Tuesday, March 31, 2015

'Peabody’s Bird Nest Collection featured in Nature’s “Animal Homes” on PBS'

NEW HAVEN -- PBS NATURE’s "Animal Homes" is a three-part series produced by New Haven documentary filmmaker Ann Prum and THIRTEEN Productions LLC "that explores the complexity and diversity of animal architecture and provides intimate, never-before-seen views of the lives of animals in their homes," according to a release.

Airing on April 8, 15 and 22—at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), "the series looks at animal homes around the globe—bird nests, bear dens, beaver lodges, spider webs and more—and the intriguing behaviors and social interactions that take place in and around them," the release says "Over the course of three episodes, the series delves into the amazing flexibility animal architects display, the clever choices they make and the ingenious ways they deal with troublesome habitats."

Also in the release (shared unedited here): 
Program 1, “The Nest,” airing Wednesday, April 8, at 8:00 p.m., begins with specimens from the ornithology collections of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History that illustrate how nests come in all shapes and sizes, crafted from an inexhaustible diversity of materials, including fur, grasses, leaves, mosses, sticks and twigs, bones, wool, mud and spider silk—and often man-made materials such as colorful twine, bits of wire, even plastic bags. From Madagascar there is a hanging moss nest of the Velvet Asity, from Uruguay a mud nest of a Rufous Hornero made of 5,000 beakfuls of mud, and from Nova Scotia an Arctic Tern nest that is a simple platform of pebbles. A cup nest of the Common Yellowthroat, built within an old shoe, was collected in 1899 in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There are also Bluebird and Eider Duck nests and a stick nest of the Firewood-gatherer. Each one is a remarkable work of art, built with just a beak!

 Corey O’Hern, associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science at Yale, conducts stress tests on some nests, and ecologist Chris Morgan, series host, tries his hand at building a few. This episode then branches out to scenes in the wild all over the world, where birds arrive at diverse nesting grounds to collect, compete for, reject, steal and begin to build with carefully selected materials, crafting homes for the all-important task of protecting their eggs and raising their young. The osprey and saltmarsh sparrow segments in this episode were filmed in Connecticut—the first in Greenwich, the latter in Madison.
Program 2, “Location, Location, Location,” airs on April 15. Featuring the homes of beavers, black bears and woodrats among others, it emphasizes the importance of finding a good base of operations—the correct stream or tree, the correct building materials, neighbors and sometimes tenants. Episode 3, “Animal Cities,” airing on April 22, looks at puffins in the Hebrides, social spiders in Ecuador and leafcutter ants in Costa Rica to demonstrate the importance of colonies to these animals.

The series features a blend of CGI, animation, CT scans and signature blueprint graphics to highlight engineering principles inside the structures. A variety of cameras, including tiny HD versions, capture unprecedented views inside animal homes without disturbing natural behavior. When appropriate, filmmakers shoot behaviors in slow motion and use infrared and time lapse  to reveal how animals create their structures over time and through the seasons. After broadcast, the episodes will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

New Haven resident Ann Prum explores science, wildlife and the environment through film. She began Coneflower Productions in 1995, and has created programs for National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, TBS and PBS. She made the popular “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air” for NATURE and won a regional Emmy for "Creating the Peabody's Torosaurus: Dinosaur Science, Dinosaur Art.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

'Connecting the Slave Trade to Connecticut Aristocracy'

Author Anne Farrow (Photo by Stephen Taylor)
The New Haven Museum will act as host for Connecticut writer Anne Farrow's talk on her newest book, “The Logbooks: Connecticut’s Slave Ships and Human Memory,” published by Wesleyan University Press, according to a release
The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 26.
In her research, Farrow uncovered "a direct connection between slavery and a member of one of America’s, and Connecticut’s, most famous early families," the release said.
Farrow’s "thought-provoking presentation will be followed by a signing" of her book, the release said .
The free lecture is sponsored by The Amistad Committee Inc.
"Farrow discovered that the slave-ship logs were written by Dudley Saltonstall, a descendent of aristocrats, from the highest echelons of Connecticut colonial life.  She began a deep journey into the world of the logbooks and the Atlantic slave trade, eventually travelling to Sierra Leone, where the 19th-century captives on the slaving vessel Amistad had travelled from," the release said.
Also in the release:
About The Amistad Committee Inc.
Established in 1988, The Amistad Committee, Inc. is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. The original Amistad Committee formed to raise funds for the legal defense and return voyage of the subsequently liberated Africans who were involved in the Amistad Incident of 1839. Today, The Amistad Committee, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation and honoring of African and American history in Connecticut. The preservation of this history and its lessons are imperative and shall not be forgotten, diminished, erased or go unrecognized. "The work to be done is not to be completed in a day or a year; it will require a long time to remove the evils which slavery and habit have so deeply engraved upon the very foundation of everything." Reverend Amos G. Beeman, Middletown, Sept. 6, 1862, letter to the editor of The Weekly Anglo-African newspaper.
About the New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum, founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, is located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue. The Museum is currently celebrating 150 years of collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven. Through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach, the Museum brings 375 years of New Haven history to life. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.org or facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March always comes in like a lion, my mom says

My "winter has never scared me face"
By Joan Bennett

It was March 8  and I will never forget that date as my beautiful daughter, Helen was born in the early evening of that day.

The first week of that month was not pleasant as far as weather was concerned. We thought winter was over but Mother Nature had other plans and we were caught unawares. The day was cold and in the early afternoon it began to snow lightly.
I had appointment with my doctor, which I kept and he announced I was in the beginning stages of labor. No wonder I had been feeling weird. I thought the doctor was mistaken  as Helen wasn't due for another five weeks. So what to do?
Snow was coming down heavily, mixing with rain and sleet by the time my husband drove me home.
I was in a hurry to get to the hospital but first we had to bring our son, Chip, two years old, to my parent's home about ten miles from where we lived. I hated driving through snow and sleet. It was dark out too. Thank goodness the hospital was only five miles from my parent/s home.

We stayed a few minutes at Mom and Dad's then drove slowly to the hospital, as I was worried we would never make it. The hospital staff was waiting for me. What a relief! I forgot about the weather and concentrated on the more important event that was happening.

March has always been a fickle month. It usually comes in like a lion and I am surprised when she fools me.

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