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Can birds taste sugar? | The Atlantic

July 9, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

…and what does it taste like?
The Atlantic | Ed Yong | 8 July 2021

Long ago, songbirds executed an evolutionary power move, rejiggering a sensor for savory tastes to react to sweetness.

White-cheeked Honeyeater

From the article:

Australia’s unique forests are the birthplace of birdsong. The plants there are drenched in sunlight and can readily mass-produce sugars through photosynthesis. But with few nutrients in the soil, they struggle to convert those sugars into leaves, seeds, and other tissues. They end up with excess, which they simply give away. Flowers overflow with nectar. Eucalyptus trees exude a sweet substance called manna from their bark. Even insects that suck plant sap are forced to excrete surplus sugars, in the form of liquids known as honeydew or lerp. As the biologist Tim Low once wrote, Australia has “forests that exude energy.”

This article contains links to other Atlantic articles on birds and nature, including:
The Birdsong That Took Over North America
Since 2000, a strange new type of song in white-throated sparrows has spread across the continent at stunning speed.
The Wild Experiment That Showed Evolution in Real Time
they showed that one mutation became more common over time because it creates a physical trait that makes its owners better suited to their environment. It’s the essence of evolution, measured comprehensively.
And those articles contain links to other interesting articles, and……..

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