Monday, December 19, 2011

The secret of the Red Pepper

Do you prefer red peppers to green ones? Aren't they just so much sweater and tastier to munch on? Have you ever wondered where they came from?

You're in for a treat!

First of all, peppers are from the family solonaceae - like potatoes and tomatoes. (Yep, they're related. Surprised? Doubtful? Look at they flowers.)
You must also know that peppers are fruit. A fruit is the result of reproduction that holds seeds, it has nothing to do with degree of sweetness or when we choose to eat it.
Test it out for yourself. Cut a pepper open. Do you see those flat roundish white things? Seeds. Don't believe me? Let them dry and plant them.

Getting to heart of the matter: Red peppers, where do they come from?

Drum roll please.

They are green peppers that got a little more time to mature on the plant.

BAM WAM thank you Mam. Are you chocked, surprised, intrigued? I was.

I didn't really believe it until my little green babies turned red. I left them on the plant for an extra month after they stopped getting bigger. I guess that's why they are more expensive.

On that note, Happy Holidays! I'll be back in the new year.

Take care!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Black Rhinoceros Relocation in South Africa

When I see an elephant rhinoceros fly

I seen a peanut stand, heard a rubber band
I seen a needle that winked its eye
But I be done seen 'bout ev'rything
When I see a elephant fly

(What d'you say, boy?)
I said when I see a elephant fly

I seen a front porch swing, heard a diamond ring
I seen a polka-dot railroad tie
But I be done seen 'bout ev'rything
When I see a elephant fly

- Walt Disney's Dumbo 1941

Yeah, I seen all that too... but I never thought I'd see 20 Rhinos fly.

No, it's not a mass migration, it's a relocation project funded in part by the World Wildlife Fund in South Africa. The pictures are beautiful, I can only imagine how much work went into this.

Flying Rhinos from Green Renaissance on Vimeo.

Take care!

Source : NPR -

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A New Way to Cook Pasta

Save water, save time, cook your pasta in your frying pan!

Take care!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

A couple days ago now, my hubby and I were stuck in traffic on the FDR North after a satisfying shopping spree at the Commissary at Fort Hamilton.  We were creeping along, Wolfster was arguing with the sports announcer on the radio and I was staring at the gangly vegetation struggling to grow through the fumes. 

As I mused about what the FDR would look like if humans suddenly disappeared, a Mourning dove sized bird sitting on the fence comes into view. I sit up, excited to see something living. I love Mourning doves, their elegant tail feathers and mournful call, but what was it doing so close to cars? As we get closer, it becomes very apparent that we are not dealing with a dove. Its little body is perched perfectly still and upright, a curved beak, dark lines framing its cheeks - its an American Kestrel. 

Oh my! I frantically searched for my cellphone to snap a picture of this miniature aerial predator but my giant pouch of a purse is toying with me. The American Kestrel, also referred to as Sparrow Hawk, is the smallest falcon in North America. I would regularly see them near the abandoned train yard just outside Montreal. They adapt quite well to an urban landscape, hunting small mammals and insects. 

The traffic picks up right as we pull up the the perched raptor and my cellphone still eludes me. Drats! I missed it. The only picture I will have of this NYC Kestrel is the one etched in my mind.

At least I know they are there, I'll be ready next time.

Take care!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Help Support Sustainable Farming

by pledging a small amount to Cardo's Farm Project.

Located outside Denton, Texas, this small sustainable farm is working hard to promote and provide clean fruit and vegetables to the community. Help Dan and Amanda expand their farm to a full acre. They are on Kickstart hoping to gather $15,000 for the cause - watch their video and fall in love with the farm.

Thanks for your help!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Online Dissections?

Is this the future of High School Science Labs?

Frog Dissection Game
Frog Dissection
games surgery games

Although nothing can compare to the incredible smell of preserved specimens, this may solve the problem of the sensitive student and save us from negative karma.

I like it.
What do you think?

Take care!

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Faces, a human obsession

I just finished watching this fascinating BBC documentary about faces and why Fame and Facial Recognition is so prevalent in today's media.

