Birds: Miscellaneous Notes, Observations, Etc.

ramonmercado

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Bird-brained is no longer an insult.

Whether it’s calculating your risk of catching the new coronavirus or gauging the chance of rain on your upcoming beach vacation, you use a mix of statistical, physical, and social information to make a decision. So do New Zealand parrots known as keas, scientists report today. It’s the first time this cognitive ability has been demonstrated outside of apes, and it may have implications for understanding how intelligence evolved.

“It’s a neat study,” says Karl Berg, an ornithologist and parrot expert at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, who was not involved with this research.

Keas already had a reputation in New Zealand—and it wasn’t a great one. The olive-brown, crow-size birds can wield their curved beaks like knives—and did so on early settlers’ sheep, slicing through wool and muscle to reach the fat along their spines. These days, they’re notorious for slashing through backpacks for food and ripping windshield wipers off cars.

To see whether keas’ intelligence extended beyond being mischievous, Amalia Bastos, a doctoral candidate in comparative psychology at the University of Auckland, and colleagues turned to six captive keas at a wildlife reserve near Christchurch, New Zealand. The researchers taught the birds that a black token always led to a tasty food pellet, whereas an orange one never did. When the scientists placed two transparent jars containing a mix of tokens next to the keas and removed a token with a closed hand, the birds were more likely to pick hands dipped into jars that contained more black than orange tokens, even if the ratio was as close as 63 to 57.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/new-zealand-birds-show-humanlike-ability-make-predictions
 

pandacracker

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There's a quarrel of sparrows that regularly visit my back garden for insects. They are getting bolder as well, one flew right past my face as I stood watching them.
 

michael59

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There's a McDonald's in the same parking lot as the grocery store I went to on Friday. There was a tiny little person, could not have been much older than one year. Her mom threw some food on the ground and when a flock of seagulls landed to eat it, she was trying to pet them. lol
 

uair01

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China may send 100,000 ducks to Pakistan to battle locust swarms. Pakistan has declared an emergency saying locust numbers were the worst in more than two decades. A single duck can eat more than 200 locusts a day, more effective than pesticides: expert

https://t.co/h1hRI9y4pt https://t.co/iShCy7Y346
 

Tempest63

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China may send 100,000 ducks to Pakistan to battle locust swarms. Pakistan has declared an emergency saying locust numbers were the worst in more than two decades. A single duck can eat more than 200 locusts a day, more effective than pesticides: expert

https://t.co/h1hRI9y4pt https://t.co/iShCy7Y346
You would think that the Pakistanis would raise ducks in that case, or am I being stupidly naive?
 

EnolaGaia

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China may send 100,000 ducks to Pakistan to battle locust swarms. ...
That story is over 3 months old, and it was immediately disputed at the time. There wasn't a quacker cadre ready to deploy, and the researcher whose comments ignited the widely-disseminated story said he would be looking into the possibilities and that it would take months ...
Is a Duck Army Coming for Pakistan’s Locusts? Not So Fast

Claims that China is sending a locust-fighting army of 100,000 ducks to Pakistan, where the insects have been devastating local crops for the past year, aren’t what they’ve been quacked up to be, reports the Associated Press.

China Agricultural University professor Zhang Long, who is part of the country’s official delegation addressing the situation in Pakistan, told reporters on Thursday that no Chinese government program dedicated to using waterfowl to fight the pests exists, according to BBC News. He deemed the ducks’ deployment an “exploratory” method, adding, “Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan’s desert areas, the temperature is very high.”

The rumors began with a Ningbo Evening News report quoting researcher Lu Lizhi of the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, who implied that the bug-munching birds could be used as “biological weapons.” A short video on China Global Television Network’s Twitter account seemed to back his claim. The story quickly triggered a social media storm, generating more than 500 million views on China’s Weibo platform in a matter of hours.

