Archives for category: Birds

Researchers have found that pigeons have neurons in their brains that are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field, and they use these to navigate. It used to be through that they used iron in their beaks but these seem to be iron-rich blood cells.

pigeonRead the abstract in Science.


The red breast of a robin (Erithacus rubecula) tells other robins about the sex and age of its owner. As robins moult in their first and second summer, their red breast gets larger, and males have larger red patches than females. As robins age, the grey fringe around the red breast also gets bigger.

Read the abstract in IBIS.

Carrying on the Easter theme – researchers at the University of Leicester are looking into how the glycosaminoglycans (long chains of sugars) in eggshells could be used to bulk out plastic in food packaging. This would save the eggshells going into landfill.

The word’s rarest ducklings have hatched – eighteen Madagascan pochard ducklings are doing well at a captive breeding centre in Madagascar.

Madagascan pochardsThese are the offspring of ducks that hatched from eggs and were reared in a hotel bathroom while the centre was being built. There are now around 60 Madagascan pochards in the world.

Though it seems fragile, an eggshell is actually really strong because its dome shape distributes the pressure throughout the whole shape.

eggsTry an experiment to check out the strength of an eggshell.

Balearic shearwaters have single-sex migrations. The male and female seabirds seem to migrate separately, with females spending longer away.

The northern wheatear, which only weighs 25 g (0.8 oz) migrates 18,640 miles, from sub-Saharan Africa to its Arctic breeding grounds.

Penguins have been caught stealing stones from other birds’ nests.

Sequencing the DNA of the Tyrannosaurus rex show that its closest relative seems to be the chicken.

Chickens can lay an egg inside an egg.

This is likely to be caused by a problem with the way that the developing egg moves along the oviduct inside the chicken and is very rare.

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