Another Early Toothed Bird Raises Its Head Animals Paleontology 

Another Early Toothed Bird Raises Its Head

By Kate Stone @GotScienceOrg Sometimes what you seek is right under your nose. Using fossils found in the 1870s, paleontologists have pieced together the skull of a toothed bird that represents a pivotal moment in the transition from dinosaurs to modern birds. “Right under our noses this whole time was an amazing, transitional bird.” Ichthyornis dispar is a key member of the evolutionary lineage that leads from dinosaurian species to today’s birds. It lived nearly 100 million years ago in North America and looked like a toothy seabird—like a gull…

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Fire Management in California's Chaparal: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District conducted a controlled burn of central marine chaparral at Fort Ord, Calif., Oct. 15, to expose unexploded ordnance at the formerly utilized defense site. The burn, carefully coordinated with local agencies, lasted less than two hours and was timed so that prevailing winds would help blow the smoke away from population centers. The controlled burns are part of a comprehensive ordnance removal program at Fort Ord, which closed in 1994 under recommendation from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. (U.S. Army photo/Released) Animals Biology Environment 

Fire Management in California’s Chaparral Harms Birds

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore California suffered its largest and most destructive wildfires in 2017. Victims included hundreds of wild animals. When the blazing fires were finally extinguished, the surviving animals—including birds—were forced to find new homes. Now, for the first time, researchers investigating the effect of fire management practices on birds in California’s chaparral have found that one practice known as mastication, which consists of mechanically crushing vegetation to remove fuel, threatens bird communities. “The best available science tells us that managing chaparral imperils wildlife and increases fire risk,” says…

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Gardening Alternatives to Pesticides Animals Botany Environment 

Gardening Alternatives to Pesticides

By Steven Spence @TheStevenSpence Gardens are a delight Sadly, it’s not just gardeners, bees, butterflies, and birds that enjoy gardens. Gardens inevitably also attract insect pests, as I know firsthand from working on my little plot with flowers and fruit trees. In my first year of gardening, I didn’t know what to do to get rid of an aphid infestation, so I went to a local garden supply store and was advised to buy some spray-on pesticides, which I reluctantly used. After that experience, I began to talk with other…

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Norwegian Sea Eagles Animals Photos 

Norwegian Sea Eagles

By Steven Spence @TheStevenSpence Two Names for One Eagle: Which Is Right? Scientifically known as Haliaeetus albicilla, these large raptors are commonly known as sea eagles or white-tailed eagles. “Sea eagle” is an accurate translation of the genus name, Haliaeetus, while “white-tailed” is accurate for the species name, albicilla. Since I saw these eagles in Norway, I shall refer to them as sea eagles, which is what the locals called them (Norwegian: Havørn). Where Do Sea Eagles Live? Sea eagles live in Eurasia and occupy a similar ecological niche as…

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ancient bird wing preserved in amber Paleontology Science & Art 

Amber Preserves Details of Ancient Bird Wings

By Emily Willoughby @eawilloughby I am a paleoartist—a scientific illustrator whose job is to combine paleontological research with inference, logic, and a healthy dose of creativity to produce illustrations of long-extinct organisms. We are uniquely tasked with translating research into representations of real creatures that the public can see and experience as animals that lived and breathed, rather than as movie monsters or collections of measurements and static bones. This is no easy task. Accuracy always takes precedence, and the rendering must closely conform to the glimpse of reality granted…

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Birds: The Greatest Eyes on Earth Animals Biology Photos 

Bird Eyes: The Greatest Eyes on Earth

By Emily Willoughby @eawilloughby Powered flight has arisen independently on our planet a total of five times: in insects, pterosaurs, bats, birds, and, of course, human beings. A suite of highly specific characteristics is necessary for the defiance of gravity, from lightweight, lift-generating surfaces to precise sensing devices. But dragonflies and F-16s notwithstanding, nothing has conquered the skies quite like the bird. For us—clever, indeed, but weak, fragile, and relatively blind—it should come as no surprise that the vision standards for becoming a US Air Force pilot are remarkably stringent:…

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birds fly home, migration Animals Biology 

Bird Migration: I’ll Fly Home—or Not

By Mark Lasbury, MS, MSEd, PhD @Biologuy1 The arctic tern travels from north of the Arctic Circle to Antarctica and back again every year. On the other hand, the snowy owl lives in the Arctic region year-round; it doesn’t migrate at all.  A Question of Bird Migration Why do some birds migrate while other birds stay in one place?  The possible explanations are many. Maybe the type of food they eat is present only part of the year, or maybe they can’t stand the cold temperature. They might need to…

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Bullfinches in Urban Birds: Barbados. Louis Lefebvre Animals 

Urban Birds Smarter, Healthier than Country Cousins

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Aesop’s fable of the country mouse and the city mouse cautions that city life, while certainly more exciting than the “modest life with peace and quiet” found in the country, is too full of “danger and strife” to truly be worth it. Researchers at McGill University in Canada have discovered that for some species of birds, this may not be true at all. Urban Birds and Country Birds The Barbados bullfinch, Loxigilla barbadensis, is an exceptionally innovative species of bird that is found in both urban…

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big, beautiful bird brains Animals Biology 

Big, Beautiful Bird Brains

By Emily Willoughby @eawilloughby It is probably not a coincidence that the verbs ape and parrot have such a similar meaning: to imitate an observed behavior. There is something suggestive of intelligence in the words, perhaps informed by knowing that babies mimic the behaviors of adults as their brains begin to mature. But the similarity may reflect something more fundamental.  Primates and certain birds—most notably parrots and corvids, the group that includes crows and jays—are well known as being among the smartest of animals. For apes this is no surprise,…

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Animals Photos 

Seabird Watching in Baja California

This is the latest addition to wildlife photographer Max Goldberg’s collection of photo essays based on his recent National Geographic tour of the coast of Mexico. After a long day spent exploring Isla Espíritu Santo on foot, it was time for a sunset cruise around the island to watch and photograph seabirds. The first birds I saw that evening were pelicans perched on the rocky shoreline. Most of the time, they were by themselves sunning or watching the waves, but sometimes they would gather in small groups of three or…

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