Wednesday, August 31, 2011

G for Giraffe (ABC Wednesday)

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The Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the tallest of all our land-living animals.

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It is approximately 4.3 metres (14 ft) to 5.2 metres (17 ft) tall, but the tallest male recorded stood almost 6 metres (20 ft).

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The species name camelopardalis (camelopard) is derived from its early Roman name, where it was described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard.

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Each giraffe has a unique coat pattern.

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Giraffes can reach a sprint speed of up to 60 km/h (37 mph).

A single well-placed kick from an adult giraffe can kill a predator. Lions are the only predators which pose a serious threat to an adult giraffe. When hunting an adult giraffe, lions try to knock it off its feet and pull it down.

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The giraffe has one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal - 4.5 or 4.6 hours per 24 hours.

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Its tongue, lips and palate are tough enough to deal with sharp thorns in trees. With the long tongue (about 45 centimetres /18 in), the giraffe can also clean off bugs from its face.

Facts picked from the Wikipedia article.
The photographs are my own, from our zoo.

For ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gifted

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Thank you all who commented on my Sunday post by sending me good wishes for my birthday. Sandra wanted to know what was in the parcel I mentioned in the Sunday post. It was from from my friend Gunilla, and it turned out to contain a collection of postcards of water colours painted by a gifted artist friend of ours, Lena. Lena gets most of her inspiration from the province of Bohuslän on the Swedish west coast, which is also where she usually exhibits her art in the summer. Below are three of the pictures included in the card collection I got. (The card in the photo above, with the parcel, is not hers though.) You can also see these and more of Lena’s work at her own website and the Swedish Artists website:

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I received more birthday greetings in the post yesterday; among them a gift certificate from my brother, allowing me to choose a number of albums from the website www.legalsounds.com, and he’ll download them onto discs for me. So I’ll take the opportunity to renew a few old favourites I used to have on LPs and cassette tapes. I also got a copy of my brother’s own album Trek.

Otherwise my celebrations yesterday were mostly “on line” by email, Facebook and telephone! Outside, it kept on raining…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Macro Monday: Another Butterfly

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For Macro Monday at Lisa’s Chaos

A Cabbage Butterfly (Large White), I think.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Raindrops Keep Falling

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For Straight Out Of the Camera Sunday

and Weekend Reflections

(… and somewhat inspired by Scriptor Senex’s Abstracts …)

This weekend it’s been raining so much that all the previous summer seems almost dry in comparison! (Although it wasn’t.)

Yesterday I had half intended to go out in the morning, but luckily made the decision to start the day by baking a cake instead. Shortly after I had got the cake out of the oven and had just turned on the computer to see how the Blog World was getting on… The sky grew pitch dark, grumbling noises started, and soon the skies opened as if to remind us of the days of Noah. So I turned off the computer again. The thunderstorm lasted for hours. Fortunately though it had passed on and the rain lighted for while in the afternoon, when two friends of mine were coming over for a bit of an early birthday celebration. So they were able to get here without getting soaked on the way.

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Sometimes it’s very good to have friends who invite themselves rather to wait to be invited! I’ve had so many other things buzzing in my head lately that I just kept putting off the decision what to “do” (if anything) with my birthday; which is really on Monday, and a rather insignificant one (56); and a little weird, because if my dad had lived, it would have been his 80th… (Back in June, before he died, I had just started wondering how to deal with that upcoming celebration.)

Now some of you might be feeling a little confused; while others may already have drawn the correct conclusion, namely that I was born on my father’s 24th birthday.

So for the first time in my life I now have my birthday “all to myself”; but still not quite in celebration mood.

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Therefore: Thankful for the two close friends who invited themselves, with a day’s notice. On my breakfast table tomorrow I’ll have their flowers to look at - and also a parcel to open, thanks to another friend who sent it in the post. After that I’ll most likely be off to the rehab pool as usual on a Monday morning. And that’s not a bad start at all to a New Year!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: History





When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography?
You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.


