What happens when you put a very smart parrot in the room with a voice-activated virtual assistant?
The owners of an African grey parrot named Petra also own an Amazon Echo, the tall black cylinder that activates a blue light when it hears the word “Alexa.” Say “Alexa” and the computer carries out your command.
Here are three short clips of Petra with Alexa. Above, “All lights on.”
Last Sunday I saw Carolina spring beauties blooming at the Core Arboretum in Morgantown, West Virginia. They reminded me of this 2011 article, Two Kinds of Spring Beauty, though I didn’t see the second kind. (Click the link to read about both flowers.)
Flowers bloom earlier in Morgantown because it’s 60 miles south of us. Spring moves north 13 miles a day so we should expect our spring beauties to bloom today or tomorrow. And they will because of our temporarily hot weather.
If you’re near Morgantown, the Core Arboretum offers wildflower walks on three Sundays in April every year. The first walk was last Sunday but you still have time to join naturalists from West Virginia University at 2pm on April 15 and April 22 to see what’s blooming. Click here for directions.
The most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen lives in the jungles of Central and South America.
The blue morpho (Morpho menelaus) is as large as my open hand, iridescent blue above and patterned brown below. When it flies, sunlight winks blue on its open wings. On the upstroke it shines gold.
In Panama we were transfixed when blue morphos appeared one by one above the road, floating toward and over us. They defied our efforts at photography so I looked for a video on YouTube.
But only the slow motion videos matched my memory of morphos. (We did not see the black-blue butterfly in this video, only the all-blue one.)
In fact they flew rather fast. You can see in this video how hard it is to keep up with one.
My memory of these butterflies is in slow motion because my brain was busy processing the new and beautiful experience. This happens to all of us when we focus on new information. (Read more here about our perception of time. )
Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the beauty of nature.
When I watch blue morphos time slows down.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original. All videos from YouTube; click on the YouTube logos to see the videos full screen)
He often spends more than half the day incubating while his mate Hope takes a break. (She incubates all night.) He has also learned a thing or two about dealing with her.
Hope is a very loud bird, so loud that her shouting can be heard inside the Cathedral of Learning and blocks away from the building. I don’t know why she shouts but I found out last year that when she shouts she’s looking at Terzo.
This year Terzo is shouting back!
At the beginning of this April 4th video clip, Hope shouts from the nest. Then you hear another peregrine shout back. It’s Terzo, off camera. At the end of the clip Hope falls asleep and Terzo shouts at her and wakes her up. Hah!
This went on for a while. I could have shown you 6 minutes of shouting but decided to spare you.