Wildlife

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Parrots are a colourful group of birds found in most tropical and subtropical regions where they use cool temperate habitats. Their diet varies depending on the species, but many feed on vegetable matter, fruits, seeds, and nectar and pollen, with some species using their feet to hold onto their food while they feed. Parrots are...

Rivers and lakes are important habitats for many bird species because they provide food in the form of fish and aquatic invertebrates, shelter made from aquatic vegetation, and nesting sites within the aquatic vegetation that are sheltered from view. In some areas the water levels of rivers and lakes may vary with rainfall causing their...

Birds make use of plumage colouration and behaviour to conceal themselves from potential predators or prey, this is known as camouflage. In some species plumage colouration will match the surrounding environment, while patterns such as countershading reduce the shadow on the bird’s underside making it less visible. Certain behaviours such as crouching low to the...

Exploring our Sanctuary at the Gulf of the Farallones is a gift of Nature. Like many gifts, sometimes you don’t quite get what you ask for. In this case, as our vessel the Silver Fox pulled into Fisherman’s Cove, we were greeted by the usual welcoming committee of cavorting California sea lions, but also by...

Herons, egrets and bitterns as a group are varied and have a worldwide distribution, but are common in the tropics. These wading birds are often associated with both fresh and coastal water where they feed at the edge of lakes, rivers, and the sea on aquatic prey including fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Some species may specialise...

Owls are characterised by an upright stance, binocular vision, and flight feathers that are adapted for silent flight. In many species the flight feathers are serrated at the edges; this reduces the noise made by the wingbeats and allows the owls to silently hunt their prey. Many species are nocturnal and hunt their prey at...

By John Polisar As a college student, my summer wages were earned clearing trails in the premier wilderness areas of the American Mountain West. From the mountaintops, I could look across 360-degree vistas and not see a hint of a road. The areas with grizzlies felt different than those without. In his short stories, Thinking...

By Susan Lieberman Sharm el Shekih, Egypt The global community has gathered in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt for the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD—an international treaty to which every country in the world other than the U.S. is a member (but that’s another story). I am here leading...

2018 is year of the bird, a project launched by National Geographic with the aim of increasing awareness about birds and the threats they face. This year is 100 years since the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed, which brought with it increased protection for many bird species. It has also been 100 years since...

Birds will often form aggregations known as flocks when they feed, or fly. The benefit of doing activities as part of a flock is that multiple birds can look out for danger while others forage or fly. Many species will also congregate to form mixed flocks that forage together, this may benefit solitary species that...

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, and are an important part of the diet for many bird species. This variety in seeds has thus led to a wide variety of bird beaks used to feed on them. Seed eating birds can be divided into two groups; those that husk the seed before eating it,...

By Marlene Cimons Climate change has spurred the spread of invasive insects that devour crops, destroy homes, and spread disease. Now, rising temperatures are driving cadaver-eating blow flies to migrate north in search of cooler weather, with consequences for forensic scientists who rely on them to solve crimes. Blow flies are drawn to dead bodies, both human...

Many birds make use of black plumage, whole or only partially. In feathers it is melanin pigments that produce the black to reddish-brown colour, these pigments are enclosed in granular structures called melanosomes. The melanosomes make black feathers stronger and more resistant to wear than non-melanised feathers, and often birds that have mostly white plumage...

Energetic and colourful courtship displays are used by many bird species to attract a mate and show readiness to copulate. These displays vary widely and include the use of colourful and ornate breeding plumage; melodious songs; energetic dances; and gift giving. Once a mate is chosen pairs may strengthen bonds using behaviour such as allopreening,...