Slaughter on the Street: Philly Raptor Makes it to YouTube

The attack took place in broad daylight and on the side of the street — on top of a car, in fact. And although the bystanders did not call 911, they did use their phones to take pictures! Even more amazing, the killer posed for them while standing over his victim. This happened on 8th St. between Chestnut and Market in Philadelphia. The killer was a red-tailed hawk. The victim, a pigeon. Luckily one of the spectators had a video camera and posted a really clear clip of the hawk standing over his lunch and acting unperturbed by all of the close-up attention.

This is an amazing scene but seeing raptors in Center City Philadelphia has become almost commonplace. Their are two kinds I’ve seen myself: red-tail hawks, Cooper’s hawk (in my own back yard and in Rittenhouse Square). There are also peregrine falcons – which sometimes even attack the hawks (see clip below).

Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Inga Saffron reports on the raptor situation in Philadelphia (good article): City’s New Pastime: Talon Shows.

Other videos:

Young hawk rescued after falcon attack
Hawk in a tree (with colorful commentary)
Rodent bites the dust in Rittenhouse Square
Pigeon loses its head – literally
Another lunch break in Rittenhouse Square

I think this is great, the raptors help keep the rodent and pigeon populations in check; however, dog walkers are advised to keep their Yorkies and Chihuahuas on very short leashes.

Creative Genius – In or Out

Although I’ve not (yet) read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Eat, Pray, Love, I am currently reading The Last American Man by her. It was a National Book Award Finalist selection and profiles Eustace Conway, a committed and genuine ‘backwoods man’ living in a teepee in the mountains where I myself grew up. Because I’m enjoying the writing so much, I decided to google Elizabeth Gilbert and I discovered this truely outstanding video of her TED presentation that I want to keep for myself and share:

The Franklin Institute’s Red Tail

(Photo copyrighted by Derek Ram 2007, GNU Free Documentation Lic., posted to Wikipedia)

Two red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) set up housekeeping on the side of Philadelphia’s science museum – The Franklin Institute. Staff members have installed a web cam so that anyone can follow the pair’s efforts to raise their three, very recently hatched, chicks. There is no artificial lighting so you’ll need to watch during daylight hours (Eastern Daylight Time).

Also recently hatched are three bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) chicks in Sidney, British Columbia. This nest can be seen on the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, a site for streaming wildlife cams.

Phoenix Landing

Check out the NASA video explaining the landing challenges of the Phoenix Mars Polar Lander which is scheduled to touch down this coming Sunday. Three weeks ago I was at Kennedy Space Center for the very first time and was totally impressed and re-inspired by the US Space program. I’ll be watching for the success of this expedition to find water on the Mars pole.

Conservation – science – emotion


I just saw the first episode of Escape to Chimp Eden on Animal Planet. It’s a very interesting “bitter-sweet” show that is both about zoology and anthropology. It’s about the chimps and the humans who cage, maltreat, drug, and even sometimes eat them. I find the host, conservationist Eugene Cussons, particularly well suited for this show and the job of rescue. Seems like a show worth watching.

Marital Arts – Cane form

The form in this video is Ji Pan Gi Hyung. It is similar but not identical to a cane form I am now learning at Martial Postures in Philadelphia. We have just started learning the cane and it will be my first tai chi weapon form (not counting the brief training session with a fan – yes, a Chinese fan can be a weapon). For this course I bought a very simple but high quality hickory “street cane” made from 100% heartwood. The term “street cane” means that the end of the hook is sharpened for fighting but it is otherwise very non-descript.
I’m very happy with my decision to take up tai chi again. It is putting me back in touch with my body and led me to increase my trips to the gym and overall fitness work, e.g. diet, weightlifting, aerobic work etc. Learning a weapon form is fun, but I see the real benefits in breaking down the stress that has accumulated in my body and mind.

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Robot? Cyborg? Soldier?

This video demonstrates a surprisingly advanced exoskeleton being developed for soldiers (marines don’t need it). It is like something from a dark scifi novel — something an ‘evil empire’ would use. Such a device would also eliminate all arguments for keeping women off the front lines of battle since physical strength would no longer be an issue. In spite of the development of this Terminator suit for war, I can think of a lot of very productive civilian uses for this exoskeleton. After all, if we can fly like birds with the help of our machines why can’t we lift things like ants?

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Cat Alarm Clock

I found this YouTube animation featured on PhiLLy Roll. It has been passed around a bit, probably because it is so true to life — except for the baseball bat. We have two cats and experience this scenario nearly every morning. Kai and Fleck both become active about 5:00 am, but Kai is the one who make a point of trying to wake me up. As in this video, he even does the light paw tapping on my cheek. He also sticks his little rubbery nose against the tip of mine. The purpose of this appears to be to get his whiskers close enough to tickle my face. Fortunately for us, Kai and Fleck are Manx cats and have oddly diminished vocal abilities. Their meows are soft, lightly aspirated ‘misshh’ and not so hard on the ears as a full-bodied ‘meowww’.

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Biltmore tree raising – AshVid.Net

I just discovered, an area-specific video sharing site. The clip linked to below shows the delivery of this year’s huge Christmas tree as it is hauled in on a wagon drawn by three horses — Clydesdales, by the look of them. The tree is carried into the the great hall then, in a somewhat precarious operation, raised with ropes and braced by 2x4s. I’m glad I don’t have to string the lights on that monster.

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