Well this is a brain twister!?

Rats! Tesla won’t pay for rodent damage to cars

Iowa Climate Science Education

Street-rat

Any Teslas round here? [image credit: Edal Anton Lefterov @ Wikipedia]

A bit of light relief perhaps, unless you’re already one of the victims or could soon become one. Are electric cars more appealing than combustion-engined types to hungry rodents? Check those brake cables.
– – –
Elon Musk may have a rat problem, says The New York Post.

Fans of the South African billionaire’s electric cars say rats, mice and rodents are chomping down on their Teslas.

And despite having dropped tens of thousands of dollars to buy the pricey vehicles, Tesla refuses to cover the damage.

Sarah Williams, a 41-year-old physician who lives in Manhattan and uses her Tesla to commute to work in the Bronx, told The Post of an alarming incident when she took her 2018 Model 3 into Tesla’s Paramus, NJ, dealership in mid-May after her air conditioner had stopped working.

“They opened the…

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Critical Race Theory

Global weather pattern and how it affects climate change

This is a little too creative for my taste… 😬

Tom Ford Announces $1.2 Million Plastic Innovation Prize

www.onegreenplanet.org

By Eliza Erskine

Fashion innovator Tom Ford and 52HZ announced that submissions for the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize are open!

The prize’s aim is to “accelerate meaningful innovation around a replacement for thin-film plastic.” The two-year competition includes a $1 million prize. Thin-film plastic accounts for 46% of the plastic that leaks into the ocean annually.

“Thin-film plastic enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing,” says Dr. Dune Ives, CEO of Lonely Whale. “The origin story of plastic starts with an innovation prize and the solution to the plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation. As a campaign organization capable of catalyzing global change on a massive scale, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is an opportunity to create another new beginning and promote solutions commensurate with the plastic pollution problem.”

Judges for the panel include Don Cheadle, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Trudie Styler, Susan Rockefeller, and more. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is open May 20 through October 24, 2021, and guidelines and prize rules are available at www.plasticprize.org

“Sustainability is a key critical issue in our lives now,” says Tom Ford. “Plastic pollution is taking one of the greatest tolls on our environment and thin-film plastic makes up 46% of all plastic waste entering our ocean. We will continue to advocate for the adoption of the winning innovations and will do whatever we can to turn the tide of plastic pollution and thin-film plastic specifically. We need to work towards finding a solution before it’s too late to save our environment.”

Recently, other environmental prizes have been announced, such as Elon Musk‘s XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition, Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food System Vision Prize.

Read more about fashion in One Green Planet:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Also, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App on iTunes — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Drinking From a Can Has One Major Side Effect, Study Says

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https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/tom-ford-announces-1-2-million-plastic-innovation-prize/

Hummingbird Nests 101: Answers to All Your Questions | ABC

 

nich May 06, 2021

Each spring, hummingbirds return to our gardens, farms, and parks, bringing their sparkle and activity. Birders and non-birders alike are excited to see these birds return. The hummingbird species we see vary depending on location, but these colorful birds brighten up any backyard with their beauty. Their majesty is not without mystery, though — especially when it comes to their nesting habits. Hummingbirds are masters at camouflaging their nests, making them almost impossible to spot, even when you are looking.

To shed some light on how hummingbirds breed, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide. So, if you’ve ever wondered about the size of hummingbird nests, what time of year these tiny birds build these natural structures, and what to look for, read on!

Where do hummingbirds nest?

Hummingbirds can be picky about where they nest. While some species like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird have adapted to urbanization, sometimes even nesting on wires, plant hangers, and other human-made items, most prefer the cover of deciduous trees growing near water. Tree foliage provides shelter for the parents and their chicks, while the water helps to keep the area cool. Hummingbirds also need to live near food sources, including nectar-rich flowering plants — another reason why sites near water are important for hummingbirds in dry regions.

Due to the small size of hummingbird nests, you’re not likely to find one in the crook of a large branch. Instead, hummingbirds tend to “set up shop” on thinner branches roughly one foot from tree trunks, often at a fork.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird and chicks. Photo by Agnieszka Bacal/Shutterstock

How can you attract hummingbirds to nest?

Unlike some other popular backyard birds, hummingbirds do not nest in birdhouses. However, there are a number of good ways to tempt them to your yard. You can maintain or plant native flowering plants, provide reliable water sources, and avoid chemicals that harm birds and other wildlife, including the insects hummingbirds prey upon. Properly maintained feeders can also supplement hummingbirds’ natural diets and attract them to your property.

How big is a hummingbird nest?

In general, hummingbird nests only measure a little over one inch in diameter! Their size depends on several factors. Different species, of course, build different nests. In general, larger species build larger ones than smaller species do. Construction materials and location can also affect the shape and size of nests.

Hummingbird nest and eggs. Photo by Wellington Nadalini/Shutterstock

What are hummingbird nests made of?

Hummingbirds like their nests to be soft and flexible. To construct them this way, they use a variety of natural materials. Like most birds, hummingbirds start with twigs and other bits of plants, using leaves for a base. However, hummingbirds will also use moss and lichen to camouflage their nests and to make them softer. The secret to a successful hummingbird nest, however, is spider silk. More about that directly below.

How do hummingbirds build their nests?

Female hummingbirds spend up to seven days building their flexible, bowl-shaped nests. First, they create a base layer. Then, they incorporate spider silk by rolling it over the unfinished structure. The silk, which holds the nest together and anchors it to a foundation, is inserted into nooks and crevasses to ensure attachment. Construction requires several hours each day.Video Player

https://abcbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Hummingbird-arrives-with-full-bunch-of-spider-silk-to-reinforce-her-nest-by-Freebilly-PhotographySS.mp4?_=1

 

WATCH: Hummingbird arrives with spider silk to reinforce her nest. Video by Freebilly Photography/Shutterstockes-at

What does a hummingbird nest look like?

Because it is adorned with compacted green lichen, moss, and spider silk, a hummingbird nest can appear like a small knot of wood. Its shape and coloring work as camouflage to keep hummingbird eggs and chicks safe.

When do hummingbirds nest?

The time of year that hummingbirds nest and lay eggs varies by location. In the southern U.S., hummingbird breeding begins as soon as March. In contrast, the process may not start until July in cooler, northern or montane regions. Some western species, such as the Anna’s Hummingbird, may start nesting with the first winter rains in November.

Baby hummingbird of Rufous tailed in nest by Damsea/Shutterstock

Hummingbird chick. Photo by Damsea/Shutterstock

How do you find a hummingbird nest?