Great stuff, not to mention David Attenborough is in it and I LOVE him.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Jelly Fish, Older than Dinosaurs

JellyfishImage by CodyHanson via Flickr
“Jellyfish are the most ancient multiorgan animal on earth,” 
- David J. Albert
Jellyfish expert 
Roscoe Bay Marine Biological Laboratory
  Vancouver, British Columbia.

They have been around for 600-700 million years or more, that's 3 times the age of dinosaurs. Not to mention that they are still around today in amazingly large numbers and incredible diversity. 

They are not just sacs of goo either. A recent study published in Current Biology of May 2010. Dr. Garm and his team studied the box jellyfish and discovered an incredible visual system. They cataloged and described an average of 24 eyes divided into 4 different types - some of them very similar to our very own.

Not to mention never before acknowledge behavioral patterns, they aren't just mindless floating plankton going wherever the sea bring them.

Read more about these amazing animals once again in the New York Times Science section. Click here for a link to the full article. 

Take care!

Angier, Natalie. "So much more than plasma and poison." New York TImes 06 June 2011. Environment . 10 June 2011 .
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Sea Mice?

Have you ever heard of irregular sea urchins? Roughly heart shaped creatures that bury themselves in the sand only to come out at night in large numbers and scurry across the ocean floor in search for food.


Me neither. Well, not until this morning when I scrolled down the science section of the New York Times. Dr. Rich Mooi is presently in the Philippines studying echinoids (starfish, sand dollars, urchins, etc.).

Click on the picture to read more & live vicariously through his discoveries.

Take care!

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Natural Sport Drink

Feeling hot?
This fantastic recipe for a natural substitute for sport drinks will keep you refreshed and Hydrated. 

Put on your aprons, pull out your chopping board and measuring cups because we are going to make some culinary magic happen.

"Cloudy" Lemonade, a mixture of lemo...Image via Wikipedia
You will need : 
1 cup of hot water
1 tsp of Honey
1/2 a squeezed lemon
a pinch of salt (~1/4 tsp)

How to:
I usually make 4 cups, so multiply the ingredients by 4 - you know the drill.
Boil the water. While the water is boiling, squeeze two lemons & pour the juice into your carafe. Fresh lemon juice is better than store bought, yes, there will be pits and pulp but the added nutrients & enzymes are worth it. Once the water has boiled, measure a cup (250ml) and dissolve the salt and the honey in the hot water. Pour the mix into the carafe & add 3 cups of boiled water. Put the whole thing in the freezer for about 30 min or until cool.
Serve & enjoy or keep it for later. Drink it within a couple days for best hydrating results!

Take care!

Dubrosky, Anna. "Fix yourself a drink." Yoga Journal June 2011: 28.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Whales in NYC waters!!

Scientists, helped by hundreds of underwater microphones, discovered that the waters surrounding New York and New Jersey are full of singing whales. They even recorded the presence of the Blue Whale, the largest animal on earth today.

Read more about the presence of these charismatic marine mammals on National Geographic by following this link:
Whales Throng New York City Area, Surprising Scientists

Take care!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Armadillos: Leprosy carriers?

Leprosy, a debilitating infectious disease known to us since biblical times still affects 150-250 people every year in the Unites States. How is this possible? Why isn't it eradicated? Are we at risk?
If we believe a recent article published in the NY Times, unless you regularly handle or encounter armadillos you should be safe.

Armadillo playing in the grass in Palm Coast, FLImage via Wikipedia
Armadillos are new world mammals characterized by a leathery armored shell. They are great diggers and roll themselves into armored balls when threatened. 
Armadillos can be found in the south-east of the U.S.A all the way down through Central America extending to northern Argentina.

That's not all, they are also the carriers of Mycobacteriumleprae, the microorganism responsible for leprosy. Their low body temperature (31-35 degrees Celsius) is ideal for the bacteria's development. It's preference for cooler temperatures also explains why leprosy attacks the skin first, the coolest of our organs.

There isn't a cure yet but there are treatments to control the symptoms. Scientists are studying infected armadillos in hopes to find a cure for this illness.  While they do that, let's dispel some common myths about leprosy.

