What makes a firefly glow

  • There are over 2,000 individual firefly species, all within the taxonomic family of Lampyridae.
  • But the answer to the lightning bug’s light all happens in the same organ in its abdomen: the lantern.
  • While the firefly may have evolved its lantern as a form of protection, today the lightning bugs use their light as a species-specific mating ritual.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: There are over 2,000 individual firefly species, all within the taxonomic family of Lampyridae, which is pretty easy to remember. And these lightning bugs with their flickering light shows make summer nights feel all the more magical and romantic. But how did fireflies manage to catch lightning in a bottle? The answer is found in the bug’s butt, or more specifically in its abdomen, in an organ called the lantern. This organ is a set of specialized light cells, all encased in a translucent exoskeleton. And those light cells are where the magic happens: the phenomenon of bioluminescence, when a chemical reaction in a living thing emits light. Fireflies aren’t the only creatures that have this power. Glowworms and certain deep-sea fish species are some of the creatures capable of producing and emitting light. But the firefly is probably the Earth’s most famous bioluminescent species. So what’s happening inside the firefly’s light cells? What’s the secret to its glow?

In the 19th century, French pharmacologist Raphaël Dubois, working with bioluminescent clams, discovered that there are two essential components to these creatures’ light show. He named them luciferin and luciferase, based on the Latin term lucifer, for “light-bringer.” Luciferin is the compound that generates light, and luciferase is the enzyme that acts on it. Today, we know that the firefly’s bioluminescent reaction plays out like this. A firefly diverts oxygen to its light cells through its tracheoles. And those oxygen molecules react to luciferin, catalyzed with the help of luciferase and energy in the form of ATP. The luciferin then becomes agitated and excited, elevating its energy level. And when the excited luciferin drops back to its normal state, it releases that energy in the form of light, creating the “fire” in fireflies. It’s a remarkable phenomenon that’s also remarkably efficient. In a light bulb, 90% of the energy consumed is given off as heat, with only the remaining energy, a mere 10%, given off as visible light. In a firefly, on the other hand, nearly 100% of the energy is given off as light. That luminescence, or “cold light,” as it’s also called, is produced in the light cells and then focused by a layer of reflector cells, which direct that beam outward through that translucent exoskeleton.

But why do fireflies do what they do? As it turns out, bioluminescence has a number of evolutionary benefits, helping certain marine species lure prey to their mouths or serving as a defense against predators.

Sara Lewis: Fireflies are beetles, and so the juvenile fireflies live underground. So, we think that firefly light first evolved as a warning. It’s like a neon sign that shouts out, “Don’t eat me, I’m toxic.”

Narrator: But in adult fireflies, the purpose is a bit more romantic. Those yellow flashes lighting up our warm summer nights are actually part of the fireflies’ complex mating rituals, with male fireflies attracting female fireflies of the same species by flashing a distinctive, recognizable pattern. So those lights twinkling around you, switching on and off seemingly at random – they’re just the opposite: a highly intricate, specialized form of species-specific seduction.

Lewis: In North America, males might flash, like, just one flash. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, bleep, another flash, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, bleep, another flash. Some species, the males actually give paired flashes, so they’ll fly along and then go bleep, bleep, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Bleep, bleep, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. And so on. And so females who are kind of hanging around on grass down below can see these flashes, and they can recognize a male of their own species.

Narrator: But for all the romance and magic they add to our summer evenings, firefly populations around the globe are at serious risk. Those finely tuned mating rituals? Thanks to light pollution, those love letters get a little lost in translation.

Lewis: In areas where there’s a lot of bright lights, it’s been shown that it’s much, much more difficult for the male fireflies to find the females and for the females to see the flashes, the advertisement flashes of the male fireflies.

Narrator: And other threats like habitat loss and pesticide use have also put the population at risk.

Lewis: Sadly, in many parts of the world, there are other firefly species that aren’t doing so well. In fact, they are flickering out. And some of these fireflies are restricted to a very specific habitat. If that habitat goes away, the fireflies disappear. They can’t live anywhere else.

Narrator: It’s a story playing out all over the planet and across the animal kingdom. But as Lewis explains, education is absolutely key to conservation of fireflies and of all at-risk species.

