This morning's vignette from Delanceyplace struck me as being worthy of mention here ... so here I am, mentioning it! Enjoy.
Birds are the only wild animals most people see every day. No matter where we live, birds live with us. Too many of us take them for granted. We don't appreciate how very strange they are, how different. We don't realize what otherworldly creatures birds are. Their hearts look like those of crocodiles. Birds are covered with modified scales -- we call them feathers. Their bones are hollow, permeated with extensive air sacs. They have no hands. They give birth to eggs.
No other scientific classification of living creature we commonly see is so different from us as is the class Aves. We don't even think of birds as 'animals' (although they are -- as are humans, of course). We consider 'animals' to be our fellow mammals, with whom our kinship is obvious. ... We shared a common ancestor with even the most distant of our fellow placental mammals as recently as 100 million years ago. The last ancestor we shared with the birds, however, traces back 325 to 350 million years ago.
A bird is as distant from us as a dinosaur. But unlike the extinct monsters of the Jurassic and Cretaceous, birds today are everywhere among us -- on our sidewalks, at our bird feeders, on our dinner plates. Yet despite our disparate evolutionary paths, scientists are now beginning to reveal the extent to which birds' emotional and intellectual abilities are remarkably like ours. ...
[T]he first thing you need to know about birds is that Birds Are Individuals. ... Although a flock of hens is all about community, each chicken is quite distinctive, and the personality of each individual is extremely important to the flock dynamic. People who don't know chickens are always astonished to learn this, but when you are in the company of birds, you must be prepared to be surprised.
A second fundamental truth of birds is that Birds Are Dinosaurs.
Read the rest here.