Bird brained? - August 19, 2008
Posted on behalf of Katrina Charles, BA Media Fellow
Five European Magpies (Pica pica) have provided the “first evidence
that non-mammals can recognise themselves”, says the Daily Mail.
In the paper published online at Plos Biology the level of self-
recognition of Gerti, Goldie, Harvey, Lilly and Schatzi was measured
in “mark tests”.
Each of the magpies was observed when it had a brightly coloured mark
placed on the throat, under the beak, that could only be seen in a
mirror. The observations were made in a cage with a mirror and a cage
with a grey non-reflective plate instead of the mirror, and then
repeated with ‘sham’ markings, black dots which were not visible
against the black of the birds feathers. You can see videos of the
birds in the supporting information online............
Eco-friendly roof coverings are being poorly installed because of
Many 'green roof' schemes, which aim to make buildings more eco-
friendly by turning rooftops into gardens, are failing because of a
lack of basic research on their efficient installation and maintenance.
Government subsidies have caused a flowering of green roofs across
Europe and North America, as people hope to cash in on their
aesthetic, environmental and economic benefits. And research
certainly supports the idea that they can reduce the need for air
conditioning or heating; cut the amount of rain that runs off the
roof, helping to mitigate flooding; and even provide urban habitat
for insects and birds. But there has been little work on establishing
a basic standard for such roofs, says Stephan Brenneisen, an
ecologist at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in
Some of the ecological implications of the failure of these roofs are
only just starting to come to light. "Ground-nesting birds in
Switzerland, such as the northern lapwings, are using the green roofs
as breeding grounds," says Brenneisen, "but the chicks are usually
dying because there is not enough water and food on the roofs." His
Zurich colleagues Nathalie Baumann and Doris Tausendpfund will be
presenting this research at the World Green Roof Congress in London
on 18 September.......
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