Northern cardinal sings in Florida, USA

This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

4 March 2018

Male Northern Cardinal singing in a vast marshland with the Meadowlarks and Red Winged Blackbirds. It is always a treat to see – and hear – this amazing bird so typical of backyards out in the middle of nowhere with nary a tree to be found.


Birds in Florida wildlife refuge

This video from the USA says about itself:

31 March 2018

A sampling of wading birds, waterfowl and shorebirds on a drive through Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Kennedy Space Center, Florida. There are around 300 species of birds at the wildlife refuge the most commonly seen on the wildlife drive are herons and egrets, ducks, grebes, ospreys and ibis – and of course alligators. For photo and video the best time is early morning with the sun rising in the east to get that nice rich light and pretty water. As the day progresses the light gets harsher. It is always a challenge to film pure white birds as automatic settings on cameras tend to lead to over exposure. In these conditions I sometimes under-expose by 2 to 3 clicks as you can see the improvement starting at 0:26 you can also experiment with white balance settings.

Black vulture in Florida, USA

This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

16 February 2018

Hanging out with a Vulture Hiking Buddy! A friendly Black Vulture walks with me on a marsh hike for over half a mile! Breaking trail is Vulture’s thing – I had no idea they were such great walkers.

Brown thrasher sings in the USA

This February 2018 video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Brown Thrasher singing its song is like songbird jazz – very improvisational. They can out sing their cousins the Mockingbirds and Catbirds. Lately this Brown Thrasher has been singing his song every morning before sunrise usually high in the oaks where he is hard to see due to dense cover and poor light.

Look for a special late winter guest appearance due to very warm weather – notice the squirrels‘ reaction to this unwelcome visitor. Sometimes squirrels will attack snakes and run them off, but the Backyard Squirrels here are pretty mellow.

Painted buntings in Florida, USA

This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Painted Buntings – Most Colorful Songbird Close-Up

30 January 2018

Mature male Painted Buntings are known as the most colorful songbirds in North America – even rivaling the gaudiest of South American and tropical birds! This male has been hanging out in the Backyard in recent days. He is one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen and here he gives a rare extreme close-up. In fact, he gets so close to the lens he goes out of focus a bit, but if you’ve ever seen a Painted Bunting you’ll never forget! Note that the dark tangle of dense scrub along a fence border is classic Bunting winter habitat and the dead foliage makes him stand out in stark contrast in mid-Winter.

Hogfish colours, new study

This 2015 video says about itself:

Hogfish at Cleaning Station – Turks and Caicos

A very rare sighting to capture on camera, a hogfish at a cleaning station. After approaching the Hogfish very slowly and passively we managed to capture some fantastic footage of the hogfish being cleaned by some small reef fish. Whilst the hogfish hangs motionless the other fish enter and clean inside of the mouth and gill area. Shot on a GoPro Hero 3 Silver Edition by Kieran Bown.

From Duke University in the USA:

Color-changing hogfish ‘sees’ with its skin

Fish’s skin senses light differently from eyes

March 12, 2018

Summary: The hogfish can go from white to reddish in milliseconds as it adjusts to shifting conditions in the ocean. Scientists have long suspected that animals with quick-changing colors don’t just rely on their eyes to tune their appearance to their surroundings — they also sense light with their skin. But exactly how remains a mystery. A study reveals that hogfish skin senses light differently from eyes.

Some animals are quick-change artists. Take the hogfish, a pointy-snouted reef fish that can go from pearly white to mottled brown to reddish in a matter of milliseconds as it adjusts to shifting conditions on the ocean floor.

Scientists have long suspected that animals with quick-changing colors don’t just rely on their eyes to tune their appearance to their surroundings — they also sense light with their skin. But exactly how “skin vision” works remains a mystery.

Now, genetic analysis of hogfish reveals new evidence to explain how they do it. In a new study, Duke University researchers show that hogfish skin senses light differently from eyes.

