The Worst Way To Die In The Wild Is By Cassowary Attack
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Nature is beautiful, and also pretty terrifying. Hurricanes, heat waves, tornadoes, lightning strikes, hail storms, earthquakes... we'll stop there. Many natural disasters have claimed lives, but which would be the most excruciating way to go? According to Outside magazine, it's not by drowning or ingesting poison—it's by the attack of a cassowary. What's a cassowary? We're glad you asked...
To Avoid Collision, Birds Always Veer Right
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Birds seem to have an uncanny ability to avoid collisions in the sky. As it turns out, the bird community has a little trick for avoiding violent crashes when flying in crowded areas: They always veer right. Research at The University of Queensland made this stunning revelation after studying the pet birds known as budgies in September 2016. Bird flight has evolved over 150 million years, so it seems as though our feathered friends have had some time to sort this out. Good job, birds.
Why Do Bearded Vultures Dye Their Feathers?
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The bearded vulture is a force to be reckoned with. It's a fighter from birth, habitually battling its only other sibling to the death to become its parents' sole offspring. When it grows to adulthood, it weighs in at around 18 pounds, a heft that comes in handy when fighting off any other vulture that ventures within its several-hundred-kilometer territory. It scavenges the bones of other animals' kills, eating the smaller bones whole and dropping larger bones from a lofty height so they break into more manageable pieces. With all this bravado, it might be surprising to learn that the bearded vulture is the only bird known to wear cosmetics.Bearded vultures are born with black and white feathers. But beginning around age 7, they begin finding red, iron-rich sources of soil and mud that they use to dye their white heads, necks, and breasts. It's clear to scientists that this isn't just an act of cleansing or cooling off, but an intentional aesthetic choice. "The movements in the red soils are elaborate, different than when they bathe in clear water," biologist Antoni Margalida told the National Wildlife Federation. There are a few theories as to why they gussy up with bright colors. Red is popular in the bird world, but the mostly-bone diet of bearded vultures lacks the carotenoids that give most other birds their red hues. It also may advertise skill and street smarts, since iron-rich soil is somewhat rare where the birds live and bright red plumage advertises that the wearer has knowledge of a secret cache. Learn more about these creatures with the videos below.
Hundreds Of Ducks Are Employees at a Vineyard
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At 9:45 every morning at the Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a giant herd of ducks is released. About 700-800 Indian Runner ducks are employed at the vineyard, and their job is simple: keep the grapevines free of pests. These ducks are released in mass, running across the vineyard's grounds in formation to eat up slugs and snails all day. Luckily for visitors to the vineyard, they can watch the delightful parade of ducks twice a day.
The Birds Of Chernobyl
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After the 1986 reactor explosion at Chernobyl, a large region around the power plant became inhospitable for humans. This 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone is still home to wildlife, however, some of which has actually begun to adapt to the radioactive environment. Certain species of birds seem to be producing higher levels of antioxidants, and exhibit less damage to their DNA from ionizing radiation. Though other bird species have experienced stark population losses and instances of deformed beaks, this adaptation is a hopeful note in the decades following the Chernobyl tragedy.
from The New York Times
Key Facts to Know
The exclusion zone around Chernobyl has radiation levels that are too high for most species to tolerate. 1:32
Some species of birds in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have exhibited tumors and other physical abnormalities, such as deformed beaks. 2:20
Trees cut down near Chernobyl have a dramatic change in the color of their rings that corresponds with the year of the disaster. 3:28