Lewis: If fireflies disappeared, a lot of the world’s wonder would disappear with them. Would you wanna live in a world without fireflies? I would not.

Narrator: By increasing awareness of these risk factors, Lewis hopes to shine a little light on firefly conservation, ensuring that these little bugs will be able to dazzle us for years to come, giving future generations the chance to spend their summer nights trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What’s inside the ‘world’s ugliest animal,’ the blobfish

  • The blobfish was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013 – a title it still defends today.
  • But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome.
  • Between the skin and the muscles is a lot of fluid. And that’s the secret to the fish’s distinct appearance – and its survival.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This creature was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013, a title it still defends today. On land, he’s got a body like Jell-O and a big old frown. But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome. Same old fish, but with a little more support. So, what is all that water pressure holding together?

David Stein: Between the skin, that flabby skin, and the muscles is a lot of fluid.

Narrator: This is David Stein, a deep-sea-fish biologist who was lucky enough to dissect 19 blobfishes in the 1970s. Blobfish look blobby because they are full of water. Under their skin, blobfish have a thick layer of gelatinous flesh that floats outside their muscles.

Stein: If you pick up a blobfish by the tail, then it kind of flows to the head.

Narrator: This water-filled, Jell-O-like layer allows the blobfish to stay somewhat buoyant, which is important because blobfishes don’t have a swim bladder.

Stein: And fishes that have swim bladders are able to adjust their buoyancy. They can secrete gas into the swim bladder or remove it. A fish that lives on the bottom doesn’t need to be able to maintain its buoyancy.

Narrator: So, the Jell-O layer isn’t a perfect substitute, but the blobfish doesn’t need to be a strong swimmer. The predator has a highly specialized hunting strategy that’s perfect for the rocky barrens of the deep sea.

Stein: It just sits there and waits for dinner to come by.

Narrator: If all you do is sit, you don’t need much under your skin. Just watery tissue, some yellow pockets of fat, and a smidgen of muscle. In case you hadn’t guessed, blobfishes aren’t exactly yoked. They have very little red muscle, the kind that allows you, a human, to run a mile or a tuna fish to migrate across oceans. Instead, blobfish have a lot of white muscle, which allows them to swim in short bursts and lunge at prey that on occasion ramble by.

This is a baby blobfish. It’s a cleared and stained specimen, meaning all its tissue has been dissolved to show only the bones and cartilage. Those thin red lines you see, they’re the blobfish’s bones dyed red. If you’re having trouble seeing the bones, you’re not the only one. Blobfish have poorly ossified skeletons, meaning they’re thinner and more fragile than the bones of most shallow-water fish. This is another handy deep-sea adaptation, as it takes a lot of precious energy to build strong bones.

But the blobfish saves its energy to develop what might be the most important bone in its body: its jaws, which also happened to be the reason it looks so gloomy. The fish needs enormous jaws so it can snap up any prey that passes by and swallow it whole, maybe even smacking its blubbery lips as it eats. And that brings us to its stomach. If you’re the kind of creature that eats anything that swims by, some surprising things can wind up in your stomach. Stein found a wide range of foods and not-foods in the blobfish he dissected. Fish, sea pens, brittle stars, hermit crabs, an anemone, a plastic bag, and also lots of rocks.

Stein: Their stomach contents kind of bear out the fact that they’re probably not too bright.

Narrator: He also found octopus beaks, the cephalopods’ hard, indigestible jaws. This means that one of the world’s flabbiest fishes has been able to eat one of the sea’s most cunning predators. If you’re surprised, just think about the blobfish’s thick skin. What would it be harder to grab in a fight: a sack of bones or a sack of Jell-O? Stein suspects it might be the latter.

Stein: If the skin is loose, perhaps the suckers can’t really get a good grip on it.