Hummingbird nests are extremely hard to spot. As noted above, they are both well-hidden and camouflaged. The best places to look are on thin, forked branches and in dense shrubs. As mentioned above, these nests often look like tree knots. If you spot an oddly placed knot, you might have gotten lucky!

Carefully observing hummingbird behavior is usually key to finding their nests. Watching from a distance, you might be able to spot a female repeatedly visiting the same site during the process of nest construction. During incubation, females leave their nests only for brief periods to forage. If you are lucky enough to spot a female during this phase of breeding, and luckier still to be able to follow her flight path, she may lead you to her nest.

Can I touch a hummingbird nest?

You should not touch hummingbird nests. In the United States, it is illegal to touch, relocate, or remove an active nest. If you discover one, it is best to observe it from a distance. Binoculars will enable you to view the female or young from afar. This will minimize disturbance and avoid inadvertently tipping off a predator, such as a jay, to the location.

Two baby hummingbirds in a nest by F Armstrong Photography/Shutterstock

Hummingbird chicks. Photo by F Armstrong Photography/Shutterstock

Do hummingbirds leave their nests at night?

Hummingbirds use the night to sleep. In most cases, they will sleep on or by their nests, but not always.

Do hummingbirds reuse their nests?

No. Because hummingbird nests are flexible and expand as chicks grow, they eventually stretch, losing their shape and becoming unsuitable for new use. This means that every new set of eggs requires a new nest!

What can you do to help hummingbirds?

We all can do our part to protect hummingbirds.

American Bird Conservancy and our Joint Venture partners have improved conservation management on 6.4 million acres of U.S. bird habitat — an area larger than the state of Maryland — over the last ten years. This is a monumental undertaking, requiring the support of many, and you can help by making a gift today.

Policies enacted by Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have a huge impact on America’s birds. You can help shape these rules for the better by telling lawmakers to prioritize birds, bird habitat, and bird-friendly measures. To get started, visit ABC’s Action Center.

Finally, don’t overlook the impact you can have in your yard. Creating and improving habitat for hummingbirds can be easy. Check out our  “Hummingbird Paradise” post to learn more. For a complete list of daily activities you can take to help birds, visit our Bird-Friendly Life page.

anna's hummingbird gathering nest material by Feng Yu/Shutterstock

Anna’s Hummingbird. Photo by Feng Yu/Shutterstock

How does American Bird Conservancy help hummingbirds?

ABC works with conservation partners and local communities to ensure the survival of the world’s most endangered hummingbirds, as well as many other rare, declining bird species and their habitats.

With partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, we have created 93 reserves spanning more than 1 million acres, where 234 hummingbird species find protection.

Habitat restoration is another hallmark of our work with hummingbirds. To date, ABC has planted more than 6 million trees and shrubs to revitalize key habitats, and we’re planning to plant 70,000 more.

ABC also supports field expeditions to search for new, and monitor known, hummingbird populations. These efforts allow us to detect changes in populations and identify new threats or changes in the environment that might affect species and their habitats.Kathryn Stonich teaches English for the Community College of Baltimore County and Bryant & Stratton College online. She is an avid backyard birder and advocate for pigeon and dove rescue.« Twelve Tips to Help Migratory Birds on Their WayMigration Lessons from Long Point »

Copyright 2021 © American Bird Conservancy. All Rights Reserved. American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 52-1501259

https://c.sharethis.mgr.consensu.org/portal-v2.html

https://abcbirds.org/blog21/hummingbird-nests/

Have a sick and unhealthy house plant…there’s an app to help 🌱

Amazing strength and endurance of a ant…

Free dolphin study guides

Scholarship for Birders in STEM

Application Period Ends June 18, 2021

Until higher education is accessible, equitable, and free, we will be here to support Black & Latinx Birders in STEM.

Are you a Black birder or Brown birder that lives in the contiguous United States and identifies as Black, African-American, and/or Latinx/e/a/o? Are you also an undergraduate student studying in STEM? Apply for the annual Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship, today!

ELIGIBILITY

Open to undergraduate students 18 and older, in any year of their college studies (full-time undergraduate). Through this scholarship, we seek to increase the number of Black birders and Latinx birders studying in STEM*. Scholarship awards range from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000, depending on funding for the current year. Two students will receive a one-time annual award.

RULES

1. Live in and attend college in the contiguous United States.
2. We want to hear from you!

Tell us about your birding** experience! Please answer these questions:

  • How did you become a birder?
  • How are you involved in the birding community?
  • Why are you pursuing a degree in STEM?
  • How do you plan to bring back your knowledge and skills to your community?

How to tell us:

  • Essay: no longer than two pages double spaced. Get creative! Maybe your essay is a Twitter thread that you started? Perhaps an extended IG post? Or maybe you prefer a standard essay format? Either way, tell us about you and answer the four questions above.
  • YouTube Video: Instead of an essay, send us a video link (two minutes maximum) sharing why you are pursuing your degree and how you plan to share your knowledge with the community.

3. One letter of recommendation to serve as a reference from a current or recent teacher. This can be forwarded to us by you, or sent directly to us.
4. Proof of enrollment at a 2 or 4 year college or university and proof of a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA (high school or college, as appropriate). A letter from the admissions office and a copy of your transcripts are needed.
5. Must be 18 years or older.
6. Interview with the committee via Zoom.

*Note: STEM (Science Technology Engineer Math) includes Science Communications.

**Note: we use the term “birder” in a broad context. Perhaps you’re a lister, volunteer at a nature center and engage your community with live birds, lead bird walks, have worked on or are working on a bird-related conservation project at your school. A birder in this context is someone who is actively engaged in lifestyle, with projects, etc. that are centered around birds, bird advocacy, and/or bird conservation.Apply Today! The application period for the Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship ends June 18, 2021.

Please forward this email to your colleagues, students, and networks. Our scholarship offering has increased this year due to American Bird Conservancy matching donations up to $10K! We need your help to share this scholarship with your networks. Thank you!

For question, please reply to this email, or email hello@amplifythefuture.org.  Apply Today!Copyright © 2021 Amplify the Future, All rights reserved.

https://mailchi.mp/amplifythefuture.org/scholarship-for-birders-in-stem

Death of prominent Canadian polar bear biologist a tragic loss to science

polarbearscience

Markus Dyck, a renowned Canadian polar bear biologist, died in a helicopter crash near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, along with two crew members on Sunday 25 April 2021. Dyck and the crew were beginning this year’s survey of the Lancaster Sound polar bear subpopulation (Crockford 2021), which hasn’t had a population count since 1997.

