Category Archives: animal behavior

Spotted skunk does handstand

We’ll delay “Readers’ Wildlife Photos” till tomorrow (send more in, folks!), as Matthew has alerted us to the antics of the spotted skunk (Spilogale sp.; there are four species inhabiting the southern US, Mexico, and Central America). by Matthew Cobb This was tw**ted by the US Department of the Interior (@Interior), and posted on Vine with […]

Bonobo gathers sticks, builds fire, toasts and eats marshmallows

Well, to end the week we have Kanzi, a famous captive bonobo, collecting sticks, building a fire, lighting it, skewering a pile of marshmallows on a stick, toasting them, and eating them. This is a remarkable behavior; as NBC News reports: Kanzi, a great ape renowned for his intelligence, demonstrated his fire-building and marshmallow-toasting skills on camera […]

Migrating birds take a pause in the Baltic

by Matthew Cobb Regular readers will know that the BBC has a series of natural history programmes based on UK wildlife through the seasons, generally named after the annual three-week spring series Springwatch.  Autumnwatch, the briefer autumnal version, began last night on BBC2 and had some gorgeous images (website here; non-UK viewers can watch clips too). In […]

Rufus, the omnivorous trick-or-treating raccoon

Yes, Procyon lotor is an omnivorous species. How omnivorous? Have a look at Rufus, described on the YouTube video like this: This is Rufus, a young raccoon who found his way into my heart. And into my snacks.

A sad end to a woodpecker

by Matthew Cobb A great spotted woodpecker's final resting place, a rather sad find on a my morning walk. — Miles Richardson (@findingnature) October 30, 2015 This macabre photo illustrates how birds are able to sleep while they roost – their claws are adapted to grasp when the muscles are relaxed. So even though […]

Canny corvids curb cooperation after they’ve been cheated

Excuse the alliteration, as I’m tired this morning. But not too tired to report on a new paper in Nature Scientific Reports by Jorg Massen, Caroline Ritter, and Thomas Bugnyar (free access and pdf, reference below, popular summary at IFL Science). It shows something heretofore unknown in birds: a recognition that they’ve been cheated and a resulting reluctance […]

Wake up and watch the whooping cranes take off!

A team of dedicated bird-lovers at Operation Migration is helping the endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana), hand-raised in Wisconsin, migrate to Florida. (There are only about 440 birds in the wild, supplemented by about 165 in captivity.) The inexperienced birds are guided by ultralight aircraft. Can one be more dedicated than that to saving a species? […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

Reader Ed Kroc, who’s just started his postdoc, sent some photos of Gulls Growing Up: I spent much of the summer collecting data on our resident rooftop-nesting Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens) here in Vancouver, with the aim of studying both fledgling success rates and estimating the overall size and distribution of the breeding population throughout the city. […]

World’s largest collection of natural sounds has some doozies

Reader Jim E. called my attention to a great resource for naturalists and biology-lovers: Cornell University’s famous Department of Ornithology has put up the world’s largest library of digitally-encoded natural sounds: the M. L. Macaulay Library. There are hundreds of audios and videos, and you can browse by taxon. There are 2853 audio clips  (and […]

Bird flight records, with a plucky whimbrel flying through a hurricane

It’s unimaginable to me how some migrating birds can remain airborne for so long. The record varies depending on time and distance. National Geographic reports that a satellite-tagged female bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) migrated nonstop across the entire Pacific Ocean: some 7,145 miles from Alaska to New Zealand. That’s without a refueling stop, which means either […]


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