Bird Research

Darwin’s Rheas and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory

Thumbnail image for Darwin’s Rheas and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory by GregLaden 12 August 2011

Everyone knows about Darwin’s Finches, of the Galapagos Islands. But of course, Darwin made observations of birds throughout his travels on The Beagle. And, one of the most interesting sets of observations has to do with the Rhea. Struthio Rhea I will now give an account of … the Struthio Rhea, or South American ostrich. […]

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Journal Club: The decline and fall of showy bustards

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: The decline and fall of showy bustards by Grrlscientist 10 August 2011

SUMMARY: intense early reproductive effort takes a toll on long-term survival of individual male houbara bustards by leading to early declines in fertility and early ageing Why do we get old and die? Why hasn’t natural selection “weeded out” those genes responsible for age-related declines? Several hypotheses have been proposed, with the most important pointing […]

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The Cowbird and the cuckoo

Thumbnail image for The Cowbird and the cuckoo by GregLaden 5 August 2011

For this week’s installment of Darwin’s Other Birds I give you pure Darwin, from the Voyage monograph on birds, concerning the cowbid and the cuckoo. MOLOTHRUS NIGER This species is common in flocks on the pasture grounds of Chile, and along the whole western shore of the southern part of the continent. In Chile it […]

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Darwinian Thinking From The Birds

Thumbnail image for Darwinian Thinking From The Birds by GregLaden 29 July 2011

In Darwin’s time explorers had converted the European view of the world by their observations, much like travelers of today convert their own view of the world, from a simple binary to a mosaic. Before experience, information, exploration, learning and reflection, the world is something of an “us and them” or a “here and everywhere […]

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Birds Feared Darwin

Thumbnail image for Birds Feared Darwin by GregLaden 22 July 2011

If Darwin was alive today he would be a bird watcher. But he would do his bird watching differently, using a nice set of binoculars rather than a shotgun. In his autobiography, Darwin reminisces In the latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of shooting, and I do not believe that anyone […]

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Where the abyss touches the sky: a Booby and Noddy ecosystem

Thumbnail image for Where the abyss touches the sky: a Booby and Noddy ecosystem by GregLaden 8 July 2011

An entire ecosystem based on a bird? Apparently so.

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Journal Club: American crows: the ultimate angry birds?

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: American crows: the ultimate angry birds? by Grrlscientist 6 July 2011

Newly published research shows that crows remember the faces of humans who have threatened or harmed them, and these memories probably last for the bird’s lifetime. Not only do crows scold dangerous people, but they include family members — and even strangers — into their mob. The hostile behaviour of crows within mobs allows naïve […]

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Darwin on the Andean Condor

Thumbnail image for Darwin on the Andean Condor by GregLaden 1 July 2011

Darwin demonstrates his approach to doing science in his description of the Andean Condor, which was used in the monograph on birds that came out of the famous voyage of the Beagle.

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Bird Ringing – how safe are mist nets?

Thumbnail image for Bird Ringing – how safe are mist nets? by Rebecca Nason 30 June 2011

How safe are mist nets? Photo: Sand Martins in mist net by © Rebecca Nason The following article has been forwarded to me and I thought I’d share in with my fellow birding bloggers, many of whom may be bird ringers/banders or have a general interest in the use of mist nets in bird research […]

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Journal Club: Gouldian Finches’ fascinating mating system

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Gouldian Finches’ fascinating mating system by Grrlscientist 29 June 2011

Gouldian Finches occur in two morphs. Red heads or Black heads. Red-headed females prefer red-headed males – and black prefer blacks. In the small populations it is not always possible for the finches to chose their own type. When they cross the results are not good. However, a “hybrid” female will always have less viability than “hybrid” male. The stress of mating the “wrong”kind makes the Gouldian Finch able to regulate the outcome producing more male “hybrid” offspring which has better viability. Read Grrl Scientist fascinating account how the females do this.

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Darwin’s Other Birds: Introduction

Thumbnail image for Darwin’s Other Birds: Introduction by GregLaden 24 June 2011

Despite rumors to the contrary, Charles Darwin knew his birds. In fact, some of the most interesting writing on birds is to be found in his work. And, for the next several weeks, that’s where we’ll be looking for knowledge and inspiration of an avian kind.

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Journal Club: Sparrows show us a new way to have sexes

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Sparrows show us a new way to have sexes by Grrlscientist 25 May 2011

I’ve always loved white-throated sparrows, Zonotrichia albicollis. Not only are these handsome birds the sister species to my own dissertation bird, the white-crowned sparrow, Z. leucophrys, but I think they are among the most fascinating bird species in the world. In fact, I am so captivated by this species that the chance to pursue my […]

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