Friday, August 31, 2012

Flight Of A Lifetime: The Bald Eagle's Lifespan

The Bald Eagle's Lifespan

Being the national bird of America, the eagle has become the global symbol of freedom and bravery. It can be easily identified in photos as an eagle with a white head and a golden beak. But being a bird of prey that eats other animals for food, not many people name it as their favorite bird. A lot of information about this bird is not very known to the public; details like actual diet, habitat, and the lifespan.

The Eagle's Diet

All animals, including bald eagle, live in habitats in which there is a rich source of food. Even though it is a predatory bird, the common misconception is that it eats roosters and little mammals,although it actually eats carrion (dead or dying fish); particularly salmon. The eagle is more of a scavenger than a real predator. They are rarely observed to prey on hen and other livestock, but they do take advantage of the most available food source around them.

The North American Bald Eagle

The bald eagle is the only bird which is recognized to be uniquely found in North America. Their boundaries stretch from down south to Mexico and way up north to Alaska and Canada. Their natural habitats are near their food sources; near waters rich with salmon, making the western half of North America it's ideal home.

The Bald Eagle Lifespan

All living creatures' lifespan depends on lots of elements; their diet, habitat, food source, their place in the food chain etc. Bald eagles can live up to the age of forty, but most eagles living in the wild have a lifespan averaging between fifteen to twenty years. The oldest identified of this species lived up to the age of forty-eight. In the past, their lifespan was much shorter due to hunting. However, since hunting them is prohibited and considered a serious crime, bald eagles can now live up to their full age potential.

The Hoax About The Eagle's Rebirth

Some stories tell the rebirth of the eagle, allowing it to live for yet another thirty years making the eagle the longest living bird. The story talks about a time in an eagle's life when the eagle will lose its beak, talons and feathers providing way for new ones to grow; thus it is reborn to live an additional life. Although this story revolved around the internet raising questions from bald eagle lovers about the reality in it, professionals announced that the story is an absolute hoax. Professionals say that the story lacks scientific and logical proof on the possibility of the eagle's survival without its beaks. It could have died of starvation way before the new beak could have sprouted. The story is no more than an allegory about life starting at the age of forty and moving on as authorities suggests, and not to be taken seriously.

The Symbol

According to experts, parrots and other birds can live longer than the bald eagle. It is not the longest living bird around, unlike the tale of its rebirth suggests. This bird may not be the all time crowd favorite; however, it will remain as the trademark of the USA and a symbol of freedom and bravery.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Common Patterns - Nuclear Proliferation and The Flow of Invasive Species

The other day, I listened to an interesting University level lecture from a very famous Harvard graduated invasive species scientist, Mark Hoddle. He showed a very revealing chart of the increase in the invasive species problem globally. In looking at these charts, he also explained that it was the first world nations with the wealth which were doing the most trading and had the most tourists going to and from that ended up with the most invasive species problems. In many regards that makes sense because there is more travel, trade, and interaction. This is no surprise.

What I also found interesting was that when I looked at the old RAND Corporation charts and graphs of nuclear proliferation, they were strikingly familiar. Why is this? Was it due to the domino effect during the Cold War? Was it due to the increase in US trading partners? Why did the charts and graphs look so similar? It seems to me that there is a mathematical component that has to do with the sharing of information, the proliferation of weaponry, and traveling and trade. Since many of these components are very similar to the challenges of how invasive species are brought to and from, it should be no surprise that the charts look so close.

Now then, one could ask if the strategies we use to prevent nuclear proliferation might also be used to prevent the transportation of invasive species whether by accident, or purposefully. Some might say we are already doing this, as we have people at the airports checking to make sure that anyone carrying fruits or vegetables discharges those items before jumping on an airplane, ship, train, or bus - or even a car traveling from one nation to another at a border checkpoint. Even in the United States we have border crossings between states, where they looked to check for invasive species that might be accidentally transported.

Such checkpoints are also used, along with intelligence gathering to ensure that nuclear proliferation also doesn't make it into the wrong hands. In many regards we also use intelligence gathering to know what type of things we don't want in our country in the way of invasive species, and we look closely to prevent the moving of various species. There are rules and regulations about importing exotic reptiles for instance. Still, it's a very small invasive species, or an arms dealer that always seems to slip through the cracks. Species of weeds and plants often are tracked in on hiking boot from tourists.

Various insects might make their way into another region on firewood being transported as they are just hitching a ride. This is why we have to be very careful to watch the patterns to prevent nuclear proliferation and the flow of invasive species. It's a rather overwhelming task, but one we must face; and conquer. Please consider all this and think on it.