The results suggest that light-sensing evolved separately in the two tissues, said Lori Schweikert, a postdoctoral scholar with Sönke Johnsen, biology professor at Duke.

With “dermal photoreception”, as it is called, the skin doesn’t enable animals to perceive details like they do with their eyes, Schweikert said. But it may be sensitive to changes in brightness or wavelength, such as moving shadows cast by approaching predators, or light fluctuations associated with different times of day.

Schweikert, Johnsen and Duke postdoctoral associate Bob Fitak focused on the hogfish, or Lachnolaimus maximus, which spends its time in shallow waters and coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to northern South America. It can make its skin whitish to blend in with the sandy bottom of the ocean floor and hide from predators or ambush prey. Or it can take on a bright, contrasting pattern to look threatening or attract a mate.

The key to these makeovers are special pigment-containing cells called chromatophores, which, when activated by light, can spread their pigments out or bunch them up to change the skin’s overall color or pattern.

The researchers took pieces of skin and retina from a single female hogfish caught off the Florida Keys and analyzed all of its gene readouts, or RNA transcripts, to see which genes were switched on in each tissue.

Previous studies of other color-changing animals including cuttlefish and octopuses suggest the same molecular pathway that detects light in eyes may have been co-opted to sense light in the skin.

But Schweikert and colleagues found that hogfish skin works differently. Almost none of the genes involved in light detection in the hogfish’s eyes were activated in the skin. Instead, the data suggest that hogfish skin relies on an alternative molecular pathway to sense light, a chain reaction involving a molecule called cyclic AMP.

Just how the hogfish’s “skin vision” supplements input from the eyes to monitor light in their surroundings and bring about a color change remains unclear, Schweikert said. Light-sensing skin could provide information about conditions beyond the animal’s field of view, or outside the range of wavelengths that the eye can pick up.

Together with previous studies, “the results suggest that fish have found a new way to ‘see’ with their skin and change color quickly”, Schweikert said.

Florida far-right school murderer’s swastikas on his AR-15

This video from the USA says about itself:

White Supremacy, Patriarchy and Guns: FL Shooter Had Record of Death Threats, Violence Against Women

16 February 2018

Seventeen people were killed and at least 15 other people were wounded Wednesday at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

More evidence has emerged showing that the gunman, a 19-year-old former student named Nikolas Cruz, shared a common trait with many other men who have carried out mass shootings: He had a record of abusing and threatening women.

On Thursday, a white nationalist hate group called the Republic of Florida Militia also claimed the gunman was a member who had trained with the militia … Former classmates of Cruz did describe him as politically extreme and espousing racist beliefs.

For more, we speak with George Ciccariello-Maher, a visiting scholar at the Hemispheric Institute at New York University and the author of “Decolonizing Dialectics”, and Trevor Aaronson, executive director and co-founder of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and a contributing writer to The Intercept.

From the Forward in the USA:

Parkland Gunman Had Swastikas Etched Onto His AR-15 Magazines

February 28, 2018

By Ari Feldman

The teenage gunman who stormed the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, killing 17 people, had swastikas etched into his AR-15 bullet magazines, CBS reported. Cruz is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder.

CBS’ source — a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation into the shooting — also said that Cruz had 180 rounds of ammunition left when he fled the scene. Police responders found Cruz trying to pass as a student escaping from the high school.

Cruz reportedly fired 150 rounds during the shooting.

Police still do not have a motive for the shooting or why Cruz stopped when he still had bullets left.

The Florida school shooter talked about killing Mexicans, gays, and black people in private group chat: here.

Students at thousands of schools throughout the US walked out of class on Wednesday to protest school shootings in the wake of the massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students at many schools left class at 10:00 a.m. local time for 17 minutes, one for each of the victims in Florida’s shooting. Other demonstrations were longer, with students gathering to give speeches on school violence and the broader social crisis in the US: here.

A gunman who targeted cars on a Georgia highway Friday “idolized” the suspected shooter in the Parkland, Florida, massacre, police said.

The social and political roots of mass shootings in America: here.