Christmas Gift Selction # 7 For 2017 – Bird Of The Month Club

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Captive Golden Eagle

Note: This is a repost of one of our Top Ten Gifts for the discerning buyer originally published in December of 2013, a year that will live in infamy. In what has become a half-assed tradition here at The Institute we have been irregularly reposting these now famous gift selections when we remember to do so in a lame attempt to create a Holiday Tradition and mostly because we suddenly realize it’s Christmas time and we don’t have squat done. It’s fun and we don’t have to spend the time making new stuff up. Enjoy.

*The Institutes Own Bird of the Month Club!!!

Here’s something truly different for that often fussy hard to shop for person on your gift list. Give them a membership to our exclusive Bird of the Month club. They’ll have you to thank as each month, regular as clockwork, the Fed-ex guy shows up at their doorstep with that months selection. All birds are guaranteed to arrive alive, healthy and hungry, with full documentation as to country of origin, quarantine papers, customs declarations and care and feeding instructions. Note: our birds are guaranteed to be alive upon delivery, unlike the parrots that were imported from England in the 60’s that arrived as, well, dead parrots.

This has been a very successful program for us with satisfied customers in nearly every state. Imagine the fun as you wait for the Fed-ex delivery of each new months selection. Not only will the kids will be out of their excited sugar fried brains, but you will be too, as you wait for each month’s unique delivery. We can tell you the types of birds you will be receiving during the year but it will be a surprise as to which individual species you get each month.

This month’s selection has already been chosen and as you can see it is the beautiful American Golden Eagle. Imagine owning your very own Golden Eagle! This bird had recently been flying free over the Rocky mountains, hunting its prey, the Snowshoe hare or the wily Hoary Marmot or the occasional Shih Tzu, and through a special arrangement with the Department of the Interior we are able to trap them (using a patented humane Leg and Beak restraint system we developed here at the Institute) re-educate them and sedate them with FDA approved “EagleDown”  a mild tranquilizer we use to make the birds manageable while we do stuff to them.

Birds arrive at your doorstep in a humane carton, ready to be unpacked and placed in their new surroundings. Simply remove the bird, dispose of the packing pellets and snip the military grade zip-ties with heavy-duty wire cutters (not included), remove the eye patches and quickly but firmly stuff the bird into its new cast iron home, a 2′ x 3′ cast iron cage constructed out of 3/4″ rebar and welded tightly by trained free-range welders. Cage optional at small extra cost. Note: on some of the larger, more aggressive species you may choose to reverse the unpacking order. Note: Allow 7-14 days for sedative to wear off before handling birds. Carabao (water buffalo) hide gloves highly recommended, available for a small extra cost. If cage is not purchased we recommend chaining bird to heavy door frame, oak or heavy fire resistant metal best. Have children stay back at least 3′ from chained bird during birds waking hours.

Use caution when throwing live rabbits, (our eagles primary food) at them during feeding times. Eagles fiercely protect their food and will attack anyone coming close. Restrain children with fuzzy furry slippers from approaching eagle. There have been some unfortunate incidents reported. Live rabbits, or bunnies as they’re known in the United States, or hares as our friends in the U.K. call them, are available from our catalog at a small extra charge. Flemish Giant Rabbits also available by special order. Each Flemish Giant rabbit is a four day supply of food for your Eagle. Special pricing if rabbits are ordered around Easter. Choose our Year’s supply in special garage-ready storage unit.

This years exciting selection of species include the European Wood Stork, the very one that delivers all those European babies, the feisty but lovable Caracara, a South American eagle, (wear protective eyewear around this eagles razor sharp beak) the Dipper or Ouzel for those with garden ponds, our choice of either a Great, Barred, or Barn owl, Sorry no Snowy’s this year. We were unable to come to an agreement with the Canadian government over our trapping methods.

New this year, the Black-Browed Albatross, usually a long oceanic flier but we have modified the feather patterns on either wing so they simply loop around your yard in a delightful but small radius circle. (your choice of either left or right wing. Do not choose both wings option as the bird then will just sit on the edge of the pond in a non-flying state) Perfect for those with small garden ponds. 100′ of 600lb. test monofilament “TetherSafe” line available for small extra cost. Monofilament line is transparent so it looks like bird is flying free. Another new choice is the Snail-eating Limpkin, another treat for the indoor or outdoor gardener. We’ve included the Vermillion Flycatcher, great for shut-ins and apartment dwellers. No more flyswatters for you!

