Accipiters (Accipiter spp.) and falcons (Falco spp.) both use their feet to seize prey, but falcons kill primarily with their beaks, whereas accipiters kill with their feet. This study examines the mechanistic basis to differences in their modes of dispatching prey, by focusing on the myology and biomechanics of the jaws, digits, and distal hindlimb. Bite, grip, and distal hindlimb flexion forces were estimated from measurements of physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) and indices of mechanical advantage (MA) for the major jaw adductors, and digit and tarsometatarsal flexors. Estimated bite force, total jaw adductor PCSA, and jaw MA (averaged over adductors) tended to be relatively and absolutely greater in falcons, reflecting their emphasis on biting for dispatching their prey. Differences between genera in estimated grip force, total digit flexor PCSA, and digit MA (averaged over inter-phalangeal joints and digits) were not as clear-cut; each of these parameters scaled positively allometric in accipiters, which may reflect the scaling of both prey size, and the proportion of mammalian prey consumed by this lineage with increasing body size. Estimated tarsometatarsal force was greater in falcons than in accipiters, due to their greater MA, which may reflect selection for incurring greater forces during prey strikes. Conversely, the comparatively lower tarsometatarsal MA in accipiters reflects their capacity for greater foot speed potentially necessary for grasping elusive prey. Thus, this study elucidates how differences in jaw and hindlimb musculoskeletal morphology of accipiters and falcons are reflected in differences in their killing modes, and through differences in their force-generating capacities. PMID:17960801
Wiley, J.W.; Garrido, O.H.
We reevaluate the taxonomic status of the Cuban population of the Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) based on our examination of additional specimens, nests, eggs, and voice data. Buteogallus a. gundlachii is smaller than mainland populations of anthracinus and differs from mainland birds in plumage coloration and pattern. The common (alarm) call of gundlachii is a series of three or four notes, differing from that of mainland anthracinus, whose call consists of 9-24 notes. In the Isla de Pinos, Cuba, we observed gundlachii eating two species of land crabs (71.4%), centipedes (7.1%), lizards (10.7%), mammals (7.1%), and a bird (3.6%). We consider Buteogallus gundlachii Cabanis 1854 (1855), the Cuban Black-Hawk, to be a full species, endemic to Cuba, Isla de Pinos, and many of the cays of the Cuban Archipelago. ?? 2005 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.
Pérez-Rodríguez, Antón; de la Puente, Javier; Onrubia, Alejandro; Pérez-Tris, Javier
Despite the ecological significance and appeal of birds of prey, many aspects of their biology remain poorly known, including the diversity of parasites infecting them in the wild. We studied the diversity and prevalence of haemosporidian parasites infecting the two species of kites of the genus Milvus, aiming to describe the phylogenetic relationships among them and with other haemosporidians, as well as their distribution in the two host species. Black kites, Milvus migrans, harboured a more diverse community of parasites, including three haplotypes of each of the three genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon, which also occurred at a higher prevalence than in red kites. In red kites, Milvus milvus only three haplotypes of Leucocytozoon were found. Kite parasites were not closely related to one another nor were they kite-specific: their diversity spanned various branches of the haemosporidian phylogenetic tree, and their closest relatives were found in other species (including various avian orders), although some Leucocytozoon and Haemoproteus haplotypes clustered within apparently raptor-specific parasite clades. Remarkably, Plasmodium spp. and Haemoproteus spp. infected adult black kites only, an observation which supports the hypothesis that they are transmitted at the African wintering grounds, while Leucocytozoon spp. is putatively transmitted only in Europe. Intercontinental migration of the black kite might explain the divergence of parasite diversity between these two sister species. PMID:23376529
Sustaita, Diego; Hertel, Fritz
Raptors exhibit a diversity of strategies to procure their prey but ultimately kill using their beaks and/or talons. Thus, bite and grip forces are ecologically important variables that have direct survival implications. Whereas hawks rely primarily on their feet for killing prey, falcons tend to employ their beaks. Consequently, falcons are expected to achieve relatively greater bite forces, and hawks are expected to generate relatively greater grip forces. Force estimates predicted from musculoskeletal morphology in a previous study indicated that falcons (Falco spp.) possess greater jaw force capabilities than accipiters (Accipiter spp.) but there were no clear differences in predicted grip-force capacity outside of differences in scaling. The objective of this study was to complement those results with measurements of in vivo forces by inducing captive and wild accipiters and falcons to bite and grasp force transducers. Bite force increased isometrically in both groups whereas grip force tended toward positive allometry. After adjusting for body mass, falcons produced greater bite forces, and accipiters produced greater grip forces. Thus, previous anatomical estimates of forces predicted the expected direction and magnitude of differences in bite forces but the overall greater in vivo grip forces of accipiters deviated from the pattern obtained from biomechanical estimates. Although the scaling relationships were similar between data sets, forces generated by live birds were consistently lower than those predicted from biomechanics. Estimated and in vivo jaw and digital forces were nevertheless correlated, and therefore provide an important link between morphology and killing behavior in these raptors. PMID:20639423
