The weather stations on the Academy’s living roof are an integral part of our building’s natural ventilation system. The stations gather data all day long, and feed it into a computer which controls when the various windows and skylights open and close, among other functions. The entire system is automated, and allows the building to work in harmony with the surrounding environment to cool all of the public spaces without air conditioning.
Each station packs five different instruments into one unit, and can measure solar radiation, rainfall, wind speed and direction, temperature, and humidity. As for which instrument is which, see the caption below this photo to find out.
1. Rain gauge
2. Solar radiation sensor
3. Wind direction
4. Anemometer (wind speed)
5. Temperature and humidity gauge
Like all of the animals at the Academy, Claude, our albino alligator, receives regular check-ups from our animal health staff. Last week, during one of those exams, staff noticed that Claude had some swelling in one foot, and suspected it was due to an infection. This week, he was taken out of his regular Swamp exhibit to spend some time behind-the-scenes, where our animal health staff can treat him more effectively. His transfer to the holding tank was uneventful (always a good thing when you’re moving an alligator!), and his medical treatment has started. We all wish him a speedy recovery.
In the past two months, two Silver-beaked Tanager chicks have hatched out in the Academy’s rainforest exhibit. Right now, they are honing their flying skills in the exhibit, and Academy biologists are monitoring their progress daily. For this species, it takes just four weeks from the time the egg is laid to when the bird is self-sufficient. The timeline goes something like this:
1. The parents select a nesting site, build a nest, and lay 2-3 eggs. Our biologists have been collecting valuable information about successful nesting/fledging sites in the exhibit, which they hope can be applied to other species.
2. Incubation of the eggs lasts about 12 days.
3. After hatching, the chicks stay in the nest for about 10 days.
4. After the chicks are able to leave the nest, the parents continue to feed them for another 5-7 days, while their tail feathers grow. This is the fledgling stage. At this point, they’re not strong fliers yet. They have short stumpy tails, but are still quite mobile.
5. Once they have the feathers and wing muscles needed for flight, the chicks are basically on their own and considered juveniles. This is the stage these two chicks are in now – they are fully-flighted and self-sufficient, but not sexually mature.
In the left-hand photo, the fledgling is on the left, next to an adult female Silver-beaked Tanager. In the photo on the right, a closer view of one of the fledglings.
Make a New Year’s resolution for the planet this year – you can pick up ideas from the Academy’s new sustainability card, and tell us what your top green resolution is for 2009.