Monday, September 28, 2009

Local Nature

Last night I went to watch the swifts at Chatman. For readers that live outside of Portland, let me explain. There are a couple thousands swifts that live in the old chimmy at Chatmen Elementry school in NW Portland every fall as a month long stop on their migratory pattern. The thousands of tiny birds leave the chimny each morning to hunt individually. Then each night just before sunset they return to the chimny and fly down the smoke stack into their nests. The thousands of birds fill the sky and circle around looking like a tornato. It is an impressive view that tends to draw large crouds. I think there were just as many people there to see the birds last night as their were birds.

But the really exciting thing wasn't the thousands of swifts, it was the one falcon. The falcon arrived when there were a few hundred swifts in the sky. He perched on the top of the chimny, blocking the swifts path to their nightly home. One swift flew to close to the falcon and snatched it out of the air. The crouds of people watching went wild. The swifts became more hesitent and none got to close to the top of the chimny.

Then when the sun was nearly set and the swifts numbers had reached the thousands, the falcon rose and prepared his attack. He flew up and pulled a second swift out of the sky. Amazingly, the other tiny birds fought back. A hundred or so swifts flocked together and charged at the falcon, chasing him away from the chimny. The falcon flew off and the swifts began to funnel into the safety of the chimny. When about two thirds of the swifts had made it inside the falcon swooped back in and caught a third swift. This time the swifts didn't fight back, they just continued to fly into the chimny hoping he had his nights fill and they would be safe.

It was really neat to see. It felt a lot like watching a nature program on the Discovery Channel. But instead of seeing a lion attack a gazzel, it was just birds flying around a local elementry school. But I'm still glad that I went and watched it. Cities often feel so paved over, I'm glad I got to see a little preditor/prey action in my own backyard last night.

Joke of the Day
A group of engineers get together and debate what kind of engineer God must have been.
The mechanical engineer states that God must have been a mechanical engineer because the tendon and muscular system that drive the body seem so much like pulleys and levers.
Next the chemical engineer says that God must have been a chemical engineer because of the chemical elements involved in all the homones in the brain and glands.
The electrical engineer then claims that God must have been an electrical engineer because the nervise system is just like a large electrical system.
Finally the civil engineer explains that God had to be a civil engineer. Because only a civil engineer would run a sewer through a playground.

1 comment:

Jm Diaz said...

Kate, I think I just fell in love with your blog. I am not dyslexic.. I'm just a good ol' fashioned bad speller. I'll rephrase, I'm not too bad of a speller.. I just can't type worth a crap. My fingers tend to step all over themselves, like pre-teen dance partners at their first ball.

Oh, and the birds sound quite charming :)

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