If a high-speed train runs at 185 m/h through little urbanized areas, it is possible that some animals will be surprised in their path. This is the case of birds such as magpies, pigeons, crows or buzzards, whose death due to run over has not been scientifically analyzed or quantified so far. A study has now allowed obtaining the first estimates in Spain.
A recent study, published in the journal ‘Conservation Biology’, reveals that the investments and resources allotted for conservation only partially tally with the levels of biodiversity in the European Union. Thus, countries such as Portugal, Slovakia, Greece and the Czech Republic receive less funding than they would be entitled to as per their biodiversity.
Most bird chicks need parental care to survive. In biparental species the chicks have greater chances of success if both parents participate in this task, especially under hostile situations. An international team of scientists has revealed that when temperatures rise, males and females in pairs of plovers shift incubation more frequently.
When Charles Darwin visited the Azores islands in the 19th Century, the birds he observed were familiar to him. However, if he had travelled there 500 years before, he would have found an ornithofauna as particular as that of the Galápagos. The recent discovery in these Portuguese islands and in Madeira of five extinct species of rail, which lost the ability to fly due to having evolved on islands, confirms how fragile they are in the face of changes to their habitat like the ones that must have occurred after the first visits by humans over 500 years ago.
Until now, scientists had observed that some large birds are sociable amongst each other. However, a new study has confirmed that this unique characteristic can also be seen among smaller birds such as the Eurasian siskin, a bird which is able to form bonds that last for a number of years as well as travel long distances in the company of these birds. This intimacy may favour reproduction in addition to facilitating the process of adjusting to a new place.
Its blue and brown-coloured plumage is undoubtedly the most distinctive feature of the European roller, a threatened migratory bird. Up until now, little was known about this bird's migration patterns and wintering. For the first time, scientists from nine countries reveal the routes between the southern part of Africa and Europe taken by a considerable part of this species which is currently in a fragile state of conservation. Researchers have been able to uncover this information with the help of geolocators and satellite transmissions.
Human activities such as livestock farming, fishing or hunting yearly waste tons of food into natural ecosystems. A large part of this anthropogenic food is provided as carrion and subsidizes a wide range of vertebrate species. Spanish scientists have described for the first time the general structure of scavenger communities worldwide, which consist mainly of birds (66%) and mammals (34%).
Because of their position on the food chain and their dietary habits, Griffon vultures from the Iberian Peninsula are exposed to accumulation of heavy metals in their tissues. A study benefiting from the participation of the Autonomous University of Barcelona reveals that, due to their diets, wild populations of Griffon vultures in Catalonia show the presence of a high amount of lead, which affects their immune systems and reproductive function.
In literature, crows and ravens are a bad omen and are associated with witches. Most people believe they steal, eat other birds’ eggs and reduce the populations of other birds. But a new study, which has brought together over 326 interactions between corvids and their prey, demonstrates that their notoriety is not entirely merited.