The Glossiness of Grackles (and other birds)

“The glossy sheen of healthy hair is an ideal of human beauty; however, glossiness has never been quantified in the context of non-human animal signaling. Glossiness, the specular reflectance characteristic of polished surfaces, has the potential to act as a signal of quality because it depends upon material integrity and cleanliness.” For those reasons, Matthew […]

Animal squawks squeaks and songs (with helium)

Although a considerable body of scholarly work has examined the effects of Helium (2He) on human voice production [see, for example (Helium-assisted) High note research] we are by no means the only animals to have been investigated in this respect – here is a (non-exhaustive) list of examples of other creatures who have squawked, croaked, […]

Surgical pathology and bird-watching – compare and contrast

Chhanda Bewtra, M.D., M.B., B.S. who is Associate Professor of Pathology at Creighton University School of Medicine and Creighton University Medical Center, is also a birdwatcher. “I have been a diagnostic surgical pathologist for almost a quarter of a century. Recently, I took up bird-watching (or birding for short) as a hobby. Right away I […]

Budgies Also Yawn (contagiously)

The 2011 Ig Nobel Physiology Prize was awarded to Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of The Netherlands, Hungary, and Austria), Isabella Mandl (of Austria) and Ludwig Huber (of Austria) for their study “No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise.” However, although Red-Footed Tortoises don’t seem to contagiously yawn, many other animals […]

Thai Dove Cooing Contests – an analysis

Some might say that despite their popularity, Thai dove-cooing contests, which have now been held for more than 30 years, have not received the academic attention they deserve. Either way, things changed with the 2005 (#9) edition of the journal MANUSYA:Journal of Humanities (a publication of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand) in which Professor Wanni […]

The effect of potholes in the path of helmeted guinea fowl

What happens when Helmeted Guinea Fowl, out walking, encounter an unexpected pothole? Do they fall over? That depends, in quite an improbable way, on whether they see it coming or not … In 2005, a research team at Concord Field Station, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, US, endeavoured to clarify things by encouraging […]

Novel Mode of Capturing a Heron (1866)

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip was a monthly publication that brought science (mostly botany, zoology and geology) to the masses. Science-Gossip provided short summaries of scientific studies (mostly botany and zoology); advice to the hobbyist on raising reptiles, catching rare butterflies, building a microscope, etc; and most interesting, pages and pages of correspondence, answering readers’ questions and reprinting […]