Narrator: Stein found sucker marks across the blobfish’s body, a hint that the fish might’ve been in some deep-sea fights. So while all of this Jell-O might look a little unconventional, well, it seems to have served its purpose. The blobfish is perfectly suited to life in the deep sea, where beauty standards are probably quite different. After all…

Stein: Ugly is kind of in the eye of the beholder.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 best bird feeders in 2021

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • There are a variety of bird feeder designs for attracting different species of birds to your yard.
  • We consulted experts from the Audubon Society and Project FeederWatch for this guide.
  • These are the 10 best bird feeders, including hopper, tube, suet, and hummingbird feeders.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Ericka Wade, DVM, a veterinarian at Burke County Animal Hospital, Georgia.
bird feeding from blue tube feeder made by Perky Pet, one of the Best bird feeders in 2021

Setting out wild bird feeders is an easy way to attract a diversity of native and migrating species to your yard. It’s something both you and your feathered friends will benefit from: Studies have shown that providing food for wild birds can help them to maintain good health, live longer, and have more reproductive success.

To better understand the types of birds a feeder can attract, the feeder designs that work best, and the varieties of food they like best, we consulted with three avian experts from the Audubon Society and Cornell University’s Project FeederWatch. We combined their expertise with extensive research to come up with the best products in 10 categories of wild bird feeders.

Here are the best bird feeders in 2021

The best tube feeder

three birds eating from Droll Yankees Onyx 18-in Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder

The sturdy, easy-to-clean Droll Yankees Onyx 18-inch Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder comes backed by a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage.

Tube feeders are a great way to attract a variety of smaller birds, including finches, wrens, and chickadees. Plus, they are easy to fill and can typically be both hung and pole-mounted. “Tube feeders offer a lot of different ports for different individuals to sit on at the same time and they keep seed dry and clean,” said Emma Greig, project leader for Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

Droll Yankees’ Onyx 18-inch Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder has four powder-coated metal feeding ports with perches and a seed tray. Its transparent 18-inch-long tube is made from discoloration-resistant plastic and it has a metal twist-and-release base that is easily removed for cleaning. The Onyx holds up to 2 pounds of feed and, thanks to its spring-loaded flip-top metal cap, it can be filled one-handed. Suspend the feeder from its stainless steel wire or pole-mount it. If squirrels get too curious, the feeder is backed by a lifetime warranty against any damage they cause.

Onyx 18-in Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder (button)
The best budget tube feeder

perky pet wild blue bird tube feeder hanging from a tree

The affordable Perky Pet Tube Wild Bird Feeder is as weather-resistant and easy-to-clean as it is bright and cheerful.

All of the experts we consulted agree that a high-quality wild bird feeder should be made from easy-to-clean plastic, metal, or glass. It should also be easy to take apart for proper cleaning, according to John Rowden, senior director of bird-friendly communities at the National Audubon Society in New York, New York.

The affordable Perky Pet Tube Wild Bird Feeder‘s six plastic feeding ports, perches, and plastic base all come apart so you can remove old seed and scrub out the bacteria left behind. The bright blue 18-inch-long tube is made from durable rust-resistant powder-coated metal and holds up to a pound of bird feed. It hangs from a sturdy, built-in metal hanger.

Tube Wild Bird Feeder (button)
The best nectar feeder

four hummingbirds eating from aspects 367 hummzinger hummingbird feeder

The Aspects Hummzinger Ultra Feeder has a wraparound perch and deters insects with raised feeding ports and an ant moat.

Nectar feeders attract long-beaked, jewel-toned hummingbirds and the occasional woodpecker, warbler, or oriole. “These feeders are great because you can make the sugar-water solution at home by simply combining one part sugar with four parts water,” said Katie Percy, avian biologist with Audubon Louisiana. Although some store-bought nectars are dyed red artificially, adding red dye to your mix may actually be harmful for birds, she told Insider Reviews.

Aspects Hummzinger Ultra Feeder is simply designed in two parts that are exceptionally easy to fill and clean. The red plastic cover, which has a wraparound perch and four rain-diverting, bee-deterring feeding ports, screws into a clear plastic base so you to see when nectar levels are getting low. A built-in moat in the middle of the cover prevents ants from getting into the nectar. The 8.25-inch-diameter, 2-inch-tall Hummzinger is drip- and leak-proof, holds up to 12 ounces of nectar, and hangs from a brass hook. Aspects’ feeder also comes backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Ultra Hummingbird Feeder (button)
The best hopper feeder

cardinal perched on woodlink squirrel resistant bird feeder hanging from a tree

The Woodlink Squirrel Resistant Hopper Feeder has an adjustable perch and a metal shield that drops when heavier critters attempt to feed.

