Personality is Vital for Male Birds

September 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

It seems that it is not only humans who want more than just good looks in a partner, as a recent study revealed that even in the bird kingdom, being handsome does not guarantee the attention of a female companion. Researchers have realized that personality plays a vital role for male birds to catch the attention of a female, so feathers are not the only feature females take into consideration when looking for a mate. The survey was performed by a group of scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Exeter, Canada and the Carleton University.

Zebra finches were used to conduct the study. Interestingly enough, it was the confident and more adventurous males that drew the attention of the females, regardless of the beak color, size or plumage condition of the males. More than a hundred and fifty birds were used in the program, and the personality of the females was found to play a large role in their selection as well. From the various exercises that were performed, allowing females to show scientists their preferences, it was also obvious that the more out-going females preferred the confident males, while the more shy females were not very particular when it came to choosing a prospective partner. The team leader of the project was Dr Sasha Dall (University of Exeter), who commented that the research proved that personality played a large role in a female’s decision, irrespective of the appearance of the males. It also proved that what would be expected from humans selecting partners, namely the compatibility of personalities, has been overlooked in other species.

To determine the personalities of each bird, the birds were put in a cage to explore. The females were able to view this through a clear window, but unknowingly to them, one male was held back on purpose, and the females therefore viewed him as being less confident as they did not see him exploring the cage. Some birds showed no fear in regard to discovering their new environment, while others were happy remaining in one position watching the others. The more confident birds therefore paired together, while the rest did not show any dominant preferences. Once again it was shown that there is so much about our feathered friends that we don’t know yet, leaving the future open to many possibilities and new discoveries.

New Research into Bird Song

August 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

While zebra finch females utter single note, low-pitched calls, males have the ability to sing in a variety of frequencies, even producing a whistle that goes beyond a piano keyboard’s high end. Male birds make use of song to attract mates and to protect their territory. It is believed that the varied frequency of songs may be more attractive to females, as well as providing greater and more precise information.

The two variables affecting the pitch of a bird’s song are air pressure and muscle activity. Recent research has revealed that muscle activity plays the larger role in this respect. This study was conducted by Tobias Riede of the National Center for Voice and Speech (under the administration of the University of Utah), as well as Franz Goller, and John H. Fisher. Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

The zebra finch’s vocal organ is called the syrinx, and measures a mere one-eighth of an inch on either side. It was already known, through past studies, that male zebra finches had larger vocal muscles controlling the syrinx than did the females. In this study the cartilage scaffold, which supports the bird’s syrinx, as well as the “labia” (the part that oscillates when air moves through it) in the syrinx, were investigated. This revealed that the male finch’s cartilage scaffold is larger, while the labia are a different shape to that of the female. Riede concluded that this must be so that the labia can be tensioned tightly by the muscles that pull the scaffold, so as to reach the high-frequency notes.

The researchers sought to study whether lung pressure or vocal muscle strength was the more important factor in the control of the male zebra finch’s pitch. They began by recording the sounds of six male finches and six female finches for a period of two weeks. Tubes containing air pressure sensors were implanted into an air sac. Specially designed equipment ensured that the birds could continue to fly and sing freely whilst measurements were taken and their sounds recorded again. The results showed that higher air pressure lead to higher pitch, indicating that lung pressure does affect song frequency.

Following this experiment, the researchers cut the nerves that control the birds’ vocal muscles. They then recorded the birds’ sounds as they sang and flew about. It was noted that the pitch of all birds dropped to approximately the same level and males were unable to produce high frequencies. The fact that they could no longer put sufficient tension on the labia showed that the vocal muscles play a key role in bird song pitch.

Attracting Birds: Seed Preferences

July 6, 2010 by  
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There is no better way to decorate your garden than with a collection of wild birds that bring color and song to the trees and landscaped areas. Luring a variety of birds to a garden is not always as easy as it may sound. Most birds know exactly what they like and will travel to an area where they know they can eat their preferred seed or form of food. Fortunately, if you know what birds you want to attract, you can purchase the seeds and items that draw these species into your garden.

It is important to fill a variety of bird feeders and place them in different locations throughout the garden. This way birds will not be fighting to get to the food and a greater number of birds will frequent the feeders. Putting out their favorite foods is the best way to ensure that they will continue to return, and in winter bird feeders assist a great number of birds to survive the cold weather. Wild birds will not usually eat artificial pellets or processed seeds as they are not accustomed to them, so natural seeds are the key.

Sunflower seeds are generally a safe bet, as a wide variety of birds will eat them, such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches, cardinals, grosbeaks, sparrows, blackbirds, jays, woodpeckers and titmice. All these birds, with the exception of the sparrows, blackbirds, jays and woodpeckers, will also eat Safflower seeds. When trying to lure ducks, geese, mourning doves and quails, cracked corn will do the trick; and woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees are also known to eat unsalted peanuts. Nyjer (or Thistle) will attract redpolls, doves and pine siskins; while orioles, thrushes and hummingbirds prefer nectar. Fruit is another option to use in combination with seeds as mockingbirds, bluebirds, thrushes, cedar waxwings and orioles will enjoy the treat. The preferred food for juncos and towhees is millet. Setting out a mixture of seeds, fruits and nectar will have any garden filled with birds in no time, allowing home owners to enjoy the beauty of these winged creatures and relax to the melodies of their cheerful songs.

Atlanta Exotic Bird Fair 2010

February 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

To marvel at a magnificent range of exotic birds of all shapes and colors, head down to the Atlanta Exotic Bird Fair on the 13th and 14th of March 2010. Here visitors will see birds such as eclectus, finches, cockatiels and canaries, and be able to browse through a variety of exhibitors that offer numerous bird care related products, including nutrition, toys, cages and educational information.

