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Friday, June 27, 2014

What Do Canada Geese Eat?

“What do Canada geese eat?” 

Canada geese are a common sight in Ohio, heralding the changing of the seasons. We often see them poking around in the grass, but none of us at the Newton Falls Public Library were exactly sure what it is they’re eating.

We went back to our extensive birding collection for the answers and found them in Birds of North America by Fred J. Alsop III, Birds of Lake, Pond, and Marsh by John Eastman, and Birds of Ohio by James S. McCormac and Gregory Kennedy.

All Canada geese are almost exclusively vegetarian, though according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlifethey've also been known to eat snails, insects, and tadpoles. Geese will graze on land, both on wild plants and on crops and stubble fields, and dip their heads underwater to enjoy aquatic plants. Their diet of choice includes cattail, bulrush, pondweed, grass, clover, alfalfa, corn, millet, barley, soybeans, oats, and wheat.

According to Ducks Unlimited Canada, they spend most of their time feeding – up to twelve hours a day! – and will eat even more before migrations. Females especially will eat more before the spring migration to ensure that they have enough energy to lay and then incubate their eggs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What's the Difference Between a BMP and a JPEG?

“What’s the difference between a BMP and a JPEG file?”

If you’ve gone to save a picture on a computer, you’ve probably noticed that there are a few different file formats you can use. BMP (short for bitmap) and JPEG (short for Joint Photographic Experts Group) are two of your options, and they each have their ups and downs. We checked Web Design for Dummies and Photoshop 7 for Dummies (which, though it refers to a fairly old version of Photoshop, still has good basic information) to get the specifics.

If you save an image as a BMP, it’ll be high quality and will never degrade. However, the file size will be relatively large, and, depending on the size of your picture, it will be difficult to send as an email attachment or post online.

Saving images as JPEGs produces much smaller files that are easier to email and post online. However, when you open, edit, and resave a JPEG image, it will lose a little of its quality. It’s good to use when saving photographs and graphics with lots of colors, but will cause a more noticeable loss of quality in images with large areas of flat color.

If you’d like to know more about BMP and JPEG, as well as other file formats like GIF and PNG, feel free to come in and peruse our selection of computer books!

Friday, June 13, 2014

How Do Birds Stay Cool?

“How do birds stay cool in the summer?” One of our patrons saw a mother bird who had built her nest in a sunny window. The bird had her mouth open as though she was panting, and was shading the nest with her wings.

 As it turns out, those are two common ways birds cool themselves down. They have their own way of panting, and may also open their mouths and flutter the throat muscles to release heat. They’ll also open up their wings and spread out their feathers to let the air circulate around their bodies. The mother bird our patron saw may have been both cooling down her babies and herself.

We found our answers on the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission website and the Audubon Magazine blog. Both sources suggest installing a birdbath if you’d like to help your feathered friends beat the heat. Not only does it provide a source of fresh drinking water, but it gives the birds a place to splash around. The Newton Falls Public Library has books on birdbaths available, including “Projects for the Birder’s Garden” and Edward A. Baldwin’s “Birdfeeders, Shelters, and Baths.”

We didn't go into all the ways that birds can cool themselves down – turkey vultures have a particularly unsavory way of going about it. If you’re curious, you can find out how in Joey Slinger’s “Down and Dirty Birding.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Can Dogs and Cats Share Food?

“I have a dog and a cat, and they each like to eat from the other’s food bowl. Is that bad for them?”

While none of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library are veterinarians, we were able to check online and look through our collection of pet-care books, eventually finding the answers in Cats for Dummies and on PetMD. Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs, so although it’s okay for them to have the occasional snack from one another’s dish, according to PetMD, it’s generally best for them to stick to their own food.

Cats need a lot of protein – over double the amount per pound of body weight than dogs or even people do, according to Cats for Dummies. Cats also need to get fat from animal sources, since they can’t manufacture essential fatty acids from plant sources like dogs can. Taurine, an amino acid found in animal proteins, is necessary for cats, and a deficiency can cause serious eye and heart problems. Dog food doesn't have these nutrients, nor does it have enough protein for a cat to be happy and healthy.

On the other hand, because cat food is so high in fat and protein, dogs tend to really like it. Unfortunately, it’s not very good for them either. It’s so rich that it can cause digestive problems, and eating it too often can lead to obesity.

For more information about pet nutrition, David G. Wellock’s Health and Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: A Guide for Pet Parents is available here at the Newton Falls Public Library. If you’d like to try your hand at cooking up your own treats for your pets, Gregg R. Gillespie’s Tasty Treats for Demanding Dogs is available at the Newton Falls Public Library and Liz Palika’s The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook is available through CLEVNET.