Hopper feeders attract a wide variety of small, medium, and large birds, including jays, sparrows, and finches. “They do a good job of keeping seed dry and [provide] easy access to the birds,” said Greig. As the birds eat, the hopper’s food continuously drops into the feeding ports, keeping them full until the food runs out.

The extra-large capacity Woodlink Squirrel Resistant Hopper Feeder has a three-position perch that can be adjusted to maximize visits by small, medium, or large birds. When the wrong bird or a squirrel lands on the feeder, a shield drops over the seed tray to prevent them from getting a taste. Woodlink’s Hopper is made from durable powder-coated steel and its locking, squirrel-resistant lid lifts off for easy cleaning. It holds up to 15 pounds of seed and a seed-level indicator window lets you see when it’s running low. This feeder comes with both a steel hanging rod and a 5-foot pole and mounting kit.

Squirrel Resistant Hopper Feeder (button)
The best mesh finch feeder

bird perched on More Birds Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder

With a mesh tube, four perches, and a seed tray, the More Birds Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder offers finches a variety of ways to feed.

Finch feeders are similar to tube feeders but have a mesh seed well instead of a plastic or glass one. This mesh design is perfect for attracting finches, which unlike larger birds, are agile enough to cling to the small openings in the metal screen. Because the finches can feed from any position, it also allows more birds to eat at the same time.

The More Birds Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder is a versatile option that allows birds to choose between landing on its screen, at one of four feeding ports with perches, or on the seed tray. Even if larger birds visit the feeder, smaller finches can still find a place to chow down. The Sedona has a twist-off metal cover and base for easy cleaning and drainage holes at the bottom. The screen is made from steel mesh and the ports and seed tray are weather-resistant. This sunny yellow feeder holds up to 2.8 pounds of seed.

Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder (button)
The best suet feeder

one bird feeding at More Birds Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder

The More Birds Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder protects two suet cakes within a durable steel cage frame.

Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and starlings, among others, enjoy eating calorie- and fat-dense suet, a feed made from animal fat and ingredients such as corn meal, nuts, and dried insects. Suet is commonly sold in solid cakes that are then suspended in a cage for easy access. Suet is a good feeding option in cold weather, but it is best avoided in warmer months since the fat in the feed can quickly turn rancid in the heat, Percy said.

The cylindrical More Birds Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder has an interior cage for holding two cakes of suet and an exterior cage to keep squirrels out. Both are made from weather-resistant powder-coated steel. The steel lid lifts off for easy cleaning and filling. Squirrel-X’s Suet Feeder is 10 inches in diameter, 9.4-inches tall and is fitted with an aluminum hanger.

Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder (button)
The best squirrel-resistant feeder

Stokes_Double_Suet_Feeder

Droll Yankees’ Sunflower Domed Cage Feeder has a cage to keep squirrels out and a lifetime warranty against their damage, just in case.

In many areas, squirrels are an ever-present problem when feeding wild birds. “Those things are really clever,” said Greig. “They can jump really far and they’re really acrobatic.” While various measures can be taken to deter squirrels, some feeders are designed with squirrel-resistance in mind. Some seal their feeding ports when a squirrel lands on them and others are suspended within a cage that is too small for a squirrel to squeeze into, according to Rowden. If a feeder doesn’t have built-in squirrel protection, Percy recommends hanging it from a pole that is at least 10 feet away from vegetation or other structures that squirrels can climb and outfitting it with a baffle, a plastic cone that blocks a squirrel’s route.

Droll Yankees’ Sunflower Domed Cage Feeder encloses a clear 15-inch-long plastic tube feeder inside a coated metal cage 10.5 inches in diameter. A plastic roof covers the entire thing to keep the seed inside dry. The interior tube feeder holds up to 1 pound of seed, has four feeding ports, and attaches to the cage with a spring clamp. When it’s time for cleaning, the tube can be easily removed and disassembled. Droll Yankees’ Sunflower Feeder is backed by a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage.

Sunflower Domed Cage Feeder (button)
The best window feeder

three birds perched on the Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder

The Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder gets you up close to wild birds without ever leaving home.

