Owl on the hunt in an Idaho apartment

An owl flew into a 10th story apartment in Idaho, apparently opened a bird cage and killed one of two canaries inside, the residents said.jd-greatbigworld

Sue Sausser said she awakened Sunday to find bird droppings and feathers all over her apartment, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported.

Sausser found the brownish, yellow-eyed owl between the wall and the chest of drawers on which the bird cage sits. It flew out the door and perched on their balcony railing long enough for them to take a few pictures. Don Sausser estimated the owl was 6 to 8 inches tall.

Sue and Don Sausser found one of their canaries dead in the cage. The other seemed jumpy and anxious, they said.

Beth Paragamian, wildlife education specialist with for Idaho Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management, said it’s strange that an owl would be flying so high in an area without many tall trees and surprising that it would enter a residence, much less open a bird cage.

“That is very unusual,” she said.

Don Sausser said they’ll likely still leave their sliding glass door open on warm summer evenings, but plan to use twist ties to secure the door on the bird cage.

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See pictures of the owl here: http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_f57beda1-8a5c-5171-8f13-85c4b0ac997b.html

Reported by the Associated Press from COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho

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Astronauts release itty-bitty satellite

Circled in red is a tiny Peruvian research satellite, which launched by hand from astronauts aboard the International Space Station, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/NASA)

Circled in red is a tiny Peruvian research satellite, which launched by hand from astronauts aboard the International Space Station, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/NASA)

Spacewalking astronauts launched a tiny Peruvian research satellite Monday, setting it loose on a mission to observe Earth.

Russian Oleg Artemiev tossed the 4-inch box from his gloved right hand as the International Space Station sailed 260 miles above the lanet. The nanosatellite gently tumbled away, precisely as planned.

“One, two, three,” someone called out in Russian as Artemiev let go of the satellite.

Cameras watched as the nanosatellite — named Chasqui after the Inca messengers who were fleet of foot — increased its distance and grew smaller. Artemiev’s Russian spacewalking partner, Alexander Skvortsov, tried to keep his helmet camera aimed at the satellite as it floated away.

The satellite — barely 2 pounds — holds instruments to measure temperature and pressure, and cameras that will photograph Earth. It’s a technological learning experience for the National University of Engineering in Lima. A Russian cargo ship delivered the device earlier this year.

With that completed, Artemiev and Skvortsov set about installing fresh science experiments outside the Russian portion of the space station and retrieving old ones. “Be careful,” Russian Mission Control outside Moscow warned as the astronauts made their way to their next work site. They also collected samples from a window of the main Russian living compartment; engineers want to check for any engine residue from visiting spacecraft.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Reported by MARCIA DUNN of The Associated Press from CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.

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National Night Out in York County

Lt. Dave Lash of Northern Regional Police Department splashes water at folks trying to dunk him during the 2013 National Night Out in Dover. Lt. Lash celebrated his 43rd birthday in the dunk tank. (York Dispatch file photo)

Lt. Dave Lash of Northern Regional Police Department splashes water at folks trying to dunk him during the 2013 National Night Out in Dover. Lt. Lash celebrated his 43rd birthday in the dunk tank. (York Dispatch file photo)

Making National Night Out bigger is York Area Regional Police’s goal. The annual night of community outreach is set for Tuesday.

Held at the Dallastown Community Park, just off South School Place, the event runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m., said Sgt. Pete Montgomery.

Highlights include a police motorcycle demonstration at 6 p.m., bounce houses, an inflatable obstacle course and a gaming truck, where younger attendees can play video games.

“For three and a half hours, there’s always something going on,” he said. “It’s always a fun time.”

Night out: National Night Out, held across much of the country, allows police officers to meet with residents, Northern York County Regional Police said in a news release.

The department will host its own event, open to residents who live in its jurisdiction, at the Union Fire and Hose Co., 30 E. Canal St. in Dover from 6 to 9 p.m.

During the event, officers will prepare and serve hamburgers and hot dogs and there will be carnival-style games, a bounce house, a dunk tank that will feature state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township and officers on the hot seat and more.

Events

Here’s a look at all the National Night Out events around York County.

