94 Seconds With My Hummingbirds

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I was fooling around with my GoPro camera this afternoon. It’s perfect to suction near the hummingbird feeder.

Notice how amazing agile they are and how they always hit the right spot with their long beaks. Each bird feeds a little differently.

Backyard Birds

I am the grillmaster. Historically, isn’t that the way it works? Somehow the guy becomes king when cooking moves outside.

I fired up the grill tonight, threw some chops over the fire and… well, when you grill that’s it for a while. It was break time, so I stood still and listened.

The woods near my house are alive with birds. This is their season. Most aren’t seen, but I know they’re different based on their songs.

I ran inside and got my camera. The best shots are often unplanned.

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The Too Good To Be True Tech Story I Almost Aired

There was just something too good to be true about Smeets. How could this be done in such a low key way? Why was there no major press coverage?

No sci/tech story for me today. Rachel was out judging a science fair during the 4:00 PM news and there’s a legal limit to how much Geoff the public will take.

As it turns out that was a good thing. The story I planned to do might be a hoax. At this point I can’t be sure.

It all started yesterday when I saw a link about a Dutchman, Jarno Smeets, who’d flown like a bird!

Right here, on this blog I share everything about my crazy plan to build my own wings. My goal? To fly with it! Something Leonardo DaVinci, my grandfather and I dreamed of for a long time. But this summer I decided to really start building it. This blog is the result of my experiences of the project. You’ll find video’s, pictures and text on the progress, my inspiration and all your comments and support.

Smeets put together his flying machine using wings fashioned from strong, but lightweight wood, kite fabric, two small motors and a digital control system fashioned with accelerometers from a cellphones and a Wii controller! He flaps his arms which then controls his craft’s motorized flapping wings.

I saw the video. Mesmerized! His recent flight followed a year’s worth of preparation videos. That’s a lot of backstory for s hoax. Normally this is enough for me.

I often do stories on tech breakthroughs. There’s no way to be there so I’m dependent on user produced videos. They have proved to be trustworthy.

There was just something too good to be true about Smeets. How could this be done in such a low key way? Why was there no major press coverage?

Overnight I began looking at comments from readers on websites where the video had already been posted. There were skeptics! In fact most of the comments came from skeptics.

Time Magazine ran a story on the flight and tagged it:

Update: Some are questioning the veracity of the video above, and since we obviously haven’t seen the flight firsthand, nor has Smeets yet responde to our request for confirmation the flight was real, we can’t vouch for its authenticity at this time (though we can’t yet call it inauthentic, either).

I sent my producer an email. I’d forgotten I wouldn’t be producing a story today, but I told her I might have to bag today’s package because of my growing doubts.

This afternoon Huffington Post added to the intrigue:

But there’s only one problem–the video is an elaborate hoax. At least that’s the opinion of the University of Toronto’s Dr. Todd Reichert.

“I’m tempted to play along, but unfortunately from a physical perspective it’s completely unrealistic,” Reichert told The Huffington Post in an email. “Given an estimated total weight of 100 kg, a wing area of 9 square meters, maximum lift coefficient of 1.0, and an air density of 1.22 kilograms per cubic meter…the vehicle would have to travel at least 49 kilometers per hour to stay airborne.” – Huffington Post.

This hasn’t played out fully yet. There are still those, including Jamie Hynerman, of “Mythbusters” who think it looks real. Smeets himself doesn’t seem to be speaking.

It just looked too good to be true. Maybe it is! I hope not.

Everyplace Has Something Unique

From time-to-time you hear the unmistakable sound of bird poop hitting the water.

I’m in Boynton Beach just west of Military Trail. Not long ago this was swampland. The communities that now fill the area were planned and executed. Little was left to chance. Within each is a Stepford-like level of conformity.

Yet even here at the condo where one unit looks like the next there is something unique! My parent’s condo complex features a single sprawling tree at the edge of a man made pond housing an amazing flock of egrets.

As long as I’ve been coming I’ve been heading to the tree. As my photographic skills get better I’m able to bring more of it online for you to see.

The tree is desolate during the day, but as sunset approaches the birds return. One-by-one they fly toward the tree changing direction at the last possible second to land into the wind.

Every night the tree is loaded with egrets. Mainly they perch silently with their head tucked into their feathers. From time-to-time you hear the unmistakable sound of bird poop hitting the water.

Sometimes a bird will shift position forcing his neighbors to shift as well. The tree gets busy and wings being to flap for fifteen or twenty seconds. Then it’s quiet again.

These three shots are long exposures with my camera on a tripod allowing me enough light to see the birds in the dead of night.

I photograph these birds every time I visit!

Birds Arrive On The Feeder

I’m not a bird expert but I’m pretty sure it’s a miniature bald eagle puppy. Maybe not?

I was heading through the kitchen on my way to take a shower when I spied it. A bird was feeding from my sock of thistle!

I quickly dashed upstairs, put the wrong lens on the camera and headed onto the deck to take some photos. The bird had other ideas. His departure came within ten seconds of my arrival. I got one pretty crappy shot (above).

The bird was beautiful. He was yellow and looked just like the bird stenciled on the sock. Maybe he thought it was a mirror? I’m not a bird expert but I’m pretty sure it’s a miniature bald eagle puppy. Maybe not?

I am really looking forward to more birds. If you know any please tell them the Fox house is the home of the bottomless thistle sock.

I hope no squirrels are reading this!