Saturday, October 1, 2016

Baby Zebra Finch


Bad parenting? Baby zebra finch don’t tolerate it. They look for better role models




 
 
Bad parenting is for the birds. Even baby zebra finch know this.

Newly hatched chicks whose parents are poor foragers often get stressed from lack of food, leading them to quickly write off mom and dad. Babies a few days old run off in search of better role models -- adults that know what they're doing.

 
In a two-year study that followed chicks from the moment they were hatched to the moment they were ready to leave the nest a little more than a month later, researchers found that "stressed chicks got away from their parents earlier," said Neeltje Boogert, a biologist at the University of Cambridge who led the research. "They didn't copy their parents behavior."

Dumping clueless parents for better fill-ins is a positive sign for the finch.
"If you had a rough start early in life, you might not be doomed," Boogert explained. Nothing in the study suggested this behavior is applicable to other animals, or showed any parallels to humans, Boogert said. 

Scientists have long studied the consequences of stress on individual animals to examine its impact on their behaviors, Boogert said. She wanted to take it another step by studying social animals such as the finch to determine how they coped. Boogert and her co-authors were slightly surprised to see youngsters ditch their parents so quickly. The findings were published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

When food is scarce, or the temperature in a habitat is too cold, resulting from bad parenting, stress hormones are chronically elevated. The consequence in animals, like humans, is often depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disorder and other detrimental impacts.

The question no one had sought to answer, as far as Boogert knew, is how a social animal would compensate. A study authored by Boogert last year said adding stress hormones to the diets of baby finch had a positive effect because they ended up with more friends by adulthood than young birds that were not stressed. But that study didn't tell researchers why stressed chicks were making so many friends.
 
For the more recent research, Boogert fed stress hormones inserted in oils to newly hatched chicks in a lab at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Each finch in the small colony observed for the study was labeled with a bar code for tracking.
 
Observers noticed right away that finch chicks with elevated stress hormones followed adults 
different from their parents to feeding stations. 
 
In this case, the parents hadn't done anything wrong -- but the artificially stressed out chicks didn't know that.

The study didn't bother with studying how parents react to the put-down of being replaced. Clinical stares were glued on the jittery chicks.

"You can turn to other sources of information," the author said. "I think it is actually a positive message. Instead of being stuck you can change who you're going to follow and make a better life for yourself."
 
 
                                      *************************************
 
Darryl Fears has worked at The Washington Post for more than a decade, mostly as a reporter on the National staff. He currently covers the environment, focusing on the Chesapeake Bay and issues affecting wildlife.

 


Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/07/23/baby-finch-dont-tolerate-bad-parents-they-find-better-role-models-study-says/




Friday, September 30, 2016

The Zebra Finch Society – Founded in 1952

 From original paintings in acrylics by Alan Coles 
From original paintings in acrylics by Alan Coles  
showing the variation between the standard colours of quality exhibition cock birds.
Print 1. Normal, Silver, Fawn and Cream
Print 2. Pied, CFW, Lightback and Penguin




Founded in 1952, the ZFS is the oldest national society dedicated solely to Zebra Finches

Offers information on standards, showing, and the club, along with a FAQ section, items for sale, and links.
Taeniopygia guttata -Bird Kingdom, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada -pair-8a.jpg




Link: http://www.zebrafinchsociety.org.uk/


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Crows form social networks and pass on information to their friends.



Feathered gossips: Researchers find crows pass on information to their friends

  • Researchers say crows’ socialising patterns were like 'friendship networks in humans'
  • The bird would rather socialise with friends than family
Researchers at a Scottish university have found that crows are far more social than previously thought - and could be using their friendships to pass on information.
St Andrews University researchers fitted more than 40 New Caledonian crows with radio tags - and found they all spent much more time socialising with other, unrelated, crows than with their own families.
The crows, from New Caledonia, a remote island in the South Pacific, are renowned for their ability to use tools to get food.
Researchers who gave crows backpacks to track their social interaction have found they have human-like networks of friends, and pass information among each other.
Researchers who gave crows backpacks to track their social interaction have found they have human-like networks of friends, and pass information among each other.

Now the St Andrews team, working with researchers from Washington University in America, say the creatures savvyness could stem from their friendliness - suggested that when they meet up they could be passing on tips to each other.
Project leader Dr Christian Rutz, of school of biology at St Andrews, said the crows’ socialising patterns were like 'friendship networks in humans'.
He said: “We all know how fast fads can spread, whether it is fashion or music preferences, or new consumer products.
'But, importantly, successful diffusion depends on people’s ability to observe and copy other individuals’ choices and behaviours.
'This is why we wanted to know how often crows meet other crows in the course of a week.
'Whenever two marked crows get close to each other, their tags exchange radio-signals.
'It is as if the birds are swapping business cards when they meet.
'The miniature tracking devices, each the weight of a £2 coin, were attached to the birds as back-packs which can both transmit and receive radio-signals, unlike conventional wildlife radio-tags.'
The back-packs allowed researchers to study the birds’ social relationships and revealed a 'surprising' amount of contacts.
The study’s main aim is to understand how information on using tools to find food may be shared in wild crow populations.
The social network revealed a highly interconnected population, in which most birds associated with non-family members within just a few days.
Researchers believe this creates potential for social information to be passed around in crow populations.
The birds come from New Caledonia, a remote island in the South Pacific where the study’s fieldwork took place.
The crows are known for using tools to get to deadwood prey and vegetation.
Crows have previously been seen using tools. Now, it appears they form social networks and pass on information to their friends.
Crows have previously been seen using tools. Now, it appears they form social networks and pass on information to their friends.
Scientists have suggested that this 'sophisticated tool-use behaviour' may be the outcome of the birds passing information to each other.
Dr John Burt and Professor Brian Otis from Washington University invented the tracking technology used by the study, called 'Encounternet'.
Dr Burt said: 'It was fantastic for us to see these tags being deployed on wild animals.
'The technology worked beautifully and generated some fascinating new insights into the biology of these remarkable birds.'
This is the first time that tags like this have been attached to wild birds.
They have been used previously on larger animals such as zebras, cattle or rabbits but until now, tags were far too heavy for deployment on birds.
For the study, 41 crows were fitted with the tags, with each unit weighing only some nine grams.
The units were mounted onto the birds as backpacks, using harnesses that degrade over time.
The study was funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

A report of the research is published in the academic journal Current Biology.






 







Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Enthralling new books on bird behaviour


Books

Which came first — the bowerbird or the egg?

One’s a perfect genius and the other’s a perfect mystery, say Jennifer Ackerman and Tim Birkhead, in two enthralling new books on bird behaviour

 

Male bowerbirds’ creations look like little art galleries — built to impress the females
Horatio Clare  23 April 2016
 
The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg Tim Birkhead
Bloomsbury, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9781408851258
 
The Genius of Birds Jennifer Ackerman
Corsair, pp.340, £14.99, ISBN: 9781472114358
What is it about birds? They are the wild creatures we see most often, their doings and calls a daily reassurance that humans are not isolated in our sentience. They descend from the first reptiles, while we come from the first mammals. Across a gulf of evolution we contemplate a parallel life which has evolved exhilaratingly different answers to the same questions that existence asks of us. Cross-referencing allows us to address the fundamentals. Darwin and his finches revealed how we came to be. What else might birds teach us?

 

 

Link: http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/which-came-first-the-bowerbird-or-the-egg/