The Annual Great Escape

Weather in central Indiana is, at best, unpredictable.  Last week it hit about minus two degrees and there was snow on the ground, and Tuesday it was 60 degrees at 9 am.  We’re back in the thirties again, but while driving to the store this morning I was surprised to see a small flock of birds gathering on a clump of trees.  Shouldn’t they already have flown South for the Winter?

Imagine my surprise a few miles later to see another flock of birds gathering off trees and clumping together to head South.  Did they not get the memo either?  While I sat here munching on breakfast (a blueberry muffin and some cocoa with mini-marshmallows) I snooped around on the web looking for dets on bird migration.

My main conclusion?  We don’t understand it at all.

Birds seem to migrate when food gets scarce, or when the weather gets cold, or when evolutionary pressure tells them it’s time.  Or maybe when they get bored?

I hadn’t given much thought to hummingbirds migrating, but apparently they do, with an airspeed of about 27.5 miles per hour.

[insert your own joke about swallow air speeds here]

I can understand birds moving when food gets scarce, or when it gets too cold, but the evidence for evolutionary pressure is supported by indoor birds in cages that apparently try flying against their cages to head South or North at specific times during the year.

Birds gathering somewhere and moving in flocks I totally get – we have birds in the house, some of which even get to fly around the house at times.  When some show had a flock of birds flying together across the screen one of the birds flew towards the television and tried to fly in the direction the other birds were flying…fortunately for all involved the bird stopped before it smashed into the wall.

Nobody has much evidence for any theories about how birds navigate…built-in GPS seems to be a common assumption.  `Maybe we can eventually figure out how to genetically modify our DNA to have a built-in GPS ourselves -clearly some people who don’t get lost in the woods have at least some ability in that direction already … probably an affinity to magnetic fields.  A simple story would then propose an evil villain of some sort will generate a massive electro-magnetic field, leaving people lost and confused until they pay ransom to get it turned off…

Carrie Fisher died two days ago, and the next day her mother died.  While Carrie’s death was a shock to us all, Debbie Reynold’s death was far more disturbing to me: can people really die from a broken heart?  It’s probably difficult for most people to understand how Debbie was a major star at 23, and how her marriage and divorce from Eddie Fisher was big enough news to end up on the front page of nearly every newspaper (and don’t ask, “What’s a newspaper?”  They should be around for at least another ten years or so).

Here’s Debbie five years after she was in Singing In the Rain, singing Tammy’s In Love:

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