This Unusual Bird Superpower Goes Back to the Dinosaur Extinction

The ibis and the kiwi are dogged diggers, probing in sand and soil for worms and other buried prey. Sandpipers, too, can be seen along the shore excavating small creatures with their beaks. It was long thought that these birds were using trial and error to find their prey.

But then scientists discovered something far more peculiar: Their beaks are threaded with cells that can detect vibrations traveling through the ground. Some birds can feel the movements of their distant quarry directly, while others pick up on waves bouncing off buried shells — echolocating like a dolphin or a bat, in essence, through the earth.

There’s one more odd detail in this story of birds’ unusual senses: Ostriches and emus, birds that most definitely do not hunt this way, have beaks with a similar interior structure. They are honeycombed with pits for these cells, though the cells themselves are missing.

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Noise and light can ‘profoundly’ alter bird reproduction — ScienceDaily

Looking for a bird’s-eye view of human impact? A new study published in the journal Nature provides the most comprehensive picture yet of how human noise and light pollution affect birds throughout North America, including how these factors may interact with or mask the impacts of climate change.

Recent troubling findings suggest bird populations have declined by more than 30% in the last few decades. To develop effective strategies to reverse this trend, scientists and land managers need to understand what caused the decline.

The effects of noise and light pollution on the health of bird populations had been largely overlooked until some recent studies suggested that these stressors can harm individual species. With this new study, a continent-wide picture has emerged.

“Our study provides the most comprehensive evidence that noise and light can profoundly alter reproduction of birds, even when accounting for other aspects of human activities,” said Clint

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Newly sequenced bird genomes cover 92% of world’s avian families

Nov. 11 (UPI) — With the publication of the genomes of 363 bird species, 267 of which were sequenced for the first time, the 10,000 Genomes Project has reached an impressive milestone.

The project, a collaboration among hundreds of scientists at several dozen research institutions, is an effort to sequence the genome of every bird species on Earth. As the project’s name implies, there are more than 10,000 living bird species.

While the breakthrough — detailed in a study Wednesday in the journal Nature — puts scientists only 3 percent closer to their ultimate goal, the newly published sequencing data offers genomic insights into species from 92 percent of the world’s avian families.

Roughly 40 percent of genome samples that made the latest breakthrough possible were sourced from avian collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History — one of more than 100 institutions supporting the projects.

Though sequencing

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Winged dinosaur more squirrel than graceful bird

During a blip in time in the late Jurassic, a dinosaur that weighed no more than a chinchilla flung itself from tree to tree, spread its wings and tried to soar. In theory, it sounds beautiful — an early attempt at flight before birds figured out the blueprint.

In practice, it was chaotic.

The dinosaur, Yi qi, only barely managed to glide, stretching out and shimmying its skin-flap, downy-feathered wings in a valiant attempt at flying. “It was rocketing from tree to tree, desperately trying not to slam into something,” said Alex Dececchi, a paleontologist at Mount Marty University in South Dakota. “It wouldn’t be something pleasant.”

Unsurprisingly, Yi qi is not an ancestor of modern birds. It went extinct after just a few million years, presumably doomed by its sheer lack of competency in the air. In a study published Thursday in the journal iScience, Dececchi and other researchers

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