Back in May I read a book that I think is categorized as a novel but it is at the same time a biography. It's a novel by Swedish author P O Enquist, English title Lewi's Journey (but I read it in Swedish), about the life of Lewi Pethrus: founder of, or at least very influential in, the Swedish Pentecostal movement back in the early 20th century. I guess there is a bit too much speculation and interpretation involved (about people's feelings etc) to make it a proper biography; but it is about real people, and contains a lot of interesting facts. I liked it. The author shows respect for the people he writes about (great religious leaders of their time) and at the same time he tries to get to the bottom of what may have been behind conflicts within the movement etc.

I've also this year been rereading two other Swedish series of novels, in which the main characters are fictional, but the background based a lot on historical facts and events. 

Jerusalem (1901-1902) by Selma Lagerlöf  (the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature). Two novels about a group of people from the Swedish province of Dalarna (Dalecarlia) who emigrated to the Holy City in the 19th century, and there joined an American colony with similar religious views as themselves. 

A set of five novels written in the 1960s by Swedish author Per Anders Fogelström about the city of Stockholm (our capital) - describing the lives of successive generations of Stockholmers between 1860 and 1968. According to Wikipedia only the first two have been translated into English: City of my Dreams covering the period from 1860-1880, and Children of their City covering 1880-1900.


I think I've learned a lot about the life of previous generations (especially from the 19th century and through World War II) through historical novels like that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

F for Fly Agaric (ABC Wednesday)

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August has been wet and rather warm – perfect for fungi. I found this fine specimen of fly agaric in the woods near the lake outside town a couple of weeks ago. The fly agaric or Amanita muscaria is known as poisonous and having hallucinogenic properties.

For ABC Wednesday

Monday, August 22, 2011

Little Me, Little You

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Finding some old framed photos lying around ‘out of context’ in the house, one of them (above) made me ask my brother: “Is this Little Me or Little You?” Below is the reason why I was not sure at first glance:

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The first photo is Little Me; the second is my Little Brother, born 6 years later. (6 years, 4 months and a couple of weeks…).

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Going through old family things and photos stirs up memories, and it strikes me that when we were born does make quite a difference as to what we remember from our respective childhood, even though we grew up in the same family.

First of all, I was an only child (and the only grandchild for both sets of grandparents) for six years before Little Brother came into the picture. This also means I have personal memories of more people from our grandparents’ generation than he does.

For example: My brother never met our maternal grandmother, because she died a few months before he was born. I was six at the time, and I do have my own memories of her.

Our maternal grandfather got married again only a couple of years later. For me, his new wife was a “stranger” coming into the family; while my brother cannot remember a time when she was not in the picture.

I also have memories of my paternal grandfather from when he was still an active and healthy journalist with special interest in local history. He died of Parkinson’s disease when my brother was about 7, and I 13. My brother only remembers him from the years when he was ill. 

One of my maternal grandmother’s half-sisters and her husband lived a couple of houses down the road from my grandparents. Our great-aunt (who was quite a character) died when I was 9, my brother 2½. So he has only heard stories, but has no personal memories of her; only of her husband. I suspect it’s the same thing with more people of that generation.

My brother also only remembers the house we moved into when he was three years old. He says his very first memories are from a visit to that house while it was being built. For me, that was my third home, I was ten when we moved in there. I also have clear memories not only of the house we lived in before that (for five years) but also my first home, which was a town flat.

The same year that my brother was born (in January), I started school (in August). When it was time for him to start school, I was entering my Teens – the time when Friends are suddenly getting a lot more interesting than Family – and taking the bus into town to school. And when my brother was entering his teens, I moved out, and went off to live in another town 200 km away.

In the early 1980’s for a few years we both lived in the same town, both in our ‘twenties’, and both studying at university (I was in my second round of studies then after a few years of work). But then I moved again – and as it happened, to the town and area where our parents grew up, and where our grandparents used to live (and where I’m still living now).

