Prior research had shown that birds hear incredibly low-frequency sound waves of about 0.1 Hertz, or a tenth of a cycle per second. These infrasound waves may emanate from in the ocean and create tiny disturbances in the atmosphere. Hagstrum began to think the birds used infrasound for navigation.
on the odd day when the birds reached home from Jersey Hill without problems, the infrasound traveled between the two locations. At the other locations where pigeons headed off in the wrong direction, he showed that wind currents channeled the infrasound waves in that direction.
The explanation may solve other mysteries about pigeons — for instance, why they circle around before heading off in one direction. Because the sound waves are so long, but the birds’ ear canals are tiny, they need to circle to reconstruct the wave and figure out which way they are oriented, he said.
More interesting scientific inquiry. It is very interesting to learn what scientists are learning about our world – even when the conclusions are still preliminary and may be adjusted or refuted.
Parrots, which have long amused us for their ability to imitate our vocal patterns, actually learn to caw their “names” from their parents, says a new Cornell study. The research offers the first evidence that parrots learn their unique signature calls from their parents and shows that vocal signaling in wild parrots is a socially acquired rather than a genetically wired trait.
Previous research had shown that all wild parrots use unique “contact calls” that not only distinguish each bird individually, but also communicate their gender, and the mate and larger group they belong to.
“Parrots can have extremely long periods [leading up] to independence, and this is thought to be related to their large brains,” explained Berg. The same goes for primates, he said, with humans in particular being “off the charts” when it comes to a lengthy stage of child dependence.
More research is required, to better understand the evolution of and interaction between these physical and behavioral traits, he said. “We still don’t have good explanations of how these behaviors help wild individuals survive and reproduce in nature,” he said.
The paper offers some possible explanations: Perhaps the parrots’ far-ranging journeys to “communal foraging sights” are what impress upon each parent the need to have their fledglings’ names sorted out — not unlike human parents’ need to call for their children by name at a crowded fair.
I enjoy learning more fun and cool stuff about the animals we share the world with. They are quite an interesting bunch of creatures.
Very clever technique. Quite an effective strategy to take a byproduct of people (bread) and use it to lure in your prey. I posted another bird fishing using bait webcast previously: that post includes links to more such videos.
Hummingbirds and insects have evolved for sustained hovering ﬂight from vastly different ancestral directions, and their distinct phylogenies underlie the differences in their aerodynamic styles. In all other birds—and, presumably, hummingbird ancestors—the downstroke provides 100% of weight support during slow ﬂight and hovering. Given that many birds possess the mass-speciﬁc power (using anaerobic metabolism) to hover for short periods, the selective pressure on hummingbird ancestors was probably for increased efﬁciency (resulting in stiff wings with greatly simpliﬁed
kinematics), and an upstroke muscle (the supracoracoideus) that makes the recovery stroke rapid, while contributing enough to the hovering power requirements to allow the downstroke muscle (the pectoralis) to operate within its aerobic limits.
In other words, this pseudosymmetrical wingbeat cycle is good enough, and although hummingbirds do not exhibit the elegant aerodynamic symmetry of insects, natural selection rewards ‘good enough’ as richly as it does our aesthetic ideals
I see a fair number of birds around my current abode (a condo in a high rise) in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Getting photos of them isn’t easy though. Here are 2 hawks or eagles? If you can identify them please add a comment (if you have a link to authenticate the identification, even better).
I even have some storks that commute past my windows every morning and evening.
Great video of a crow sledding down a roof on a small intertube like thing (a lid?). Then it picks up the sled and flies back to the top and sleds down again. Awesome. The curious crow then flies off with its sled to try it out elsewhere (maybe).
Dinosaur feather evolution trapped in Canadian amber
a study of amber found near Grassy Lake in Alberta – dated from what is known as the Late Cretaceous period – has unearthed a full range of feather structures that demonstrate the progression. “We’re finding two ends of the evolutionary development that had been proposed for feathers trapped in the same amber deposit,” said Ryan McKellar of the University of Alberta, lead author of the report.
The team’s find confirms that the filaments progressed to tufts of filaments from a single origin, called barbs. In later development, some of these barbs can coalesce into a central branch called a rachis. As the structure develops further, further branches of filments form from the rachis.
“We’ve got feathers that look to be little filamentous hair-like feathers, we’ve got the same filaments bound together in clumps, and then we’ve got a series that are for all intents and purposes identical to modern feathers,” Mr McKellar told BBC News.
“We’re catching some that look to be dinosaur feathers and another set that are pretty much dead ringers for modern birds.”
a picture is emerging that many dinosaurs were not the dull-coloured, reptilian-skinned creatures that they were once thought to be. “If you were to transport yourself back 80 million years to western North America and walk around the forest… so many of the animals would have been feathered,” said Dr Norell.
“We’re getting more and more evidence… that these animals were also brightly coloured, just like birds are today.”
This story begins on Valentine’s Day in 1985 when biologist Stacey O’Brien meets a four-day-old baby barn owl in a fateful encounter that would turn into an astonishing 19-year saga. With nerve damage in one wing, the owlet’s ability to fly was forever compromised and he had no hope of surviving on his own in the wild. A young assistant in the owl laboratory at Caltech, O’Brien promised to care for the helpless owlet and give him a permanent home. O’Brien’s heartfelt memoir of life with this wild bird, Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl recounts their dramatic, and often humorous, life together.
For almost two decades, O’Brien studied Wesley and his strange habits intensively and providing a mice-only diet. With a heart-shaped face and outsized personality that belied his 18-inch stature, the gorgeous white-and-gold Wesley fascinated everyone he met, and touched many lives. Stacey and Wesley’s bond was especially deep; O’Brien discovered that owls are highly sentient beings with individual personalities, subtle emotions, and a playful nature that can also turn fiercely loyal and protective.
Nice view out my window from my desk today. This wonderful hawk landed on my deck and I was lucky enough to have my camera right next to me. It is so nice to be able to have this view instead of a view like the IT Crowd staff have in their basement IT office.
During a trip to the Smithsonian last week I found this great home engineering project. Kayty Himelstein and Amy Darr were frustrated: birds came to their bird feeder while they were away at school, so the girls never got to see them. They decided to build a bird feeder that automatically takes pictures of all the birds that came to the feeder. I believe, they used Lego Mindstorms as part of building it.