The ABC’s of animal speech: Not so random after all

The ABC’s of animal speech: Not so random after all

The calls of many animals, from whales to wolves, might contain more language-like structure than previously thought, according to study that raises new questions about the evolutionary origins of human language. The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed the vocal sequences of seven different species of birds and … Continue reading

Songbird student pilots delay departure and make frequent stopovers during first migration

Songbird student pilots delay departure and make frequent stopovers during first migration

Juvenile songbirds on spring migration travel from overwintering sites in the tropics to breeding destinations thousands of kilometres away with no prior experience to guide them. Now, a new study out of York University has tracked these “student pilots” on their first long-haul flight and found significant differences between the timing of juvenile migration and … Continue reading

Birds and Bats Act as Rainforest Gardeners

Birds and Bats Act as Rainforest Gardeners

Rainforests are increasingly thinning out due to deforestation and logging, but these tropical forests are getting a boost from some unlikely gardeners. Birds and bats are introducing a surprising number of trees into new forests, a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE shows. A team of Mexican and American biologists examined the vegetation in a … Continue reading

Magpies don’t like shiny objects

Magpies don’t like shiny objects

It is considered the villain of the animal kingdom – a pilferer obsessed with stealing trinkets. But it appears the magpie has been unfairly maligned all along. For despite its centuries-old reputation, new research suggests that the bird is not attracted to shiny objects after all. In fact, as animal psychologists have discovered, magpies are … Continue reading

Scientists detect genetic abnormalities in Fukushima birds, insects

Scientists detect genetic abnormalities in Fukushima birds, insects

In a set of papers published Thursday in the Journal of Heredity, a U.S. publication, Japanese and U.S. scientists warned that radioactive materials released from by the core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant could have caused abnormalities in the genes of nearby birds and insects. One of the experts, Timothy Mousseau of … Continue reading

Many Bird Species Exposed to “Eye Disease,” New Study Finds

Many Bird Species Exposed to “Eye Disease,” New Study Finds

“The results were shocking,” says André Dhondt, director of Bird Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “More than half the bird species we tested have been exposed to the bacteria responsible for House Finch eye disease.” A paper recently published in the online scientific journal PLOS ONE shows that a bacterial parasite previously … Continue reading

Scientists ask bird oglers to help study puffins

Scientists ask bird oglers to help study puffins

The Audubon Society wants bird lovers to contribute research to a project scientists hope will help save Atlantic puffins from starvation in Maine. There are about 1,000 pairs of the seabirds, known for their multi-colored beaks and clownish appearance, in Maine. Audubon says the number of puffin fledging chicks has declined in the last two … Continue reading

Study traces evolutionary origins of migration in New World birds

Study traces evolutionary origins of migration in New World birds

Every year, millions of birds make the journey from North America to Central and South America for the winter. But the evolutionary origins of this long-distance migration have remained opaque due to the complex geographic distributions of modern and ancient bird ranges. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Chicago have developed a … Continue reading

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into birds

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into birds

If almost all dinosaurs had feathers, as recent studies have indicated, what determined which ones would evolve into birds? According to new research published in Science, the mantra of the dino-birds was “just keep shrinking.” In fact, the dinosaur lineage that produced our modern birds spent 50 million years continually getting smaller and smaller in … Continue reading