Tag Archives: hummingbirds

Earliest birds lacked wide diversity of modern descendants, study finds

Birds come in astounding variety—from hummingbirds to emus—and behave in myriad ways: they soar the skies, swim the waters and forage the forests. But this wasn’t always the case, according to research by scientists at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum.

The researchers found a striking lack of diversity in the earliest known fossil bird fauna—a set of species that lived at about the same time and in the same habitat. “There were no swans, no swallows, no herons, nothing like that. They were pretty much all between a sparrow and a crow,” said Jonathan Mitchell, a PhD student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the new study, published May 28 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B(more…)

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An efficient nectar mop: Bats use blood to reshape tongue for feeding

Brown University scientists have found that a species of bat uses blood flow to reshape its tongue while feeding. The quick dynamic action makes the tongue an effective “mop” for nectar and could even inspire new industrial designs. Findings are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Nectar-feeding bats and busy janitors have at least two things in common: They want to wipe up as much liquid as they can as fast as they can, and they have specific equipment for the job. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes the previously undiscovered technology employed by the bat Glossophaga soricina: a tongue tip that uses blood flow to erect scores of little hair-like structures exactly at the right time to slurp up extra nectar from within a flower. (more…)

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Where Have All the Hummingbirds Gone?

Glacier lilies and broad-tailed hummingbirds out of sync

The glacier lily as it’s called, is a tall, willowy plant that graces mountain meadows throughout western North America. It flowers early in spring, when the first bumblebees and hummingbirds appear.

Or did.

The lily, a plant that grows best on subalpine slopes, is fast becoming a hothouse flower. In Earth’s warming temperatures, its first blooms appear some 17 days earlier than they did in the 1970s, scientists David Inouye and Amy McKinney of the University of Maryland and colleagues have found. (more…)

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

*High-mountain wildflower season reduced, affecting pollinators like bees, hummingbirds*

It’s summer wildflower season in the Rocky Mountains, a time when high-peaks meadows are dotted with riotous color.

But for how long?

Once, wildflower season in montane meadow ecosystems extended throughout the summer months. But now scientists have found a fall-off in wildflowers at mid-season. (more…)

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Again, but Faster! The Spectacular Courtship Dance of a Tiny Bird

A small male bird called a golden-collared manakin performs a difficult, elaborate, physically demanding courtship dance. In new research, life scientists report that female golden-collared manakins select mates based on subtle differences in motor performance during these dances.

“The male jumps like he’s been shot out of a cannon,” said study co-author Barney Schlinger, professor and departmental chair of integrative biology and physiology and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA. “It’s exquisite. He sails like an acrobat and lands perfectly on a perch, like a gymnast landing a flawless dismount. Not only is there power to his muscle contractions but incredible speed as well.” (more…)

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