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Kea – The Smartest Parrot in the World

Kea – The Smartest Parrot in the World

The Kea is a mountain parrot that sounds like its call – “keeee aaaa”. It is a large species of parrot found in forest and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. An adult Kea can grow as large as 48cm (around 19 inches) long, and weigh 0.8 to 1 kg. The color of this bird is mainly olive-green with scarlet underwings and a grey-black upper beak which is large and curved. Female Kea weigh around 20% less than male Kea and the bill is also comparatively shorter.

Habitat

Kea can be found from coastal dunes to the high alpine peaks of the South Island such as Arthur’s Pass and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand. They are commonly found in forests and adjacent subalpine and alpine zones, and mainly nest in their native forest.

Characteristic

Kea are known for their intelligence, boldness and curiosity. These characteristics are extremely important for them to survive in a harsh mountain environment but they also get themselves into trouble, which we will talk about in a later section of this article. They are notorious for attacking sheep and very unwelcome by local sheep farmers because sometimes sheep die from wound infections or from accidents when they try to escape the attack. Though they do not directly kill the sheep, they are being treated as pests to local sheep farmers.

How intelligent are Kea?

Researchers have been researching the intelligence of Kea for years in hopes that the results can shed light on the process of human learning. In the universities of Vienna and Oxford, researchers tested Kea’s problem-solving skills by presenting them with a food-containing box, for which Kea needed to use different methods to “solve” a problem to get food – for example by pulling a switch, using a marble to knock the food out, using a stick to poke the food out and opening a window with a lever. Once the how-to-get-food solution was mastered, researchers did further testing on the Kea: they prevented all the previous actions from working. Surprisingly, the smartest Kea quickly learnt another new way to gain access to the food. In this research, the Kea was not trained to perform such actions to get food, and it wasn’t done by simply trial and error either. Instead, it was all about learning and observing! This is especially important for researchers to find out how a human child learns language, because the language learning process is not merely a trial-and-error one and researchers still don’t have the full picture yet.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLjZS-cWzmk)

Another intelligence test of Kea was carried out in Auckland University, and the preliminary result found that Kea displayed a penchant for commerce! In the preliminary experiment. “One of the researchers, PhD candidate Megan Heaney, did a few transfers backwards and forwards and, since then, every time the Kea see her they run up with a stick or a stone and try to trade it.” The preliminary experiment also indicated that Kea have the ability to delay behavior until the conditions are right to get a better result, which is quite similar to chimpanzees and elephants.

Kea are extremely curious and they are very well known for damaging cars at South Island’s ski field carparks. Believe it or not, it was reported that some tourists’ money / passports had been stolen by Kea, because they are keen on discovering new things and love interacting with humans!

Saving Kea from Extinction!

The wild Kea population has dropped to as low as 1,000 to 5,000 according to the estimation done by conservationists. Recent studies from the Kea Conservation Trust have found that two-thirds of all chicks never grow to the fledgling stage. Unlike some other birds in New Zealand such as Kiwi, Kea are not welcomed by some people because they damage cars, tents or buildings and they attack farm animals. “Stealing”, of course, is also one of the reasons why they are often not welcomed by humans. It was estimated that 150k Kea were killed from the 1860s onward due to a government bounty introduced after sheep farmers complained about the Kea. The reason why they were killed is simple – they cause financial loss to local farmers!

Researchers have currently identified three known threats to the survival of this smart and beautiful parrot. The first one is non-native animal species; because Kea nest on the ground, this makes it an easy task for predators to attack the chicks during breeding.

The second one is obvious – humans. Kea are curious about everything, including humans and what humans bring to them; vivid-colored objects, books, even coffee, and of course food are all huge temptations to Kea, especially food and drinks that provide much higher energy to Kea than their natural food such as berries, roots, shoots and insect larvae. Once they are “addicted” to these “junk foods”, young Kea may lose the important survival ability to find their natural food. Moreover, the abundant high energy food source by humans greatly helps to reduce their time used for food finding. This means they now have more spare time to explore the human world further, which accelerates their extinction. Not to mention many of them are still hunted by humans because they damage properties (such as sheep or car window wipers).

The last but certainly not least threat to Kea is less obvious – lead poisoning. Lead is reported to have a sweet taste that is appealing to Kea. There are thousands of old buildings and huts dotted around the South Island and lead is often found in these. By chewing the lead fixtures of these old buildings, some Kea may get lead poisoning and their brains are damaged severely as they accumulate so much lead in their bodies. According to a study undertaken by researchers at the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre at Massey University, 64% of Kea in populated areas had blood lead levels high enough to cause lead poisoning, and 22% had elevated levels. Not surprisingly, the study had shown that the lead poisoning problem in populated areas was higher than that in remote areas.