A perennial favorite and recently brought back to our collection by special agreement with the Egyptian government, we proudly offer the classic White Ibis, long a favorite of those pert but sassy pyramid builders. Our new and improved variety no longer needs to be near major architecture. (Our Ibis is most comfortable around homes of 7500′ to 12,000 square feet, but have been known to survive around upgraded mobile homes.This selection replaces the Roseate Spoonbill we normally have on hand. Due to a diet change imposed on the spoonbills by the Florida division of wildlife the Roseate Spoonbills’ color has turned from its usual lovely rose color to a muddy dull maroon with green highlights, quite below our standards.

We round out the selections with our usual, Western Tanager, Emu, African Bee eater, and the always popular, Scarlett Macaw.

Bird of the Month Club Membership 12.95 per month plus shipping and handling

Availability: In Stock

Note: Due to fluctuations in the world market, revolts, coups and general unrest, customs intercessions, organized disapproval of our practices, or lack of funds to complete the program we may at our discretion substitute a realistic life-like hand-painted reproduction of the common sparrow, or even a slightly faded photograph of same if our monthly choice of species is unavailable.

 

This is one of our least expensive gift programs selected this year but we’re sure you’ll agree it’s certainly one of our most unique. We can offer this program at such a low price because of the huge volume we do in the licit trade of relocating animals and birds around the globe. You may also wish to explore our trial program of “Ducks of the Month” and new this year “African Predators of the Month” this should be an exciting program. Order soon!! Order Often!!

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Wind Minnows of The High Plains Grasslands

If you’ve ever spent any time in the high prairie walking slowly through the waist-high grass you may have noticed out of the corner of your eye a brief golden flash amongst the greenery of the waving stems of grass. If you quickly glance over trying to catch a glimpse of what you saw, all you see are what appear to be the shining golden seed heads moving slowly back and forth in the wind. You may have even run your hand over them and felt the velvety softness along their sides. But those are not seed heads. They are instead a little known species called Wind Minnows.

Exclusive to the high plains as they run up against the base of the foothills leading to the Rocky mountains Wind Minnows are a rare but necessary species that have evolved to take care of the injured and damaged stalks of grass that occur due to predation by grazers, high wind, careless travelers that may have plucked the seed head from its place at the top of the grass stem, and any other natural misfortune to befall the delicate prairie growth. They may look like seed heads but they are something else entirely.

Most people viewing the grasslands for the first time see it as a strong vibrant lush expanse of foliage as far as the eye can see. But what is not generally known is that the grass itself is a delicate mechanism at risk of injury and death when parts of it are removed before its time. If for instance the seed head is removed prematurely it leaves an open wound at the end of the grass stem and the grass will then react much like a “ringed” tree where its bark is removed around the circumference of the trunk so the nutrients the tree needs to sustain life cannot reach the leaves and branches and the tree dies. The life force drains out of the grass stem through this open wound at the top of the stalk much the same way as the hapless tree and is carried away by the wind and lost forever. The grass unable to stem the flow of its vital nourishment dies.

That’s where Nature in its infinite wisdom has stepped in and provided a solution to this problem in the form of the Wind Minnows. Mimicking the appearance and feel of a seed head exactly, but free to move effortlessly through the canopy and the slender forest of grass stems by using the wing like fronds along its sides to propel it through the air, much like minnows use their fins in the water, they can move quickly from one stalk to another. When they find a damaged stalk they affix themselves to the top of the stem and placing their specially formed mouths over the wound they exude a substance much like an adhesive that seals the opening at the top of the stem thereby saving the grass from dying.

That’s why occasionally, if you are very fortunate, you will see the flash and the abrupt spiraling of the schools of Wind Minnows as they dart and swirl quietly through the tall prairie grass. Their flashing color catching the sun and reflecting their golden shapes as they twist and turn in great golden spirals until they find an area where the grazers have recently been feeding. They are looking for the hundreds if not thousands of damaged grass stems produced by the grazing animals as they forage through the tall grass. When found they spring into action, each Wind Minnow seeking out the nearest injured grass stem and beginning its life saving efforts to save the plant.

The next time you visit the high prairie take a moment to walk through the grasses, watch for the telltale glimpses of brightness as the Wind Minnows go about saving the grasslands. And thank Mother Nature for her foresight in creating Wind Minnows. An unusual solution to an unusual problem.

Fire In The Meadow

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There is a special meadow near a village called Red Feather high in the Rocky mountains of Northern Colorado where magical things happen. If you sit still and watch you may see a coyote slowly hunt across it’s grass-covered surface, pausing here with cocked head to listen, leaping there if it hears a mouse scamper through the new grass. Or see a Red-tailed hawk glide majestically out of the surrounding timber to splash its shadow across the land below as it too looks for it’s next meal.

Hummingbirds flit from flower to flower sipping the nectar from the new blooms and helping to pollenate the plants in this untamed garden. Before long the grass will be knee-high and cover the shorter blooms leaving you to discover them as you walk slowly through the dew covered stalks early in the morning.

