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.

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RESEARCH: Black Rhinos lose confidence when they don’t have a horn

To protect Black Rhinos from poachers killing them for their horn, conservationalists use a strategy of de-horning. The theory is: if the Black Rhino has no horn, then poachers won’t kill it, and the rhino lives longer. Rhino horns are more valuable than diamonds or gold on the black market in Southeast Asia. Over the past decade in southern Africa, steps were taken to save the rhinos from being poached, maimed, and killed for their horns. 

De-horning is painless for the rhino, taking about 20 minutes. Veterinarians sedate the rhino, blindfold it, and insert earplugs, then use a chain saw to cut off the top of its horn, but only the section that does not contain nerves. When poachers cut of a rhino’s horn, they do it quickly at night, and they often damage the nerves or kill it. Rhino horns grow back, and veterinarians usually de-horn a rhino once every 18 months.

Scientists wanted to know more about rhinos that had been de-horned. New research has found some interesting results. 

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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.

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RESEARCH: A tough early life makes adult female baboons less sociable

A recent 2021 study suggests that a tough early life makes adult female baboons less sociable. They failed to give friendly grunts before social interactions between baboons.

Researchers at the New York University in America and Kenya investigated 50 years of research on three groups of wild female Olive Baboons (Papio anubis). The baboon groups were part of the Uaso Ngiro Baboon Project. The research team also recorded more than 2,600 hours of observations of 31 females from the three groups. The researchers noted their activity, social interactions, social partners, and vocalisations.

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RESEARCH: Older male elephants keep younger males calm

Older male elephants keep younger males calm and help prevent conflict with humans, says a new study reported in Science News in December 2021.

Researchers at the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter in England conducted research with a British-based charity organization called Elephants for Africa that is also a registered non-government organization (NGO) in Botswana, Africa.

The researchers studied 281 male elephants in an all-male area in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in Botswana for three years. They divided the elephants into four groups, by age: two groups of adolescents and two groups of adults. In one group of adolescents, the elephants were 10-15 years old, and in the other group of adolescents, the elephants were 16-20 years old. In one group of adults, the elephants were 21-25 years old, and in the other group of adults, the elephants were older than 26 years of age.

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RESEARCH: Waxbill birds have a social ranking based on the redness of their feathers

Researchers have found that the bird, the Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild), chooses its leader based on the redness of its chest feathers. Leadership is not dependent upon intelligence, or size, or size of its family, or stress tolerance, or aggressiveness, or the wealth of the objects it collects – it is based on the colour of its feathers.

The study, reported in The New Scientist magazine in November 2021, found that a Waxbill’s social rank or dominance is linked to how richly red its chest feathers are. The rich red feathers are thought to be a signal of health. The redder the feathers, the healthier the bird, and the most likely it is to be a strong leader. 

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Ochre-Marked Parakeet

The Ochre-Marked Parakeet (Pyrrhura cruentata) is a medium-sized bird in the Psittacidae family of parrots. It is also known as the Blue-Throated Parakeet and Red-Eared Conure. 

The Ochre-Marked Parakeet is predominantly green with red patches on its belly, back, and shoulder. The crown of its head is dark-brown to blackish, with mottling on the nape of the neck. It has a broad, bright-blue patch on its chest, extending thinly around the back of its neck to form a faint, thin collar. It has an olive-green tail with brownish-red below. It has a yellow-orange eye-ring and black eyes.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Guianan Brown Capuchin

The Guianan Brown Capuchin (Sapajus apella apella) is an arboreal (tree) primate in the Cebidae family of monkeys. It is also known as the Brown Capuchin, the Guianan Black-Capped Capuchin, and the Pin Monkey.

The Guianan Brown Capuchin has dark brown-grey, rough fur, and a long thick tail. It has black hands and feet. The cap or tuft is a bunch of hair on its forehead that looks like a wig or a hat. It has a prehensile tail that is strong and able to grasp branches.

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Alaskan Wolf

The Alaskan Wolf (Canis lupus pambasileus) is a mammal and subspecies of the Grey Wolf in the Canidae family of dogs, wolves, and jackals. It is a canid or canine mammal. It is also known as the Yukon Wolf.

The Alaskan Wolf is dog-like with thick tawny grey or rusty-tan fur with a mixture of black hair. It has a triangular-shaped face with a wide forehead and medium-sized ears and brown eyes.

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RESEARCH: Reef Sharks have friendship groups

Marine research scientists have found out that Grey Reef Sharks hang out with the same friends in the same spot for years.

Researchers at the Florida International University in America have studied Grey Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) for four years in the remote Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

To study the Grey Reef Sharks, the researchers tagged about 40 individual sharks with acoustic transmitters that emit a unique high-frequency sound. A network of 65 receivers recorded the identiy of any tagged shark that came within 300 metres of any of the receivers. The batteries on the transmitters last for four years.

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What is the difference between the Southern Crested Caracara and the Striated Caracara?

What is the difference between the Southern Crested Caracara (Caracara planacus) and the Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis)?

The Southern Crested Caracara and the Striated Caracara are both large birds of prey in the Falconidae family. They are falconids.

The Southern Crested Caracara has a dark-brownish cap, belly, wings, and tail tip, with a whitish-buff throat and nape, whereas the Striated Caracara is black-brown with a grey-flecked neck. 

The Southern Crested Caracara has a brown crest and the Striated Caracara does not have a crest.

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Scimitar Oryx

The Scimitar Oryx (Oryx dammah) is a large ungulate (hoofed) mammal. It is an antelope and a bovid. It is also known as the Sahara Oryx or the Scimitar-Horned Oryx. 

The Scimitar Oryx has white fur with a red-brown chest and black markings on its forehead and down its nose. Both the male and the female have large, thin, straight, hollow horns that curve backwards. The female has thinner horns than the male. Its tail has a tuft of hair at the end. Its large, spreading hooves are adapted to living in the desert. 

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The Gouldian Finch (Erythura gouldiaeor Chloebia goldiae) is a small passerine bird in the Estrildidae family. It is an estrildid. It is also known as the Gould Finch or the Rainbow Finch. 

The Gouldian Finch is brightly coloured and varied, with mainly black, green, yellow, and red markings. The male has a purple chest and the female has a light mauve chest. Its head is red, black, or yellow. Its beak is light-coloured with a red tip. It has pale legs and feet. 

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The Rook (Corvus frugilegus) is a large bird in the Corvus family of crows. It is a corvid.

The Rook has shiny, black feathers with a whitish, featherless area on its face. It has black, shaggy feathers on its legs. Its feet are also black. Its eyes are brown. Its large beak is grey-black.

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