, we did chores.First we cleaned house, our usual activity, and then we did the rest of the gardening we semi-started the day before.Jacques bought more gardening soil and soon we busily planting verbenas, lettuce and cabbages in the garden bed. As we watered the garden bed to soak down the plants we'd just put in, a green anole suddenly appeared and used the opportunity to take a quick shower under spray of the hose.
He closed his eyes and opened his mouth to lap up a few drops, seemingly enjoying a drink and the shower. After a few minutes he scampered out from under the spray and opened his lovely rosey-peach coloured gourget, almost as if to signal a "thank you!" to us for providing the moisture. In a flash, he disappeared up the trunk of a tree.
I opened the greenhouse to water the plants and peek in at the wren nest, hoping that Mother had come back and “forgiven” us our trespass.She had – there were now four eggs in the funnel nest!
A Majestic Surprise
We pruned plants and finished in the yard for the day, so I decided to go to Stone Mountain Park for the remainder of the afternoon.
Stone Mountain Park is a really enchanting place:the stone comprising the “mountain” is actually one giant, contiguous granite boulder partially protruding from the earth, the same as Ayer’s Rock in Australia.There’s a nice trail system around Venable Lake, and it’s one of my stops when I’m in the park.
I took along all the old bread from the past week for the waterfowl; there’s usually always a handful of ducks and geese who enjoy a nip of bread offered by passersby. As I walked around the lake, I noticed a white, fluffy someone floating gently just a few yards out from the shore.As I got nearer, the mystery bird came into view, and a surprise awaited:a Mute Swan.A single, regal swan treading water, shyly drew up her head and tilted to have a look at me.
She was gorgous!I wondered, though, why she was alone, and what she was doing here, so far south (swans are birds found in northerly climates).No matter, I went back to the car to retrieve my bread, and visited a pair of geese, followed by a pair of ducks, swimming in the smaller lake by the parking lot.
Then I went back to find the swan.She’d drifted a little further down the shoreline (to get away from idiots who allowed their dogs to run off leashes, unsupervised).I found her and positioned myself to offer her the bread.At first she was too shy to take the bread I tossed into the water near her, but after a few moments, she deigned to dine on the gift of food brought to her.I finished tossing the bread to her and then moved away up the trail to watch her from a distance as she continued to eat. I had a really great weekend, one that was very bird-filled and full of happy surprises! Subsequent Notes – on Monday there were five eggs in Mother Wren’s nest! I have been watching her fly in and out of the greenhouse all week now and actually saw her sitting in her nest today (the 29th).
April 7 - 4 of the 5 eggs hatched!
April 8 - 5th and remaining egg hatchted. Happy Birthday, Jacques, all the wren grandbirdies have hatched for your birthday!
Today was sunny, clear and blustery: the temperatures crept up to 43F as the wind swirled the leaves in gusts.
Having spent Sunday cooped in the house bored out of my mind (because it rained all day), I was determined to get out and walk even though it was on the nippy side.
The sky was crystal blue and the few small clouds were high and thin, almost iridescent and translucent. I'd brought bread along to feed the water fowl, and then I walked around the park on a (paved - can you believe it? Paved!) trail. I went back to the little pond and sat in the sun watching the birds for a while before taking around walk around the trail.
As I went back down onto the trail and walked, I noted there were others out walking dogs and children, and some were jogging. There's a reason to mention this fact...
The wind gusted and I envisioned myself with feathers, fluffing up to conserve warmth (read: reposition my scarf, pulling it higher up across my chin). Someone passed me on the path, another person making the best of the clear day to get some fresh air and stretch their legs (and perhaps clear out a hang-over?).
I happened to look down onto the pavement while strolling down the paved path, and behold, I saw a toad.
Yes, that's right: a toad.
Thinking this was a plastic child's toy dropped by a toddler riding in a stroller, I bent down, taking off my glove and gently stroke this "winter" toad with my fingertip. To my surprise, eyes blinked, and the toad tilted its head slightly to look up at me.
