News Stories

Smart Birds

Here's something you didn't learn in school: Ravens are smart birds--they can recognize old friends and enemies (even though they may all look alike to us).

In the April 24th edition of the New York Times, Sindya N. Bhanoo quotes zoologist Markus Bockle as saying, "When it's a friendly individual, they use a friendly voice. If it's a bird they don't like, they try to elongate the vocal track, and the call sounds deeper."

And pollution can actually lead male birds to sing better than before. Since good singers attract female birds, this could actually lead to birds that prefer pollution, which could lead to their downfall, since pollution affects them badly in most other ways.

In LiveScience, Charles Q. Choi quotes behavioral ecologist Katherine Buchanan as saying, "Our results suggest female birds should prefer to mate with males that forage on polluted prey. That's bad because we know the pollution affects immune function. We don't know whether it also affects their ability to find food for offspring, or their fertility. The pollution could have dramatic effects on their population."

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