July 9th, 2019


Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo

Check out this bird's dance moves.  Some of these are normal bird moves done in time to music -- the head bobbing and swaying are used in food-begging and courtship.  But other motions are unique, particularly those that involve two or more body parts at the same time.  I think this is the most complex animal dancing that I've seen.  It's very impressive.  I imagine female cockatoos are thinking, "I'd tap that."

However, it's not confined to birds and not even all that rare.  Birds do have an advantage because they sing, but some domestic animals have been around humans long enough to pick up the interest.  Dogs and horses in particular sometimes move to music for their own enjoyment, without being trained.  In fact one of the best ways to spot a good candidate for dance training is when you see one dancing around on their own.  In particular, watch to see if they're following the beat or otherwise matching their moves to changes in the sound -- that means they're paying pretty close attention to it.  Some humans will decide to train an animal to dance and then go look for a promising partner.  Some equestrian events such as dressage are commonly performed in an arena to music, and a horse with an instinct for dancing has a tremendous edge in this competitive field.  But a lot of times, an owner notices their animal doing a few moves and just decides to encourage that, whether with actual training or simply presenting different types of music for fun.

Native Host Plants

These plants attract butterflies of the Midwest.  Note that some plants will attract many butterflies, while others only attract one.  Conversely, some butterflies enjoy a wide range of plants, while others need a particular family or even species.  That specificity is one vulnerability that leads to population loss. 

Planting the most popular things will get you lots of butterflies; planting the specifics will help save rare butterflies.  The more diverse the habitat, the more butterflies it attracts.  Here at Fieldhaven we have many different types of trees and bushes, herb gardens, flower gardens, the prairie garden, and so on.  My definition of "lawn" is "whatever low-growing green stuff survives mowing and foot traffic."  It includes a wide variety of grasses along with clover, dandelions, violets, and assorted weeds.  When choosing plants to buy for a wildlife garden, make sure the seeds or seedlings have not been treated with insecticides.  Shop organic if possible and look for pollinator-friendly suppliers.

Among the host plants I have: wild cherry, willow, plum, oak, hackberry, hawthorn, serviceberry, milkweed, butterfly weed, mayapple, violet, black-eyed susan, sunflower, beardtongue, thistle, aster, cup plant, compass plant, goldenrod, plaintain.

Butterflies I see around here: black swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, clouded sulphur, eastern tailed-blue, monarch, silvery checkerspot, mourning cloak, painted lady, red admiral, common buckeye.

What do you have in your area?


Poetry Fishbowl on Tuesday, July 16

The Poetry Fishbowl has four tallies on its $250 goal, so there will be a bonus fishbowl on Tuesday, July 16 with a theme of "anything goes." You can ask for anything you want! Now is a good time to think about your favorite settings, characters, plotlines, etc. and take notes on what you'd like to see more of. Have you been wondering what happens next to someone? Intrigued by something that I mentioned would come up? Do you have anything you've been wishing I would write that hasn't fit a theme? Prompt for it! If you don't have ideas immediately, consider going back through older material for inspiration. You can ask for new things as well as old things. Please mark the date on your calendars, and I hope to see you then.