Mayr, Sylvia L; Maier, Kristina; Müller, Jana; Enderlein, Dirk; Gruber, Achim D; Lierz, Michael
Sarcocystis is a large genus of protozoan parasites with complex heteroxenous life cycles. For many species, either the intermediate or the definitive host is still unknown. In this study, 116 Accipiter hawks (Eurasian sparrowhawks and northern goshawks) were investigated for the presence of Sarcocystis spp. in their intestinal tract or their faeces. To gain a wide distribution, samples were collected throughout Germany within 2 years. It was possible to detect Sarcocystis-like oocysts in 65 samples. Sequencing of the ITS region or species-specific PCR identified 33 samples as Sarcocystis turdusi/Sarcocystis sp. ex A. nisus (18), Sarcocystis calchasi (6), Sarcocystis columbae (3), Sarcocystis cornixi (3) and Sarcocystis sp. ex Phalacrocorax carbo (3). Besides the known infestation with S. columbae, S. sp. ex A. nisus and S. calchasi the Accipiter hawks were thereby confirmed as definitive host of S. turdusi, S. cornixi and S. sp. ex Phalacrocorax carbo for the first time. PMID:27083188
McAllister, Chris T; Duszynski, Donald W; McKown, Richard D
Between March 1989 and February 1994, 4 bald eagles ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) from various localities in Kansas were examined for coccidia. One (25%) of the bald eagles was found to be passing an undescribed species of Caryospora in its feces. Oocysts of Caryospora hanebrinki n. sp. are ellipsoidal to ovoidal with a bilayered wall and measure 48.1 × 42.1 μm with a shape index of 1.2. A micropyle, oocyst residuum, and polar granule were absent. Sporocysts are spheroidal, 24.8 μm wide. Stieda, substieda, and parastieda bodies were absent; a spheroidal sporocyst residuum is present; it measures 17.5 μm and is composed of many intact homogenous globules with a few dispersed in a loose spiral around the sporocysts. This is the first caryosporan documented from the bald eagle and is the largest known Caryospora from raptors. PMID:22992168
Bolette, David P
Oligacanthorhynchus nickoli n. sp. (Acanthocephala: Oligacanthorhynchidae) is described from the great-horned owl, Bubo virginianus (Gmelin, 1788) (type host), and red-tailed hawk, Buteojamaicensis (Gmelin, 1788), collected in central Arizona. The new species is most similar to Oligacanthorhynchus iheringi and Oligacanthorhynchus minor, but it differs from all congeners primarily by trunk length, proboscis size and armature, egg size, geographical range, and host species. It is distinguished from the 9 Oligacanthorhynchus species occurring in avian hosts from both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Descriptions of juvenile forms of O. nickoli from the intestine of B. jamaicensis are provided from recently ingested cystacanths with everted proboscides. PMID:17436950
Jiang, Lan; Chen, Juan; Wang, Ping; Ren, Qiongqiong; Yuan, Jian; Qian, Chaoju; Hua, Xinghong; Guo, Zhichun; Zhang, Lei; Yang, Jianke; Wang, Ying; Zhang, Qin; Ding, Hengwu; Bi, De; Zhang, Zongmeng; Wang, Qingqing; Chen, Dongsheng; Kan, Xianzhao
The family Accipitridae is one of the largest groups of non-passerine birds, including 68 genera and 243 species globally distributed. In the present study, we determined the complete mitochondrial sequences of two species of accipitrid, namely Aquila fasciata and Buteo lagopus, and conducted a comparative mitogenome analysis across the family. The mitogenome length of A. fasciata and B. lagopus are 18,513 and 18,559 bp with an A + T content of 54.2% and 55.0%, respectively. For both the two accipitrid birds mtDNAs, obvious positive AT-skew and negative GC-skew biases were detected for all 12 PCGs encoded by the H strand, whereas the reverse was found in MT-ND6 encoded by the L strand. One extra nucleotide‘C’is present at the position 174 of MT-ND3 gene of A. fasciata, which is not observed at that of B. lagopus. Six conserved sequence boxes in the Domain II, named boxes F, E, D, C, CSBa, and CSBb, respectively, were recognized in the CRs of A. fasciata and B. lagopus. Rates and patterns of mitochondrial gene evolution within Accipitridae were also estimated. The highest dN/dS was detected for the MT-ATP8 gene (0.32493) among Accipitridae, while the lowest for the MT-CO1 gene (0.01415). Mitophylogenetic analysis supported the robust monophyly of Accipitriformes, and Cathartidae was basal to the balance of the order. Moreover, we performed phylogenetic analyses using two other data sets (two mitochondrial loci, and combined nuclear and mitochondrial loci). Our results indicate that the subfamily Aquilinae and all currently polytypic genera of this subfamily are monophyletic. These two novel mtDNA data will be useful in refining the phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary processes of Accipitriformes. PMID:26295156
Sheena, P; Manjula, K T; Subair, K T; Janardanan, K P
