Mountain chickadees’ intelligence research


This video is called Mountain chickadee, filmed at Lac Le Jeune in British Columbia, Canada.

From Wildlife Extra:

Mountain birds are better problem-solvers than lowlanders

The mountain chickadee is better at working out problems than its relatives that live at lower levels

Living high up on an inhospitable mountain can make you mentally sharper. That’s what Dovid Kozlovsky and his colleagues at the University of Nevada in the US learned with mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli), a North American bird from the tit family.

Those birds that live at higher altitudes are better problem solvers than the same species living in lower regions.

Previous research showed that mountain chickadees living at harsher high elevations have bigger hippocampi, the part of the brain which plays an important role in memory and spatial navigation.

These chickadees also have far superior spatial memory. This helps them to be better at remembering where they hid food away for a later occasion.

Animals living in challenging or unpredictable environments such as deserts or snowy mountain peaks are generally thought to have enhanced mental abilities.

These include being better able to solve problems and not shying away from inspecting new things.

To understand if this is also true for mountain chickadees, Kozlovsky and his colleagues caught 24 young birds in the Sagehen Experimental Forest in California that had not yet experienced a winter.

Their findings are published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Twelve birds were caught at a site around 1,800m above sea level, while another dozen were captured 600m higher.

Studies to test the birds’ problem-solving skills and their reaction to new objects were then conducted at the University of Nevada.

The researchers first watched what happened when members of the two groups were confronted with a clear test tube plugged with a wad of cotton and with a waxworm inside.

Members of the higher elevation group were able to work out how to remove the plug much more quickly than their counterparts from the lower region.

The researchers also tested if the birds would readily investigate and feed from a feeder that looked very different from the one that they were used to.

None of the birds in either altitude groups were inclined to do so. In fact, they all displayed similar degrees of neophobia, almost fearfully steering clear of the unknown object.

They did so even though the new feeder was baited with waxworms, one of their favourite meals.

According to Kozlovsky and his colleagues, this shows that problem solving and the ability to innovate and try new things do not necessarily go hand in hand in mountain chickadees.

“Enhanced problem-solving ability might be associated with living in harsher environments either via natural selection or by the animal’s adaptability to different environments,” Kozlovsky hypothesises.

“However, differences in problem-solving ability are not necessarily associated with differences in neophobia.”

Beached harbour porpoise rescued in England


This video from British Columbia in Canada says about itself:

Helpless Porpoise Rescued

30 April 2011

On April 26, 2011, a rare live stranding of an adult Harbour Porpoise occurred on Salt Spring Island. Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre, a local non profit marine mammal rescue centre responded to the stranding. Staff members guided the struggling animal ashore, administered some basic, supportive care, and transported the porpoise to the Island Wildlife facility where the porpoise was kept afloat in one of its marine mammal tanks.

The porpoise was later transported to the Ganges Coast Guard Station and loaded aboard the Coast Guard hover craft, Siyay, which rushed the animal to the Vancouver Aquarium who have more Cetacean rehabilitation expertise.

From the Lincolnshire Echo in England, with video there:

Porpoise rescued from muddy river bank at Gibraltar Point

February 20, 2015

A porpoise became stranded in a muddy river bottom at Gibraltar Point near Skegness today.

Volunteers from Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness came to its rescue after it became stranded when the tide had gone out.

The rescuers had to be roped up for their own safety due to the muddy conditions on the riverbank.

They managed to get the porpoise onto a stretcher before transferring it to the beach.

They then waded through the sea water until it was deep enough to release the porpoise.

Welsh bird news update


This video from British Columbia in Canada is called Red-necked Grebes Mating.

A Twitter message by Wendy James in Wales today says:

Great day of Pembrokeshire birding. Highlights – Marsh Harrier Castlemartin Corse, 3 Hen Harriers Plumstone, Red-necked Grebe, Angle Bay.

Bat news from Canada


This video from Canada says about itself:

11 July 2013

Little Brown bats have been dying by the millions so it was a great suprise to be blessed with the discovery of a very healthy colony in Kemble, Ontario.

From the Vancouver Sun in Canada:

Researchers net rare Spotted bats near Lillooet

By Matthew Robinson

December 30, 2014

A team of biologists netted a rare find on a recent nighttime research mission near Lillooet when they captured a half-dozen spotted bats.

