Category Archives: News

Steadicam chickens

Did you know that chickens have image stabilized heads. It’s true!  It’s actually called the vestibulo-ocular reflex. Naturally (and… nerdily?) people started suggesting that someone should try making a steadicam using a chicken. Well, YouTube user Destin actually went ahead and did it… The results can be seen in the video  below.


Staffy and Gosling become buddies

An orphaned goose has formed an unlikely friendship with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier after being given a home at a dog rescue centre in Leeds.

Named Orville, the gosling was one week old when he was found alone and injured in Morley.

Brian Wheelhouse, founder of the Whitehall Dog Rescue centre in East Ardsley, said: “Ruby was there from the beginning and I think he saw her as a mother figure. He just started following her around and it got to the point where he wouldn’t go out if Ruby wasn’t there.

“She loves him and he loves her.”

People don’t care for chickens say Steve Carell

Steve Carell is worried he has offended a “chicken lobby” by admitting he doesn’t like the birds.

The actor voices the character of Gru in animated sequel Despicable Me 2. This time around Gru is a good guy, who is asked to help find a master criminal using his knowledge of villainous ways.

One part of the film involves an evil chicken, with Steve pondering about why birds are often malevolent in movies.

“I think it’s why we love to eat chicken because I don’t think we like them personally. So, we enjoy the taste of them but we don’t necessarily want to befriend them,” he laughed to BBC Breakfast. “I’m probably going to get into trouble for that one.

“This chicken is really funny, this chicken is a menace. The chicken in the movie is a villain and you know, chickens seem very innocuous, very benign, really a non-threatening animal. In this movie, the chicken poses probably a greater threat than the shark did in the first movie.”

Having a villainous chicken portrayed in the release didn’t bother Steve. He freely admits he is spooked by the feathered creatures and doesn’t like being around them.

“I’m not a big fan of chickens, I don’t love them. I know that there’s probably a chicken lobby out there that will be upset that I’m saying I don’t care for chickens,” he said. “I don’t want to say that all chickens are masters of evil… like anything else, there are good chickens and there are bad chickens.”

Steve is pleased Despicable Me got a sequel as it is the film his children were most excited about him doing. He has Annie and Johnny with his wife Nancy Walls and knew he’d nailed the character of Gru when he put on the voice for his kids and they kept asking him to repeat himself.

The actor’s comedy credentials are legendary and he reprises his role as Brick in the hotly-anticipated movie Anchorman: The Legend Continues. He loves the dopey character and won’t hear a word against him.

“I don’t see him as stupid. Are you referring to Brick? Oh he’s not stupid. He’s maybe counter-intuitive. Maybe you just don’t understand the level at which this man thinks,” he joked. “It’s a parallel way of thinking, I don’t think it’s a lesser way of thinking.”

Steve also touched on the death of James Gandolfini during the interview. The star passed away in Italy earlier this week of a suspected heart attack, aged 51.

The men appeared in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone together and Steve has nothing but praise for the late Sopranos actor.

“He was an incredibly sweet guy. He obviously was a great actor, everyone knew that side of him but I think when you knew him on a personal level – I didn’t know him extremely well – he was kind, he was generous and he was a little shy as well,” he said.

“I think he was a genius. When I had a chance to work with him everyone I know was jealous because this guy was the real deal, a consummate actor, but apart from that just an incredibly generous good man.”


Baby quail falling in sewers

It wasn’t a pretty sight, so Bruce Hampson swung into action.

A large brood of quail — two adults and a host of tiny, fluffy babies — were walking near Hampson’s Wheeler Avenue home in Parksville when one of the youngsters suddenly disappeared from the line after falling through a sewer grate.

Hampson lifted the grate and saw there were four of the mini quail in distress. He saved three. One drowned.

“I don’t know how many have fallen through over the years,” said Hampson. “There should be something done — it doesn’t seem right.”

To that end, Hampson said he called the city, the SPCA and the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. He said he believes some inexpensive steel meshes of some sort could stop this from happening again.

“They are beautiful little birds,” he said. “It would be kind of nice to save them — they are so cute.”

The city doesn’t believe there’s much it can do about the situation.

“Good on him (Hampson) for taking the grate out and rescuing the little guys,” said City of Parksville spokesperson Debbie Tardiff.

The city has approximately 1,400 catch basins like the one that felled the tiny quail on Wheeler Avenue.