I suppose one reason why it’s I who am collecting the family documents now, might be that I’m the one with more “living” memories of their generation.    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Go With the Flow

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For Straight Out of the Camera Sunday:
One can tell from the flow of water in the river at the old mill that it’s been raining a lot lately. Saturday the sun came out so we could go for a nice walk (brother, dog and I); but all Friday the rain was just “streaming down”…

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I can’t believe it’s been five days since I posted on this blog! Or actually – I can believe it, because I’ve been very busy with “off line” things this week; and rather tired when not busy.

On Friday my brother came down for a meeting regarding the inventory of the estate after my father. We had help by a solicitor to draw up the proper documents. Now will have to wait for those to be registered with the authorities, which might take a while. Since there’s only the two of us and we’re not in disagreement about things, it should hopefully not be too complicated though.

I also spent most of Saturday with my brother out at the House, continuing to (more literally) sort through things there. While Per did certain things he had to do, I this time concentrated on gathering some of the files and photo albums to do with our own family history; which I have now taken back home with me. The problem is all my bookshelves and cupboards are full of ‘my own stuff’ already…! And I really don’t want my own study to end up looking like my dad’s… So the sorting has to continue…

It tickled my curiosity when I found it seems both dad and his dad before him did more genealogy research than I was aware of. Most of it comes in bits and pieces though and it’s quite a puzzle to fit things together. Since before I’ve added what I knew to a genealogy site on the internet; but with the notes that I’ve now found, I should be able to make some revisions there.

I doubt I’ll be digging much further than trying to put together the facts that my dad and granddad already gathered, but I guess that remains to be seen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

E for Elephants, Entertainment and Education

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Hey, you… down there… Behave yourself!

http://youtu.be/q2vGdBFmpnk

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For ABC Wednesday - E

On my visit to the zoo it was undoubtedly the elephants and the giraffes who put up the best “show” to entertain the spectators. A whole group of us stood for a long time watching the majestic giraffe following the two young elephants around… Not easy to tell exactly what was going on! The most popular theory was that the elephants were up to mischief and the giraffe got annoyed and wanted to educate them in proper behaviour and make it absolutely clear who is King of the Savannah! As someone in the human crowd pointed out, even the big elephants seemed kind of intimidated by the giraffe; they did not interfere.

Watch the videos and tell me what you think. Who is teasing whom here? Is the giraffe acting bully or baby sitter? Or just wanting to play?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Macro Monday: Reaching Out

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I’VE HEARD THAT…

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… THE GRASS …

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… IS …

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… ALWAYS …

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GREENER …

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… ON THE OTHER …

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… SIDE OF THE …

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… FENCE…

Sometimes you have to settle for “as close as you can get”… ;)

Visit Lisa’s Macro Monday to see what other bloggers have been getting up close to this week.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It All Started With One Lion

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The photo above is for Straight-Out-Of-the-Camera Sunday
(Ha! What did I find when I went to get the SOOC link at Jan’s blog… She had been to the zoo as well!)

This weekend on Saturday I spent the day (or half the day) at our zoo. I've been meaning to go ever since I got the new camera back in May; knowing they also made some changes last year that I wanted to see. (Last time I was there was in 2009.) This weekend we had a return of sunny weather for a couple of days – summery, but not too hot... So on Saturday I decided it was Zoo Time.

I took 350 photos or so on my round; so you can expect exotic animals to be popping up under all kinds of themes on both my blogs over the weeks to come…

Actually I already started with some Savannah shadows for Shadow Shot Sunday in my Picture Book blog. (See link)

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Before I go on to show more zoo photos, I think it may be a good idea to introduce you to

The history of our zoo

The zoo here in Borås was founded in 1962 by a man named Sigvard Berggren (1923-2011). He grew up in Stockholm and became an engineer, but was also always interested in wild animals and nature. He came to live in/near Borås in 1950. (Among other things he started a fruit juice company here.)

On a trip to Sudan in Africa in the mid 1950's, he happened to come across a three months old lion cub whose mother had been shot. He took it back to Sweden with him (in his own car). He called it Simba. When they got back to Sweden, he got a big dog, a collie, as playmate for the lion. The lion was allowed pretty much the same freedom as the dog until it was about 1½ years old. It was never chained or tied with a rope. As it got older it was given an enclosed exercise yard of about 3000 m²; and a female lion was also acquired as companion for it.

