Ravens Show Emotions

July 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Ravens have had a stigma attached to them for centuries, symbolizing darkness in poems, songs and movies. With their black plumage and black eyes, they would seem to be the ideal bird to symbolize death and depression, but these fascinating birds also have a compassionate and social side to them that few have been aware of until recently. Researchers specifically chose ravens for their studies, due to the fact that ravens stay in a social flock for approximately ten years of their lives before finding a mate and pairing off. This characteristic of the raven has allowed researchers to study how they interact, and even how they console each other.

More than 150 fights were documented and recorded by the researchers over a two year study period to learn more about the socialization of the ravens. A special group of hand-reared ravens were chosen for the study, allowing them to live in a flock as they would in the wild. The young ravens showed all the natural signs of birds that are not in captivity, such as fighting for dominance and various other reasons. From these conflicts it could easily be assessed which of the birds were the victims, which were the aggressors and those who can be classified as bystanders.

The study showed that once a fight had occurred between the birds, bystanders that had a relationship with the victim would console each other. At times, victims would be consoled by random bystanders through preening or even just by touch. It was also observed that bystanders did not fear approaching a victim, as victims rarely initiated aggressive behavior, and that victims could also approach other birds in the flock after an altercation without leading to another unprovoked fight. Victims could, however, not approach their aggressor. The act of consoling a victim also seems to bring peace to the flock. Relationships between birds can also blossom through the act of consoling, bringing the flock together again. Emotional acts that were once only attributed to humans can now also be seen in birds, and the study of the ravens has confirmed this fact. Nature never ceases to amaze us and teaches us something new each day. In this case, the ravens have revealed a softer and lighter side to their personalities.

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Anas strepera or as it is commonly known, the Gadwall, is a common and widespread duck of the Anatidae family. It is basically a grey-coloured dabbling duck with a black rear end. When you look more closely at the grey colouring you will notice that it is made up of delicate speckling and barring. When it flies is shows a distinct white wing patch and is just a little smaller then a mallard.

In non-breeding times the beautifully patterned drake begins to look more like its female counterpart who is light brown in colouring. The Gadwall has a total wingspan of 78 to 90 cm and is 46 to 56 cm long. It can be found in the United Kingdom where it nests in small numbers. Interesting it is one of the species listed in the ‘Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds’ (AEWA).

These ducks live preferably in open wetlands, such as wet grasslands, gravel pits and in slow-flowing rivers where there are islands of vegetation. Their breeding habitats are similar and can be found in large reservoirs and estuaries. If you want to find any breeding gadwalls look in the shallow edges of gravel pits and lakes near any vegetation. You will find them mainly in the Midlands and southeast part of England, eastern Northern Ireland and southeast of Ireland, eastern central Scotland and southeast Wales.

They mainly eat leaves, seeds and the stems of the water plants found near their habitat. They feed by dabbling for plant food under the water by ducking under with their head submerged. The Gadwall on a whole is a quiet species; the female makes a rasping croak and has a ‘quack’ similar to a mallard, whereas the male has a hoarse whistling call.

The Gadwall will nest on the ground, quite away from the waters edge. Most dabbling ducks are very social and form large groups but the Gadwall is not as gregarious outside the breeding season and will only form small flocks. The juvenile birds are first fed insects and then later mollusks will also be added to their normal eating habits during the nesting season.

The Lesser Known Pionus Parrots Make Marvelous Companions

April 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Those who are familiar with Pionus Parrots will likely agree that they are one of the most underrated parrot species available. This medium-sized parrot originates from Central and South America and they make excellent pets.

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Senegal Parrots Make Fantastic Pets

April 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

If you are considering purchasing a parrot as a pet, you should consider the Senegal Parrot. They are perfect for owners who are living in flats, as they are not as noisy as most other parrots can be. Their unique personalities and entertaining characters make Senegal Parrots a great choice as family pets. Originating in West Africa, this popular >pet bird now finds itself in all corners of the earth in the homes of loving owners who adore them.

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Entertaining Button Quails are a Delight to Keep

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Button quail owners agree that these small, cute, relatively quiet little birds make wonderful pets. Button quails are very active and their antics can provide hours of amusement. Although not easily tamed, with patience on behalf of the human caretaker, button quails do respond positively to love and attention.

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