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11 of the Hottest Bird Dance Moves

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If you think you have some sweet dance moves, just wait until you see these birds. Warning to female birds: This list contains erotic content and is NSFB(ird)W.     

1. GREATER SAGE-GROUSE (CENTROCERCUS UROPHASIANUS)

The courtship display of the greater sage-grouse has to be seen to be believed. Male birds fluff up their ruffs and fan their spiky tail feathers. They waggle their heads seductively and inflate the suggestive yellow air sacs on their chest, which produce bizarre dropping-and-popping sounds. 

2. ANDEAN FLAMINGO (PHOENICOPTERANDINUS)

Flamingos are incredibly social birds. They do everything together—even find mates. The flock forms a single mass and begins mincing across the salt flats. Each bird is watching the others, looking for a partner. Eventually they’ll all pair off and go do their pink romance thing.

3. SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (LOPHORINA SUPERBA)

These birds are not subtle in their courtship. Most intense may be the male superb bird-of-paradise, which transforms its body into a goofy iridescent mask and hops aggressively in a potential mate’s face. 

4. WESTERN GREBE (AECHMOPHORUS OCCIDENTALIS)

The mating dance of the western grebe has long been a source of fascination for scientists and bird lovers. Courting grebes pull off a technique called rushing, in which they sprint as far as 66 feet across the water’s surface. They manage this by taking up to 20 steps per second. 

5. RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (CERATOPIPRA MENTALIS)

It may not be “Thriller,” but it’s still bad (in an MJ kind of way): Male red-capped manakins perform a hilarious moonwalk-type dance to impress potential mates. They also make a range of sounds—buzzes, whirrs, and snaps—that may attract females and warn off rival males.  

6. VICTORIA’S RIFLEBIRD (PTILORIS VICTORIAE)

It’s hard to miss a Victoria’s riflebird. In addition to their loud calls and their interpretive-dance-type mating display, the wings of male birds make an unmistakable rustling sound in flight.

7. BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY (SULA NEBOUXII)

It’s not easy being blue. Boobies have to devote a lot of resources to keep their feet vibrant, which means that brighter feet are usually a good indication of healthy birds. And wooing boobies aren’t shy about showing off; during courtship, they actually wave their feet at each other to make sure all that work doesn’t go to waste.

8. FLAME BOWERBIRD (SERICULUS AUREUS)

The courtship behaviors of bowerbirds are legendary, but most of the attention is focused on their beautiful bowers. Somewhat less appreciated is the Barry White–level of bird sensuality in the dance of the male flame bowerbird, which undulates slowly while maintaining an uncomfortable level of eye contact (well, uncomfortable for me—the female birds must love it, or they wouldn’t keep doing this).

9. BLUE-CAPPED CORDON BLEU (URAEGINTHUS CYANOCEPHALUS)

Blue-capped cordon bleus are the all-singing, all-dancing players of the finch world. Male and female birds alike are a triple threat: They bob their heads, sing, and tap dance at top speed, often all at the same time. 

10. LAWES’S PAROTIA (PAROTIA LAWESII)

Male Lawes’s parotias (also known as six-wired birds of paradise) spare no expense when it’s time to strut their stuff. Not only do they stage fantastic, funky displays like the one shown above, but they also strategically decorate their performance spaces with trinkets and desirable objects like shed snake skins and pieces of chalk.

11. SNOWBALL THE SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO (CACATUA GALERITA)

No list of dancing birds would be complete without Snowball. The head-banging cockatoo became an instant celebrity in 2007 when his foster keeper caught him dancing to the Backstreet Boys. Was Snowball really dancing, in the truest sense of the word? A neurobiologist subjected the bird to a battery of dance tests. The verdict: Yes, Snowball can dance, although he's pretty bad at it.

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Animals
Pigeons Are Secretly Brilliant Birds That Understand Space and Time, Study Finds
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Of all the birds in the world, the pigeon draws the most ire. Despite their reputation as brainless “rats with wings,” though, they’re actually pretty brilliant (and beautiful) animals. A new study adds more evidence that the family of birds known as pigeons are some of the smartest birds around, as Quartz alerts us.

In addition to being able to distinguish English vocabulary from nonsense words, spot cancer, and tell a Monet from a Picasso, pigeons can understand abstract concepts like space and time, according to the new study published in Current Biology. Their brains just do it in a slightly different way than humans’ do.

Researchers at the University of Iowa set up an experiment where they showed pigeons a computer screen featuring a static horizontal line. The birds were supposed to evaluate the length of the line (either 6 centimeters or 24 centimeters) or the amount of time they saw it (either 2 or 8 seconds). The birds perceived "the longer lines to have longer duration, and lines longer in duration to also be longer in length," according to a press release. This suggests that the concepts are processed in the same region of the brain—as they are in the brains of humans and other primates.

But that abstract thinking doesn’t occur in the same way in bird brains as it does in ours. In humans, perceiving space and time is linked to a region of the brain called the parietal cortex, which the pigeon brains lack entirely. So their brains have to have some other way of processing the concepts.

The study didn’t determine how, exactly, pigeons achieve this cognitive feat, but it’s clear that some other aspect of the central nervous system must be controlling it. That also opens up the possibility that other non-mammal animals can perceive space and time, too, expanding how we think of other animals’ cognitive capabilities.

[h/t Quartz]

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The Queen's Racing Pigeons Are in Danger, Due to an Increase in Peregrine Falcons
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Queen Elizabeth is famous for her love of corgis and horses, but her pet pigeons don't get as much press. The monarch owns nearly 200 racing pigeons, which she houses in a luxury loft at her country estate, Sandringham House, in Norfolk, England. But thanks to a recent boom in the region’s peregrine falcon population, the Queen’s swift birds may no longer be able to safely soar around the countryside, according to The Telegraph.

Once endangered, recent conservation efforts have boosted the peregrine falcon’s numbers. In certain parts of England, like Norfolk and the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire, the creatures can even find shelter inside boxes installed at local churches and cathedrals, which are designed to protect potential eggs.

There’s just one problem: Peregrine falcons are birds of prey, and local pigeon racers claim these nesting nooks are located along racing routes. Due to this unfortunate coincidence, some pigeons are failing to return to their owners.

Pigeon racing enthusiasts are upset, but Richard Salt of Salisbury Cathedral says it's simply a case of nature taking its course. "It's all just part of the natural process,” Salt told The Telegraph. "The peregrines came here on their own account—we didn't put a sign out saying 'room for peregrines to let.' Obviously we feel quite sorry for the pigeons, but the peregrines would be there anyway."

In the meantime, the Queen might want to keep a close eye on her birds (or hire someone who will), or consider taking advantage of Sandringham House's vast open spaces for a little indoor fly-time.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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