“Realistically, it is not manageable to run around and put screens on them,” said Tardiff.

Robin Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre also didn’t believe there’s much his organization could do about the issue.

“I’m sympathetic to the whole situation,” said Campbell. “It’s an ongoing problem, not necessarily quail but baby ducks.”


A Honking Mess

Too many geese in the ArcticScientists hope increasing hunting pressure will bring the expanding population of Ross’s geese under control and stop them from overgrazing and destroying their habitat in Arctic Canada.

Wildlife scientists want Inuit hunters to kill more Arctic-nesting geese in an effort to manage populations so out of control the birds are destroying their own habitat.

Experts acknowledge the plan isn’t likely to work and admit they don’t know what to do about ballooning numbers of Ross’s geese that are denuding large areas of the North.

“It’s really unprecedented in waterfowl management history to have a population that’s out of control and can’t be controlled through hunting,” said Jim Leafloor of the Canadian Wildlife Service. “We’re not really sure at this point where it’s all going to lead.”

Ross’s geese — which migrate between Canada’s northern coastline and as far south as California — were once hunted so extensively that their numbers were down to a few thousand in the 1930s. Environmental protections and the spread of agricultural practices that favour bird foraging have changed all that.

Kiel Drake of Bird Studies Canada estimates there are now about two million of the small, white geese. Together with about five million lesser snow geese — which have tripled their numbers since the 1970s and have similar habits — that spells big, honking trouble.

“It’s the way they feed,” said Leafloor. “They strip vegetation from fairly large areas.”

Sky-filling flocks are hammering their tundra nesting grounds in the Queen Maud Bird Sanctuary along the Northwest Passage. The destruction follows their migration path south, through the coastal marshes of Hudson Bay and James Bay.

“A lot of that habitat is already destroyed,” said Leafloor. “The losses there just continue to mount and expand into other areas.”

Grazing geese strip the land bare, exposing soil and peat. Recovery is slow in the Arctic’s cold climate and poor soil.

Ripping out vegetation also changes the flow of soil moisture. It draws salts to the surface and prevents normal plants from growing back. That, in turn, affects other birds and animals.

Last week, wildlife service officials asked the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board to agree to have Ross’s geese declared overabundant, which would allow managers to expand the hunting season. The board has made a recommendation to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, who is to make the final decision.

“We think the population of (Ross’s geese) might be small enough that it could be controlled through hunting,” Leafloor said. “That remains to be seen.”

Snow geese were declared overabundant in 1999. Hunters are allowed to shoot them spring through fall, but it hasn’t made much difference.

“We think that’s an example of a population that’s beyond the ability of hunters to control.”

Nor is Mother Nature likely to take a hand by reducing numbers through overcrowding and disease. If their regular habitat becomes too degraded or crowded, the birds just find another area and strip it.

Others stay behind and eke out a living on their original feeding grounds, preventing recovery.

“The problem expands as the population expands,” Leafloor said.

No one really knows how much of the Arctic is already affected. And no one really knows where the problem is headed.

“Nobody knows what the limits are,” said Leafloor.

“We don’t know what the carrying capacity of the Arctic is. We don’t know how much food is there and how much natural habitat is available to support these geese.

“What we’re doing right now is monitoring them and watching the changes in population size and documenting changes in their range.

“But beyond that, what do you do with multimillions of geese?”


Radnor may try swans to get rid of geese

The problem is so bad in Radnor Township that one of the ball fields has been dubbed “Goose Poop Field.”

As they have all over the region, geese have been fouling the fields, lakes, parks, and grassy lawns of housing developments in the wealthy Delaware County community, prompting residents to request action.

Radnor officials say they may have a partial solution to the “rodents with wings”: mute swans.

The township is considering deploying the swans at the Willows Park, a 47-acre former estate off Darby-Paoli Road.

A memo from Stephen F. Norcini, director of public works, concluded that the swans, known to act aggressively toward other winged creatures, were “a reliable way to control a pond’s Canadian goose population around the clock.”

Actually, they are Canada geese. Not that they have to pass through customs; they are members of the nonmigratory species Branta canadensis maxima.

Norcini did not return calls seeking comment.

The memo proposed to purchase two of the graceful white birds from a breeder near Harrisburg for $1,000 and build a $500 island at the pond at the park. The swans also would “add beauty and excitement” to the area, the memo said.

