Squirrel intelligence, new research

This video says about itself:

How Smart Is a Squirrel? Is A Squirrel Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader?

12 November 2016

Animal Intelligence

While a squirrel isn’t going to pen the next bestseller or ace a calculus class, the squirrel is smart in his own way. When looking at animal intelligence, humans shouldn’t judge animals by human standards. The best way to judge animal intelligence is how well they adapt and make use of the world around them. Squirrels are experts at adapting, capable of living almost anywhere, so much so that in some areas they are viewed as pests. Memory and abstract thought are two hallmarks of intelligence that squirrels have proven they are capable of.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Squirrels have long memory for problem solving

July 13, 2017

Squirrels can remember problem-solving techniques for long periods and can apply them to new situations, researchers have discovered.

University of Exeter scientists found grey squirrels quickly remembered how to solve a problem they had not seen for almost two years.

The squirrels also quickly worked out how to use those skills in a redesigned version of the test.

“This might be why grey squirrels can survive very well in towns and cities,” said Dr Pizza Ka Yee Chow, of Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.

“For example, they’re very good at getting food from bird feeders.

“People may try different types of bird feeders to keep the squirrels away, but this research shows grey squirrels can not only remember tricks for getting food but can apply those skills in new situations.”

In the study, five squirrels were given a task identical to one they had tried 22 months earlier, in which they had to press levers to get hazelnuts.

In that first experience, the squirrels improved with practice — taking an average of eight seconds on their first attempt and just two seconds by the final time they tried it.

Trying again for the first time in 22 months, they took an average of just three seconds to get a hazelnut.

Grey squirrels are known to have good long-term memory — they are “scatter-hoarders,” collecting and hiding thousands of nuts every autumn.

“Previous research at Exeter has shown that their memory for the locations of hidden nuts is excellent,” said co-author Professor Stephen Lea, of the University of Exeter.

But the new research demonstrates a “very different form of memory,” said co-author Dr Théo Robert, also of the University of Exeter.

“This is not just remembering where things have been left, it shows they can recall techniques which they have not used for a long time,” he said.

“It’s also different from what we see in the wild because they’re remembering things for longer than the few months of memory needed to find hidden food.”

When presented with a version of the task that looked different but required the same technique to get hazelnuts, the squirrels showed a “neophobic” (fear of news things) response — hesitating for more than 20 seconds on average before starting the task.

But once they started it took them just two seconds on average to get a hazelnut, showing that they were able to recall and apply the technique they learned in the previous form of the challenge.

The paper, published in the journal Animal Cognition, is entitled: “How to stay perfect: The role of memory and behavioural traits in an experienced problem and a similar problem.”


British Conservatives stab Theresa May in the back

The Daily Mail on Theresa May, 18 January 2017

That was the front page of the British Conservative Daily Mail, worshiping Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May as ‘the new Iron Lady‘. Faced with the wobbly reality of Ms May’s post-general election minority government, dependent on Irish homophobes with links to terrorism, fewer and fewer Conservatives want to be reminded of that recent kind of propaganda.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

The next Iron Lady vanishes (from her own website)

Thursday 13th July 2017

THERESA MAY was airbrushed from the Conservative website yesterday in what Labour has claimed is an attempt by the party to distance itself from the Prime Minister, writes Lucas Davies-Herbst.

The Conservative leader’s picture was stripped from the homepage of official party website http://www.conservatives.com.

Labour MP Toby Perkins quipped at Prime Minister’s Questions that Ms May has gone “from ‘the next Iron Lady’ to ‘the lady vanishes’.”

He added: “Politicians are said to be here today and gone tomorrow, but whatever tomorrow may bring, the Prime Minister isn’t even here today to mark the end of her first year in power.”

Mr Perkins suggested that the “vanishing act” is yet another sign that the Conservative Party are readying to remove the increasingly unpopular PM from her place as party leader.

Brexit crisis tearing apart UK’s Conservative Party: here.

Fifteen Tory MPs ‘to sign Theresa May no confidence letter’. 48 signatures are required to trigger a leadership contest: here.

Beavertail cactus flowers in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Stunning Beavertail prickly pear or Beavertail cacti in bloom (Opuntia basilaris) filmed in the Mojave Desert and Death Valley National Park in mid-April.

Flat, grayish-green, leafless, jointed stems in a clump, lack large spines and have vivid rose or reddish-lavender flowers on upper edge of joint. Beaver-tail cactus is a low-growing prickly pear, 6-12 in. high, with brilliant, magenta flowers. The pads of this cactus lack the long, straight spines of other prickly pears but are covered with miniscule, gray-blue bristles with barbed tips.