To find out more about this exciting bird show, queries can be directed to the North Atlanta Trade Centre, by email to Rhonda@natcshows.com.

Date: 13 – 14 March 2010
Venue: North Atlanta Trade Center
City: Atlanta
Country: United States of America

Mid-South Exotic Bird Fair 2009

November 16, 2009 by  
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Exotic bird breeders and avian experts will be attending the Mid-South Exotic Bird Fair in Memphis, on 28 and 29 November 2009. A host of exotic birds will be on display, and visitors to the bird fair will be able to ask for advice and gain knowledge in regard to the care and nutrition of these wonderful birds. Visitors will be able to purchase nutritional products, toys, bird cages and exotic birds such as finches, cockatoos, African greys and macaws.

To find out more about the fair and its exhibitors, contact organizers on 901-603-9927 or visit the bird shows website at www.birdshows.com.

Date: 28 – 29 November 2009
Venue: S.W. Tennessee Community College
City: Memphis, Tennessee
Country: United States of America

Massachusetts Cage Bird Show 2009

September 4, 2009 by  
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The Massachusetts Cage Bird Show 2009 will show case the most colorful variety of birds on the 17th of November 2009, at the Weymouth Lodge of Elks. Guests to the show will be able to see wonderful birds such as Softbills, Finches, Borders, Glosters and many more. Some of the top breeders will have their feathered friends on display and is a bird show that should not be missed.

For more information in regard to the show, email Thom Keegan at thomkeegan@aol.com.

Date: 17 October 2009
Venue: Weymouth Lodge of Elks
City: Weymouth Mass
Country: United States of America

RAAVE Bird Expo 2009

July 28, 2009 by  
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Visitors to the RAAVE Bird Expo will most certainly hear the call of the wild the moment they enter the doors to the hall. Birds of all shapes, sizes and colors will be on display this year, and visitors will be able to marvel at a variety of species, from small finches to massive parrots such as the macaw. The expo does not only offer visitors the opportunity to view magnificent birds, but has a great number of vendors selling toys, birds, cages and bird related accessories.

To enjoy a day of birding splendor, bird enthusiasts are advised to make their way to the RAAVE Bird Expo which is guaranteed to have something for everyone. For more information in regard to the expo visit the website at http://www.go-reno.com/raave/calendar2.html.

Date: 12 September 2009
Venue: Reno Livestock Event Centre Exhibition Hall
City: Reno
Country: United States of America

Texas Bird Breeders Annual Fall Show and Fair 2009

July 21, 2009 by  
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The Texas Bird Breeders Annual Fall Show and Fair is an anticipated event for all bird breeders, as it gives them the opportunity to show off their best birds, and win a few prizes. Held on the 7th of November 2009, the show is organized by the Texas Bird Breeders and Fanciers Association, and there will be a variety of birds, vendors and exhibits to look forward to. Some of the birds on display include Budgerigars, Cockatiels, Softbills, Finches, Lovebirds and a few different parrot species.

Information and details about the show is available on the Texas Bird Breeders and Fanciers Association website, at http://www.texasbirdbreeders.org .

Date: 7 November 2009
Venue: Mayborn Convention Centre
City: Texas
Country: United States of America

SCVCEBC 48th Annual Cage Bird Show 2009

July 15, 2009 by  
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Bird lovers are advised not to miss the 48th Annual Cage Bird Show which is hosted by the Santa Clara Valley Canary and Exotic Bird Club on the 12th of December 2009. Hundreds of bird will be on display and well known judges will be walking through the cages, determining winners in the various categories. Some of the birds exhibited include finches, cockatiels, canaries and budgies. While some birds will be judged on the color others will be singing for first prize.

Bird enthusiasts who want to attend or have a prize bird at home to enter into the Annual Cage Bird Show are invited to email scvcebc@yahoo.com for more information regarding the show.

Date: 12 December 2009
Venue: Temple Emanu-El
City: San Jose, California
Country: United States of America

Pet Birds

February 9, 2009 by  
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Owning a pet bird can be a lot of fun, but are also a big responsibility as they are totally dependent on their human owners. There are many species of pet birds and choosing the one best suited to you and your circumstances is very important.

Parrots are often the first birds that spring to mind when you think of pet birds. The types of bird that are included under the group name of parrots are: parrots, cockatoos, amazons, macaws, conures, lovebirds, parakeets, cockatiels and budgerigars. Many of the parrot species make interesting pets due to their ability to mimic speech. They are very intelligent and will amaze you with the size of their vocabulary and the tricks that they are able to master. The parrot group make lovely, affectionate pets with strong personalities. The different parrot species have the most splendid coloration. This, along with their fun personalities, makes them wonderful pet birds.

Some of the larger parrot species are quite expensive and therefore owners may wish to take out pet bird insurance. Pet bird insurance will cover death due to illness or accident, theft of the bird, public liabilities and equipment related to the bird, obviously depending on the type of insurance you select.

Finches are also popular pet birds. They come in many varieties and their lovely colors will complement any aviary. The most beautiful is the Gouldian finch, with its bright colors. You will gain much pleasure from watching these sweet little birds flitting around their enclosure. Canaries are also much loved pets due to their beautiful song and also come in many varieties.

Another group of pet birds are the softbills, which do well when kept in large aviaries. These include the white-eyes, touracos, robins, and mynahs.

People on plots may own pet chickens, geese, ducks and even peacocks. Pet chickens are often used to produce eggs, however their owners form quite an attachment to them and they are unlikely to land up on the dinner table.

It is best to carefully research the species you are interested in before purchasing it so as to make sure that you will be able to meet its needs. Visit your local pet shop where staff are likely to be able to advise you, while supplying you with the necessary equipment and food to keep your pet bird healthy and happy.

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