Leprosy is highly contagious.
False. There are two types of leprosy, and only one is contagious and only mildly at that. Transmission is thought to be through nasal droplets like the a cold or the flu. It is not sexually transmitted and requires a high level of exposure. The rumor of it being highly contagious has been linked to Leprosy camps back in the day that also took in patients with syphilis. Syphilis is a highly contagious sexually transmitted diseases which can cause skin lesions resembling leprosy in its final stage.

You're limbs fall off one after the other.
False. Leprosy causes skin lesions, loss of feeling in your limbs (which increases the risk of injury) and muscle weakness.

Interested to learn more about the relationship between armadillos and leprosy in the U.S, follow the links below.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring Time in the City : New York 2011

Well folks, spring is here in NYC. New life is appearing everywhere and it's about time I get back to blogging.

Last year I got really excited by the tulips at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. I documented their growth week by week, it was fascinating to see them grow and wonder what the flower would ultimately look like. Follow the link to see for your self : Tulip Watch Montreal 2010

Tulips in NYC, although present, weren't as prevalent as Daffodils (a.k.a Narcissus). They were and still are everywhere. I have never spent as much time looking and photographing daffodils, as I have these past couple weeks.

The daffodil's trumpet gives this spring flower a very distinctive look. However, it wasn't until my mother heard someone on the BBC radio claim to have discovered a new structure that I really looked at a daffodil. 

Let's set the stage for this discovery.  Flowering plants, angiosperms, distinguished themselves from other plants 140 million years ago but it took us until the 19th century to actually define what makes a flower and how we classify them. A flower is composed of 4 key parts: petals, sepals, stamens & carpels. We use the number, colour, shape, and position of these structures to group and distinguish between species.

For the past 150 years, scientists have been disagreeing on the nature of the daffodil's trumpet or corolla. Is it a petal? Or is it part of the stamens?

Dr. Robert Scotland and other researchers at Oxford University looked for the answer within the bulb. They discovered the trumpet forms separately from the rest of the flower,  it's a completely new structure.  Scientists call it an example of evolution. I wonder just how much this is going to impact plant taxonomy. It was hard enough to learn the first time around.

In addition to being the new poster child for evolution, the daffodil has medical value.  It contains galantomine which can slow the development of the Alzheimer disease.

I thought NYC was daffodil crazy but it's nothing compared to Scotland, where they dominate the landscape. Here are some pictures I took from my trip. Enjoy!

They just grow wild everywhere!

Daffodils, you'll never look at them the same way.

Take care!

BBC Wales. March 2011. Oxford Scientists in Daffodil Discovery. [accessed online 04-30-2011]
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Growing Up Butterfly

Have you ever wondered how a squirmy caterpillar becomes a fluttering butterfly? Watch this beautiful video produced by Natural Geographic and follow the life of a Monarch Butterfly from egg to larva (caterpillar) to pupa (chrysalis) and finally adulthood.

Take care!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wildlife in the Snow

New York was hit with yet another snow storm on Monday. I woke up to a blizzard caking my window with snow. I bravely hit the streets and caught some Winter Wildlife on camera (yeah!).

Don't you just love this Grey Squirrel? I particularly enjoyed his crossed  front paws as if to say "Seriously, snow again?" Spring is a hard time for Squirrels, their stashed nut have sprouted and trees aren't bearing any new ones. They survive by snaking on leaf buds. 

This sorry bunch of House Sparrows where hanging on for dear life huddled together for warmth on this low tree branch. I watched as people walked by oblivious to these birds close enough to touch. Although they are voracious seed eaters, they are also brilliantly opportunistic; it is reported that some have figured out the automatic sliding doors of supermarkets. These little buggers aren't shy either, I've seen them snatch fries from unsuspecting tourists many a time.

Surprise! Wildlife also includes plants. Wildlife is defined by Merriam Webster as "living things and especially mammals, birds, and fishes that are neither human nor domesticated". Without plants the world would be a very different place and life as we know it wouldn't exist. They are the base of all ecosystems, a very important position considering everything else is built upon it. 

These are oak leaves. Although no longer active, they linger or persist on the tree much longer than other deciduous species, species that loose their leaves seasonally. I love oak trees. They are a symbol of strength and endurance. They play an important role in mythology often associated with the God of Thunder and the doorway to the other world. They are also prized for their wood; oaks tend to have very straight trunks and large straight low bearing branches. 

