Special Issue "Feature Papers of Birds 2021"

A special issue of Birds (ISSN 2673-6004).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2022) | Viewed by 86194

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jukka Jokimäki
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, 96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
Interests: urban birds; migratory birds; ecology of birds; urban biodiversity; arctic biodiversity; boreal biodiversity; forest birds; mire birds; water birds; bird monitoring; conservation biology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce a Special Issue entitled "Feature Papers of Birds 2021", which will be one of the first of a new journal, / Birds /. /Birds/ is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal, which provides an advanced forum for studies on all aspects of ornithology. The journal will complete the group of international journals in the field of ornithology, and we are expecting to gain popularity and prestige very soon.

In this first Special Issue, we are willing to receive manuscripts from all ornithological fields considered to be of interest to our international readers. In this case, well-designed studies and good datasets are required to promote the quality of, and interest in, our new journal. We welcome both original research articles and comprehensive review papers. The papers in this Special Issue will be published via our open access platform after a thorough peer review, a process which will benefit both our authors and readers.

As evidenced by the keywords list, the fields to be included in this Special Issue have been broadened to best represent the scope of the journal, whilst opening up more chances for international research contributions.

You are welcome to send short proposals for feature paper submissions to the Editorial Office ([email protected]) before submission.

We look forward to receiving your excellent work.

Dr. Jukka Jokimäki
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Birds is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Bird ecology and biogeography
  • Bird communities and populations
  • Bird behavior
  • Bird conservation
  • Bird immunology, health, and diseases
  • Bird systematics, taxonomy, and evolution
  • Bird physiology and reproduction
  • Bird migration

Published Papers (55 papers)

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Research

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Article
Using Machine Learning to Identify Associations between the Environment, Occurrence, and Outcomes of Songbird Displacements at Supplemental Feeders
Birds 2022, 3(3), 306-319; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3030021 - 15 Sep 2022
Viewed by 361
Abstract
The context and outcome of aggressive interactions between individuals has important fitness consequences. Displacements—an aggressive interaction wherein one individual is chased from a location by another—also have implications for social hierarchy formation and geographic distribution in songbirds. Morphological correlates, like body size, and [...] Read more.
The context and outcome of aggressive interactions between individuals has important fitness consequences. Displacements—an aggressive interaction wherein one individual is chased from a location by another—also have implications for social hierarchy formation and geographic distribution in songbirds. Morphological correlates, like body size, and social correlates, such as dominance rank, have been shown to mediate displacements in songbirds. However, the role of the physical environment, namely temperature, humidity, and time of day, which may influence an individual’s energy needs and thus displacement motivation, has remained understudied. We monitored songbird feeding and displacement behaviors using computerized automated feeders. We observed asymmetric differences across species in displacement involvement. To identify the conditions of the social and physical environment that are associated with the occurrence and outcome of songbird displacements at supplemental feeders, we use the machine learning approach, random forest, which is a novel method to the fields of ornithology and animal behavior. From our random forest models, we found that the attributes of the physical environment (i.e., humidity and the time of day) are associated with the occurrence of a displacement event, whereas the attributes of the social environment (i.e., species of the displacer and displaced individuals) are associated with which species are involved. These results provide context to develop further observational and experimental hypotheses to tease apart the inner workings of these multifactorial behaviors on a larger scale and provide a proof of concept for our analytical methods in the study of avian behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Seasonal Differences in Expression of Neuropeptide Y (NPY) in Visual Centers of Spotted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)
Birds 2022, 3(3), 245-259; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3030016 - 28 Jul 2022
Viewed by 427
Abstract
The visual perception of birds is an incredibly exciting subject of research. Birds have significantly higher visual acuity than most other animals, which helps them stay safe in flight and detect their prey. Understanding how the eyes send information to the brain for [...] Read more.
The visual perception of birds is an incredibly exciting subject of research. Birds have significantly higher visual acuity than most other animals, which helps them stay safe in flight and detect their prey. Understanding how the eyes send information to the brain for additional processing is crucial. The brain has sections (nuclei) that accept input from the retina. The key areas where information is processed are the hyperpallium apicale (HA), hippocampus (HP), optic tectum (TeO), nucleus rotundus (RoT), and the geniculatus lateralis ventralis (Glv); among these, the RoT is one of the most investigated nuclei for vision. This study looked at how the visual centers of non-photoperiodic songbirds (Spotted Munia) adapt in different life history stages by looking at NPY expression. We immunohistochemically quantified NPY expression in four different seasons, including pre-breeding (June), breeding (September), post-breeding (December), and regressed (March) in the brain of Spotted Munia. We evaluated changes in the expression levels of the peptide throughout the year, by determining the expression at four different periods throughout the year. Peptide expression levels were projected to fluctuate within photoperiod-induced seasons. It was discovered that the parts of the brain related to vision (RoT, HA, and HP) have a higher number of immunoreactive cells during their mating season, i.e., during the summer. The appearance of NPY, a non-photic marker, in brain areas linked with light perception, was fascinating. Indirectly, NPY aids avian reproduction in a variety of ways. These findings demonstrate the importance of these nuclei in the process of reproduction, as well as the involvement of NPY in the visual brain areas of Spotted Munia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Will Brazilian City Dwellers Actively Engage in Urban Conservation? A Case Study with the Charismatic Neotropical Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)
Birds 2022, 3(2), 234-244; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3020015 - 01 Jun 2022
Viewed by 1006
Abstract
The Blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna) is a charismatic and easily recognized species. While they are classified as being of “least concern” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, their populations are declining. In Brazil, the accelerated destruction [...] Read more.
The Blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna) is a charismatic and easily recognized species. While they are classified as being of “least concern” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, their populations are declining. In Brazil, the accelerated destruction of one of its key habitats, the Cerrado biome, is a principal cause of their decreasing abundance. As with other species affected by loss of the Cerrado, active conservation measures are required. While usually rare in urban ecosystems, Ara ararauna occurs and breeds in small numbers in the city of Rondonópolis, a medium-sized city located in Mato Grosso, Central-West Region of Brazil. Blue-and-yellow macaw pairs nest in the tops of dead palm trees, but as the macaws are nest-site limited and suitable dead trees are scarce in urban areas, the installation of artificial nest sites in domestic backyards could help that urban population to thrive. To investigate whether local people would be willing to engage with conservation efforts and in particular to support macaw conservation, we surveyed the attitudes of Rondonópolis residents to measure: (1) citizens’ preferences among the bird species that occur in the city; (2) the average area of their yards, and (3) the willingness of residents to: (a) plant fruit trees to attract macaws to their yards and (b) to install artificial nests in their yards. Larger and more colorful birds (Ara ararauna, the Red-and-green macaw Ara chloropterus and Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco) were the bird species most valued across all socio-economic groups, suggesting that the charismatic species would be more likely to be supported by urbanites. Overall, people had good biodiversity knowledge, with respondents being able to identify half of our sample of local bird species, on average, and almost half had seen a nest site. The great majority were willing to plant fruit trees (78%) and provide nest sites (70%) for macaws. This willingness to engage was not affected by socioeconomic differences. These data indicate that a municipal macaw conservation program could be successful in Rondonópolis, and we argue that macaws could be a flagship species which would benefit wider efforts to engage Brazilian urbanites in active engagement with nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
High Blood Parasite Infection Rate and Low Fitness Suggest That Forest Water Bodies Comprise Ecological Traps for Pied Flycatchers
Birds 2022, 3(2), 221-233; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3020014 - 09 Apr 2022
Viewed by 838
Abstract
Blood parasites are considered to have strong negative effects on host fitness. Negative fitness consequences may be associated with proximity to areas where blood parasite vectors reproduce. This study tested for relationships between haemosporidian infection prevalence, parasitemia, and fitness parameters of breeding Pied [...] Read more.
Blood parasites are considered to have strong negative effects on host fitness. Negative fitness consequences may be associated with proximity to areas where blood parasite vectors reproduce. This study tested for relationships between haemosporidian infection prevalence, parasitemia, and fitness parameters of breeding Pied Flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) at different distances from forest water bodies. Prevalence and parasitemias (the intensity of infection) of haemosporidians and vector abundance generally decreased with increasing distance from forest lakes, streams, and bogs. Fledgling numbers were lower, and their condition was worse in the vicinity of water bodies, compared with those located one kilometer away from lakes and streams. At the beginning of the breeding season, adult body mass was not related to distance to the nearest water body, whereas at the end of the breeding season body mass was significantly lower closer to water bodies. Forest areas around water bodies may represent ecological traps for Pied Flycatchers. Installing nest boxes in the vicinity of forest water bodies creates unintended ecological traps that may have conservation implications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Relative Water Economy Is a Useful Index of Aridity Tolerance for Australian Poephiline Finches
Birds 2022, 3(2), 172-183; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3020012 - 31 Mar 2022
Viewed by 502
Abstract
We evaluate if the iconic Australian Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) has a unique physiology or if its metabolic, thermal and hygric physiology are similar to other Australian poephiline finches, by comparing it with three other species, the arid-habitat Painted Finch ( [...] Read more.
We evaluate if the iconic Australian Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) has a unique physiology or if its metabolic, thermal and hygric physiology are similar to other Australian poephiline finches, by comparing it with three other species, the arid-habitat Painted Finch (Emblema pictum) and the mesic-habitat Double-barred (Taeniopygia bichenovii) and Red-browed (Neochmia temporalis) Finches. All physiological variables responded to ambient temperature as expected. There were no species differences for any of the standard physiological variables, consistent with the hypotheses that birds are pre-adapted to arid habitats, the recent development of Australian deserts has limited opportunity for physiological adaptation, and all four species share similar behavioural and ecological traits. Nevertheless, the ambient temperature where metabolic water production equals evaporative water loss (point of relative water economy) was highest for the Zebra (19.1 °C), lower for Double-barred (16.4 °C) and Painted (15.2 °C) and lowest for Red-Browed (4.1 °C) Finches, corresponding with their general patterns of habitat aridity. The point of relative water economy may be a sensitive index for assessing a species’ tolerance of aridity because it integrates individual physiological variables. We conclude that the Zebra Finch is not a physiological outlier amongst Australian finches, but is at the end of a continuum of aridity tolerance for the four study species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
New Evidence on the Linkage of Population Trends and Species Traits to Long-Term Niche Changes
Birds 2022, 3(1), 149-171; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010011 - 16 Mar 2022
Viewed by 923
Abstract
Despite the assessment of long-term niche dynamics could provide crucial information for investigating species responses to environmental changes, it is a poorly investigated topic in ecology. Here, we present a case study of multi-species niche analysis for 71 common breeding birds in Northern [...] Read more.
