Evolutionary Biology

The traveling knot

On 22 May, Rob Curtis discovered a flock of seven Red Knots (Calidris canutus) on Montrose Beach, on Chicago's north side, a beach almost as famous for its birds as its sand. One Red Knot in the Chicago area is unusual, but seven is remarkable. Even more remarkable was that one of the knots--a particularly brightly colored one--had an engraved "flag" on its leg, with a readable alpha-numeric code unique to that individual.

Birds get malaria, too

Just like people, birds have the misfortune of being visited by a variety of blood-sucking insects, insects that can transmit all manner of parasites through their bites. Some of those parasites, including ones related to human malaria, come in the form of haemosporidia--single-celled protozoans that take up residence in their host's bloodstream. Using modern lab techniques, scientists are now able to discover the diversity of these parasites living in the bloodstream of wild birds by isolating their DNA from the blood of infected birds.

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