The snow has already begun to melt on this sunny Tuesday afternoon. I'm really looking forward to spring and a change of coat. 

Take care!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Saw a Hawk!

Happy Monday!

Wow, what I whirlwind I've been through the past couple weeks. It's calmed down now so I can finally get back to blogging. If you want to see what I've been up to, go check out Love Garden Design (my modest fashion blog), I've posted pictures of the Runway Show I helped out with. Very exciting stuff!

As for today, I just wanted to share some pictures of Pale Male's new Mate, Ginger. Don't know Pale Male? That's ok, he's New York City's resident celebrity Red-Tailed Hawk. Click here and here to catch up with the news.
Hubby and I spotted her (and stalked her for about 30 minutes) on a walk around the Reservoir a couple weeks ago, on the West Side no less (around 90th st). She was a wee whiles from home. Oh how wonderful it was, I only wish I had a better camera. She is beautiful.

 Our first view. 
I looked up because it was just too quiet. Many had walk by unknowingly, but not after we spotted her, oh no. We told everyone who walked by. Where you there?

She was pretty high up in the tree. I thought you might like a different perspective. She's a big bird.

Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) is one of the largest birds in North America and the female is about 25% bigger than the male. The average length for a female is between 19.7 and 26.7 inches (50-65 cm) with a wingspan between 44.9 and 52.4 inches (114-133cm). Considering I measure 65 inches, this bird is impressive.


She was ever so kind as to display her tell-tale tail. The reddish colouration visible when in flight is what gave this bird it's name. 

The Red-tailed Hawk is a common sight outside large cities, having a nest on 5th avenue is what makes this bird something to talk about. I wonder if it could become a threat to Chihuahuas, they certainly are the right size for a good meal.

She flew back and forth between two trees 3 times, trying to shake us. Eventually she got sick of our starring and picture taking so with one last cry, she took flight and headed North East. Who knows where she went next. 
Fun fact, Hollywood loves the cry of the Red-tail Hawk, I don't blame them it sounds exactly like what a aerial predator should sound like, however, they use it for all raptor species. The Red-tailed hawk is the most underpaid Voice Over Actor in North America. Intrigued? Click on over to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Take Care!

Powell, Hugh. "Red-Tailed Hawk." All About Birds. . Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 20 Feb. 2011 <>.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Sunny Sunday in Central Park

Hello and welcome to Monday Wednesday,
Sunday was an incredible winter day, it was sunny, the temperature was clement and well, overall a glorious day. On days such as these, Central park is a must.
Happiness is contagious and it was everywhere: happy dogs, happy (shirtless) runners, happy toddlers stumbling about, happy walkers and happy ducks.

Spring was in the air as I walked past the pond. The air was full of quacks, flaps and splashes. A group of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) had taken up a small opening in the ice and were joyfully splashing and foraging about in what I imagine to be very cool water. The males were in full mating plumage looking dashing with their shimmering green heads and surprising iridescent blue speculum feathers on its wing. Mallards weren't the only birds filling the air with their song. I saw Black-eyed Juncos,White-throated sparrow chirping in the bushes and a red headed woodpecker silently flying over the heads of unsuspecting park bench readers.

Prancing dogs weren't the only ones showing off their fury coats, pussy willows proudly displayed their fuzzy buds and  fluffy tailed squirrels chased each other up, down and across slumbering trees.

Birds singing, dogs barking, squirrels chirping ,ice cracking and children laughing, the sounds of spring are all over the place itching to be noticed. Just another reason the be happy.

What are things looking like near you?

Take care!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy February! Go Play in the Snow!

 Building a Snowman by Emilie D. Wolf

We have made it through half the winter! Yeah! I know some of us are getting tired of the layers, the cold and the brown slush but that's not reason to stay inside. Self magazine published this great article about the benefits of dawning your winter gear and heading outside for some winter fun. Heading outside even for 5 min can reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a.k.a winter blues.
Here are some things to can do while your out there courtesy of Jennifer Matlack or Self Magazine.

If you have 5 min... do something fun. Start a snowball fight, push someone into (a clean) snowbank, kick an ice block around, build a snowman. Just 5 minutes will Lift your mood and increase your feeling of self-worth.