There is an old fence line that divides the meadow into unequal portions, meaningful to  the humans who like to section things off and say that’s mine, but meaningless to the life that occupies or uses the ground on either side of the old rusty wire. Silent things that grow and stand tall and wave in the fresh breezes that occasionally wend their way down from the Never Summer mountains, their color dotting the meadowland like jewels left to catch the sun.

Now that the last of winter’s snow is making up its mind whether it will melt or not the earliest of the spring flowers are starting.  The Lenten Rose and Pasque flowers are peeking out beneath the snow close to Easter. Winter Aconite and the Common Snowdrop are breaching through the snow-covered meadow displaying their blooms, plus a favorite of all who see it, the Wyoming Indian Paint brush is beginning to appear. That pyrotechnical colored perennial that migrated down from the open plains of Wyoming and Montana to gently settle here and become a favorite native in this high meadow. It’s red and orange and yellows the exact colors of newly lit campfires. Scattered throughout the tall grass these brilliant flowers give the appearance of fire in the meadow with their brightly colored heads waving in the wind.

Spring is here, even though we just had a blizzard that produced a couple of feet of snow. The snow is nearly melted already and leaves in its wake what the locals call Mud Season, those several weeks of melting snow and saturated ground and mud everywhere. That’s spring in the high country. Enjoy it while you can. And while you’re at it go see the fire in the meadow. That’ll make you feel good.

And thanks to those gentle stewards of the land, Jack and Peggy, for the opportunity to photograph there. Enjoy your special place.

Rumble In The Rockies

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Many of you are not clear on how things work here in the Rocky Mountains. Especially as it pertains to the changing of the seasons. You think it’s all just automatic. Some of it is but even so there’s science at work here. Big hairy important science. The kind they make television shows about. The most common misconception is that Winter and its attending snow and cold appear out of the North, invading us like the shock troops at the forefront of that cold weather blitzkrieg known as the Saskatchewan Screamer. Not so. We’ve been blaming our brothers to the North for our misery unnecessarily. Sorry, Canada. However that doesn’t let them completely off the hook. They deserve to be blamed for plenty else, Justin Bieber, to name just one thing, but not for Winter.

The real cause of Winter and this is substantiated if not like totally proven, with improbable theory, old husbands tales, Bigfoot followers, alien probing proponents, people who read those newspapers at the supermarket checkouts, Republicans, Democrats, movie producers, other people who should know better, and Eugene that guy who listens to talk radio 24 hrs. a day, is Snow Volcanoes. I will repeat that, Snow Volcanoes. I know, I know, a collective gasp of disbelief just went racing across the internet, but here is proof.

In the photo above you see the caldera of this awakening Snow Volcano as it spews cold misty clouds filled with moisture that will soon turn into snow. This is the beginning of many eruptions to come as we proceed into Winter.

But wait, you say, isn’t a volcano just a rupture on the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as the Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface? Yes, yes, yes, it is but that’s a HOT volcano. We’re talking about COLD volcanoes. The ones you don’t know anything about, which is why we’re putting out this post. To inform you and bring you up to speed on the latest scientific stuff.

Here’s how it works. You all know about the freeze-thaw thing that happens, such as when you leave a bottle of beer out on the picnic table overnight when it’s really cold out and the next morning after you’re done heaving your lasagna into the porcelain cistern and you remember you left that beer outside and you rush out to drink it thinking it will make you feel better and you find that freeze-thaw thing has been at work. The frozen beer has been warmed by the sun and expanded, forcing its way out of the bottle, shattering it in the process, as the ice and cold try to escape from its confinement. Well that’s how a cold volcano works.

Underneath the mountain range is a pool of really cold material known as uhm, I’m not sure, but it’s cold, take my word for it. The caldera is bowl-shaped, just perfect for focusing the rays of the sun into its center where the super-energized sunshine, what is known in scientific circles as heat, makes it way down the chimney towards the pool of that super but unnamed cold stuff. As the summer progresses and it gets hotter, so does that concentrated heat that is racing down to meet the cold material. Nature, loving to blow crap up can hardly wait to see what happens as the pressure builds and builds until it is say, November 18th and then, back up, Loretta, it’s going to blow. The pent-up cold and snow seeing its opportunity to escape its confinement races up the chimney and sends a plume of snow and cold miles into the atmosphere. As it falls and lands on your house you are receiving the fulmination of the Snow Volcano. This continues until you are butt deep in fulminations.

That is the eruption, and it doesn’t just happen once. It happens over and over, all winter long until you just can’t… well you know, you’ve been through it before. This then is the beginning of winter and its cause isn’t Canada but Snow Volcanoes. Now you know why and how it happens and that makes dealing with it easier. If you have any questions or concerns about this process feel free to contact us using the concerned and confused email address provided on the site. Thanks and remember, Winter is just around the corner.

