The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Post 5841

Robbie Gonzalez

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Pigeons are everywhere. New York City, alone, is thought to harbor as many as 7-million of them. But where are all the dead pigeons? The short answer: Inside other animals. The long answer – horribly, but necessarily – involves GIFs.

Photo Credit: Carlos Larios via flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WARNING: This Post Contains Graphic Footage of Pigeon Demise

It’s hard out there for a pigeon. Harder than you probably realize. More than most animals,pigeons have shared in a long, at times even convivial, relationship with humans. And yet they seem to have have fallen out of public favor in recent years. They have a lot in common with rats, another loathed species with intimate ties to humanity. Like rats, today’s pigeons, especially those of the feral variety, are associated with grime, disease, and overwhelming numbers – a nest-building, infrastructure-exploiting perfusion of the modern urban landscape.

It is notable that where rats have succeeded primarily from the dark and shadow-shrouded margins of society, pigeons have made their way in the world almost entirely out in the open – bobbing their heads and beating their wings, dirty, innumerable and occasionally aggressive in the sight of god and man. Robert Sullivan has written that rats are our cities’ “most unwanted inhabitants,” but one could compellingly argue that title actually belongs to the pigeon. They are, after all, “rats with wings,” the implication being that the only thing worse than a rat is a rat capable of flight – and in broad daylight, no less. (Pigeons, you should know, are quite the aerialists.)

All this is to say that pigeons, having fallen from grace in the eyes of humans, already have it kind of rough. But it gets worse. Because pigeons, I recently learned, also have to worry about being eaten. By pretty much everything.

Under ideal circumstances, a pigeon can live upwards of 15 years. The average lifespan of a pigeon “under urban conditions,” however, is more like 3–4 years. Given this information, urbanites are wont to inquire after the whereabouts of their city’s most reviled birds. Where, pray tell, are all the dead pigeons?

The classic answer is that pigeons and their offspring are killed and eaten by a long list of other animals, and that this keeps their inanimate bodies more or less out of sight and mind. If you’re like me-from-six-hours-ago, you probably have no idea just how extensive that list is. It includes:


The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via Stenraisk

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via Bubu station


The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via Brian Rusnica

Cats (Stray and Domestic)

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via jayesh patil


The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via SzabolcsS

Various Species of Raptor

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via vanessa cano

Catfish (Catfish!)

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Video by Cucherousset et al. via Ed Yong

Turtles (TURTLES!)

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Via fnordfromcruel

And Randy Johnson Humans

The GIF Guide To Pigeons And The Animals That Eat Them

Be apprised: This is only a sampling of the peristeronic torture porn that awaits you, should you choose to plumb the depths of the Internet with a keyword search of “* kills pigeon.”

The list of pigeon-eating animals grows when you incorporate scavengers. Here’s what Gary Graves, curator at the Smithsonian’s bird division, had to say when The Atlantic‘s John Metcalf looked into the whereabouts of the world’s dead pigeons:

…decay processes and scavengers clean them up quickly. In Atlanta, from April through October, blowflies and ants can reduce a dead sparrow to a pile of loose feathers in a few days. [Ed. Note: According to The Straight Dope, insects can do the same to a pigeon “in a week or two.”] In winter, opossums, raccoons, rats, cats, dogs, skunks, foxes, coyotes, crows, and Turkey Vultures clean up the dead. These same scavengers operate in the warmer months too, but blowflies often beat them to the punch…. Yes, the world would be a lot smellier without nature’s cleanup squad (including the smallest and most important decomposers——bacteria and fungi)!

The more one reads up on pigeons and the animals that devour them, the more one is faced with the distinct impression that the Venn diagram depicting “Things That Eat Meat” and “Things That Eat Pigeons” is basically a circle.

It’s true, of course, that many of the things that eat pigeons also hunt and scavenge for other animals. There are instances, however, of pigeons constituting the primary food source for urban predators.

The peregrine falcons and redwing hawks of New York City, for instance, prey upon all manner of birds, including starlings, blackbirds, flickers, and blue jays – but their diets consist primarily of pigeon. In the early nineties, raptor-on-pigeon violence became so aggressive thatthe American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals actually received complaints from people seeking to have pigeon-predators shot.

“We had one woman in Brooklyn who called us in a fury, asking that we do something to get rid of the peregrine falcons,” Dr. Stephen Zawistowki, science director for the A.S.P.C.A. in New York, once said, in an interview with the New York Times. “She thinks the city should belong to the pigeons.”


Could Israel’s Orbital Tugboat Rescue Europe’s Galileo Satellites?

Post 5840

Mark Strauss

Could Israel’s Orbital Tugboat Rescue Europe’s Galileo Satellites?

Could Israel's Orbital Tugboat Rescue Europe's Galileo Satellites?

Last week, two European Space Agency Galileo satellites were injected into a wrong, lower orbit. As concerns grow about finding a way to correct the mishap, an insurance company is reportedly consulting with an Israeli startup that is developing an orbital tugboat to grapple wayward satellites.

[Image: Effective Space Solutions]

Although ESA ground teams confirm that they are in contact with the Galileo satellites and are able to control them, the real question is whether the satellites—Europe’s version of the U.S. GPS satellite navigation system—will be usable.