Despite the assessment of long-term niche dynamics could provide crucial information for investigating species responses to environmental changes, it is a poorly investigated topic in ecology. Here, we present a case study of multi-species niche analysis for 71 common breeding birds in Northern Italy, exploring long-term niche changes from 1992 to 2017 and their relationship with both population trends and species traits. We (i) quantified the realized Grinnellian niche in the environmental space, (ii) compared variations in niche breadth and centroid, (iii) tested niche divergence and conservatism through equivalency and similarity tests, (iv) calculated niche temporal overlap, expansion and unfilling indices, and (v) investigated their association with both population changes and species traits. Results supported niche divergence (equivalency test) for 32% of species, although two-thirds were not supported by the similarity test. We detected a general tendency to adjust the niche centroids towards warmer thermal conditions. Increasing populations were positively correlated with niche expansion, while negatively correlated with niche overlap, albeit at the limit of the significance threshold. We found moderate evidence for a non-random association between niche changes and species traits, especially for body size, clutch size, number of broods per year, inhabited landscape type, and migration strategy. We encourage studies correlating long-term population trends and niche changes with species traits’ information and a specific focus on cause-effect relationship at both the single and multiple-species level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Climatic Effects on Grey-Faced Petrel (Pterodroma gouldi) Chick Growth and Survival
Birds 2022, 3(1), 138-148; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010010 - 18 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1030
Abstract
Grey-faced Petrels (Pterodroma gouldi) are a colonial burrowing seabird predominantly nesting on offshore islands of the upper North Island of New Zealand. We studied their annual breeding biology and the impact of Southern Oscillation Index climatic effects by measuring colony productivity [...] Read more.
Grey-faced Petrels (Pterodroma gouldi) are a colonial burrowing seabird predominantly nesting on offshore islands of the upper North Island of New Zealand. We studied their annual breeding biology and the impact of Southern Oscillation Index climatic effects by measuring colony productivity and chick growth rates from 2011 to 2015 on Te Hāwere-a-Maki as unfavorable warmer La Niña conditions changed to favorable cooler El Niño conditions. Across all five years, annual chick hatching consistently occurred within a one-week period at the end of August but fledging variably occurred over a three-week period following Christmas. Because ship rats are pest controlled on Te Hāwere-a-Maki, we found only a slight reduction in breeding success with nearby predator-free islands. However, chick growth and fledging rates were significantly higher under El Niño conditions occurring towards the end of our study, rather than La Niña conditions at the start of our study. Our regular handling of chicks for monitoring had no discernible impact compared to a set of control chicks. The combined impacts of annual variation in predation and climate mean the Grey-faced Petrel colony on Te Hāwere-a-Maki maintains a constant population size of around 100 burrows. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Exploring the Effect of the COVID-19 Zoo Closure Period on Flamingo Behaviour and Enclosure Use at Two Institutions
Birds 2022, 3(1), 117-137; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010009 - 10 Feb 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1538
Abstract
Visitors can influence the behaviour of zoo animals through their auditory and visual presence, with mixed findings of negative, neutral, and positive effects on welfare. This study opportunistically utilised the UK-wide COVID-19 period of zoo closure to investigate the activity and enclosure usage [...] Read more.
Visitors can influence the behaviour of zoo animals through their auditory and visual presence, with mixed findings of negative, neutral, and positive effects on welfare. This study opportunistically utilised the UK-wide COVID-19 period of zoo closure to investigate the activity and enclosure usage of Greater (Phoenicopterus roseus) and Chilean (P. chilensis) Flamingos housed at two zoos. Flamingo behaviour at both sites was observed during the last week of a three-month closure period and the immediate reopening of the zoos. Photographic data were collected at three timepoints during each observation day. Negative binomial GLMMs compared the behaviour observed during zoo closure to the behaviour observed during zoo reopening, whilst accounting for climatic variables and time of day. Spearman’s correlation identified relationships between behaviour with the number of visitors and weather. Greater Flamingos were not influenced by the reintroduction of visitors to the zoo setting. Chilean Flamingos showed an increase in inactivity and decrease in movement and feeding when the zoo reopened. These possible behavioural responses are better explained by the influence of temperature on the behaviour of Chilean Flamingos and by the correlation between temperature and visitor number, rather than a direct consequence of visitor presence. This research details the multifactorial nature of any potential anthropogenic effects on zoo animal behaviour and highlights the importance of considering environmental variables alongside the measurement of visitor presence or absence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Illegal Wildlife Trade in Traditional Markets, on Instagram and Facebook: Raptors as a Case Study
Birds 2022, 3(1), 99-116; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010008 - 07 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1993
Abstract
Monitoring illegal wildlife trade and how the modus operandi of traders changes over time is of vital importance to mitigate the negative effects this trade can have on wild populations. We focused on the trade of birds of prey in Indonesia (2016–2021) in [...] Read more.
Monitoring illegal wildlife trade and how the modus operandi of traders changes over time is of vital importance to mitigate the negative effects this trade can have on wild populations. We focused on the trade of birds of prey in Indonesia (2016–2021) in bird markets (12 markets, 194 visits), on Instagram (19 seller profiles) and on Facebook (11 open groups). We link species prevalence and asking prices to body size, abundance and geographic range. Smaller species were more traded in bird markets and less so online. Abundance in trade is in part linked to their abundance in the wild. Asking prices (mean of USD 87) are positively correlated with size and negatively with their abundance in the wild. Authorities seize birds of prey according to their observed abundance in trade, but only 10% of seizures lead to successful prosecutions. The trade is in violation of national laws and the terms and conditions of the online platforms; the low prosecution rate with minimal fines shows a lack of recognition of the urgency of the threat that trade poses to already imperilled wildlife. The shift of trade from physical bird markets to the online marketplace necessitates a different strategy both for monitoring and enforcement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Does the Urban Environment Act as a Filter on the Individual Quality of Birds?
Birds 2022, 3(1), 84-98; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010007 - 05 Feb 2022
Viewed by 942
Abstract
Phenotypic divergences of birds are common between urban and natural habitats and can result from different selective pressures between habitats or maladaptation to the city. No uniform patterns were observed, especially concerning markers of bird health, such as, for example, telomere length. Telomeres [...] Read more.
Phenotypic divergences of birds are common between urban and natural habitats and can result from different selective pressures between habitats or maladaptation to the city. No uniform patterns were observed, especially concerning markers of bird health, such as, for example, telomere length. Telomeres are involved in maintaining genome integrity and naturally shorten with age, but environmental stressors can accelerate their attrition. Thus, telomere length can be an indicator of individual quality. Some studies showed that urban breeders had longer telomeres than forest individuals. Two hypotheses can explain this result: (1) urban breeders are younger than forests breeders, and (2) cities act as a filter on individuals and only high-quality birds can successfully reproduce. In this context, we compared the age category (molting pattern) and morphological and physiological characteristics of urban and forest Great Tits before and during breeding. No differences in age or body condition were observed. However, urban breeders were smaller and had shorter telomeres than birds captured in winter. Urban birds had longer telomeres than forest birds, only in winter. These results highlight that urban habitats potentially favor smaller birds. However, the decrease in telomere length between winter and reproduction only in the city suggest a higher cost of reproduction in the city compared to the forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Cathemeral Behavior of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) Breeding along Michigan’s Lake Superior Shoreline
Birds 2022, 3(1), 72-83; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010006 - 02 Feb 2022
Viewed by 783
Abstract
Shorebirds commonly exhibit cathemeral activity and commonly forage throughout a 24 h period. Conservation of endangered shorebirds should then extend to protection at night, yet little data exists on overall time budgets of such species at night. The Great Lakes population of piping [...] Read more.
Shorebirds commonly exhibit cathemeral activity and commonly forage throughout a 24 h period. Conservation of endangered shorebirds should then extend to protection at night, yet little data exists on overall time budgets of such species at night. The Great Lakes population of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) is the smallest and most endangered, making each breeding pair an essential part of recovery. Intense monitoring of breeding individuals occurs during the daytime, yet we have little understanding of the time budgets of plovers at night. To gain better insight into the cathemeral behavior of plovers we recorded behaviors of 12 plovers from along Michigan’s Lake Superior shoreline during both day and night in 2018 with the use of a night-vision-capable camera, and compared time budgets of plovers between daytime and nighttime. Overall, piping plovers spent more time and a greater proportion of their time foraging at night and more time devoted to being alert during the day. These differences were especially evident during the chick rearing phase. Limited observations suggest that copulatory activity may also be more common at night. Likely, the threat of avian predation on this population drives the increase in nighttime foraging, despite decreased efficiency. Recognizing the importance of decreasing potential for disturbance during the night should be considered in future management strategies regarding the recovery of this endangered species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Dynamic Patterns of Sex Chromosome Evolution in Neognath Birds: Many Independent Barriers to Recombination at the ATP5F1A Locus
Birds 2022, 3(1), 51-70; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010004 - 30 Jan 2022
Viewed by 932
Abstract
Avian sex chromosomes evolved after the divergence of birds and crocodilians from their common ancestor, so they are younger than the better-studied chromosomes of mammals. It has long been recognized that there may have been several stages to the evolution of avian sex [...] Read more.
Avian sex chromosomes evolved after the divergence of birds and crocodilians from their common ancestor, so they are younger than the better-studied chromosomes of mammals. It has long been recognized that there may have been several stages to the evolution of avian sex chromosomes. For example, the CHD1 undergoes recombination in paleognaths but not neognaths. Genome assemblies have suggested that there may be variation in the timing of barriers to recombination among Neognathae, but there remains little understanding of the extent of this variability. Here, we look at partial sequences of ATP5F1A, which is on the avian Z and W chromosomes. It is known that recombination of this gene has independently ceased in Galliformes, Anseriformes, and at least five neoavian orders, but whether there are other independent cessations of recombination among Neoaves is not understood. We analyzed a combination of data extracted from published chromosomal-level genomes with data collected using PCR and cloning to identify Z and W copies in 22 orders. Our results suggest that there may be at least 19 independent cessations of recombination within Neognathae, and 3 clades that may still be undergoing recombination (or have only recently ceased recombination). Analyses of ATP5F1A protein sequences revealed an increased amino acid substitution rate for W chromosome gametologs, suggesting relaxed purifying selection on the W chromosome. Supporting this hypothesis, we found that the increased substitution rate was particularly pronounced for buried residues, which are expected to be more strongly constrained by purifying selection. This highlights the dynamic nature of avian sex chromosomes, and that this level of variation among clades means they should be a good system to understand sex chromosome evolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Why Do Birds False Alarm Flight?
Birds 2022, 3(1), 29-37; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010002 - 29 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1012
Abstract
False alarm flighting in avian flocks is common, and has been explained as a maladaptive information cascade. If false alarm flighting is maladaptive per se, then its frequency can only be explained by it being net adaptive in relation to some other benefit [...] Read more.