If you have 8-10 min... connect with your environment. Look for birds, squirrels, animal tracks your not the only one coping with the weather or even help your neighbor clean off their car. Netta Weinstein Ph.D. - psychologist at the University of Essex noted that being in contact with nature makes you feel bonded, it triggers caring feelings for others.

If you have 15 min... restore your brain power. David Strayer Ph.D - psychologist at the University of Uttah tells us taking a step outside will help restore your mind, it's ability to concentrate, solve problems and be creative.
If you have 20 min... recharge your batteries with walk through a park. Take the time to notice what is going on around you, not everything is sleeping. Being surrounded by nature and taking the time to silently watch the peacefulness is energizing.  I'll be posting pictures of my latest nature walks before the end of this week, I saw some great things.

So go ahead, go play outside!

Take care!

Matlack, Jennifer. "Go On, Take it Outside." Self Feb. 2011: 29.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Central Park in The Snow and News of Pale Male

Snowflakes falling in Central Park by Inga Sarda-Sorensen
It was my intention to go out and explore Central Park on Tuesday and share my findings with you on Wednesday. Tuesday turned out to be a dreadfully rainy day and except for the long walk to work and back, I wanted nothing to do with the outdoors. The rest of my week being a busy mess, I have to postpone my walk to the weekend. I shall tell you all about it next week.

In the mean time, I thought I should share the new development with Pale Male, NYC resident Red-Tail Hawk (you can read more about him here and here).

The story goes that for the past 9 years, Pale Male and his mate Lola have ruled the skies of New York. In this picture taken on January 3rd 2010, you can see the happy couple perched together in a regular spot. Pale Male being the paler on on the right and Lola the beautiful red head on the left.
Pale Male has had 10 successful nests since he established himself in Central Park in 1991. However, since 2005, none of the eggs have hatched.

Lola disappeared in the beginning of the new year, a bad omen as mating happens very early on in the season. She has not been seen since December 18th. Although no body has been found, hawk expert John Blakeman strongly believes that Lola has met her maker. "It's pretty clear that Lola has met her demise, probably from a poisoned prey animal [such as a rat or pigeon] or by injury[.]This is not the season that experienced [female hawks] cavalierly absent themselves from their established territories." Blakeman is quoted in The New York Post.

Faithful hawk watchers still hope that Lola will return but if she does, it's not to an empty nest. Pale Male has already found a replacement, in a younger dark colored female. Whether Lola returns or not, we can all hope to see hatchlings in 2011. "A new partner may increase the chances of a successful clutch", Blakeman comments on a BBC Radio interview .

That's the NYC Hawk News, if you would be so kind as to follow me into a minute of silence for Lola.


Take Care!
Winn, Marie. "Pale Male's Dynasty". April 7th 2006. Pale Male Stats. [Online] Jan 20, 2011. <>
Kaplan, Don. "Lola Flies Coop; Pale Male's New Gal". Jan 18th, 2011. The New York Post. [Online] Jan 20th, 2011. <>

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Book of Heterocephalus

Heterocephalus glaber, The Naked Mole-Rat

Rodents, with their continuously growing front teeth, are the most successful and numerous order of mammal. The Naked Mole-Rat is just one of its many various forms. 
The Naked Mole-Rat is fur-less simply because it lives in burrows deep in the ground of Africa where the temperatures remain stable. These burrows are excavated using their strong incisors.  Their lifestyle makes their eyes practically useless, they interact with their surroundings using mainly touch (they are very sensitive to vibrations) and hearing. Their gestation period is only 70 to 80 days but can produce 10 to 27 pups. These herbivorous rodents measure about 3 inches (7cm) and weigh, on average,  1.75 ounces (50g).

It's not their burrowing or incredible fertility that makes them interesting, it's their social structure.

Naked Mole-Rats are eusocial, like bees, ants and termites. Being eusocial means living in a large colony with only one breeding female (the queen) and very few breeding males. Other members of the colony (whether they be male or female) are of the worker or warrior caste. They are the one of the two known mammal with this social structure (the other being the Damaraland Mole-Rat). 

With a life expectancy between 10 and 30, their life span is considerably longer than that of their other eusocial comrades and most other rodents. 

