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

New basal bird from China reveals the morphological diversity in early birds

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Over the past three decades, representatives of all major Mesozoic bird groups have been reported from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota of northeastern China. A new species, Chongmingia zhengi, reported in the journal of Scientific Reports on 25 January 2016, sheds light on the early evolution of birds. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that it is basal […]

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Woodpecker drumming signals wimp or warrior

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Animal behavior researchers at Wake Forest University have found that the highly territorial downy woodpecker interprets drumming intensity from adversaries to figure out who is or isn’t a threat. Instead of a distinctive song, woodpeckers bang on trees with their bills to create a sound called drumming. The birds use it to communicate when they […]

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Bird communication: Chirping with syntax

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Language is one of the defining characteristics of human beings: It enables us to generate unlimited meanings from a finite number of phonetic elements. Using syntactic rules, humans are able to combine words to form phrases and sentences, and thus ascribe meaning to various things and activities. Research on communication systems suggests that non-human primates […]

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Tunnel through the head: Internally coupled ears enable directional hearing in animals

Humans use the time delay between the arrival of a sound wave at each ear to discern the direction of the source. In frogs, lizards and birds the distance between the ears is too small. However, they have a cavity connecting the eardrums, in which internal and external sound waves are superimposed. Using a universal […]

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* Songbird’s reference genome illuminate key role of epigenetics in evolution of memory and learning

A well-known songbird, the great tit, has revealed its genetic code, offering researchers new insight into how species adapt to a changing planet. Their initial findings suggest that epigenetics — what’s on rather than what’s in the gene — may play a key role in the evolution of memory and learning. And that’s not just […]

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The magnetic compass of birds is affected by polarized light

The magnetic compass that birds use for orientation is affected by polarised light. This previously unknown phenomenon was discovered by researchers at Lund University in Sweden. The discovery that the magnetic compass is affected by the polarisation direction of light was made when trained zebra finches were trying to find food inside a maze. The […]

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Small birds prefer flying in company

Until now, scientists had observed that some large birds are sociable amongst each other. However, a new study has confirmed that this unique characteristic can also be seen among smaller birds such as the Eurasian siskin, a bird which is able to form bonds that last for a number of years as well as travel […]

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Orangutans: Lethal aggression between females

Researchers have for the first time witnessed the death of a female orangutan at the hands of another female. Even more extraordinary is that the perpetrator recruited a male orangutan as a hired gun to help her corner and attack the victim. Before this observation, lethal fights between females had never been observed in orangutans; […]

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Singing in the brain: Songbirds sing like humans

A songbirds’ vocal muscles work like those of human speakers and singers, finds a study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research on Bengalese finches showed that each of their vocal muscles can change its function to help produce different parameters of sounds, in a manner similar to that of a trained opera […]

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How birds learn through imitation

Precise changes in brain circuitry occur as young zebra finches go from listening to their fathers’ courtship songs to knowing the songs themselves, according to a study led by neuroscientists at NYU Langone Medical Center and published online in a Science cover report on January 14. The study reveals how birds learn songs through observation […]

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How variation in body size correlates with en-route migration performance in a long-distance migratory songbird?

Researchers relate migration performance to body and wing size in migratory songbirds. The original article “The influence of morphological variation on migration performance in a trans-hemispheric migratory songbird” is available to read and download fully in open access on De Gruyter Online. Every spring and fall, migratory songbirds around the world make epic journeys from […]

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Crows caught on camera fashioning special hook tools

Scientists have been given an extraordinary glimpse into how wild New Caledonian crows make and use ‘hooked stick tools’ to hunt for insect prey. Scientists have been given an extraordinary glimpse into how wild New Caledonian crows make and use ‘hooked stick tools’ to hunt for insect prey. Dr Jolyon Troscianko, from the University of […]

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Few migratory birds adequately protected across migration cycle

Scientists have called for a greater international collaborative effort to save the world’s migratory birds, many of which are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitat along their flight paths. More than 90 per cent of the world’s migratory birds are inadequately protected due to poorly coordinated conservation around the world, a new […]

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Urban swans’ genes make them plucky

Researchers have discovered that swans’ wariness is partly determined by their genes. The research, which is published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, suggests that swans which are genetically predisposed to be timid are more likely to live in non-urban areas, and the findings could have important implications for releasing animals bred in […]

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Cuckoo sheds new light on the scientific mystery of bird migration

The cuckoo is not only capable of finding its way from unknown locations; it does this through a highly complex individual decision making process. Such skills have never before been documented in migratory birds. A new study shows that navigation in migratory birds is even more complex than previously assumed. The Center for Macroecology, Evolution […]