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Simba became quite famous in the late 1950s by appearing in a Swedish film (Lejon på stan – Lion in town – 1959).

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From my early childhood I have a fragment of a memory of going to see Simba (and possibly also the other lion) at Berggren's private property outside Borås. I can recall looking at it through a fence. There is no photo in my photo albums from the occasion. But I had both sets of grandparents in this area and it is very likely that we did go to Berggren's place on some occasion to have a look. (Probably after it got famous from the film, around 1960.)

Berggren and his wife made more trips to Africa, being involved in various environmental projects there. He also continued to import more African animals to Sweden. In 1962 he founded the Zoo in Borås, where the main feature was to let several different kinds of animals live together like on the African savannah, rather than being kept in separate cages or folds. (Not the predators, though... or it would probably have been a very short story.) This was a new idea back then (at least in Sweden) and it became an inspiration for others to follow.

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Since then the zoo has continued to grow. Today it has an area of 380.000 m² (38 hectares). The savannah still looks pretty much the same but other areas have been extended. Besides the focus on African animals they also have some of our more rare Nordic predators: wolves, wolverines, lynx and brown bears. The latest development of the park (last year) is a new enlarged area for bears. But there are also a few species that are neither African nor Nordic - like Siberian tigers, racoons, penguins and sea lions. Altogether there are more than 60 different species living in the zoo. They have a special interest in caring for and preserving endangered species whose natural habitats are no longer really a safe environment for them either.

The zoo is kept open to the public from mid April until the end of October. In the winter some animals (like bears) are in natural hibernation. For some of the exotic animals that do not go into hibernation, the climate is also no doubt too cold for them to be outside (as much, or at all) in the winter. For those who do not have natural dens, there are stables. Some can go in and out as they please, some are in the stables at night, or it varies with the seasons etc; depending on each type of animal.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Page 56


http://btt2.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/national-book-week/

It’s National Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you.
Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status.
(We’ve done something similar to this before, but it’s always fun, so … why not?)

It's not National Book Week here in Sweden, but ... why not?
I just started on a new book and just got past page 56 anyway.

Strictly counting, I suppose the following might be the 6th and 7th rather than the 5th sentence, but that depends a bit on how strict you are about punctuation. Anyway I think this quote works better as a "teaser"...

'Good memory, sergeant,' Isabelle said to her. 'May I ask what happened to your teeth?'

Barbara Haver's first encounter with Isabelle Ardery, who is taking over as team leader replacing Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley. Elizabeth George: This Body of Death. (Please don't tell me what happens. I'm only on page 60 out of 728!)

A little beside the point, the BBC TV series based on Elizabeth George's books I gave up on after a few episodes because it got so out of sync with the novels.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

D for Dalecarlian Horse (ABC Wednesday)

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For ABC Wednesday 

A Dalecarlian horse (Swedish: Dalahäst) is a traditional carved and painted wooden horse from the Swedish province of Dalarna. The earliest references to wooden horses for sale are from 1623. Originally it was a children’s toy and usually unpainted; in the early 19th century it became common to paint it in a single colour, and later also to decorate it in the traditional  kurbits style (a kind of folk art from this part of the country). Today the colourful wooden horse is a symbol not only for Dalarna but for Sweden in general; it is a very typical souvenir for tourists to bring back home.

Dalecarlian horses come in different colours and sometimes with distinguishing features depending on where they are produced. The most common kind is bright red with kurbits style harness.

Mine (above) has the name Mora is painted on the front: that’s the name of the town in Dalarna where it was made and/or bought. I seem to remember I got it from my parents when they had been away on a holiday trip without me (leaving me to stay with my grandparents). The clock (a model of a longcase clock also called a Mora clock) was most likely bought on the same trip, and from my photo album I can date that as coming into my possession at Christmas 1961 (when I was six years old).

