ornithology

Tetrapod Zoology

Category archives for ornithology

I love turkeys, and here I specifically mean the so-called Wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo and its domestic variants, not the Ocellated turkey M. ocellata (though – don’t get me wrong, Ocellated turkeys are great too). Herewith a brief look into the world of turkeys (part of it recycled from Tet Zoo ver 1)… involving a…

Brad Livezey, RIP 2011

I’ve just heard the tragic and saddening news that ornithologist Bradley Livezey died yesterday morning (Tuesday 8th February, 2011) following a car crash. It seems that his car lost traction due to snow and ice on the road surface and then collided with another vehicle. Brad was 56. I never met him, but regarded him…

One of my long-running plans on Tet Zoo has been to review passerine phylogeny. After decades of people saying that oscine passerines are (except larks and corvids) far too alike for anyone to construct a sensible phylogeny, a flurry of (mostly molecular) studies have meant that – as I like to say – the passerine…

The shortest Tet Zoo blog post ever

Please identify. If possible, make it more interesting by saying something about the animal’s behaviour, ecology and/or phylogenetic position (believe me, there is plenty to say). As usual, a smug sense of self-satisfaction to the winner.

The big buzz here in Hampshire (southern England) at the moment is the recent arrival of a White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla. This magnificent raptor – it can have a wingspan of 2.4 m and is one of the biggest eagles in the world – is historically extinct in England, but individuals still appear here on…

It’s well known that the islands of the Mediterranean were formerly home to an assortment of island endemics, all of which are now extinct. Most of the best known ones are mammals like pygmy elephants, pygmy hippos, pygmy megacerine deer and giant dormice, but there were also large birds, tortoises and lizards. My excellent friend…

I read a lot of books in 2010, and mostly enjoyed all of them. Among my favourites was Luis Chiappe’s Glorified Dinosaurs: The Origin and Early Evolution of Birds, and in the lengthy review article below (currently in press for Historical Biology) you can find what I thought of it. Note that Glorified Dinosaurs is…

Using an eagle to catch and kill a wolf

No time for anything new (err, just a tad busy at the moment), so here’s something else from the Tet Zoo archives. This article originally appeared on ver 1 in April 2006 and appears here in slightly modified form. In previous articles we’ve looked at the ability of large eagles – the Golden eagle Aquila…

When you discover something new on the internet, you usually find – minutes or hours later – that everyone else already knows about it, and you’re just late to the party. And so it is here. But what the hell. Petya Cosmos recently alerted me to this hilarious, and interesting, video. The drama, the suspense,…

Back in July 2009 I wrote an article on what little I knew (and had read) about lightning strikes and animal deaths [in composite image below, lightning image by John R. Southern; Angolan giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis by Hans Hillewaert. Both from wikipedia]. As discussed therein, there are a few cases on record where African…