False alarm flighting in avian flocks is common, and has been explained as a maladaptive information cascade. If false alarm flighting is maladaptive per se, then its frequency can only be explained by it being net adaptive in relation to some other benefit or equilibrium. However, I argue that natural selection cannot distinguish between false and true alarm flights that have similar energetic costs, opportunity costs, and outcomes. False alarm flighting cannot be maladaptive if natural selection cannot perceive the difference between true and false alarm flighting. Rather, the question to answer is what false and true alarm flighting both have in common that is adaptive per se. The fire drill hypothesis of alarm flighting posits that false alarm flights are an adaptive investment in practicing escape. The fire drill hypothesis predicts that all individuals can benefit from practicing escape, particularly juveniles. Flighting practice could improve recognition of and response time to alarm flighting signals, could compensate for inter-individual and within-day weight differences, and could aid the development of adaptive escape tactics. Mixed-age flocks with many juveniles are expected to false alarm flight more than adult flocks. Flocks that inhabit complex terrain should gain less from escape practice and should false alarm flight less. Behavioural ecology framings can be fruitfully complemented by other research traditions of learning and behaviour that are more focused on maturation and motor learning processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Article
Avian Use of Dairy Farm Ponds and Landowners’ Perceptions of Their Management for Wildlife Conservation
Birds 2021, 2(4), 476-491; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040035 - 15 Dec 2021
Viewed by 842
Abstract
Farm ponds are among the last remaining lentic wetland habitats in human-dominated agricultural and suburban landscapes. However, their wildlife value and farmers’ willingness to maintain them for the conservation of regionally declining biodiversity are often both poorly documented. The objectives of this study [...] Read more.
Farm ponds are among the last remaining lentic wetland habitats in human-dominated agricultural and suburban landscapes. However, their wildlife value and farmers’ willingness to maintain them for the conservation of regionally declining biodiversity are often both poorly documented. The objectives of this study of 61 dairy farm ponds located in Southern Quebec (Canada) were to (1) describe their biophysical features and birds’ use, (2) determine habitat and landscape characteristics that influence the bird community, and (3) assess the willingness of farmers to support wildlife use. The studied ponds were small (0.17 ha) and had rectangular shape with rocky/muddy steeply slopes (21°), surrounded by 3 m wide riparian strips and pastures, hayfields, and fallows. They were located about 300 m from farmhouses, buildings, streams, and adjacent ponds. A total of 1963 individuals belonging to 46 bird species were observed. The abundance of all bird species, of species with declining populations, and of crop damaging species were positively related to the area of fallow land and to the width of riparian strips; the areas of cereals and of mixed-wood forest had a negative influence. Only two habitat variables had influence on species richness: the width of riparian strips (+) and the distance to the closest farm buildings (–). Most pond landowners (>80%) were in favour of increasing wildlife use if they were given access to associated financial support and logistical assistance. Wider riparian strips and adjacent uncultivated field margins are recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Ecology of Gamebirds in Namha National Protected Area, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Birds 2021, 2(4), 445-459; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040033 - 08 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 905
Abstract
Using camera-trap data, we describe the ecology and occupancy of several species of gamebirds while assessing associations at Namha National Protected Area (Lao People’s Democratic Republic). We detected three species of Arborophila Partridges, albeit in low numbers. Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus show typical [...] Read more.
Using camera-trap data, we describe the ecology and occupancy of several species of gamebirds while assessing associations at Namha National Protected Area (Lao People’s Democratic Republic). We detected three species of Arborophila Partridges, albeit in low numbers. Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus show typical diurnal activity, and we provide a record of a male–female pair commensally associated with a boar Sus scrofa. Silver Pheasants Lophura nycthemera have sex ratios slightly favoring females, and are mostly solitary; we provide novel findings of male age structure and rectrix molt. Gray Peacock Pheasants Polyplectron bicalcaratum sex ratios also favor females; males are recorded displaying as early as late February, while daily activity is somewhat bimodal, and we provide novel findings of male age structure. Analysis of the association between occupancy and 14 environmental covariates indicated that Silver Pheasant and Gray Peacock-Pheasant were associated with rougher terrain, and Red Junglefowl had higher occupancy far from well-groomed trails used for tourism. We discuss our results by comparing and contrasting our findings with other studies, and consider implications for conservation in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Nesting Success and Nesting Height in the Critically Endangered Medium Tree Finch (Camarhynchus pauper)
Birds 2021, 2(4), 427-444; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040032 - 04 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1427
Abstract
When different introduced species across trophic levels (parasite, predator) invade island systems, they may pose significant threats to nesting birds. In this study, we measure nesting height and infer causes of offspring mortality in the critically endangered Medium Tree Finch (Camarhynchus pauper [...] Read more.
When different introduced species across trophic levels (parasite, predator) invade island systems, they may pose significant threats to nesting birds. In this study, we measure nesting height and infer causes of offspring mortality in the critically endangered Medium Tree Finch (Camarhynchus pauper), an island endemic restricted to Floreana Island on the Galápagos Archipelago. Considering all nests at which a male built a nest, sang and attempted to attract a female (n = 222 nests), only 10.4% of nests produced fledglings (5% of nests had total fledging success, 5.4% of nests had partial fledging success). Of the 123 nests chosen by a female, 18.7% produced fledglings and of 337 eggs laid, 13.4% produced fledglings. Pairing success was higher for older males, but male age did not predict nesting success. All nests with chicks were infested with avian vampire fly larvae (Philornis downsi). We attributed the cause of death to avian vampire fly if chicks were found dead in the nest with fly larvae or pupae (45%) present. We inferred avian (either Asio flammeus galapagoensis or Crotophaga ani) predation (24%) if the nest was empty but dishevelled; and black rat (Rattus rattus) predation (20%) if the nest was empty but undamaged. According to these criteria, the highest nests were depredated by avian predators, the lowest nests by rats, and intermediate nests failed because of avian vampire fly larvae. In conclusion, there is no safe nesting height on Floreana Island under current conditions of threats from two trophic levels (introduced parasitic dipteran, introduced mammalian/avian predators; with Galápagos Short-Eared Owls being the only native predator in the system). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Should Zoo Food Be Chopped for Captive Turacos?
Birds 2021, 2(4), 415-426; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040031 - 27 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1107
Abstract
It is common practice for keepers in zoological collections to provide animals in their care with food that is chopped into small pieces. Anecdotally, it has been suggested that chopped food reduces wastage and reduces aggression from group-housed animals. However, there is limited [...] Read more.
It is common practice for keepers in zoological collections to provide animals in their care with food that is chopped into small pieces. Anecdotally, it has been suggested that chopped food reduces wastage and reduces aggression from group-housed animals. However, there is limited empirical evidence to support these suggestions. To investigate the effects of food condition (chopped or whole food), a study was undertaken on White-cheeked Turacos (Tauraco leucotis) and Fischer’s Turacos (Tauraco fischeri) at two zoological collections in the United Kingdom. This study investigated the effect of food condition on turaco behaviour, the amount of food eaten, and also the amount of time that keepers required to prepare the diet. There was no significant impact on the amount of food eaten as a result of providing whole food. For Fischer’s Turacos, the whole-food condition significantly increased the prevalence of feeding and foraging behaviour, whilst significantly reducing preening. For White-cheeked Turacos, only feeding and foraging was affected by food condition: no other behaviours were significantly affected by chopped or whole food. Keepers on average saved 151 s per meal when preparing whole-food diets. Overall, this study suggests that changing food presentation from chopped to whole has a limited impact on food intake and behaviour. Providing whole-food items may also save valuable keeper time. Future studies should investigate the impact of feeding whole-food items to a wider range of zoo-housed species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Morph Composition Matters in the Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae): Involvement of Red-Headed Birds Increases Vigilance
Birds 2021, 2(4), 404-414; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040030 - 25 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1000
Abstract
Animals invest in costly vigilance to detect threats. Joining groups reduces these costs, which can be further reduced in mixed-species assemblages. In colour-polymorphic species, morphs often experience different predation pressure and vary in a variety of traits. However, little is known about differences [...] Read more.
Animals invest in costly vigilance to detect threats. Joining groups reduces these costs, which can be further reduced in mixed-species assemblages. In colour-polymorphic species, morphs often experience different predation pressure and vary in a variety of traits. However, little is known about differences in vigilance or how group composition affects vigilance. The aim was to investigate whether higher conspicuousness increased vigilance and whether vigilance was reduced in mixed-morph groups like in mixed-species assemblages. I tested vigilance in the colour-polymorphic Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae). Same sex pairs of different age and of either pure (red-red or black-black) or mixed head colour were exposed to three contexts (familiar, changed and novel environment) and head movements were recorded. All birds reduced the frequency of head movements with increasing novelty, indicating different vigilance strategies (switching from a searching to a tracking strategy) depending on the situation. While vigilance did not differ between morphs, morph composition mattered. Black-headed pairs made fewer head movements than mixed-head colour pairs. Results indicated that conspicuousness did not affect vigilance, possibly due to existing adaptations to reduce predation risk. However, whenever red-headed birds were involved, vigilance increased either because of higher group conspicuousness or prevalence of aggression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Is “Fuel Reduction” Justified as Fire Management in Spotted Owl Habitat?
Birds 2021, 2(4), 395-403; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040029 - 20 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4843
Abstract
The California Spotted Owl is an imperiled species that selects mature conifer forests for nesting and roosting while actively foraging in the “snag forest habitat” created when fire or drought kills most of the trees in patches. Federal agencies believe there are excess [...] Read more.
The California Spotted Owl is an imperiled species that selects mature conifer forests for nesting and roosting while actively foraging in the “snag forest habitat” created when fire or drought kills most of the trees in patches. Federal agencies believe there are excess surface fuels in both of these habitat conditions in many of California’s forests due to fuel accumulation from decades of fire suppression and recent drought-related tree mortality. Accordingly, agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service are implementing widespread logging in Spotted Owl territories. While they acknowledge habitat degradation from such logging, and risks to the conservation of declining Spotted Owl populations, agencies hypothesize that such active forest management equates to effective fuel reduction that is needed to curb fire severity for the overall benefit of this at-risk species. In an initial investigation, I analyzed this issue in a large 2020 fire, the Creek Fire (153,738 ha), in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I found that pre-fire snag density was not correlated with burn severity. I also found that more intensive forest management was correlated to higher fire severity. My results suggest the fuel reduction approach is not justified and provide indirect evidence that such management represents a threat to Spotted Owls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Effects of Night Illumination on Behavior, Body Mass and Learning in Male Zebra Finches
Birds 2021, 2(4), 381-394; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040028 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1220
Abstract
An increase in artificial night lighting has blurred the boundaries of day and night and transformed the natural day-night environment with alteration in the temporal niche of the animals. Male zebra finches were exposed to a dim light at night (dLAN) protocol (Light: [...] Read more.
