The problem-solving skills of the Striated Caracara

The Striated Caracara can solve problems just as much as Cockatoos can, reports the New Scientist magazine in November 2023 about a study at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria. The Johnny Rook Project was conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Marine and Coastal Research at the National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina and the Austral Scientific Research Centre in Ushuaia in Argentina. It was funded by the Austrian Science Fund.

Researchers at the Comparative Cognition Unit at the University of Veterinary Medicine (VetMedUni) Vienna, led by cognitive ecologist Katie Harrington, conducted studies on the problem-solving skills of the Striated Caracara in the Falkland Islands. 

Continue reading “The problem-solving skills of the Striated Caracara”

Red-Billed Blue Magpie

The Red-Billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythrorhyncha) is a bird in the Corvidae family of crows and magpies. It is a corvid. 

The Red-Billed Blue Magpie has a black head, black neck, and black chest with bluish spots on its crown. Its shoulders and rump are duller blue and its underparts are greyish-cream. Its long tail is bright blue with a broad white tip. Its beak is bright orange-red. Its legs, feet, and eye-rings are also orange-red. 

Continue reading “Red-Billed Blue Magpie”


The Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is a large bird in the Bucerotidae family of hornbills. It is also known as the Concave-Casqued Hornbill, Great Indian Hornbill, and Great Pied Hornbill. It is categorized as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 2018. 

The Great Hornbill has a massive beak or bill, and the top part of the beak is yellow, whereas the bottom part of the beak is white. On top of the bill is a bright yellow and black casque (a boney structure) – the casque is hollow, concave and U-shaped with two ridges. The female has bluish-white eyes and pink skin around the eyes, and the male has red eyes. The male and the female have long eyelashes.

It has black feathers with yellow and white markings. Its long tail is mainly white with a black band.

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Great Hornbill”

South Sudan House Sparrow 

The South Sudan House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a small bird in the Passeridae family of sparrows.

The South Sudan House Sparrow is small with a short, thick greyish-black beak, light beige legs, and a short tail. The male has black, white, and brown feathers, with grey underparts. The female has more grey feathers on her back than the male. The male has a dark-grey crown and a black patch on its throat. The female has no black markings or dark-grey crown. The female has a V-shaped mark on her chest that looks like necklace.

Continue reading “South Sudan House Sparrow “

RESEARCH: City birds are braver after pandemic lockdowns

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020, humans stayed inside. This period was called the ‘anthropause period.’ This gave researchers an opportunity to study the behaviour of urban (city) birds when humans were not around. 

During the anthropause, in cities, there were fewer people, fewer vehicles, less pollution, and less noise. In a study published in the Science journal in September 2020 by researchers in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in America, it was found that White-Crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) changed their songs – with less noise to compete with, their songs became louder. 

When lockdown finished, researchers were interested in how birds behaved when humans resumed their usual acitivities.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: City birds are braver after pandemic lockdowns”

How do birds know when winter is coming?

How do birds know when winter is coming?

Many bird species migrate when winter is coming. They are called migratory birds. They migrate to locations near and far to find food, to find nesting grounds, to return to breeding colonies, to find new places if their habitat is damaged or destroyed, to escape predators, or for other reasons. 

The birds that do not migrate are called residential birds. They stay in the same location and prepare themselves for winter. 

Birds need to know when winter is coming so that they can start their migration, protect themselves from winter storms, start hoarding food for the coming winter, or fluff-up their feathers to protect themselves from the winter chill. 

Continue reading “How do birds know when winter is coming?”

What is a smart egg?

What is a smart egg?

The Oregon Zoo and researchers at the San Jose State University of California, in the United States, used a smart egg to learn more about the nesting behaviour of the California Condor. The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a large accipiter, bird of prey, in the Cathartidae family. Native to North America, it is critically endangered. 

Zoologists placed a smart egg – a dummy egg – into the nest of a pair of nesting California Condors during the spring of 2023. It was a single, enormous egg.

Continue reading “What is a smart egg?”

RESEARCH: Parrots love video chats 

Parrots love video chats, say scientists conducting research on parrot intelligence.  

Scientists have found that parrots need social connection and mental stimulation. They then wondered whether parrots would welcome video chats to satisfy their need for sociability.

Rebecca Kleinberger, a researcher at the Northeastern University in Boston, America, enrolled 18 parrots and their human owners in an unusual experiment to see if the parrots would connect with their owners and other parrots over video calls.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Parrots love video chats “

Emu head feathers

What do the emu head feathers look like?

The Australian Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is a flightless bird in the Casuariidae family of ratites, and a relative of the Ostrich. It is the second tallest bird in the world, after the Ostrich.

The Emu has soft, shaggy feathers, that are mostly brown or flecked with black. In the red desert of Australia, the feathers have a reddish or red-bown colour. It does not fly, but it can run fast – and it flaps its wings as it runs.

Continue reading “Emu head feathers”

Why is seabird poop good for the environment?

Why is seabird poop good for the environment?

The poop of seabirds is important for the environment, writes Jason Bittel for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Jason Bittel writes that seabird droppings – from Penguins and especially flying seabirds – help to fertilize plants, and whole colonies of seabirds depositing their poop can have a positive affect on coral reefs and climate. 

Continue reading “Why is seabird poop good for the environment?”

Monk Parakeets have unique voices so that they can identify each other

Humans have unique voices and can tell the difference between one person’s voice and another person’s voice (most of the time). Our friend next door sounds different from our teacher. 

The Monk Parakeet is the first bird species known to have multiple vocalisations within its colony of individuals, reports New Scientist magazine in February 2023. Having different individual voices in the parakeet colony means that they can tell the difference between their friends and their enemies.

Continue reading “Monk Parakeets have unique voices so that they can identify each other”

RESEARCH: Cockatoos can use several tools in a toolkit to retrieve food

Scientists found that cockatoos understand when a job requires a toolkit and multiple tools.

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, in Austria, studied Goffin’s Cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) from Indonesia, reported the New Scientist LIFE magazine in February 2023.

Antonio Osuna-Mascary, a researcher at the University, said that the cockatoos know when to use more than one tool to retrieve food which, previously, scientists thought only chimpanzees could do. This makes the cockatoos only the second non-human animal to use multiple tools to achieve one task.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Cockatoos can use several tools in a toolkit to retrieve food”