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Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This Colorful Pigeon Is the Dodo’s Closest Living Relative

Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The dodo was more prized for its meat than for its beauty. That ended up being the bird's downfall. However, its smaller, more attractive cousin is still around to admire.

According to My Modern Met, the Nicobar pigeon is the closest living relative to the flightless bird that humans drove to extinction over 300 years ago. It’s native to Southeast Asia and small Pacific islands where years of isolation allowed it to develop its brilliant, eye-catching feathers. With no natural predators to worry about as it evolved, the bird could flaunt its plumage without becoming prey.

OZinOH via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

 

Josh More via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

 

Tomfriedel via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

 

 
The animal doesn't bear much resemblance to the image of the dodo we're all familiar with, but surviving illustrations may present an unfair depiction. The most famous dodo picture was painted from memory, and other pictures likely show birds that were overfed leading up to their slaughter. So while the dodo was likely no Nicobar pigeon, it may not have been as dumpy as it's remembered to be.

[h/t My Modern Met]

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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science
Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
iStock
iStock

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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