A window feeder gives even those without outdoor space the opportunity to feed winged visitors like finches, jays, and cardinals. It may seem like a bad idea to place a feeder against a window, but both Greig and Percy told Insider Reviews that it’s actually helpful. Placing a feeder within 3 feet of a window reduces the chances that a bird will become confused and fly into it, causing self-injury or even death.

The Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder attaches to any window with four heavy-duty suction cups. The 8-inch-by-8-inch house is made of transparent acrylic and has a large circular window at its center for better viewing. A sliding seed tray holds up to 2 cups of feed and can be removed for cleaning and refilling. Because squirrels can’t climb the sides of buildings, the Window Bird House may be less likely to suffer critter damage than hanging varieties. Nature Anywhere’s feeder comes with a lifetime guarantee just in case.

Window Bird House Feeder (button)
The best domed feeder

two birds eating from Heath Observatory Dome Bird Feeder

The affordable Heath Observatory Dome Bird Feeder can be baited with different foods to attract a variety of birds, including bluebirds.

Like platform feeders, dome feeders have a flat tray that can be filled with almost anything birds will eat, including seed, insects, and fruit. Bluebirds are particularly attracted to this type of feeder when it’s filled with mealworms because the raised dome helps them feel protected from predators. In general, the more variety you add to your feeder, the greater number of species you’ll attract, Percy said. Nutritious options include black-oil sunflower seed, white millet, nyjer seed, orange halves, and suet.

The Heath Observatory Dome Bird Feeder can hold up to a pound of food. It has two separate clear plastic pieces — a flat tray with sides and a dome-shaped cover — that are connected with a steel rod hanger. The distance between tray and cover is adjustable and drainage holes in the bottom of the tray help keep feed clean and dry. The Observatory Dome Feeder is 11.75 inches in diameter and can be hung from its steel hook or mounted on a pole.

Dome Bird Feeder (button)
The best platform feeder

three birds perched on the uncraft Eco-Strong Platform Feeder

The Duncraft Eco-Strong Platform Feeder is made from durable recycled plastic and metal mesh that is easy to fill and clean.

Platform feeders are arguably the simplest, most versatile feeders available. They can be filled with any bird-friendly food and it is easy for most feathered friends to comfortably sit on the tray and eat. Like other feeders, platforms should be made from easy-to-clean materials like plastic or metal. “Although [wooden feeders] can look quite nice, they tend to be porous and harbor additional bacteria,” said Percy.

Duncraft’s Eco-Strong Platform Feeder has a sturdy tray made from recycled plastic and a mesh metal bottom that helps keep feed dry. The 12-inch-by-2-inch feeder is approximately an inch deep and has a hanging chain that clips to rings embedded at each corner to keep it balanced. The whole thing hangs from an S-hook at the top of the chain. The Eco-Strong Platform Feeder holds up to 2 pounds of seed, insects, fruit, nuts, or suet and is easy to detach from the chain for cleaning or filling.

Eco-Strong Platform Feeder (button)
How we selected products

We consulted three avian experts and conducted extensive research to come up with the selection criteria for this guide to the best bird feeders. We then applied that criteria to the bird feeders available at major online retailers, selecting our top choices in 10 different categories of feeders. The essential features we looked for included:

Feeder material: Our experts recommend sticking to feeders made from nonporous, easy-to-clean materials such as plastic, metal, and glass. Percy advised us to stay away from wood feeders in which harmful bacteria is more likely to grow.

Ease of disassembly: Because bird feeders should be frequently emptied, cleaned, and refilled, the easier they are to disassemble, the better. We favored feeders that have a fully removable cover and/or base and removable feeding ports and perches.

Ease of cleaning: Percy recommends cleaning bird feeders at least every two weeks and more often during times of heavy use or wet weather. We looked for feeders that could be easily soaked and scrubbed both inside and out, including in hard-to-reach crevices.

Bird-safe design: Greig recommends avoiding feeders that have tight, narrow corners or additional pieces that could cause a bird to become stuck inside. With that in mind, we looked for feeders with simple, functional designs.

Drainage: When water gets into a bird feeder, it can cause seed and other foods to rot or develop bacteria that may sicken or even kill a bird. In addition to a feeder that’s easy to clean, we looked for designs with built-in drainage when possible.

