journal club

Journal Club: Polly gets his own cracker: clever cockatoo manufactures, uses tools | video |

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Polly gets his own cracker: clever cockatoo manufactures, uses tools | video | by Grrlscientist 21 November 2012

SUMMARY: Not known to manufacture or use tools in the wild, a captive cockatoo demonstrates that parrots can make tools to suit their needs.   If you’ve ever lived with a parrot, then you are well aware that they come with a built-in multi-purpose tool attached to their faces. For this reason, most parrots do [...]

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Journal Club: Sing for your supper: fairy-wren chicks must sing vocal password for food

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Sing for your supper: fairy-wren chicks must sing vocal password for food by Grrlscientist 14 November 2012

SUMMARY: Female fairy-wrens teach their chicks a vocal password before they hatch to distinguish them from brood parasitic bronze-cuckoo chicks How do parents recognize their offspring when the cost of making an error is high? To avoid wasting valuable time and energy by raising chicks of another species that commonly sneaks eggs into its nest, [...]

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Journal Club: One-eyed wooing

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: One-eyed wooing by Grrlscientist 10 October 2012

SUMMARY: A newly published study shows that beauty is in the right eye of the beholder for birds, providing the first demonstration in any animal of visual lateralization of mate choice. Conservation biologists are well aware that the most challenging part of their job is to convince their animals to breed — it’s certainly not [...]

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Journal Club: Wild parrots name their babies | video |

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Wild parrots name their babies | video | by Grrlscientist 22 September 2012

SUMMARY: Wild green-rumped parrotlet parents give their babies their own individual names People who live with parrots know that they can mimic their human care-givers as well as many of the common sounds in their environment. Although such mimicry is delightful, it does raise the question of what purpose does vocal mimicry serve for wild [...]

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Journal Club: Extinct Carolina parakeet provides glimpse into evolution of American parrots

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Extinct Carolina parakeet provides glimpse into evolution of American parrots by Grrlscientist 19 September 2012

SUMMARY: DNA obtained for the first time from extinct Carolina parakeets reveals their closest relatives and provides insight into the evolution of New World parrots .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. The Carolina parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis (pictured above), was the only endemic parrot in the United States. It had one [...]

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Journal club: Two new owl species may provide insight into how early birds colonised the Philippines

Thumbnail image for Journal club: Two new owl species may provide insight into how early birds colonised the Philippines by Grrlscientist 24 August 2012

SUMMARY: Two new owl species were discovered in the Philippine Islands and five more Philippine owls were given full species status The Philippine Archipelago is filled with a tremendous variety of living things, and hundreds of new species have been discovered recently on the islands. The most recent addition to this roll call of biodiversity [...]

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Journal Club: New species of barbet discovered in Peru

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: New species of barbet discovered in Peru by Grrlscientist 20 August 2012

Sira barbet, Capito fitzpatricki, Seeholzer, Winger, Harvey, Cáceres & Weckstein, 2012, photographed at the Río Shinipo locality in Cerros del Sira in the Ucayali Region, Peru (South America). Image: Michael G. Harvey/Cornell University, 4 November 2008 [velociraptorise]. Canon EOS 20D, 1/250 sec, f/8.0, 400 mm, iso:400 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. [...]

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Journal Club: The economics of tree swallow brood sex ratios

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: The economics of tree swallow brood sex ratios by Grrlscientist 14 December 2011

Tree Swallow brood sex ratios SUMMARY: Tree swallows reveal that brood sex ratios are an economic balancing act with far-reaching evolutionary consequences Skewed sex ratios have been widely discussed in the news. But a demographic imbalance in the sexes is not purely a human phenomenon: it can occur throughout the animal kingdom. Several studies have [...]

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Journal Club: Bird-friendly California vineyards may have fewer pests

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Bird-friendly California vineyards may have fewer pests by Grrlscientist 16 November 2011

SUMMARY: Insectivorous cavity-nesting birds can be encouraged to occupy vineyards by giving them nest boxes. New research documents that these birds reciprocate by providing significant eco-friendly pest control services to winegrape growers. I was in graduate school when I first read Rachel Carson’s classic book, Silent Spring [Amazon UK; Amazon US Affiliate Link]. This poignant [...]

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Journal Club: The seventh starling (Murmuration)

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: The seventh starling (Murmuration) by Grrlscientist 9 November 2011

What do particle physics, statistics and poetry have in common? Anyone who has looked at the late afternoon sky has seen it: a single, giant shape-shifting creature of the air made up of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of birds wheeling and swirling overhead as they settle in to their communal evening roosts. [...]

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Journal Club: Evolution of the Hawai’ian honeycreepers

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Evolution of the Hawai’ian honeycreepers by Grrlscientist 2 November 2011

Hawaiian Honeycreeper evolution SUMMARY: Using a large DNA data set, researchers have identified the progenitor of Hawaiian honeycreepers and have linked their rapid evolution to the geological formation of the four main Hawaiian Islands .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of [...]

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Journal Club: Jumping genes reveal birds and their sex chromosomes evolved together

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Jumping genes reveal birds and their sex chromosomes evolved together by Grrlscientist 26 October 2011

SUMMARY: Avian retroposons — “jumping genes” — reveal that birds and their sex chromosomes evolved together, and provide us with important clues into the evolution of sex chromosomes and sex in general Like mammals, the sex of individual birds is determined by the combination of sex chromosomes they get from their parents at fertilization. But [...]

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Journal Club: The birds and the trees

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: The birds and the trees by Grrlscientist 19 October 2011

Hoarding and breeding strategy of the Gray Jay SUMMARY: Gray jays hoping to survive and reproduce during Canada’s harsh winters must store food in the right kinds of trees If you’ve ever met a gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis, then I think you’ll agree with me that this audacious and personable bird is one of the [...]

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Journal Club: Jumping genes reveal deep relationships between parrots and songbirds

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Jumping genes reveal deep relationships between parrots and songbirds by Grrlscientist 24 August 2011

SUMMARY: A new study adds support to two earlier reports that songbirds and parrots are each other’s closest relatives (Psittacopasserae), indicating that vocal learning abilities appeared in this group of birds 30 million years earlier than originally assumed. Passerines and parrots share a common ancestor as well as the ability to learn vocalization. Vocal learning [...]

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Journal Club: Why are there so many bird species in the tropics?

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Why are there so many bird species in the tropics? by Grrlscientist 17 August 2011

SUMMARY: What can we learn about evolution, geography and biodiversity by studying continental patterns of speciation? Since before the time of dinosaurs, species diversity is related to latitude. Basically, species richness increases as distance from the equator decreases. As any sweaty bird watcher dragging a heavy field guide through the tropics will tell you, this [...]

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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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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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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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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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