An increase in artificial night lighting has blurred the boundaries of day and night and transformed the natural day-night environment with alteration in the temporal niche of the animals. Male zebra finches were exposed to a dim light at night (dLAN) protocol (Light: dLAN, 12L = 200 lux: 12dLAN = 5 lux) with controls on darkness at night (Light: dark, 12L = 200 lux: 12D = 0 lux) for six weeks. We assayed sleep-wake, daily behaviors, mood, and cognition, as well as changes in physiological parameters. Dim light at night increased sleep frequency, delayed sleep onset, advanced awakening latency, and caused a reduction in total sleep duration. dLAN birds did not associate (physical association) with novel object and birds spent significantly lesser time on perch with novel object as compared to LD. In colour learning task, night illuminated birds took more time to learn and made more error, compared to LD. dLAN significantly altered the 24-h daily behavioral rhythm (amplitude and acrophase) of feeding, drinking, preening, and perch-hopping behavior. In particular, birds extended their feeding hours in the nighttime under dLAN, with no difference in total food intake. Birds under dLAN increased fattening and hence significantly increased body mass. Our results show that dim light at night altered feeding rhythm, caused decrease in sleep behavior, and negatively affected learning and memory performance in male zebra finches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Climate Change and the Spatiotemporal Variation in Survival of a Long-Distance Migrant (White Stork, Ciconia ciconia) across Western Europe
Birds 2021, 2(4), 362-380; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040027 - 31 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1205
Abstract
The spatial variation in the strength of climate change may lead to different impacts on migratory birds using different breeding areas across a region. We used a long-term data series of White Stork ring recoveries to study the temporal and spatial variation of [...] Read more.
The spatial variation in the strength of climate change may lead to different impacts on migratory birds using different breeding areas across a region. We used a long-term data series of White Stork ring recoveries to study the temporal and spatial variation of annual survival rates of White Stork across western Europe between 1960 and 2009 in relation to climatic and environmental conditions at their breeding and wintering grounds. White Stork survival was estimated from the Cormack–Jolly–Seber (CJS) model using a cohort-based analysis. Our results support that climate change has caused a gradual decline in the survival performance of western European White Storks during the study period. Both the shape and the strength of the relationship between climate warming and survival differ among different life-stages of the individual development, with juvenile White Storks more strongly affected. The decline in survival is particularly marked for those storks breeding in southern Europe. The large-scale effect of climatic conditions identified in this widespread long-distance migrant species represents a highly likely scenario for other migratory birds in Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Evaluation of Accuracy and Precision of the Sound-Recorder-Based Point-Counts Applied in Forests and Open Areas in Two Locations Situated in a Temperate and Tropical Regions
Birds 2021, 2(4), 351-361; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040026 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1040
Abstract
The point-count method is one of the most popular techniques for surveying birds. However, the accuracy and precision of this method may vary across various environments and geographical regions. We conducted sound-recorder-based point-counts to examine the accuracy and precision of the method for [...] Read more.
The point-count method is one of the most popular techniques for surveying birds. However, the accuracy and precision of this method may vary across various environments and geographical regions. We conducted sound-recorder-based point-counts to examine the accuracy and precision of the method for bird biodiversity estimation as a function of geographical region, habitat type and the time of day at which the survey began. In temperate (Poland) and tropical (Cameroon) regions, we recorded soundscapes on two successive mornings at 36 recording sites (18 in each location). At each site, we analyzed three 5-min surveys per day. We found no differences in the accuracy and precision of the method between regions and habitats. The accuracy was significantly greater at sunrise than during later surveys. The similarity of the bird assemblages detected by different surveys did not differ between regions or habitats. However, the bird communities described at the same time of day were significantly more similar to each other than those detected by surveys conducted at different times. The point-count method provided statistically indistinguishable estimates of bird biodiversity in different geographical regions and habitats. However, our results highlight two weaknesses of the method: low accuracy (41–54%), which limits the usefulness of a single survey in understanding bird–environment relationships, and changes in accuracy throughout the day, which may result in the misinterpretation of the status of bird populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Frugivory in Raptors: New Observations from Australia and a Global Review
Birds 2021, 2(4), 338-350; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040025 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1192
Abstract
The diets of raptors are some of the best studied and well-known of all bird groups. Raptors are typically carnivores, hunting and feeding on vertebrates and, for some species, invertebrates. Here, we described instances of the Black Kite (Milvus migrans) and [...] Read more.
The diets of raptors are some of the best studied and well-known of all bird groups. Raptors are typically carnivores, hunting and feeding on vertebrates and, for some species, invertebrates. Here, we described instances of the Black Kite (Milvus migrans) and Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) consuming non-native avocado (Persea americana) fruit in commercial orchards in northern Australia, over multiple years. This appears to be the first instance of frugivory by raptors in Australia. We review instances of frugivory for other raptor species globally. This review finds that 29 species of raptor from the families Falconidae, Accipitridae and Cathartidae have been recorded consuming fruit, significantly more than previous reviews. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Electromagnetic Pollution as a Possible Explanation for the Decline of House Sparrows in Interaction with Other Factors
Birds 2021, 2(3), 329-337; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030024 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1649
Abstract
In recent decades, there has been a decline of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), mainly in European cities, and several hypotheses have been proposed that attempt to determine the causes of this rapid decline. Previous studies indicated that house sparrows were [...] Read more.
In recent decades, there has been a decline of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), mainly in European cities, and several hypotheses have been proposed that attempt to determine the causes of this rapid decline. Previous studies indicated that house sparrows were significantly negatively associated with increasing electromagnetic radiation and sparrows disappeared from areas most polluted. In addition, there are many studies on the impact of radiation on other bird and non-bird species, as well as numerous laboratory studies that demonstrated detrimental effects at electric field strength levels that can be found in cities today. Electromagnetic radiation is the most plausible factor for multiple reasons, including that this is the only one that affects the other hypotheses proposed so far. It is a type of pollution that affects productivity, fertility, decreases insects (chicken feed), causes loss of habitat, decreases immunity and can promote disease. Additionally, the recent sparrow decline matches the deployment of mobile telephony networks. Further, there are known mechanisms of action for non-thermal effects of electromagnetic radiation that may affect sparrows causing their decline. Thus, electromagnetic radiation must be seriously considered as a factor for house sparrows’ decline, probably in synergy with the other factors previously proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Article
The Potential Role of Drove Roads as Connecting Corridors for Birds between Natura 2000 Sites
Birds 2021, 2(3), 314-328; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030023 - 15 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1419
Abstract
Ecological connectivity among protected Natura 2000 sites is a priority for conservation in Europe due to the increasing pressure on biodiversity from human activities and climate change. Drove roads, the traditional paths used to move livestock through the territory, have been proposed as [...] Read more.
Ecological connectivity among protected Natura 2000 sites is a priority for conservation in Europe due to the increasing pressure on biodiversity from human activities and climate change. Drove roads, the traditional paths used to move livestock through the territory, have been proposed as potential ecological corridors due to their large extent, continuous nature and centennial protection from ploughing and urbanization, which allows the persistence of some tree cover and natural habitats in them. Bird communities were sampled during the reproductive season along 19 drove road transects in agrarian landscapes between Natura 2000 sites, all of them around the conurbation of Madrid (Madrid Region, Spain). Bird community nestedness was assessed by NODF computation followed by significance estimation by aleatorization, and factors explaining species richness and bird abundance were analyzed through General Linear Models fitted with environmental variables measured on official vegetation maps and orthophotos. Bird communities in drove roads were significantly nested, showing high predictability in the order of species loss from better preserved sites to those under stronger environmental pressures. Accordingly, Poisson regression showed bird richness to decrease strongly with distance from the closest Natura 2000 site and to increase with forest cover at the landscape and at the drove road scales. Bird abundance increased strongly with distance from urban areas and motorways, and it was slightly higher in areas with more forest cover and in transects with less bare ground. These results, and the higher relevance detected for landscape scale variables (500 m around transects) than for those at the drove road (50 m) scale, show that (i) they can only play a secondary role as habitat for nesting birds but (ii) they may add to the Green Infrastructure strategy as facilitators or stepping stones for bird communities if the surrounding landscape is favorable for them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Influence of Habitat and Food Resource Availability on Common Raven Nest Site Selection and Reproductive Success in Mediterranean Forests
Birds 2021, 2(3), 302-313; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030022 - 09 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Bird nest selection in forests can be influenced by the composition of key structural elements and resources. This has important consequences in terms of species population dynamics since it can determine reproduction success. Here, we assessed Common raven nest-site selection and reproductive success, [...] Read more.
Bird nest selection in forests can be influenced by the composition of key structural elements and resources. This has important consequences in terms of species population dynamics since it can determine reproduction success. Here, we assessed Common raven nest-site selection and reproductive success, and how these might be determined by foraging behavior and habitat structure. A previously documented breeding raven population that exerts high predation pressure on young Spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) in a Mediterranean forest was monitored. Generalized linear mixed models were performed to determine the singularities of the trees with nests and the drivers of reproductive success of breeding pairs of ravens. The results showed a high density of breeding pairs in the study area (0.8 pairs/km2), which selected taller trees in areas with higher bare ground cover and a high density of tortoises for nesting. Nests were spatially aggregated; breeding pairs occupied smaller territories and intraspecific competition seemed relaxed, reflecting the abundance of food resources. Most breeding pairs occasionally predated on young tortoises. Tortoises seem to play a part in raven reproductive success in our study area, which might be associated with the availability/catchability of young tortoises. The study illustrates that Spur-thighed tortoise distribution and abundance plays a role in the breeding behavior of ravens and is mediated by habitat structure. Understanding the drivers of nest-site selection and the breeding behavior of ravens is pivotal to implementing appropriate habitat management and conservation strategies across their distribution range, particularly in areas where ravens potentially affect threatened species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Tracking Changes of Hidden Food: Spatial Pattern Learning in Two Macaw Species
Birds 2021, 2(3), 285-301; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030021 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1515
Abstract
Food availability may vary spatially and temporally within an environment. Efficiency in locating alternative food sources using spatial information (e.g., distribution patterns) may vary according to a species’ diet and habitat specialisation. Hypothetically, more generalist species would learn faster than more specialist species [...] Read more.