The bats are numbered among fewer than 20 ever caught in Canada, and are among an estimated population of fewer than 1,000 in the country, according to a news release by staff at the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

The scientists caught the winged mammals in a mist net — a nearly invisible, in-air mesh fence that biologists use to safely snag and tag birds and bats. The intention of the biologists’ work is to learn more about the ecology of Pallid, Spotted and other related bat species in the area before White Nose Syndrome — a deadly fungal disease sweeping westward through North America — reaches B.C.

“Finding six spotted bats in one night, and seven in total this field season, is beyond our expectations,” said Jared Hobbs, a biologist with research firm Hemmera.

Spotted bats are large, but they don’t weigh much. They have a wingspan of more than 30 centimetres, but weigh just 15 grams — about the weight of a compact disc. They have the biggest ears of any B.C. bat and are recognizable for the white spot on each of their shoulders and on their rump, according to the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk registry. The hunting calls of spotted bats can be heard by the human ear, according to the release.

Cori Lausen, who co-leads the project with Hobbs, said spotted bats are not easily captured. As a result, relatively little is known about the species.

The bats are so hard to capture that it was not until 1979 that biologists discovered the species lived in the province, according to the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

“These bats are high-flying, so we used mist nets that were four times the height of those typically used, measuring about 12.5 metres high by 18 metres wide, and we focused on open grassland habitats,” said Lausen.

After netting their subjects, the researchers glued radio telemetry tags onto the backs of the bats so they can track their foraging and roosting habits.

White Nose Syndrome has killed millions of hibernating bats since spreading from the northeastern to central U.S. and Canada, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Bat populations have declined by an estimated 80 per cent since the syndrome was first documented in winter 2006-07, according to the USGS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In some areas, 90 to 100 per cent of hibernating bat populations have died off as a result of the fungus.

The syndrome has not been detected in this province, but many biologists say it’s only a matter of time until it spreads.

The biologists’ work is being funded by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, a partnership between BC Hydro, First Nations, the federal and provincial governments and others, according to the release. The project is one of eight in the Bridge and Seton River watersheds that are receiving funding from the program in 2014-15.

Grizzly bear orphan returns to the wild in Canada


This video says about itself:

Grizzly Bear Encounters

Of all the species I have filmed in the wild I have to admit nothing can quite compare to the Grizzly! They are a powerful and majestic mammal that in one glance takes us back to the time of the last ice age when mega fauna roamed the earth. Like all bears, they are a curious and intelligent species. This footage was taken during the spring and these bears were busy looking for food after a long winter.

Close Grizzly bear encounters happen usually when people roam into the territory of the bear and as you’ll see in this film, sometimes people tend to get much closer then they should.

All grizzlies are technically called “Brown Bears” and they are omnivores like their Black Bear cousins. Unlike the Black Bear, a Grizzly female will protect her young very aggressively instead of sitting by while the cubs climb a tree as a Black bear would. In fact they will even stand up to a larger male grizzly if that’s what it takes to protect her cubs. If you ever do run across the cubs in the wild keep your distance, mama bear is sure to be close by and she wont appreciate the company. Please remember that these beautiful bears need clean and healthy habitat to continue to allow us to have amazing Grizzly Bear Encounters!

I’m Mark Fraser and to read up on future wildlife adventures and how you can protect help wildlife habitat, visit my web page.

From Wildlife Extra:

Grizzly orphan returns to the wild in British Columbia

A one-year-old orphan grizzly cub, called Littlefoot, has been released back into the wild near Cranbrook in British Columbia, after being found in the spring severely underweight. It is believed he was orphaned last autumn.

During this time he has been cared for by the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) and gone from a scrawny 12.7kg to a far more respectable 48kg.

Lightfoot is part of a project, run by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, and the British Columbia Ministries of Environment, and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, that monitors whether orphaned grizzlies can survive when released back in the wild.

Lightfoot is the sixth release since the pilot project began in 2008, and is the first one-year-old that NLWS has prepared for release. He has been fitted with a satellite collar and will be monitored for the next 18 months.

“When he came in, Littlefoot was older than most of the bears we receive for care,” said Angelika Langen of NLWS. “Because he had lost his mother last fall and hibernated by himself, he was in bad condition.

“Thankfully, the Ministry of the Environment allowed this bear into our care for a limited time period to give him a chance to gain weight so he could look after himself.

