Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

Nanny saves child from coyote’s jaws, and other strange stories of human, animal conflicts

June 23, 2008

Seattle isn’t the only city with aggressive animals. Strange stories from across the country have accumulated over the past few years to paint a vivid picture of the growing conflict between humans and urban wildlife.

  • In April, a hawk in Boston’s Fenway Park swooped on a teenage girl and scratched her scalp with his talons, causing her to bleed.
  • A Florida woman was walking her dog in March when a bobcat approached, grabbed the pet in his mouth and retreated to the nearby woods. The woman has not seen her dog, a Maltese named Bogie, since.
  • In November in Clintonville, Ohio, a deer stabbed a dog with his antlers in at least five places on the dog’s side, chest and face. The dog, a Doberman, suffered a ruptured diaphragm and stomach, but survived.
  • Click here for the full article.

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    Male blackbirds intent on protecting turf: Bicyclists, pedestrians report attacks; experts blaming feisty males

    June 23, 2008

    There’s a predator lurking in Chicago-area bushes these days. He strikes from behind, when victims are least aware. And the worst part, says ornithologist Doug Stotz: He could be almost anywhere.

    Nesting season is in full swing for the red-winged blackbird, making the males extremely aggressive. Walk or bike too close to one’s nest and expect to hear its high, menacing squawk overhead. Then comes the peck-peck-peck on your head, victims say, or claws rustling your hair.

    It happened to Holly Grosso. The businesswoman was on her cell phone, walking along West Grand Avenue near Rockwell Street on Wednesday, when the bird—dubbed “Hitchcock” by area workers—made its move.

    “Something just came down, pecked me in the head, took my hair and started flying away,” she said. “It’s so bizarre. It’s this little bird.”

    Click here for the full article.

    Birds Communicate Reproductive Success In Song

    June 19, 2008

    Some migratory songbirds figure out the best place to live by eavesdropping on the singing of others that successfully have had baby birds — a communication and behavioral trait so strong that researchers playing recorded songs induced them to nest in places they otherwise would have avoided.

    This suggests that songbirds have more complex communication abilities than had previously been understood, researchers say, and that these “social cues” can be as or more important than the physical environment of a site.

    Click here for the full article.

    Deadly Diseases You Can Catch From Your Pet

    June 19, 2008

    Pets can serve as wonderful companions – and owning one certainly has many physical and mental health benefits.

    However, with the summer months upon us, it is likely your pets will be spending more time outdoors, leaving them prone to zoonotic diseases – diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

    A Corpus Christi, Texas, man and his daughter spent weeks in the hospital because of a diseased cockatiel bought from a PetSmart store, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the man’s family.

    Joe De La Garza, 63, later died of psittacosis, KRIS 6 News reported.

    “There have been over 250 zoonotic diseases identified,” said Dr. Roger Mahr, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “There is a particular focus on household pets. They are definitely an area of concern. More than 60 percent of U.S. households have pets and the value of that companionship has been recognized.”

    Click here for the full article.

    Jackals, lizards, raptors delay flights in India

    June 19, 2008

    Jackals, monitor lizards and raptors descended on a runway at New Delhi’s main airport after heavy rains Monday, delaying flights, an airport official said.

    The animals were looking to dry off and warm up after the first monsoon rains hit India’s capital, and their appearance on the runway forced authorities to stop planes from taking off and landing for about an hour, Indira Gandhi International Airport spokesman Arun Arora said in a statement.

    Animal welfare authorities cleared the runway of wildlife, including monitor lizards that measured as long as 2-3 feet, Arora said.

    Click here for the full article.

    Bee Species Outnumber Mammals And Birds Combined

    June 18, 2008

    Scientists have discovered that there are more bee species than previously thought. In the first global accounting of bee species in over a hundred years, John S. Ascher, a research scientist in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, compiled online species pages and distribution maps for more than 19,200 described bee species, showcasing the diversity of these essential pollinators. This new species inventory documents 2,000 more described, valid species than estimated by Charles Michener in the first edition of his definitive The Bees of the World published eight years ago.

    “The bee taxonomic community came together and completed the first global checklist of bee names since 1896,” says Ascher. “Most people know of honey bees and a few bumble bees, but we have documented that there are actually more species of bees than of birds and mammals put together.”

    Click here for the full article.

    Feather Colors Affect Bird Physiology, Barn Swallows Show

    June 17, 2008

    In the world of birds, where fancy can be as fleeting as flight, the color of the bird apparently has a profound effect on more than just its image. A new study of barn swallows reveals it also affects the bird’s physiology.

    A team of researchers, including one from Arizona State University, found in an experiment that involved artificially coloring the breast feathers of male barn swallows the testosterone levels of the manipulated birds soared in a short period of time. The jump in testosterone, recorded after one week, was unexpected because it was observed at the time in the breeding cycle when levels of sex steroids like testosterone are typically declining.