  • Calvary United Methodist Church: 11 N. Richland Ave. in York City, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Carroll Township Police: Logan Park, along Logan Road, from 5 to 9 p.m. Event includes a cookout and police and fire equipment exhibits.
  • Fairview Township Police: Roof Park, 599 Lewisberry Road, from 5 to 9 p.m. Free food, music, raffle drawings and activities, such as bounce houses and games, for children.
  • Northeastern Regional Police: Eagle Fire Co., 54 Center St., Mount Wolf, from 6 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with Eagle Fire Co. and Northeastern Area EMS.
  • Southern Regional Police: New Freedom Park, along North Main Street, from 6 to 10 p.m. Event features emergency equipment displays, food and fun for children.
  • Southwestern Regional Police: Spring Grove Area C & MA Church, 213 N. Main St., from 6 to 9 p.m. Free hot dogs, chips and drinks. Displays include police and fire equipment and there will be music and children’s games.
  • Springettsbury Township Police: St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 2935 Kingston Road from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Spring Garden Township Police: Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m. Event includes food, music, face painting, bounce houses and other activities for children. Police, fire and public works vehicles will also be on display.
  • West York Block Watch: Shelly Park, at North Highland Avenue and Filbert Street, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Featuring music, food and fun.
  • Wrightsville Borough: Riverfront Park, along South Front Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. Event includes food, games, fellowship and a chance to meet first responders.
  • York City: York City Police and community organizations will hold events at about 30 locations in the city from 5 to 9 p.m. Many will be give away food and McGruff the Crime Dog and police officers will visit as many locations as possible.

Reported by GREG GROSS of The York Dispatch.

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From dinosaurs to birds — How did that happen?

This drawing shows the dinosaur lineage which evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years. From left are, the ancestral neotheropod, the ancestral tetanuran, the ancestral coelurosaur, the ancestral paravian and Archaeopteryx. (AP Photo/Davide Bonnadonna, Science)

This drawing shows the dinosaur lineage which evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years. From left are, the ancestral neotheropod, the ancestral tetanuran, the ancestral coelurosaur, the ancestral paravian and Archaeopteryx. (AP Photo/Davide Bonnadonna, Science)


Scientists have mapped how a group of fearsome, massive dinosaurs evolved and shrank to the likes of robins and hummingbirds.

Comparing fossils of 120 different species and 1,500 skeletal features, especially thigh bones, researchers were able to build a “family tree” for the two-legged group of meat-eating dinos called theropods. That suborder survives to this day as birds.

“They just kept on shrinking and shrinking and shrinking for about 50 million years,” said study author Michael S. Y. Lee of the University of Adelaide in Australia. He called them “shape-shifters.”

Lee and his colleagues even created a dinosaur version of the iconic ape-to-man drawing of human evolution. In this version of the drawing, shown above, the lumbering large dinos shrink, getting more feathery and big-chested, until they are the earliest version of birds.

For a couple decades scientists have linked birds to this family of dinosaurs because they shared hollow bones, wishbones, feathers and other characteristics. But the Lee study gives the best picture of how steady and unusual theropod evolution was. The skeletons of theropods changed four times faster than other types of dinosaurs, the study said.

A few members of that dino family did not shrink, including T. rex, which is more of a distant cousin to birds than a direct ancestor, Lee said.

He said he and colleagues were surprised by just how consistently the theropods shrank over evolutionary time, while other types of dinosaurs showed ups and downs in body size.

The first theropods were large, weighing around 600 pounds. They roamed about 220 million to 230 million years ago. Then about 200 million years ago, when some of the creatures weighed about 360 pounds, the shrinking became faster and more prolonged, the study said. In just 25 million years, the beasts were slimmed down to barely 100 pounds. By 167 million years ago, 6-pound paravians, more direct ancestor of birds, were around.

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Online:

The journal Science: http://www.sciencemag.org

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Reported by SETH BORENSTEIN of the Associated Press. He can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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Sharks: The perfect tourist magnet

A bin filled with plastic toy sharks are just some of the shark-related items for sale in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A bin filled with plastic toy sharks are just some of the shark-related items for sale in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Great white sharks are having an unusual effect on Cape Cod this summer, and many tourists are eager to chomp down on some shark-related goodies.