“We’ve picked a great release site for him away from people with a good berry crop out there, and I think he has a good chance of survival.”

“We were thrilled to see the approval for a yearling cub to enter the rehabilitation process,” said Kelly Donithan, Animal Rescue Officer at IFAW. “Our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation pilot projects around the world have been providing evidence that animals can be rehabilitated from a young age and, upon release, not only survive but thrive in their natural habitat.

“We are excited to see how Littlefoot navigates his new lease on life and becomes a fully functioning wild bear.”

Grizzly bear ‘highway’ discovery in Canada


This video from the USA is called Grizzly Bears and Wolves of Yellowstone (Full Documentary).

From The Star in Canada:

Grizzly bear ‘highway’ found on West Coast

First Nations researchers find centuries-old paw prints that show bears are very predictable in both the times of day they’re active and the routes they take

By: , Star Reporter,

Published on Fri Jul 25 2014

First Nations researchers have discovered what they believe is a grizzly-bear highway of sorts: centuries-old paw prints worn deep into the mossy floor of the Pacific Coast rain forest.

“I suspect that these grizzly bear paths have been here as long as grizzly bears have been here,” said William Housty, director of Coastwatch, a scientific initiative led by the Heiltsuk First Nation.

The Heiltsuk people have been in the area for 9,000 years and Housty believes the grizzly bear roadways along the waterways go back generations.

“Grizzly bears are very similar to humans in the way that they nurture their young, and raise them to know the territory around them,” Housty said in an email from the woods.

Heiltsuk people have shared and maintained the same roadways over generations, creating a lasting connection between the Heiltsuk and grizzly bears, Housty said.

The society set up to stop the logging that threatened to clear cut the area and hurt salmon spawning spots along the Koeye River in the late 1990s.

Healthy salmon stock means the grizzly and black bears, wolves, mink, marten and bald eagles have a food supply.

When the logging stopped, the bear populations rebounded, he said.

Grizzly bears can weigh 363 kilograms (800 lbs.) and stand 2.4 meters (eight feet) on their hind legs, but Housty insists the grizzly bear study isn’t dangerous, as long as it’s done with respect and good sense.

“We do spend a lot of time in the wild, on foot with these bears, and have never once had a negative encounter with any of them,” Housty says.

“We have the greatest respect for the bears, and always make sure to let them know when we are in the area, and there seems to be a mutual respect from them as well. Never have we ever carried a fire arm when doing this study, however we did carry bear spray. But overall, I do not consider the study to be dangerous.”

He’s one of three technicians working on the study, but there are also youth and family camp programs operating in the same study area, meaning there can be from 40 to 60 people in the Koeye watershed at one time during the summer months.

He said his group are currently working with the neighbouring Kitasoo, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv First Nations, as well as with academic institutions such as the University of Victoria and Raincoast Conservation Society to take a more regional approach to this study.

In the study, individual grizzly bears were identified through DNA analysis of hair samples, obtained by putting salmon-scented bait inside wire snares to catch the grizzly hair.

As they got to know the grizzly bears, Housty said it became clear they have routines, much like humans.

“There are certain areas where grizzlies go to feed on salmon and berries, and if you spend enough time, you can pinpoint an exact time when they go to feed at the same time every day — usually at dusk and dawn,” Housty said. “They also do the same when it comes to berries. They work in cycles, and move to and fro within the watershed chasing berries and trickles of salmon that are coming in. It is very easy to predict when bears will be out and about.”

Hedgehog fossil discovery in Canada


This video is called Tiny Hedgehog Fossil Could Answer Climate-Change Questions.

From Wildlife Extra:

Fossils of tiny, unknown, hedgehog found in Canada

Fossil remains of a tiny hedgehog, about two inches long, that lived 52 million years ago have been discovered in British Columbia by scientists from University of Colorado Boulder.

Named Silvacola acares, which means tiny forest dweller, it is perhaps the smallest hedgehog ever to have lived and is both a genus and species new to science.

“It is quite tiny and comparable in size to some of today’s shrews,” said lead author Jaelyn Eberle.

“We can’t say for sure it had prickly quills, but there are ancestral hedgehogs living in Europe about the same time that had bristly hair covering them, so it is plausible Silvacola did, too.”

The fossils were found in north-central British Columbia at a site known as Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park that was likely to have been a rainforest environment during the Early Eocene Epoch.

See also here. And here.