    “The traditional view is that internal processes of birds determine their external features — in other words, physiology forms the feathers,” said Kevin McGraw, an assistant professor at ASU’s School of Life Sciences. “But our results indicate that a perceived change in the color of an animal can directly affect its internal physiological state. A barn swallow’s hormonal profile is influenced by its outward appearance.”

    Click here for the full article.

    Humans Likely Making Chimps Sick

    June 17, 2008

    Humans are likely the source of a virus that is making chimps sick in Africa, new research suggests.

    After studying chimpanzees in Tanzania for the past year, Virginia Tech researcher Taranjit Kaur and her team have obtained data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living there at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.

    Paramyxovirus causes various human diseases including mumps and measles. The virus also can cause distemper in dogs and seals, cetacean morbillivirus in dolphins and porpoises, Newcastle disease virus in birds and rinderpest virus in cattle.

    Click here for the full article.

    I Love Moo: Tales From A N.Y. Animal Sanctuary

    June 16, 2008

    Moo had a little crush on me, and I could all but return his affections.

    The brown-haired boy possessed saucer-size eyes, a sturdy build and a sweet disposition. But what really tugged at my heart was his story of survival. The super-friendly bull, who had trailed me through the pasture like a lovelorn teen, had been found tied to a car during his calfhood. He was saved by one animal shelter, then recently relocated to another, Farm Sanctuary near Watkins Glen, N.Y.

    Moo is not alone — here, at the country’s largest farm animal-rescue facility, or with his grim history. The safe haven takes in hundreds of farm animals, who, if they could talk, would tell similar stories. There’s Morgan, a snow-white rooster discovered in a Brooklyn pet store dyed like an Easter egg; Mayfly, an experiment in a school hatching project; and Winnie, a 500-pound pig who escaped a backyard barbecue (featuring her) in Connecticut. She now is the alpha pig of the pen.

    Click here for the full article.

    Sex-swap hen stuns owner by turning into a cockerel

    June 16, 2008

    A chicken called Honor stunned its owner when it turned from a hen into a cockerel.

    The unusual ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos show how the Black Rock chicken has swapped genders over the past 12 months.

    Owner Gill Whiteley originally thought the crowing she heard was from a nearby farm as she only kept hens. But when the neighbours insisted there was a cockerel crowing in her orchard, where she keeps the chickens, she decided to check.

    The 53-year-old teacher Gill who lives in the village of Treales, near Preston said: ‘I had just bought some new hens and originally thought the poultry breeder had accidentally sold me a cockerel.  I take photos of all my chickens and get to know all their character traits and couldn’t see that any of the new batch were cockerels. Eventually, I found that it was a Black Rock chicken called Honor I had bought the year before who was crowing.

    Click here for the full article.

    Laysan Albatross Employs ‘Dual Mommies’

    June 16, 2008

    What’s a girl to do if there’s a shortage of males and she needs help raising a family? The Laysan albatross employs a strategy called reciprocity, where unrelated females pair together and take turns raising offspring.

    On the island of Oahu, in Hawaii, 31% of nests are female-female pairs. Female pairs raise fewer chicks than male-female pairs, but given the shortage of males, fewer chicks are better than none. Since albatross can only raise one chick each year, females stay together for multiple years for each to reproduce. This unusual strategy may explain why Laysan Albatross are successfully re-colonizing islands.

    Unrelated same-sex individuals pairing together and cooperating to raise offspring over many years is a rare occurrence in the animal kingdom. Cooperative breeding, in which animals help raise offspring that are not their own, is often attributed to kin selection when individuals are related, or altruism when individuals are unrelated.

    Click here for the full article.

    Hong Kong to Slaughter All Live Poultry in Markets Following Bird Flu Outbreak

    June 13, 2008

    Hong Kong plans to slaughter all live poultry in the territory’s markets following the appearance the H5N1 strain of bird flu. As Naomi Martig reports from Hong Kong, this is the most serious outbreak of the virus in the city where it was discovered in five years.

    Hong Kong authorities say the cull affects all retail poultry vendors, and about 3,500 birds will be killed to prevent the spread of the disease.

    The move follows an outbreak of the H5N1 virus on Saturday, which led authorities to suspend live poultry imports from mainland China. Days later, the virus appeared in three city street markets – the first outbreak in the markets in five years.

    The government plans to compensate vendors who face losses because of the cull.

    Click here for the full article.

    Complete ‘Family Tree’ Of All British Birds Gives Clues About Which Species Might Be Endangered Next

    June 12, 2008

    A new complete evolutionary ‘family tree’ showing how all British bird species are related to each other may provide clues about which ones are at risk of population decline, according to new research published June 11 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

    Comparing the new family tree with existing lists of endangered bird species, author Dr Gavin Thomas from the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College London found that British birds currently suffering population decline were clustered close together on the same branches of the family tree.

