Food chain – Fact Or Fiction?

Zoo plankton consumed by shrimp and shrimp by small fish,
Together with stirfry, they might make a pretty solid dish.
Fish consumed by seals and seals by sharks,
The attack down and under does not leave any marks.
Whether air, ocean or water,
Lives are lost and consumed daily in vain.
There is hardly anyone breathing,
On top of the food chain.

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Birds – Nature’s Architect?

   Humans have observed and learned from animals and birds for centuries. Though, birds have a tiny brain compared to humans, they do have some sort of “innate instinct” (wiki) that allows these little creatures to build amazing homes. What may be a nest to humans, is a place to lay eggs and raise young ones providing them food, shelter and security. These nests are often tested by various elements such as rain, wind and human interference. However, many birds outsmart all these elements not only in building materials but also construction style for their homes. Different birds involve in different construction projects that make their homes unique.

   Humming birds are considered to be “surveyors, architects and builders” (wiki). They may be “the smallest of all birds” (wiki) but they have a unique building technique. They build the outside walls of their homes with lichen and moss for structural strength. They also use “spider silk” (wiki) to sort of weave the nest together for structural integrity. As the young ones in the nest hatch and grow, the nest expands with their growth. These birds have an average lifespan of “three to five years” (wiki) which is quite high for such small birds with a high metabolism. One may only wonder if the perfect nest they build for themselves and their nestlings could actually be a contributing factor to their average lifespan. Among many special characteristics, humming birds have an evolved vocal for singing and vocal learning. Their feeders could prove as insect trap as they may also attract bees, wasps, ants and other insects like mosquitoes.

   Arctic terns are “medium sized” (wiki) birds with an average lifespan of “fifteen to thirty years” (wiki). They travel about ninety thousand kilometers after nesting. They are considered to have the longest migration pattern in the animal or bird kingdom. When male and female agree for a nesting site, the male feeds the female till mating. Then, they build a nest as a sort of camouflaged depression on the ground. This nest may be covered by bits of grass on coastal and island colonies  but heavily defended by these small little birds capable of drawing blood from an animal as big as a polar bear. These birds are often on the postage stamps of countries and territories.

    Osprey (also called fish eagle or sea hawk) nest near a body of water. This location gives them “adequate food supply” (wiki). Nesting sites are often renovated and reused for as much as seventy years. If there are no nesting sites, they often delay breeding! Sometimes, they even build their nest on top of a post or column type structure. They use building materials such as mud and sea weed to build a nest that is often overlooked by another male for mating and nesting. “Some prefer transmission towers as nesting sites” (wiki). These birds often become targets for egg collectors and hunters!

   Oven birds are often called “sculptors of mud and clay” (wiki). They build customized version of their nest with wet clay and vegetation. Since their nest is often on an open plain like fence posts on a farm, they are taken over by other birds like saffron finch and “shiny cow birds” (wiki) after oven birds leave their nests. To stand out against weather elements, oven birds take about a month to complete the construction project that involves a curved wall to seal off the main section of the interior for their eggs as security measure.

  Australian brush turkey use their big feet to kick leaves and form a nest on ground in places like rain forests. Mounds are built by males and the nest itself is reused year after year. They collect material from all around the place to build a nest”1 to 1.5 meters high (3-4.5 ft) and up to 4 m (13 ft) across” (wiki). They then lay up to 50 eggs which hatch as a result of the heat from the composting mound. The nests are temperature regulated at about thirty five degrees Celsius  by adding and removing material. These nests often are a site for picnic and camping for humans who often have their picnic tables raided. They also steal compost and mulch from gardens to build their nests.

   In conclusion, birds are amazing architects who do consider structural strength, integrity, security and aesthetics while building their nests. And though birds may seem pretty and their nests marvels of construction, they are regarded as garden, farm and even house pests. Certain birds damage plants, crops and even homes with bacteria and fungus that come along with them and their nests. Roofs, attics and balconies are common bird nest sites. Some people decide to invest in birds and their nests for eggs and research while others invest in aquarium fish for a more secure and reliable source of investment!

Cuddle fish: “Kings of Camouflage”

   Cuddle fish are often considered “Kings of Camouflage”. Though they are quite common in many parts of the world, one “can’t get a weirder looking animal under water” They have no outer shell and a skin that changes color pattern and shape. Cuddle fish are considered kings among their species because of their spectacular display, intelligence and their size .

     One of the reasons cuddle fish perform a “dazzling show” is for self defense but have evolved for camouflage as well. Their predator include but not limited to dolphins, sharks, seals, sea birds and even humans.To avoid their predators as well as to catch their prey like crabs and lobsters, cuddle fish change their color and texture. The top layer in a cuddle fish skin is yellow, red and brown pigmented cells. The next layer is reflecting cells with blue and green cells with white as a base. Their brain looks for visual cues in predators and preys and sends it to the electric cells extremely quick. “Cuddle fish like their meals alive” and hence they perform a dazzling show to stun its prey and leave it helpless. The stunned prey can now can be devoured with a strong grip without losing an arm. Their skin changes texture by “pushing bumps” as well to blend in the background. Hence, Cuddle fish can be compared to Chameleon in terms of their “spectacular display”.

     Also, Cuddle fish are extremely quick learners as well as adapt to their environment. This quality in cuddle fish makes them highly intelligent. The average life expectancy for these fish is about one to two years. They are amazing while sneaking in “coral camouflage”. According to a study done by scuba divers, Cuddle fish don’t get fooled by “crabs in the glass”. After several tries, they learn that their prey is secured in a barrier that they cant break and so move on. In another study, cuddle fish mistakes a toy fish for food but quickly realizes the mistake and lets it go. In one study when cuddle fish were to make their way out of a simple maze, they managed to learn more than two things at once. This helped them to secure a real exit while ignoring the fake ones. In terms of mating, female cuddle fish outnumber males 10 to 1. During mating behavior, large cuddle fish involve in face off and spectacular displays, while smaller cuddle fish “cross dress” and successfully mate with the females.

     Last, but not least Cuddle fish are “largest mammals of all invertebrates”. They can grow to about “three feet long” and have biggest brain to body ratio among all invertebrates. The size not only differentiates them most small fish but invertebrates like Octopus alike. Though they grow large, they have a small lifespan of about 18 months to 2 years. Also, they are extremely “erratic”which adds to their size as ferocious creatures.

In conclusion, Cuddle fish are “Kings of Camouflage“. However, this does not stop them from being fished for food as well as other uses such as gold casts.