The gray-green stems, low growth, and brilliant flowers, which often nearly cover the plant, make this a popular ornamental in hot, dry climates. It need not be dug up; a joint broken from a plant will quickly root in dry sand. Opuntia with flat joints are called prickly pear; in the Southwest, if the fruits are juicy and edible, they are called tuna by people of Spanish-American heritage.

English racist anti-Muslim women violence

This video from England says about itself:

Maz Saleem at Cambridge Stand Up to Racism

7 November 2015

Campaigner Maz Saleem talks about her experiences after her father was murdered by far-right racist terrorists.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Spate of attacks on Muslim women prompts protest

Thursday 13th July 2017

CAMPAIGNERS will hold a demonstration in Cambridge today in response to a spate of “cowardly” attacks on Muslim women in the city.

The past week has seen an escalation in targeted attacks on hijab-wearing women including an incident where a mother was abused while collecting her children from Mayfield School. When onlookers came to her aid they were also attacked.

In a separate nearby incident a Muslim woman had an egg thrown at her from a passing car.

Campaigners said that the attacks have led to the victims feeling “insecure, fearful and reluctant to leave the house.”

In response, campaign group Stand Up to Racism is co-ordinating a Solidarity Walking School Bus in which parents, children and supporters will show their solidarity with the victims by walking together along the route where the school run attack took place.

The group aims to show that “anti-racists are the vast majority and that we won’t let the weak but nasty racist minority divide us.”

Local Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said: “Racism and Islamophobia has no place in our society.

“Any attack on a person because of the colour of their skin or religious belief is an attack on us all.”

Protest organiser Zareen Taj, who is also a parent-governor at Mayfield School, said: “The local community based around the school immediately rallied around to show their solidarity with the women faced with these cowardly attacks.

“By organising a Solidarity Walking School Bus we aim both to support them, but also to show that racists are a tiny minority, and are not welcome here.”

The rally will leave Mayfield Primary School on Warwick Road at 3.15pm today.

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder in Florida, USA?

This video from Florida, USA says about itself:

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder?

12 July 2017

Practical review of Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7533.

This is the Woodlink Absolute Squirrel-Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7533 – It has a feeder perch on only one side and holds a lot of seed. I got it so I could leave a large amount of seed for the Florida Backyard birds when I’m traveling for long periods and they won’t run out of seed or have the squirrels eat all the bird seed. There are two other models – a larger one with feeders on both sides and a smaller one with a feeder on one side.

This one is heavy – well made and attractive and it forces the birds to one side so I can always see them feeding. Note that it is “Squirrel Resistant” not squirrel-proof – I’m not sure anything can be totally squirrel-proof!

These feeders uses weight adjustable perchs that shut off the access to the seeds whenever anything heavier than birds sits or pushes on it. I have it set a little heavy so as not to exclude any birds – just squirrels and larger. Generally it works great and I am quite happy with this feeder.

Squirrels immediately began attacking it of course and the weight limiting perch works well, but the squirrels found two ways to get a small amount of seed out of the feeder – one was to hang down off the roof for a bit, which is pretty slippery and carefully eat some of the seeds without touching the perch mechanism or try and scoop some seeds out of the feeding holes so they fall on the ground and then they get it later. Most of the time the squirrels slip off the roof and fall to the ground after getting a small amount of seed this way. After awhile they get bored with the small reward for all the work and move on to something else and come back and test it periodically.

After Bermuda petrel, Leach’s petrel, crabs at nest

This video from a burrow in Bermuda, where a young endangered Bermuda petrel aka cahow fledged recently, says about itself:

Leach’s Storm Petrel Invaded by Two Land Crabs – July 3, 2017

7 July 2017

Nonsuch Island‘s misguided Leach’s Storm Petrel was invaded by two land crabs earlier in the week. Watch the crabs make circles around the unwavering bird before leaving the burrow. This is the second year in a row that Leach’s Storm Petrel has taken residence in the Cahow cam burrow after the on-cam chick has fledged. Assuming this is the same bird that visited the empty Cahow cam burrow in 2016—nicknamed “Stormy”—it is the first Leach’s Storm Petrel to have ever been documented nesting in Bermuda!

The CahowCam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Nonsuch Expeditions. You can watch the cam live here, and learn more about Nonsuch Island’s environs (including the cahow) here.

We’re excited to share a brand new live viewing experience featuring the critically endangered Bermuda Cahow, a kind of gadfly-petrel that nests nowhere in the world except rocky islets off the coast of Bermuda. In the early 1600s, this once-numerous seabird was thought to have gone extinct, driven out of existence by the invasive animals and habitat changes associated with the settlement of the island. In 1951, after nearly 300 years, a single bird was rediscovered, and since then the species has been part of a government-led conservation effort to revive the species.