Tag Archives: bird

Birds choose sweet-smelling mates

For most animals, scent is the instant messenger of choice for quickly exchanging personal profiles. Scientists, however, have long dismissed birds as odor-eschewing Luddites that don’t take advantage of scent-based communications.

In a first-of-its-kind study, however, a Michigan State University researcher has demonstrated that birds do indeed communicate via scents, and that odor reliably predicts their reproductive success. The study appears in the current issue of Animal Behaviour and focuses on volatile compounds in avian preen secretions. (more…)

Read More

Southwest Regional Warming Likely Cause of Pinyon Pine Cone Decline, Says CU Study

Creeping climate change in the Southwest appears to be having a negative effect on pinyon pine reproduction, a finding with implications for wildlife species sharing the same woodland ecosystems, says a University of Colorado Boulder-led study.

The new study showed that pinyon pine seed cone production declined by an average of about 40 percent at nine study sites in New Mexico and northwestern Oklahoma over the past four decades, said CU-Boulder doctoral student Miranda Redmond, who led the study. The biggest declines in pinyon pine seed cone reproduction were at the higher elevation research sites experiencing more dramatic warming relative to lower elevations, said Redmond of CU’s ecology and evolutionary biology department.  (more…)

Read More

A Tale of Turkey Tail: The Part of the Bird Best Left Uneaten

ANN ARBOR — While most Americans look forward to eating turkey on Thanksgiving, Pacific Islanders in the U.S. and on the islands are most likely to eat a part of the bird few other Americans are familiar with: its tail.

“Turkey tail is marketed selectively to Pacific Island communities throughout the U.S. and in Pacific Island territories, as well as independent nations,” said University of Michigan researcher Sela Panapasa. “Actually it’s not the tail but a gland that attaches the tail to the turkey’s body. It’s filled with oil that the turkey uses to preen its feathers.” (more…)

Read More

Speaking of Ethics

Lecturer explores the imperatives of environmental ethics

Speaking to University of Delaware faculty and students and community members in Brown Lab on Monday night, Oct. 15, environmental philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore discussed how important it is for humans to realize their ethical responsibility to save the world from a climate crisis.

In a lecture titled “Why It’s Wrong to Wreck the World: Climate Change and the Moral Obligation to the Future,” Moore reflected on the relationship humans have with the environment and argued that once humans realize the impact of their actions, they will naturally feel a moral obligation to care for the planet. (more…)

Read More

The Original Twitter? Tiny Electronic Tags Monitor Birds’ Social Networks

If two birds meet deep in the forest, does anybody hear? Until now, nobody did, unless an intrepid biologist was hiding underneath a bush and watching their behavior, or the birds happened to meet near a research monitoring station. But an electronic tag designed at the University of Washington can for the first time see when birds meet in the wild.

A new study led by a biologist at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews used the UW tags to see whether crows might learn to use tools from one another. The findings, published last week in Current Biology, supported the theory by showing an unexpected amount of social mobility, with the crows often spending time near birds outside their immediate family. (more…)

Read More

Crows React to Threats in Human-like Way

Cross a crow and it’ll remember you for years.

Crows and humans share the ability to recognize faces and associate them with negative, as well as positive, feelings. The way the brain activates during that process is something the two species also appear to share, according to new research being published this week.

“The regions of the crow brain that work together are not unlike those that work together in mammals, including humans,” said John Marzluff, University of Washington professor of environmental and forest sciences. “These regions were suspected to work in birds but not documented until now. (more…)

Read More

Why are There so Many Species of Beetles and So few Crocodiles?

Answer may be ‘adaptive zones’ that limit species number, life scientists report

There are more than 400,000 species of beetles and only two species of the tuatara, a reptile cousin of snakes and lizards that lives in New Zealand. Crocodiles and alligators, while nearly 250 million years old, have diversified into only 23 species. Why evolution has produced “winners” — including mammals and many species of birds and fish — and “losers” is a major question in evolutionary biology.

Scientists have often posited that because some animal and plant lineages are much older than others, they have had more time to produce new species (the dearth of crocodiles notwithstanding). This idea — that time is an important predictor of species number — underlies many theoretical models used by biologists. However, it fails to explain species numbers across all multi-cellular life on the planet, a team of life scientists reports Aug. 28 in the online journal PLoS Biology, a publication of the Public Library of Science. (more…)

Read More

Native Plants in Urban Yards Offer Birds “Mini-Refuges”

Landscaping with native vegetation helps local bird species

Yards with plants that mimic native vegetation offer birds “mini-refuges” and help to offset losses of biodiversity in cities, according to results of a study published on August 22, 2012 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Native” yards support birds better than those with traditional grass lawns and non-native plantings.

Researchers conducted the study through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 26 such sites around the globe in ecosystems from coral reefs to deserts, from forests to grasslands. (more…)

Read More