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Australia

Palm Cockatoos - Different Drummers

Male Palm Cockatoos keep the beat during courtship, creating tools to make music! Researchers with the Robert Heinsohn lab at the Australian National University documented that the wild "Palmies" in the population on Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland engage in the unique behavior of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Left Foot or Right? Handedness in Birds

A parrot’s eyes are located on the sides of its head. So, if it wants to look at something — say, a delicious piece of fruit — it has to cock its head one way or the other do it. And if it looks with its left eye, then uses its left foot. Scientists call this handedness. That’s when one hand — or... read more »

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For Australian Magpies, Bigger Groups May Mean Bigger Brains

Some scientists believe our complex human brains are the result of living in complex social groups. We have to keep track of lots of other individuals and constantly changing social relationships. Scientists studying Australian Magpies in the wild have found that birds living in bigger groups... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Stowaway Cockatoo Takes a Cruise

A beautiful Rose-breasted Cockatoo named Harri took the adventure of a lifetime. She set off unseen on a cruise ship from Brisbane, Australia, and wasn’t discovered until the ship neared New Zealand. Authorities there were not happy to see Harri, whose species is the bane of farmers in her native... read more »

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Plan Your Next Birding Trip!

Planning a trip? We’ve pulled together some online resources that can help you find that special place for birdwatching—or special bird—on that family vacation across the state or that business trip to the other side of the world. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

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

Australia's Rainforest Birds

The rainforests of Eastern and Northeastern Australia harbor many species of birds found almost nowhere else. This Eastern Whipbird — which is more often heard than seen — hangs out in the dense understory. Easier to lay eyes on is the large, pigeon-like Wompoo Fruit-Dove. Feathered in a stunning... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Most Kingfishers Don't Fish

In North America, kingfishers fish. But in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia, most of the roughly 90 species of kingfishers don’t “fish.” They hunt in woodlands, where the smaller ones, like the four-inch Pygmy Kingfisher, eat grasshoppers and centipedes. Larger kingfishers will... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Where Birdsong Began

Scientists once believed that Australia’s songbirds — such as this Superb Lyrebird — were the result of lost birds from Asia and Africa colonizing the continent. But recent research has changed that thinking. It turns out that the Australian continent was the evolutionary epicenter of much of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Do Birds Play?

Black Swans, surfing off the Gold Coast of Australia? What's that about?Do birds play? We think so. And these videos seem to prove it! Here's what BirdNote science advisor, Dennis Paulson, has to say:For a long time, scientists resisted the idea that animals other than humans played. But more and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

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