Price: We compared the cost of the feeders that met our other selection criteria, favoring those that were most affordable.

FAQs

Are feeders good for wild birds?

Feeding wild birds, when done correctly, is appropriate and may even help them when resources are limited,” said Rowden. According to Percy, studies have shown that birds with access to supplemental feeding may have better chances of survival and reproductive success than those that don’t.


What shouldn’t I feed wild birds?

Birds should never be offered processed human foods, including bread. “Bread, fresh or stale, does not provide nutritional value for wild birds and moldy bread can even be harmful,” explained Percy. She also recommends avoiding low-cost commercial bird seed mixes. “Unfortunately, many less expensive bags of mixed seed contain a lot of ‘filler’ seeds that most birds do not prefer and that contain no real nutritional value for them,” she said.


 Where should I hang my bird feeder?

Squirrels and window strikes are two of the most problematic issues when it comes to hanging a bird feeder. To avoid the latter, Greig recommends placing feeders within 3 feet of windows. “If they’re on the bird feeder and they get spooked and fly into a window, they don’t have enough speed built up to really harm themselves,” she said. Hanging a feeder more than 10 feet away from your home can also help keep birds safe. To deter squirrels, try hanging or pole mounting a feeder at least 10 feet from trees and other objects they can climb. Using a squirrel-resistant feeder or baffle, a plastic cone hung beneath the feeder to block a squirrel’s access, can also help to keep them at bay.


When shouldn’t I use wild bird feeders?

Bird feeders are best used in clean, safe, healthy environments, Greig told Insider Reviews. If you use pesticides on your lawn or garden or have outdoor cats, you should not use feeders to attract birds to your yard.


Are there other ways to attract wild birds to my yard?

“You can still create a beautiful space and attract birds to your yard just by creating a bird friendly habitat — letting a patch of your lawn go to seed or leaving a brush pile, for example” said Greig. Rowden agreed. “We encourage people to think about providing food naturally by planting native species that can provide food and shelter and places to nest in, and can potentially provide food throughout the year depending on where people live,” he said. The Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database can help you figure out what to plant around your home to attract birds.

How to maintain a bird feeder

Wild bird feeders must be emptied and cleaned frequently to prevent the feed from becoming contaminated by moisture and bacteria. Percy recommends taking them apart and scrubbing them down at least every two weeks. They should be cleaned more often in wet weather and at times of year that lots of birds are visiting.

To clean a feeder, begin by completely emptying and disassembling it. Check the care instructions to determine whether your feeder is dishwasher friendly or if it must be hand-washed. If it’s the latter, soaking the feeder’s parts in warm water first can dislodge stuck-on debris.

When hand-washing, use a bottle brush and dish soap to thoroughly scrub the feeder’s interior. If it needs disinfecting due to the potential buildup of bacteria, Percy recommends washing it in a solution made from one part bleach and nine parts water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the feeder after washing.

Before reassembling and filling your feeder, make sure it is completely dry. Moisture that sticks around will contaminate feed more quickly.

Our sources

For this guide to the best bird feeders, we consulted the following experts in the field of avian biology, behavioral ecology, and conservation:

We also consulted the following online sources:

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to find water when you’re stuck in the desert

  • The human body can survive for about three days without water, which can be extremely hard to find in hot desert climates.
  • If you’re ever lost in a desert, knowing how to quickly find water is key to your survival. 
  • Water flows down, so check low terrain. Canyons and mountain bases could be home to a water source.
  • Fruits, vegetables, cacti, and roots all contain water and mashing them with a rock will release some liquid.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. 

Following is a transcript of the video.

The human body can survive for about three days without water, which can be extremely hard to find in hot desert climates.

Look for signs of life if you can’t find a water source. Vegetation, birds, and insects can all mean a nearby water source. Fruits, vegetables, cacti, and roots all contain water and mashing them with a rock will release some liquid.

Water flows down, so check low terrain. Canyons and mountain bases could be home to a water source.

Morning dew can be collected with a cloth and then wrung out into your mouth.Just make sure you collect it before sunrise or it will evaporate before you can get it. Use cups or any other container to catch rainfall. If possible, build a water-catching tarp. This will allow even more water to be collected.

