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Posts Tagged "seabirds"

Extinction Countdown

Solar-Powered Transmitters Reveal Secrets of Endangered “Little Devil” Seabirds

black-capped petrel

How do you gather information about a bird species that spends 99 percent or more of its time at sea? Until recently, there wasn’t an easy answer. But now scientists who are working to conserve the endangered black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) have come up with an innovative technique to improve our understanding of the rare [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Jackass Penguin

jackass penguin

These popular penguins have faced a lot of threats in recent years that have put them on a dangerous path. Species name: African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), a.k.a. the black-footed penguin or the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like braying sounds. (The nickname has nothing to do with the penguin’s personality.) Where found: Coastal southwest Africa, including [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Fishing Nets, Climate Change Threaten Yellow-Eyed Penguins in New Zealand

yellow-eyed penguin

It has been a rough few decades for endangered yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes). The species can only be found along a small portion of the southeastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the nearby Auckland Islands, and the isles of Campbell, Stewart and Codfish. Their total population numbered nearly 7,000 birds just 30 years ago [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Herring gull eats sea star, and other tales of larid gastronomy

My photography skills – if I can call them that – are pretty atrocious. While on a break in Wales recently, I managed to photograph a sequence in which a Herring gull Larus argentatus (one of our most frequently encountered gulls) swallowed a Common sea star Asterias rubens. Yeah, that’s right, get into the habit [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Tubenosed seabirds that shear the waves: of Calonectris, Lugensa, and Puffinus (petrels part VII)

As a regular Tet Zoo reader (right?) you’ll be aware of the petrel series. I’m keen to finish it (hey, just as I am with all the other still-incomplete Tet Zoo series), so let’s crack on. In previous articles, we looked at gadfly-petrels, the members of Fulmarini, and also at the evolution, biology and diversity [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Giant petrels, snow petrels, fulmars and kin (petrels part VI)

Some time back I started a series on the remarkable tubenosed seabirds known as the petrels (see below for links). Previous articles introduced the group as a whole before discussing one of the four major petrel clades, the gadfly-petrels or pterodromines. The time to finish this series is now well overdue, so here we look [...]

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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

Putting petrels in their place and the possibly weird evolution of albatrosses (petrels part IV)

After a number of unplanned distractions (involving the story behind the Archaeopteryx forgery claim, the time-honoured tradition that is April 1st, feathered tyrannosaurs, horned dinosaurs, chickens, ‘Cadborosaurus’, Eld’s deer, and intraguild predation in, and the phylogeny of, raptors), it’s time to get back on track and carry on looking at tubenose seabirds, and petrels in [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Noel W. Cusa’s brilliant seabird drawings

What with my recent effort to write a lot about tubenosed seabirds (specifically, true petrels or procellariids: see links below), I consider it a peculiar coincidence that I happened to chance upon a copy of Ronald Lockley’s Flight of the Storm Petrel in a second-hand bookshop. Note that this book (Lockley 1983) is about storm-petrels [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Petrels: some form-function ‘rules’, and pattern and pigmentation (petrels part III)

Aquaflying shearwaters in pursuit of fish. A still from Blue Planet, BBC (c).

Time for more petrels. This article is another introduction, this time to generalities of behaviour and form-function. The previous petrel articles are here and here, and see the list of links below as well. Several distinct foraging styles are employed by petrels and they’re more diverse in feeding behaviour than most accounts imply. The majority [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Living the pelagic life: of oil, enemies, giant eggs and telomeres (petrels part II)

In the previous article we looked very briefly at a few basic aspects of petrel diversity, focusing in particular on their distinctive, tube-nosed bills (though, note: not unique to petrels but present across Procellariiformes). Here, I want to look at these birds in a bit more depth. We focus here on oil production and storage [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Because the world belongs to petrels (petrels part I)

Seabirds are fascinating (as I often say: hey, just like all the other tetrapods). To me, they’ve always seemed to be one of those groups that requires a lifetime of immersion and specialisation should you hope to become properly acquainted with them. I just don’t feel that you can get to know them via books [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

A symbiotic relationship between sunfish and… albatrosses? Say what?

Neat observations are published on animals all the time. Many are relatively mundane, or are additional records of things we already know about. But some are really fantastic and have the potential to open a whole new chapter in our understanding of behaviour, ecology and evolution. As we’ll see, even if they’re not brand new, [...]

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