Food availability may vary spatially and temporally within an environment. Efficiency in locating alternative food sources using spatial information (e.g., distribution patterns) may vary according to a species’ diet and habitat specialisation. Hypothetically, more generalist species would learn faster than more specialist species due to being more explorative when changes occur. We tested this hypothesis in two closely related macaw species, differing in their degree of diet and habitat specialisation; the more generalist Great Green Macaw and the more specialist Blue-throated Macaw. We examined their spatial pattern learning performance under predictable temporal and spatial change, using a ‘poke box’ that contained hidden food placed within wells. Each week, the rewarded wells formed two patterns (A and B), which were changed on a mid-week schedule. We found that the two patterns varied in their difficulty. We also found that the more generalist Great Green Macaws took fewer trials to learn the easier pattern and made more mean correct responses in the difficult pattern than the more specialist Blue-throated Macaws, thus supporting our hypothesis. The better learning performance of the Great Green Macaws may be explained by more exploration and trading-off accuracy for speed. These results suggest how variation in diet and habitat specialisation may relate to a species’ ability to adapt to spatial variation in food availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Seabirds in Conditions of Local Chronic Oil Pollution, Davis Sea, Antarctica
Birds 2021, 2(3), 275-284; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030020 - 05 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
Oil spills are rare in Antarctica. They threaten flying birds and penguins. This is the first report on the interactions of seabirds with oil in the area of the Mirny Station (East Antarctica). The purpose of the study is to determine the total [...] Read more.
Oil spills are rare in Antarctica. They threaten flying birds and penguins. This is the first report on the interactions of seabirds with oil in the area of the Mirny Station (East Antarctica). The purpose of the study is to determine the total number of seabird species interacting with oil in and around the Mirny Station, to assess the extent of pollution and to identify the most important sites of interactions. Oil pollution is found on the ground, on the continental ice and, on the seawater surface, both directly in the Mirny and beyond. Five species of seabirds were in contact with oil. Oil pollution threats have been identified for breeding and molting Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) and vagrant Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus). Less affected by oil pollution during the breeding season were tube-nosed bird species and skuas. The most important places of interaction of seabirds with oil are at Cape Mabus, on the islands of Zykov, Tokarev, and Stroiteley. Evidence of long-term oil pollution of the environment is indicative of the chronic nature of the impacts on the coastal ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Using Bioacoustics to Examine Vocal Phenology of Neotropical Migratory Birds on a Wild and Scenic River in Arizona
Birds 2021, 2(3), 261-274; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030019 - 02 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1381
Abstract
Passive acoustic recorders have been used successfully as automated survey tools to detect terrestrial wildlife. However, few studies have monitored Neotropical migratory bird use of riparian forest habitat using this technology. Within dryland ecosystems, the forests along rivers support high bird diversity. Many [...] Read more.
Passive acoustic recorders have been used successfully as automated survey tools to detect terrestrial wildlife. However, few studies have monitored Neotropical migratory bird use of riparian forest habitat using this technology. Within dryland ecosystems, the forests along rivers support high bird diversity. Many bird species of conservation concern require these floodplain forest habitats for foraging, migration stop-overs, and breeding. Few studies have explored the use of acoustic records in riverine systems designated for conservation for their natural resource value via the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in the USA. Using acoustic recorders, we document vocal activity of four riparian-obligate species (Bell’s Vireo, Vireo bellii; Summer Tanager, Piranga rubra; Yellow Warbler, Setophaga petechial; and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus) to determine species occurrence along a Wild and Scenic River. We established three study reaches along the perennial Lower Verde River, in the Sonoran Desert of central Arizona, USA. Nine acoustic recorders were used over the period of 80–120 days during the summer of 2018. We measured vegetation composition and structure in 100 m2 plots paired with acoustic recorders. Visualizing vocal activity showed that three species were calling and singing at each reach; whereas, one species, the cuckoo, had fewer recordings and occurred later in the summer. We demonstrate the utility of acoustic monitoring even when applied to rare birds in complex riparian habitats. This information is important for land management and conservation efforts concerning these species of interest and identifying important habitat features in Southwestern US riparian woodlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
An Analysis of Heterogeneity in German Speaking Birdwatchers Reveals Three Distinct Clusters and Gender Differences
Birds 2021, 2(3), 250-260; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030018 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1161
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to segment birdwatchers into clusters. Members from a wide range of bird related organizations, from highly specialized birders as well as Facebook bird group members were studied to provide a diverse dataset (n = 2766; 50.5% [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to segment birdwatchers into clusters. Members from a wide range of bird related organizations, from highly specialized birders as well as Facebook bird group members were studied to provide a diverse dataset (n = 2766; 50.5% men). Birding specialization was measured with a battery of questionnaires. Birding specialization encompassed the three constructs of skill/competence, behavior, personal and behavioral commitment. Additionally, involvement, measured by centrality to lifestyle, attraction, social bonding, and identity, was used. The NbClust analyses showed that a three-cluster solution was the optimal solution. Then, k-means cluster analysis was applied on three groups: casual/novice, intermediate, and specialist/advanced birdwatchers. More men than women were in the specialist/advanced group and more women than men in the casual/novice group. As a conclusion, this study confirms a three-cluster solution for segmenting German birdwatchers based on a large and diverse sample and a broad conceptualization of the construct birding specialization. These data can be used to address different target audiences (novices, advanced birders) with different programs, e.g., in nature conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Differential Long-Term Population Responses of Two Closely Related Human-Associated Sparrow Species with Respect to Urbanization
Birds 2021, 2(3), 230-249; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030017 - 24 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1677
Abstract
Urban planning and management need long-term population level studies for evaluating how urbanization influences biodiversity. Firstly, we reviewed the current population trends of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) in Europe, and evaluated [...] Read more.
Urban planning and management need long-term population level studies for evaluating how urbanization influences biodiversity. Firstly, we reviewed the current population trends of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) in Europe, and evaluated the usefulness of citizens’ science projects to monitor these species in Finland. Secondly, we conducted a long-term (1991–2020) winter field study in 31 urban settlements along a 950 km north–south extent in Finland to study how latitude, weather and urbanization influence on sparrow’s growth rates. The House Sparrow is declining in 15 countries, and increasing in 5, whereas the Eurasian Tree Sparrow is declining in 12 and increasing in 9 European countries. The trend of the House Sparrow was significantly negative in continental Europe. However, the trend of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow was not significant. Both species have declined simultaneously in six countries, whereas in four countries, their trends are opposite. Citizen-based, long-term (2006–2020) winter season project data indicated that House Sparrow has decreased, whereas Eurasian Tree Sparrow has increased in Finland. However, the short-term (2013–2020) breeding season citizen-based project data did not indicate significant changes in the occupation rate of sparrows. Our long-term (1991–2020) field study indicated that wintering populations of the House Sparrow have decreased, whereas the Eurasian Tree Sparrows have both expanded their wintering range and increased their population size. Based on our winter count data, latitude and weather did not significantly influence the growth rates of sparrows. When the human population increased within the study plot, House Sparrow populations decreased, and vice versa. There was also a trend that a decreasing number of feeding sites has decreased the House Sparrow numbers. Urban-related factors did not influence the growth rate of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Our results indicate that the colonization of a new, even closely related species does not influence negatively on earlier urbanized species. It is probable that the niches of these sparrow species are different enough for allowing them to co-occur. The House Sparrow mainly nests on buildings, whereas the Eurasian Tree Sparrow can easily accept, e.g., nest boxes. Urban planning should take care of both the food availability and nest sites availability for both sparrow species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Bird Taxonomic and Functional Diversity in Three Habitats in Buenos Aires City, Argentina
Birds 2021, 2(2), 217-229; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2020016 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1603
Abstract
Urban green spaces (UGS), such as parks and wooded streets, are open areas with vegetation that provide sustainability to urban areas. However, their role in conserving bird diversity in neotropical cities has scarcely been analyzed. The aim of this study was to analyze [...] Read more.
Urban green spaces (UGS), such as parks and wooded streets, are open areas with vegetation that provide sustainability to urban areas. However, their role in conserving bird diversity in neotropical cities has scarcely been analyzed. The aim of this study was to analyze the variation of bird assemblages in non-wooded streets, wooded streets, and parks in Buenos Aires City, Argentina. We compared the taxonomic and functional diversity between these habitat types. We selected five non-wooded streets, five wooded streets, and five parks in the city. Bird surveys were performed in 100 m long and 50 m wide transects. We found that taxonomic diversity had the greatest value in the parks, followed by wooded streets, and then the non-wooded streets. Functional diversity was similar between habitats. The taxonomic and functional composition changed between habitats. Non-wooded streets were dominated by the Rock Dove (Columba livia) and the Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata), whereas parks had the highest abundance of the Picazuro Pigeon (Patagioenas picazuro) and the Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris). Non-wooded streets were dominated by omnivorous and granivorous species, whereas parks had a higher abundance of herbivorous and frugivorous species. The positive association between UGS and bird diversity highlights the role of UGS as biodiversity conservation sites in neotropical cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
The Effect of Different Concentrations of Halothane Anaesthesia on the Electroencephalograph of Rock Doves (Columba livia)
Birds 2021, 2(2), 207-216; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2020015 - 08 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1148
Abstract
Anaesthetic agents and doses used can significantly impact cerebrocortical responsiveness as assessed by electroencephalography (EEG). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of three different halothane concentrations on the EEG of Rock Doves using measures of frequency distribution and burst [...] Read more.
Anaesthetic agents and doses used can significantly impact cerebrocortical responsiveness as assessed by electroencephalography (EEG). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of three different halothane concentrations on the EEG of Rock Doves using measures of frequency distribution and burst suppression. Eight healthy Rock Doves (Columba livia) were anaesthetized with halothane in oxygen, their tracheas intubated and their lungs mechanically ventilated. Five minutes of EEG were recorded at three multiples of minimum anaesthetic concentration (MAC), 1× MAC (1.6%), 1.5× MAC (2.4%) and 2× MAC (3.2%), presented in ascending then descending order. Fast Fourier transformation of the raw EEG record gave the median frequency (F50), spectral edge frequency (F95) and the total power (Ptot). Burst suppression, expressed as inactive compared to active EEG (%), was calculated on a representative two-minute section of the raw EEG. Data were analysed using repeated-measures one-way ANOVA with Tukey post hoc correction for comparison of 1×, 1.5× and 2× MAC. Three of eight birds demonstrated negligible (<1%) burst suppression. No effect of halothane concentration on burst suppression incidence was seen. A significant decrease in all measured frequency variables (F50, p = 0.04; F95p = 0.02; Ptotp < 0.0001) occurred between 1× and 2× MAC. Halothane anaesthesia at MAC multiples of 1×, 1.5× and 2× in the Rock Dove can be considered suitable where cortical responsiveness is desired. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Diet and Life-History Traits of Savannah Dwelling Waterbirds in Southern Africa: Implications for Their Conservation Status
Birds 2021, 2(2), 173-184; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2020013 - 11 May 2021
Viewed by 1200
Abstract
This study evaluates the relative contribution of reproduction-based life history traits and diet to the population trends in waterbirds from southern Africa. Life history traits (clutch size, incubation period, fledging time, body mass and generation length), diet (prey weight, body lengths and number [...] Read more.
