Well Engineered Bird

Pretty much on the go these days. We had to leave the great-nephew’s graduation/family reunion a day early in order to make our way up to Michigan for the UKC Agility Nationals competition. Raven and Linda qualified for the national ranks this year and was invited to compete with the rest of the ranked boys and girls. Planned on leaving the reunion on morning rise to give us sufficient time to repack us and the dogs – that was the plan until we heard the words “water balloon fight”. Decided we could spare a few hours to experience the perfect way to spend a hot Midwestern summer day. Quickly learned the old days of trying to slip the rim of a balloon over a water spigot without it breaking, trying to cut the water off before the balloon overfills and finally getting it successfully tied without dropping it are LONG GONE. A clever engineer (guessing) looked at the struggles of a kid trying to rain bombs on his enemy and came up with a better plan. Have you seen the new water balloon system (link here). Unbelievable! Hook up a bunch with a single nozzle, let the water flow and presto 35 perfectly shaped bombs. They even fall off when they are full or simply jerk the nozzle down and they all plop off perfectly sealed thanks to a rubber collar that slides off the fill straw. I watched in horror as the kids prepared over 1,000 water bombs in probably less than 15 minutes. Ummm, honey, thinking it might be time to go ha! What followed can only be defined as perfectly engineered fun – well, after the first barrage of bombs from the kids directed at the still stunned adults. Luckily some of the kids were still developing their arms allowing us to catch and retaliate. That worked great until those little bastards realized they could throw above us and let the balloons bust on the RVs and shower us. We finally got the upper hand, but there wasn’t a dry set of clothes anywhere to be seen – just miles and miles of smiles.

In honor of that experience, thought I’d go with this featured friend for today’s post.

Juvi White Ibis found at Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Why go with this rather odd looking bird? Well, the first reason was pretty easy. I was flipping through my backlog of images specifically looking for a bird that is commonly associated with “water”. As we are in the later part of the week I allowed myself to go back in the catalog and found our rather odd looking friend. It also luckily met my second criteria of being purpose built – correctly engineered (or evolved) if you will.

Hit the jump to read more about our young bird.

Juvi White Ibis found at Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

I’ve had the luxury of photographing a large number of White Ibises both locally and primarily on our trips down to the Texas Gulf Coast. Those captures have made their way to the blog several times (link here, here and here). Most of the time I focus on the mature adults in their brilliant white plumage that make their aquamarine eyes pop. Today I wanted to go with the juvenile plumage. Unlike the matures, the juvis sport brown hues on their wings and back which fades as it transitions through to the head. They still sport white breast feathers and leg drops. Note, the white underparts is the tell-tale field marking to distinguish it from the Glossy (link here) and White-Face (link here) juvis.

Juvi White Ibis found at Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

Now for the “proper design” part. The White Ibis probably takes a verbal beating in grade school thanks to the extra long protrusion (kids have a tendency to notice those kinds of things). The other birds may be laughing, but I assure you the insects and crustaceans sitting just below the muddy surfaces are NOT. I can’t think of a better approach for getting to their primary food source in the environments these Ibises hang. Admittedly, I have no explanation why a bird that hangs around in the muck matures into white feathers – they must have incredible laundry bills.

Juvi White Ibis found at Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center in January 2017

What I didn’t know before writing this post is the baby Ibises are born with straight bills. According to Cornell’s website, it takes a couple of weeks before the iconic curve develops in their bill. Just wait until those juvis find those water balloons online. I can imagine it now – sneak up on on Ibis poking holes in the ground, bring the camera to bear and right before you press the shutter – WHAM! Next thing you know your camera is covered in colored pieces of rubber and you are soaked through to your underwear. Wait, I just had an idea – Gatling water gun. Simply connect the hose at the top of the gun and as the barrel rotates around auto-load a balloon, open the port to let the water flow and then launch. Need to work out the details, but gotta go – patent department closes soon ha!

9 thoughts on “Well Engineered Bird”

  1. Someone seems “bill” sensitive in this post. Hope this one grows into his/her proboscis. I think I’ve also seen a Gatling Water Balloon Gun. Or maybe it was a Super Soaker.

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    1. WHAT!!! someone has already stolen my million dollar idea – say it isn’t so. Trust me, I can relate to the hardships that juvi faces in school ha. Thanks for dropping by Brad.

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  2. These are interesting birds. I’ve seen white Ibises fly by over the Rio Grande, but I’ve never seen them in the water or in the trees in our area.

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  3. I’ve been interested in the observation that a bird’s color is best suited to his primary objective at each stage in his life. Certainly the mottled brown plumage of the juvenile ibis is best suited to eating and growing into a strong adult, while the “tuxedo” plumage of the adults is best suited to finding a mate and passing along those genes. True or not, I do enjoy the widely varied mottling of these young birds. Happy water-ballooning!

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    1. Definitely agree with at least the early stages as a predatory defenses similar to fNight-Herons and Fawns blending into the brown grasses (and scentless), Still a bit intrigued on the adult plumages as somewhere there has to be an imprinting that degree of coloring equates to a better mate and not sure when/why that happens. In the case of my other favorite animals Wolves, the quality of meat deepens the coloring in the fur which means the Alpha (who gets first dibs at the catch) directly indicates stronger/healthier body. Maybe the same hold tree for the diet on the feather colors – more fieldwork needed! The water bombing was a blast, but didn’t go into the pain it was to pick up the pieces of a 1,000 balloons when you are done ha! Appreciate you coming by Sam and got me thinking.

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    1. Something new every day with these crazy birds – one of those aspects that makes birding so much fun I guess. Appreciate you pointing your browser my way.

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