Bird populations across the French countryside have fallen by a third over the last decade and a half, researchers have said. The primary culprit, researchers speculate, is the intensive use of pesticides on vast tracts of monoculture crops, especially wheat and corn.
Biologists are discovering that many avian species rely on scent for feeding, breeding and other behaviours.
Female jacanas are fighters, towering over the males. They are stronger than males, vastly more aggressive, and they have the larger weapons. Sharp yellow spurs jut forward like daggers from each elbow.
Marine plastic debris emits the scent of a sulfurous compound that some seabirds have relied upon for thousands of years to tell them where to find food. This olfactory cue essentially tricks the birds into confusing marine plastic with food.
Chicks that are competing with siblings or whose parents are likely to die or switch partners tend to be less honest when begging for food, research into sibling rivalry in birds has found. Over millions of years, natural selection has caused species with higher levels of conflict to evolve chicks that beg for food even when they don't need it.
Azure-winged magpies provide food to their group members spontaneously and without the other birds begging them. This so-called 'proactive pro-sociality has long been believed to be a human hallmark. Raising offspring cooperatively may have promoted the emergence of prosocial tendencies not only in humans, but also in other animals.
Musical ability in birds may have been a precursor to the evolution of the many dimensions of musical ability in humans. Science and music may have different criteria for truth, but sometimes their insights need to be put together to make sense of the beautiful performances we find in nature.
Pigeons can learn to distinguish real words from non-words by visually processing their letter combinations. That pigeons -- separated by 300 million years of evolution from humans and having vastly different brain architectures -- show such a skill is astonishing. We may have to seriously re-think the use of the term ʼbird brainʼ as a put down.
Flock leaders who attempt to give their fellow pigeons incorrect information about their direction of travel can be overruled by the collective wisdom of the group.
Birds that live in suburban areas exhibit significantly higher levels of territorial aggression than their country counterparts. A possible reason for this is that these birds have less space but better resources to defend.
Unlike birds that move away from their territory and separate after breeding, Fairy-wrens live together in pairs, year-round, in the same patch. Females exhibit long term planning and are more likely to end their relationship when the opportunity for a better territory arises. This could be a female strategy to improve reproductive success in the long term, and the immediate benefit is a better territory.
How might a bird sleep in flight without colliding with obstacles or falling from the sky? One solution would be to only switch off half of the brain at a time.
By the end of World War I, France had mobilized 30,000 pigeons and had declared that anyone impeding their flight could be sentenced to death.
Biologists believe that the male birds are unfaithful to ensure they father as many chicks as they can, while females are unfaithful with males of better 'genetic quality' -- ones that are fitter and could produce stronger offspring. However, cheating comes with a cost -- the cheating female's partner will provide less food for their nest of young.
For a long time having a 'bird brain' was considered to be a bad thing: Now it turns out that it should be a compliment.
People use cues like intensity (volume), frequency (pitch), location and time to segregate sounds. This capacity can facilitate conversation in a noisy room, but for animals, segregating sounds in the environment can mean the difference between distinguishing a suitable mate from a potential predator.
For Zoroastrians, burying or cremating the dead is seen as polluting nature. So for centuries, the Parsis in Mumbai have relied on vultures to do the work — that is, until the entire population of vultures in the city vanished.
Populations of most vulture species around the world are now either declining or on the brink of extinction. Such a loss would have serious consequences for ecosystems and human populations alike. The greatest external threat to vultures is man-made poisoning. Vultures serve as a barrier to prevent diseases from proliferating in dead animals and spreading to humans.
Study shows that ravens are 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.
A new explanation for why female animals are usually less colorful and decorated than their male counterparts.