Today is the new Academy’s fourth birthday.
Four years ago today, on a brilliantly sunny day, the new Academy opened. After the speeches, the doors swung open and we were in business. It was an amazing feeling.
Thank you to all who have visited us over the past four years. The new building inspires us to make what goes on in the building the very best.
Now…on to a great fifth birthday…
What do Jill Tarter, Bruce Conklin, John Hafernik, and Shannon Bennett have in common? They all do world-class research, and they’ve all shared their work with visitors at the Academy this past summer. The “Chat with an Academy Scientist” program is a live, daytime program at the Science in Action exhibit, available for all Academy visitors.
The program features casual conversations between a Public Programs presenter and a guest researcher in an intimate, un-intimidating space. This model offers a personal and accessible way for our curious visitors to meet the people who drive scientific research. We talk to a different researcher each week, and the ever-fresh subject matter has encouraged the growth of a member fan base, with some members returning for every program. The scientists share their stories of exploration or innovation and the excitement of discovery, and their curiosity and love of engagement with the natural world become contagious.
This fall will feature more researchers including Farallones explorer Rebecca Johnson (Oct. 6), shark scientist Dave Ebert (Oct. 13), ornithologist Jack Dumbacher (Oct. 20), and ocean filmmaker David McGuire (Oct. 27). The program takes place every Saturday at 12:30 pm.
The programs are filmed and streamed live online. You can view archived videos here:
Apparently, they led the way and not just at UC Santa Cruz.
Zeray Alemseged, our anthropology curator, sent me the following piece from the Calgary Herald earlier this summer. Walking upright is a key feature in the history of humans, but moving around—which we all take for granted—had to evolve among animals in the first place. Here is some fresh evidence, published in the journal Science, dating back to 585 million years ago. The new evidence is tantalizing and is a very good example of how fragmentary data can tell us a lot about how we became who we are: “Alberta researchers help find earliest evidence of mobile multi-cellular organisms”.
Read on for the story of the Academy’s thriving colony of violaceous euphonias, courtesy of our Rainforest biologists. The fledglings are really cute, as fledglings often are. And you thought we were just a bunch of penguins! Not so.
Violaceous euphonias (Euphonia violacea) have been a part of the Rainforest exhibit since opening. Breeding this species has been a goal for the Rainforest biologists, and we were able to confirm fertile eggs in our collection a few months ago. Just like the rest of the finches and tanagers in our exhibit, they feed on nectar, insects, and fruit. Only eight other institutions in the U.S. display this species. Among these eight institutions, only one chick has been hatched in the past 12 months.
In March, we acquired new male and female euphonias. After clearing quarantine and being released into the Rainforest exhibit, the pair began building a nest in a planted wall on the Costa Rica (top) level.
The female laid three eggs, and she incubated them for 15 days. During incubation the biologists candled the eggs, revealing that two of the three eggs were fertile. After the eggs hatched, the female juggled incubating the chicks, foraging for food, and feeding them.
A mere 18 days after hatching, the chicks were fully feathered and ready to leave the nest! At this time the male began encouraging them to leave the nest and also began feeding them.
Just a few days ago, the fledglings began attempting to eat solid food on their own. In about one week we expect the fledglings to be self-sufficient. The fledglings will be moved behind the scenes, then transferred to partner zoos/aquariums this fall, where they will eventually breed and start the circle of life over again.