From the initial CBC News report on Monday 26 April:

Three people are dead after a helicopter crash near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, during a trip to survey the Lancaster Sound polar bear population, the premier says.

It happened near Griffith Island and involved a Great Slave Helicopters AS350-B2.

A news release on Monday morning from Yellowknife-based Great Slave Helicopters said there were two flight crew and one wildlife biologist on board. No one survived, the company says.

Crash site of helicopter was near Griffith Island, near Resolute in the Central Canadian Arctic.

The wildlife biologist was identified on Wednesday as

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The Oldest-Known Whiskey Bottle Is Being Auctioned Off And May Go For $40,000

www.delish.com

Ni’Kesia Pannell

Whiskey connoisseurs, it’s your time to shine. If you’re someone who likes to pick up specialty bottles of the beverage, then you may already know about Skinner Auctioneers. If you don’t, this is the perfect time to get to know them because you could be in the running for nabbing the oldest known bottle of whiskey this summer. But just know, it probably will cost you a pretty penny.

A bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey—which is being billed as “the oldest currently known whiskey bottle” by Boston-based antique shop Skinner Auctioneers—is being auctioned off from June 22-30 and it has the potential of selling for anywhere between $20,000 to $40,000. Yes, you read that right. Forty thousand dollars. What makes this whiskey qualify for such a high price tag, you ask? Well, to start, it’s super old.

Settled in a brown glass bottle, this particular bottle of whiskey is rumored to be 250 years old and has embossed lettering reading Evans & Ragland in La Grange, Georgia. The back, however, really gives up the info as the typed note taped to it begins: “This Bourbon was probably made prior to 1865.” And while that doesn’t give us a settled date as to when it was actually created, Skinner Auctioneer’s rare spirit expert Josh Hyman was able to determine the solidified year that it was made and 1850 (the initial assumed date) was far from correct.

skinner auctioneers

Skinner Auctioneers

With help from scientists both at the University of Georgia and the University of Glasgow, it was determined the the whiskey was in fact from anywhere between 1763 and 1803.

“The age was a shocking surprise, albeit a pleasant one, for both myself and the scientist,” Skinner’s Joseph Hyman told Food & Wine: “Archival data about the grocer/merchant Evans & Ragland existing after the war and that it was common to store whiskey in demijohns, we concluded the whiskey was bottled after the war, having been in such a demijohn for several decades.”

According to the taped note on the bottle, the bottle was once found a home in financier John Pierpoint Morgan’s cellar. Morgan’s son, Jack Morgan, then “gifted this bottle to James Byrnes of South Carolina and two other bottles to Franklin D. Roosevelt—a distant cousin to Morgan—and Harry S. Truman, for Christmas, c. 1942-1944,” Skinner Auctioners reveals.

Somehow, there’s more: Byrnes—who had a lengthy political career—gifted the same bottle to “his close friend and drinking buddy, Francis Drake” sometime during 1951-1955. The story wraps with Skinner Auctioneers noting that the bottle has been safeguarded for three generations as Drake and his descendants were exclusive Scotch drinkers.

So, if you want to get your hands on this legendary and iconic bottle of whiskey, make sure you have your coins lined up before June!

Ni’Kesia Pannell Weekend Editor/Contributing Writer Ni’Kesia Pannell is an entrepreneur, multi-hyphenate freelance writer, and self-proclaimed Slurpee connoisseur that covers food news for Delish.com.

https://www.delish.com/food-news/a36230899/oldest-whiskey-bottle-auction/?source=nl&utm_source=nl_del&utm_medium=email&date=042721&utm_campaign=nl23655018

“Angry parent’s letter to ‘WOKE’ private school”

Orioles of the United States: A Photo List of All Bird Species

abcbirds.org

Excluding seldom-seen vagrant species, eight New World oriole species occur in the United States (see list below). Thanks to their distinctive orange-and-black or yellow-and-black plumage, orioles are fairly easy to identify. And because they inhabit large portions of the country — and occasionally visit feeders — many Americans are familiar with these colorful birds.

Despite their relative abundance, most North American orioles are in decline, some steeply. The Baltimore Oriole, for example, has experienced a 42-percent population decline in the last 50 years; the Audubon’s Oriole has been added to Partners in Flight’s (PIF’s) Yellow Watch List (an indicator of conservation concern); and the Altamira Oriole, which numbers fewer than 500 in Texas, has been listed as “threatened” in the state by the Texas Organization for Endangered Species.

Oriole losses have been driven by a range of factors, including habitat loss, pesticide use, collisions, and brood parasitism — raising cowbirds’ offspring, often to the detriment of their own. To reverse these declines, American Bird Conservancy has successfully advocated for the cancellation of pesticides shown to kill orioles and other birds. We promote bird-friendly building practices to reduce glass collisions. And, as part of our full annual life-cycle strategy, we collaborate with local landowners and nonprofits in Latin America to protect important wintering habitat for orioles.

Our List of U.S. Orioles

The alphabetical list below includes all orioles, both migratory and resident, that breed regularly in the continental United States. The PIF population and conservation data we use is exclusive to the United States and Canada. (Note that only three listed species reach Canada: Baltimore, Bullock’s, and Orchard.) As a result, population estimates shown here do not reflect total numbers for orioles with parts of their breeding ranges in Mexico and Central America. We have included one exotic species on our list, the Spot-breasted Oriole, which has been established in the U.S. for more than 70 years, and we have omitted several vagrant species that rarely visit.

Altamira Oriole
Altamira orioles are one of the many types of orioles found in the United States

U.S. Population Estimate: <500
Population Trend: Unknown
Habitat: Dry forest and brush near Rio Grande
Threats: Habitat loss
Note: Although most of the Altamira Oriole’s range lies south of the U.S. border, it can be found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The Texas Organization for Endangered Species lists the species as “threatened” within the state; however, the Altamira Oriole is still considered common in the southern parts of its range.

Audubon’s Oriole
Audubon's Oriole

U.S. Population Estimate: <5,000
Population Trend: Overall trend unknown; decreasing in the U.S.
Habitat: Dry forest and brush
Threats: Brood parasitism, habitat loss and fragmentation
Note: Formerly known as the Black-headed Oriole, Audubon’s Oriole is the only oriole species in the New World to sport a black hood with a yellow or orange back. Conservation concerns have led PIF to add Audubon’s Oriole to its Yellow Watch List.

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 12,000,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Open eastern deciduous forest
Threats: Habitat loss
Note: Like most oriole species, Baltimore Orioles build hanging nests by weaving an assortment of fibers, including hairs and grasses. The nests, which take one to two weeks to construct, are lined with feathers and downy fibers. Baltimore Oriole populations have decreased by 42 percent over the last 50 years.

