Budgerigars can identify spoken sounds without prior exposure to human speech

No experience with human speech is necessary for budgerigars to perceive the difference between "d" and "t," according to a study .

The debate over speech perception is unresolved, with some evidence supporting a speech-specific mechanism and other evidence supporting a general auditory mechanism. The latter case holds that, in the absence of extensive experience with speech, there should be no difference between speech and nonspeech perception. To investigate this scenario, Flaherty and colleagues used budgerigars, vocal mimics that are similar to people in their ability to perceive consonant and vowel tokens. The researchers divided 25 budgerigars into groups before hatching, raising some in complete isolation from human speech and others with extensive exposure to human speech.

Cowbird moms choosy when selecting foster parents for their young

Brown-headed cowbirds are unconventional mothers. Rather than building nests and nurturing their chicks, they lay their eggs in the nests of other species, leaving their young ones to compete for resources with the foster parents' own hatchlings. Despite their reputation as uncaring, absentee moms, cowbird mothers are capable of making sophisticated choices among potential nests in order to give their offspring a better chance of thriving, a new study shows. According to Science daily

Brown-headed cowbirds are known to lay their eggs in the nests of more than 200 other bird species of varying sizes, and typically do so after the host bird has laid her own eggs.

Baby marmosets learn to 'speak' just like humans

Baby marmosets learn to speak in a similar way to human infants, new research has found. According to Daily mail

A baby's babbles start to sound like speech more quickly if they get regular vocal feedback from adults.

And researchers have found the same type of feedback speeds up the vocal development of infant marmoset monkeys.

The study is the first assured evidence of 'call and response' learning in primates besides humans.

Even non-migratory birds use a magnetic compass

Not only migratory birds use a built-in magnetic compass to navigate correctly. A new study shows that non-migratory birds also are able to use a built-in compass to orient themselves using the Earth's magnetic field according to Science daily.

The researchers behind the current study have received help from a group of zebra finches to study the magnetic compass of what are known as resident birds, that is, species that do not migrate according to the season. Zebra finches are popular pet birds in many homes. Originally, they come from Indonesia and Australia where they search for food in a nomadic way.

Large volcanic eruption may have caused the first mass extinction

Researchers say they may have found the cause of the first mass extinction of life. According to Science daily

There have been five mass extinctions since the divergent evolution of early animals 600 -450 million years ago. The cause of the third and fourth was volcanic activity, while an asteroid impact led to the fifth. But triggers of the first and second mass extinctions had, until now, been unknown.

The first mass extinction occurred at the end of the Ordovician. This age is between the divergence of the Ordovician and land invasion of vascular land plant and animals. Animals in the Ordovician-Silurian comprised marine animals like corals, trilobites, sea scorpion, orthoceras, brachiopods, graptolite, crinoid and jawless fish. Approximately 80% of species disappeared at the end of the Ordovician.