Missing parrot returns speaking Spanish

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When Nigel, an African grey parrot who was missing for four years, was reunited with his caretaker, the bird was chattering in Spanish, not the British accent he had when he disappeared. (The Daily Breeze)

Documentary about people and vultures

Help fund Requiem For A Bird, an artistic documentary about Mumbai's Parsi people who ritualistically gift their dead to vultures whose population there has been decimated as a consequence of an anti-inflammatory drug previously given to cattle.

Read the rest

Parrot says 'WTF' (video)

[Video Link, thanks Dean Putney ]

Video: Beak-cam of rescued pelican relearning to fly

A pelican knocked around by a storm near Tanzinia's Mahale Mountains was rescued and taught to fly again. Here's beautiful "beak-cam" footage of the soaring bird. (No, GoPro didn't pay us to post this clip.) (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Video: visualizing the paths of congregating birds

Dennis Hlynsky captured video of starlings congregating at Massachusetts' Seekonk Speedway and then digtally drew in their flight paths. (via The Kid Should See This)

Why birds fly in a V formation

Why do birds fly in a "V" formation? Scientists at the UK's Royal Veterinary College attached sensors to endangered ibises migrating from Austria to Tuscany. What they confirmed is that the aerodynamics of V flocking helps the birds conserve energy and that they optimize this by careful positioning and timing their wing flaps. "Precision formation flight astounds scientists" (Nature)

Video: true bird's eye view

Back in May, aboriginal rangers placed a motion-sensing camera near Western Australia's Margaret River to collect images of crocodiles. The camera disappeared. Recently though, another ranger found the camera about 110 kilometers away. It appears that a sea eagle had snatched it. (ABC News, thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

Man throws parrot at police

LUIS+SANTANA Waterbury, Connecticut police were responding to a call about a fight when they encountered this gentleman, Luis Santana, 32, running from the scene. Police ordered Santana to stop and he responded by throwing a parrot at the officers. The bird bit the cop's finger and Santana ran off. Eventually, a witness led police to the man who, according to NBC Connecticut, was charged with "cruelty to animals, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, second-degree burglary and interfering with a police officer."

Gorgeous and realistic paper birds

Belted kingfisher diana beltran herrera

NewImageColombian artist Diana Beltran Herrera creates exquisite bird sculptures from paper. She's constructed more than 100 species, all life-size. Her papercraft aviary is currently on display at the Rollins College's Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Winter Park, Florida.

"Diana Beltran Herrera’s Flock of Paper Birds" (Smithsonian)

Cockatoos can pick locks

A new study published at Plos One reveals that cockatoos can pick complicated locks, with one bird unraveling the five interlocking components without being given a demonstration beforehand. Jon M Chang, for ABC News:

Alex Kacelnik, a professor of zoology at Oxford University ... and his colleagues, Alice Auersperg and Auguste von Bayern at the University of Vienna, placed a cashew nut behind a window fastened shut by a thin metal bar. The birds had to get through four additional locks that required them to pull a pin, turn a screw, remove a bolt, and rotate a wheel to reach the reward. More importantly, they had to do those actions in the correct order. If a cockatoo completed the first task, the scientists then rearranged the order of the four locks. They wanted to see whether the birds could modify their lock-picking behavior by doing the same four actions but in a different sequence.

Previously features at Boing Boing were the death metal cockatoo and Oscar the naked cockatoo.

Dinobird plumage revealed

Chemical analysis of Archaeopteryx remains show that the creature was patterned "light in colour, with a dark edge and tip to the feather", say researchers from the University of Manchester.

Robot birds of the past

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At Smithsonian, Jimmy Stamp posted a brief history of bird automata. And yes, I know that Bubo from Clash of the Titans, above, isn't real. But... Bubo! Clash of the Titans! From Smithsonian:

The earliest example (of an avian automaton) dates to 350 B.C.E. when the mathematician Archytas of Tarentum, who some credit with inventing the science of mechanics, is said to have created a mechanical wooden dove capable of flapping its wings and flying up to 200 meters, powered by some sort of compressed air or internal steam engine. Archytas’ invention is often cited as the first robot, and, in light of recent technological advancements, perhaps we could even consider it to be the first drone; the very first machine capable of autonomous flight. Very few details are actually known about the ancient mechanical dove, but it seems likely that it was connected to a cable and flew with the help of a pulley and counterweight. This early wind-up bird was chronicled a few hundred years later in the pages of a scientific text by a mathematician, Hero of Alexandria.
"A Brief History of Robot Birds"

Gull eats starfish, auditions for role as LOL animal

Writer Darren Naish, who blogs at Tretrapod Zoology, took this photo of a Larus gull attempting to chow down on an awkwardly shaped starfish. (And, really, are there any other kind of starfish? Especially when you're trying to fit them in your mouth whole?)

You might remember Larus gulls from a recent piece I wrote on speciation and evolution. According to Naish, they might have another place in the story of evolution, as well. Regardless of how Sisyphean this gull's dinner plans may appear, Larus gulls actually (successfully) eat a lot of starfish. So many, in fact, that, as Naish explains in a recent post, they might be prompting one species of starfish to slowly turn a different color — an adaptation that makes the species less visible to gulls.

Evolution happens. Even in Oklahoma.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the last 30 years, the number of cliff swallows killed by moving vehicles has drastically decreased. That change can't be accounted for by alterations in traffic patterns or swallow populations, say scientists. Instead, they think it's tied to the fact that the birds' wingspan is also decreasing. This adaptation — whether selected for by vehicular birdicide and/or other factors — helps swallows be more nimble in the air at high speeds, making it easier for them to avoid oncoming traffic. (EDIT: Sorry guys, I made an error here. Some of the researchers were from Tulsa, but study actually happened in Nebraska. Evolution takes place throughout the plains states.)

Brazilian Birds: ambient internet radio station of bird calls in the Amazon

My new ambient-sound-while-working internet radio jam: Brazilian Birds.

(Photo: Toucan eye, a Creative Commons image from doug88888's photostream)