When birds sound like heavy metal and hardcore vocalists

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.

(The Awesomer) Read the rest

'One in a million' yellow cardinal sighted at backyard feeder

Late last month, a woman in Alabaster, Alabama spotted an unusual bird in her backyard feeder, which was soon revealed to be an extremely rare yellow-pigmented Northern cardinal.

AL.com reports:

Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill said the cardinal in the photos is an adult male in the same species as the common red cardinal, but carries a genetic mutation that causes what would normally be brilliant red feathers to be bright yellow instead.

Alabaster resident Charlie Stephenson first noticed the unusual bird at her backyard feeder in late January and posted about it on Facebook. She said she's been birding for decades but it took her some time to figure out what she was seeing.

"I thought 'well there's a bird I've never seen before'," Stephenson said. "Then I realized it was a cardinal, and it was a yellow cardinal."

... Hill -- who has literally written books on bird coloration -- said the mutation is rare enough that even he, as a bird curator and researcher has never seen one in person.

"There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area so very very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation."

However, an expert at the National Audubon Society has a different theory on why the bird's plumage is yellow:

As Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director, points out, the cardinal’s crest and wing feathers look frayed in photos. While wear and tear is a natural part of a bird’s life, it can be exacerbated by a poor diet or environmental stressors.

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These woodpeckers are so weird scientists thought they were communists

Acorn woodpeckers create acorn granaries that hold tens of thousands of acorns. Scientists are especially interested in their living arrangements, once described by Cold War ornithologists as communism. Read the rest

Watch ultrasensitive microphones barely register owls flying

This remarkable demonstration of a pigeon, a falcon, and an owl flying past six extremely sensitive high-end microphones shows just how quiet owls are when they fly. Read the rest

Hypnotic videos of birds in flight

Enjoy these trippy, Muybridge-esque videos of flight patterns and wingbeats.

Relative size of great grey owl's body to feathers

Here's a diagram that shows the relative size of a great grey owl's body to its feathers. It's hosted on Wikimedia commons, labelled "Cross sectioned taxidermied Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, showing the extent of the body plumage, Zoological Museum, Copenhagen."

File:Strix nebulosa plumage.jpg

(via Beth Pratt) Read the rest