Global bird news: 24 July 2009

Toco Toucan by Thowra

Toco Toucan uses bill to keep cool

Science Now Daily News

When it comes to keeping cool, toucans get top billing in the animal world. New research shows that the colorful bird uses its massive beak to rapidly radiate away heat, allowing it to chill out in tropical climates or when expending a lot of energy while flying. At its most efficient, the toucan is theoretically capable of jettisoning 100% of its overall body heat loss through its bill. Birds don’t sweat. Neither do elephants or rabbits. Instead, these creatures flush an uninsulated body part–such as a beak or an ear–with blood and let the heat dissipate into the air. Glenn Tattersall, an evolutionary physiologist at Brock University in Canada, wanted to find out just how much of a cooling effect the toucan’s giant beak provided. [more here]

Bird nest by RexNoise pollution impacts birds’ nesting habits

The Hindu

Washington (IANS): A new study has come up with the strongest evidence yet that noise pollution negatively influences the nesting habits of birds. The study also indicates that at least a few species opt for noisy areas over quiet ones, perhaps because of their vocalisation pitches, a reduction in nest predators and less competition from other song birds that prefer quiet environments. [more here]

Biocolored Antbird by Matt DeresFemale antbirds try and rein their flirting partners in


Researchers from Oxford University discovered that warbling antbirds, which form lifelong partnerships in the tropical forests of South America where they are found, normally sing duets to mark their territory. But when single females in the area sing in an attempt to attract a mate, the paired females change the volume and pattern of their song so that it “jams” any response from their male partner. The males, however, which became excited when they heard the song of the lone female, responded by changing their songs to avoid this interference from their mates. The researchers believe their findings provide an insight into how animals have evolved duets and may even shed light on the origins of dance and music in humans. [more here]

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