Climate change alters cast of winter birds

Climate change alters cast of winter birds

Over the past two decades, the resident communities of birds that attend eastern North America’s backyard bird feeders in winter have quietly been remade, most likely as a result of a warming climate. Writing this week in the journal Global Change Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife biologists Benjamin Zuckerberg and Karine Princé document that once … Continue reading

Britain’s migrating birds are declining in number

Britain’s migrating birds are declining in number

Birds that make the great journey between northern Europe and Africa are declining in number, conservationists warn. Nearly half of the 29 species of so-called summer migrants, who appear in the UK in spring to breed before returning in the autumn, show long-term population declines. The nightingale, famed for its song and for inspiring English … Continue reading

New ‘tree of life’ traces evolution of a mysterious cotinga birds

New ‘tree of life’ traces evolution of a mysterious cotinga birds

They are some of the brightest, loudest, oddest-looking, least-understood birds on the planet. Some have bulbous crests, long fleshy wattles, or Elvis-worthy pompadours in addition to electric blue, deep purple, or screaming orange feathers. But thanks to a comprehensive new evolutionary “tree of life” generated for the tropical cotinga family of South America, the door … Continue reading

‘Inner GPS’ of bird brains may be better than that of humans

‘Inner GPS’ of bird brains may be better than that of humans

The 2014 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded to three neuroscientists for their pioneering work on the brain’s “inner GPS system”. Over the course of four decades, they revealed that a small part in the brain called the hippocampus stores a map of animals’ surroundings and helps them navigate. The award-winning work was … Continue reading

Balancing birds and biofuels: Grasslands support more species than cornfields

Balancing birds and biofuels: Grasslands support more species than cornfields

In Wisconsin, bioenergy is for the birds. Really. In a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scientists examined whether corn and perennial grassland fields in southern Wisconsin could provide both biomass for bioenergy production and bountiful bird habitat. The research team found that … Continue reading

Penguin Personalities Cause Birds to Adapt to Climate Change

Penguin Personalities Cause Birds to Adapt to Climate Change

The climate continues to change, causing animals to change their lifestyles in turn. Currently, the ability of many animal species to adapt is being put to the test. Now, though, researchers have taken a closer look at penguins and have found that a bird’s individual personality may be among the factors that could improve its … Continue reading

Escape from an evolutionary cul-de-sac

Escape from an evolutionary cul-de-sac

Passion flowers with long nectar tubes depend entirely on the sword-billed hummingbird for pollination. However, as a new study by LMU researchers shows, the evolution of even such extreme specialization is by no means irreversible. The blossoms produced by the many species of passion flowers belong to the most visually striking and attractive flowers known … Continue reading

Beating Monk Parakeets at Their Own Game

Beating Monk Parakeets at Their Own Game

In a study published this week in the online journal PeerJ, University of Connecticut researchers announce they have found a way to prevent Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monarchus), an invasive species of parrot, from building huge nests that create power outages and public hazards on utility poles by blocking their access to the electric lines that … Continue reading

Birds Build Nests with Camouflage in Mind

Birds Build Nests with Camouflage in Mind

Researchers have recorded the first direct evidence that birds consider the notion of camouflage when they choose colored materials for their nests. A team from the University of St. Andrews wallpapered male zebra finch cages in different colors. Then they filmed the birds building their nests, giving them paper strip choices for nest material in … Continue reading