What do baby pigeons and tennis great Rafael Nadal have in common?

Ame, a reader from Philly, posted this question in response to the FireFly article:

I don’t see as many Fireflies these days so my daughter and I will participate in the FireFly Watch to help solve the mystery. I also don’t see as many bees and I’ve never seen a baby pigeon. Why?

Now is the time to spot baby pigeons in Philly, Ame. According to Hannah Holmes, spring and summer months provide the best viewing opportunities but you’ll have to look carefully. You don’t see them often because, like tennis great Rafael Nadal, pigeons like living at home with their parents. (OK, Nadal is only 20–and cute–so we’ll cut him a break.)  

By the time a pigeon leaves its nest, it’s about the size of a mature adult. There are some visual clues: their heads may be narrower than other pigeons and they may have down feathers poking out. They may also be dating gorgeous supermodels. Ooops. Getting baby pigeons confused with Nadal again. If you’re interested, you can read more about baby pigeons here.

The buzz on the bees. Yup, we are seeing fewer of them. More than one-third of bees in managed colonies in the U.S. disappeared  last winter in what’s been called a “colony collapse disorder.” It was thought a virus was responsible but that’s looking less likely to be the cause. The case of the disappearing bees needs to be solved soon because they play a critical role in our ecology and economy.

According to this bit in Discover Magazine, Congress was faced with some surprising facts last week during an official hearing on this topic: nationwide, bees pollinate $14.6 billion worth of fruits and veggies every year;  Haagen-Dazs gets more than 40% of its product’s flavors from fruits and nuts, dependent on honeybees. And, here are 20 more things I didn’t know about bees.

 Jonathan Farley, math whiz, winner of too many awards to count, and movie consultant, recently wrote about missing bees in The New York Times. In the article, he talks about the unexplained collapse of bee colonies since 2006, and how a mathematical model could be used to predict the number that will die in the future. I chatted with Farley about this and other topics. He’d like to speak with citizen scientists working with bees to see if they have some insight into this ongoing mystery. If I just described you, let me know if you’d like to be put in touch with Farley. Super neat guy.  Here’s just part of what he does for fun.

Hope this answers your questions, Ame.

  • Ame

    Ok, now you have me on a role, looking and listening for things about science. Here is something that I heard on some learning channel at 1am a few days ago:

    Supposedly once we have “destroyed” the earth, and are no longer living on it the earth will start to fix what we messed up in something like 120 years…keep in mind it was 1am, and I was not entirely awake.

    The part that caught my attention was about asphalt and the effect it has on increasing the heat of the earth by 20%, thereby increasing global warming. Is this true? The program stated that within 120 years grass/ground covering begins to grow over the asphalt therefore cooling the earth below.

    If this is true, why are we not bleaching or lightening the asphalt. Does it have to be black? If we lighten the asphalt, possibly use it as a “solar type of energy” to use to charge all the lights along the streets, so that the we as citizens don’t have to pay for the electricity to charge to lights…the pavement would pave the way for us….

  • Ame

    Ok, now you have me on a role, looking and listening for things about science. Here is something that I heard on some learning channel at 1am a few days ago:

    Supposedly once we have “destroyed” the earth, and are no longer living on it the earth will start to fix what we messed up in something like 120 years…keep in mind it was 1am, and I was not entirely awake.

    The part that caught my attention was about asphalt and the effect it has on increasing the heat of the earth by 20%, thereby increasing global warming. Is this true? The program stated that within 120 years grass/ground covering begins to grow over the asphalt therefore cooling the earth below.

    If this is true, why are we not bleaching or lightening the asphalt. Does it have to be black? If we lighten the asphalt, possibly use it as a “solar type of energy” to use to charge all the lights along the streets, so that the we as citizens don’t have to pay for the electricity to charge to lights…the pavement would pave the way for us….

  • Re: asphalt

    We could also counteract the heating effects by painting our roofs white to increase planetary albedo.

    Re: bees

    There was some cockamamie theory that cell phones were damaging bee hives–whatever became of that? I saw a couple bees in my neighborhood recently, and they were a bit on the sluggish side. Overweight?

    I’d be curious to know what methods are being used to investigate these hives. I have an aversion to insects/arachnids unless they’re the seagoing, oversized variety that tastes good with drawn butter, but if anyone uncovers anything more about this, I’d be interested to read it.

    /b

  • Re: asphalt

    We could also counteract the heating effects by painting our roofs white to increase planetary albedo.

    Re: bees

    There was some cockamamie theory that cell phones were damaging bee hives–whatever became of that? I saw a couple bees in my neighborhood recently, and they were a bit on the sluggish side. Overweight?

    I’d be curious to know what methods are being used to investigate these hives. I have an aversion to insects/arachnids unless they’re the seagoing, oversized variety that tastes good with drawn butter, but if anyone uncovers anything more about this, I’d be interested to read it.

    /b

  • JT Lewis

    The Science of Drinking? The New York Times reports that diet soda used as a mixer hastens the absorption (time and amount) of alcohol. Watch those summer Rum and (diet) Cokes!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/health/08real.html?em&ex=1215748800&en=949f71ad6a24d4ba&ei=5087

    The impact may be greater on young girls who are more likely to drink the stuff AND have low body weight to begin with.

    Plus a recent AP study shows an increase in alcohol poisoning deaths among college kids. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-drinking-deaths,0,809976.story
    Sone deaths may be linked to marijuana use—which retards nausea so one can attain higher, potentially fatal blood alcohol levels.

  • JT Lewis

    The Science of Drinking? The New York Times reports that diet soda used as a mixer hastens the absorption (time and amount) of alcohol. Watch those summer Rum and (diet) Cokes!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/health/08real.html?em&ex=1215748800&en=949f71ad6a24d4ba&ei=5087

    The impact may be greater on young girls who are more likely to drink the stuff AND have low body weight to begin with.

    Plus a recent AP study shows an increase in alcohol poisoning deaths among college kids. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-drinking-deaths,0,809976.story
    Sone deaths may be linked to marijuana use—which retards nausea so one can attain higher, potentially fatal blood alcohol levels.

  • I’ll post the same information to my blog, thanks for ideas and great article.