Posts tagged birds
Posts tagged birds
First Endangered Whooping Crane Nest in Louisiana in 75 Years!
Two eggs sitting on a nest of marsh grass and sticks in a crawfish pond offer a hope in a project to bring back the endangered whooping crane to south Louisiana.
“Our fingers are crossed that next week we might have chicks hatching there,” said Sara Zimorski, a biologist with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
It’s been 75 years since a whooping crane egg was documented in the state, and the birds had disappeared from the Louisiana landscape by 1950, the victim of habitat loss and hunting…
(read more: Clarion-Ledger)
Hey, wanna help scientists study the endangered California Condor? Here’s your chance!
With Condor Watch, you’ll be helping researchers ID condors to help them figure out what, if anything, their social structure has to do with who gets lead poisoning from animals killed by lead bullets. You’re presented with photos from feeding stations and asked to ID what scavengers are there, and if condors are present, things like their ID tags and age.
There are a lot of mangled animal carcasses at the feeding stations which some viewers may find upsetting, so careful there if gore and/or animal death is something you’re sensitive to. Zooniverse has plenty of research projects you can help out with, but as a Pacific Northwest native the California Condors are really important to me, so I though I’d get the word out.
I tell this to all my parrot owning clients. Following this prevents lots of unwanted behaviors.
Streamers: A Win-Win for Seabirds and Fishermen
by Nicole Perman
Until recently, it seemed as though the short-tailed albatross would not be able to escape extinction. These endangered seabirds have been threatened first by hunting, and more recently by overfishing in the North Pacific and Bering Seas, and by their less-than-ideal primary breeding ground – a small volcanically active island called Tori-shima, located off the southern coast of Japan.
As you can likely imagine, fishing hooks and volcanic eruptions make for a deadly combination, and albatross populations consequently took a nose dive. Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here. Thanks to the implementation of seabird deterrent devices, called streamers, short-tailed albatross have been making a comeback.
Who doesn’t like a good underdog story?
Streamers, often made of long strips of plastic tubing, have been used successfully by fishing fleets to keep birds, such as the short-tailed albatross, at bay. While streamers may look like nothing more than plastic strips waving in the wind to the human eye, the albatross are fooled.
To these seabirds, a row of streamers appears as a barrier. This illusion of a wall deters them from diving down to snag the bait, ultimately saving them from the hooks that have claimed so many of their kin…
(read more: National Geo)
photographs by Dr. Yuri Artukhin/WWF
This group of Emperor Geese (Chen canagica) (with one Brant Goose, Branta bernicla) was photographed at Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. While mostly a resident of Alaska and Siberia, the Emperor Goose can occasionally be seen on the Pacific Coast of Canada and the United States.
(via: USFWS_Migratory Birds)
fairy-wren: Red-bellied Grackle (Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster)
- endemic to Colombia
(photo by Priscilla Burcher)
This requires a link back to the original on the artist’s website. For biology nerds like me, her site is awesome!
I’m a little worried about the scare quotes around “smell”. Lots of birders are under the bizarre impression that most birds can’t smell… but there’s a huge amount of information in the peer-reviewed literature indicating that, yeah, they can all totally smell, and it seems to be a pretty important sense. And it appears they can recognize kin by smell:
Krause, E. et al. (2012) Olfactory kin recognition in a songbird. Biol. Lett. 8(3) 327–329.
I doubt parents would reject a suddenly human-smelling chick, but it could still be interesting to test.
Avian sensory perception research has primarily been focused on visual and auditory cues, so olfactory perception among birds is still a misunderstood (but developing) area. Certain birds - like the Kiwi (Apteryx spp.) who sniff out their earthworm prey- seem to have a more developed sense of smell than others.(x) Yet, the size of the olfactory bulb is not the only correlate to a developed sense of smell. (x) Passeriformes, for example, were thought to lack a sense of smell due to their small OR bulb, yet this has been disproved… at least in some passerines. (x)
What “smell” might be referring to, is that birds may not smell humans. Not that we are invisible to their sense of smell, but more that a bird is (probably) unlikely to identify any olfactory cues from humans on their offspring as being distinctly human.