Survival of the fittest – it is easy to accept that living things with low skill / low intelligence are more likely to face extinction. It is ironic that Kea, such a “skillful” and intelligent bird, is now facing extinction. Indeed, it is fairly sad that such a human-loving (at least they love to approach humans) bird ends up being killed either directly or indirectly by humans.

Genesis 2:15 “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

How to Protect Kea from Extinction

To protect Kea from extinction, we need to minimize or eliminate the above three threats to Kea’s survival. For the non-native animal predators, the New Zealand government recently unveiled an “ambitious goal” to eradicate all non-native predators in New Zealand by 2050. According to John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand, these “pests” cost the country’s agricultural industry NZ$3.3billion (US$2.3billion) annually, killing about 25 million native birds (including Kea) every year.

Another way to protect Kea is for them to avoid human contact. We first need to educate people to love and try to understand their “naughty” acts so that less Kea will be killed by humans. Also, we should try to keep this alpine environment wild in order to remove temptation from Kea. AND PLEASE DO NOT FEED KEA!

Unfortunately, the lead poisoning threat is by far the most difficult question to solve. There are so many old buildings / huts in that region and the coordination or co-operation between landlords, conservation parties, volunteers and contractors involves a huge amount of manpower and resources.

If you want to help protect Kea from extinction, you may also consider making a donation to the Kea Conservation Trust. Together we can save Kea from extinction!


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Cartier Elegant Cactus

Cactus Jewelry

For years jewelry designers have been using different kinds of flowers / plants as their inspirations in jewelry design. Rose, sunflower, tulip are the most commonly used flowers (no matter in real life or in jewelry design), and it is not hard to imagine why they are easily being used by jewelry designers because of their obviously flower meanings to ladies (like Rose, represents love, beauty, passion etc… and tulip represents enduring love between family members, the 11th wedding anniversary etc…).

On the other hand, Cactus, a spiky plant, is easily got forgotten by designers and making them less popular in the fashion market. But if you understand more about cactus, you will be impressed by its toughness and resistance to extreme weather (i.e. extreme hot in daytime but cold at night).

Cacti come in different shapes and sizes, standing firmly in desert as if a tough girl showing off her unique beautiful gesture in desert. These characteristics inspired jewelry designer of Cartier to recreate a beautiful yet untouchable blossom – the new Cactus de Cartier collection.

Cactus de Cartier collection is bold, geometric and sensuous. Designed with a perfect combination of spiky and soft, which sounds contradictory but designer skillfully harmonized these two into one masterpiece. I particularly like the earrings in this collection which are finely decorated with emerald and carnelian gemstones set in yellow gold. The yellow gold, as you could imagine, represents the desert; the emerald and carnelian beads are here to represent the cactus in full bloom.

Cactus de Cartier Earrings

Plant Jewelry / Plant Themed Jewelry 

Plant jewelry or plant themed jewelry is definitely one of the biggest categories in the market, just its close cousin, animal jewelry (or animal themed jewelry). People shopping for fine or funky jewelry are usually got attracted by the designs of these animal / plant themed jewelry because of a simple reason – they all look familiar to you!


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New Dog Themed Arrival on Sep 2016

Fashion Jewelry and Fine Jewelry

Jewelry industry is a well establish industry. For years, ladies (and gentlemen, of course) are so obsessed with putting on these shiny, eye-catching little things as part of their daily outfits. In the past, only the upper class or royal family were able to own jewelry in order to show-off their social status; the lower class could never afford to have one as they could barely feed themselves and had no time to even think about owning a single piece of jewelry. Nowadays with the advancement of technology and the industrialization of jewelry industry, fashion jewelry industry which targets low to middle class customers is now becoming another big industry to cater customers who don’t want to spend too much on “fine jewelry”. You can see that many jewelry stores sell fashion jewelry instead of fine jewelry because of relatively low inventory risk and blooming low to middle class purchasing power.

Themed Jewelry

No matter which type of jewelry you are looking for – fine jewelry or fashion jewelry, their designs are getting more and more fit for different tastes of jewelry customers: from simple geometric design to complicated artistic design, every piece of jewelry shows how a jewelry designer sees and feels about everything around him/her. So it is very common to see fine jewelry or fashion jewelry with the design of animals, plants, food and every “stuff” around you in daily life. Themed jewelry, as its name suggests, has become a new name for a category of jewelry which the design is based on different “things” (e.g. dogs, cats, birds, flowers, trees, food, dessert) and targets the jewelry lovers who also love these “things”. The advent of theme jewelry helps people who want to find a gifts for her / gifts for him because it is a straight forward choice to present dog themed gifts to dog lovers, right?

