So what sorts of photos am I contributing? Well for every gorgeous fine-art-worthy shot I take (too few of them I fear!), there are probably a thousand more that hit the reject pile. Many are just not quite what I'm after for art purposes, but for education and advocacy purposes they're perfect, especially if they're of unique or hard-to-acquire subjects. How many of you have seen a vestigial kiwi wing? A Chatham-Island shag? A kākā's cloaca? You can now find all of the above on the Commons where none existed before and download and use them however you wish under a CC-BY-4.0 licence (attribution). If you can make money off a kākā's bum, knock yourself out! ?
And it's not just wildlife photos we need more of. Take a look in the Commons for some of your favourite hobbies, topics, people - are they well represented? Chances are you have something to add.
Photos can be donated under a variety of licences so it pays to check out the options first and find something that you're comfortable with. If you're not uploading your own work, then there are further considerations and you can find all about that on the Wikimedia help pages.
If you're not able to get to one of Mike's workshops, there is a wealth of information on how to get started on Wikimedia here. Mike's tenure ends in June 2019, and until then he's mostly based in the South Island - check out where he'll be on this Wikipedia page (where else!)
And if you're doing the 2019 Art of Birding Photo Challenge, check out Week 35 because your challenge is going to be to set one of your photos free!
All photos in this blog are by Judi Lapsley Miller, CC-BY-4.0 and are linked through to Wikimedia Commons.
Takahē might be flightless but they do have vestigial wings. Here the chick is excitedly waving her wings in the hope that Nio will feed her. Note the little claw at the end of the "elbow" (my bird anatomy is a bit shaky so feel free to comment if you know more about what this claw might have been for)
Those all-knowing eyes! I was completely captivated by this lovely youngster - she's as bright as a button and so curious about the world. She became "Professor Polly", and she reminds me so much of a super-smart friend who became one of youngest female professors in NZ's history (who coincidentally has a daughter named Polly!).
I have long been fascinated with bird intelligence and cognition. Study after study are now showing that birds are incredibly intelligent - just this week there was news about tool-use seen in kea (the kākā's cousin) in the wild. Long gone are the days when scientists thought that tiny brains relative to body size meant tiny abilities. Birds have vastly more dense innervation allowing smarts to be packed in much more tightly than human brains. And parrots and corvids are some of the brightest.
Researchers are quite taken by the kākā as a study subject. They're cousins of the kea, who are thought to be the most intelligent bird species in the world, but kākā are rating similarly on the IQ scales. It is fascinating watching them solve the tasks the researchers set them. The thought was that as social birds they would learn by watching their friends solve problems. From what I've seen, it appears more competitive than that with each wanting to show that they can solve puzzles their own way. It was quite incredible to see how many different techniques there are to solve the simple task of acquiring a cashew nut tied to the end of a string.
Not only are kākā super intelligent but they have complex emotional and social lives. We do of course have to be careful at over-anthropomorphizing, but I fear under-anthropomorphizing has had a negative effect not just on our understanding of animal cognition but also animal welfare. They might not think or feel identically to humans, but they think and feel and we shouldn't assume less.
Judi Lapsley Miller
Fine art inspired by the stories of birds and the natural world. Starting with photographs, I let my imagination take me on flights of fancy. What is real and what is imagined is blurred. What is physical and what is virtual is disrupted. Bursting with colour and life.
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