Consider adding “birds” to your Google News alert topics. Doing so might just lead you to some fascinating finds. Here are some recent “birds in the news” stories worth checking out:
- The myth that male birds have the most to gain by seeking out as many mates as possible is debunked. Learn why they instead opt to impress the bird they’re with.
- Think beak shape has everything to do with what a bird eats? See why that might not exactly be the case.
- Patches rich in plant life dot the otherwise arid landscape of Peru. See how scientists were able to connect these little oases to burrowing birds.
The “Wooing” Continues
For birds such as zebra finches, the male’s “wining and dining” of the female carries on after mating. A new study shows that the males of species that form long-lasting pair-bonds often continue to make elaborate displays of plumage, colors, and dances after mating with a female. Some might think that their time and energy could be better spent taking care of the resulting offspring, but it turns out that these displays encourage the female to invest more of her energy into the brood. Here’s the study that debunks theories of sexual selection that predict males have the most to gain by seeking out as many mates as possible. Many male birds, in fact, continue to “woo’ their mates well after the honeymoon period is over.
Beak Shape Is All About Food
Think a bird’s beak shape is strictly influenced by the types of food it consumes? A main theory of evolution by natural selection was previously based on the observation that Galapagos finch species had different beak shapes to obtain different foods, and so it was assumed that this form-meets-function relationship held true for all bird species. New research suggests that the connection between beak shapes and eating is more complex than previously thought. An international team of scientists from the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States used computational and mathematical techniques to better understand the connection between beak shapes and functions in living birds.
Bird’s Messy Eating Helps Environments
There’s a reason birds are messy eaters. Case in point is the arid deserts of coastal Peru, where tiny patches rich in plant life dot the landscape. A study on nest-digging birds shows that mounds of sand they dig out can create a micro-habitat for seeds to germinate.