Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carnivorous Butcherbird on Veranda

This little guy has been visiting nearly every day for some weeks now.

It's a relative of the magpie.

Rear view:

The other day, alongside a visiting lorikeet:

It's a Grey butcherbird:
The adult Grey Butcherbird has a black crown and face and a grey back, with a thin white collar. The wings are grey, with large areas of white and the underparts are white. The grey and black bill is large, with a small hook at the tip of the upper bill. The eye is dark brown and the legs and feet are dark grey. Both sexes are similar in plumage, but the females are slightly smaller than the males. Young Grey Butcherbirds resemble adults, but have black areas replaced with olive-brown and a buff wash on the white areas. The bill is completely dark grey and often lacks an obvious hook. They are sometimes mistaken for small kingfishers.
I walked by the veranda door this morning and this little guy was standing on the edge of a flower pot looking in at me like, "Where's my brekkie?"

Like the magpies, butcherbirds are carnivores:
Grey Butcherbirds are aggressive predators. They prey on small animals, including birds, lizards and insects, as well as some fruits and seeds. Uneaten food may be stored in the fork or a branch or impaled. Grey Butcherbirds sit on an open perch searching for prey which, once sighted, they pounce on. Most mobile prey is caught on the ground, though small birds and insects may be caught in flight. Feeding normally takes place alone, in pairs or in small family groups. That's a little piece of mince - ground beef - in his beak.
Here's video of this morning's butcherbird, with a little piece of mince - ground beef - to fly away with. (You can pause it to see the whiskers that jut out from the base of its beak.)

Good shots of the hook on its beak, and great audio of it's beautiful song, here.

Updated: This post has been edited - as I mistakenly said butcherbirds were related to the kingfishers. They are not! I am very sorry!

Chief Justice John Roberts Admits to Killing Vince Foster

WASHINGTON - The day after finding the U.S. Constitution un-constitutional in his shock ruling upholding President Barack Obama's economy-crippling ObamaCare legislation, Chief Justice John Roberts admitted to murdering Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster.

As most Americans know, in 1993 then First Lady Hillary Clinton ordered the murder of Foster, a childhood friend of Bill Clinton and one-time law partner of the First Lady, after he threatened to expose the Clintons' child prostitution and cocaine smuggling operation, which was run out of the Clinton Oval Office. Foster's body was found on July 20, 1993, in a Virginia park. The murder was ruled by a "suicide" by a Clinton-controlled coroner.

What most Americans didn't know until today was that it was Chief Justice Roberts, then a powerful Washington, D.C., attorney - with a taste for underage prostitutes and cocaine - who carried out the murder.

Roberts, who as Chief Justice has diplomatic immunity from all U.S. laws (not unlike United Nations personnel), and therefore cannot be prosecuted for the murder, brazenly admitted to the crime while eating at an elite D.C. restaurant. His dinner guests, which included now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, filmmaker Michael Moore, and several of the country's most prominent journalists,  erupted in cheers when Roberts revealed his secret.

"Now that we have made socialism permanent in America," Roberts said to the group, "I don't have to pretend anymore. Thank God George Bush was dumb enough to nominate me for chief justice!" he added. "What a dumbass!"

Photo credit.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Health Care Ruling Causes Millions of Republicans to Become Gay

WASHINGTON (Little Australia) —On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare legislation constitutional, millions of until now heterosexual American Republicans suddenly became gay, according to several of the newly gay Republicans themselves.

"I was totally not gay until this morning," said Bo Hickham, 52, a farmer and registered Republican in Wilsonville, South Carolina. "I'm married, to my wife, and we have sex just like regular people do—we've got nine kids—but now, I honestly cannot stop thinking about men's doowhickeys! I went down on my stable guy Billy not twenty minutes ago. And I mean I liked it. A lot. And he's my cousin."

Dozens of other self-professed "anti-gay" Americans told similar tales today—and they all blamed today's Supreme Court decision.

