June 2, 2009 - The things you see on your walk back home from the coffee shop...

People really should walk more, in my humble opinion. There are things you miss if you are driving in your nappy little car, riding a bike, or even running. The dog stops to take a crap and the world opens up, because you're waiting for him to get done and are looking anywhere but in his direction. You begin to notice things. White robins. Flowers with colors that go on forever. That forgettable stench wafting your way that you had better bag up before you gag. Let's move on.

Look deeply into my iris, what do you see...

Can't stop. Busy here. Manipulating. Pollinating. So many flowers, so little time. Buzz off.

The world needs more of this.
Wait a minute, "caution...?"

I can't help but take pictures like this. They're therapeutic to me or something. The textures, the symmetry, the fact that someone designed this pattern so that even the dimples have dots. That's deep.

The insatiable dirt-eating terracotta frog. I couldn't quite figure this one out. I was about to pick him up and inspect his butt to see if it had watering holes, but I was too self-conscious. Maybe he is full of coins. Maybe he fills up after a rain and attracts bugs that other frogs steal from his mouth. Maybe he is one of those sprinkler-frogs that were taken off the market because they were exploding from a design-flaw. I can only wonder.

Oh, look. Some lineman left a pair of Kearney 20Kv line hook interrupters on the power pole. How convenient, say if someone wanted to climb up there and pop the whole neighborhood's transformer. Well, maybe next trip, a dog tied to the pole might be a dead give-away.

Allium, glorious allium. More symmetry in nature. Order amongst the chaos. Yet chaos amongst the order. It looks like a globe, yet look too closely and it falls apart like a Monet painting. Perfection in an imperfect way, what could be more fitting.

37 year-old canoe registration sticker. Time flies when they make a planter out of you.
And so it goes. Take a walk today. Bring a camera.

June 1st, 2009 - White Robin

I did a double-take yesterday when I saw what I thought was an "albino" (or at least partial albino) American Robin in someone's yard as Hapdog and I were walking to the coffee shop!
Da-doiiing...! What the?!

At first I thought it just a "trick of the light," as it was so bright outside, it was hard to tell how light the wings were. But something didn't look right. Hap and I waddled over and sure enough, after seeing it hop in the shade, and hear it's robin's call, it was a definitely a robin with white wings, and off-colored head feathers.
I took a few pics both with it in full sun, in the shade, and in the shade with flash, and of course, this is the day that I chose to go out only with my (actually Bob's) macro lens on.
It is still a 105mm straight lens without the macro switched in, so I at least got something. I did a pretty hack job of brushing out an area of overly bright grass at the bottom of the picture where the "shade line" was, but other than that, I didn't modify the bird.

I posted the pics on my Facebook site, and immediately got numerous responses from the local naturalist and birder crowd.
Kirk Mona, who runs a naturalist podcast site and is a local super-birder, straightened me out on the terminology. Most people, including myself, tend to use the term "albino" whenever they see something white that isn't normally white, or a creature that has an unusal pigmentation change.
Kirk says, "Looks like it's a case of partial leucism more than albinism. Since albinism is genetic, it is always systemic, affecting all of the animal. So, if it were an albino, the eyes would be pink. Also, the legs would lack color. The pigment missing in a albino is melanin, so in animals that have other pigments albinos are not always white, they can be yellow as well. Leucism is a phenotype not genotype resulting from defects in pigment cells. This looks like a case of hypopigmentation or partial leucism where only some of the cells are affected. This is more common than total leucism."
That's a lot of isms for one bird, but what he is really saying is "it's still cool and unusual." I for one have never seen a partially white robin before, however I have seen crows with pigmentation issues, and have seen photos of an all white peacock along with other mammals. Albinism can occur in pretty much any animal, I'm not sure if it occurs in every organism, however. Do bacteria come in colors...?
Here's some photos of other birds with partial leucism on Kirk's blog, including a really interesting "purple" finch.

Meanwhile, I will keep an extra eye open for the "white robin," and see if it is part of a nesting pair.
If they have a brood, what will they get...? Checkerboard...? Stripes...?
More color commentary on this story as it "develops..."