ECLIPSE FOLIAGE

by Kenneth Harper Finton, photos by author

 

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After mating, drake Mallard ducks shed their feather and look like the female. It is called “eclipse plumage”. Above is a Mallard beginning to shed for his eclipse phase.

The Mallard drakes cannot fly when they molt their wing feathers. This period lasts a month or more until they grow new feathers. The hen-like feathers help to protect and conceal them during this flightless period. By late summer, they again molt and grow the spectacular plumage they use fro attract a mate in the mating season.

 

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MALLARD

“Feathers are a marvel of natural engineering, but they require constant care and must be replaced periodically to maintain peak performance. Waterfowl spend a couple hours each day just caring for their feathers. An oil gland at the base of the tail secretes a preening fluid that keeps feathers soft and pliable, which in turn prevents them from breaking, keeps them waterproof, and enhances their aerodynamics. Waterfowl use their bills to distribute this fluid throughout their feathers while preening. Ducks and geese also use their bills to realign their feathers and reconnect any Velcro-like barbules that have become separated.” http://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-biology/waterfowl-feathers/page2

Ducks and geese rely on their feathers to keep warm. Down and feathers have been a used to keep humans warm for millennia.

mallard_glamThe Mallard’s head is usually green but its iridescent feathers reflect and absurd caring amounts of light creating a lustrous shine and changes color depending upon the sunlight and the angle at which it is viewed.

Like anything else, feathers wear out. Plucked and lost feathers are replaced right away, but broken and worn feathers are kept until they molt. All the species are flightless during the molting season until the new feathers replace the old.

“Female ducks molt as well, but differences between their basic and alternate plumage are far more subtle. Hens molt into their basic plumage just before nesting and keep this plumage until after the wing molt and brood-rearing activities are complete. Geese typically undergo just one complete molt a year, which has a much less noticeable effect on the birds’ appearance.” – http://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-biology/waterfowl-feathers/page2http://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-biology/waterfowl-feathers/page2

 

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https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mallard/lifehistory

Cool Facts

•The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck). Domestic ducks can be common in city ponds and can be confusing to identify—they may lack the white neck ring, show white on the chest, be all dark, or show oddly shaped crests on the head.

•The widespread Mallard has given rise to a number of populations around the world that have changed enough that they could be considered separate species. The “Mexican Duck” of central Mexico and the extreme southwestern United States and the Hawaiian Duck both are closely related to the Mallard, and in both forms the male is dull like the female. The Mexican Duck currently is considered a subspecies of the Mallard, while the Hawaiian Duck is still given full species status.

•Mallard pairs are generally monogamous, but paired males pursue females other than their mates. So-called “extra-pair copulations” are common among birds and in many species are consensual, but male Mallards often force these copulations, with several males chasing a single female and then mating with her.

•Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.

•Ducks are strong fliers; migrating flocks of Mallards have been estimated traveling at 55 miles per hour.

•The standard duck’s quack is the sound of a female Mallard. Males don’t quack; they make a quieter, rasping sound.

•Mallards, like other ducks, shed all their flight feathers at the end of the breeding season and are flightless for 3–4 weeks. They are secretive during this vulnerable time, and their body feathers molt into a concealing “eclipse” plumage that can make them hard to identify.

•Many species of waterfowl form hybrids, and Mallards are particularly known for this, hybridizing with American Black Duck, Mottled Duck, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, and Canvasback, as well as Hawaiian Ducks, the Grey Duck of New Zealand, and the Pacific Black Duck of Australia.

•The oldest known Mallard was a male, and at least 27 years, 7 months old when he was shot in Arkansas in 2008. He had been banded in Louisiana in 1981.

Credits

•Drilling, N., R. Titman, and F. McKinney. 2002. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). In The Birds of North America, No. 658 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America Online, Ithaca, New York.

•Dunne, P. 2006. Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion. Houghton Mifflin, New York.

•Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook. Simon & Schuster Inc., New York.

•North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.

•U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2015. Waterfowl Population Status, 2015. U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.

•USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity Records of North American Birds.

•USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2014. North American Breeding Bird Survey 1966–2014 Analysis.

 

 

 

BIRD LIMERICKS

by Kenneth Harper Finton

 

COMMORANT

What great black wings has the cormorant.

They even have some out in Oregon.

They used to be rare,

Now they’re most everywhere.

They even have some in Cheboygan.

 

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Consider the hooded merganser

The best-looking bird in the land, sir.

You can tell by his stance

From the very first glance

That he is quite ripe for romance, dear.

 

RED WING

 

 

 

A garrulous bird is the redwing.

He sings to you about most everything.

He will send you a tweet

From his sharp pointed beak

No Twitter, no rightwing, no leftwing.

 

 

HERON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider the black-crowned night heron.

She seems to be so all-aware and

Her glaring red eye,

Has the look of a spy.

At whom is her majesty starin’?

MALLARD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that the ducks in the barnyard

Most always derive from mallard?

They’ve a ring ’round the neck,

a bill made to peck

And purple-green heads, that’s what I heard.

 


 

[These verses were inspired by a limerick from 1912 by Dixon Lanier Merritt seen below.]

peliecan

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.


LABORS OF LOVE -AMAZON

https://www.amazon.com/Labors-Love-Kenneth-Harper-Finton-ebook/dp/B01B3C4414/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466197864&sr=1-1&keywords=labors+of+love%2C+finton

LITTLE JOURNEYS: MOUNT EVANS, COLORADO

by Kenneth Harper Finton (Photos by the author)

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An hour from my Colorado home another world of exists, a wilderness of tundra, alpine forests, and the twisted trunks and branches of the bristlecone pines. Mount Evans, at a measured high of 14,271 feet, is the highest summit of the Chicago Peaks in the Front Range a few miles from Denver, Colorado. It is the highest paved road in North America, visited by many thousands of tourists between Memorial Day and Labor Day, closed to traffic the rest of the year because of the extreme elevation. This is a world where where summer is unknown and snow can fall any day of the year.

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In Colorado, every thousand feet gained in height is like traveling 600 miles further north. Driving the road to the summit is like going through Canada to Nome, Alaska. The landscape and weather is like the most Northern parts of the North American Continent. The forty-five minute drive to the summit compresses distance. It is like driving from Denver to the Arctic Circle.

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The alpine tundra is one of the harshest environments for life on the planet. It is consistently bombarded by intense sunlight  and buffeted by high winds. Flowers do bloom during the short spring season, but the leaves contain an anti-freeze-like pigment that converts sunlight to heat called anthocyanin.

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Predators like mountain lions are found anywhere on the mountain. Black bears tend to stay below tree line. Bighorn sheep and herds of mountain goats roam the mountain at will, retreating to lower elevations when the weather is very bad.

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The highest astronomical observatory in North America is at the summit. The Crest House Restaurant was built on the early 1940’s but burned down in 1979. The stone wall remains have been turned into a place of observation and contemplation today. The rock foundation and walls remain as a windbreak for mountain travelers, and the viewing platform is one of Colorado’s premier scenic overlooks.

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It is just a day trip to the top of The Mount Evans Scenic Highway from Denver. The journey snakes and climbs through nearly 9,000 feet of elevation gain, from the high plains of Denver through five climate zones to the summit of Mount Evans, one of 54 peaks in Colorado that soar to 14,000 feet and above – the famous Colorado “fourteeners.”

#panorama

face in rock

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When traveling in a car it is easy to forget that you are in one of the most inhospitable areas in Colorado. Average temperatures in the summer are around 42 degrees. The sun is capable of burning the skin badly and the winds can be strong enough to blow you off the peak.

FUN FACTS ABOUT NURSERY RHYMES

TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

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The joint authors of Twinkle twinkle little star were two sisters called Ann Taylor (1782-1866) and Jane Taylor (1783-1824). The first publication date was 1806. How many of us know all the words?

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?
Up above the world so high , like a diamond in the sky
When the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye, ’till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are — twinkle, twinkle little star.

 


WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN?

