The Desert Tawny Owl (Strix hadorami). Image credit: © Rony Lybanah.
A group of ornithologists led by Dr Manuel Schweizer from the Natural History Museum of Bern in Switzerland has described a new cryptic species of owl that inhabits the desert areas of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Yemen.
The newly-discovered species, named the Desert Tawny Owl, belongs to the earless owl genus, Strix.
It is a medium-sized owl, 30 to 33 centimeters long, and weighing 140 to 220 grams. It resembles the Hume’s Owl (Strix butleri) and the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) in plumage pattern and proportions. Continue reading
The 326 interactions between corvids and their prey, shows that they have a much smaller effect on other bird species than was previously thought. Credit: Jorge Piñeiro
In literature, crows and ravens arebad omens and are associated with witches. Most people believe they steal, eat other birds’ eggs and reduce the populations of other birds. But a new study, which has brought together over 326 interactions between corvids and their prey, demonstrates that their notoriety is not entirely merited.
Corvids—the bird group that includes crows, ravens and magpies—are the subject of several population control schemes, in both game and conservation environments. These controls are based on the belief that destroying them is good for other birds. They are also considered to be effective predators capable of reducing the populations of their prey. Continue reading
The scientists trained birds to fly towards a perch inside the device
Scientists at Stanford University in the US have developed a super-sensitive device that can measure the weight of a bird in flight.
The invention, created by Prof David Lentink’s research team, measures the force produced by every wing flap.
The device, described in the Royal Society journal Interface, will enable researchers to carry out tests of miniature drones, to assess more precisely their flight performance.
It has also answered a physics riddle.
This question, Prof Lentink explained, is whether a container or a truck carrying birds changes in weight when the birds inside were flying. Continue reading
These ‘area sensitive’ species tend to fare better in large, contiguous habitat blocks. In a recent study, they were found to demonstrate a similar negative response to exurban development in the Adirondacks and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, despite the different geographies of the two study regions. Credit: Larry Master
A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society shows that habitat alteration may be less important than other factors- such as human behavior- in driving the effects of “exurban” development on bird communities. These unexpected results are fueling more questions that may ultimately lead to informed landowners lessening their impacts on local wildlife.
Exurban development is generally rural residential development in attractive natural areas characterized by low density and large lot sizes. Through myriad impacts including the fragmentation of habitat, disruption of animal movement patterns, and predation or disturbance from domestic pets, this type of development can result in altered wildlife abundance, species composition and behavior in a surrounding ecosystem. Continue reading
Sneaky females outwit males when pilfering food from close relatives (Credit: Alamy)
If you can’t find your own food, why not simply steal meals that others have stored for later?
A sneaky tactic perhaps, but one crucial for survival for the common songbird, the great tit.
What’s more, female tits are better at pulling off such heists than males, new research has discovered.
Outsmarting the opposite sex in this way may enable female tits to compensate for the males’ domineering personalities.
Great tits belong in the Paridae family. Their relatives in the same family, such as marsh tits, habitually store food.
Great tits do not. Instead they watch where their relatives store it and then pilfer their food caches. Continue reading
Chestnut-capped Piha was only discovered in 1999, but despite having a reserve dedicated to its preservation is still Endangered. Photo: Andres Cuervo (commons.wikimedia.org)
A new study, The State of the Birds in Colombia 2014 – produced by a leading conservation group in Colombia, Fundación ProAves – reports that decades of deteriorating ecosystem conditions have led to 122 of the country’s 1,903 bird species now facing extinction.
“Our findings are troubling because these deteriorating avian conditions are occurring in Colombia, an area viewed by many as perhaps the richest country for birds in the world,” said Alonso Quevedo, Executive Director of ProAves. “Of equal importance, these findings provide an important warning about threats to our water, air and other natural resources and suggest that the health of our environment has clearly diminished.” Continue reading