Why do many birds fly in a V formation? The wonderful video curators at The Kid Should See This came across this excellent 2014 clip above from the science journal Nature explaining research into the aerodynamic advantages of the formation. From Nature:
...UK's Royal Veterinary College put data loggers on ibises to record their position, speed and wing flaps when they migrated. The ibises position themselves within the V so that they benefit from the flow of air created by the bird in front. They carefully time their wing flaps with their flock mates', to get an extra lift when flying high.
More at Nature: "Precision formation flight astounds scientists"
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Marvin Hajos, 75, of Gainesville, Florida, fell in his backyard and was then attacked by his pet cassowary, a giant bird from ratite group that also includes emus and ostriches. Native to northeastern Australia and tropical forests of New Guinea, cassowaries have three-toed feet with long, sharp claws. From CNN:
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission considers cassowaries Class II wildlife, meaning they pose a danger to humans and are subject to specific cage requirements. Owners must also have "substantial experience" with the animals, the commission says...
They can grow more than 5 feet tall and the heaviest females can weigh more than 160 pounds, the (San Diego Zoo) says. Males weigh up to 120 pounds.
"The cassowary is rightfully considered the most dangerous bird in the world!" the zoo says. "Each 3-toed foot has a dagger-like claw on the inner toe that is up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) long! The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick."
image: "Southern cassowary" by Scott Hamlin/CC BY-SA 2.0
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Sometimes life comes at you fast, and you just have to make the best of a challenging situation. Read the rest
“They are the pets of a friend of mine and he wanted to give them as a gift to someone who loved them but could not have their own budgies.” Read the rest
This fancy pigeon showed up on a Glendale, Arizona woman's back patio. She called in rescue organization Fallen Feathers who are now seeking the bird's owner. From AZFamily:
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"He was in her back patio and he kept coming up to the sliding back door and looking like he wanted to come in," said Kieran.
She's convinced the pigeon is someone's pet and not wild.
A rare and beautiful Mandarin duck, native to East Asia, has turned up in New York City's Central Park. The bird spends most of its time entertaining curious on-lookers in a pond near 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. City official plan to leave the duck alone so long as it's safe. From CBS News:
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(Bird enthusiast Dave) Barrett said he's checked with every zoo in the city and none are missing a duck. It leads the bird-watching community to believe it was a domestic pet, which is illegal in New York City.
"It might have got away or someone might have got tired of it and dumped it," Barrett said.
It also may have flown to Manhattan from a neighboring town.
This is brilliant. Make sure your sound is on.
Twisted Sifter writes:
The Internet has a penchant for taking things, adding to them and making them funnier, quirkier or even more bizarre. In this instance, we’ll go with all three. Apparently this was found on a now defunct Tumblr page, so the creator looms large and anonymous.
For those unfamiliar, the audio is ‘Immigrant Song’ by Led Zeppelin...
Here's the original bird video, sans the Zeppelin upgrade:
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Sharp-eyed ornithologists noticed that some specimens of Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise that they observed looked different enough that they may be a separate species. They captured video of the other kind for comparison. Read the rest
Conservationist, entomologist, and photographer Phil Torres recorded this enchanting slow-motion video of hummingbirds in the cloud forest of Sumaco, Ecuador. He used Moment lenses Read the rest
Dillon Marsh (previously) documents interesting types of utility poles around the world, including ones colonized by birds in the Kalahari desert: Read the rest
I first spoke with Chris Skaife in 2013 after he was was awarded a position at The Tower of London following a long and distinguished career in the the British Army. A Yeoman Warder, Skaife holds the position of Ravenmaster. As the title implies, he’s responsible for the care of the Tower's unkindness of ravens.
Our first conversation about his gig left me fascinated: Here was a man with a job that’s completely singular in the world. His days, are full or tourists and the occasional state visit, history and tradition. That he goes about his duties in a uniform that looks like it’s designed to kill its wearer on a hot summer day, is shorthand for the amount of dedication he has to his responsibilities. I came from talking with Skaife with so many unanswered questions about what his day entails, his passion for the birds under his care and what it’s like to navigate such a unique gig.
Happily, I’ve had most of my questions answered by Skaife’s upcoming book, The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London. It’s not out until October, but it is available for pre-order at Amazon. Chris, good fella that he is, provided me with an early draft of the book to read, a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to buying the real McCoy once it becomes available.
The book’s structure and Skaife’s friendly, matter-of-fact narrative style made for a quick, enjoyable read. It smacks of a friend talking you through his day at work. Read the rest
You’ve likely heard of Vancouver, British Columbia. Surrey? Maybe not: it’s a city in its own right and a part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Surrey’s got an unfortunate reputation for crime due largely to occasional targeted daytime gang hits and the omnipresent narcotics trade. I lived across the bridge from Surrey for close to a decade. I always felt safe there and enjoyed the food, culture and good times that Surrey had to offer.
But now that I know that it’s infested with feral peacocks, I may not be back.
According to the CBC, Surrey city officials believe that Surrey residents living between 150 Street and 62 Avenue are being forced to cope with the presence of between 40 and 150 feral peacocks roaming the streets. Yeah, peacocks are gorgeous when seen in a zoo and hilarious when used as an alarm system by Hunter S. Thompson. But for a bunch of renters and homeowners who just want to live their lives with a minimal amount of bullshit, they’re sort of a nightmare. Peacocks are loud, aggressive and, like most large birds, leave massive amounts of greasy shit everywhere they go. The problem with the birds has gotten so bad that some residents have started taking matters into their own hands.
Shit has gone down, friends.
This past May, in a fit of peacock-induced rage, a man cut down a tree where an ostentation of dozens of the birds had decided to nest, every night. There was just one problem: BC’s kinda touchy about preserving nature. Read the rest
South Georgia Island (population 20), due east off the tip of South America, had no rodents until 18th-century sailing ships accidentally introduced them. After seven years of work, the island is now rodent-free, allowing native birds to recover. Read the rest
According to researcher Kaeli Swift of the University of Washington's Avian Conservation Laboratory, crows hold "funerals." When they see a corpse of their own kind they gather together and squawk loudly. To determine what they may be doing, Swift displayed a taxidermied dead crow to other crows. On some days though, she wore a creepy mask and wig. After multiple experiments with and without her disguise or the dead bird, the crows appeared to remember "the experience with the mask and dead crow and now connected the area with danger." From Deep Look:
And here’s what Swift said makes that really interesting: These new mobs (she encountered even weeks later) contained crows that had never seen the masked Swift with the dead crow. But they still learned to avoid the masked figure.
Learning directly from each other, rather than through individual experience, is called social learning.
“By participating in these funerals, crows can get information about new dangers without taking the risk,” Swift said.
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It's long been known that birds possess magnetoreception, or ability to sense earth's magnetic fields. Now researchers are narrowing down a specific eye protein called Cry4 that appears to allow birds to sense magnetic waves in the presence of blue light. Read the rest
Nashville maker One Man One Garage created these fun flat-pack birdhouse kits that assemble into vintage campers. Read the rest
TIL two things:
1. YouTube is home to the world's only heavy metal-themed talk show. It's called Two Minutes to Late Night.
2. Vocalists of all metal subgenres often shriek and squawk like birds. To prove it, the Two Minutes to Late Night host recently asked ornithologist Tom Stephenson of BirdGenie (an app that identifies birds by their sounds), "What Birds Do Metal Singers Sound Like?" He had no problem matching birds to their metal equivalent.
For instance, the (most-non-metal) bird expert (ever) identified the Northern Potoo as a close match to the screeching vocals of Converge's 2001 metalcore song "Concubine." Ok, sure.
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