Monday, June 22, 2009

For the Birds

We have a lot of birds around our house; cute little black-headed brown-bodied birds, bright orange-red-headed birds, little yellow birds with amazing vocal chords, hummingbirds, various hawks, blue jays, and doves (or pigeons, I've never really understood the difference). And there's a wetland wildlife area within a mile of the house that attracts Canadian geese, swallows galore, great blue herons, herons, egrets, pelicans, vultures, kites, kingfishers, pheasants, ducks, and all sorts of other birds. Except for the doves, we enjoy our avian neighbors.

As an adaptation to flight, all birds defecate at take off in order to reduce their body weight, making flight easier. For years, decades even, I have believed that the only birds capable of defecating while in flight were seagulls. So the little bird that swooped down on me this morning and pooped like a B-2 bomber with feathers as I was getting into my car was a complete surprise. Thankfully, most of his payload landed on the car and not me.

So that got me thinking, was this little bird a sign of genetic mutation and evolution (we've been watching Heroes, yo), or have I been laboring under a delusion all these years? I can't recall where I picked up that "fact" about seagulls, but now I'm thinking I may have to reanalyze this core belief… and it's only Monday.

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