Monday, February 25, 2019

cold weather hummingbirds
and wine bottles

This shot was taken on one of my hikes in the Canyon Rims Recreation area when I was back in southern Utah. It’s been a while.

I enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings while reading and listening to music. I’ve handled many wine bottles over the decades, so I was bound to write something about them in these pages.

Wine has been stored in various containers for thousands of years but the glass bottle and cork combo didn’t arrive until the 1600s. Glass wine bottles come in various shapes depending on the type of wine and in over a dozen sizes. The large novelty bottles are named after biblical figures and predominant kings of Israel. The largest, 18 liters, 24 standard bottles, is named after Melchior (a king of Persia, one of the three wise man) and Solomon (a king of Israel). That’s two cases of wine! How many wine drinkers does it take to pour from a Solomon bottle?

In 1975 the European Legislation on packaging declared that wine could be sold only if packed in certain measure containers. So how was the size determined? Well, as I understand it, one guy’s wife told him if he didn’t choose the size bottle her brother’s shop was making, he’d be sleeping on the sofa.

I might have got that wrong.
The 750 ml (0.75 liter – 1/5 of a gallon) size was determined to be the most convenient for both winemakers and the public. There are different theories to explain this size.

As you know, back when wine started to be stored in glass bottles, the bottles were made by glass blowers. So one theory is based on the limit of pulmonary strength. 750 ml pretty much capped it.

Another theory is the quantity of wine per six serving glasses (125 ml) used in a small Italian restaurant, an osteria.

A third one points out that the 750 ml standard is the metric adaptation of the fifth, which was standard in the US and Britain.

Then there are the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses. Although, at this time, I think that would be pushing it.

I met an interesting couple of ex-teachers taking a road trip in their Scamp. They painted the bottom half of the Scamp, so theirs stands out from the norm. Nice. They live in Ruidoso, maybe 60 miles north of Timberon, in the Sacramento Mtns. Had a really nice visit. Wish I had more experiences like this.

I heard on NPR that there are some hummingbirds that winter as far north as British Columbia. Remember, I only have daily web access for a few weeks each winter, so I can be way behind on common knowledge. On my town runs during the rest of the year, I do not spend any more time on the web than it takes me to drink a medium Americano. Anyway, when I heard this about the birds, I questioned how they could survive. I mean, they do not have down feathers and they need to be taking in so much nectar. Hummingbirds have nearly 1000 feathers on their body, a ratio of more feathers per body size than that of any other bird species. I think they can fluff them, so that could help. Although I might be wrong about this.

It’s mostly Anna’s hummingbirds that are found that far north, but three others are named to a lesser degree (at least from the four sources I pulled data from). It’s individual birds that remain in the north for the winter. I wonder what brings a bird to go against the odds. The hummingbirds are taking advantage of widely planted flowering plants and shrubs, and hummingbird feeders. I would guess that it would take much more of a commitment for those who maintain their feeders through the winter. I wonder if they bring their feeder in at night.

The little ones go into a sort of nightly hibernation, a really deep sleep. They put a major damper on their high rate of metabolism by entering a state of torpor where their metabolism will lower to roughly 7% of normal. This state can save up to 60% of their available energy.
Hummingbirds also survive in the high Andes. I wonder if they are just on the west facing side.

In winter, hummingbirds are slow risers. It takes 20-60 minutes for a hummingbird to fully recover from topor. Care to guess what is the first thing on their mind? They eat 25% of their daily intake as soon as they recover.

I don’t know. If I was a hummingbird, I think I’d stick with the general consensus and head south. But then again, not all birds make it through the trip.

Two things about a different kind of bird. Yesterday, I caught the end of a talk on birds of prey. As you know, an owl’s eyes are in the front of the head, and, the eyes cannot move in the sockets. So they need their awesome ability to turn their head 270 degrees to each side. There are sites that explain how owls are able to do this; definitely worth a visit. Owls also have asymmetrical ears, with one being lower than the other. This aids the triangulation of sound. Way cool birds.

This past week, once again, I’ve been set up in goat’s head country. Bummer. M&M go out, pick up these nasty sharp stickers, come back in the Nash, use their teeth to pick them off their feet, and drop them on the floor. Remember, I do not were shoes inside but I do sweep the floor once or twice a day. Sometimes that is not enough. If I miss a goat’s head, I’m the next one picking one off the bottom of my feet. Guano. The joys of sharing one’s life with feline companions.

The ball is in your court. Pick it up.

January sixty minutes sixty years—1800 minutes
January Triple 18—upper: 1800; core: 2190; legs: 2445

Don’t expect anything original from an echo.
Joanna Wick

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’