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Extinction Countdown

Almost Extinct Brazilian Bird Observed in Nest for the First Time [Video]

Stresemann

Two Brazilian researchers doing some recreational bird-watching have made an amazing discovery: the first nest ever found for the critically endangered Stresemann’s bristlefront (Merulaxis stresemanni). One of the world’s rarest birds, the bristlefront has an estimated population of just 15 individuals, all at the 600-hectare Mata do Passarinho Reserve run by Fundação Biodiversitas in the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Cost to Prevent All Future Extinctions: $11 per Person?

forest owlet

A global effort to prevent all future species extinctions would cost about $80 billion a year, or $11.42 annually from every person on the planet, according to a study published last week in Science. The study, released in conjunction with eleventh meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently underway in Hyderabad, India, is [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Critically Endangered Colombian Parrot Doubles Its Protected Habitat

One of the world’s rarest birds has a little bit more breathing room this week. The Giles–Fuertesi Nature Reserve in the Colombian Andes, home to the critically endangered Fuertes’s parrot (Hapalopsittaca fuertesi), has doubled in size following the acquisition of an additional 144 hectares of neighboring land. The acquisition was a joint effort by Fundación [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Threatened Philippine Hawk-Eagle Bred in Captivity for First Time

Sometimes a simple egg hatching can be a victory. That’s the case in the Philippines, where a threatened bird of prey known as the Pinsker’s hawk–eagle (Nisaetus pinskeri) has been bred in captivity for the first time. The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) reports that the Pinsker’s chick hatched on April 2 at its breeding program [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Newly Discovered Hawaiian Bird Could Already Be Extinct

Here’s something amazing: a new bird species has been discovered in the U.S. for the first time since 1974. Unfortunately, the discovery wasn’t a live bird. It was actually a museum sample collected in 1963, and the scientists who discovered it fear it may already be extinct or threatened with extinction. The specimen was collected [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Island hoping: Japan breeding program aims to save rare albatross

About 2,700 short-tailed albatrosses (Phoebastria albatrus) currently fly over the Pacific Ocean. The largest seabird in that area of the world, the short-tailed albatross almost went extinct 100 years ago after the birds were overhunted for their feathers. The species is much healthier now thanks to more than 50 years of conservation efforts, but it [...]

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Extinction Countdown

South African gamblers smoke endangered vulture brains for luck

bearded vulture

As the World Cup launches in South Africa this week, conservationists fear that gamblers looking for a little extra luck will turn to a source those of us in the West might not expect: the practice of smoking vulture brains. The custom stems from the traditional medicine known in South Africa as muti. The vulture [...]

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Not bad science

Birds arrange eggs in their nests to better detect imposters

Most birds build their own nests and incubate their own eggs. However, some birds like the cuckoo have managed to get around this inconvenience by simply laying their eggs in the nests of other species and letting someone else do the hard work of keeping the eggs warm and protected until the chick hatches. The [...]

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Observations

Diminutive Dinosaur Bore Beak, Bristles and Fangs [Video]

fanged, quilled dinosaur

Move over platypus, a recently discovered dinosaur may have bested you for the strangest combination of physical features. Two hundred million years ago, a two-foot- long, beaked biped covered in quills scampered about an area that is now part of South Africa. The dinosaur’s discoverer is paleontologist Paul Sereno, of the University of Chicago. Sereno [...]

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Observations

Ancient “terror bird” used rigid skull to drive its hooked beak into prey

ancient terror bird biting down on prey with large beak

The large, big-beaked "terror birds" (Phorusrhacidae) didn’t need flight to snag a Miocene meal. Some of these extinct, flightless fowl likely used their massive rigid skulls and hooked beaks to chomp into prey with strong, successive pulls, concluded a research team after performing a biomechanical analysis of fossilized skulls. More than a dozen species of [...]

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Observations

New feathered dinosaur specimen strengthens dino-bird link

feathered dinosaur four wings fossil

Non-avian dinosaurs are long extinct, but paleontological thinking about them, especially the dino–bird specimens, clearly continues to evolve long after they are discovered. For instance, the Anchiornis huxleyi, a small, feathered dinosaur, was described last December and assumed to be a transitional species that existed between dinosaurs and birds. But new evidence—and a much better [...]

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Symbiartic

Unfeathered for All the World to See

13-040FEATURE

One of the most astonishing illustrated books to come out this year is the work of Katrina van Grouw, an ornithologist and fine artist who counts taxidermy among her eclectic skills. The book, titled The Unfeathered Bird, is described as no less than her lifetime’s ambition and leafing through its pages, it’s easy to see [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Turkeys vs peafowl, the great debate

Galliforms – gamebirds – are among the most spectacularly flamboyant of birds; the males of many lineages are provided with an abundance of elaborate display structures. I’ve written about turkeys and their snoods, wattles, caruncles and showy feathers before. I like the photo above because it depicts two of the showiest gamebirds – Meleagris gallopavo (domestic [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Gadfly-petrels: rarities, a whole lot of variation and confusion, and skua mimicry (petrels part V)

Highly simplified 'consensus' cladogram for Procellariidae. Images (top to bottom) by Mark Jobling, Bryan Harry, T. Muller and Patrick Coin. Procellaria petrel and shearwater images in public domain; images licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (fulmar) and Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license (gadfly-petrel).

Time for more petrels. Having introduced general aspects of petrel biology, diversity and evolution in the previous articles (part I, part II, part III, part IV), it’s now time to get through the different petrel lineages. As explained in the previous article, recent molecular phylogenetic studies indicate that true petrels (Procellariidae) consist of four major [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Sunbathing birds

A few weeks ago, I and the family visited Birdworld in Alice Holt Forest, Surrey (UK). We had a great time and saw a lot of neat birds. It was a scorching hot, very sunny day, and the reason I’m writing this article is because I became particularly interested in the many, many sunbathing birds [...]

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