This study evaluates the relative contribution of reproduction-based life history traits and diet to the population trends in waterbirds from southern Africa. Life history traits (clutch size, incubation period, fledging time, body mass and generation length), diet (prey weight, body lengths and number of taxa represented in its diet (NTD)) and conservation status (declining/not declining) of 163 waterbird species were reviewed. An index of diet generalism was created based on NTD. Cluster analysis was applied on life history traits to define groups of waterbirds. Binomial regressions were used to test if population trends were different across cluster groups and diet variables. Four clusters of waterbirds were defined, with most waterfowl clustering together. Species that feed on small and large prey had higher probabilities of declining (0.17 and 0.26, respectively) compared to those feeding on medium-sized prey (0.08). Amphibians, coleopterans, crustacea, molluscs and tunicates were used by species in all clusters, and the risk of waterbird populations declining further are high given the current dwindling of the prey base. The large proportions of declining species (61%) in waterbirds, which have constrained habitats, calls for continued efforts to mitigate disturbances to wetlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Non-Invasive Monitoring of the Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Vocalizations among Songbirds in a Semi Free-Flight Environment Using Robot Audition Techniques
Birds 2021, 2(2), 158-172; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2020012 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1094
Abstract
To understand the social interactions among songbirds, extracting the timing, position, and acoustic properties of their vocalizations is essential. We propose a framework for automatic and fine-scale extraction of spatial-spectral-temporal patterns of bird vocalizations in a densely populated environment. For this purpose, we [...] Read more.
To understand the social interactions among songbirds, extracting the timing, position, and acoustic properties of their vocalizations is essential. We propose a framework for automatic and fine-scale extraction of spatial-spectral-temporal patterns of bird vocalizations in a densely populated environment. For this purpose, we used robot audition techniques to integrate information (i.e., the timing, direction of arrival, and separated sound of localized sources) from multiple microphone arrays (array of arrays) deployed in an environment, which is non-invasive. As a proof of concept of this framework, we examined the ability of the method to extract active vocalizations of multiple Zebra Finches in an outdoor mesh tent as a realistic situation in which they could fly and vocalize freely. We found that localization results of vocalizations reflected the arrangements of landmark spots in the environment such as nests or perches and some vocalizations were localized at non-landmark positions. We also classified their vocalizations as either songs or calls by using a simple method based on the tempo and length of the separated sounds, as an example of the use of the information obtained from the framework. Our proposed approach has great potential to understand their social interactions and the semantics or functions of their vocalizations considering the spatial relationships, although detailed understanding of the interaction would require analysis of more long-term recordings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Disentangling Post-Fire Logging and High-Severity Fire Effects for Spotted Owls
Birds 2021, 2(2), 147-157; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2020011 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1689
Abstract
The Spotted Owl is a rare and declining raptor inhabiting low/middle-elevation forests of the Pacific Northwest, California, and the Southwest in the USA. It is well established that Spotted Owls select dense, mature, or old forests for nesting and roosting. High-severity fire transforms [...] Read more.
The Spotted Owl is a rare and declining raptor inhabiting low/middle-elevation forests of the Pacific Northwest, California, and the Southwest in the USA. It is well established that Spotted Owls select dense, mature, or old forests for nesting and roosting. High-severity fire transforms such forests into a unique forest type known as “snag forest habitat”, which the owls select for foraging. This habitat is disproportionately targeted by post-fire logging projects. Numerous recent articles have explored the influence of high-severity fire and post-fire logging on this species. Studies have shown that post-fire logging significantly reduces Spotted Owl occupancy, but efforts have generally not been made to disentangle the effects of such logging from the influence of high-severity fire alone on Spotted Owls. We conducted an assessment of published, peer-reviewed articles reporting adverse impacts of high-severity fire on Spotted Owls, exploring the extent to which there may have been confounding factors, such as post-fire logging. We found that articles reporting adverse impacts of high-severity fire on Spotted Owls were pervasively confounded by post-fire logging, and in some cases by a methodological bias. Our results indicate a need to approach analyses of high-severity fire and Spotted Owls differently in future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Article
Integumentary Colour Allocation in the Stork Family (Ciconiidae) Reveals Short-Range Visual Cues for Species Recognition
Birds 2021, 2(1), 138-146; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010010 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1498
Abstract
The family Ciconiidae comprises 19 extant species which are highly social when nesting and foraging. All species share similar morphotypes, with long necks, a bill, and legs, and are mostly coloured in the achromatic spectrum (white, black, black, and white, or shades of [...] Read more.
The family Ciconiidae comprises 19 extant species which are highly social when nesting and foraging. All species share similar morphotypes, with long necks, a bill, and legs, and are mostly coloured in the achromatic spectrum (white, black, black, and white, or shades of grey). Storks may have, however, brightly coloured integumentary areas in, for instance, the bill, legs, or the eyes. These chromatic patches are small in surface compared with the whole body. We have analyzed the conservatism degree of colouration in 10 body areas along an all-species stork phylogeny derived from BirdTRee using Geiger models. We obtained low conservatism in frontal areas (head and neck), contrasting with a high conservatism in the rest of the body. The frontal areas tend to concentrate the chromatic spectrum whereas the rear areas, much larger in surface, are basically achromatic. These results lead us to suggest that the divergent evolution of the colouration of frontal areas is related to species recognition through visual cue assessment in the short-range, when storks form mixed-species flocks in foraging or resting areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Long-Term Trends of Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) in the Bohemian Forest (Šumava), Czech Republic, 1972–2019
Birds 2021, 2(1), 127-137; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010009 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1024
Abstract
The population dynamics of Hazel Grouse were studied by presence/absence recording at stationary sites along fixed routes (110 km) in the central part of Šumava (Bohemian Forest, Czech Republic) from 1972 to 2019. The 100 km2 study area covered altitudes between 600 [...] Read more.
The population dynamics of Hazel Grouse were studied by presence/absence recording at stationary sites along fixed routes (110 km) in the central part of Šumava (Bohemian Forest, Czech Republic) from 1972 to 2019. The 100 km2 study area covered altitudes between 600 m (Rejštejn) and 1253 m above sea level (Mt. Sokol). Our database contained indices of Hazel Grouse occupancy: positive sites/visited sites for a yearly increasing number of Hazel Grouse occurrence sites (n = 134) for 48 years. We used a loglinear Poisson regression method to analyze the long-term population trend for Hazel Grouse in the study area. In the period from 1972 to 2006 we found a stable Hazel Grouse population (p = 0.83). From 2006–2007 to 2019, the population index dropped (−3.8% per year, p < 0.05). This decline is assumed to be influenced by habitat loss due to succession, resulting in older, more open forest stands, by strongly increasing forestry and windstorm “Kyrill”, followed by clear cutting, bark beetle damage, and the removal of pioneer trees in spruce plantations, which diminished buds and catkins, the dominant winter food of Hazel Grouse. The influence of disturbance by increasing tourist activities and/or predation is also discussed. Our results could help to optimize the conservation efforts for Hazel Grouse in the Bohemian Forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Does Habitat Diversity Modify the Dietary and Reproductive Response to Prey Fluctuations in a Generalist Raptor Predator, the Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo?
Birds 2021, 2(1), 114-126; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010008 - 01 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1019
Abstract
Predators can modify their diet and demography in response to changes in food availability and habitat quality. I tested the prediction that some species can change their predation pattern, between specialist type and generalist type, depending on the complexity of habitat structure. It [...] Read more.
Predators can modify their diet and demography in response to changes in food availability and habitat quality. I tested the prediction that some species can change their predation pattern, between specialist type and generalist type, depending on the complexity of habitat structure. It was hypothesized that their dietary response is stronger in diversified habitats than in simplified ones, but the opposite tendency occurs in the case of reproductive response. The nestling diet and breeding success of the Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo, the abundance of its main prey (the common vole Microtus arvalis), and that of the most important alternative prey group (passerines) were estimated over ten years in two types of agricultural habitat in western Poland, i.e., in the diversified habitat of small fields and the simplified habitat of large fields. The vole abundance was higher in large fields, but the abundance of passerines was greater in small fields. The frequency of voles in the Eurasian Buzzard nestling diet was higher in large fields than in small fields and increased with the abundance of this prey in crop fields. However, no difference in the relationship between the vole frequency in the diet of Eurasian Buzzards and the abundance of voles was found between the two habitat types. The breeding success of Eurasian Buzzards was dependent on the vole abundance, but this relationship did not differ between the two field types. It seems that the pattern of dietary and reproductive response of Eurasian Buzzards depends on the actual availability of individual prey species, which can be modified by habitat quality, rather than on relative prey abundance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
The Determination of the Minimum Anaesthetic Concentration of Halothane in the Rock Dove (Columba livia) Using an Electrical Stimulus
Birds 2021, 2(1), 96-105; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010006 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
This study aims to determine the minimum anaesthetic concentration (MAC) of halothane in the Rock Dove using electrical stimulus. Seven Rock Doves are anaesthetised with halothane, and the MAC is determined using the bracketing method. An electrical stimulus (two single pulses and two [...] Read more.
This study aims to determine the minimum anaesthetic concentration (MAC) of halothane in the Rock Dove using electrical stimulus. Seven Rock Doves are anaesthetised with halothane, and the MAC is determined using the bracketing method. An electrical stimulus (two single pulses and two five-second stimuli, all separated by five-second pauses; 30 Hz, 30 V, 7.5 ms) is applied to the legs via subcutaneous electrodes. A maximum of eight periods of electrical stimulation, each with a preceding 15 min stable phase, is applied to each bird. If the non-reflexive movement occurred following stimulation, the end-tidal halothane (Fe’Hal) is increased by 10% before the next stimulus delivery. If no movement occurred, Fe’Hal is decreased by 10%. The MAC is the average of the highest concentration that allowed movement and the lowest that prevented movement. Physiological variables and ventilatory settings are recorded every five minutes. The current delivered is calculated offline. The mean ± SD MAC of halothane is 1.62 ± 0.29%, calculated from five birds. During the entire anaesthesia, all birds had cardiac arrhythmias —with three having sporadic recurrent periods of prolonged ventricular standstill followed by marked sinus tachycardia. The mean recorded voltage and calculated current and resistance are 27.6 ± 2.7 V, 20.3 ± 7.3 mAmp and 1.6 ± 0.9 kΩ, respectively. The advantage of halothane for prolonged anaesthesia in Rock Doves may be limited when noxious stimulation is used, due to the development of severe ventricular arrhythmias. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Article
Composition and Potential Function of Fecal Bacterial Microbiota from Six Bird Species
Birds 2021, 2(1), 42-59; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010003 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1412
Abstract
Gut microbial communities play a fundamental role in health and disease, but little is known about the gut microbiota of pet bird species. This is important to better understand the impact of microbes on birds’ health but may also be relevant in a [...] Read more.