Bullock’s Oriole
Bullock's Oriole

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 6,500,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Open western deciduous forest
Threats: Habitat loss, possibly pesticide use
Note: Bullock’s Oriole enjoy a varied diet, including insects, fruit, and even nectar from agaves and other flowers. They can occasionally be found sipping from hummingbird feeders. Populations of the Bullock’s Oriole have decreased 22 percent over the last 50 years.

Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole

U.S. Population Estimate: 350,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Open woods and brush
Threats: Localized brood parasitism by Brown-headed and Bronzed CowbirdsNote: Hooded Orioles, which tend to nest in palm trees, have expanded their range northward, following the introduction of ornamental palms in residential areas. They can now be found as far north as Arcata, California.

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 10,000,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Open woods and brush
Threats: Habitat loss, brood parasitism
Note: The smallest of North American orioles, Orchard Orioles have a noted tolerance for other birds. In areas of favored habitat, multiple Orchard Oriole pairs will sometimes nest in a single tree. They are also known to nest in close proximity to Baltimore Orioles, American Robins, and Chipping Sparrows, among others. Orchard Oriole populations have decreased 23 percent over the last 50 years.

Scott’s Oriole
Scott's Oriole

U.S. Population Estimate: 1,600,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Varied open, arid habitats
Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation
Note: Although most birds avoid eating Monarch butterflies due to toxins ingested by the milkweed-eating insects, Scott’s Oriole and several other bird species have learned to prey upon them by eating the abdomens of less-noxious individuals. Populations of the Scott’s Oriole have decreased by 29 percent over the last 50 years.

Spot-breasted Oriole
The Spot-breasted Oriole is one of eight orioles species in the United States

U.S. Population Estimate: Unknown
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Lushly planted suburban areas in South Florida
Threats: Severe winter freezes, habitat loss and fragmentationNote: Native to southern Mexico and Central America, Spot-breasted Orioles were introduced in the U.S. more than 70 years ago. The birds are now found in areas between Miami and West Palm Beach. They nest in human-altered landscapes with an abundance of flowering and fruiting ornamental trees and shrubs, including suburban yards and golf courses.

https://abcbirds.org/blog20/orioles-species-united-states/

Bird of The Week: Chuck-Will’s-Widow

Chuck-wills-widow-map, NatureServe

Chuck-will’s-widow belongs to a family of birds with the folk name “goatsuckers.” The family name, Caprimulgidae, literally means “milker of goats” and is based on an ancient belief that the birds milked goats with their enormous mouths each night.

In reality, the birds’ attraction to livestock was likely due to the presence of insects. Chuck-will’s-widow forages at dusk and dawn, silently swooping over the ground in search of prey. Specialized feathers known as rictal bristles help funnel insects into the bird’s mouth, which is so large that they may occasionally swallow small birds and bats as well!

The “chuck” is the largest nightjar in North America and is almost entirely nocturnal. During the day, the birds roost along tree branches or on the ground, where their beautifully mottled brown plumage provides perfect camouflage against dried leaves and tree bark.

Chuck-will's-widow and chicks, Dick-Snell

Chuck-will’s-widow and chicks by Dick-Snell

Chuck-will’s-widows do not build nests, instead laying their eggs on the ground among dead leaves, pine needles, or on bare dirt. Incubating adults are almost invisible against the forest floor and only flush off their nests when closely approached.

Since they have a highly insectivorous diet, Chuck-will’s-widows are impacted by pesticide use. They are sometimes killed by cars when they land on roads at night to pick up grit. Habitat loss on both breeding and wintering grounds is also a continual threat.

This nightjar winters in lowland forests throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, where it shares habitat with Wood Thrush, Kentucky and Prothonotary warblers, and Painted Bunting. Chuck-will’s-widow is benefiting from ABC’s efforts to “bring back the birds” in these areas, with our focus on conserving geographically linked habitats both north and south.

https://abcbirds.org/bird/Chuck-wills-widow/

Yellow Warbler

NAME: Setophaga petechia
POPULATION: 92 million
TREND: Stable
HABITAT: Breeds in wet woods, thickets, and riparian areas; winters in open woodlands, on farms and gardens with scattered trees, and in mangrove forests

Yellow Warbler range map, NatureServe

Yellow Warbler range map by NatureServe

The Yellow Warbler is the most widespread American wood-warbler. It nests from Alaska to northern South America (including the Galapágos Islands), and in parts of the Caribbean as well, and winters as far south as Peru.

Tail tip to forehead, this is also the yellowest North American warbler, even more so than the Prothonotary or Blue-winged. Cinnamon breast streaks embellish the male’s gleaming plumage.

Seet: Cowbird Alert!

One of the Yellow Warbler’s calls, a repeated seet, serves specifically as a Brown-headed Cowbird alert. When a female hears another bird make this call, she rushes back to her nest to prevent the cowbird, a notorious nest parasite, from laying eggs there.

Other birds, including Red-winged Blackbirds, also seem to understand this warning; when they hear it, they also zip back to protect their own eggs. (Hear the seet call and learn more.)

The Yellow Warbler’s song is a sweet-sounding series of whistled notes often characterized as “sweet, sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet,” repeated as often as ten times in a minute.

“American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva)” Audio Player00:0700:38 1. “American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva)” 0:38

(Audio of Yellow Warbler song by Dominic Garcia-Hall, XC394040. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/394040.)

So Many Subspecies

Another superlative associated with the Yellow Warbler is the species’ incredible diversity: 37 subspecies are recognized, divided among four groups. Subspecies vary mostly in plumage color and pattern.

The Yellow Warbler nests throughout most of Canada, Alaska, and at least two-thirds of the area covered by the lower 48 U.S. states. Long-distance migrants, few if any of these birds remain north of the Mexican border in winter.

Several resident, or nonmigratory, groups are found in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. A resident subspecies even inhabits the Galápagos Islands off Ecuador’s Pacific coast. Males in nonmigratory populations have varying amounts of chestnut color on their heads, from just the cap to most of the bird’s head, as is the case with “Mangrove” Yellow Warblers.

For years, some ornithologists split the migratory and resident populations into two species, Setophaga aestiva and S. petechia. All now fall under the latter name.

Male Yellow Warbler feeding female on nest, Ivan Kuzmin, Shutterstock

Male Yellow Warbler feeding female on nest. Photo by Ivan Kuzmin, Shutterstock

Coffee Berry Protector

The Yellow Warbler feeds mainly on insects and spiders, gleaning them from shrubs and tree branches or sallying out from a perch to grab winged insects mid-air. This diminutive hunter sometimes hovers while seeking prey that might be hiding on the undersides of leaves. Like many other migratory songbirds, the Yellow Warbler adds fruit to its diet in winter.