Even though this species is not widespread, it's population is doing well. Isn't that nice to hear?
Watch a video by Jeff the Zoo Guy (my dream job right there...sigh...)


Watch a clip from The Life of Mammals: The Chisellers narrated by David Attenborough (my hero) 
This 50 minute clip is all about rodents, the Naked Mole-Rat appears after 30mins.

The popularization of the Naked Mole-Rat

 Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

 Where have you seen Naked Mole-Rats?

 Take care!
"Naked Mole-Rat." Small Mammals. Smithsonian National Zoological Park. [On line] 18 Jan. 2011  
Maree, S. & Faulkes, C. (2008). Heterocephalus glaber. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. [On line] on 18 Jan 2011.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Enjoyable Sights

Happy Martin Luther King Day!
I hope your week is looking up. Jets fans, I know for a fact, should be absolutely ecstatic to a fault all week until next Sunday.
To start the week off right, here are two things that brought me great joy last week.

The first being Central Park covered in a blanket of snow. Photographed from 59th street heading east. More about the snowy park to come this week.

The second is a children book about a Naked Mole Rat! I love seeing this obscure eusocial African animal popularized in such a way. I wish I had a kid I could justify this purchase for. Tune in to learn more about these critters later on this week as well.

On that note, have a great week!
Take care!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Better Birding in 2011

I wish I was a better birder, don't you? Here are 4 videos made by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology explaining 4 key things to notice when you are trying to identify a bird.

1- Size and shape
Compare it to something you know well like a crow or a ring-billed gull or a sparrow. When it comes to shape, trust your instincts. Does it look like a bird of prey or a duck? Birds, like cars, have shapes that suit their life style. Each bird family has recognizable characteristics. If my husband can tell the difference between a Ford and a Toyota, I can tell whether I'm looking at a song bird, a raptor or a woodpecker. 

If you have time for a better look, try and notice the shape of the head, beak and tail.

2- Color Pattern
Color is one of the most frustrating characteristics to look for since it varies depending on the season, sex, age, health and even sunlight. The key is to identify the patterns of color on different parts of the birds body.  I felt learning the Topography of a bird as described in most bird guides really helped.

Here's a link to the video (because it's being difficult)

3- Behavior
Behavior is a constant just like size and shape which makes it, in some cases, more useful than color patterns. Focus mainly on posture, foraging and flight style. Mating rituals are only present during certain times of the years and its differs between females and males.
I strongly recommend the video and also taking a walk with an experiences birder but here are some of my favorites and you can read more in your field guide.
 - Nuthatches walk down trees.
- Woodpeckers perch on large vertical branches or the trunk. Their flight reminds me of the Butterfly stroke - an undulating flight pattern punctuated by rapid wing beats and bounds.
- Vultures soar with wings in a V-shape and it looks like it has fingers 

4- Habitat
This clue is frequently overlooked but it can be very useful. Birds and most things live in habitats they are adapted to. The video divides habitat into four broad categories :forested or woodland (coniferous or deciduous), aquatic habitats, scrub shrub habitat, and open habitat (field and tundra). Identifying the habitat should be the first thing you do when you arrive at a birding site because it will give you a good idea of what birds you might see.
Warning! Bird migrate so depending on the time of year you might find birds in odd places.

 Here's a link the the video

With these notions in mind, head outside and start observing. You will gain more knowledge by experimenting than by trying to memorize everything in your bird guide. The best introduction you can have is to follow a seasonned birder along on a walk, not only are they overflowing with fascinating knowledge but they will also transmit their passion for birds. Beware, it's contagious.

If you're in the New York area, look up the Birdwatchers of Central Park called the Early Birders, they offer morning walks around the park. There is also the New York City Audubon Society
and the New York Companion Bird Club. If that doesn't work for you,  walking around Central Park with Binoculars, you will undoubtedly bump into another birdwatcher willing to point out great things. You can pick up a checklist of the birds you are most likely to encounter in Central Park, for free, at the Castle, the Dairy, and the Dana Center - just ask around.

Similar organizations exist all over the world, most of them have websites or you can find pamphlets at information kiosks.

