Tuesday, January 19, 2010

People Watch

Jan 14, 2010
Spier Falls section of the Hudson River

Moreau, NY

SURVEY: People Watch, Week 4
LOCATION: Upriver of the Big Bend
SUBMITTED BY: Halley Luke O’Cephalus

First, I spent a short time in the area south of the Big Bend in the River, where there is a good spot for viewing Homo sapiens in their natural habitat, near their group nesting site known as "South Glens Falls." Some crows nearby caused enough of a ruckus to interfere with my viewing, however.

So I flew a little farther upriver, to a viewing area that is known to attract Humans, despite its relative isolation. So far, during our winter People Watch season, we’ve seen them here 4 out of 4 times.

I circled the area, looking sharply downward. It was easy to spot the Humans – they stood out darkly against the snowy ground.
Soon I heard their familiar blatting noises, and spotted a small group of them. After some time, they gestured and pointed at me.
I distinctly heard several “ooh” and “ahhh” calls. This is but one of their many vocalizations.

Quietly I found a perch in a white pine, across the river from the group of humans, only about a thousand feet away. Thus I could watch them closely and take an Eyelash Count.

Despite the fact that human eyes are the same size (weight) as ours, they are 4x weaker than ours. In order to catch a glimpse of me, the creatures used a device that multiplied their feeble vision.

The group observed today consisted of 5 individuals:
3 adults (one a female past breeding age)
and 2 juveniles.
This was ascertained by the color of the head-plumage.
Only live-capture and close examination would tell us if the 2 juveniles were sexually mature or not.

(Unlike us, who are ready to raise our own families at the age of 4 or 5 years, Humans take up to 4x longer to mature. Some never do, according to recent studies.)

Also unlike us, they are rarely known to mate for life, instead practicing a sort of serial polygamy. Courtship displays can happen at any time of year, but especially in the summer during their annual moult. This makes for amusing observations at other places along the river, such as Haviland’s Cove.

One of the Humans seemed to have some sort of radio transmitter attached to its head region, near its right ear. Perhaps another agency is tracking this individual.

Another human (one of the juveniles) was wearing some sort of rabbit-skin on his head (see arrow). This may mean he is some kind of shaman-in-training.

We have observed groups of these creatures gathering for what appear to be worship services at their Temples of the Golden Arches. (Field studies on this exciting topic are currently being carried out by our friends at Seagull University.)

In order to test the intelligence of this particular group, I once again flew upriver. They followed along, not keeping up very well despite the odd beetle-like contraptions they used, which enable them to move along faster than their usual plodding gait. A few times I had to circle for a while, just to let them catch up.

At the fourth stop, I was getting a little hungry. It was almost time to feed. At that last stop, conditions were not good for fishing or foraging, since the river was completely iced-over at that point. No roadkills or carcasses to be seen here. At the same time, the Human group had split up and wandered back to whatever dens they had nearby.

All in all it was a good survey session. I believe I can make out individual Humans now, having seen some of these particular Humans at every People Watch so far this winter.(At first it was difficult to tell them apart.) They appear to be some sort of extended family unit, which only continued observations could confirm.

Perhaps during the next survey I will test their ducking-response, by doing a few easy power-dives in their direction.


  1. Very clever! And funny. I'm glad to know the avians and humans made visual contact this week.

  2. What a hoot!! sorry, wrong species but best description of my reaction and I hope this is the first of many sharp observations reported by Halley Luke.

  3. :-) Thanks for the perspective shift!

  4. HAHAHA so much win and awesome here!

    "Only live-capture and close examination would tell us if the 2 juveniles were sexually mature or not." OMGLOL

  5. send it to the new yorker.