George Aligiyah is presenting the BBC 10 o’clock news from Sendai in front of a truck sitting on a car on a car. This is disaster anchorman one upmanship over Jon Snow at 7 o’clock on Channel 4 who only had two cars, in the dark – but in the middle of the night! Do we really need the news anchors to present from the site as well as the reporters all over the country looking for ways to heap tragedy upon tragedy for our vicarious needs? And this is then replicated across all of the channels and no doubt all the major world news feeds. Is it entirely necessary? Obviously we are all interested and concerned, but how many people really need to go there to tell us about it?
Ravens living in juvenile gangs are more stressed than those in adult pairs, a new study reveals.
Scientists analysing droppings found higher levels of stress hormones among birds living in groups.
The findings contradict theories that living in territorial pairs is more energetically demanding than co-operative group life.
Researchers now suggest that stress could be a driving factor in ravens’ maturation from groups to pairs.
Ravens are members of the intelligent corvid family that includes crows and magpies.
Dr Selva also says stress could be a significant factor in ravens’ maturation.
“We think that having high stress levels can be an important reason to leave the group,” she said.
The pressures of gang life could drive young ravens to set up home in a more stable adult “relationship”.
“Somehow, we feel it has many similarities with human life – stressful life in teenage gangs versus a more peaceful live in a pair,” said Dr Selva.
Young birds live together in social groups and co-operatively share food.
Adult birds, meanwhile, form pairs, often for life, and aggressively defend their breeding territory.
Scientists studying the birds in Bialowieza Forest, Poland, investigated how stressful these different social systems were.
Their findings, published in the journal Biology Letters, caused researcher Dr Nuria Selva some surprise.
“In the case of ravens, it is clear that food finding and sharing is easier when a group of 30 ravens is searching for a carcass, than when only two ravens do it,” she said
“But our study shows that life in groups is not so heavenly as traditionally thought.”
Previous theories have identified the benefits of group living because young ravens do not have to defend territory or forage alone.
However, the new study’s analysis of raven droppings on the forest floor told a different story.
The juvenile gangs’ droppings contained much higher levels of the stress hormone corticosterone than the adult pairs’.
The new evidence suggests it may be more energetically demanding to live in groups than to maintain a territory.
Competition for dominance could cause the increased stress, the researchers say.
That’s right kids – here is a brand new way of accurately nailing that most tricky of species, the ugly cousin of the Mauritius Solitaire – the Dodo. This is the kind of inside info that you cannot get in your Collins or Sibley. Bookmark it – tell your friends – this is important ok?
Look, I know this is blog is advertised and probably derided in equal measure as a dodgy-patch-birding-blog, but it’s pretty quiet out there, and there is only so much distance I can get out of ‘I saw a Kestrel fly off’, ‘I saw some Wigeon yesterday’, or ‘my year list is nearly twenty’ – but I thought that this might be interesting, so here goes.
The Dodo – Raphus cucullatus. If someone you know has Dodo on their list, they probably have a half glimpse of a Slaty-backed on there in permanent marker. Or their name is Nebuchadnezzar. Either way, it is, as I am sure you know properly, properly very extinct indeed. No comeback tour for this 20kg mother. Not Slender-billed Curlew extinct either – this one will not be rediscovered by loads of birders having their holidays in Ulan Bator or somesuch. Anyway, here is the classic image of the Dodo painted by the esteemed Dutchman (I only want to help you) Roelandt Savery.
(Is that a Macaw? Is that possible?)
Now this is the rub. It was assumed, because it’s what he said, that this was drawn from life studies of the now non-life-like Dodo. But others claim that this is not the case, and like most other Dodo drawers he painted from stuffed birds or skeletons or what not. Now, it seems that the Natural History Museum and this cool dude called Julian Hume have got together to produce something a bit more accurate based on bones and facts and all those good things that avoid supposition. The pictures are up in the Natural History Museum, perhaps even permanently. A rubbish electronic copy of your new Dodo ID reference is here…
The keen eyed super-birder will have noticed that the birds head is smaller, the body is less bulky, legs longer and neck straighter. The wings, which being a flightless bird are redundant, are more Penguin like or even Great Auk-ish. So next time that you are confronted with a strange looking Raphidae on your local rubbish tip, you know exactly what to look for.
No, don’t thank me. I seek no praise for this – think of it as a kind of public service.
By the way, despite the Dodo supposedly being eaten to death by sailors, it tasted ‘orrible. And Savery painted a picture of it’s arse for some strange reason. Perspective I guess.
Starlings. I’ve read about they have been proven to be pessimistic, but now they are binge drinkers and not very good ones.