Mary Schuster, 29, who, like her husband of ten years is an active member of the Bowden, Illinois, Tea Party, said she had "relations, several times" with a female neighbor this afternoon—something she said had never even crossed her mind before —and that she believes the unexpected sexual liaison was a direct result of today's ruling.

"We said it over, and over, and over again," Schuster said. "ObamaCare is not just wrong, it's not just un-American—it's evil. It has an evil imprint in it. And today the Supreme Court imprinted that evil even deeper into all of us. Even into my neighbor's vagina."

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who refused to answer reporter's questions as to whether he has experienced any unusual sexual symptoms since the ruling, made only the cryptic remark, "Tied to the roof, doggie style," before being driven away by bodyguards.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Romney Quits Campaign, Accepts $1 Billion Offer to Rule Monaco

WASHINGTON, June 27 -- Mitt Romney officially ended his presidential campaign this evening, telling reporters in an impromptu press conference in a Los Angeles hotel room that he had accepted a $1 billion offer to rule the Mediterranean city-state of Monaco.

"I know you all had high hopes for me," Romney said. "And I feel bad for my supporters, my fans. But the things Monaco has done for me, for my family, for my chances of winning - I wish America had made a better offer. But they didn't. And that's okay. And we have to move forward now."

Romney added that he would continue fighting for causes he believes in.

"I am ending my campaign, but I am not ending my fight for the right of every person in America to have dreams," Romney said. "Here's a funny story: A lot of people I've met traveling around this great country of ours, a lot of them said they dream about being like me. Can you believe that? And they should have that right. People should keep dreaming."

Romney aides told reporters that the $1 billion Monaco contract is for a presidential term of four years. It includes a signing bonus of $200 million, as well as several incentive clauses that could see Romney taking actual earnings of as much as $1.8 billion if he reaches ceratin economic goals by the end of the term. Most of the former governor's financial team are on their way to China already.

Photo credit.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cane Toad Toxin To Be Used Against Cane Toad Tadpoles

Well it turns out that the toads' poison is sort of the major chemical signal that cane toad tadpoles use to find out that another cane toad has laid eggs in the pond. And they come racing across to try to find these new eggs to kill them so that they don't have any competitors. So that if we put that secretion in a trap, a funnel trap, a minnow trap, we catch tens of thousands of cane toad tadpoles very, very quickly. And the beauty of it is that the native tadpoles are repelled by this chemical and so they go in the other direction.
You can listen to the ABC show on this here.

Full cane toad invasion story here.

Pic from here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Eunuch Spiders Fight Off Competition"

Male spiders castrate themselves so their manhood doesn't weigh them down when they're fighting off competitors, say researchers.
Now you know.

More at Live Science:

CREDIT: Qi Qi Lee 
Caption: "Nephilengys malabarensis male and female showing extreme sexual dimorphism where the much smaller male is resting on the female’s abdomen after escaping from female cannibalism via emasculation during copulation. The self-emasculated male palp (red arrow) is lodged in the female’s epigynum."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Aussie Coroner: The Dingo Did It [updtd]


Full story should be here very soon.

Update: Here it is:
Dingo caused baby Azaria Chamberlain's death - coroner 
An Australian coroner has made a final ruling that a dingo dog took baby Azaria Chamberlain from a campsite in 1980 and caused her death. 
The decision was made after Azaria's parents presented new evidence to try to clear their names. 
After the eight week-old baby went missing, they were charged with her disappearance, and mother Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton with her murder.
She was released when evidence matched the dingo story but doubts lingered.
Extra: Bad dingo.

Photo from here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We had just one cat all the years of my childhood

Or at least that’s what I thought. My parents told me cats could change shape and color at will.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Jeff Stanley Kicks Ass on "Tidings Cafe"

Gah gah gah, I miss my friend Jeff. This is just such a beautiful - and beautifully honest - song. When he hits that high note - damn.