Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fishing, hunting, and the food chain

Fishing, Hunting, Trying to Get By.

 
In a recent article, (holy cow, they are getting smart) Scientific American reports that "non-bird reptiles,mainly crocodiles, and alligators use tools to capture birds.  Of course, they don't use those wild looking, net shooting guns, or tasers, (that would make for really big news) rather, they lay sticks across their nose, and when the bird (not-a-non bird reptile) swoops in to pick up the stick for construction of a nest, the crocodile has the bird for a little meal, and, one would assume, has a little chuckle at the bird's stupidity, and probably goes back to work on the petition to have the title changed to "reptile," wondering the whole time why the bird gets all of the headlines.

Of course, in fairness to birds, the article later explains how birds can use berries, and sometimes even bits of bread to catch fish, or dung to catch dung beetles, (again, casting doubt on the intelligence of birds), so this behavior is not new to (bird, and non-bird) reptiles.  And, don't forget the part about flying, many people still think that is a pretty neat trick.  Evolution has not completely ignored this class of animal.

The Tech Whacko Division of Scientific Research, Travel and Tourism, and Wildlife Resource Management wondered if there were any other surprising examples of the use of tools as a means to an end in nature.  What they found was surprising.

There were several cases, researched and documented, of men, camouflaging themselves in huge, expensive boats, and tossing shiny, pointy feather covered metal bits tied to a thin plastic rope in the water in an effort to catch fish.  Often, this requires coolers full of beer, and boxes full of exorbitantly priced gear, and gasoline, and cursing, and baking under an unforgiving sun wearing only swim trunks, and a middle aged belly. Sometimes whole weekends will be swallowed by the process.   There are rumors of a few lucky souls who have managed to get a fish into the boat, but there is no proof at this point.

Also, they found proof of men, dressing in forest patterns, covering their face with greasy paint and trompinfg off into snow covered woods, and hiding in little forts built along rivers, armed with huge, expensive weapons, trying desperately to shoot a bird to death.  They have devices to make noise that sounds like a bird. They use this to draw them in, and then in a scene reminiscent of the St. Valentines Day Massacre they jump from their place of concealment and blast the livin' bejesus out of the birds.  Sometimes it works, but reports indicate that it is mostly futile.

As is plain to see, birds and fish are crafty, evasive animals, and capturing or killing one is an expensive, time consuming proposition.  How they get caught so often by dumb animals is beyond us.