Notes and shorts from around the world


Parakeets scaring away smaller birds
No-one is quite sure how the rose ringed parakeet, with its distinctive green plumage, began its conquest of south-east England. Some say the first birds escaped from the set of the Humphrey Bogart film The African Queen. Others claim they bred from a pair released in Soho in the 1960s by Jimi Hendrix. It is now clear that the gregarious newcomer – a non-migrating bird native to South Asia and West Africa – is putting native birds off their food. A study of bird feeding stations in 41 London gardens found that although the large, noisy parakeets are not aggressive, smaller birds are wary of them – and eat significantly less in their presence. The study, reported in Behavioural Ecology involved monitoring 10,893 visits to the sites by 18 native species, mostly blue tits or great tits. Fewer native birds visited the feeder if a caged parakeet was present; they also spent less time eating. The researchers say that as parakeet numbers continue to soar, native birds may suffer from lower energy levels, and their numbers could eventually drop.
Urban legend verified
An urban legend that millions of video games based on the film ET were buried in the New Mexico desert in the early 1980s has proven to be at least partly true. Archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of cartridges from a landfill site – and believe more are buried there. Atari paid a rumoured US$25 million to license ET, and produced five million copies of the game. It was declared the worst game in history, and only 1.5 million were sold – leaving the firm with 3.5 million cartridges and a US$100 million loss from which it never recovered.
What’s yours is mine
A 23 year old nanny has been sentenced to community service after stealing her employer’s clothes and jewellery – and posing in them on Facebook. When Becki Cannings first noticed her clothes were missing, it did not occur to her that Pascale Sherwin could be the culprit, but when her belongings continued to vanish, she thought to look at Sherwin’s Facebook page – and all became clear. “In her profile picture she was wearing all my clothes, and was doing so in several others. I was even tagged in them,” she said. “I don’t know if she was just stupid or rubbing my nose in it.”
Bons mots
“The good life has a great deal to do with contentment and satisfaction – and nothing whatsoever to do with that fool’s gold called happiness.” – Joseph Epstein, essayist and editor, USA.
“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.” – Mae West, actress, USA.

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