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To feed or not to feed: Researchers engage citizen scientists in reducing bird-window collisions

Getting in touch with nature in an urbanized world can be as simple as putting a bird feeder in your backyard. However, what are the potential consequences of this act? Bird-window collisions are one of the largest threats facing urban bird populations in Canada. A new study out of the University of Alberta engages citizen […]

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* Hummingbirds rely on raw power, not physique, to outmaneuver rivals

Brute strength is surprisingly important to the ability of hummingbirds to outmaneuver rivals for nectar and evade predators, according to new University of British Columbia research published in eLife. An intensive study of 20 Anna’s hummingbirds, Calypte anna, led by the University of British Columbia, revealed that birds with the highest muscle capacity are able […]

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Missing link between dinosaur nests and bird nests

The links between dinosaurs and birds keep getting stronger: skeletal structures, feathers—and now nests. Whereas some dinosaurs buried their eggs crocodile-style, a new analysis suggests that other dinosaurs built open nests on the ground, foreshadowing the nests of birds. Interpreting the fossil record is always tough, but analyzing trace fossils such as nests is especially […]

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West Nile virus killing millions more birds than previously thought

Many people remember the arrival of West Nile in North America in 1999, if only because the initial outbreak killed not just wild crows but also exotic birds in the Bronx Zoo. In the following years, a trail of dead crows marked the spread of the virus from the East through the Midwest on to […]

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Births down and deaths up in Gulf dolphins

A NOAA-led team of scientists is reporting a high rate of reproductive failure in dolphins exposed to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The team has monitored these bottlenose dolphins in heavily-oiled Barataria Bay for five years following the spill. Their findings, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society today, suggest that the effects of […]

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Human handouts could be spreading disease from birds to people

People feeding white ibises at public parks are turning the normally independent birds into beggars, and now researchers at the University of Georgia say it might also be helping spread disease. They recently launched a study to find out how being fed by humans is changing the health, ecology and behavior of white ibises in […]

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Wild birds choose love over food

Wild birds will sacrifice access to food in order to stay close to their partner over the winter, according to a study by Oxford University researchers. Scientists from the Department of Zoology found that mated pairs of great tits chose to prioritise their relationships over sustenance in a novel experiment that prevented couples from foraging […]

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* Vulture’s scavenging secrets: Ironclad stomach, strong immune system

Vultures have a unique genetic make-up allowing them to digest carcasses and guard themselves against constant exposure to pathogens in their diet, according to the first Eurasian vulture genome published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study also finds that this species of Asian vulture is more closely related to the North American […]

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Secret nocturnal lives of wood thrushes

We know surprisingly little about what songbirds do after the sun goes down, but past studies have provided tantalizing hints that many forest birds roost for the night in different habitat from where they spend the day. A new paper confirms that wood thrushes often move out of their daytime ranges to sleep, seeking dense […]

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Growing up without parents makes endangered birds more flexible

This is it, kids: official permission to stop listening to what your parents tell you–but only if you’re a bird. Many animal parents spend time teaching their young about how to find food and avoid danger, and this usually gives a big boost to their offspring. In a Commentary forthcoming in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, […]

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* Antiviral compound provides full protection from Ebola virus in nonhuman primates

Rhesus monkeys were completely protected from the deadly Ebola virus when treated three days after infection with a compound that blocks the virus’s ability to replicate. These encouraging preclinical results suggest the compound, known as GS-5734, should be further developed as a potential treatment, according to research findings to be presented tomorrow at the IDWeek […]

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From hummingbird to owl: New research decodes bird family tree

The rapid extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago gave rise to a stunning variety of bird species over the next few million years, according to Florida State University researchers. A study published in the journal Nature in coordination with Yale University resolved the bird family tree, something that has never been accomplished by scientists. […]

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Pathogen-carrying neotropical ticks ride migratory birds into US

Tick species not normally present in the United States are arriving here on migratory birds. Some of these ticks carry disease-causing Ricksettia species, and some of those species are exotic to the US. The research is published on October 2nd in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. In the […]

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Invasive brood parasites a threat to native bird species

North Americans might be seeing new species of birds in certain areas of the continent in the near future. According to research conducted by a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his co-authors, Eurasian birds are beginning to develop a presence on our continent, which could end up having a negative effect […]

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* ‘Immune camouflage’ may explain H7N9 influenza vaccine failure

The avian influenza A (H7N9) virus has been a major concern since the first outbreak in China in 2013. Due to its high rate of lethality and pandemic potential, H7N9 vaccine development has become a priority for public health officials. However, candidate vaccines have failed to elicit the strong immune responses necessary to protect from […]

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