Ancient iridescence

Cool news from LiveScience:
090826-feather-fossil-02
“Nanostructures preserved in feather fossils more than 40 million years old show evidence that those feathers were once vivid and iridescent in color, paleontologists say.”

Read the article…

Where do I begin?

*facepalm*
Originally uploaded to Flickr by
Leo Reynolds

When you think it can’t get any worse, along comes:

AllSands: End Hummingbird Poisoning And Feeder Mess

Some particularly facepalm-worthy excerpts, now with comments:

Red, plastic, hanging, “Hummingbird Feeders” in our backyards are a way to attract hummingbirds; but they are a mistake!

Excessive commas, inappropriate semicolon, unnecessary quotation marks, and Winnie-the-Pooh Capitalization—a very poor start indeed.

Then there is the time consuming process of making the right mix of boiled water and scoops of sugar to duplicate local “flower nectar” to attract the most native hummingbirds to your feeder.

The “right mix” of sugar and water is exactly the same everywhere: 1 part white sugar, 3 to 5 parts water, combine and stir until dissolved. Boiling is unnecessary, though the sugar will dissolve more quickly if the solution is briefly microwaved or brought to a boil on the stove top. If it takes more than 10 minutes, even starting with cold water, you’re overdoing it.

What’s with “the most native hummingbirds”? Is the author trying to imply that some hummingbirds are more native than others, or that if you get the recipe wrong you might attract (presumably undesirable) non-native hummingbirds?

Add the unnecessary quotation marks and missing hyphen where one is actually needed (see below), and you’ve got fractal fail. With all that time saved by not making sugar water, perhaps the anonymous author will find time to read a book on hummingbirds. Or remedial English.

It is not that uncommon to see Hum-birds literally drop out of the sky – when they run out of fuel. If the fall doesn’t break anything critical, one can usually nurse them back to health with a nose drops of warm sugar water within 8 hours; but they’ll die within hours – if poisoned by a filthy Feeder.

Yes, it is extremely uncommon to see one “drop out of the sky.” No, they don’t “die within hours” from dirty feeders. Where did the author dig up this garbage?

“Hum-birds,” “a nose drops,” inappropriate hyphens, more W-t-P Caps, and tortured sentence structure are giving me a headache.

Their wings rotate 180 degrees, like a helicopter…

Since helicopters’ rotors rotate 360 degrees, I’d say the author has stretched this common analogy past the breaking point.

Since most of their energy comes from flower blossom’s nectar, their relatively short lives (3-5 years) are spent like farm workers following the annual flowering schedule over 500 miles from where you are to Mexico – during the winter.

Their lives are relatively long for such small creatures. In the best-known hummingbird species, average life span is 3 to 5 years, but maximum documented ages range from 8 to 12 years. This exceeds the documented longevity of many larger birds and small mammals.

Most of the world’s hummingbirds don’t migrate. Not all hummingbirds that breed north of Mexico go south to Mexico and/or Central America for the winter, and most of those that do have to travel more than 1000 miles to reach safe winter havens.

Was the article originally written for a regional audience who were all assumed to be more than (or is it exactly?) 500 miles from Mexico and/or the wintering grounds of some species of hummingbird?

Confused sentence structure compounded by redundancy (flower = blossom), an incorrect and unnecessary possessive, and another useless hyphen.

Joe Hummingbird has to nest in North America – where nesting spots are less crowded than in Mexico during the summer. So to successfully mate, he has to be the first one in your neighborhood to find the best nesting spots to attract a “soul mate”.

What species is “Joe” anyway?

Mexico is in North America (even though field guide publishers like to pretend it isn’t).

“Joe” doesn’t nest (male hummingbirds are deadbeat dads), and he doesn’t have to be the first to establish a territory to have mating opportunities.

Since when does “soul mate” apply to the avian equivalent of a one-night stand?

Extra fail points for bad punctuation, but the split infinitive gets a pass.

However, if Joe arrives in your neighborhood before the flowers bloom he’ll perish before mating.

No, he won’t. Early-migrating hummingbirds can survive by stealing sweet, nutritious sap from sapsucker wells.

Anyway, Nature has given Joe the uncanny ability to memorize “Territorial” maps; according to a recent study by University of Arizona researcher Dr. William Calder.

The late William A. Calder III, one of the world’s foremost hummingbird experts, studied many aspects of hummingbird biology and behavior, but nothing that could be described as “territorial maps” (whatever that means).

When Joe arrives in your neighborhood and he finds that perfect “love nest”; he’ll perch in a near by tree around a Hummingbird Feeder or sugar-rich flower garden. Joe will literally defend this ideal spot with his life. However, Joe will drain all the nectar-rich flowers surrounding his territory – morning and evening – to keep all other males moving on to find another good food source! This “Sugar-Dry Zone” helps Joe keep other males out of his perfect spot below his perch and within eye surveillance!

Hummingbirds don’t fight to the death, at least not intentionally. Dead hummingbirds can’t mate, and that’s the whole point of this kind of territoriality.

“Sugar-Dry Zone”??

Extra fail points for misspelling, inappropriate semicolon, more W-t-P Caps, “love nest,” and “eye surveillance.”

There’s more, but I can’t bear to go on. On the positive side, at least the writer got the part about red dye right. We can only hope he/she doesn’t get a book contract, because the world has more than enough bad books on hummingbirds.