Gut microbial communities play a fundamental role in health and disease, but little is known about the gut microbiota of pet bird species. This is important to better understand the impact of microbes on birds’ health but may also be relevant in a context of zoonoses. Total genomic DNA samples from pooled fecal samples from 30 flocks (4–7 pet birds per flock) representing over 150 birds of six different species (two Passeriformes: Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) and Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata), and four Psittaciformes: Lovebird (Agapornis, different species), Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus), and Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) were used for 16S rRNA gene analysis. Several taxa were found to be different among the bird species (e.g., lowest median of Lactobacillus: 2.2% in Cockatiels; highest median of Lactobacillus: 79.4% in Lovebirds). Despite marked differences among individual pooled samples, each bird species harbored a unique fecal bacterial composition, based on the analysis of UniFrac distances. A predictive approach of metagenomic function and organism-level microbiome phenotypes revealed several differences among the bird species (e.g., a higher proportion of proteobacteria with the potential to form biofilms in samples from Northern Mockingbirds). The results provide a useful catalog of fecal microbes from pet birds and encourage more research on this unexplored topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Effect of Transhumant Livestock Grazing on Pseudo-Alpine Grassland Bird Communities
Birds 2021, 2(1), 23-41; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010002 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1296
Abstract
Transhumance is a traditional animal husbandry system, but its effects on grassland avian communities have not been dealt with in depth. In this study, we quantified the influence of transhumance on the grassland avifauna, in representative pseudo-alpine grasslands with no (NGG), low (LGG), [...] Read more.
Transhumance is a traditional animal husbandry system, but its effects on grassland avian communities have not been dealt with in depth. In this study, we quantified the influence of transhumance on the grassland avifauna, in representative pseudo-alpine grasslands with no (NGG), low (LGG), and high (HGG) grazing intensity in the Pindos Mountains, Central Greece. Two point count surveys were conducted within 20 sites in each grassland during the bird breeding season of 2016. We assessed bird diversity indices and accounted for whether the recorded habitat and topographic variables were involved in their variation. A total of 25 bird species were recorded, with the grazed grasslands supporting the most species of high conservation value, while the NGG showed the highest bird diversity. Bird species richness and diversity increased with the decrease of vegetation height, vegetation height heterogeneity, and the increase of rock cover. Bird communities exhibited different patterns among the three grazing regimes and specific bird species of high conservation value appeared to prefer different grasslands. Six species preferred HGG, one preferred LGG, while two preferred NGG. Our study highlights the necessity of heterogeneous pseudo-alpine grasslands with short and tall grass areas in order to maintain highly diverse bird communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Data Types and the Phylogeny of Neoaves
Birds 2021, 2(1), 1-22; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010001 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 5603
Abstract
The phylogeny of Neoaves, the largest clade of extant birds, has remained unclear despite intense study. The difficulty associated with resolving the early branches in Neoaves is likely driven by the rapid radiation of this group. However, conflicts among studies may be exacerbated [...] Read more.
The phylogeny of Neoaves, the largest clade of extant birds, has remained unclear despite intense study. The difficulty associated with resolving the early branches in Neoaves is likely driven by the rapid radiation of this group. However, conflicts among studies may be exacerbated by the data type analyzed. For example, analyses of coding exons typically yield trees that place Strisores (nightjars and allies) sister to the remaining Neoaves, while analyses of non-coding data typically yield trees where Mirandornites (flamingos and grebes) is the sister of the remaining Neoaves. Our understanding of data type effects is hampered by the fact that previous analyses have used different taxa, loci, and types of non-coding data. Herein, we provide strong corroboration of the data type effects hypothesis for Neoaves by comparing trees based on coding and non-coding data derived from the same taxa and gene regions. A simple analytical method known to minimize biases due to base composition (coding nucleotides as purines and pyrimidines) resulted in coding exon data with increased congruence to the non-coding topology using concatenated analyses. These results improve our understanding of the resolution of neoavian phylogeny and point to a challenge—data type effects—that is likely to be an important factor in phylogenetic analyses of birds (and many other taxonomic groups). Using our results, we provide a summary phylogeny that identifies well-corroborated relationships and highlights specific nodes where future efforts should focus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Territorial Responses of Nuthatches Sitta europaea—Evaluation of a Robot Model in a Simulated Territorial Intrusion
Birds 2020, 1(1), 53-63; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds1010006 - 17 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1048
Abstract
In birds, aggressive behavior can be elicited in the field with a simulated territory intrusion (STI). Here, we compared four different STI methods in nuthatches in the non-breeding season: playback only, playback combined with an inactive wooden model mounted on a robot device, [...] Read more.
In birds, aggressive behavior can be elicited in the field with a simulated territory intrusion (STI). Here, we compared four different STI methods in nuthatches in the non-breeding season: playback only, playback combined with an inactive wooden model mounted on a robot device, playback and an active model mounted on a robot device, and playback with the robot device only. In the control treatment, birds were not exposed to STI. Experiments were carried out in 12 territories. Behavioral observations included latency to approach, latency to start calling, time spent in the same tree, number of flyovers, minimum distance, number of individuals, number of flights into the tree, and number of calls. There was no significant influence of stimulus presentation. Nuthatches responded equally to all four experimental manipulations, but order of presentation had a strong influence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Bioacoustics Reveal Species-Rich Avian Communities Exposed to Organophosphate Insecticides in Macadamia Orchards
Birds 2020, 1(1), 35-52; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds1010005 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1108
Abstract
Organophosphates are the most widely used insecticide class in agriculture. The effects of organophosphates on insectivorous birds can potentially reduce the capacity of these birds to regulate insect pest populations as well as jeopardizing the survival of vulnerable bird species in matrix habitats. [...] Read more.
Organophosphates are the most widely used insecticide class in agriculture. The effects of organophosphates on insectivorous birds can potentially reduce the capacity of these birds to regulate insect pest populations as well as jeopardizing the survival of vulnerable bird species in matrix habitats. In this study, we investigated the diversity of birds inhabiting commercial macadamia orchards in Australia and assessed community-wide exposure of birds to an organophosphate insecticide (trichlorfon). We also studied the impact of trichlorfon on arthropods, and how this affected bird activity. We used a novel approach, combining bird acoustic surveys, and three different arthropod trapping devices. Birds and arthropods were surveyed immediately before and after a trichlorfon application, in sprayed and unsprayed orchards, at six different sites. Surveys showed that trichlorfon applications produced no changes in bird activity, either at the species or community level. Only one species (Lichmera indistincta) showed a significant increase in acoustic activity after treatment. These results indicate that several (62) bird species, some of which have been noted as undergoing regional decline, are exposed to trichlorfon applications. Additionally, trichlorfon applications also produced rapid, negative impacts on certain arthropod groups, particularly spiders. Because almost (80%) of the bird species recorded in the study include arthropods in their diets, then arthropod contaminated by trichlorfon are likely consumed by these orchard-dwelling birds. We recommend that pest management should incorporate strategies to reduce wildlife exposure to toxic chemicals to meet the joint goals of crop production and wildlife conservation in structurally complex agricultural habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Repeat Sequence Mapping Shows Different W Chromosome Evolutionary Pathways in Two Caprimulgiformes Families
Birds 2020, 1(1), 19-34; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds1010004 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1190
Abstract
Although birds belonging to order Caprimulgiformes show extensive karyotype variation, data concerning their genomic organization is still scarce, as most studies have presented only results obtained from conventional staining analyses. Nevertheless, some interesting findings have been observed, such as the W chromosome of [...] Read more.
Although birds belonging to order Caprimulgiformes show extensive karyotype variation, data concerning their genomic organization is still scarce, as most studies have presented only results obtained from conventional staining analyses. Nevertheless, some interesting findings have been observed, such as the W chromosome of the Common Potoo, Nyctibius griseus (2n = 86), which has the same morphology and size of the Z chromosome, a rare feature in Neognathae birds. Hence, we aimed to investigate the process by which the W chromosome of this species was enlarged. For that, we analyzed comparatively the chromosome organization of the Common Potoo and the Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Hydropsalis torquata (2n = 74), which presents the regular differentiated sex chromosomes, by applying C-banding, G-banding and mapping of repetitive DNAs (microsatellite repeats and 18S rDNA). Our results showed an accumulation of constitutive heterochromatin in the W chromosome of both species. However, 9 out of 11 microsatellite sequences hybridized in the large W chromosome in the Common Potoo, while none of them hybridized in the W chromosome of the Scissor-tailed Nightjar. Therefore, we can conclude that the accumulation of microsatellite sequences, and consequent increase in constitutive heterochromatin, was responsible for the enlargement of the W chromosome in the Common Potoo. Based on these results, we conclude that even though these two species belong to the same order, their W chromosomes have gone through different evolutionary histories, with an extra step of accumulation of repetitive sequences in the Common Potoo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Macroplastic in Seabirds at Mirny, Antarctica
Birds 2020, 1(1), 13-18; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds1010003 - 08 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1244
Abstract
Plastic debris makes up the majority of marine debris around the world, and pollution is a serious threat to marine wildlife. Threats represent two types of biological interactions with plastic: entanglement and ingestion. This paper describes interactions of seabirds with plastic in Mirny [...] Read more.
Plastic debris makes up the majority of marine debris around the world, and pollution is a serious threat to marine wildlife. Threats represent two types of biological interactions with plastic: entanglement and ingestion. This paper describes interactions of seabirds with plastic in Mirny and draw the attention of researchers to the existing problem. In 2012/2013 and 2015/2016, year-round observations of the author were carried out at Mirny station and Haswell Islands (area of about 12 km2), east Antarctica. One case of entanglement of a molting adult Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) in a fishing line was been identified; in addition to one case of an adult emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) mistakenly ingesting plastic braided rope and subsequently feeding it as part of a food lump to the chick, and two cases of macroplastics found in pellets of south polar skuas (Catharacta maccormicki). Registrations of entanglement and ingestion of macroplastic by seabirds in Mirny are rare. They signal to us about problem that needs to be included in the monitoring for the health of terrestrial biota of the Haswell archipelago. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Frequency of Occurrence and Ingested Biomass of Different Prey of the Barn Owl Tyto alba in an Island Ecosystem
Birds 2020, 1(1), 5-12; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds1010002 - 07 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1282
Abstract
The Barn Owl Tyto alba is commonly reported as a non-selective predator of small mammals, and its diet has been thoroughly analyzed also to assess the small mammal assembly composition in many study areas. The aim of this work was to analyze the [...] Read more.
