Monday, April 2, 2007

149)Fascinating tidbits about birds in Allah's creation(from the back page of Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper).

Monday, April 2nd 2007


Follow your beak
Birds may be able to fly vast distances without getting lost because of sensors in their beaks, according to a German study. Scientists at the University of Frankfurt said they found tiny iron-oxide crystals in the skin lining of the upper beak of homing pigeons, laid out in a three-dimensional pattern that might help the birds to read the Earth's magnetic field. "We expect that the pigeon-type receptor . . .might turn out to be a universal feature of all birds," writes Gerta Fleissner and colleagues in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

People have long wondered how cowbirds can get away with leaving their eggs in the nests of other species, who then raise the baby cowbirds, writes Randolph Schmid of The Associated Press. Why don't the hosts just toss the strange eggs out? Now researchers seem to have an answer -- if the host birds reject the strange eggs, the cowbirds come back and trash the place. "It's the female cowbirds who are running the mafia racket at our study site," says Jeffrey Hoover, of the Florida Museum of Natural History. "Our study shows many of them returned and ransacked the nest when we removed the parasitic egg." Scientists also found evidence of what they called "farming behaviour," in which cowbirds destroyed a nest to force the host bird to build another. The cowbird then synchronized its egg-laying with the hosts' "renest" attempt.

Red-breasted nuthatches respond to the alarm calls of black-capped chickadees and they tailor their response to the "threat level" the chickadees identify, reports The Christian Science Monitor. For instance, the chickadees give a less-worrisome warning about the presence of a lumbering great horned owl than about the appearance of a smaller, agile pygmy owl. To test the nuthatches' language skills, Christopher Templeton of the University of Washington and colleagues placed speakers beneath trees with nuthatches but no chickadees. The nuthatches went ballistic when the team replayed chickadee calls warning of small predators. But they were much less worked up over the large-predator warning. "That one animal has cracked the code and extracted information from another species is pretty amazing," Mr. Templeton says. The results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Always in the air
"Amazingly, young swifts may spend the first two or three years of their lives entirely in the air, feeding on flying insects and scooping water from lakes or rivers," writes Jon Howard in BBC Focus magazine. "If a swift lands on the ground it cannot take off because of its short legs. If you find an uninjured grounded swift, take it to an upstairs window and hold it out on the palm of your hand."

'It's a living dodo'
A wetland bird that eluded scientists for nearly 130 years has been rediscovered at a wastewater treatment plant in Thailand. Little is known about the large-billed reed warbler because it had not been seen since its discovery in 1867 in India. Because it was so rare, scientists had long debated whether it represented a true species or was an aberrant individual of a more common species. That debate appears to be settled after Philip Round of Bangkok's Mahidol University captured one of the birds in March of last year. "[O]ne of the birds I caught that morning struck me as very odd, something about it didn't quite add up," held told The Associated Press. "Then, it dawned on me I was probably holding a large-billed reed-warbler. I was dumbstruck. It felt as if I was holding a living dodo."


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3