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The origin of the “Who killed cock robin” poem: ‘Who killed cock robin?’ Not really a nursery rhyme, this is best described as an English folk song or poem. The words of “Who killed cock robin” are said to refer to the death of the legendary figure of Robin Hood and not that of a bird.

The legend of Robin Hood encompasses the theme that he stole from the rich to give to the poor. The words of “Who killed cock robin” describe how help was offered from all quarters following the death of cock robin thus reflecting the high esteem in which Robin was held by the common folk.

“Who killed Cock Robin?” “I,” said the Sparrow,
“With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin.”
“Who saw him die?” “I,” said the Fly,
“With my little eye, I saw him die.”
“Who caught his blood?” “I,” said the Fish,
“With my little dish, I caught his blood.”
“Who’ll make the shroud?” “I,” said the Beetle,
“With my thread and needle, I’ll make the shroud.”
“Who’ll dig his grave?” “I,” said the Owl,
“With my pick and shovel, I’ll dig his grave.”
“Who’ll be the parson?” “I,” said the Rook,
“With my little book, I’ll be the parson.”
“Who’ll be the clerk?” “I,” said the Lark,
“If it’s not in the dark, I’ll be the clerk.”
“Who’ll carry the link?” “I,” said the Linnet,
“I’ll fetch it in a minute, I’ll carry the link.”
“Who’ll be chief mourner?” “I,” said the Dove,
“I mourn for my love, I’ll be chief mourner.”
“Who’ll carry the coffin?” “I,” said the Kite,
“If it’s not through the night, I’ll carry the coffin.”
“Who’ll bear the pall? “We,” said the Wren,
“Both the cock and the hen, we’ll bear the pall.”
“Who’ll sing a psalm?” “I,” said the Thrush,
“As she sat on a bush, I’ll sing a psalm.”
“Who’ll toll the bell?” “I,” said the bull,
“Because I can pull, I’ll toll the bell.”
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.

 


 

RAIN. RAIN, GO AWAY

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The origin of the lyrics to “Rain rain go away” dates back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). During this period in English history there was constant rivalry between Spain and England eventually leading to the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Once again, most of us know only part of the older poem. When rhe Spanish Armada was sent to invade England.  The attempt failed, not only because of the swifter nature of the smaller English ships but also by the stormy weather which scattered the Armada fleet. Hence the origin of the “Rain rain go away” Nursery rhyme!

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!


BANBURY CROSS (RIDE A COCK HORSE)

 

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Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.

 

Stallions were called ‘cock’ horses in old England. The reason is obvious to horse people. They say this rhyme is about Elizabeth I who went to Banbury to see the newly erected stone cross. The rings on her fingers anb bells on her toes refer to the Plantagenet dynasty custom of attaching bells to their pointed shoes. Banbury Cross was located at the top of a steep hill. The Queen’s carriage broke a wheel. so Elizabeth chose to get on the white cock horse to make the trip. The people celebrated her arrival with ribbons and hired minstrels to accompany her on her visit, so she had music wherever she went.

 

THE HOMEWRECKERS

 

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“They are tearing down my childhood home today,” he said, wishing instead he were already dead. “I should not watch. It is a sad thing to see,” he said, thinking softly of the past, wishing it could forever last.

images-1“I wish I could have done more to save it,” he mused, feeling the blues as it oozed from the news.

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“I ate watermelon at the kitchen table, sweet as summer’s breath,” he said, tasting the juice that his mind reproduced.

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“We had many a memory in that house,” he understated,

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watching as his reality was castrated.

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“I wonder it I was happier back then than now,” he exclaimed, unashamed that he had no fame. “Probably not,” he said to himself, knowing he had not mastered laughter in the face of disaster.

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“Some folk’s homes become museums,”he pondered as his thoughts wandered. “I was never that important,” he concluded, as he brooded.

 

 

 

A SHADY SPOT WHERE I WILL NEVER SIT

 

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I did not write this caption, but I could have written it. 

I believe in planting trees in whose shade I will never sit.

We would all be happier if we all did this.

The artist within us strives to perfect for perpetuity.

The writer within us knows that most of their words are not read.

The caregivers within us know that their efforts will not be returned.

