Avian expert warns migratory birds are facing annihilation

Millions of migratory birds that fly tens of thousands of kilometres between their homes in Australia and Siberia are facing annihilation as development destroys the vital feeding grounds they rely on during their epic journeys, a Deakin University avian expert has warned.

Director of Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology Professor Marcel Klaassen has joined a growing chorus of leading scientists alarmed by a sudden and dramatic drop in the number of shorebirds finally arriving in Australia after their legendary flights across the globe. Continue reading

When David beats Goliath: Smaller birds can dominate larger species

When it comes to body size, larger species usually win out over smaller ones. Now one biologist has found that sometimes small species of birds can dominate larger species during aggressive interactions, especially when they interact with distantly related species. (Photo : Flickr/Heather Paul)

When it comes to body size, larger species usually win out over smaller ones. Now one biologist has found that sometimes small species of birds can dominate larger species during aggressive interactions, especially when they interact with distantly related species. (Photo : Flickr/Heather Paul)

 

When it comes to body size, larger species usually win out over smaller ones. Yet occasionally, there’s a case of David beating Goliath. Now one biologist has found that sometimes small species of birds can dominate larger species during aggressive interactions, especially when they interact with distantly related species.

“We want to understand why species live where they do, and how different species partition resources, like food, in nature,” said Paul Martin, the lead researcher, in a news release. “This research feeds into that. The ‘larger animal wins’ rule that usually governs species interactions, and often influences where smaller species can live, is more likely to break down when the interacting species are distantly related.” Continue reading

Hybrid birds better at fighting disease than purebreds

 The western slopes hybrid rosella - a blend of the crimson rosella and the yellow rosella. Image Credit: Courtesy R. Ribot and M. Berg

The western slopes hybrid rosella – a blend of the crimson rosella and the yellow rosella. Image Credit: Courtesy R. Ribot and M. Berg

Australian Geographics. Traditionally in ecology it’s thought that diseases play a big role in the formation of new species, with hybrids sometimes being more vulnerable to infections that exploit weaknesses in the host. However, a new study of parrots has shown that perhaps the opposite is the case – that two may be better than one at fighting off disease.

Scientists from the Centre for Integrative Ecology at Deakin University in Geelong, Victoria, studied the infection patterns of beak and feather diseases in crimson rosellas across southern Australia. Continue reading

Audubon Releases Comprehensive Study On Climate Change Impact On Birds

If you like hearing the loon’s call at the lake or spotting ducks, you could be out of luck in the near future. In a first-of-its-kind study, Audubon has released a comprehensive study of bird species throughout Alaska, Canada and the continental U.S. assessing fundamental climate needs for each species to survive. It found several iconic species at risk in New York.

 Common Loon Credit Melody Lytle/Audubon Photography Awards


Common Loon
Credit Melody Lytle/Audubon Photography Awards

The Audubon Bird and Climate Report assesses climactic suitability, predicting a range of temperatures, precipitation, and seasonal changes that each species needs to survive. It uses predicted greenhouse gas emission scenarios to map each species’ new range as the climate changes.  It found 588 North American species at risk. 314 will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. Continue reading

Study says bird brains more precise than humans’

 The motion study used by QBI researchers.

The motion study used by QBI researchers.

 

Birds have been found to display superior judgement of their body width compared to humans, in research to help design autonomous aircraft navigation systems.

A University of Queensland (UQ) study has found that budgerigars can fly between gaps almost as narrow as their outstretched wingspan rather than taking evasive measures such as tucking in their wings.

UQ Queensland Brain Institute researcher Dr Ingo Schiffner said previous research showed humans unnecessarily turned their shoulders to pass through doorways narrower than 130 per cent of their body width, whereas birds are far more precise. Continue reading

Research identifies drivers of rich bird biodiversity in Neotropics

 Scarlet Macaws are native to Central and northern South America. Various bird sanctuaries exist in Belize, such as the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

Scarlet Macaws are native to Central and northern South America. Various bird sanctuaries exist in Belize, such as the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

An international team of researchers is challenging a commonly held view that explains how so many species of birds came to inhabit the Neotropics, an area rich in rain forest that extends from Mexico to the southernmost tip of South America. The new research, published today in the journal Nature, suggests that tropical bird speciation is not directly linked to geological and climate changes, as traditionally thought, but is driven by movements of birds across physical barriers such as mountains and rivers that occur long after those landscapes’ geological origins. Continue reading