 

 

Life in A Cloud

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For those of you new to the blog you may not know that The Institute, the source of the many excellent but interesting posts you receive daily, sits high in the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado. Not Andes high or Himalayan high, but moderately high at just under 6500′.

So what, you might ask, if you were the rude type. Well, it means that at this altitude, 6500′, we get a lot more weather than folks living lower than us. What might be a rain cloud high in the sky to them may be a raging hail storm at this elevation. They’re looking at the bottom of a cloud and don’t see what’s going on inside it. Or a brisk wind down on the flats might be 70 mph up here and that will scatter your lawn chairs all over hell and back.

Lately we’ve been getting a lot of “fronts” moving in which brings clouds over and around us and often below us, usually all at the same time. I say fronts because we rarely get “backs” unless the clouds move backwards for some reason, which it does sometimes for reasons known only to itself. So I guess that could be considered a “back”.

The Institute buildings sit prominently on a point just below the summit of a world-famous mountain, it, the mountain not the Institute, being featured on many maps and even Google Earth, jutting out into space and consequently into the weather whenever it occurs. Visualize all the many imposing Schloss’s or castles you have seen in magazines, movies, and your imagination along with craggy rustic buildings set in high lonely places and mix them together and you have an idea of what The Institute aspires to look like and fails dismally at, and you have an idea of what we look like.

But getting back to the fronts we spoke of earlier. When they bring the clouds in to envelope us in misty darkness, they are loaded to the very gills with water in the form of suspended droplets completely filling the inside of that cloud. There is simply no room left for anything else. Not even lightning. It is packed tight. When the cloud moves back and forth due to some climatic reason it bangs into whatever happens to be there, like say, The Institute, and as it collides with our buildings the water inside the cloud just adheres to them. Sticks to the sides, saturating everything with impunity, and creates problems that are different than one gets in a rainstorm. The water doesn’t just fall downward and run down the sides like rain, it instantly saturates everything, walls, roof, under the eaves, into every single nook and cranny, sort of like running your house through a car wash. Think grabbing your house by its roof and plunging it into a vat of water until bubbles come out of its little chimney and you have some idea of what it’s like to live in a cloud.

Now before you think that that is a totally bad thing, it’s not. In fact it’s kind of cool. If you’ve done all your proper caulking and waterproofing that is. You can stay inside and light a fire in the fireplace without fear of accidentally burning down the forest from errant embers. You can read, pull your chair right up to the window and watch the cloud move back and forth. Drink hot tea. Think about stuff you don’t normally take time out to think about. Ponder, some. Call your neighbors and say “Hey, you got cloud?” They almost always do if you do. It’s a time to relax and say “Well I don’t have to mow the lawn today.” and just enjoy the weather.

There are other good parts too, like when the clouds move in and when they move out. If the movement happens at either end of the day, like sunrise in the shot above, you get a bonus of seeing morning in a different way. That alone makes up for some of the crap side of living in a cloud. Shortly after that image was taken the cloud moved backwards up the hill and we got wet. But for a brief moment you got to see paradise. Living in a cloud isn’t always a bad thing.

 

 

Springtime In Scott’s Bluff

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Some of you out there have written in to say that Spring is happening in other parts of the country besides the Rockies. While we don’t dispute that statement entirely we still stand by our position that Spring is really a Mountain event best seen by visiting any part of the high country now. We suggest that you hurry west until you run into the area where the ground is pointing sharply upwards then proceed with caution so you don’t smack into something beautiful.

Now having said that we understand that some of you may have strong regional feelings, and for that we’re truly sorry, and even think, misguided as it may be, that Spring is beautiful near where you live. We can’t help you much with that other than to sympathize and make the offer yet again for you to come visit out here, in the mountains, the home of Spring itself.

In order to placate some of you that have sent in rather heated letters stating that you’d appreciate a little acknowledgement of your local beauty we have decided to show you a view of somewhere different today. This would be Scott’s Bluff Nebraska, a place on the way to the Rockies. It’s famous for being a spot to reach early in your trip, if you were tripping in a wagon train full of covered wagons on your way to California in the 1800’s.

You definitely wanted to be here in very early Spring if you were going to make it over the mountains and into California before winter set in again. So, as many of you who got here and saw the daunting task of the journey yet before you said “screw it I’m staying here” this became a regular sight every Spring and we have to admit, it is pretty. Actually it’s very pretty and we’re almost convinced that there are very lovely places if one does venture away from the mountains occasionally. I realize that this might be construed as a heretical statement but we try to be fair and impartial here.

Here’s another view of  the same area.

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See it’s nice.

Alright then. That should satisfy those of you who are convinced that Spring exists other places than here in the Rocky Mountains.