Not a toy at all...a real toad was lying on the pavement in a receding ray of sunlight on the first day of January...winter. This is northern Georgia, not subtropical Florida; what was a toad doing out here in the winter time? Where did this toad come from, and why had it left the safety of a winter's sleep in an underground burrow? “Poor thing,” I thought, carefully picking up the toad in my gloved hands.Nestled in the palm of my hand, I covered the cold and sluggish amphibian with my other gloved hand to keep it warm and comfortable as I walked back to the car.In sunny patches of the trail, I carefully peeked in on the animal sitting in my hands; eyes blinked and a head tilted towards me, nodding at me, almost.What are the chances of finding a toad in January in the Northern hemisphere?I couldn’t imagine how on earth this poor creature was moved to leave its burrow.Perhaps the rains we’d recently had flooded its burrow?Maybe the relative warmth on Saturday roused the amphibian from the burrow in false anticipation of spring? My thoughts turned to metaphysical…Cultures around the world associated frogs and toads with water, and therefore, cleansing of the soul and the mind, amongst other things.In some cultures, they heralded good fortune and prosperity, a symbol of good luck and longevity.And of course, we all remember the fairy tale of the frog who merely required a little smooch for metamorphosis into his true form, that of the handsome prince.Had I stumbled onto a sign from above?Was there a current of serendipity and synchronicity at work here…the toad, wandering out on a cold winter’s day for some mysterious reason only known to him, meets a woman who sees him on the ground and picks him up, keeping him warmed in her gloves until, until… “Until I get you back to my place and into the greenhouse!” I thought to myself. When I reached the car, I carefully removed the gloves and again placed the cold but very much alive toad into the palm of one glove and covered him up with the other. Back at the house, I carried the toad to the greenhouse and it occurred to me that frog and toad populations are plummeting worldwide, and I hoped that this little gesture – helping one animal – might result in springtime with a few more tadpoles in the creek behind our house. When I reached the greenhouse, I gently put the toad down onto the soil of one of the large potted plants.It was my hope that the toad would slowly warm up enough to survive the season in the greenhouse, or warm up enough to get the strength to burrow in and overwinter somewhere in the greenhouse.
In any case, the New Year’s Toad had wandered off and was hidden away when I checked on him about an hour after bringing into his new winter home.To me, this is a wonderful event and happening…the New Year’s Toad has appeared to me on the first day of the new year to bring me good luck and renewal…today was a good day afterall!
It got cloudy yesterday and misted a little as a rather large weather front began moving through Georgia from the southwest.
This morning the cloud cover was thick, making dawn last longer than usual, and muting the light quite a bit.
I leave the house around 5:20AM and drive to Alpharetta where I work to avoid the rush-hour traffic, and of course, use the little gym available to employees in our office park to get in a workout before work.
There's a greenway between the office park complex and the apartment complex, and it's a pretty nice swath of woods, too. There's a paved path on both sides of the street, and the one on "our" side of the street extends back a little ways and then stops in a small clearing. There's a little creek flowing through the wooded area, too, and there's lots of small wildlife there, it's always hopping with birds and squirrels and whatnot. It looks like the woods extend back past the clearing, and I'll have to explore a little back there at some point.
After the workout in the little gym, I walk down to the little greenway to walk laps from start to end of the trail and then back again, twice each.
This morning I got to the greenway path at 7:15AM, and it was still a bit dark. The heavily overcast sky gave faint light and walking further into the greenway reminded me of some of the night hikes I've done in the past!
I was near the last fourth of the trail and felt someone behind me; it was a really strong and unmistakable feeling; I turned to look and thought I saw a branch that "didn't quite belong" on a tree arching over the trail. I reached the clearing and turned around to walk back to the entrance. It's a personal habit of mine to always scan the trees and ground whenever I walk in the woods, and this morning, it really payed off!
There, on the tree that arches over the trail, the "branch that didn't belong" silently watched me; I saw a head turn in profile...the head of a Barred Owl!
She was perched on a branch, with the sky behind her, perfectly silhouetting her body against the sky. I couldn't see the patterns of her feathers as the light still wasn't sufficient, but I could certain tell by her size that she was a Barred Owl.
I stopped where I was, unwilling to walk underneath her for fear that she'd be inclined to fly off or that I may disturb her activities and cost her a breakfast catch.
Her head swiveled around and angled to look at something in the bushes on the right side of the trail. Was it a mouse? Maybe a chipmunk foraging? Her head slowly rotated around, and she looked down at me; I was in awe of my "power animal," my most favourite bird: Owl.
She turned her head to the left and casually preened a few feathers on her shoulder, and then her head snapped back to look at the bushes on the right side of the trail again (there was obviously something of interest going on in there).
After a few minutes, she leaned forward and silently took wing, flying off to my left and disappearing into the trees.
Tucson's 32nd Annual
Peace Fair and Music
Climate JusticeThis FREE
event is Arizona's
largest gathering of
Peace, Justice, and
with Live Music, Tables,
In a meeting of the
EU General Affairs
Council nineteen states
opposed the approval of
GM Maize Pioneer
1507, developed jointly
and Dow Chemica
l, while five supported
it and four abstained
from any view, EU
Why this is important
As a community comprised
of members actively using
the tools provided by
this site to accomplish
needed improvements to
various aspects of all
life (animal, human,
environmental), we, the
undersigned, are hereby
Beverley Hughes: When I
started working to save
horses in July of 2013, I
intended to petition
congress, create and sign
petitions, dive into
social media, protest,
and do everything I could
to save horses. I had no
idea that I'd actually