Posts about birds

Crows Can Recognize People

Crows can recognize people and remember them for years. Listen to this interesting report from NPR. Researchers alienated a crow, and then were razzed and harassed by its family and neighbors wherever they go.

Related: Cool Crow ResearchFriday Cat Fun #10: Cat and Crow FriendsSmart Crows

Pigeon Solves Box and Banana Problem

Laboratory footage showing a pigeon solving Wolfgang Kohler’s famous box-and-banana problem, which he studied with chimpanzees in the early 1900s. Depending on their previous experience, pigeons could solve this problem in a human-like fashion in as little as a minute. This pigeon has learned to push boxes and to climb, and it has been rewarded with grain for pecking at a small toy banana.

In this situation, the banana is out of reach and the box is not beneath it. At first the pigeon looks confused, then it begins pushing the box – sighting the toy banana as it pushes – and then stops pushing when the box is beneath the banana, then climbs and pecks. This and related studies were summarized in Dr. Epstein‘s 1996 book, Cognition, Creativity, & Behavior.

This is another example of interesting thoughtful bird behavior.

Related: Bird Using Bait to FishBird BrainCool Crow Research

Using Barn Owls for Bilogical Pest Control in Israel

Using Barn Owls (Tyto alba erlangeri) For Biological Pest Control In Israel

Agricultural pests come in all forms, but worldwide it is small mammals, mostly rodents, that are responsible for the destruction of about 35% of the total world agriculture. To combat rodents, farmers use rodenticides. However, these pesticides are relatively ineffective as they are short-lived

During the late 1960’s, hundreds of birds of prey (some of them threatened and endangered species) were killed throughout Israel from secondary poisoning after eating rodents that had been poisoned with rodenticides.

Once farmers grasp the concept that their ‘winged’ neighbours can help to solve rodent damage if they stop using poisons, Barn Owls and Kestrels will be able to rise to the occasion and control rodents. By living in harmony, both farmers and these birds will be able to benefit from living in co-existence. As we are just beginning to understand the power of nature we realise its many economic benefits, even in modern times. As Barn Owls and Kestrels truly know no boundaries, they not only solve economic problems, but are also bringing peoples together. This is very much needed in the Middle East.

Great stuff.

Related: Pigs Instead of PesticidesPesticide Laced Fertiliser Ruins Gardensposts on birds

Friday Fun: Bird Using Bait to Fish

In the webcast an Aukuu bird (Black-crowned Night Heron) fishes using bread as bait. They normally hunt by waiting at the side of a lake and fishing. This individual learned how to bait the fish with bread and improve the fishing results. It also passed on that method to other birds that learned how to use the bait method themselves.

Another bird using bait (with turtles trying to get the bait) and another bird using bait (with a stork trying to steal the fish). And another one. The videos seem to be different species of birds to me.

Related: Orangutan Attempts to Hunt Fish with SpearDolphins Using Tools to HuntBird Brain experimentposts on animals

Many Bird Species Declining In USA

photo of a Rusty Blackbirdphoto of a Rusty blackbird, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Report Warns Many Bird Species Declining In U.S.

“The rusty blackbird is a great example of what the ‘State of the Birds‘ is really trying to get at. Somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of population has been lost within the last 40 years,” says Ziolkowski. “The biggest factor is probably loss of wetland habitat. Most populations of birds are really declining now primarily because of rampant development and urban sprawl.”

The report includes some good news about birds that were on the brink of extinction but have rebounded because of conservation efforts, including the Laysan duck and the wild turkey. But it also says many bird species are in trouble — including birds that live on the oceans, in grasslands, in deserts, in the Arctic, on the coasts, in wetlands and in forests.

Development, agriculture, energy production, pollution, invasive species and climate change all put birds at risk.

The report shows that many other birds are in trouble. Half of the birds that migrate along on the coasts are declining, and so are many seabirds and lots of the birds that live in grasslands and in deserts.

And despite Hawaii’s reputation for rich flora and fauna, more bird species are vulnerable to extinction there than any place else.

Related: Backyard Wildlife: CrowsSpeciation of Dendroica WarblersBird Species Plummeted After West NileBackyard Wildlife: Sharpshinned

Friday Duckling Fun

This duckling seems imprinted on this puppy in China.