Winter or summer, this warbler provides valuable pest control: One study, conducted on Costa Rican wintering grounds, showed that the Yellow Warbler and other insectivorous birds ate large quantities of invasive coffee berry borer beetles, helping reduce infestations on coffee plantations in that country by 50 percent.

A Clutch Performance

A male Yellow Warbler quickly claims a territory on the breeding grounds, chasing off intruding males. He courts prospective mates through incessant singing. In fact, one Yellow Warbler may sing more than 3,000 times in a day to attract a female! Once paired, the male attends his mate closely as she builds her nest, wary for other males, which often invade established territories and attempt to mate with resident females.

Like many other birds such as the Kirtland’s Warbler and Wood Thrush, the Yellow Warbler is frequently parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. This problem is especially common in fragmented habitats, which provide easier access for female cowbirds to lay their eggs in host birds’ nests. But the Yellow Warbler fights back. It seems to recognize the foreign eggs, and often builds a new nest, covering over a cowbird-parasitized clutch with new nesting material. If the cowbird returns and re-lays, the warbler covers them again — sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers!

Females build and maintain the cup-shaped nests, incubate the eggs, and brood the hatchlings. Meanwhile, male Yellow Warblers aggressively guard nest sites and bring food to females sitting on eggs or young. Both sexes share chick-rearing duties: After the nestlings fledge, some may follow the mother, while the rest remain with the father.

Warblers on the Landscape

Although still numerous, Yellow Warblers are threatened by habitat loss, chiefly destruction of riparian habitats, and the overuse of pesticides. One subspecies, the Barbados Yellow Warbler, has been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1970.

ABC’s work helps to conserve the Yellow Warbler and other migratory birds across their full annual life-cycle through its BirdScapes approach to conservation. Several BirdScapes in the southwestern United States protect riparian areas for the Endangered western subspecies of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that also shelter the Yellow Warbler and other birds.

Copyright 2021 © American Bird Conservancy. All Rights Reserved. American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 52-1501259

https://c.sharethis.mgr.consensu.org/portal-v2.html

https://abcbirds.org/bird/yellow-warbler/

Learn more about these amazing hummingbirds

Do Robins Migrate? American Robins’ Winter Habits Explained

Joe Lowe January 27, 2020

Springtime singer or snowy sentinel? The American Robin may be one of North America’s most familiar songbirds, yet its wintering patterns raise a common question: Do robins migrate?

The answer is yes and no. We associate robins with spring for good reason: In many places, they arrive with the warm weather. But that doesn’t mean all of these birds escape winter’s bite.

Winter Strategies

Unlike long-distance migrants and many hummingbirds, which head south en masse during the fall, robins react to winter’s onset in two ways.

Many retreat southward. Northern Canada empties of robins, while areas far to the south like Texas and Florida receive large winter flocks. But those making the journey are not lured by warmer temperatures: Robins can withstand extremely cold temperatures, adding warm, downy feathers to their plumage. The real motivation is food, or rather the lack of it. As their warm-weather diet of earthworms and insects wanes, robins begin searching for fresh supplies.

First, they change their diet, transitioning from protein-rich invertebrates to vitamin-rich winter fruits and berries, including junipers, hollies, crabapples, and hawthorns.

They also begin moving. In the spring and summer, robins aggressively defend their territories and raise young. In the winter, they become nomadic, searching widely for their favorite cold-weather fare. Weather also influences robin movements. A heavy snowfall that persists for more than a few days may send them on their way, searching for better conditions.

American Robin. Photo by Jeff Rzepka/Shutterstock

Robins also form flocks in the winter. These flocks, which can number in the hundreds or thousands, stand in contrast to the birds’ territorial pairings in spring and summer. Flocking offers critical benefits: Larger groups mean more eyes and improved chances to spot — and avoid —predators. They also increase the odds of discovering food.

Finally — and this is generally true throughout their range — robins make little noise during winter months. Although some males begin singing toward winter’s end as spring approaches and mating hormones kick in, they typically maintain a subdued presence.

Taken together, these changes dramatically lower robins’ profile in the northern part of their range, making sightings much less common, and leading some people to assume they are absent.

American Robin with berry. Photo by Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock

American Robin. Photo by Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock

To Stay or To Go

So how do Robins decide whether to stay or go during the winter?

There is not yet a good answer, but gender may play a role, as males are more likely to remain than females in northern areas. This offers an obvious territorial advantage, allowing males early access to the best breeding grounds.

When spring arrives, northern flocks of robins disperse and resume their invertebrate diet, picking earthworms and other invertebrates from the ground. Around the same time, migrating robins return from the South, with males arriving a few days to two weeks before females. In both cases, males sing vigorously as they begin defending territory. The result? Robins seem to be everywhere once again.

Do robins migrate? The answer is yes and no. Photo by Jeff Rzepka/Shutterstock

American Robin. Photo by Michael Stubblefield

Robin Conservation

Unlike many other birds, the American Robin seems to have benefited from urbanization and agricultural development. Although its populations are increasing, it remains vulnerable to many of the same factors threatening less adaptable species.

Pesticide poisoning remains an important threat, since American Robins forage on lawns and other open spaces that are often sprayed with toxins. Although DDT has been banned in the United States, other toxic chemicals such as neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos, and glyphosate (used in the familiar weed-killer Roundup) are still in use. Pesticides can also affect populations of earthworms, a major food source for this bird.

Since American Robins often forage and feed on the ground, they are especially vulnerable to predation by outdoor cats. Collisions with windows, communications towers, and car strikes are other common hazards.

Many of ABC’s policy programs help to reduce the impacts of these hazards. Our Cats Indoors and Bird-Smart Glass programs in particular offer solutions for making backyards safer. We also offer tips on improving your backyard habitat to make it more welcoming year-round to the American Robin and other birds.

Copyright 2021 © American Bird Conservancy. All Rights Reserved. American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 52-1501259

https://abcbirds.org/blog20/do-robins-migrate/

Love puzzles… get them before they’re gone…

A Life Without Water

Published on the 24th of October, 2014NewsWilderness Journal A Life Without Water

What’s the longest you have ever gone without water?

This unique-looking antelope, called a gerenuk can survive its entire life without ever taking a drink of water.

