I got wild birds to lay in captivity!!!!

April 26th, 2007, 7:09 am PST by Kat

So for the past month I’ve been on a mission. I have several adult House Finches that I caught last year in our aviary. Since I need a small army of juvenile House Finches this year for my research, I thought that I should try to breed the adults that I have. Now, I spent the entire time that I was in Vancouver breeding Zebra Finches, but that’s easy. They’re pet shop birds that breed readily in cages. But, I figured it was worth a shot with these birds.

So I set out to try to breed my House Finches. I’ve seen a couple of birds nesting on man-made platform-type structures: under awnings, in light fixtures around campus, and of course in trees. Well, each of our flight cages within our aviary has an old Christmas tree in it, but I wasn’t sure they’d nest in those. So I built 1’x1′ platforms for them and hung them from the ceiling of each flight cage. I also provided them with hay in these small open wire cages hoping that maybe they’d use them as nestboxes.

After 2-3 weeks, I was starting to get discouraged. They’re totally ignoring my beautiful platforms, and only 1 of the 5 pairs built a nest cup in the small open wire cages. Then I noticed that in all of the cages, the hay level was WAY lower than it was when I first put the hay in. Hmmmm…. where the heck did the hay go?

Go figure, they’re nesting in the trees! Heh. I think I’ve worked on Zebra Finches for too long. So I have 1 nest with 5 eggs and another nest cup, but no eggs yet. That makes 2 nest cups and 1 full nest! I haven’t been able to find the nests in the other 2 cages, but those Christmas trees are pretty dense, so they could be in there somewhere!

So yes, I am an avian matchmaker! 🙂

Yes, I’m still alive

April 22nd, 2007, 8:34 pm PST by Kat

I realize that I haven’t blogged in a while. Sadly, that’s because I live an extremely boring life. I’ve started to blog numerous times over the past couple of months, and couldn’t really think of anything to say. But, just so everyone knows what I’ve been doing the last couple of months, here’s a brief synopsis of my life:

I’ve started catching House Finches already. Last year Greg and I got here in the beginning of May and immediately started building traps. But, I didn’t really get started seriously catching until the end of May. This year I started about a month ago, and have already caught 7 adult males and 2 adult females. I’ve actually taken a short break from catching now because I think the females have started laying, and I don’t want to break up any happy couples.

I’m attepting to breed my adult House Finches in our aviary. With the help of Buddy and our new tech, Danielle, I built these wooden platforms that I was hoping they’d nest in. So far, no luck. I also put hay into wire boxes for them. I think a pair of them MAY be starting to nest, but the others… not so much. So we’ll see. If I get any eggs, I’ll take pictures.
I’m still trying to make the damn HPLC work properly. We’re changing out one of the major components (the detector), so hopefully that’ll improve the system, and I can get my samples run – only a year after I started this project that was only supposed to take a couple of months. Whatever… just want it to be done!

In an attempt to get into shape (or at least not to get any chubbier than I already am! Damn thesis weight!), I’ve been going to yoga and spin classes with my friend Lisa. They’ve actually been a lot of fun. I think we’re going to try to go to more yoga classes during the summer – when there aren’t seminars, or journal clubs, or lab meetings to go to.

Buddy and I have unofficially moved our office to Friends Cafe, the coffee shop that’s down the street from the Biology building, but is still on campus. It has windows (which our actual office lacks), and is steps away from coffee and pastries. And surprisingly, we get a lot of work done there, even with all of the people that stop by and join us for coffee.

That’s about it. Like I said, I live a boring life. Highlight of my week – shopping at Target, and at the American versions of Winners – TJ Max, Ross and Marshalls. I got new Teva’s for $11, Reef flip flops for $10, and a nice little ultra-suede reading chair! 🙂 This week I have to take my car in to get the temperature switch fixed so that Rusty stops blowing hot air at me. Not good for the upcoming summer!

The Landlady

April 11th, 2007, 9:15 pm PST by Greg

I believe I have mentioned my landlady before, but I’ll recap. I live in the downstairs apartment; she lives upstairs. She’s an old Chinese woman whose English is, at best, vaguely understandable. Her husband is dead and the kids have moved out, so she likes having somebody else living in the house.

Tonight, her computer did something unexpected and she asked if I could help her. I went upstairs and clicked “okay” in a dialog box. Then, she was feeling a little chatty, so I talked with her for a while.

Part way through the conversation, she was talking about her son growing up. Keep in mind that I only understand about every third word she says at the best of times. I still have no idea what she said, but what I heard was “The… uh… penis… up, down, up down, up down… he.. ah… hurt himself”. Again, that probably wasn’t what she said, but it’s what I got.

Has anybody else ever tried to keep a straight face with an old Chinese woman after she’s just brought up her son’s spontaneous erection injury? It’s about as difficult as you’d think.

The other choice quote was about some relative (didn’t catch which one–maybe a son in-law?): “in the mind… he a little bit slow.”

And, of course, her catch phrase: “I’m a little bit scared”. Bless her heart, she’s a little bit scared of everything: going outside, being in the house alone, going to China, having her granddaughters stay with her, … . The pronunciation (which I know because I’ve heard her say it probably 20 times) is something like “I a liddle beet scaaed.”

She’s really quite sweet. If she feels better about having me live downstairs, I’m kind of happy about that. Just as long as I don’t have to talk about her son’s penis again.