Whether a plan was ever in place to test Lu’s theory remains unclear. Per the AP, the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences reported that it “was looking into the matter.” Lu seemed to imply to reporters at the Ningbo Evening News that he was planning to complete a trial in China’s western Xinjiang region in the coming months. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/duck-army-coming-pakistans-locusts-not-so-fast-180974294/

See Also:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...y-of-ducks-to-pakistan-to-devour-locust-swarm
 

EnolaGaia

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The ducks story may have been triggered by the fact Chinese agricultural experts were in fact surveying the locust plague in Pakistan.
‘Ducks to fight locusts’ in Pakistan unrealistic

Relying on a "duck army" to help fight Pakistan's war against crop-eating locusts is impractical, said Chinese experts, saying that whoever came up with this novel idea disrespected the hard work of Chinese experts, who are in Pakistan to help troubleshoot the crisis.

Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan's desert areas, the temperature is very high, so the idea of relying on ducks to chomp through locusts is unrealistic, Zhu Jingquan, an official from China's National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Center, also a member of the delegation of Chinese experts sent to help Pakistan, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

His response came after previous reports that said a Chinese company in East China's Zhejiang Province plans to send an army of more than 100,000 ducks to fight locusts in Pakistan.

China explored the use of ducks to chomp through locusts in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, but found ducks' ability to combat locusts was limited to a small area, said Zhu, not to mention the complicated paperwork needed to send animals abroad.

Some experts called the idea "absurd" and "an insult to experts' authority" and urged people to show respect for experts' hard work in Pakistan. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1181623.shtml

A team of Chinese experts has arrived in Pakistan to survey the crisis, food security ministry chief Muhammad Hashim Popalzai said.
Beijing could also offer aerial spraying — a much faster and more efficient method of pest control — and Pakistan may also import pesticides from China.
Earlier reports suggested China was planning to send thousands of ducks to Pakistan to devour the scourge. Pakistani officials said no such plans were being considered.
SOURCE: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/06/asia-pacific/pakistan-locust-plague/
 

cycleboy2

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When I was out enjoying the post-thunderstorm fresh air last night, there was gull making an almighty rumpus, much noisier than usual – looked like it was freaked out be a heron that it chased after. We get all the usual birds here – crows, blackbirds, tits, finches etc – but herons are a pretty rare sight as we're about a mile and a half from the river with few obvious ponds/lakes nearby.
 

AnonyJoolz

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We have a resident cadre of 'fat pigeons*' (my name for them) and there is a persistent on-off squabble going on between two of them in a nearby tree, going on for weeks! I am not sure if it is Mr Pigeon & his Missus arguing - or a Mr A.N. Other Pigeon who has strayed into (literally) "Are you looking at my bird?" territory.

*They are common wood pigeons, but seem to be so enormous and sleek that we have plans for them should they get close enough. The stewpot is waiting....
 

Ladyloafer

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We have a resident cadre of 'fat pigeons*' (my name for them) and there is a persistent on-off squabble going on between two of them in a nearby tree, going on for weeks! I am not sure if it is Mr Pigeon & his Missus arguing - or a Mr A.N. Other Pigeon who has strayed into (literally) "Are you looking at my bird?" territory.

*They are common wood pigeons, but seem to be so enormous and sleek that we have plans for them should they get close enough. The stewpot is waiting....
Yep. We have a garden pigeon squad. They are thick as shit. Cannot figure out how to get under the roof part of the bird table. They stand on top of it madly frustrated. They have to wait for sparrow gang to drop bit on the floor.
Sparrow gang live in the guttering. I watched a fledgling land on my windowsill unsure what to do next, panickly flapping one wing whilst slowly sliding of it. There's teeny tiny claw marks in the dirt!

Then theres the red kites. Everyday they float around, everyday the crows launch a gang attack on them. Tag teaming the assault. They rarely win.
 

RaM

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Used to have a wood pigeon that would walk into the conservatory and stand looking
into the house till one of us got up it would then calmly walk out and stand waiting till
we went out and fed it a bit of corn, not seen it for some time, maybe turned into some
ones dinner.
Think the head thing is to do with keeping the eye on what ever.
 

