Gruesome but amazing falcon behaviour

JAC: In lieu of our usual dollop of living creatures in “Readers’ wildlife photographs,” I’ll post this contribution by Matthew. by Matthew Cobb Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) is a kind of hobby with a wingspan of about 1 meter which breeds on Mediterranean islands and overwinters in Madagascar. It’s a rather fine-looking bird, as this […]

More about that bird (and readers’ wildlife photographs)

by Greg Mayer The unidentified leucistic bird in the photos sent by my Wind Point correspondent have generated a lot of interesting discussion (as well as a heart-rending tale from one of our regular commenters). Most of the debate has been grackle vs. cowbird. When I first saw one of the pictures (the third of those […]

What bird is that? (and some readers’ wildlife)

by Greg Mayer In the following photos, we have no problem spotting the bird– it sticks out like a sore thumb. Rather, the problem is the bird is not a nightjar– it’s pretty much the opposite in terms of background matching! We’ve recently paid some attention to color variation in squirrels, and reader Jason sent […]

Nuttall Club in the New York Times

by Greg Mayer To show I don’t hold a grudge against birds, I’d like to point out that the New York Times today has a fine article by Cornelia Dean on the Nuttall Ornithological Club, the oldest ornithological society in the country, based at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Theodore Roosevelt, one of the few […]

Preserved protein from an 80-million-year old dinosaur support the dinosaurian origin of birds

In this week’s Science we find a paper by Schweitzer et al. (total of 16 authors!) that has a quite remarkable result. (See the one page summary by Robert Service here.)  The upshot is that protein-sequence data from an 80-million-year old duckbilled dinosaur supports the dinosaurian origin of birds. This story has a bit of […]

More birdlike behavior in theropod dinosaurs

In WEIT I describe and show a picture of birdlike sleeping behavior in theropod dinosaurs: a fossil was discovered of a therpod sleeping with its head tucked underneath its forelimb (and tail curled around), a posture nearly identical to the sleeping posture of modern birds. Now an article has appeared in PLoS (Public Library of […]

More on the evolution of flight

As I discuss in WEIT, the evidence shows that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs–gracile, carnivorous beasts that walked on two legs. Some of the important evidence comes from Chinese fossils showing theropods with various types of feathers. The incipient stages of feather evolution appears to be filamentous feathers (T. rex might well have been covered […]