Sudden changes in bird songs and plumage colors provides female songbirds with mate choices that can rapidly lead to establishment of new species in closely related birds — a finding that challenges the typical model of how new species form

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Adult male Iberá seedeater (Sporophila iberaensis) (left; image credit Abel Fleita) and adult male tawny-bellied seedeater (Sporophila hypoxantha) (right; image credit Sheela Turbek) live alongside each other without obvious ecological barriers to reproduction. They recognize their species by song and plumage colors. (Image composite created by GrrlScientist.)

Speciation — the process underlying how one species becomes two — is a poorly understood but critically important evolutionary process that creates and defines all living things. My enduring passion to understand this seemingly straightforward mechanism is certainly what lured me into a career in science. …


Some birds may develop unique behaviors to deal with extreme heat created by global warming

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A small flock of rosy-faced lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis). These small parrots became established in Arizona after pet lovebirds were intentionally released or escaped. (Credit: Charles J. Sharp / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Global climate change is giving rise to a variety of rapid and diverse impacts, including shifts in growing seasons, food sources and species distributions and, as we all can attest, extreme climate events are becoming ever more common and harmful.

Even with all our modern technologies, people — especially residents of urban areas — are barely coping with this onslaught of severe heat, but what about animals? How do they cope? Many animals decrease their activity…


Exotic pets — companion animals that are not native to the area where they are kept — can become invasive pests when they escape or are released by pet owners, breeders, collectors and wholesalers

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Fire ants (genus: Solenopsis) are annoying and sometimes dangerous pests throughout the southeastern United States. There are more than 200 species of ants that both sting and bite. (Credit: Stephen Ausmus, USDA / Public Domain)

It’s no secret that the global market for exotic pets is large and growing, particularly recently, because so many of us stayed home for the past year to comply with the coronavirus pandemic quarantine restrictions.

In the last decade alone, billions of individuals comprising thousands of animal species were traded annually, fueling a multibillion-dollar global industry (i.e…


Although ‘fake news’ and misinformation are big problems for human society and addressing it is a big challenge, the same ‘fake news’ misinformation tactics can be used to trick invasive predators into ignoring a meal

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An adult double-banded plover (Charadrius bicinctus), also known as known as the banded dotterel or pohowera in New Zealand, in nuptial plumage. This ground-nesting shorebird is one of the three bird species that could most benefit from scent deception of invasive mammalian predators. (Credit: Andrej Chudý / CC BY-ND 3.0)

Invasive predators, particularly feral and free-roaming house cats, can be found almost everywhere that people have ever visited or now live, and they are killing one species after another, causing many to become endangered or even extinct (i.e.; see here). At the same time, the public overwhelmingly wants to protect feral and free-roaming cats from lethal…


But surprisingly, only half of all birders have ever heard of certified Bird-Friendly coffees

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Adult male cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea). This migratory songbird breeds in eastern North America and depends on shaded coffee plantations in Central and South America during the winter. This traditional farming technique is at risk as coffee prices fluctuate and as pressure to switch to higher-yield sun coffee or other crops intensifies. (Credit: Mdf / CC BY-SA 3.0)

A little more than one year ago, a study reported that North America lost 3 billion birds in less than 50 years (more here). One of the foremost reasons for this dramatic decline in birds was habitat destruction due to human activities such as logging, farming and mining. …


A 4600 year old painting from a tomb in Egypt depicts an extinct and previously unknown species of goose

Meidum Geese (Detail), Tomb of Nefermaat and Itet. Is this an extinct goose species? (Credit: Anthony Romilio)

An extinct and previously unknown species of goose has been identified from an ancient Egyptian painting that once adorned the walls of a mastaba, or tomb, according to a recently published analysis. This mudbrick tomb was the final resting place of Nefermaat, a prince in Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty (c. 2600 BCE), and his wife, Itet (Figure 1).

The oldest son of king Sneferu, Nefermaat ruled Egypt from 2610 to 2590 B.C. …


The Guam kingfisher has been extinct in the wild for more than 30 years but thanks to intense conservation efforts, it now stands on the brink of being released back into the wild

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NOTE: Originally published under the title: “Extinct Guam Kingfisher Provides Blueprint For Reintroducing Other Long-Lost Animals”

Adult male sihek, or Guam kingfisher (Todiramphus cinnamominus). This critically endangered species is extinct in the wild. (Credit: John Ewen)

The Guam kingfisher, or ‘sihek’ as it’s known by the Chamorros, the indigenous people living on Guam, is becoming a symbol of conservation hope these days. …


The only thing that people must do is stop shooting or poisoning these parrots and allow them to conduct their superior weed-removal practices in peace

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NOTE: This piece was a Forbes Editors’ Pick.

A flock of sulfur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) on a lawn in Sydney, Australia. They are digging up and eating the corms of onion grass (Romulea rosea), an invasive species from South Africa. (Credit: Howard Bales / CC BY 2.0)

If you live in Australia, you probably see lots of white cockatoos — either a few individuals or even large flocks of sulphur-crested cockatoos and several species of corellas in particular — busily picking through grassy lawns, golf course greens, playing fields and open grasslands. What are they doing?

This is exactly what horticulturist Gregory Moore, a senior…


Researchers report that the near-global success of invasive European starlings may be linked to rapid changes in gene expression patterns

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An adult European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) in breeding plumage. (Credit: Deepak Sundar / CC BY-SA 4.0)

European starlings are not native to North America, as their common name suggests. They arrived in North America after a small group was imported in 1890 and again in 1891 by a wealthy and misguided New York drug manufacturer, Eugene Schieffelin, who released them into New York City’s Central Park. This simple, inexplicable act of environmental vandalism unleashed a tsunami of the glossy purple-black songbirds that swept across the continent. …


Birds that depend upon an abundance of particular food sources at specific times of the year may not be able to adapt fast enough to climate change

by GrrlScientist for Forbes | Twitter | Newsletter

A great tit (Parus major), with a caterpillar, the main prey item these birds feed to their nestlings. (Credit: Peter Ertl / CC BY-ND 4.0)

A recent study of the life history habits of a common songbird, the great tit, found that warmer winters give rise to earlier springtimes, causing trees to leaf out earlier, and this in turn, allows insects and their larvae that feed on these plants to emerge earlier. …

𝐆𝐫𝐫𝐥𝐒𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐭, scientist & writer

PhD evolutionary ecology/ornithology. Psittacophile. scicomm Forbes, previously Guardian. always Ravenclaw. discarded scientist & writer, now an angry house elf

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