Origin of the species: where did Darwin’s finches come from? – the guardian.com

Galápagos finches have been the subject of a plethora of evolutionary studies, but where did the first ones come from?

Four of the species of finch observed by Darwin on the Galápagos Islands, showing variation of beak.
Four of the species of finch observed by Darwin on the Galápagos Islands, showing variation of beak. Photograph: Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

When the first of the Galápagos Islands arose from the ocean floor around 3m years ago, they were naked, angry, lava-spewing cones devoid of life. Now, millions of years later, they are alive with some of the world’s most iconic animals. Giant tortoises. Sea iguanas. Flightless cormorants. And those finches equipped with Swiss army knife beaks.

The Galápagos finches are probably one of the most well-known examples of evolution and will forever be tightly linked to Charles Darwin’s voyage and his theory of natural selection (although you may be surprised to learn that the Galápagos finches were not as central to Darwin’s theory as we like to think). With their diversity of bill sizes and shapes, each species has adapted to a specific type of food; the ground-finch (Geospiza) has a thick beak adapted to feeding on a variety of crunchy seeds and arthropods, whereas the warbler finch (Certhidea olivacea) developed a slender, pointy bill to catch tasty insects hiding between the foliage. The woodpecker finch(Camarhynchus pallidus) even uses twigs or cactus spines to pry arthropods out of treeholes

Read the full article here.

Don’t blame wildfires on climate change – it’s environmentalists’ fault, says Zinke

From theguardian.com

US interior secretary Ryan Zinke blames environmentalists for the devastation in California and calls for an increase in logging

A wildfire burns near Yosemite national park.

 A wildfire burns near Yosemite national park. Photograph: US forest service/Reuters

The US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has blamed environmentalists for California’s ferocious wildfires and claimed, contrary to scientific research, that climate change had “nothing to do” with them. Instead, he said the fires were worsened because of limits on logging.

“America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change,” Zinke told KCRA, a TV station in northern California, on Sunday. “Extreme environmentalists have shut down public access. They talk about habitat and yet they are willing to burn it up.”

His remarks come on the heels of a USA Today op-ed, published last week, where he held environmentalists partly responsible for the fires because of a stance some have taken against logging. Zinke described it as a responsible means of forest management and called for an increase in timber harvesting, adding that this would also be a boon for the economy.

“This is not a debate about climate change,” he said on a trip to the affected area, the Sacramento Bee reported. “There’s no doubt the [fire] season is getting longer, the temperatures are getting hotter.”

Read the full article here.

Toxic ‘red tide’ algae bloom is killing Florida wildlife and menacing tourism

From: theguardian.com – full article here 

Fish washed up after dying in a red tide in Captiva, Florida.
 Fish washed up after dying in a red tide in Captiva, Florida. Photograph: Cristobal Herrera/EPA

This year 267 tons of marine life, including thousands of small fish and 72 Goliath groupers, have washed up along 150 miles of the Gulf Coast from the unrelenting bloom

With its long, white, sandy beaches, Sanibel Island off the coast of south-western Florida is usually a perfect place for families to enjoy these last days of summer.

This year, however, 267 tons of marine life, including thousands of small fish, 72 Goliath groupers, and even a 21-ft whale shark have washed up on the beach since July – thanks to a a disastrous “red tide” of toxic algae.

Morty’s advice: SCREAM!

Morty - Sept edition

In the latest chronicle of Morty’s advice to fans seeking his sage advice, Chiyome and mates (of Twitter’s Flock Is Family) learn that there may be one sure-fire way of getting their ‘Phone Lady’ to put down her annoying (tech) appendage and pay more attention to them!

If this issue seems all too familiar to you too then you need to go to our Beneath The Cage Grate page and read Morty’s full reply to Chiyome and flock.  Get ready to raise your  roof and get the attention you deserve!

Design Problems

by Sherri Moorer

Zack

I have poor spatial skills. I often joke that I would get lost leaving my driveway if I didn’t have to go to work five days a week. Most people think I’m exaggerating until they make the mistake of asking me for directions. GPS is a necessity of modern life for those of us who are spatially challenged. Unfortunately, it can’t help me with organizing cages, which is a challenge I face every time I get Zack and Bubbles new perches or toys, as I did recently.

Don’t get me wrong. Cages are much better than they were in the mid-1980’s when I got Samson, my first parakeet. They’re built efficiently with ease of cleaning, function, and bird comfort in mind. They’re also bigger, to provide more space for stretching out those wings to play, exercise, or laze around and beak grind while watching TV. You’d think the modern design would make finding places for those various perches and toys easier. Instead, it’s just enough rope to hang myself.

Read about Sherri’s spatial conundrums while attempting to outfitting Bubbles’ and Zack’s houses with new perches and toys on our Feathered Frenzy page.