Have a great weekend!
Take care!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Big Fin Squid

I believe I have told you about my love for Cephalopods - octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and the Nautilus. Well, imagine my delight when Lauren from Animal a Day wrote up this great post about the Big Fin Squid, a species I had never heard about.

Follow the link to find out more a watch a video of this illusive animal.

Take care!

Catalytic Clothing - to help us breathe more beautifully

Ok, this is the second day I post a link to an article I have written for another venue, I'm sorry. I do have something planned just for you for tomorrow.
In the mean time, head over to Love Garden Design to catch a glimpse of the future; clothing that can purify the air.

Love Garden Design: Catalytic Clothing - to help us breathe more beaut...: "Would you believe me if I told you your clothes may one day play a part in a global effort for carbon sequestration? "

Take Care!

Source & Picture Credit:
Chua, Jasmin M. "Meet "Herself", the World's First Air-Purifying Dress". Ecouterre.Jan 7th, 2011 [Online]Jan 13th 2011.

Mama Knows Best - Yogurt For Your Health

Did I tell you? I am now a Contributing Writer for Suite 101. Isn't it exciting?I even got a great comment from the Section Editor about my first post. It's so nice to get feedback. My first article is about yogurt and health, please check it out by clicking on the following link.

Mama Knows Best - Yogurt For Your Health

Take care!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Growing is Forever

While browsing through Nature Bloggers directory I tumbled upon Reconciliation Ecology and this visually stunning video.

This is what we strive to protect. Enjoy.

Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Take care!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

"Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite, and if they do, then take your shoe and knock them ‘til they’re black and blue! "

This over a century old nursery rhyme has quite a debated origin; some people would like us to believe that it refers to the old rope-frame beds that you had to tighten before crawling into if you wished to have a good night sleep. However, etymologists claim that the expression “sleep tight” has only been around since 1866 and therefore its origin is too modern to be linked to this specific kind of bed. They believe it to mean something more on the lines of sleep soundly or sleep well as they have defined it in the Oxford dictionary.  The bedbug side of this story is a more sarcastic take on a frequently occurring phenomenon at that time. Bedbugs are very similar to fleas and ticks as they are tiny flat shaped blood suckers that generally don’t come alone; not a great thing to have in one’s bed. In a time when cleanliness wasn’t so thorough, they lived a great life feeding of the blood of the unsuspecting sleepers. Thankfully for most us this is not our main concern when we peel back the covers to climb into our Spring Fresh smelling sheets.

Sleep is a mysterious thing, generally associated with a happy feeling of warmth, snugness, and no more responsibilities. Although for most, sleep seems to come instantaneously, it’s actually a process that takes all day to build up to the culminating point of peaceful unconsciousness. The basic principal is quite simple; it all starts with our inner or circadian clock acting in accordance with the levels of adenosine in our body to send out a message of sleepiness to our brain. Adenosine is a by-product of cellular activity; it is created as our cells produce the energy we need to get through the day. When the quantity of adenosine reaches a certain point, you start feeling sleepy; if this coincides with your circadian clock, you know its time for bed. Generally speaking, once you have finally decided to listen to your screaming body and call it a night, you don’t fall asleep immediately. If this isn’t the case and the minute your head touches the pillow you are instantly transported into dreamland, you should either review your sleeping habits or thank your genetic lucky star or your parents. For the rest of us, the period before we fall asleep, is called “relaxed wakefulness”. This state generally lasts for less than ten minutes, if you’re up tossing and turning all night, you haven’t even gotten to this stage. At times like these, when sleep will not come, it is suggested to get up and do something, read a book, knit, watch television, drink some tisane, anything, then try again. By remaining in bed, you increase your stress level because you know you should be sleeping which stimulates the production of adrenaline which counteracts the effects of adenosine and stops you from getting your well deserved rest.

