Category Archives: animal behavior

H is for Hawk

I can’t recommend highly enough the new book by Helen Macdonald: H is for Hawk.  It is up there with J. A. Baker’s The Peregrine as one of my favorite books about nature, but Macdonald’s book is very different. While Baker’s is about observing wild peregrines near his home, and is entirely lyrical writing about […]

A miracle? Sawfish born of a virgin mother

It’s been known for a while that many species, including some vertebrates, can reproduce without sexual reproduction. But of course to observe this, one usually needs to keep animals in the lab and then see them produce offspring without ever having mated. But a new article in Current Biology by Andrew Fields et al. (reference below, abstract […]

Two videos: banding peregrine chicks, and a cephalpod moves house

As I head home to pack (well, I’m nearly all packed anyway), I’ll leave you with two animal videos. The first shows the banding of peregrine falcon chicks on the Verrazano Narrows bridge in New York, where they’ve clearly installed nest boxes. The parents are flying about, deeply disturbed, and the chick kicks up one hell […]

A cat’s “solicitation purr” contains a cry, and sounds more urgent and unpleasant than a normal purr

Sadly, I haven’t owned (or rather, been owned by) a cat in a while, but those who do may recognize that there are several different kinds of purrs. The two most notable are the “solicitation purr,” in which your cat purrs urgently when it’s mealtime or it wants fusses, and the “non-solicitation purr”, in which your […]

Cooperative hunting in groupers and moray eels

Here’s a short video from Nature that isn’t based on a single research paper, but on the continuing work of Redouan Bshary, a biologist in Switzerland who studies interspecific communication and behavior in fish.  The article itself, a summary of Bshary’s work written by Alison Abbott, is called “Animal behaviour: Inside the cunning, caring and greedy minds […]

Kin selection in waterfowl

This is from the pond right outside my office. I can’t count the ducklings, but people tell me that there were once nine of them. There’s a slow attrition over the summer as feral cats, raptors, and male ducks kill them. I’m hoping we’ll fledge at least six. (Poor quality attributable to my using my […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

Today we have . . . . a passel of hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius, and remember that name). I’ve never seen so many! These photos are from reader Bob Lundgren: The first four photos are of the Retima hippo pool in Serengeti National Park. It’s well populated as you can see in the first photo and typical of […]

Flycatcher: the clue is in the name

by Matthew Cobb Here’s a great video by Robert Martin of a male Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) at Gilfach Farm, Radnorshire, Wales, doing what comes naturally. This was filmed just under a year ago – 31 May 2014 – and shows the casual agility of these birds. At least it was quick for the insect. Just think […]


This is a metaphor; choose your own meaning. I don’t know where else to put this, but the laws of physics compelled me to post it.

A novel but clever behavior: ants form daisy chain to haul prey back to nest (and fly lagniappe)

I believe it was a reader who sent me a link to the first video below, but I can’t remember that reader’s name, so my apologies. But when I saw the video of ants pulling prey back to the nest by forming a long daisy chain, linking their bodies by biting each other to increase pulling power, I couldn’t […]


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