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Bird Articles from the Science Press

January 12, 2011

Here’s another collection of interesting tidbits.

For ducks, penis length depends on the other guys
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/61677/title/For_ducks%2C_penis_length_depends_on_the_other_guys
Male genitals grow longer with more competition from other males.
From Science News Online 8/28/10.
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Bullied booby chicks end up OK
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/61777/title/Bullied_booby_chicks_end_up_OK

In a seabird nest, abuse by older siblings doesn’t hamper fitness.
From Science News Online 8/3/10.
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Robins reject red glowing grub
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/68343/title/Robins_reject_red_glowing_grub
Parasitic worms induce a color change in their caterpillar victims that’s literally repulsive to predators. From Science News Online 1/3/11.
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Arkansas birds died of trauma
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/68363/title/Arkansas_birds_died_of_trauma
Necropsies suggest loud noises caused panic, killing thousands.
From Science News Online 1/3/11.
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Quantum compass for birds
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/68484/title/Quantum_compass_for_birds
Robins may use strange physics to migrate.
From Science News Online 1/7/11.
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Penguins tracking bands hurt the birds
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110112/ap_on_sc/us_sci_penguin_harm
Metal bands on the flippers slow them down, make them work harder, and increases mortality. From Yahoo News 1/12/11.
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One of the difficulties of birding has to do with the problems and vagaries of lighting, shading, whether you’re looking into or away from the sun. In short, light and vision. Our vision and nervous systems do not so much perceive the world as modelthe world. Our brain developed it’s method of modeling over millions of years as the result of our peculiar evolutionary history. It works adequately most of the time, but can be misled under certain circumstances. When such events are visual, we call them “optical illusions”.From an interesting discussion on BirdChat titled “It’s hard to notice when moving objects change“, here’s an interesting experiment from Harvard which you can do at home, right now. http://visionlab.harvard.edu/silencing/
And here’s a similar example of the illusions of our color vision, from David Sibley’s website. http://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/05/color-illusion-and-thrush-identification/

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And finally, here’s some interesting comments from Consumers Reports Greener Choices website on “Winter Heating Myths“, something which everyone here in the frigid climes of Southern California needs to fret about.
http://www.greenerchoices.org/products.cfm?product=1210energymyths&pcat=homegarden&EXTKEY=NG0N01012 [Chuck Almdale]
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