Instead, the gerenuk derives water from the foliage that it eats. To better reach this foliage it has evolved a long, slender neck upon which is perched a disproportionately small head. Its eyes and ears, however, are proportional to the rest of its body giving it a comical, somewhat alien appearance.

The gerenuk’s large eyelashes and sensory hairs on its muzzle and ears allow it to carefully navigate through thorny bushes without getting scratched. In addition to having an extra long neck it is also able to stand on two legs and reach even further to the tops of shrubs and bushes. This is facilitated by stronger-than-normal lumbar vertebrae and powerful hind legs. This way they can reach tender shoots up to six and a half feet off the ground. The name Gerenuk is of Somali origin, meaning giraffe-necked. They are found in Somalia, but also in southern Djibouti and much of Kenya’s arid North as well as throughout Tsavo in the East. Aerial surveys have shown that their densities are higher in drier areas and especially in areas further from permanent water sources. This way they reduce competition with other browsers that are more water-dependant.

Gerenuks conserve water with uniquely adapted nasal passages, which prevent evaporative loss. They also have very highly concentrated urine, and aside from short, quick bursts to escape predators they are very sedentary animals, preferring to stand in place or browse.

They are somewhat social, but prefer to stay in small groups. In Tsavo, they are commonly seen alone, but will often form groups of up to five individuals. The largest herd of gerenuks reported in Tsavo is twelve, but it is very rare to see more than five together. In more arid areas and in Somalia, however, larger groups are more common, with 2-8 being frequently reported and as many as 25-30 individuals aggregating when foliage is flush.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescued an orphaned gerenuk named Nuk last year who has since rejoined the wild. He still comes to visit from time to time and in the mornings and evenings he is often sighted on the airstrip with a herd of impalas that he has taken a liking to. The Trust is holding on to hope that he will one day catch the scent of a wild female nearby and start a family of his own. There are indeed wild gerenuk nearby and it should be a matter of time before he finds a mate.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, known as Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, is a charity in Kenya, a registered charity in England

and Wales number 1103836, and is supported by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust USA, Inc. a 501(c)3 in the United States (EIN 30-0224549)

Copyright © 2020, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. All Rights Reserved.

https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/news/wilderness/giraffe-necked-antelope

The red-headed woodpecker and a list of crazy nicknames

Dogs In Sync with Kids, say Researchers

firepaw.org

The results of a new study have shown that dogs synchronize their behavior with the children in their family. The findings are important because there is a growing body of evidence that dogs can help children in many ways, including with social development, increasing physical activity, managing anxiety or as a source of attachment in the face of changing family structures–yet, there has been no studies investigating whether dogs are truly synchronized with the behavior of children.

“The great news is that this study suggests dogs are paying a lot of attention to the kids that they live with. They are responsive to them and, in many cases, behaving in synchrony with them, indicators of positive affiliation and a foundation for building strong bonds.”

-Dr. Monique Udell, animal behaviorist and lead author of the study, Oregon State 

Study overview

The researchers recruited 30 youth between the ages of 8 and 17 years old — 83% of which had a developmental disability — to take part in the study with their family dog. The experiments took place in a large empty room. Color-coded taped lines were placed on the floor, and the children were given instructions on how to walk the lines in a standardized way with their off-leash dog.

The researchers videotaped the experiments and analyzed behavior based on three things: (1) activity synchrony, which means how much time the dog and child were moving or stationary at the same time; (2) proximity, or how much time the dog and child were within 1 meter of each other; and (3) orientation, how much time the dog was oriented in the same direction as the child.

Results overview

The researchers found that dogs exhibited behavioral synchronization with the children at a higher rate than would be expected by chance for all three variables. During their assessments, they found:

  • Active synchrony for an average of 60.2% of the time. Broken down further, the dogs were moving an average of 73.1% of the time that the children were moving and were stationary an average of 41.2% of the time the children were stationary.
  • Proximity within 1 meter of each other for an average of 27.1% of the time.
  • Orientation in the same direction for an average of 33.5% of the time.

Other findings

While child-dog synchrony occurred more often that what would be expected by chance, those percentages are all lower than what other researchers have found when studying interactions between dogs and adults in their household. Those studies found “active synchrony” 81.8% of the time, but at 49.1% with shelter dogs. They found “proximity” 72.9% of the time and 39.7% with shelter dogs. No studies on dog-human behavioral synchronization have previously assessed body orientation.

What’s next

The researchers are conducting more research to better understand factors that contribute to differences in levels of synchrony and other aspects of bond quality between dogs and children compared to dogs and adults, including participation in animal assisted interventions and increasing the child’s responsibility for the dog’s care.

Journal Reference:  Shelby H. Wanser, Megan MacDonald, Monique A. R. Udell. Dog–human behavioral synchronization: family dogs synchronize their behavior with child family members. Animal Cognition, 2021;

Posted by: IS

https://firepaw.org/2021/03/01/dogs-in-sync-with-kids-say-researchers/

The Dolphin Project

Types of Finches: All Finch Species in the United States and Canada

abcbirds.org

There are 17 North American finch species. These include crossbills, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, redpolls, and siskins. Birds in the Fringillidae family all have compact bodies, conical bills, and short necks with large jaw muscles. They also have relatively pointed wings, notched tails, and distinctive flight calls.

These small to medium-sized birds seem unassuming at first. However, when looked at more closely, their true beauty emerges. From the striking plumages of the three goldfinch species to the unusual and spectacular bills of crossbills and grosbeaks, finches really do have it all.

While these social birds are relatively conspicuous, they should not be taken for granted: More than half of North America’s finch species are in decline. New Hampshire, for example, is at risk of losing its state bird, the Purple Finch, as rising temperatures are expected to lead to a loss of 99 percent of this bird’s summer range in the state. Brown-capped and Black Rosy-Finches are also in danger and are on Partners in Flight’s (PIF’s) Red Watch List, and only an estimated 6,000 Cassia Crossbills remain.

Hazards like window collisions, outdoor cats, and pesticide use pose a threat to finches. Habitat loss from deforestation and other forms of land conversion are also major threats. But the effects of climate change seem to have taken the largest toll on finch populations.

To help these birds and many others, American Bird Conservancy and other organizations are taking a multipronged approach by promoting bringing cats indoors, working to decrease glass collisions, and educating the public about sustainable habitat managementand protecting birds from pesticides.

Our List

For the purposes of this U.S.-based list, we’ve used PIF population and conservation data exclusive to the United States and Canada. In many cases, these population estimates do not reflect global numbers. Cassia Crossbill information comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Our list is organized taxonomically and includes all regularly occurring finch species in  the continental United States and Canada.