Many jewelry stores are selling wide range of jewelry without a theme. Jewelry lovers can only base on the preferred designers or preferred jewelry materials (e.g. 925 sterling silver, gold, diamond) to shop what they want. That’s why we established LoverBirdyAccessories to help jewelry lovers find their beloved design of jewelry piece or to help anyone who is looking for a gift idea for his / her friend who is a jewelry lover AND a lover of “something”. In i-LoveBirdy.com, you can search for anything which could turn to a jewelry design and then take it home!

Dog Themed Jewelry

Recently we are working on adding variety of fashion jewelry with dog themed design. We have jewelry design of different breeds of dogs such as Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Pug, Bulldog etc. I’m sure this is one of the best places for you to find special piece of fashion jewelry or a jewelry to memorialize your beloved deceased dog.

Here are popular picks:

Cute Shih Tzu Earrings

Cute Shih Tzu Earrings

Cute Pug Earrings

Cute Chihuahua Earrings

Cute Chihuahua Earrings

Funny Bulldog Pendant Necklace

Funny Sausage Dog Pendant Necklace

Funky Yorkshire Terrier Finger Ring

Funky Yorkshire Terrier Finger Ring


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Mid-Autumn Festival Hiking!

Mid-Autumn Festival Hiking!

Jubilee (Shing Mun) Reservoir

Shing Mun Reservoir is a very famous hiking route in Hong Kong. Yesterday was the Mid-Autumn Festival (a traditional Chinese Festival) and my family went to Shing Mun Reservoir for hiking. For those who want to hike in Hong Kong or want to find an entry level hiking route in Hong Kong, this is going to be a very good choice!

Nice weather! It wasn’t too hot but humidity was still quite high. I would say it was not the best weather for hiking, but still we managed to take some good pictures 🙂

Hiking in Hong Kong - Shing Mun Reservoir_1

These trees were grown inside the water of the reservoir

Hiking in Hong Kong - Shing Mun Reservoir

This is the Valve Tower – A signature building of Shing Mun Reservoir

Getting cloudy, but luckily it didn’t rain~

Fishing is allowed in this reservoir, so if you also like fishing, you will like it! Just drop me an email if you want to know more about Shing Mun Reservoir or hiking in Hong Kong!


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The Difference Between a Pug and a Bulldog

The Difference Between a Pug and a Bulldog

Identifying the differences between a bulldog and a pug may present a challenge to most people. If you were to just glance at a bulldog and a pug, it would be very hard to distinguish between them because these two breeds of dogs look very much alike. As such, I hope this article helps you understand more about them.

Physical Difference

The colors of their coats may be the most obvious way to tell the difference. Bulldogs have a wider range of color combinations such as red, red brindle with while, red piebald, red with black mask, fawn, fawn and white etc. However, pug dogs’ colors are either solid black or fawn with a black mask (so a black mask could be one of the most noticeable features of pugs, of course, except for black pugs).

Another prominent difference between a bulldog and a pug is the size. A bulldog is typically regarded as a “fat dog” (based on how it looks), which weighs around 50-60 pounds it has a bigger body size than pug, which weighs around 20 pounds.

A flat, wrinkly face and undershot jaw are common facial characteristics of both the bulldog and the pug. However, if you take a close look at them (better side-by-side), it is not hard to see that the pug has less wrinkles and a “firmer” face than the bulldog’s prominent dewlap. Pugs have bigger eyes than bulldogs because the pug’s eyes are more protruding. One more difference is that the pug has a curly tail and the bulldog has a relatively shorter and straight tail.

Temperament Difference

Being the best friend of humans I would say both bulldogs and pugs are very sweet in terms of their characteristics. Surprisingly they share very similar temperament & personality. Both bulldogs and pugs are outgoing toward strangers. They are both courageous and friendly, so will get along with all your family members including your other pets very well. If you really want to find out their differences in temperament & personality, I would say that the pug is comparatively more energetic and playful while the bulldog acts (and looks) a little more “lazy”. One more difference is their aggressiveness: perhaps due to the “job” of their ancestors (kidding), which was utilized primarily for bull-baiting in sport arena, the bulldog could be quite an aggressive attacker (compared to the pug). The pug’s ancestors served as companions to monks in China, so it is not hard to see that they are more gentle.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy of a bulldog is around 8-10 years and 12-15 years for pug. I would say that the life expectancy of bulldogs is a little bit shorter than other breeds of dogs, so please treasure every day with your lovely pet dog because you are everything in their life.

Dog Themed Jewelry

There is much fashion jewelry available in the shape of a pug or bulldog. Telling whether a piece of jewelry is a pug shape or a bulldog shape will always be a hard job because of often limited characteristics. But being a dog-themed jewelry lover or as a gift for dog lovers, who cares? They are both super adorable!