The sharks being spotted in growing numbers are stirring curiosity and a new sort of frenzy — a buying frenzy.

Shark T-shirts are everywhere, “Jaws” has been playing in local movie theaters and boats are taking more tourists out to see the huge seal population that keeps the sharks coming. Harbormasters have issued warnings but — unlike the sharks in the movies — the great whites generally are not seen as a threat to human swimmers.

Among the entrepreneurs is Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, who started selling “Chatham Whites” T-shirts after customers who were renting paddle boards and kayaks began asking whether it was safe to go to sea.

“I mean, truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 percent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel,” he said. The T-shirts, hoodies, hats, belts, dog collars and other accessories bear the iconic, torpedo-shaped image of great whites and sell for between $10 and $45.

He said his store brings in thousands of dollars in sales of the shark-themed merchandise.

Tourists peer through binoculars in hopes of catching a glimpse of a shark fin from the beaches of Chatham. The resort town has a large population of gray seals — the massive animals whose blubber is the fuel of choice for great white sharks. Local shops sell jewelry, candy, clothes and stuffed animals with shark motifs.

Shark lovers: “(Great) White sharks are this iconic species in society and it draws amazing amounts of attention,” said Gregory Skomal, a senior marine fisheries biologist who also leads the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, who said people are coming in hopes of witnessing the animals in their splendor. “I have not been approached by anyone who has said to me ‘let’s go kill these sharks.’”

Skomal said sharks have been coming closer to shore to feed on the seals, which he said have been coming on shore in greater numbers because of successful conservation efforts.

Confrontations with people are rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks — 13 of them fatal — in U.S. waters since 1916, according to data provided by the University of Florida.

Still, officials are wary of the damage that could be done to tourism if one of the predators bites a person. Brochures have been distributed to raise awareness of sharks and safe practices in the event of a sighting.

Kids: Laurie Moss McCandless of Memphis, Tennessee, has vacationed on Cape Cod every summer since she was a little girl and doesn’t remember hearing about sharks back then. But her son is obsessed with sharks, she said, and she’s hoping to hear more about them on their vacation in Chatham.

“He loves all his sharks paraphernalia,” McCandless, 39, said as she bought a shark-themed sweatshirt for one of her three children.

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Reported by RODRIQUE NGOWI of the Associated Press from CHATHAM, Mass. Follow Rodrique Ngowi at www.twitter.com/ngowi

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Online:

Cape Cod Tourism: http://www.capecodchamber.org/

Massachusetts Shark Research Program: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dmf/programs-and-projects/shark-research.html

Atlantic White Shark Conservancy: http://www.atlanticwhiteshark.org/

An eye glass holder in the shape of a shark rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

An eye glass holder in the shape of a shark rests on a shelf in a souvenir shop in Chatham, Mass. With growing sightings of great white sharks off Cape Cod, local entrepreneurs are feeding the frenzy with their shark-themed memorabilia and apparel. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Someone tried to sneak 67 giant snails into the U.S.

One of the snails from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport peeks out of its shell on July 1, 2014.  (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

One of the snails from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport peeks out of its shell on July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

Inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized an unusually slimy package — 67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa.

The snails — which are prohibited in the U.S. — arrived from Nigeria and were being sent to a person in San Dimas, said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border protection.

The snails were confiscated July 1 and a sample was sent the next day to a federal mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., who identified them as a prohibited species, Harty said.

The mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow to be up to 8 inches long. They are native to Africa and can live for up to 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated the snails after they were inspected, Harty said. The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.

The snails are also agricultural pests, said Maveeda Mirza, the CBP program manager for agriculture.

“These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop they can get to,” Mirza said.

The person the snails were destined for is not expected to face any penalties, Mirza said. She said authorities are investigating why a single person would want so many snails.

By KRYSTA FAURIA of the Associated Press from LOS ANGELES.

A person uses two hands to hold a single snail that was part of an air cargo shipment that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1, 2014.  (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

A person uses two hands to hold a single snail that was part of an air cargo shipment that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

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