Look for damp ground, vegetation, and dry river beds. These things can all indicate underground water. If you dig a hole a few feet deep nearby, it’s likely water will seep in. If possible, always filter the water. But if you have to choose between dehydration and unfiltered water – take your chances with the water.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on May 12, 2017.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What’s inside a blobfish, the ‘world’s ugliest animal’

  • The blobfish was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013 — a title it still defends today.
  • But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome.
  • Between the skin and the muscles is a lot of fluid. And that’s the secret to the fish’s distinct appearance — and its survival.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This creature was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013, a title it still defends today. On land, he’s got a body like Jell-O and a big old frown. But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome. Same old fish, but with a little more support. So, what is all that water pressure holding together?

David Stein: Between the skin, that flabby skin, and the muscles is a lot of fluid.

Narrator: This is David Stein, a deep-sea-fish biologist who was lucky enough to dissect 19 blobfishes in the 1970s. Blobfish look blobby because they are full of water. Under their skin, blobfish have a thick layer of gelatinous flesh that floats outside their muscles.

Stein: If you pick up a blobfish by the tail, then it kind of flows to the head.

Narrator: This water-filled, Jell-O-like layer allows the blobfish to stay somewhat buoyant, which is important because blobfishes don’t have a swim bladder.

Stein: And fishes that have swim bladders are able to adjust their buoyancy. They can secrete gas into the swim bladder or remove it. A fish that lives on the bottom doesn’t need to be able to maintain its buoyancy.

Narrator: So, the Jell-O layer isn’t a perfect substitute, but the blobfish doesn’t need to be a strong swimmer. The predator has a highly specialized hunting strategy that’s perfect for the rocky barrens of the deep sea.

Stein: It just sits there and waits for dinner to come by.

Narrator: If all you do is sit, you don’t need much under your skin. Just watery tissue, some yellow pockets of fat, and a smidgen of muscle. In case you hadn’t guessed, blobfishes aren’t exactly yoked. They have very little red muscle, the kind that allows you, a human, to run a mile or a tuna fish to migrate across oceans. Instead, blobfish have a lot of white muscle, which allows them to swim in short bursts and lunge at prey that on occasion ramble by.

This is a baby blobfish. It’s a cleared and stained specimen, meaning all its tissue has been dissolved to show only the bones and cartilage. Those thin red lines you see, they’re the blobfish’s bones dyed red. If you’re having trouble seeing the bones, you’re not the only one. Blobfish have poorly ossified skeletons, meaning they’re thinner and more fragile than the bones of most shallow-water fish. This is another handy deep-sea adaptation, as it takes a lot of precious energy to build strong bones.

But the blobfish saves its energy to develop what might be the most important bone in its body: its jaws, which also happened to be the reason it looks so gloomy. The fish needs enormous jaws so it can snap up any prey that passes by and swallow it whole, maybe even smacking its blubbery lips as it eats. And that brings us to its stomach. If you’re the kind of creature that eats anything that swims by, some surprising things can wind up in your stomach. Stein found a wide range of foods and not-foods in the blobfish he dissected. Fish, sea pens, brittle stars, hermit crabs, an anemone, a plastic bag, and also lots of rocks.

Stein: Their stomach contents kind of bear out the fact that they’re probably not too bright.

Narrator: He also found octopus beaks, the cephalopods’ hard, indigestible jaws. This means that one of the world’s flabbiest fishes has been able to eat one of the sea’s most cunning predators. If you’re surprised, just think about the blobfish’s thick skin. What would it be harder to grab in a fight: a sack of bones or a sack of Jell-O? Stein suspects it might be the latter.

Stein: If the skin is loose, perhaps the suckers can’t really get a good grip on it.

Narrator: Stein found sucker marks across the blobfish’s body, a hint that the fish might’ve been in some deep-sea fights. So while all of this Jell-O might look a little unconventional, well, it seems to have served its purpose. The blobfish is perfectly suited to life in the deep sea, where beauty standards are probably quite different. After all…

Stein: Ugly is kind of in the eye of the beholder.

Read the original article on Business Insider