We know we cannot take our efforts and our concerns with us.

We plant seeds for tomorrow even if tomorrow does not come.

Likely, we would likely go mad if we did not do this.

A good parent is a parent that gives to the future.

The future is about the quality of life of the child and the grandchild.

Yet there are those of us who do not believe in the future.

There are among us those that believe the world is ending.

They believe that the end of time is the will of beings greater than themselves.

There is no factual evidence that their beliefs are correct.

Riches are better than poverty. Wealth provides comfort.

Health is better than illness. It maintains our being.

Contentment is better than depression.

To know something is much better than believing something.

To know is a personal fact. To believe is a personal wish.

And every word I write is a shady spot where I will never sit.

DOES THE PENIS SHRINK WITH AGE?

By Kenneth Harper Finton

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Man looking in his underwear

Does the penis shrink in size at it ages? The astounding answer is “yes, it does.” Nobody talks about it. Men fear it, women don’t really care, and young men have no idea what is coming (pun intended). Sexual dysfunction in men with age is no secret. Sometimes it seems that every other ad on TV tries to sell a pill for it. Newer comedy movies are not complete until the older male has a problem with his little blue pill that leads to hilarious consequences. The percentage of potent men falls from 60% to around 30% between the ages of 40 and 70.

Most men know little about their penis. It begins to change around age 30. The head gradually loses its purplish color that is created by healthy and youthful blood flow. The head becomes less sensitive and gradually shrinks in size and girth as a result of decreased testosterone and blood flow. By the time a man is 60 or 70 he loses around an inch or more in size.

“If a man’s erect penis is 6 inches long when he is in his 30s, it might be 5 or 5-and-a-half inches when he reaches his 60s or 70s,” Irwin Goldstein says. “As testosterone wanes, the penis gradually reverts to its prepubertal, mostly hairless, state.” Goldstein, MD, is director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. So even men without a tendency for baldness should not be surprised that they also gradually lose pubic hair. It also turns gray as it thins. [If this fact is troublesome, one alternative would be to shave it off like  porno stars do and lengthen the apparent length of your penis as well.]

Age brings declines in semen volume and sperm quality. Also, the urine stream weakens as the bladder muscles become weaker and the prostate enlarges.

The beer belly adds to the apparent loss in size of the penis because “a large pre-pubic pad of fat makes the penile shaft look shorter,” says Ira Sharlip, MD, clinical professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“In some cases, abdominal fat all but buries the penis,” says Ronald Tamler, MD, Ph.D., co-director of the Men’s Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “One way I motivate my overweight patients is by telling them that they can appear to gain up to an inch in size simply by losing weight.”

The penis shrinks from the same process that causes atherosclerosis. It is the same disease that contributes to blockages inside the coronary arteries and is a leading cause of heart attack. Fatty plaque is deposited by the blood in the small arteries and vessels in the penis, impairing the flow of blood and making erections softer and harder to achieve.

USE IT OR LOSE IT 

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You need to have erections regularly to keep your penis in shape. “It has to be essentially exercised,” says Tobias Kohler, MD, assistant professor of urology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

The brain dreams and the dreams help to set up has an automatic penis maintenance function for exercising the penis. “Pulses from the brain cause erections during the dreaming phase of sleep called the REM phase.”

Whether by a remembered dream or not, the penis gets hard during that REM period of the sleep cycle. It doesn’t matter if you’re having a hot sex dream or an apocalyptic nightmare. Dreaming brings erections.

Some men such as those who’ve suffered trauma to the nerves involved or who have nerve or blood vessel damage caused by diabetes are physically unable to get erections.

Most men can get erections.

There is a lot of locker-room significance to the facts. You cannot assume that a man with a big, limp penis gets much bigger with an erection. The guy whose penis looks tiny might get a surprisingly big erection. Many women do not care about penis size, as enormous shafts can be quite painful. If a finger works for satisfaction, a smaller penis can also suffice as well. Technique is often more important than size. Half the total length of a penis is tucked away inside the body. It is invisible.