Sleep is defined in medical dictionaries as a “periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is interrupted” and is generally characterized by decreased movement, a relaxed posture, reduced sensitivity to touch and sound, reduced metabolic rate, and complex brain activity. There are five stages to a good nights sleep and generally you go through multiple cycles during one night. The first stage is drowsiness or relaxed wakefulness; if sitting, this is where the head bobbing action comes into play. Then, you enter light sleep where eye movements stop, heart rate, and body temperature decreases. The next two stages are periods of deep sleep; these are the most vital stages as they allow your body to recover from the days activities. Lack of deep sleep causes the strongest effects of sleep deprivation. If awakened during this stage, a person will feel disorientated and groggy for several minutes making getting out of bed a challenge but conversations hilarious. The last stage generally happens at about seventy to ninety minutes into your sleep cycle, this is your dream or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It holds its name because of the intensive jerky eye movement that occurs during this time probably linked to dreams. In an average nights sleep, you should experience three to five REM episodes; they are shorter at the beginning of the night and gradually increase whilst deep sleep decreases. As morning approaches, your cycle is mostly stage 1, 2 and REM; this is why you shouldn’t go to bed too late, after a certain time, you don’t get as much revitalizing deep sleep. 

Sleep is important for multiple reasons: it helps you organize memories, ensures a good mood for the following day, neuron repair occurs allowing for optimal performance when awake, it boosts your immune system, and is vital for mental and physical development as growth hormones are released during sleep.

The amount of sleep needed depends on the person and many factors come into play: your genetics, the amount of exercise, daily activities, age, and sleep quality. It is not true that we all need eight hours of sleep a night; some need more and some need less. Generally speaking, if you wake up feeling fresh as a daisy, you’re getting enough sleep; if you’re having a hard time getting up in the morning, experiencing mood-swings, loss of appetite, and difficulties falling asleep, you are more than likely suffering from sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is quite a serious condition, the effects can be felt both physically and mentally. Symptoms include chronic difficulty to wake up in the morning, falling asleep at random times during the day, and a general decrease in your performances and decisions. Long term sleep deprivation, of even just a few hours a night, can lead to sleep debt. Similarly to the credit card debt on your account, holding on to a sleep debt can have serious long-term effects on your immune system and your metabolism which may lead to obesity and hyperactivity. Make up for your debt by including one hour of extra sleep per night and scheduling in some days where you don’t set an alarm clock and you let your body sleep as long as it needs. 

Sleep is not a luxury, it is as important as exercise and healthy eating habits for our health. So put on your favorite pajamas and grab your faithful teddy, the world will keep on turning even when you are sleeping. Tomorrow is an other day in which you can express your full potential only if you get a good nights sleep. 

Good night, sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Take Care!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pale Male - NYC's Red-Tailed Hawk

Pale Male soaring over 5th Ave via
I moved to New York City in August of 2010. As soon as I got here, I wanted to see Central Park and the Natural History Museum. Soon after, I learnt of the existence of Pale Male, the our resident Red-tailed Hawk, and fell in love.
In November, I wrote a review for probably one of the best books I have read in my life, Red-Tails in Love; A Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn (find it here). A large part of the book is about Pale Male, his mates, his offspring and the incredible following this bird has. She also mentioned a documentary, no name, so release date, just that Pale Male was being filmed by an aspiring Wildlife Filmmaker. Well, I've found it.

It's called "The Legend of Pale Male", it was filmed by Frederic Lilien and it opened at the Angelika Film Center at the beginning of December. An article written by Leslie Stonebraker and published in Our Town on December 2nd, 2010. Somehow I managed to pick up this issue and not read it, which is why I'm posting about one month later.

Here's the scanned article if you wish to read it, I couldn't find the link to it online.

This is very exciting news. I can't wait to see the documentary. It's going to be so much fun to watch this incredible hunter navigate the skies of Manhattan. You can learn more about the documentary by visiting the website The Legend of Pale Male; A hawk, a city, a love story.

Be sure to watch the trailer, it's stunning. I can't wait to see it.

The Legend of Pale Male (Documentary) trailer HD
Uploaded by myfilm-gr. - Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

Unfortunately we've missed the showings in NYC but being that he lives here (I believe) maybe, just maybe, if I can get enough people together, we can have another showing.

Would you be interested? Email me at emiliedwolf{at}gmail{dot}com.

However, if you live in Chicago, it's playing at the The Gene Siskel Film Center on January 9th and 12th. Lucky you.

If your in Central Park, walk down to the Model Boat Pond and look up towards the 5th avenue buildings. You're sure to spot the nest above the ornate window on the Central Building.

Take care!

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