However, what inspired me to this blog post was some works of contemporary art that I found recently on an outdoors wall at a hotel/restaurant in town:

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This is just so not how we are used to seeing our sturdy carved wooden horses. I found the mix of Dalecarlian horse and ‘Wild West’ quite amusing. But I guess to see the fun of it you really have know the original. Our traditional wooden horses are always standing so very steadily on their four stout legs – there is not even a hint of movement in them. To see them galloping about really messes with the mind!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Autumn Starts Here (… or?)

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Today felt like the first day of Autumn, because:

1. My alarm clock was on in the morning.
2. I needed a jacket and an umbrella.
3. The air smelled of rain and – autumn.
4. I went back to my regular training in the Rehab pool, which opened again today after 5 weeks ‘summer holidays’ break.
5. When I got back home I found that my usual daytime TV ‘soap’ (British Emmerdale) was also back on after a summer break.

In other words: Back to Weekly Routines!

Not sure I feel like I’ve really had a Summer Holiday, though.

On the other hand, I have to remind myself it’s not quite like I’m going back to Work, either. Aside from the limitations that are the reason why I’m in early retirement… I still have a lot of freedom.

The picture above is of a piece of artwork on the wall in one of the hospital corridors I walk through to get to the rehab center.

 

Macro Monday: Life

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“May you live all the days of your life.”
~ Jonathan Swift ~

Macro Monday at Lisa’s Chaos

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Not Quite A ‘Normal’ Week

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This barometer I took home with me from the House earlier this summer. I remember it sitting on our wall back in my childhood/ youth but then I never really paid much attention to it.

Now I have to say it does seem to confirm my suspicions of late that air pressure really does have impact on my muscle pains and general energy levels nowadays.

The golden needle is set manually. It shows the high air pressure we had at the beginning of this week in connection with pleasantly warm and sunny weather. The black needle is Now.  

At the beginning of the week I was out at the House cleaning and doing all sorts of things. The weekend has been rainy, and I’ve spent much of it in horizontal position doing ‘nothing’…

Yes. Somewhere in between there I guess would be ‘normal’…

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Straight Out Of the Phone

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For Straight Out of the Camera Sunday:

A countryside view taken with my new phone (Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc), from the neighbourhood of my parents’ old place. (The picture is not of our house.)

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The end of the week has been a lot rainier than the beginning, but I almost welcomed it – I was beginning to feel in need of a few days to just rest and do indoors things in my own home.

I’ve also tried to catch up a little on my blog reading; and moreover, I think I finally got my email problem ‘sorted’. Most of you are probably not aware that I had one! But the thing is I got into a bit of a confusion when I started using the smartphone to read emails, because I couldn’t access all the folders in my yahoo account from the phone. This led to an experiment with re-directing blog comments to gmail instead. But I wasn’t really happy with that solution. (Besides having to check two different accounts, I found gmail very confusing.) However, one learns as one goes along… Today I had a ‘duh’ moment and finally found the right ‘app’ to download, so was able to get back to sorting my mail the way I’ve got used to. Yippee.  (Yes Yahoo is a silly name but it’s been my main email service since ‘forever’ – even before I got my first dial up modem at home back in the mid 90’s!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mirror, mirror, the whole wall…

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For Weekend Reflections and Skywatch Friday.

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The most ‘avant-garde’ building in town,
triangular in shape and all glass encrusted.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

C for Coot (ABC Wednesday)

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On Sunday I was out for a walk by a little lake in town which is also a bird sanctuary, and came across this sight: Two different birds each on their own branch of an old tree. The top one would be a common mallard, but the other one I was less sure of, until I got home and could look it up in my bird book: (Eurasian) coot.  (Swedish: sothöna – Latin: Fulica atra)

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Funny how sometimes when you learn something (or the name of something), you seem to soon come across it again! Two days later I was at another lake and was told by a friend who is an experienced birdwatcher that two birds we could see from a distance there were also coots, but young ones who had not yet developed the characteristic white facial shield of the adults. That I doubt I would have been able to figure out by myself from that distance (since in this case there was no adult bird in sight).

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“The juvenile is paler than the adult, has a whitish breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult black plumage develops when about 3–4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old.” (Wikipedia)

ABC Wednesday 

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