Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

Western Dippy Birds
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Shelley and I are about to head north to King's Canyon National Park for a long weekend, but before I go, I wanted to give y'all a preview of my next Battlefield: Glass entry for comments, so that anything useful you have to suggest can be incorporated before the entry is submitted to the competition on my return. So let me know what you think of the project as a whole and the write-up and the photos. Thanks.


The Western Dippy Bird

Many people have encountered the common dippy bird (also known as the drinking bird or dunking bird) in their local mall science stores. However, few have seen their rare cousin, the western dippy bird. Join us as we take you to meet a pair of these glorious feathered friends in an outdoor suburban habitat.

Photo #1: a pair of birds forage for their favorite seeds and small insects amongst ferns

Photo #2: later they visit a backyard bird bath for a quick dip to cool off

Photo #3: courtship involves rubbing necks; pairs mate for life

Photo #4: the male guards the nest while the female sits on her eggs, typically 6 to 8 per year

As shown in photos, the male of the species dons a typical cowboy hat, whereas a straw hat graces the female's head. (You may recall that the common dippy bird wears a plastic top hat.) Also distinguishing the sexes, we find the male with a clear glass head, and the female with a light reddish purple coloration. Male western dippy birds are born with the same head plumage as females, but the original color fades as they age, much like male pattern baldness seen in humans.

The overall color of each sex differs as well, with legs, neck and body taking on reddish or purplish hues as the case may be. The tail plumage varies between the two sexes, making it quite easy to tell the difference: males have shades of blue, while females sport reddish, yellowish, and greenish colors. Most biologists believe that the distinct colors vary in intensity depending on an individualís general health, and that brighter examples mean a better chance of attracting a mate.

We hope you have enjoyed this short introduction to a less-observed species of dippy bird. Thanks for your continued consideration in this round!

The making of The Western Dippy Bird:

Theme items: spiral wand (plus an extra from WC) used to make the long necks; pair of bevels (plus an extra pair also from WC) form the support structure connecting the legs to the wand; "purple glass things" appear as the heads (one has its colored plastic layer peeled off; both have quarter-inch holes drilled with grinder to facilitate mounting on wands); plastic flowers (each divided into two halves) appear as the tail feathers.

Other components: bodies made of 25-watt light bulbs (with their bases removed with a diamond-coated Dremel-tool cutting blade); neck bands made of brass tubing; bevels connected to leg pieces by cut-down, high-quality brass brads via quarter-inch hole drilled through glass with grinder; all pieces stuck together or sealed with clear silicone; bodies filled with colored water; hats and eyes from a craft store. Eggs are glass marbles.

No actual common dippy birds were harmed in the completion of this project.


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