‘Look out for the Clever Rooks.’

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Rooks have already demonstrated their intelligence in lab-based studies that have tested their ability to solve problems and use tools.
The rook is a member of the corvid or crow family, which is famed for its intelligence.
As well solving laboratory-based puzzles, crows have been spotted exploiting urban environments by, for example, dropping walnuts onto busy roads and using the traffic to crack them open.
And although rooks are farmland birds, and tend to keep away from the middle of big towns and cities, they are increasingly being tempted into our gardens by bird feeders, so researchers hope this will provide the ideal setting to study their natural behaviour.
“We’ve done a lot of different studies on a number of corvids looking into their intelligence and behaviour, focusing on their amazing memories, their ability to imagine future scenarios and plan for them,” he told BBC News.
“This survey will provide vital information that couldn’t be attained any other way into how rooks use our gardens, eat and cache our food and, importantly, whether rooks can produce innovative solutions to novel problems they don’t encounter in the wild.”
via BBC News – Bird brains: Public asked to look out for clever rooks.

This delicate little treeswift is the best mum.

Image Credit: Photograph by Jamil Bin Mat Isa/Shutterstock.
Contributor Becky Crew .
This plucky little bird belongs to the treeswift family, alongside the very dapper moustached treeswift and the crested and grey-rumped treeswifts.
Hailing from India and South East Asia, including Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, treeswifts inhabit all kinds of environments, from mangroves and woodlands, to dense, tropical forests.
A few have even made it to Australia, but they’re classified as vagrants, which means they’ve never managed to establish an actual population here.
Unlike members of the true swift family, which – oddly enough – are incapable of perching, treeswifts can perch, and are arguably prettier birds, with more noticeable markings and more elaborate colouring.
They’re also not social like true swifts are, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take family very seriously.
During the breeding season, between February and August, whiskered treeswifts will pair up, and the male and female will build a little nest in the shape of a half-saucer up in the forest canopy.
This nest is so tiny, it can only hold a single egg, which the parents will manoeuvre into an upright position in the nest, as if it’s sitting in an eggcup made of twigs, feather down, and saliva.
Source: This delicate little treeswift is the best mum

‘Death from the Sky’.

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Peregrine Falcon with Talons Open
The Peregrine falcon may be the perfect predator.
It dives from the sky in a daring plunge, snagging other airborne birds in mid-flight with its deadly talons.
Its body is the epitome of aerodynamic design, allowing it to reach—and survive—speeds that would kill other animals.
As it reaches its terminal velocity of over 200 mph, baffles in its nostrils prevent the force of the air from exploding its lungs—a feature that has been incorporated into jet engine design—and nictitating membranes on its eyes protect them from debris.
It snags its hapless victims in its talons, ending their terror with a killing blow from its deadly-sharp beak.
Read more via The Peregrine Falcon | Mendocino Brewing.

Cardinal, Eagle Owl & Swallow.

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A northern cardinal sits on a tree branch in falling snow in the New York City suburb of Nyack.
Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
From beavers to birds and a baby rhino, the Guardian picture desk has selected its pick of the year’s animals photographs
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An eagle owl fluffs out its feathers as it sits on one foot on a branch in its enclosure at the Grugapark, Germany.
Photograph: Ina Fassbender/Reuters
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A swallow feeds her babies in their nest under the ceiling of a residential house in Dongfeng township, China.
Photograph: Reuters
Click for lots more Images via Animals photographs of the year 2014 | Environment | The Guardian.

Rüppell’s Griffin Vulture.

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Named after 19th century German explorer and zoologist, Eduard Rüppell, the Rüppell’s vulture is the most social of all Old World vultures and is an extraordinary species for every birder to see.
A very large and gregarious bird, these vultures are powerful fliers and help keep the African savannah healthy by readily removing carcasses from the landscape.
Common Name: Rüppell’s Vulture, Rueppell’s Vulture, Rüppell’s Griffin Vulture, Rüppell’s Griffon
Scientific Name: Gyps ruppellii
via Rüppell’s Vulture – Gyps ruppellii.