Related: Friday Cat Fun #10: Cat and Crow FriendsFriday dog escape funCurious Cat Science Search

Successful Emergency Plane Landing in the Hudson River

photo of airplane in Hudson riverPhoto of a plane that crash landed in the Hudson River, New York, by jkrums.

emergency landing in river by New York City

A US Airways Airbus A320, Flight 1549, has made an emergency landing in the Hudson River after a failed attempt to take off near Manhattan. There were 148 passengers and five crew on the flight to Charlotte from LaGuardia Airport. The plane took off at 3:26 PM EST (UTC-5) and went down minutes later. All aboard survived the landing.

The United States Coast Guard has reported that they have sent units to the scene of the incident, and that a nearby ferry was giving life jackets to survivors. According to witnesses, the plane landed in the river, making a large splash in the water, at a somewhat gradual angle.

“This looked like a controlled descent,” said Bob Read, who witnessed the incident from his office.

A source told The Wall Street Journal that the plane initially was maneuvering to make an emergency landing at nearby Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, but lost too much altitude and had to ditch in the river.

Unconfirmed reports are citing the pilot as saying that the plane encountered a flock of geese and that some of them went into each of the jet’s engines, leading to a loss of powered flight. Passengers told the press that they heard a loud bang shortly after takeoff.

A Federal Aviation Administration official said that the plane was only airborne for three minutes. For these rare waterlandings, pilots are trained to bring the plane down as they would on land, but with the landing gear still stowed.

How often do birds cause plane crashes?

Related: Why Planes Fly: What They Taught You In School Was WrongEngineering the Boarding of Airplanes

Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake Photos

Yellow flower on Antelope Island

I have posted photos from the first day of my Utah trip: Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City. The Great Salt Lake is

Friday Cat Fun #10: Cat and Crow Friends

Very cool, it is amazing what happens in life. And that bird is remarkably patient. Getting, even playfully, ambushed by a cat doesn’t seem like something what would come naturally. At least with polar bears and huskies they both are used to playing rough with their own.

Related: fun with catsBunny and KittensBird Brains: thinking crowsPhotos by Fritz the Catanimal planet on the cat and crow

Bird Brain

Bird-brains smarter than your average ape

In a recent study 20 individuals from the great ape species were unable to transfer their knowledge from the trap-table and trap-tube or vice versa, despite the fact that both these puzzles work in the same way. Strikingly the crows in The University of Auckland study were able to solve the trap-table problem after their experience with the trap-tube.

“The crows appeared to solve these complex problems by identifying causal regularities,” says Professor Russell Gray of the Department of Psychology. “The crows’ success with the trap-table suggests that the crows were transferring their causal understanding to this novel problem by analogical reasoning. However, the crows didn’t understand the difference between a hole with a bottom and one without. This suggests the level of cognition here is intermediate between human-like reasoning and associative learning.”

“It was very surprising to see the crows solve the trap-table,” says PhD student Alex Taylor. “The trap table puzzle was visually different from the trap-tube in its colour, shape and material. Transfer between these two distinct problems is not predicted by theories of associative learning and is something not even the great apes have so far been able to do.”

Related: Cool Crow ResearchOrangutan Attempts to Hunt Fish with SpearBackyard Wildlife: CrowsDolphins Using Tools to Hunt

Dealth of Artic Plankton a Warning on Warming

Death bloom of plankton a warning on warming by David Perlman

Vanishing Arctic sea ice brought on by climate change is causing the crucially important microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton to bloom explosively and die away as never before, a phenomenon that is likely to create havoc among migratory creatures that rely on the ocean for food, Stanford scientists have found.

Phytoplankton throughout the world’s oceans is the crucial nutrient at the base of the food web on which all marine life depends; when it’s plentiful, life thrives and when it’s gone, marine life is impossible.

“It’s a complex system,” Arrigo said in an interview, “but as the changes in ice cover throw the timing of phytoplankton abundance off, then the birds and animals whose brains have long been programmed to migrate north at specific times of the year will have missed the boat if there’s no nourishment for them when they get there.”

Every spring and summer, phytoplankton in the Arctic blooms richly in explosive pulses, nourished by nitrogen and phosphorous in the seawater, and when those chemicals are consumed, the blooms end, Arrigo said.

Related: Arctic System on Trajectory to New, Seasonally Ice-Free StateOcean Warming’s Effect on PhytoplanktonWhat’s Up With the Weather?posts related to oceans