Thursday, February 21, 2008

Birds and Bats

We're like in our own little treehouse with wall to wall windows looking out into the fourth floor level of trees. There are lots of birds - we hear a lot more than we see, and see lot more than we can catch with the camera - and last night we noticed all these birds flying into the tree, but they weren't birds. You can see this bird's long tail, but not the head. I think it's in the magpie/treepie family. Dianne? Catherine? Is there enough here to identify? The tail is so distinctive. It was probably 2 feet long from tip of the head to end of the tail. Maybe longer.

Then yesterday night there were maybe 20 or 30 bats swooping back and forth just beyond our balcony and in the trees. You could hear the wings hitting the leaves. Otherwise they were silent. So I put it on flash and the child/animal setting and started taking pictures. I got a bunch like this one of the trees but with no obvious bats. You can see the fruit in the tree (like usual, you can double click to enlarge the pictures) if you look carefully and the way the were sometimes hovering I assume they were going after the fruit. I couldn't tell for sure what kind of fruit it is.

Then, I finally got one. There's a way to get rid of red eye on people, but there's no way to get rid of white eye I know of, on animals. This seems to happen with dogs (the fox I got at Elmendorf last August had this in the flash picture) and bats. How are their eyes different from human eyes that the flash reflection is different? But that's pretty much all you can see of this bat.

Finally, bingo, I got the whole bat. First you see the eyes, but then you can see the whole animal in flight. I'd say there were 18 - 24 inches in wingspan. Very cool watching them fly around. If you are ever in Portland, Oregon, the zoo there has a bat exhibit with special lighting so you can see the bats clearly flying around, hanging around, and various states in between.

[2/21/08 My son emailed me this:

In mammals, the rods and cones actually face backwards, towards the retina. Dogs and cats have a retroreflective layer in their retina which reflects light back into the rods and cones, improving their night vision.

(retroreflective means reflects back in the same direction it came from. you can get the same effect from the inside of the corner of a cube with shiny sides)]

1 comment:

  1. Your son knows this because he and I were asking the very same question you were about getting rid of "green eye" in pictures of dogs a few years back. We spent the better part of an evening googling it. We lost interest in "photoshop" aspect pretty quickly, but the issue of why the reflection is a different color than in humans is fascinating.
    - Your daughter


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