Good morning and greetings, Jefferson Airplane fans. As you may know, here on the central coast, the air is certifiably filled with all kinds of bird life. Just take a stroll along West Cliff Drive and you can view pelicans, cormorants, exotic pigeons and gulls just wanting to have fun. Stop by at Natural Bridges and you see snowy egrets, great egrets, great blue herons and maybe Gil Scott Heron. Which brings to mind the aviary thoughts of David Crosby and The Byrds, “There is a season, tern, tern, tern. And a time for every purpose, under heaven, during the NBA playoffs.”
Our first set from the flight deck takes place over on the east side at Twin Lakes beach. It was back in December and as I drove by, I thought I was in a Jonathon Livingston Seagull novella as these gulls were learning about life, flight and the pursuit of happiness. I’m always fascinated by birds in motion, as earlier in the week I stopped my car to watch a snowy egret cruising the skies. When I asked Petula Clark where that bird might be heading she replied, “Downtown.”
I believe in this situation I would have been better off talking to the gangster of love himself, Mr. Steve Miller. After all, this space cowboy knows birds. As he once said, “I want to fly like a sea gull, to the sea. Fly like a sea gull, let me spirit carry me and Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals.”
We then venture photo wise back to Natural Bridges to check out a great egret in flight. This large, long-legged Dwyane Wading bird has a wingspan of almost five feet and a vertical leap of 48 inches, which makes it tough to defend in the low post. They are truly magnificent in flight, much like Dr. J or Michael Jordan taking off at the free throw line and throwing it down like my son Jason on an 8 foot hoop.
We then see a group of happy pelicans discussing politics and LeBron James selection as league MVP, as their compradres land and take off from the remaining arch. That brings us to our final photo of a hummingbird receiving its nectar fix from the pride of madera flowers. I took five shots in a five second sequence and in only one photo did the maroon thrush appear. I’m not sure what to make of it but either way, I won’t thrush to judgement.
Now here are a few fascinating facts about our flittering friends, the hummingbirds. These little fellas have the most rapid wing beat, 80 per second in normal flight, 200 beats/second in courtship flight and 400 beats per second on the night of the actual honeymoon.
Hummingbirds have hearts that are proportionally larger than any other animal on earth, accounting for 2-4% of their actual total body weight, not including socks and shoes. Their hearts beat at an average of 500 times per minute at rest, 1,200 times in stressful situations and 1,500 when being audited by the IRS or driving on an LA freeway.
These little hummers may consume 50-100% of their body weight in food per day and 200% of their weight in water per day. That’s why you often hear female hummingbirds ask, “Do I look bloated to you?” And lastly, four of five dentists recommend sugarless nectar for those hummingbirds that do chew gum.
Now on to the late night action. “Well, here’s the latest. The White House says, as of now, the swine flu not contained. It could continue to get worse. And they were just talking about Joe Biden.” “Cheney, he overreacted, too. Today, he waterboarded a pig. There’s no reason for that. No reason.” “President Obama spoke on the phone this weekend for 20 minutes with Mexican President Calderon on how to cooperate on fighting this swine flu thing. Afterwards, he said the people of America and Mexico have found common ground. I believe it’s called Los Angeles.” –Jay Leno
“They say that swine flu is not as potent as they originally thought. You know, like the Yankee pitching staff.” “Supreme Court Justice David Souter is stepping down. Now this guy has been called a reclusive loner who is against marriage. It’s like I have a twin.” –David Letterman “A vacancy on the Supreme Court. This is something we haven’t seen in awhile. Let’s just hope the president is better at picking a justice than the justices were at picking a president.” –Jay Leno
“Barack Obama and Joe Biden made a surprise trip outside the White House yesterday for burgers. Yeah! Obama ordered a cheeseburger and Biden asked for whatever comes with the toy.” –Jimmy Fallon “Hey! Some happy news. As you may have heard, the White House has a brand-new puppy. I believe his name is Arlen Specter.” “And a Georgia man is recovering in Pittsburgh after becoming the first U.S. recipient of a double hand transplant. Got two hands transplanted from another guy. He used them for the first time today to grab his heart when he saw the bill.” –Jay Leno
So that’s our show for today. Earlier this week I hit the Arboretum again at UCSC and captured some great moments of May moistness which we’ll peruse later this month. I’ve got to mention the sports highlight of the week, which took place on Wednesday, when my daughter Aimee got both the win and the save in her softball game against a very tough New Brighton/Cabrillo Crushers squad. In the final inning, with the score 10-9 and the bases loaded, she stuck out their biggest hitter to end the game and the place just exploded. Well, maybe not exploded…perhaps a sitting ovation. The win and the save-stats the way it is and was.
And finally, congratulations go out to my brother Paul and his lovely wife Wendi, who hosted their daughter Samantha’s Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, amongst the redwood trees up in Marin County. It was a quite the experience, kind of like the wailing wall meets the Jonas Brothers. All I can say is mazel tov and what about those Houston Rockets? So enjoy the birds, don’t forget to smell the flowers and we’ll catch you in the paint. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dominique Wilkens fans.