How hawks hunt so well

 Researchers find they have the best colour vision of any animal (even humans)

The secret of the Harris's hawk's incredible hunting capability may have been found.

Biologists at Lund University found that the Harris's hawk has the best colour vision of all animals investigated to date - and in certain situations, even better than humans, according to Daily Mail.

They now believe it is the colour of the prey that helps predatory birds to detect, pursue and capture them. 

'I did not think that colour vision would be of such significance, rather that birds of prey simply have better visual acuity than humans and that was the reason they detect objects so early and at a great distance,' said Almut Kelber, biologist at Lund University. 

Goats prefer happy people

Goats can differentiate between human facial expressions and prefer to interact with happy people, according to a new study led by scientists at Queen Mary University of London.

The study, which provides the first evidence of how goats read human emotional expressions, implies that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of domestication as companions, such as dogs and horses, according to Science Daily.

Traffic noise may make birds age faster

Traffic noise may be associated with an increased rate of telomere loss in Zebra finches that have left the nest. Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect genes from damage. Shortening of telomeres indicates accelerated biological aging, according to Science Daily.

Researchers, investigated the effect of traffic noise on the telomere length of offspring Zebra finches. The researchers found that zebra finches that were exposed to traffic noise after they had left the nest had shorter telomeres at 120 days of age than Zebra finches that were exposed to noise until 18 days post-hatch (before they had left the nest) and whose parents were exposed to traffic noise during courtship, egg-laying, and nesting. Finches exposed to noise after leaving the nest also had shorter telomeres than those which had not been exposed to traffic noise at all.

Shrimp heal injured fish

James Cook University scientists in Australia have discovered that shrimp help heal injured fish, according to Science Daily.

PhD student David Vaughan is working on a project led by Dr Kate Hutson at JCU'.

He said it was important to know how the shrimp interact with fish, as the team is in the process of identifying the best shrimp species to use to clean parasites from farmed and ornamental fish.

"We know that shrimp clean parasites from fish and if we can identify a species that does it efficiently, and does no harm, it offers a 'greener' alternative to chemicals," he said.

Macaws may communicate visually with 'blushing,' ruffled feathers

Parrots -- highly intelligent and highly verbal -- may also ruffle their head feathers and blush to communicate visually, according to a new study by Aline Bertin. The study extends the understanding of the complex social lives of these remarkable birds, according to Science Daily.

The authors studied five hand-reared captive blue-and-yellow macaws (Ara ararauna) interacting with one another and with their human caretakers. They assessed the feather position (ruffled or sleeked) on the crown, nape, and cheek, as well as the presence or absence of blushing on the bare skin of the cheek. They found that feather ruffling was more common when the birds were not in motion, such as during social interactions and resting periods. Crown feather ruffling and blushing were both more common when the human caretaker was actively interacting with the parrot by talking and maintaining eye contact than when the keeper was in the room but ignoring and turning their backs to the bird. Together, these results suggest that head feather ruffling is associated with states of lower arousal and positive social interactions, the authors concluded.