As Forbes reports:

Both satellites are equipped with 70kg each of propellant and are capable of moving away from their current orbit. But one of the problems facing the Galileo team, the ESA spokesperson told me, is that moving the satellites to the target orbit might require the use of all of the available fuel – meaning that the life cycle of the satellites would be shortened. Additionally, he added, there may not even be enough fuel to get to the target orbit anyway.

The ESA is also investigating the possibility that the satellites might still be usable for navigation in their current orbits, but that’s still being evaluated by teams on the ground. “The worst case scenario,” according to the ESA, is that the satellites may not be able to be used for the Galileo program at all.”

Meanwhile, according to SpaceNews, insurers have met with representatives of Effective Space Solutions—a startup founded by Arie Halsband, a former Israel Aerospace Industries executive. The company is developing a microsatellite called the DeOrbiter (photo above), which would be used to extend the lifetime of satellites running low on fuel.

The tech site Israel21c reports:

As an outer-space tugboat, the DeOrbiter is designed to service satellites, keep them “in station” to extend their useful life, monitor them, deorbit them and pull lost satellites back on course. It will have to match the speed of the misplaced satellites, which move at 13,500 kilometers per hour (8,400 mph), and could be spinning.

“DeOrbiter has a sensor to locate a satellite,” Halsband explains. “Then it achieves a rendezvous with the satellite and has a unique grappling and docking mechanism to hold it in place. We put a lot of energy into our microsatellite that allows each one to do these tasks more than 20 times.”

The microsatellite is not only more lightweight and cheaper to make than a full-size satellite, but also much cheaper to launch.

This gives the Israeli company an edge over competitors that are designing full-size satellite tugboats, says Halsband, because the price tag for launching a satellite into space is the most substantial cost of the mission – up to $100 million for a complete launcher.

In addition, DeOrbiter’s ion propulsion system is said to be 10-15 times more efficient than that of competing designs.

Effective Space Solutions claim that their tiny tugboat could be ready in 18 months. In the meantime, reports SpaceNews, other companies and space programs, including NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, are eyeing the stranded-but-healthy Galileo satellites as an ideal opportunity to test their own robotic rescue technologies, which promise to become a growing niche industry in the near-future.

High-Tech Sleuthing Cracks Mystery of Death Valley’s Moving Rocks

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High-Tech Sleuthing Cracks Mystery of Death Valley’s Moving Rocks

In Photos: Life in the Arctic region of the Americas

Post 5838

In Photos: Life in the Arctic region of the Americas

What’s the Real Difference Between Brown and White Eggs?

Post 5837

George Dvorsky

What’s the Real Difference Between Brown and White Eggs?

What's the Real Difference Between Brown and White Eggs?

Chickens tend to produce eggs in one of two colors, white and brown. But is there any nutritional difference between them? And what accounts for the difference in shell color in the first place?

These questions were recently posed to C. Claiborne Ray in the New York Times, who spoke to Cornell University scientist Tro V. Bui to get the answers. Very simply, there is no discernible difference in nutritional value. Brown eggs tend to have more omega-3 fatty acids, but the difference is miniscule. There’s also no difference in yolk or taste.

As for shell color:

Genes determine shell color, Dr. Bui said. White-feathered chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs; red or brown ones with red earlobes lay brown eggs; and the Ameraucana breed, also known as the Eastern egg chicken, lays eggs with blue shells.

Shell quality does not differ by breed, though younger chickens lay eggs with harder shells. Brown-egg chickens tend to be larger and cost more to feed and raise, so white eggs are more cost-efficient.

That said, the type of feed can affect the egg’s nutritional content, as well as its yolk color.

There’s more at the NYT, including the genetic and chemical variables responsible for determining shell color.

Related: Americans — why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

Image: amenic181/shutterstock

The Largest Scale Model Of Our Solar System Is In Sweden

Post 5836

Robbie Gonzalez

The Largest Scale Model Of Our Solar System Is In Sweden

The Largest Scale Model Of Our Solar System Is In Sweden

Heck, it practically is Sweden. At a scale of 1:20-million, the Sweden Solar System (SSS) spans nearly the entire length of that country. Our parent star is represented by the Ericsson Globe inStockholm (below the fold), the largest hemispherical building in the world.

The Largest Scale Model Of Our Solar System Is In Sweden

Photo Credit: Fredrik Posse/Stryngford Photo | CC BY-SA 3.0

Via the SSS website:

Distances and sizes are scaled according to 1:20 million, and the inner planets are all in the Stockholm area. The outer planets follow in the same direction with for instance Neptune in Söderhamn and the dwarf planet Pluto in Delsbo, 300 km from the Globe. A number of minor planets and comets also populate SSS, which now extends from the very south to the very north of Sweden. There is a host institution for each model. SSS is a pedagogical instrument and conveys a direct feeling of the enormous distances in space, and how small the planets are compared to the Sun. Art, mythology and science merge in this project, and SSS connects many different places and different type of activities around Sweden. Nils Brenning, at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and Gösta Gahm, at the Stockholm University, started the project and coordinate new activities.

H/t Kottke

‘Stiff Person Syndrome’ Treated by Stem Cell Transplant


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