Birds

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Birds

I was reading Christie’s excellent post (and you should too) on GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons’ elephant killing incident (is it too early to be calling this #ElephantGate?) Although I don’t know quite enough about what is going on in Zimbabwe, I tend to err on the side of not intentionally killing elephants because – as…

I’ve got a new piece over at the Scientific American Guest Blog: On Friday, March 11, Japan was rocked by an earthquake. People were displaced, a nuclear reactor was in trouble, and the world watched as a tsunami flooded Japan, threatened the islands of the Pacific, and ultimately hit the western coasts of North and…

Welcome to Territoriality Week! Every day this week, I’ll have a post about some aspect of animal or human territoriality. How do animals mark and control their territories? What determines the size or shape of an animal’s territory? What can an animal’s territory tell us about neuroanatomy? Today, I begin by asking two questions: first,…

It’s like a scene out of Romeo and Juliet, or perhaps the Rapunzel story. A wild bald eagle has taken up residence on a tree just adjacent to a bald eagle enclosure at the Orange County Zoo in Irvine, near Los Angeles. In fact, the wild bird has shown particular interest in the zoo’s 6-year-old…

What’s the best way for a lonely guy to get a date? If you’re a Splendid Fairy-Wren (Malurus splendens, native to Australia), your best bet might be to frighten the object of your affection. You’ve learned all about the birds and the bees; now it’s time to learn from them. Lots of research has shown…

Even still, we tend to think of the turkey as a fairly unintelligent bird, skilled at little more than waddling around, emitting the occasional “gobble,” and frying up golden-brown-and-delicious. But…what if I told you that the domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) could actually be quite clever, at least when it comes to social cognition? Apocryphal or…

From the new National Geographic Great Migrations mini-series. Open comment thread: Did you watch it last night? What did you think?

Predator-prey interactions are often viewed as evolutionary arms races; while predators improve their hunting behaviors and their ability to sneak up on their prey, the prey improve upon their abilities to detect and escape from their predators. The problem, of course, is that there is a trade-off between maintaining vigilance – the attention necessary to…

Earlier this week I wrote about the developmental and evolutionary origins of large number representation. A series of studies in human infants, monkeys, rats, and fish demonstrated that animals and humans spontaneously represent large (>4), abstract, approximate numerosities. Animals, human infants, and human adults, show the same ratio signatures (based on Weber’s Law). Adult tamarins…

Here at Thoughtful Animal headquarters, we’re starting a new series of seven-question interviews with people who are doing or have done animal research of all kinds – biomedical, behavioral, cognitive, and so forth. Interested in how animal research is conducted, or why animal research is important? Think you might want to do some animal research…