Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Is This Old Bird An Imaginary?

Query: I heard about a 62-year-old bird that had a baby. Is this true? If so, is this bird an Imaginary? I didn’t think birds could live this long.

Answer: You might be referring to “Wisdom,” a Layson albatross (not an Imaginary) who birthed a healthy chick earlier this year. When Wisdom was tagged in 1956, she was at least five years old, and has been tracked reliably since then, so we know that she is at least 62 years old by now. She has had a single chick for each of the past six years, but how many hatchlings she has raised in her lifetime is unknown. What we do know about her is that she has flown over 3 million miles since she was tagged.

Albatross have been familiar to seafaring people at least as long as boats began crossing the seas, and many legends have grown up around them. While we have known for many years that this is a long-lived species that makes extended journeys over the oceans, we didn’t understand how old this bird could become, or how far she actually travels, until Wisdom

This makes clear to us that what we don’t know about the world we live in is far more than what we do know. Even though we humans might think we’ve seen everything, there are wonders that evade our detection even on a crowded planet. For example, new species of birds are discovered almost every year. In 2012, the sira barbet, a colorful fruit-eating bird, was discovered in the Peruvian Andes. While remote and difficult to navigate, people have lived in the Andes and crisscrossed through those mountains for 8,000 years without noticing this bird.

So it is not surprising that we know so little about the Imaginaries, who are even more adept at eluding human detection than the albatross.


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.