No these aren’t haystacks stuck in a phone pole. Visit the Kalahari Desert in the south of Africa and you’re bound to run into a peculiar animal called the Sociable Weaver Bird. The birds are called “social” not just because they live in organized colonies, but because they build massive homes out of sticks, grass and cotton that are home to several other kinds birds. That’s right, the nests are so large that birds of other species are welcome to setup shop, not the least of which is the South African pygmy falcon which lives exclusively inside the social weaver’s nests that often accomodate over 100 birds at at time. Via the San Diego Zoo:
The sociable weaver’s nest sees plenty of guests—a regular Kalahari Desert inn! The South African pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus relies completely on the sociable weavers’ nest for its own home, often nesting side by side with the sociable weavers. The pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit, and rosy-faced lovebird often find comfort in the cozy nesting chambers, too. Vultures, owls, and eagles will roost on the nests’ broad roof. Why are weavers willing to share the huge nest they worked so hard to make? More residents mean more eyes keeping a watch for danger. And the weavers often learn from the other birds where new sources of food can be found.
Inspired by the forms of animals artist Barbara Franc seeks to capture a sense of motion as she recreates a variety of wildlife from birds to horses using reclaimed materials such as old food tins. Via her artist statement:
I have always been fascinated by the shapes and sculptural forms of animals, they present a never-ending source of inspiration to me. I try to capture a feeling of their movement and presence in my sculpture. For this I use wire and other materials in a way that suggests drawing in three dimensions. This allows me greater freedom to add changes whenever I want during the construction to keep the feeling fluid and to reflect the diversity of movement and form. I increasingly use recycled and discarded materials as I enjoy the challenge of transforming something with a past history into something new and exciting.
Polish photographer Marcin Ryczek snapped this once-in-a-lifetime photograph of a man feeding swans and ducks from a snowy river bank in Krakow. The trifecta juxtaposition between black/white, water/snow, and person/animals is simply astounding. You can download a desktop sized version of the photo here, and check out more of Ryczek’s photos in his portfolio. (via stellar)
Filmmaker Neels Castillon was on a commercial shoot a few days ago, waiting to catch a helicopter flying into a sunset, when suddenly tens of thousands of starlings unexpectedly swarmed the sky in an enormous dance known as a murmuration. With his director of photography, Mathias Touzeris, the two filmed for several minutes capturing some pretty magnificent footage. You might recall a similar murmuration video from last year shot extremely up close and personal using a camera phone that went viral. How do thousands of birds simultaneously make such dramatic changes in their flight patterns? After tons of research, scientists still aren’t sure. The music is Hand-Made by Alt-J. (via vimeo)
I’m going to take a moment to interrupt your normal/art design programming with this absurd video from a gentleman named Sean Wilson who discovered an enormous egg amongst the daily collection of eggs from his chicken coop. As a person who grew up on a farm with dozens of chickens, I’m no stranger to cracking open large eggs to discover multiple yolks or other, erm, unexpected oddities. But in years of collecting eggs I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Don’t miss this great back and forth banter between the dad and the off-screen child. I so hope this isn’t a hoax. (via reddit)
Update:Kottke found some more information about the exceedingly rare double egg courtesy of NewScientist which explains how a fully formed egg is pushed back into the ovary, where another egg forms around it.
When looking at the problem of bird populations shrinking in urban areas due to loss of habitat, Nethlerlands-based product designer Klaas Kuiken was struck with the idea of improving a common bird home: residential roofs. In consultation with the Vogelbescherming (the Dutch bird association) Kuiken designed a ceramic birdhouse that adheres to the ubiquitous roof tiles found throughout the country. The house contains a removable basket to aid in maintenance after mating season and is made with materials that can resist extreme cold in the winter. First designed in 2009 the birdhouses have finally gone into production and 100 are now available for sale. See more over on designboom.
In her delicate crafted porcelain sculptures conceptual artist Kate McDowell expresses her interpretation of the clash between the natural world and the modern-day environmental impact of industrialized society. The resulting works can be equal parts amusing and disturbing as the anatomical forms of humans and animals become inexplicably intertwined in her delicate porcelain forms. Via her artist statment:
In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world. In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats.