Tag Archives: Birds (pet; ornamental; prey e.g. falcons)

Stress bites! Researchers study mosquito/bird interactions

Research shows stressed-out birds more attractive to mosquitoes, raising fears birds exposed to stressors such as road noise, pesticides and light pollution, will be bitten more often and spread more West Nile virus When researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) and colleagues investigated how the stress hormone, corticosterone, affects how birds cope with […]

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Songbirds’ epic migrations connected to a small cluster of genes

Scientists from the University of British Columbia have shown that there is a genetic basis to the migratory routes flown by songbirds, and have narrowed in on a relatively small cluster of genes that may govern the behaviour. “It’s amazing that the routes and timing of such complex behaviour could be genetically determined and associated […]

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How birds soar to great heights

Migratory birds often use warm, rising atmospheric currents to gain height with little energy expenditure when flying over long distances. It’s a behavior known as thermal soaring that requires complex decision-making within the turbulent environment of a rising column of warm air from the sun baked surface of the earth. But exactly how birds navigate […]

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Shorter telomeres reveal stress in migratory birds

The stress of birds’ continent-spanning annual migrations, it appears, leads to faster aging and a potentially earlier death. A new study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances reveals that telomeres, structures on the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age, are shorter in migratory birds than in their non-migratory counterparts. Migration lets birds take advantage of […]

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How birds unlock their super-sense, ultraviolet vision

The ability of finches, sparrows, and many other birds to see a visual world hidden to us is explained in a study published in the journal eLife. Birds can be divided into those that can see ultraviolet (UV) light and those that cannot. Those that can live in a sensory world apart, able to transmit […]

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Scavenger crows provide public service, research shows

Crows are performing a useful function and keeping our environment free from rotting carcasses, research carried out at the University of Exeter in Cornwall has discovered. Using motion activated cameras in and around Falmouth and the University’s Penryn Campus, Cornwall, ecologists observed what happened to experimental rat carcasses which they placed under view. The researchers […]

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Ravens learn best from their affiliates

Transmission of information from one individual to another forms the basis of long-term traditions and culture, and is critical in adjusting to changing environmental conditions. Animals frequently observe each other to learn about food, predators and their social environment. The study fills an important gap in our understanding of how different types of social connections […]

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* Newborn ducklings can acquire notions of ‘same’ and ‘different’

Scientists from the University of Oxford have shown that newly hatched ducklings can readily acquire the concepts of ‘same’ and ‘different’ — an ability previously known only in highly intelligent animals such as apes, crows and parrots. Ducklings and other young animals normally learn to identify and follow their mother through a type of learning […]

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Urban bird species risk dying prematurely due to stress

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Birds of the species Parus Major (great tit) living in an urban environment are at greater risk of dying young than great tits living outside cities. Research results from Lund University in Sweden show that urban great tits have shorter telomeres than others of their own species living in rural areas. According to the researchers, […]

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* Droppings activate the immune system in nestlings

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Until now, it was believed that birds removed droppings from their nests to avoid the appearance of parasites. A recent investigation contradicts this hypothesis, concluding that feces activate the immune system of blackbird chicks and only attract insects. In the animal world, strict rules are followed to deal with sources of contamination and potential dangers […]

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To tool or not to tool? Clever cockatoos make economic decisions about tool use

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As animal tool use events are extremely rare, is often quickly rated as intelligent. Nevertheless, some types of tool use can be controlled by much simpler processes that are a part of the respective animal’s inborn behavioural repertoire. Intelligent tool use requires the ability to flexibly adapt a behaviour to changing environmental situations. The Indonesian […]

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Female blue tits sing in the face of danger

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Until now, the singing behaviour of songbirds had been mainly associated with competitive behaviour and the search for a partner. Moreover, males had long been considered to be the more active singer. Females were compared to the behaviour of the males and were seen as relatively “lazy” with regard to singing. These assumptions had also […]

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World’s first successful artificial insemination of southern rockhopper penguin

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DNA tests have confirmed that one of the three southern rockhopper penguin chicks born at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan between June 4 and 6 was conceived through artificial insemination. This is the result of a project led by Kaiyukan with the collaboration of Associate Professor KUSUNOKI Hiroshi (Kobe University Graduate School of Agricultural Science). It is […]

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‘Baby talk’ can help songbirds learn their tunes

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Adult songbirds modify their vocalizations when singing to juveniles in the same way that humans alter their speech when talking to babies. The resulting brain activity in young birds could shed light on speech learning and certain developmental disorders in humans, according to a study by McGill University researchers. Lead author Jon Sakata, a professor […]

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Scientists identify mutation that causes muffs and beards to grow on chickens

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The growth of long facial feathers, creating the appearance of muffs and beards on chickens, is caused by a chromosomal rearrangement affecting a gene involved in feather development, report Xiaoxiang Hu of the China Agricultural University in Beijing and colleagues, in a new study published on June 2 in PLOS Genetics. Unusual plumage and fancy […]

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Shifting bird distribution indicates a changing Arctic

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Shifts in the distribution of Spectacled Eiders, a predatory bird at the top of the Bering Sea’s benthic food web, indicate possible changes in the Arctic’s marine ecosystem, according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. Matt Sexson of the USGS Alaska Science Center and his colleagues compared recent satellite telemetry data from molting […]

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Sparrows with unfaithful ‘wives’ care less for their young

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A new study shows that male sparrows can judge if a spouse is prone to infidelity, providing less food for their brood if their partner is unfaithful. Sparrows form pair bonds that are normally monogamous, but many females are unfaithful to their partner and have offspring with other males. Biologists believe that the male birds […]

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Changing weather patterns threaten grassland sparrows

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Two of North America’s declining grassland songbirds may be particularly vulnerable to altered weather patterns caused by climate change, according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. Extreme heat waves have been known to kill adult birds, and droughts can cause birds to abandon nests or skip breeding altogether. To learn what species might […]

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How do some birds get such bright red feathers?

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In the bird world, the color red has special significance. Many species use red signals to attract mates or deter rivals, adding the color to their beaks, feathers, or bare skin. Generally speaking, as far as many birds are concerned, redder is better. Now, two teams of researchers have independently identified an enzyme-encoding gene that […]

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Male birds may sing, but females are faster at discriminating sounds

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It may well be that only male zebra finches can sing, but the females are faster at learning to discriminate sounds. Leiden researchers publish their findings in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour. The scientists reached this conclusion after a meta-analysis of different experiments with the songbirds. Combining the results of 14 separate studies gave them […]

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* Why vultures matter, and what we lose if they’re gone

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Researchers highlight ecosystem, human impacts of vulture declines. Cartoon characters in parched deserts often wish them to disappear, since circling vultures are a stereotypical harbinger of death. But, joking aside, vultures in some parts of the world are in danger of disappearing. And according to a new report from University of Utah biologists, such a […]

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How Arctic spring kills birds in Africa

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Red knot birds are becoming smaller as temperatures warm in their Arctic breeding grounds. But the migrating birds don’t pay the price for this climate-caused shrinkage until they arrive at the more stable climate of their tropical winter homes. Having analyzed the data collected for more than three decades, scientists managed to show that the […]

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Highway noise deters communication between birds

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New research from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers shows birds may be avoiding habitats near noisy highways because they can’t hear fellow birds’ alarms that warn them of attacking hawks or owls. Some highways cut through or run along natural areas, and researchers know that wild birds often make their […]

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Tropical birds develop ‘superfast’ wing muscles for mating, not flying

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Studies in a group of tropical birds have revealed one of the fastest limb muscles on record for any animal with a backbone. The muscle, which can move the wing at more than twice the speeds required for flying, has evolved in association with extravagant courtship displays that involve rapid limb movements, according to a […]

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Evolution of Darwin’s finches tracked at genetic level

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Researchers are pinpointing the genes that lie behind the varied beaks of Darwin’s finches – the iconic birds whose facial variations have become a classic example of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Last year, researchers identified a gene that helps to determine the shape of the birds’ beaks. Today in Science, they report a […]

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Despite their small brains, ravens and crows may be just as clever as chimps, research suggests

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A study led by researchers at Lund University in Sweden suggests that ravens can be as clever as chimpanzees, despite having much smaller brains, indicating that rather than the size of the brain, the neuronal density and the structure of the birds’ brains play an important role in terms of their intelligence. “Absolute brain size […]

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With ravens, out of sight is not out of mind

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The question of what sets humans apart from other animals is one of the oldest philosophical puzzles. A popular answer is that only humans can understand that others also have minds like their own. But new research suggests that ravens — birds singled out by many cultures as a symbol of intelligence and wisdom — […]

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* Small birds’ vision: Not so sharp but superfast

One may expect a creature that darts around its habitat to be capable of perceiving rapid changes as well. Yet birds are famed more for their good visual acuity. Joint research by Uppsala University, Stockholm University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) now shows that, in small passerines (perching birds) in the wild, […]

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Botulism in waterbirds: Mortality rates and new insights into how it spreads

Outbreaks of botulism killed large percentages of waterbirds inhabiting a wetland in Spain. During one season, more than 80 percent of gadwalls and black-winged stilts died. The botulinum toxin’s spread may have been abetted by an invasive species of water snail which frequently carries the toxin-producing bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, and which is well adapted to […]

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* Songbirds pinpoint effects of Huntington’s disease

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Although Huntington’s disease is caused by mutations in a single gene, understanding how it ravages the brain and body has been anything but simple. A new study by Duke University scientists parses the role of the Huntington’s disease gene in an area of the brain responsible for complex, sequential movements like those used to talk […]

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