Archive for April, 2004

Great Backyard Bird Count Embraces Novices

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 30, 2004   View Article

For four days this past February, approximately a hundred thousand people all over North America braved the winter chill, stepped outside, tallied the birds in their backyards, and reported their findings over the Internet as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

The tally, reported last week, shows that the participants turned in 42,509 checklists accounting for 554 species of birds, totaling 4,304,598 individuals.

“Naked Eye” Comets to Streak Into View Within Days

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 26, 2004   View Article

In the coming days and weeks, the trained—or perhaps lucky—observer will be able to step outside in the evening or morning twilight hours and get a rare glimpse of one of three so-called naked-eye comets. These are comets that can be seen without a telescope or binoculars.

While comet buffs are excited at this opportunity, Fred Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California, cautions that the naked-eye comets—named Bradfield, NEAT, and LINEAR—will appear faint and will be difficult for the inexperienced observer to see.

Seattle Waterfront Falling to Gribble Invasion

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2004   View Article

Flea-sized crustaceans with seven sets of legs, four moving mouth parts, and a voracious appetite for wood-borne bacteria could cause the edge of downtown Seattle, Washington, to slip into the Puget Sound.

Known as gribbles, the crustaceans have devoured portions of a wooden platform and supporting timbers designed to stabilize a steel-and-concrete seawall built along the Seattle waterfront in 1934. The wall allows deep-hulled ships to dock at the city’s edge.

“Faith Keeper” Guards Native American Songs, Knowledge

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 22, 2004   View Article

When Patrick Orozco was a young boy, his grandmother Rose Rios taught him a song about a Native American man from a village called Cupakuwa who fell in love with a woman from another village known as Rumsen.

The couple met at a river between their homes. Those villages lie in the coastal region of what is now northern California.

Sky Show Tonight: Lyrids Kick Off Meteor Season

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 21, 2004   View Article

Beginning late tonight and stretching into the predawn hours of Thursday morning, more than 20 meteors an hour will streak across the sky, bringing a burst of spring joy to meteor shower enthusiasts.

Known as the Lyrids, the shower appears to emanate from a point in the sky, or radiant, just west of the constellation Lyra, which contains the bright star Vega. (Lyra is found near the more familiar constellation Cygnus, also known as the Northern Cross.)

Migrating Birds Reset “Compasses” at Sunset, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 15, 2004   View Article

Sunset is more than a thing of beauty for Swainson’s thrushes and gray-cheeked thrushes. It keeps them on course when migrating between their winter and summer homes, according to an international team of scientists.

The finding sheds further light on a question that has vexed scientists for years: How do birds navigate between nesting areas separated by thousands of miles with pinpoint accuracy?

Himalaya Honey Hunters Cling to Cliffside Tradition

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 14, 2004   View Article

Twice a year high in the Himalayan foothills of central Nepal teams of men gather around cliffs that are home to the world’s largest honeybee, Apis laboriosa. As they have for generations, the men come to harvest the Himalayan cliff bee’s honey.

The harvest ritual, which varies slightly from community to community, begins with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits, and rice. Then a fire is lit at the base of the cliff to smoke the bees from their honeycombs.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach