[Tweeters] Re: Sense of Scale

Jason Hernandez jason.hernandez74 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 17 19:22:17 PDT 2014

When i go fish watching, there is usually a mask and snorkel involved -- not that I necessarily go swimming; sometimes, just lying belly-down on the gravel of a shallow stream, just deep enough to submerge my head in that position, can give me a fish's-eye view of the world.  And in places like Square Lake, covered with water shield, I actually refer to it in my field notes as "the underwater forest," and describe the "canopy," "mid-level," and "understory."  It really does look like a jungle!

Bringing this back to birds: shifting scales like this can give you a whole new level of understanding of them.  Imagine yourself the size of a Bewick's Wren, investigating tree cavities for a suitable nest site; what would you look for?  And if a sudden rain catches you out foraging, imagine how much simpler it would be to find a dry spot at Bewick's Wren size than human size!  Or how terrifyingly huge a Merlin would be!

Jason Hernandez
jason.hernandez at yahoo dot com

Message: 12
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2014 09:42:04 -0700
From: Jeff Gibson <gibsondesign at msn.com>
Subject: [Tweeters] Sense of Scale
To: tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Message-ID: <BLU178-W193C05CEBF2222FCD83C95C9D70 at phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

After sending my last post I had my morning coffee and remembered another boathouse sighting.
of my favorite things to do in nature is looking at tiny things, and
also very large things. I guess I like looking at everything else in
between too. Looking at small things can drawn one in to the Tiny World,
where a tiny beetle looks huge compared to the even tinier mites on it.
Once you get looking, you may see an even tinier mite nearby - mites
come in different sizes you know.
I always admired that great
documentary film "A Bugs Life" for it's sense of scale. OK, it was
really an animated film, and ants usually are not lavender, or have only
four legs - however, somebody on the production team had a fine sense
of scale. There was a great scene in that film where the hero ant goes
to town, when he is surrounded by various other arthropods, like giant
millipedes and towering Daddy Long- legs, which in the real world, would
be giant - compared to an ant anyway.
A great way to enter Tiny
World is through close-focusing binoculars. Mine, at 8x magnification,
focus down to five and a half  feet. Thus I was able to see the blue
eyes of a breeding male Stickleback more clearly from 6 ft away than I
was without binocs from 2ft  away, head hanging over the dock.
being led down this primrose path into the smaller world, one gets a
big surprise. As I was watching the Sticklebacks and Perch from 8 ft
away thru my binocs, the world changed - the entire background of my
little world view was changed into a rapidly moving field of big spots
as a young Harbor Seal swam into my binocular view right under the
Sticklebacks grotto! I just about fell off the swim-step of the boat.
The seal disappeared as fast as it appeared. In this progression of
scale, all I needed next was for a Gray Whale to swim right under the
If you want to have fun developing a new sense of scale, you
could do worse than fish watching with close-focusing binoculars, if you
know what I mean. Of course birds vary considerable in scale too - it's
all relative.
Jeff Gibson. just sayin', in Everett Wa

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