Well first off we bathe quite a lot, so we’re often washing off our own natural sent and oils. Secondly, we have a lovely tendency to slather ourselves in the sent of lotions, deodorants, perfumes, detergents, and other chemicals. If a bird does smell “human” (like any two people smell exactly the same) on their babies, it would most likely be categorized as “other” or “not my kin” or something along those lines before it would be categorized as “human”. Of course, this kind of research would involve brain imaging (kind of like what they’re doing with dogs right now!), but it’s an exciting prospect!
Regardless of how well particular bird species’ has developed a sense of smell, there is something stronger at play here. Parental instinct. There is a very strong drive here to take care of their offspring, even if they happen to smell a little funky. As long as the potential threat (that means you, well meaning human) is gone, Mom and/or Dad will swoop in and continue doing their best for their baby. At least, that is what the literature, and my friends, colleagues, and own combined experience on this in the field and in captivity.
tl;dr. Yes birds can smell, but they’ll stay away because you are a scary potential predator… not because you made the babies stink like human.
References: (all open access)
Clark, L., K. V. Avilova, and N. J. Bean. “Odor thresholds in passerines.”Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology 104.2 (1993): 305-312. (x)
Steiger, Silke. Evolution of avian olfaction. Diss. lmu, 2008. (x)
Steiger et al. Avian olfactory receptor gene repertoires: evidence for a well-developed sense of smell in birds? Proceedings of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 2008; 1 (-1): -1 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0607 (x)
There were some experiments dealing with neophobia of odors in birds, but the results seem to be rather ambiguous. It’s reviewed in Roper (1999 — partially accessible, sadly). But yeah… even if parents were for some reason afraid of a new smell, it seems really unlikely they’d abandon their chick.
Also interesting is that rollers can barf up a scent indicating they’ve been stressed, so even if they’re covered in an unfamiliar smell, they’ll just make a new one for their parents to react to.
Parejo, D. et al. (2012) Rollers smell the fear of nestlings. Biol. Lett. 8(4_ 502–504
I’m back! I have an MFA degree and a sunburn from a wonderful week in Disneyworld, and I am looking forward to all that life offers a bird-crazy illustrator!
I have posted a few of these, but I thought it would make sense to have them all in one post. This is the result of my final project for my MFA—a series of recently extinct birds. Someday I hope I can make this into a full-fledged (pun unintended) book! It was a great learning experience and I look forward to continuing work on it.
BANDits are the most hilarious thing in paleontology like
More and more evidence comes up that dinosaurs and birds are directly related (aka birds ARE dinosaurs)
And they keep arguing that paleontologists are just in a giant conspiracy to make this up
First off, have you learned nothing from the evolution and global warming debate? Scientists don’t make stuff up like this
Second off, do you really think so many schools of paleontological thought could stop arguing long enough to agree to pull one over on everyone like this? Or that they would want to? What would be the damn point?
I will forever and ever laugh at BANDits and I hope that they become the biggest joke of paleontology of all time.
My newest life bird, the beautiful anhinga! I can’t believe it, but after reading about the Everglades for years I have finally visited! We walked the amazing Aninga Trail and saw gallinules, herons, egrets, storks, cormorants, ibises, anhingas, turtles, lizards, and of course, alligators. Or were they crocodiles? I may be able to tell birds apart, but those giant lizards still baffle me. More photos to come!
A Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) feeds in water at the edge of celery fields in Sarasota, FL, USA.
(via: Sarasota Audubon Society)
Ingenuity and lots of sticky tape and glue have helped a rare parrot chick survive against the odds.
When conservationists found a crushed kakapo egg in its mother Lisa’s nest, they may have been forgiven if they had decided to discard the specimen.
Instead, rescuers painstakingly pieced the broken shell back together using tape and glue – and after a long wait the chick has finally hatched.
It is the first kakapo chick to be born anywhere in the world for three years – and, having survived its big break, the birth has been dubbed ‘miraculous’ by rescuers who cared for it.
I hope we start seeing some art of Gastornis interacting peacefully with little proto-horses.
I like it! Neat speculation about the proto-horse using the bird to reach food.