Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bummer of a Birthmark, Hal

"Bummer of a birthmark, Hal"

Anyone who is a fan of the world's greatest cartoonist, Gary Larson, knows that title. The short sentence is spoken by a handsome deer with a giant rack to another handsome deer with an equally impressive sent of antlers. On the chest of the second deer is a giant bulls-eye.

Well, I saw Hal just yesterday. Except in this case, Hal was not a deer. He was a goldfish getting his head torn off by an Osprey.

Now, you might be wondering how in the world such a thing could happen. Gather 'round folks, and let me tell you.

The Osprey is a fish eating raptor. Their entire body design is all about hunting fish. Long legs allow them to have a reach deep into the water. Their feet have giant talons and rough soles for grabbing and holding fish. Their outer toes can be "swing out" such that they have a wider, and therefore better, grip on the slippery fish. (You can do this, too. Imagine your hand is an Osprey's foot and bend you pinky finger out, back, and around so it touches your wrist. Okay...nevermind. You can't do it. Ice should make it better.)

Anyway, how they catch fish is the really cool part. They hover like helicopters and watch the waters below. When they see their prey, their brains function like a tracking computer on a laser-guided bomb. Angle, speed and point of impact are determined and in they go. Most of the time, like most predators, they miss. Every now and then, they score a hit.

What does this have to do with Hal the Goldfish?

Well, every now and then, a goldfish, in the wild, is indeed gold. They can also be brownish and look alot like a Carp. In fact, that happens most of the time. So, if the Osprey is, say, 100' in the air, what do you think would be easier to see in shallow, vegetation-clogged water - dozens of brown carp (or goldfish) or the gold goldfish?

Yeah. Easy, huh?

Sorry Hal. Bummer of a birthmark...

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