“Noooo, bad idea,” said Barbara Avers, a waterfowl and wetland specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, where swans have proved to be a growing threat to native animals, habitat, and people.

She said the township might be trading one problem for another. As Michigan’s population of the white swans increased, so did the complaints.

Avers said the swans will feed on vegetation important for native species and can quickly alter the wetlands ecosystem, affecting native birds, fish, frogs, and turtles.

Mute swans are nonnative, invasive, and extremely aggressive to people, Avers said, especially when guarding their nests or young.

Myriad swan attacks appear on YouTube, including one that shows a bride trying to flee with an irate swan firmly attached to the back of her dress. (see video below)

In April 2012 an Illinois man working for a company that used the birds to deter geese drowned after he was attacked by a pair of nesting swans when his kayak toppled.

Last year, Pennsylvania’s goose population was estimated at 220,000 and growing, along with droppings.

“We created our own problem,” said John Dunn, chief of game management for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

In the 1930s, nonmigratory “giant” Canada geese – native to Indiana and Illinois – were introduced to Pennsylvania for hunting and to bolster the dwindling migratory flocks, Dunn said.

Humane methods for goose control include loud noises, installing cutouts or blowups of natural predators, applying repellents to lawns, and nest and egg destruction. Landscape techniques have been effective: Geese love short well-kept lawns, but shy away from long grassy areas where they can’t see.

Another option is the border collie.

“We are crazy busy,” said Brandon Schaaf of Langhorne-based Geese Management. “This always works.”

The company employs 17 border collies that chase birds in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. “They want to herd, not hurt,” Schaaf said.

Schaaf said he had contracts with about 20 locations where swans and geese coexisting on the sites.

As for using swans for goose control, Elaine Schaefer, president of the Radnor Board of Commissioners, said she was unaware of problems. While the memo outlined the pros of using the birds, she said more study and public comment were needed.


Ruling the roost

Many mothers struggle to adjust when their babies grow up and move away to university.

But one particularly protective mum was causing chaos on campus yesterday as she viciously attacked students trying to get back to their halls of residence.

The furious Canadian goose built her nest close to a block of student flats at the University of Warwick and then refused to let anyone pass while she waited for her eggs to hatch.

A surprised male student tries to make a run for it on campus at the University of WarwickAngry birds: A surprised male student tries to make a run for it on campus at the University of Warwick
The student was forced to make a dive for cover as the goose attacked, watched by its mate Undignified: The student was forced to make a dive for cover as the goose attacked, watched by its mate
One victim got a vicious pecking, photographed by engineering student Zhi Chow, who lives on the campus in CoventryOuch: One victim got a vicious pecking, photographed by engineering student Zhi Chow, who lives on the campus in Coventry

Terrified students were left too afraid to leave their homes after a series of aerial attacks from the goose who pecked, squawked and chased them.

Many were wearing headphones or talking on the phone and didn’t notice the goose’s warning hiss until it was too late.

Some were forced to run for cover as the angry birds attacked while others even threw themselves to the ground for protection.

Business Management student Zhi Chow, who lives on the campus in Coventry, West Mids, set up a camera to capture the siege.

A female student flees as one of the Canada geese dives at herIn a flap: A female student flees as one of the Canada geese dives at her
Another woman beats a swift retreat from the pathway near the restHissy fit: Another woman beats a swift retreat from the pathway near the rest

One picture shows a terrified man hurling himself to the ground, covering his head, as one goose launches at him from mid-air.

In another, one girl eyes up the bird sitting on the nest unaware that its mate is lurking behind her, ready to attack.

Mr Chow said: ‘I thought it was hilarious when I first saw people being chased by the geese.
‘It’s not so funny when you’re walking past them though.

 A frightened girl hangs on to her shopping as she runs past the protected nestDuck, duck, goose: A frightened girl hangs on to her shopping as she runs past the protected nest
The goslings have now hatchedProud mother: The goslings have now hatched, but she is still keeping a watchful eye

‘They’re terrifying – the birds are so big and they’ll clearly stop at nothing to protect their eggs. ‘My bedroom window looks out directly onto their nest, so I set up a camera to capture the attacks so I could show my friends.

‘Lots of people have started avoiding the area as word spreads about the geese.

‘There have always been a lot of geese on campus here, but I’ve never seen any as angry as this.’

The mother goose’s efforts to protect her young were rewarded last night when her goslings finally hatched.