    Because of this the family tree, or ‘phylogeny’, could be used to predict which species are at risk of decline in the future. Bird species which are not experiencing decline at the moment, but which sit close to species that are declining on the family tree, may be at risk next. This is because closely related species on the family tree share physical traits. Some of these traits such as low reproductive rates or specific habitat requirements may render them less able to cope with climate change or depletion of their habitat and make them exceptionally vulnerable to decline.

    Click here for the full article.

    PHOTO: Birds can surf! (on each other)

    June 12, 2008

    Genome Of 150 Different Avian Influenza Viruses Released

    June 11, 2008

    The complete genetic coding sequences of 150 different avian influenza viruses were recently released by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and government, industry and university collaborators. The information improves scientific understanding of avian influenza, a virus that mainly infects birds but that can also infect humans.

    “This is a major milestone in avian influenza research,” said David Suarez, research leader of the Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL) operated at Athens, Ga., by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA. Suarez oversees the ARS avian influenza virus repository at SEPRL.

    “This sequence information, deciphered by our large team, will help researchers better understand virus biology and improve diagnostic tests for avian influenza viruses,” Suarez added.

    Click here for the full article.

    Salmonella In Garden Birds Responsive To Antibiotics

    June 10, 2008

    Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that Salmonella bacteria found in garden birds are sensitive to antibiotics, suggesting that the infection is unlike the bacteria found in livestock and humans.

    Salmonella is increasingly resistant to antibiotics and can sometimes go undetected in animals, which increases the risk of the infection being spread to humans. The team tested the strains found in birds in the laboratory and found that antibiotics were able to kill off the bacteria.

    Click here for the full article.

    Animal lovers battle Venice over piazza pigeons

    June 9, 2008

    The pigeons are hungry.

    They march single-mindedly, beaks thrust forward, across the stones of St. Mark’s Square, dive-bombing at the first hint of a piece of bread or a chip. Soot-gray, with spindly coral-colored legs and claws, many just pace, pecking at stone in the hopes it will yield a crumb.

    This fabled city’s plan to starve away the pigeons seems to be working – unless Venetian pirates come to the rescue.

    A band of animal lovers armed with skull-and-crossbones flags zips over the choppy Venice lagoon in speedboats. They dock at the palace-lined piazza, lug out 20-pound sacks of birdseed and scatter the food for all to eat.

    Click here for the full article.

    New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators

    June 8, 2008

    New research led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie at the University of Canterbury, which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect itself from predators, could be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

    The introduction of predatory mammals such as rats, cats and stoats to oceanic islands has led to the extinction of many endemic island birds, and exotic predators continue to threaten the survival of 25 percent of all endangered bird species worldwide

    […] But their study on the bellbird, an endemic New Zealand bird, has identified the ability of a previously naïve island bird to change its nesting behaviour in response to the introduction of a large suite of exotic mammalian predators by humans.

    Click here for the full article.

    Memory In Honeybees: What The Right And Left Antenna Tell The Left And Right Brain

    June 8, 2008

    It is widely known that the right and left hemispheres of the brain perform different tasks. Lesions to the left hemisphere typically bring impairments in language production and comprehension, while lesions to the right hemisphere give rise to deficits in the visual-spatial perception, such as the inability to recognize familiar faces.

    In the last few years, we have become used to the idea that functional asymmetry between the left and right sides of the nervous system is not unique to humans: fishes, amphibians, birds and mammals have functional and anatomical asymmetries.

    So, the idea that all vertebrate species, even non-human ones without any linguistic skills, have an asymmetric brain seems to be finally accepted. Now, this process of extension among species is going on and brain lateralization has been extended beyond the class Vertebrata. Insects, with their nervous system so different from that of vertebrates, are also “lateralized”, as shown in a paper published in PLoS ONE by Lesley J. Rogers of the Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, University of New England (Australia), and Giorgio Vallortigara, of the Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento (Italy).

    Click here for the full article.

    New Threat To Spotted Owl Exposed

    May 30, 2008

    A new study provides a baseline distribution of blood parasites and strains in Spotted Owls, suggesting a more fragile immune health than previously understood for the already threatened Northern and California Spotted Owls.

    The study, co-authored by San Francisco State University biologists, is the first to show a Spotted Owl infected with an avian malaria (Plasmodium) parasite.

    “While Plasmodium parasites have been found in thriving owl species, the detection in a Spotted Owl could further challenge the threatened species’ survival,” said Heather Ishak, an SF State graduate biology student who performed the research with Assistant Professor of Biology Ravinder Sehgal and others.

    Click here for the full article.