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Something You Should Know Before Buying Fashion Jewelry Online – Gold Filled? Gold Plated? Sterling Silver? Silver Plated? What are they!?

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Online shopping is getting more and more popular all over the world. It is now very convenient for people to buy everything online, from daily necessities to items that may have never before imagine buying on the Internet. It makes perfect sense that people purchase their fashion jewelry online, as you don’t need to worry about size the same way as when you buy clothes online. Moreover, there are always tons of different types of fashion accessories online for you to choose from, so you can always find the perfect item to match your personal style/interest.

Unlike buying fashion jewelry in physical stores, when buying online you’ll need to make your purchase decision based on the item photos and description. It’s not hard to see words in online item titles and descriptions like “Gold Plated”, “Gold Filled”, “Silver Plated”, “Silver Filled”, “Sterling Silver”, etc. So what do sellers want to tell you when you see these words? Let me summarize some frequently asked questions that will help you enjoy your online jewelry shopping even more!

Question 1: Is there any reference for purity of gold?

Karat is widely used as a measurement of purity of gold. 1 karat (or 1K gold) means there is 1 part of gold and 23 parts of other metal alloys. So, 24K gold means 100 percent pure gold, 18K gold means 75 percent gold + 25 percent of other metal alloys, etc. Please note that generally pure gold (24K) is too soft for jewelry making; that’s why it is more likely that you will see 18K gold jewelry than 24K gold jewelry.

Question 2: Is there any reference for purity of silver?

In general, there are 2 levels of silver purity you need to know. The first one is fine silver, containing 99.9 percent silver; people call it “999 Fine Silver” or “.999 Fine Silver.” The second one is sterling silver, containing 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent other metal alloys (usually copper); people call it “925 Sterling Silver” or “.925 Sterling Silver.”

Similar to gold, pure silver (Fine Silver) is too soft for jewelry making, so you can easily find many 925 sterling silver jewelries but not fine silver jewelries. There should be a “925” stamp on your sterling silver jewelry to help you identify the purity of silver used.

Question 3: Gold jewelry is expensive; what other choices I have?

Forget about the brand name or design; what matters is the value of material of your jewelry. There are many other forms of gold jewelries for your consideration:

Gold-Filled: Gold-filled is a thin sheet of Karat gold rolled with another thicker sheet of base metal alloy. It is also known as “rolled gold” because of the rolling process. The measurement of gold-filled jewelry uses the ratio of the mass of the Karat gold sheet to the total mass. For example, “1/20 18K” stamp means 5 percent (=1/20) of 18K gold being used. Sometimes you will see an “RGP” stamp, which stands for “rolled gold plated” and is typically with a ratio of 1/40 and 1/50.

Gold-Plated: Gold plating is to deposit a thin layer of gold on the surface of other materials. In the fashion accessories industry, people usually plate gold onto the surface of another metal (usually an alloy) by chemical or electrochemical plating. One common way is dipping the base metal into a bath of electroplating solution after performing a series of processes.

Gold-Vermeil: Gold vermeil means plating gold onto sterling silver.

Question 4: Is it very expensive to buy sterling silver jewelry?

No. In fact, the price of silver is much less than the price of gold. At the time of writing this article, the price of gold is around US$1,350 per oz, where the silver price is just around US$22 per oz! So now you understand why you see so many 925 Sterling Silver jewelries but not many 18K (or even higher) gold jewelries in the fashion jewelry industry.

Question 5: Does gold/silver plating cost much more than non-gold plated/non-silver plating?

Plating gold/silver on a base metal does not make the cost significantly higher, because the plating layer is usually very thin (so never think to resell your gold/silver plated jewelries to scrap gold/silver buyers). However, THICKNESS (measured in micrometer, aka micron) and SURFACE AREA matter to manufacturers because the thicker or bigger the surface area of the jewelry, the higher the cost.

Question 6: Does gold plated/silver plated jewelry easily wear off?

It makes sense that the thicker the plating, the lower chance that the plating will wear off. Unfortunately, it is never easy to judge how thick the plating is without professional equipment. So what you can do is choose reliable jewelry suppliers when making your purchase decision.

Gold/silver plated jewelries react to salts in human sweat, chemical pollutants in the air or chlorine in swimming pools/spas. In order to better protect your beloved jewelries, never take them to exercise/shower with you.

Question 7: Any advice on buying fashion jewelry online?

To be honest, it is almost impossible for ordinary buyers to identify the details of materials and manufacturing processes of fashion jewelries they buy. The best way is to choose reliable suppliers/stores that offer you high quality of service such as 20- or even 30-day return guarantees. We always want to go one step further for you, so if the jewelries you bought from us become tarnished or worn-off within six months, just ship them back to us and we guarantee to send you a new one!