Category Archives: animal behavior

Acorn woodpeckers defend their larder

Reader Michael sent this National Geographic video about acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) and a larder tree near the Grand Canyon. As I suspected, they drill each hole to fit a specific acorn (how else could the food remain securely wedged?), but then how do they drill a hole for a specific acorn without having it […]

Elephants have awesome olfaction (better than dogs): the pachyderms are the only animals to date that can distinguish different amounts of food by smell alone

This is another recent paper from PNAS, and I’ll put the link in the screenshot (pdf here), but I’m not going to report on it in detail. Rather, this is an excuse to show a video that demonstrates the paper’s main point: while some animals can distinguish greater from smaller amounts of food using vision, […]

Female bonobos (but not female chimps) help their sons get mates

I’ll put this up quickly as I’m getting ready to leave. This multiauthored paper from Current Biology (click on screenshot below; access free with legal Unpaywall app, pdf here and reference at bottom) documents that if you’re a male bonobo (Pan paniscus), having your mom around at mating time gives you a serious reproductive advantage […]

Readers’ wildlife videos

Reader Rick Longworth sent me a lovely murmuration video of starlings avoiding a harrier attack. His notes: A friend at our birding group, Jan Boles, shot footage last fall of a murmuration of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) encountering a northern harrier (Circus hudsonius).  He asked me to edit it for him, so I added some titles and […]

Keas play with snowballs

Here’s a video of my favorite volant (flying ) parrot playing with snowballs, one of which is a camera-snowball. (My favorite parrot of all is the flightless kakapo, also from New Zealand). Keas (Nestor notabilis) are the world’s only alpine parrots. They’re wickedly smart and curious, and also destructive, prone to strip chrome and rubber […]

Why do birds fly in a V formation?

Reader Jim called my attention to a video made by Nature addressing the time-old question, “Why do many birds fly in a V formation?” The conventional answer is based on energetic benefits: the birds following the leader draft on the birds before them, thus saving energy. You can imagine how hard this question is to […]

What is the sound of a million wings flapping?

Here, from Twisted Sifter, via reader Paul, is one of the rarest sounds you can hear in nature. It’s the sound of millions of migrating monarch butterflies flapping their wings, narrated by naturalist/biologist Phil Torres. Some day I will make it to this site and see the fantastic clusters of butterflies, like huge clumps of Spanish […]

Momma bear teaches her cubs to fish

Reader Michael called my attention to this video from BBC Earth. (Is there any better venue for wildlife videos?) The whitish mother bear isn’t a polar bear or an albino, but a light color variant of the black bear, found in British Columbia, called the Kermode bear or “ghost bear”.  The variant is produced by […]

Adelie penguin helps emperor penguin chicks defend themselves against a nasty petrel

Here’s a lovely clip from BBC Earth showing, among other things, a bunch of Emperor Penguin chicks fighting off the depredations of a hungry giant petrel. Look at the one in front who stands its ground, puffs itself up, and protects the others. And then an Adelie penguin comes along to help, saving members of […]

Baby bears cross the road

A mother bear gets two distressed cubs to cross the road.  Things to note: FOUR cubs! That’s a lot; I thought the median number was about two. Note the babies’ squalling, which is incredibly cute. The babies appear to be following either the mother’s scent or the mother’s tracks I love the way the mother […]