“It’s what he does with it and the rest of his body that matters,” says Lou Paget, a certified a certified AASECT sex educator and author of “The Great Lover Playbook.”

SOURCES:

http://www.webmd.com/men/guide/life-cycle-of-a-penis

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/15/penis-problems-aging-_n_6480920.html

http://www.webmd.com/men/guide/8-things-you-did-not-know-about-your-penis

http://www.menshealth.com/health/your-penis-when-you-age

THE HUNZA PEOPLE OF NORTH PAKISTAN

http://www.readgang.com/2016/03/they-never-get-sickthey-dont-know-about.html

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LEGEND HAS IT THAT THESE ARE THE PEOPLE OF SHANGRI-LA

Is living well past 100 yeara only a dream?  Not in Northern Pakistan.

They, like many in Northern Pakistan, claim to be descendants of the soldiers who came to the region with Alexander the Great‘s army in the 4th century BC.

Healthy living advocate J. I. Rodale wrote a book called The Healthy Hunzas in 1955 that asserted that the Hunzas, noted for their longevity and many centenarians, were long-lived because of their consumption of healthy organic foods such as dried apricots and almonds, as well as their getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.[21] He often mentioned them in his Prevention magazine as exemplary of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. John Clark stayed among the Hunza people for 20 months and in his book Hunza – Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas[22] writes: “I wish also to express my regrets to those travelers whose impressions have been contradicted by my experience. On my first trip through Hunza, I acquired almost all the misconceptions they did: The Healthy Hunzas, the Democratic Court, The Land Where There Are No Poor, and the rest—and only long-continued living in Hunza revealed the actual situations”. Regarding the misconception about Hunza people’s health, John Clark also writes that most of patients had malaria, dysentery, worms, trachoma, and other things easily diagnosed and quickly treated; in his first two trips he treated 5,684 patients.

Clark reports that the Hunza do not measure their age solely by the calendar––as he also said there were no calendars––but also by personal estimation of wisdom. This leads in turn to notions of typical lifespans of 120 or greater.

The October 1953 issue of National Geographic had an article on the Hunza River Valley that inspired Carl Barks’ story Tralla La.[23] Their standard of living is totally different from the others. Barks said,  “the healthy way of that kind of living should be an example to us.”

THE HUNZA LIFESTYLE

Hunza people are people who take a bath in a cold water, and they can give a birth to a baby on 65 years which for us is inconceivable.

In summer, they eat only raw foods and in winter they use dry fruits, especially apricots, germinated seeds and cheese from sheep.

”Hunger spring” is called the period when they are fasting, then they do not eat anything except the drink clean water.

From 2 to 4 months they drink that water and consume the apricot seeds.

One of the Hunza people, known worldwide as Said Abdul Mobuda, totally confused the workers for immigration services when he pulled out his passport on which was written that he has lived 160 years. They did not believe him until they checked that the man is really born 160 years ago and that in his village all the people have long lifetime.

THEIR GENETIC LINE

A variety of Y-DNA haplogroups are seen among the Burusho. Most frequent among these are R1a1 and R2a, which probably originated in Central Asia during the Upper Paleolithic.[17][18] R2a, unlike its extremely rare parent R2, R1a1 and other clades of haplogroup R, is now virtually restricted to South Asia. Two other typically South Asian lineages, haplogroup H1 and haplogroup L3 (defined by SNP mutation M20) are also common among the Burusho.[19] [18]

Other Y-DNA haplogroups reaching considerable frequencies among the Burusho are haplogroup J2, associated with the spread of agriculture in, and from, the neolithic Near East,[17][18] and haplogroup C3, of Siberian origin and possibly representing the patrilineage of Genghis Khan. Also present at lower frequency are haplogroups O3, an East Eurasian lineage, and QPF, and G.[18] DNA research groups the male ancestry of the Hunza with speakers of Pamir languages and the Sinti Romani (Gypsies), due primarily to the M124 marker (defining Y-DNA haplogroup R2a), which is present at high frequency in all three populations.[8] However, they have also an East Asian genetic contribution, suggesting that at least some of their ancestry originates north of the Himalayas.[20]