Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Tag Archive for ‘bird’

Q&A with Anthony J. Basile: Please do not feed the birds? ā€“ Effects of an urban diet on mourning doves

We are delighted to share this interview with Evolutionary Biology PhD Candidate, Anthony Basile, MS, NDTR, who is working with Dr. Karen Sweazea at Arizona State University. We asked Anthony about his research that he presented at the 2021 Experimental Biology conference. What made you interested in studying the effects of urbanization on doves? Iā€™m sure everyone reading this has seen a bird walking around with bread or French fries […]

Continue Reading →

Live fast, die young

Researchers have long known that smaller animals have higher metabolisms and tend to die younger than larger animals. Think about it ā€“ a mouse typically only lives about 2 years whereas an elephant in the wild may live 50-70 years, depending on the species. After studying over 700 species of birds and 540 species of mammals, scientists discovered that migratory animals also live faster (mature and reproduce earlier) and die […]

Continue Reading →

Extreme flight

May I have a drumroll please? The winner is…..the bar-tailed godwit!! *round of applause!!!!* The winner of what you may ask? This bird broke the world record for the longest non-stop flight – 7,500 miles – without the luxury of in-flight service. I bet it was hungry when it landed…

Continue Reading →

Why being ‘bird-brained’ may actually be a compliment

It has long been suspected that birds (and reptiles) were not very smart because they lack a neocortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for working memory, perception, problem solving, and conscious thought in mammals. In stark contrast to this idea, studies have repeatedly shown that several species of birds have very good memories as well as planning and problem solving skills (see examples below), which has […]

Continue Reading →

Don’t feed the birds – urban crows have higher cholesterol

If you have ever been to a fast food restaurant, you may have noticed that people are not the only consumers of fast food. In fact, some species of birds are known to frequent fast food chains where they can get a quick meal of food leftover or intentionally dropped by customers. While people may delight in tossing our feathered friends a french fry on occasion, a new study published […]

Continue Reading →

Birds have a unique way of preventing muscle wasting

Muscle wasting is a major complication associated with cirrhosis and liver failure. Normally the liver functions to convert ammonia into urea. But with liver failure, this process does not work well leading to high levels of circulating ammonia, which is thought to contribute to muscle wasting in mammals. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, explored whether birds have the same muscle wasting […]

Continue Reading →

Misery loves company

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that ravens appear to share negative emotions. The researchers started with offering birds two boxes placed on the left and right sides of the animals. While one box was empty, the other contained a piece of cheese (yum!). They then placed a box in a new location and examined how the birds responded. If a bird acted […]

Continue Reading →

Mourning doves do not need to watch their figures

So jealous. Research presented by Anthony Basile, graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Sweazea at Arizona State University, at Experimental Biology 2019 examined how mourning doves would respond to a diet high in saturated fats. He reported on how mice fed a similar diet develop pathological changes in hormones and metabolism, as would be expected. But, doves fed a similar diet did not seem to show any notable […]

Continue Reading →

Gynandromorphs

Talking about having a split personality. A recent story from Live Science reported on a half male/half female chimera cardinal that was discovered in Pennsylvania (pictured below). Not only are the bird’s feathers split (red feathers are found among male and tan among female cardinals), typically the brain is also split. This type of a split sexuality is termed gynandromorph. According to the article, this  anomaly has been observed in birds, […]

Continue Reading →

Lack of sleep stresses out birds too

Birds show signs of stress resulting from sleep loss. A new study published in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology shows that zebra finches who are sleep deprived have increased expression of inflammatory genes in their fat tissues, spleen and hippocampus region of the brain along with  increased levels of circulating stress hormones. The hippocampus is the region of the brain associated with long term memory formation. I wonder if sleep deprived birds are […]

Continue Reading →