Behavior

Things seen in the Bird Division #7 (or: Same bird, different stripes)

As long as the bird that we know as Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) has existed, they've had a charming yellow stripe across the tip of their tail. The yellow pigment actually comes from carotene in their fruit diet, and that diet has been changing as humans have brought different fruit-bearing trees into their native range. Now, a small percentage of Cedar Waxwings have orange tail tips instead of yellow, probably the result of eating certain types of non-native honeysuckle berries when their tail feathers are developing.

Jizz and/or Gestalt

Earlier this summer, there was a discussion on an on-line ornithological bulletin board about the best word to use to describe how birders and ornithologists use their experience with subtleties of species to identify them.  The word that immediately came to mind for me was “gestalt,” which is a German word for “shape” or “form” that is associated usually associated with psychology.  It was the word I had heard growing up.  I specifically remember an ornithologist, Scott Mills, using it when he was talking to a Tucson Audubon Society workshop about identifying the various spe

Video: Leo on Bioluminescence

Beyond the reach of sunlight, thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, some creatures create their own light known as "bioluminescence." Take a trip through the mind of Leo Smith, who asks questions about deep sea fish evolution. Patterns in diversity can offer clues to why fish have evolved so many ways of brightening up the deep sea. Some seem to use light to blend into their surroundings, others to lure prey out of the surroundings, or even to attract mates.

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