Evening Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 3.4 Million
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Northern and montane forests
Threats: Deforestation, disease, loss of food sources due to pesticides 
Conservation Status: PIF Yellow Watch List
Note: The Evening Grosbeak does not have a complex song, but rather draws from a repertoire of simple calls, including sweet, piercing notes and burry chirps.

Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak

U.S./Canada Population Estimate:  4.4 million
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat:
Open boreal forest
Threats: Possibly climate change
Note: 
The Pine Grosbeak can be so tame and slow-moving that locals in Newfoundland affectionately call them “mopes.” Pine Grosbeaks declined by 2.4 percent per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative decline of 70 percent.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 200,000
Population Trend: Unknown
Habitat: Alpine tundra
Threats: Climate change
Note: 
The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch has little fear of humans and will allow people to closely approach.

Black Rosy-Finch
Black Rosy-Finch

U.S. Population Estimate: 20,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Alpine tundra
Threats: Climate change 
Conservation Status: PIF Red Watch List
Note: The Black Rosy-Finch nests in crevices along cliffs in alpine areas that are rarely visited by people.

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

U.S. Population Estimate: 45,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Alpine tundra
Threats: Climate change
Conservation Status:
PIF Red Watch List
Note:
This is the most sedentary rosy-finch.Unlike the Black Rosy-Finch, this species is known to sometimes nest in abandoned buildings.

House Finch
House Finch

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 31 million
Population Trend:
Increasing
Habitat:
Generalist
Threats: 
House Finch conjunctivitis (mycoplasmal conjunctivitis)
Note: 
House Finches are native to the western United States and Mexico but were introduced in the eastern United States when illegal cagebirds were released in New York in 1939. This one of the most well-studied bird species.

Purple Finch
Purple Finch

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 5.9 million
Population Trend:
Decreasing
Habitat: 
Mixed northern, montane, and boreal forests
Threats: 
Competition with the House Finch over food and breeding grounds, possibly climate change
Note: 
Purple finches sometimes imitate other birds in their songs, including Barn Swallows, American Goldfinches, Eastern Towhees, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. Populations decreased by almost 1.5 percent per year between 1966 and 2014.

Cassin’s Finch
Cassin's Finch

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 3 million
Population Trend:
Decreasing
Habitat: 
Western forests
Threats:
Additional studies are needed to determine the factors causing declines in populations.
Conservation Status:
PIF Yellow Watch List
Note:
Both sexes tend to show more of a peaked head and longer, straighter bill than the House and Purple Finch. Cassin’s Finch populations have declined 69 percent since 1970.

Common Redpoll
Common Redpoll

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 38 million
Population Trend: Unknown
Habitat: Sub-Arctic forests and tundra 
Threats: Vehicle collisions, salmonella infections from bird feeders, possibly climate change
Note: During winter, Common Redpolls are known to tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. To keep redpolls and other birds safe at feeders, it is recommended that you clean your feeders with a diluted bleach solution several times a week, and make sure feeders are dry before filling them with seed. This helps prevent salmonella and other infections.

Hoary Redpoll
Hoary Redpoll

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 10 million
Population Trend:
Unknown
Habitat: 
Arctic tundra
Threats: 
Possibly climate change
Note: 
Many Hoary Redpolls overwinter in areas that are entirely dark, or nearly so, during the winter.

Red Crossbill
Red Crossbill

U.S./Canada Population Estimate:  7.8 million
Population Trend:
Decreasing
Habitat: 
Coniferous forests
Threats: 
Deforestation, vehicle collisions, possible chemical poisoning
Note: 
The crossbill’s odd bill shape helps it get into tightly closed cones. The crossed tips of the bill push up scales, exposing the seeds inside.

Cassia Crossbill
Cassia Crossbill

U.S. Population Estimate: 6,000
Population Trend:
Decreasing
Habitat: 
Lodgepole Pine forests, other coniferous forests
Threats:
Forestfires, infestations of Mountain Pine Bark Beetle, possibly climate change
Note: 
Prior to 2017, the Cassia Crossbill was considered one of ten types of the Red Crossbill. However, researchers discovered that it doesn’t breed with other crossbills, has a thicker bill, and isn’t nomadic. Its name comes from Cassia County, Idaho.

White-winged Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 35 million
Population Trend: 
Increasing
Habitat: 
Boreal forest
Threats:
 Habitat loss and fragmentation, possible chemical poisoning
Note: 
White-winged Crossbills with lower mandibles crossing to the right are approximately three times more common than those with lower mandibles crossing to the left.

Pine Siskin
Pine Siskin

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 35 million
Population Trend:
Decreasing
Habitat:
Northern and montane forests
Threats: 
Domestic cats and other predators, salmonella infections from feeders, pesticide poisoning
Conservation Status:
Common Bird in Steep Decline
Note: 
Pine Siskins can speed up their metabolic rate roughly 40 percent higher than a “normal” songbird their size to stay warm. Pine Siskin populations have declined by 80 percent since 1970.

Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch

U.S. Population Estimate: 4.7 million
Population Trend:
Increasing
Habitat:
Brushy areas, forest edges, gardens
Threats: 
Loss of riparian habitat
Note:
The Lesser Goldfinch is most common in California and Texas, with pockets of local populations throughout the rest of its U.S. range. It also occurs widely from Mexico to northern South America. This species’ range is increasing with urbanization.

Lawrence’s Goldfinch
Lawrence's Goldfinch

U.S. Population Estimate: 240,000
Population Trend:
Decreasing
Habitat: 
Chaparral, dry areas near water
Threats: 
Habitat loss, introduction of invasive species
Note: 
The Lawrence’s Goldfinch is nomadic, present in large numbers in a locality one year and absent the next.

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 43 million
Population Trend:
Increasing
Habitat: 
Open habitats, fields, forest edges, open woodlands
Threats: 
Cat predation, glass collisions
Note:
 Goldfinches have an almost entirely plant-based diet, only swallowing the occasional insect.

How Can I Help?

We all can do our part to protect North America’s finches.

American Bird Conservancy and our Joint Venture partners have improved conservation management on 6.4 million acres of U.S. bird habitat — an area larger than the state of Maryland — over the last ten years. This is a monumental undertaking, requiring the support of many, and you can help by making a gift today.

Policies enacted by Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have a huge impact on America’s birds. You can help shape these rules for the better by telling lawmakers to prioritize birds, bird habitat, and bird-friendly measures. To get started, visit ABC’s Action Center.

https://abcbirds.org/blog21/finch-species-united-states/

Pigs can play video games with their snouts, scientists find

A pig uses its snout to play a simple video game on a tiny arcade-cabinet-style setup at ground level
image captionHamlet – or perhaps Omelette – hits the arcade, hoping to win big

Pigs can play video games, scientists have found, after putting four fun-loving swine to the test.

