Excellent stories


Will Smith

Project Officer (Botanical Imaging)

Queensland Herbarium

Science Delivery

Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA)


Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha

Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, Queensland, Australia 4066

Phone: (07) 38969508


From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Karen Ackoff
Sent: Thursday, 23 January 2014 3:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] (TAN) " down the rabbit hole" Stories


On a somewhat different take but having to do with avian intelligence...


My young Moluccan cockatoo, Boo, was playing on the top of his cage and
something happened outside in front of my house that startled him. He
flew towards the back of the house and landed on my dog's bed. My dog,
Willy, was horrendously abused so could be unpredictable and he took off
after Boo. This happened in a split second... Boo turned, stood firmly
and fluffed himself up (to look big) and screamed "NO!". Willy stopped
in his tracks. Everybody got a kiss on the head and Boo was returned
safely to his cage.


I should also say, that I raise cockatoos much like they would be raised
in a wild flock (where they stay with their parents for the first year
or so), and they sleep with me for the first few years. So I slept with
a dachshund on each side of me and a baby cockatoo on my chest. So the
dogs were used to the birds and being near them... it was the sudden
adrenaline rush that could make Willy unpredictable.


One more story...

I would sit with Peaches, my elder Moluccan cockatoo, also badly abused
(almost murdered), and I'd tell him stories. I always made it a point to
smile and be positive. He started an odd behavior... he would lean in
close to my face (a little daunting with that beak!) and he'd squint his
eyes at me. He did this repeatedly. I do believe he was smiling (kind of
like being in the operating room and reading everyone's expressions
above their surgical masks). I'm nearsighted so I tend to look at things
up close, and so the leaning in was in imitation of that, I think. 


Oh and just one more...

Boo will start singing (badly, kind of like a 5 yr old in the bathtub)
when he sees me take out my guitar. Interestingly, I don't sing when I
play guitar (I play instrumental pieces). He's put together singing with
the idea of guitar music and goes from there and is quite the performer.


They are very bright and silly and emotional creatures. While life in
captivity is far from ideal, I do the best I can to give them a safe and
happy home.






On Jan 22, 2014, at 12:17 PM, Barry K. MacKay <[log in to unmask]>

Shorebirds are even more spectacular, in some respects, than starlings
because they are light below, dark above, and so in addition to the
rapidly shifting configuration of the flock, waves of light and dark
flow through it as we see first their bellies, then their backs.





Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905)-472-9731 <> 
[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> 






From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Linda Feltner
Sent: January-22-14 9:36 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] (TAN) " down the rabbit hole" Stories


They learned some years ago that birds fly in these large formations by
visual clues from the bird next to them. It was documented or confirmed
by some sort of cool test, and I will find that when I can. I'm packing
to teach a 3-day workshop in bird drawing!


Birds have an extraordinary reflexes and coordination. Their pupils are
controlled by faster and different muscles than the human eye. Their
eyesight in general is keener, blood vessels don't get in the way (like
ours do). Their circulatory and respiratory system is efficient and
allows instant energy upon command. Their super-flexible neck, head and
body allows the acrobatics. I'm sure the Cornell articles are more


Thanks for posting the link, it worked fine for me. 


I've seen flocks of shorebirds do this in Washington State, a glistening
cloud, indeed.






Linda M. Feltner Artist, LLC
P.O. Box 325
Hereford, AZ 85615
(520) 803-0538 <> 






On Jan 22, 2014, at 6:18 AM, Barbara Harmon wrote:

Also learned from the Cornell blog that apparently (at least with
Starlings) the birds are consistently coordinating with their seven
nearest neighbors. But beyond that they are still somehow able to
coordinate with other birds all the way across the flock... and they use
the term "effective perceptive range" for this.

And as you said Barry, they are typically exhibiting this behavior in
avoidance of a predator.  

Barbara Harmon <> <> 


[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> 


On Jan 22, 2014, at 7:39 AM, Barry K. MacKay wrote:

My favourite story about this behaviour came from artist John James
Audubon...and we will never see its likes again, nor be able to verify
what he claimed.


As I recall he reported that he was watching an enormous flock of
Passenger Pigeons flying by, when suddenly a Peregrine Falcon swooped
down into them.   The flock swerved, in unison, to avoid the raptor.



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