City birds again prove to be angrier than rural birds

No need to head to the movie theater or download the video game app: Angry Birds can be found right in your backyard this summer--if you live in the suburbs, that is.

Tech researchers recently found that birds that live in suburban areas exhibit significantly higher levels of territorial aggression than their country counterparts..

"A possible reason for this is that these birds have less space but better resources to defend," said Scott Davies, a postdoctoral associate in biological sciences. "Living near humans provides better food and shelter, but it also means more competition for these limited resources."

Davies and co-author Kendra Sewall, an assistant professor of biological sciences, measured territorial aggression in 35 urban and 38 rural male song sparrows at three rural and three urban sites.

How birds unlock their super-sense, ultraviolet vision

The ability of finches, sparrows, and many other birds to see a visual world hidden to us is explained in a study.

Birds can be divided into those that can see ultraviolet (UV) light and those that cannot. Those that can live in a sensory world apart, able to transmit and receive signals between each other in a way that is invisible to many other species. How they unlock this extra dimension to their sight is revealed in new findings.

Weathering of rocks by mosses may explain climate effects during the Late Ordovician

During the Ordovician period, the concentration of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere was about eight times higher than today. It has been hard to explain why the climate cooled and why the Ordovician glaciations took place. A new study shows that the weathering of rock caused by early non-vascular plants had the potential to cause such a global cooling effect.

"When we can better understand the carbon cycle in the past, we can better predict what happens with the climate in the future," says Philipp Porada, one of the authors of the study.

Non-vascular plants, such as mosses, hornworts and liverworts, probably evolved during the Ordovician period, around 450 million years ago.

Zombie-ant fungus is under attack, research reveals

A parasite that fights the zombie-ant fungus has yielded some of its secrets to an international research team led by David Hughes. The research reveals, for the first time, how an entire ant colony is able to survive infestations by the zombie-ant fungus, which invades an ant's brain and causes it to march to its death at a mass grave near the ant colony, where the fungus spores erupt out of the ant's head. "In a case where biology is stranger than fiction, the parasite of the zombie-ant fungus is itself a fungus -- a hyperparasitic fungus that specializes in attacking the parasite that turns the ants into zombies," Hughes said.

"The hyperparasitic fungus effectively castrates the zombie-ant fungus so it cannot spread its spores," said Hughes.

Scientists discover birds only have two speeds

Birds like to fly at just two speeds, scientists have found.

The fact has only just come to light despite centuries of humans marvelling at the flight of birds.

The discovery was made by researchers filming budgerigars flying through a tapered tunnel.

Rather than progressively slowing down when the tunnel got narrower, they dropped into a lower ‘cruising speed’.

The findings show birds fly differently to insects, such as bumblebees and honeybees who can progressively slow down or speed up as the mood takes them.