The Barn Owl Tyto alba is commonly reported as a non-selective predator of small mammals, and its diet has been thoroughly analyzed also to assess the small mammal assembly composition in many study areas. The aim of this work was to analyze the diet of the Barn Owl in the Elba island through the analysis of 161 pellets collected in September 2020. Undigested fragments were isolated and compared with reference collections. We confirmed that the Barn Owl is a typical predator of field mice (62% of relative frequency), with synanthropic murid rodents as the second category of prey. The frequency of consumption of shrews increased by 9% with respect to the previous work, suggesting that the natural environment of Elba island is still in a good health status. Moreover, fragments of two newborn hares were detected, increasing the knowledge on the local trophic spectrum of the Barn Owl. Finally, the skull of a Geoffroy’s Myotis Myotis emarginatus confirmed the presence of this species in Elba island after over 60 years from the first unconfirmed record. Repeated studies conducted in the same study site may provide useful information on prey population trends and local environmental status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Review
Executive Functions in Birds
Birds 2022, 3(2), 184-220; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3020013 - 01 Apr 2022
Viewed by 668
Abstract
Executive functions comprise of top-down cognitive processes that exert control over information processing, from acquiring information to issuing a behavioral response. These cognitive processes of inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility underpin complex cognitive skills, such as episodic memory and planning, which have [...] Read more.
Executive functions comprise of top-down cognitive processes that exert control over information processing, from acquiring information to issuing a behavioral response. These cognitive processes of inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility underpin complex cognitive skills, such as episodic memory and planning, which have been repeatedly investigated in several bird species in recent decades. Until recently, avian executive functions were studied in relatively few bird species but have gained traction in comparative cognitive research following MacLean and colleagues’ large-scale study from 2014. Therefore, in this review paper, the relevant previous findings are collected and organized to facilitate further investigations of these core cognitive processes in birds. This review can assist in integrating findings from avian and mammalian cognitive research and further the current understanding of executive functions’ significance and evolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Review
Artificial Light at Night, Higher Brain Functions and Associated Neuronal Changes: An Avian Perspective
Birds 2022, 3(1), 38-50; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010003 - 21 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1149
Abstract
In recent times, there has been an unprecedented increase in usage of electrical lightning. This has led to increase in artificial light at night (ALAN), and it has been suggested as a source of environmental pollution. ALAN exposure has been reported to be [...] Read more.
In recent times, there has been an unprecedented increase in usage of electrical lightning. This has led to increase in artificial light at night (ALAN), and it has been suggested as a source of environmental pollution. ALAN exposure has been reported to be associated with disruption of daily rhythms and serious health consequences, such as immune, metabolic, and cognitive dysfunctions in both birds and mammals. Given the worldwide pervasiveness of ALAN, this research topic is also important from an ecological perspective. In birds, daily timings and appropriate temporal niches are important for fitness and survival. Daily rhythms in a wide array of functions are regulated by the circadian clock(s) and endogenous oscillators present in the body. There is accumulating evidence that exposure to ALAN disrupts clock-regulated daily rhythms and suppresses melatonin and sleep in birds. Circadian clock, melatonin, and sleep regulate avian cognitive performance. However, there is limited research on this topic, and most of the insights on the adverse effects of ALAN on cognitive functions are from behavioural studies. Nevertheless, these results raise an intriguing question about the molecular underpinning of the ALAN-induced negative consequences on brain functions. Further research should be focused on the molecular links between ALAN and cognitive performance, including the role of melatonin, which could shed light on the mechanism by which ALAN exposures lead to negative consequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Review
A Critical Review of the Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Opioid Medications Used in Avian Patients
Birds 2022, 3(1), 1-28; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3010001 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1268
Abstract
Opioid drugs are used to manage moderate to severe pain in mammals and avian species. In dosing opioids for a particular species, it is optimal to use dosing regimens based on pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics studies conducted in the same species as variability in [...] Read more.
Opioid drugs are used to manage moderate to severe pain in mammals and avian species. In dosing opioids for a particular species, it is optimal to use dosing regimens based on pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics studies conducted in the same species as variability in the physiology among different species may result in differences in drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Unfortunately, dosing regimens are typically extrapolated from closely related avian species or even mammals, which is unideal. Therefore, this critical review aims to collate and evaluate the dosing regimens of selected opioids: tramadol, hydromorphone, buprenorphine, butorphanol, and fentanyl, in avian species and its related safety, efficacy and pharmacokinetic data. Our review found specific dosing regimens not described in the Exotic Animal Formulary for tramadol used in Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) and Hispaniolan Parrot (Amazona ventralis); hydromorphone used in Orange-winged Parrot (Amazona amazonica); buprenorphine used in Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) and Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus); and butorphanol used in Hispaniolan Parrot (Amazona ventralis), Broiler Chicken and Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus). Cockatiel appeared to not experience analgesic effects for hydromorphone and buprenorphine, and American Kestrel exhibited sex-dependent responses to opioids. The selected opioids were observed to be generally safe, with adverse effects being dose-dependent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Review
Emerging Patterns in Cultural Ecosystem Services as Incentives and Obstacles for Raptor Conservation
Birds 2021, 2(2), 185-206; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2020014 - 05 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1727
Abstract
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment proposed four categories of ecosystem services as regulating, provisioning, supporting and cultural. Of these, cultural services have been the most difficult to quantify despite playing a key role in developing society’s supporting services to ecosystems. By reviewing a series [...] Read more.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment proposed four categories of ecosystem services as regulating, provisioning, supporting and cultural. Of these, cultural services have been the most difficult to quantify despite playing a key role in developing society’s supporting services to ecosystems. By reviewing a series of case studies related to the cultural services derived from raptors, we examine relations between tangible ecosystem services and ‘knowledge’ and ‘beliefs’ as part of supporting services from human societies to ecosystems. We identified types of raptor regulating and provisioning services and patterns in service--knowledge-beliefs that defined positive or negative outcomes for raptor conservation. We also demonstrate how possible interactions between physical, experiential, physical-symbolic and representative-symbolic cultural services and between different stakeholders can create incentives or obstacles for conservation. Predictable patterns in service-knowledge-beliefs provide a framework upon which socio-cultural and ethnobiological aspects of raptor conservation may be combined with ecological research to support conservation initiatives. Based on these patterns we present examples of how cultural services might be employed to better promote raptor conservation while respecting the beliefs and traditions of stakeholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Review
Evidence for Aviculture: Identifying Research Needs to Advance the Role of Ex Situ Bird Populations in Conservation Initiatives and Collection Planning
Birds 2021, 2(1), 77-95; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010005 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3172
Abstract
Birds are the most speciose of all taxonomic groups currently housed in zoos, but this species diversity is not always matched by their inclusion in research output in the peer-reviewed literature. This large and diverse captive population is an excellent tool for research [...] Read more.
Birds are the most speciose of all taxonomic groups currently housed in zoos, but this species diversity is not always matched by their inclusion in research output in the peer-reviewed literature. This large and diverse captive population is an excellent tool for research investigation, the findings of which can be relevant to conservation and population sustainability aims. The One Plan Approach to conservation aims to foster tangible conservation relevance of ex situ populations to those animals living in situ. The use of birds in zoo aviculture as proxies for wild-dwelling counterparts is considered from this integrated conservation approach. This paper considers the relevance of ex situ bird populations to field-based conservation action and it illustrates how “added value” to captive populations can be gained from their inclusion in conservation efforts. Current trends in scientific publications that focus on birds are provided to identify patterns in species focus and identification of areas of study that could be relevant to advancing avicultural practices, bird husbandry standards, animal welfare and conservation relevance of such populations. Research into wild birds is extremely useful for furthering how birds are managed in zoological collections. Collaboration between field-based projects that have involved zoo professionals are reviewed, to showcase information transfer from the field to the zoo and vice versa, and the ultimate benefits to aviculture and the added value that can be brought to zoo bird populations. Suggested ideas for research into specific areas of ex situ population management and conservation, and avicultural practices are provided to guide future researchers in their endeavors to ensure we have the evidence needed to care for and conserve birds as appropriately and as viably as possible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Review
The Ecology of the Zebra Finch Makes It a Great Laboratory Model but an Outlier amongst Passerine Birds
Birds 2021, 2(1), 60-76; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2010004 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1999
Abstract
Zebra Finches have become the most widely researched bird species outside of those used in agricultural production. Their adoption as the avian model of choice is largely down to a number of characteristics that make them easy to obtain and use in captivity. [...] Read more.
Zebra Finches have become the most widely researched bird species outside of those used in agricultural production. Their adoption as the avian model of choice is largely down to a number of characteristics that make them easy to obtain and use in captivity. The main point of our paper is that the very characteristics that make the Zebra Finch a highly amenable laboratory model species mean that it is by definition different from many other passerine birds, and therefore not a good general model for many research areas. The Zebra Finch is likely to be particularly resilient to the effects of stress early in life, and is likely to show great flexibility in dealing with a wide variety of conditions later in life. Whilst it is tempting for researchers to turn to species such as the Zebra Finch, that can be the focus of manipulative work in the laboratory, we caution that the findings of such studies may confound our understanding of general avian biology. The Zebra Finch will remain an excellent species for laboratory work, and our paper should help to direct and interpret future work in the laboratory and the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Systematic Review
Bird Displacement by Wind Turbines: Assessing Current Knowledge and Recommendations for Future Studies
Birds 2021, 2(4), 460-475; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2040034 - 10 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1277
Abstract
Wind energy developments can be responsible for negative impacts on birds, including displacement. In this study we performed a systematic review of the literature available on bird displacement due to wind turbines, both onshore and offshore, to: (i) assess overall trends in scientific [...] Read more.
Wind energy developments can be responsible for negative impacts on birds, including displacement. In this study we performed a systematic review of the literature available on bird displacement due to wind turbines, both onshore and offshore, to: (i) assess overall trends in scientific research; (ii) review the existing knowledge; and (iii) outline recommendations for future studies on this topic in order to overcome the major gaps and limitations found. Our results are based on 286 trials extracted from 71 peer-reviewed studies. The literature on this topic has increased in the past decade but is concentrated in Europe and United States, despite the fact that the wind industry has worldwide coverage. Open habitats—as agricultural fields and grasslands—were the most represented and Accipitriformes, Galliformes, Charadriiformes, Anseriformes and Passeriformes were the most frequently studied taxa. Displacement was recorded in 40.6% of the trials, and Gaviiformes, Anseriformes, Suliformes, Accipitriformes and Falconiformes were the most affected groups. Pelecaniformes, Passeriformes and Charadriiformes were the groups for which no significant effects were more often observed. We provide a list of recommendations, focused on study design, reporting and result dissemination, that should contribute to more robust conclusions of future studies on this topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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