You may have missed…

Albatross marriages in hot water Monogamous albatrosses don’t stay together for the kids when things aren’t working, and warming waters could increase pressure to ‘divorce’, according to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. International researchers studied a wild population of albatrosses in the Falkland Islands for 15 years and found that … Continue reading You may have missed…

You may have missed…

Near-Earth asteroid could be a piece of the Moon An asteroid called Kamo`oalewa likely has lunar origins, according to US astronomers, who analysed its composition and found that it matches lunar rocks from NASA’s Apollo missions. About the size of a fairground Ferris wheel, Kamo`oalewa is classified as a “quasi-satellite” – a subcategory of asteroids … Continue reading You may have missed…

Feeling twitchy? Get ready for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count

On Monday 18 October, the 2021 Aussie Backyard Bird Count begins! This annual outbreak of citizen bird-geekery involves observing and counting the birds that live near you – whether that’s in a backyard, local park, or even a town-centre green space. Participants record observations within a 20-minute period, and the data goes to BirdLife Australia, … Continue reading Feeling twitchy? Get ready for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count

Animals are ‘shapeshifting’ because of climate change

Some warm-blooded animals are “shapeshifting” in response to a warming climate, growing larger legs, beaks and ears at extremely fast rates to better regulate their body temperatures. “There are these bio-geographical rules that describe trends in body shape, and one of these is called Allen’s rule,” says Sara Ryding, a bird researcher at Deakin University … Continue reading Animals are ‘shapeshifting’ because of climate change

Fantastically elusive birds and how to find them

The fledgling discipline of ecoacoustics has added a remarkable diagnostic tool to field biology: a valid and reliable way to prove the absence of our most secretive species. Unless you’re a fugitive, an ecologist or a crocodile, swamps are terrible. Yes, yes, yes – very important ecological super niches and all that. But the mud, … Continue reading Fantastically elusive birds and how to find them

Robins’ eyes may have in-built ‘compass’

Migratory birds have an uncanny ability to orient themselves, finding their way across sometimes thousands of kilometres between seasonal locales. Especially impressive are those migratory birds that travel at night, often alone. While it’s been known since the 1960s that birds can use Earth’s magnetic field for guidance, the exact mechanisms have remained elusive. Seeking to understand … Continue reading Robins’ eyes may have in-built ‘compass’

Duetting wrens sing with telepathic link

The great duetters in history may have had more than just musical chemistry: for songbirds, there could even be a link between minds. In a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers studied the brains of male and female plain-tailed wrens as they sang duets. Their synchronised music wasn’t … Continue reading Duetting wrens sing with telepathic link

There are about 50 billion birds alive today

An Australian study has set out to measure the number of birds worldwide, returning an estimate of 50 billion – although the uncertainty on that number is large. “Humans have spent a great deal of effort counting the members of our own species – all 7.8 billion of us,” says Will Cornwell, an associate professor … Continue reading There are about 50 billion birds alive today

Kiwis don’t like noisy visitors

The noises people make when visiting kiwis in captivity – such as talking or mobile phones ringing – can upset the cherished New Zealand birds, according to a new study. Researchers led by Katie Davison from the University of Waikato observed abnormal pacing and startle reactions in response to environmental noise (heavy rainfall hitting the … Continue reading Kiwis don’t like noisy visitors

Birds thrive in the Murray-Darling

It’s a Murray-Darling bird-breeding party in the Gayini (Nimmie-Caira) wetlands in south west New South Wales, as birds trhive. Thousands of breeding waterbirds are flourishing thanks to water that’s been specifically allocated to help boost the environment, and the wisdom of the traditional custodians of Nari Nari Country. Gayini is a wetland complex of nearly … Continue reading Birds thrive in the Murray-Darling

Deceptive smells

It’s not only humans who can be fooled with misinformation to change their choices. Animals can be tricked too, it seems – and when used with good intentions, fake cues might help conservation initiatives without resorting to lethal culling.  By spraying pheromones at nesting sites in New Zealand weeks before native birds arrived there, scientists report in … Continue reading Deceptive smells

Noisy silence

New Zealand’s use of toxic aerial baits to rid the islands of invasive mammal predators has attracted claims that forests “fall silent”, with birdsong declines after each operation.  Listening to the forests, scientists have found little evidence for the claims, according to a study published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology. At a species level, however, chaffinches … Continue reading Noisy silence