Four pigs – Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory – were trained to use an arcade-style joystick to steer an on-screen cursor into walls.

Researchers said the fact that the pigs understood the connection between the stick and the game “is no small feat”.

And the pigs even continued playing when the food reward dispenser broke – apparently for the social contact.

Usually, the pigs would be given a food pellet for “winning” the game level. But during testing, it broke – and they kept clearing the game levels when encouraged by some of the researchers’ kind words.

“This sort of study is important because, as with any sentient beings, how we interact with pigs and what we do to them impacts and matters to them,” lead author Dr Candace Croney said.

Ebony pig
image captionEbony the pig operates a joystick

The research team also thought that the fact the pigs could play video games at all – since they are far-sighted animals with no hands or thumbs – was “remarkable”.ADVERTISEMENTnullnull

But it was not easy for them.

Out of the two Yorkshire pigs, Hamlet, was better at the game than Omelette, but both struggled when it got harder – hitting the single target just under half the time.

The Panepinto micro pigs had a bigger gamer skill gap – while Ivory was able to hit one-wall targets 76% of the time, Ebony could only do it 34% of the time.

A composite shows one of the Yorkshire pigs using the apparatus, left, and a close-up of the food dispenser on the right
image captionThe pigs were first trained on a non-functioning joystick to get them used to the idea

But the researchers were still satisfied that the attempts were deliberate and focused, rather than random – what they called “above chance”.

That means that “to some extent, all acquired the association between the joystick and cursor movement”.

Kate Daniels, from Willow Farm in Worcestershire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while the scientists might have been impressed, “I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone that works with pigs”.

She added: “They’re not playing Minecraft – but that they can manipulate a situation to get a reward is no surprise at all.”

Dr Candace Croney and one of the pigs
image captionLead author Dr Croney said the pigs’ achievements were remarkable

She paraphrased a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill: “Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you, and pigs look you right in the eye.”

She added: “When you look a pig right in the eye, you can tell there’s intelligence there.”

Still, pigs are no match for humans when playing games – or even less intelligent primates.

The same kind of experiment has been tried with chimpanzees and monkeys, who have the advantage of opposable thumbs, and were able to meet much higher requirements from researchers.

The research paper was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-56023720?fbclid=IwAR0L5FADpk1GL7KPAW_qkqnSWWc0KUZVRs_xZwDWaLHZKTzPQaqxL9OzCYY

Can you help with this research

What Do Owls Eat? 7 Facts About These Skilled Hunters

Erica J. Sánchez Vázquez October 29, 2020

Owls are quintessential creatures of the night (with a few exceptions mentioned below). Beautiful and formidable predators, they inspire admiration, fear, and a sense of mystery.

There are more than 200 species of owls around the world. They are divided into two families, Tytonidae (Barn Owls) and Strigidae, which includes all other owl species. Owls in both families have evolved outstanding hunting skills that allow them to catch their prey with quiet precision.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl by Alessandro Cancian/Shutterstock

With their superb hunting abilities, owls are truly fascinating. Here are some interesting facts about them that you might not know:

Exclusively Carnivorous

Owls eat other animals, from small insects such as moths or beetles, to large birds, even as large as an Osprey. A few species of owls mostly eat fish, such as Ketupa (fish-owl) and Scotopelia (fishing-owl) species, found in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. Owls spend much of their active time hunting for food. The Snowy Owl, for example, may have to try quite a few times, but can catch three to five lemmings a day.

Owls Cannot Chew

Like other birds, owls do not have teeth to chew their food. They use their sharp, hooked bills to tear the flesh of prey into pieces, often crushing their skulls and other bones. They can also swallow small prey whole, usually head-first. Any body parts that owls are not able to digest, such as bones and fur, are regurgitated hours later in the form of a pellet.

Barred Owl regurgitating pellet

A Barred Owl regurgitates a pellet. Original video by Justin Hoffman

Not All Owls Are Nocturnal Feeders

Although we typically associate them with the night, some owls are diurnal, or active during the day. Species in northern latitudes, such as Snowy Owls, must be able to hunt throughout the continuously bright days of summer. In western mountain forests, Northern Pygmy-Owls hunt small birds during the day, and although they mostly hunt at night, Burrowing Owls are often seen outside their burrows in daylight. Some others are crepuscular, active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.

Guided by Sound

Mostly nocturnal, owls rely on outstanding hearing abilities to find their prey in the darkness. Barn Owls, for example, are able to locate small animals hiding in vegetation by using their auditory sense alone. The Great Gray Owl (in the video below) can find prey under almost a foot of snow. Owls’ flat faces work like dish antennas — the feathers around the face direct soundwaves to their ears, which are hidden on the sides. Many owl species also have a slight asymmetry in ear position, which helps them determine target distance.https://www.youtube.com/embed/w4OH6gMN6vY?autoplay=1&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fabcbirds.org

Bountiful Years Bring Lots of Chicks

The amount of food available affects owls’ reproduction. While Barn Owls typically lay four to seven eggs, they have been known to lay as many as 12 during years with high rodent populations. In years of food scarcity, however, some owls might refrain from breeding altogether.

Stealthy Hunters

The flight of owls is nearly silent, which allows them to approach and then pounce on unsuspecting targets. Because the wings’ surface area is larger than most birds in proportion to body mass, they can glide more slowly without stalling and dropping to the ground. Their feathers also play a role – their shape and soft texture help muffle the sound of the owl’s flight.

Owls’ Water Needs

Owls can drink, but they mostly get their water needs met by the animals they eat. During metabolism, the hydrogen contained in the animals’ fat gets oxidized, yielding around one gram of water for every gram of fat. During northern winters, owls sometimes may be seen eating snow.

Protecting Owls

While owls’ extraordinary hunting skills and nocturnal habits are the stuff of legend, the dangers they face are often overlooked. Threats like habitat losspesticides, and vehicle collisions have already sent a third of all owl species in the United States into decline.

The Northern Spotted Owl (a subspecies of the Spotted Owl) has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1990, and six additional owl species have been placed on Partners in Flight‘s Yellow Watch List, indicating the need for conservation action.

American Bird Conservancy and other organizations are taking a multipronged approach to helping owls by improving key habitat, banning dangerous pesticides, and pushing for improved protections.


Erica J. Sánchez Vázquez is ABC’s Digital Content Manager


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The Golden Eagle

Checkout shark week on the Discovery channel