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Shows With Contributions by Grrl Scientist

Gray Jays

While camping in the mountains, you might see this Gray Jay, boldly swooping into your camp. This handsome jay’s big, black eyes seem to miss nothing — especially food. But the one food Gray Jays don’t eat is conifer seeds. The jays hide other food in conifer needles and tuck it under the bark of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Playful Keas

Keas are large alpine parrots from New Zealand. Intelligent and social, they have olive-green plumage, a red rump, and a long, curved beak. Keas produce a distinct warbling call, a “play call,” that sounds — and functions — much like a human’s contagious laughter. Scientists made recordings of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording, vocalization

Fairy-Wrens - To Duel or Duet?

The Red-backed Fairy-Wren, a tiny songbird living the Australian scrublands, is highly territorial and promiscuous. The male can’t be sure the eggs in his nest are his own. One way to help avoid this problem? The male may rough up a rival who approaches his territory. But research shows when Red... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, vocalization

How Birds Become Red

Most birds have the capacity to make red feathers, even those that lack red plumage. This discovery was revealed by scientists who studied Red-factor Canaries — a “hybrid” bird that is part canary, part Red Siskin, like this one. Both species have the “redness gene.” But Red-factor Canaries have... read more »

Ancient Murrelet Migration

We're used to birds migrating north to south and south to north. But the Ancient Murrelet migrates east to west and back across the North Pacific. These plump seabirds nest in colonies in old-growth forests. But where do they go in winter? After breeding, many Ancient Murrelets migrate westward.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Birds, Nests, and Camouflage

Bird nests can be hard to find, often hidden in plain sight. Is the clever camouflage simply the result of using building materials that the birds happen to find? A Scottish research team used birds popular in the pet trade, Zebra Finches, to try and find out. The team gave nesting Zebra Finches... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science

Jays Identify Good Nuts by Shaking Them

Some birds stash unopened seeds for use later. But how do they know which seeds are worth the trouble, before expending the energy to open them? A team of scientists from South Korea and Poland may have an answer. As part of a series of experiments, the scientists observed the behavior of Mexican... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science
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