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Sweet Carolina Home

June 11th, 2014 Comments off

The Carolina Wren is in her nest, and I’m feeling fuzzy-warm about it.

The pair started building their nest about three weeks ago.  They decided to spot it in the planter, just beyond where I usually sit on our lanai, about two feet from my face.  The nest, nestled in the wilds of our coleus,  looks rather like an igloo.

There is now one egg in that bower.  She is sitting on the egg today.  I am sitting elsewhere.  If I sit in my usual seat, I have to remain very, very still, or she will freak out.  She hops out her door onto the side of the planter, and sort of plops to the ground, onto the brickwork, and scurries away to a hiding place beneath the patio table.

So I sit elsewhere.  These wrens usually lay three to five eggs; there appears to be only one in this nest.  I’m rooting for a safe hatching, and a successful fledging.  Whatever it takes:  I do my part.

Carolina Wren

 

Magical Mystery Tour

June 11th, 2014 Comments off

Remember the VW Bus?  Sometimes it was a camper; mostly it was just campy.  In the 70’s they were ubiquitous.  Chugging up I-95, loping along the straightaway across Kansas, struggling up through the Eisenhower Tunnel over the Rockies…the Bus was always there.  In its original drab tan, or painted in reds, purples, yellow, greens, blues, the bus became a totem of its generation, the hippie generation, which was, not quite accidentally, also the Baby Boom generation.

Yes, those were boomers in all that hair and sleeveless tees, trailing the sweet sweet odor of euphoria.  Almost more than the weed, the VW Bus (and its baby brother, the Beetle) represented Freedom, Escape from Normality, and a whole new way of thinking: Out With the Old, Up With the Young!  It was all about breaking with the past and, more than that, with Leaving Home….Let’s get outta here!  Gotta go now, sayonara, there’s new lands to see, new experiences to conquer.

The reason for all this enthusiasm, this wanderlust, comes down to one great contributing factor, which can be described briefly:  the Great Tit.

In his book, Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, Avi Tuschman describes studies done of dispersal distribution of the British bird, the Great Tit.  A wider dispersal area, it seems, encourages outbreeding–mating with a wider genetic pool, while a narrow dispersal area encourages inbreeding, leading to “inbreeding depression,” or a lowering of evolutionary fitness.  Similarly, other animals’ breeding patterns encourage outgroup breeding: younger male wolf-cubs are encouraged to leave their homes and find new hunting areas, while firstborns generally stay within their home country.

**other examples to follow**

With overpopulation, the supernumeric members of the tribe–generally the younger, who are not at that time contributing as much to the group–are forced, or asked nicely, to leave.  And what did the Baby Boom generation face, but overpopulation?  They faced a superabundance of competitors, of people just like them, and found it advantageous to leave the home area and look for opportunities among other groups and with new cadres of available mates.  Didn’t the VW Bus make for a convenient way to make this happen?

In other studies, it’s been found that first-borns tend to stay at home, while their younger syblings are more likely to leave, having gotten less attention from the parents and in search of opportunity.  The stay-at-homes also tend to be more conservative (well yes, staying put is a really conservative trait), whole those that leave are more liberal (read ‘adventurous’) and open to new experiences.

 

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