Sid

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Look in the road slightly to the right, that is a hawk Kestrel I think
it has just killed a pigeon but cant carry it off so sets to plucking it
in the middle of the road only a few hundred yards from the center
of Fleetwood, it had no intention of moving we were only yards away

Reading about this experience takes me back to when I was walking down the road, in a modern quite densely built-up housing area. As I proceeded to walk, I heard a flapping noise behind me. Turning round to see what it was, I was really amazed to see a blackbird being chased down by a Goshawk no less!

As I stopped to watch, the Blackbird took a very sharp right turn into a housing courtyard, and the Goshawk followed - pinning the Blackbird to the tarmac with it's large clawed feet. I carefully and cautiously approached - it staring threateningly directly at me, I clapped my hands together to attempt to chase it off (don't like to see the harsher side of nature, even though it's a given necessity).

Anyway, with it's very muscly wings it took of... "it just took off so effortlessly," and a moment or two later, the Blackbird eventually revived a flew away from the shock of it's fortunate escape from the Goshawk, and all seemed well with the world once again!
 

RaM

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This from our traffic cam not far from Fleetwood center.

 

Spookdaddy

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I initially thought that was a raven with some sort of disorder that affected its plumage, but I think it's actually a pied crow - which is an African species. I wonder where that was filmed - the voices sound English, but that doesn't mean it was filmed in the UK. If it was filmed here, I wonder what a pied crow is doing so far out of its way.

Actually, doing a quick search online seems that they have been spotted in the UK. I found reports of one sighting at - get this - Cromer. Outside a chip shop.

Edit: Aha - from the same link:

It is also a species commonly kept in captivity. One such bird kept at Knaresborough Castle, North Yorks, went viral on social media in July for its astounding mimicry of a Yorkshire accent proclaiming "Y'alright, love!"
Edit...again: Location specifics are actually contained in the details of the clip if you open it in YouTube. I think the only thing they miss is the fact that it's a pied crow.
 
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michael59

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I initially thought that was a raven with some sort of disorder that affected its plumage, but I think it's actually a pied crow - which is an African species. I wonder where that was filmed - the voices sound English, but that doesn't mean it was filmed in the UK. If it was filmed here, I wonder what a pied crow is doing so far out of its way.

Actually, doing a quick search online seems that they have been spotted in the UK. I found reports of one sighting at - get this - Cromer. Outside a chip shop.

Edit: Aha - from the same link:



Edit...again: Location specifics are actually contained in the details of the clip if you open it in YouTube. I think the only thing they miss is the fact that it's a pied crow.
I was thinking that it may be a cross between a crow and a magpie. I had never heard of a pied crow before. Thanks. :)
 

Spookdaddy

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There's a bird that hangs about round our garden that imitates the phone ring,
pain in the ass when your working out side and you dash in to take the call.
Probably a starling - they are very good mimics, especially with sounds like mobile phones rings and car key alerts.

During lockdown I've noticed several bird species around here that I'd not seen regularly before - not necessarily rare, just not so common locally; like bullfinches, goldfinches and goldcrests. I don't think it's necessarily that they haven't been around, just that they have ventured out of the woods and off the moors and into town.

There seems to be a shift in some birds behaviour. We now have a tawny owl that during bad weather roosts on a very low branch not far from the pavement - you could jump up and touch it...not that it would let you. There's also a greater spotted woodpecker that regularly visits a goat willow right by the road - I've heard them in the woods up the hill from me, but never seen them so close to potential traffic. Birdlife, in general, seems to have got a lot bolder the last few months.

One species I noticed this happening with, even before lockdown, is the dunnock. Easily overlooked - everyone will have seem them, even if they don't know what they are. Often described as humble and drab in appearance, but I don't think so - very characterful little birds, which, although basically brown and grey, look like they've been marked by an old master. I remember these being a much rarer sight when I was a kid, and very timid - which they are still often described as. But these days they definitely seem to have rediscovered their mojo - and timid round here they are not. It may be that an increase in population has just made them more visible, or increased pressure on them to find food and therefore less likely to hide away, but I'm happy that every time go outside these days I'll have a few chattering away at me like they own the place.
 
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