The life cycle of the cyathocotylid fluke, Mesostephanus indicum Mehra, 1947 infecting the pariah kite, Milvus migrans govinda (Accipitridae), is elucidated. The species, reported by Mehra (Proc Nat Acad Sci India 17:1-52, 1947) from Buteo rufinus rufinus (Accipitridae), was transferred to the genus Prohemistomum by Dubois (Rev Suiss de Zool 58:639-691, 1951). However, it is retained in the genus Mesostephanus because of the presence of vaginal sphincter and caudal appendage, which are the characters of the genus. Its first intermediate host is the gastropod snail, Bellamya bengalensis (Viviparidae), which released the furcocercous cercariae. The prohemistomulum-type metacercariae encysted in the muscle tissues of the freshwater fish Rasbora daniconius and Puntius sophore (Cyprinidae), Mystus malabaricus (Bagridae), Heteropneustes fossilis (Heteropneustidae), Aplocheilus lineatus (Cyprinodontidae), Etroplus maculatus and E. suratensis (Cichlidae), and Pseudosphromenus cupanus (Belontidae). Recovery of M. indicum from M. m. govinda forms a new host record, and this is the first report of the life cycle of the genus from India. PMID:17514481
Wang, Hua-Wei; Zhang, Hui-Feng; Ren, Li; Xu, Yu; Zeng, Yu-Jian; Miao, Ying-Lei; Luo, Hua-You; Wang, Kun-Hua
Falconiformes include most of the predatory birds, they play crucial role in maintaining the balance of ecology system. To further illustrate the phylogenetic status for the species of Falconiformes, the entire mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome of Falco naumanni was amplified and sequenced, further phylogenetic analysis was performed by incorporating with other 8 entire mtDNA genomes representing 8 species of predatory birds by taking the Apus apus and Haematopus ater as out-groups. Our results indicated that the mtDNA genome of F. naumanni includes 17,370 base pairs in length, which has the similar organization and gene order with other mtDNA genomes of the species belonging to Falconiformes. Further phylogenetic analyses supported that the F. naumanni clustered with other species of Falconidae, which formed the sister group of Accipitridae, Cathartes aura located at the basal position with Haematopus ater. In addition, Pandion haliaetus was clustered with other species of Accipitridae, which was conflict with the traditional classification system by taking P. haliaetus as an independent Familia of Falconidae. PMID:26006284
Igl, Lawrence D.; Chepulis, Brian J.; McLean, Kyle E.
Present-day vultures are generally classified into two distinct groups: Old World vultures and new World vultures. The two groups share morphological and behavioral characters (e.g. scavenger diet, energy-efficient soaring, mostly featherless head), but historically the two groups were considered phylogenetically distant with long and independent histories (Rich 198., Wink 1995, Zhang et al. 2012). Old World vultures occur in the family Accipitridae and are closely related to hawks and eagles. New World Vultures occur in the family Cathartidae but their taxonomic placement has been controversial. New World vultures were previously allied with storks (Ciconiidae) but were usually placed within the order Falconiformes. Recent phylogenomic analyses using DNA sequencing suggest that new World vultures show no affinity with storks and support placement of New World vultures with other landbirds (in the order Accipitriformes, near Accipitridae) rather than with waterbirds (Hackett et al. 2008). Old World vultures presently are confined to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and New World vultures presently occur in North and South America.
Mahmood, Muhammad Tariq; McLenachan, Patricia A; Gibb, Gillian C; Penny, David
We report three new avian mitochondrial genomes, two from widely separated groups of owls and a falcon relative (the Secretarybird). We then report additional progress in resolving Neoavian relationships in that the two groups of owls do come together (it is not just long-branch attraction), and the Secretarybird is the deepest divergence on the Accipitridae lineage. This is now agreed between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences. There is no evidence for the monophyly of the combined three groups of raptors (owls, eagles, and falcons), and again this is agreed by nuclear and mitochondrial sequences. All three groups (owls, accipitrids [eagles], and falcons) do appear to be members of the "higher land birds," and though there may not yet be full "consilience" between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences for the precise order of divergences of the eagles, falcons, and the owls, there is good progress on their relationships. PMID:24448983
Mahmood, Muhammad Tariq; McLenachan, Patricia A.; Gibb, Gillian C.; Penny, David
We report three new avian mitochondrial genomes, two from widely separated groups of owls and a falcon relative (the Secretarybird). We then report additional progress in resolving Neoavian relationships in that the two groups of owls do come together (it is not just long-branch attraction), and the Secretarybird is the deepest divergence on the Accipitridae lineage. This is now agreed between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences. There is no evidence for the monophyly of the combined three groups of raptors (owls, eagles, and falcons), and again this is agreed by nuclear and mitochondrial sequences. All three groups (owls, accipitrids [eagles], and falcons) do appear to be members of the “higher land birds,” and though there may not yet be full “consilience” between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences for the precise order of divergences of the eagles, falcons, and the owls, there is good progress on their relationships. PMID:24448983
Tagliarini, Marcella M.; O'Brien, Patricia C.M.; Ferguson-Smith, Malcolm A.; de Oliveira, Edivaldo H.C.
Similarities between New World and Old World vultures have been interpreted to reflect a close relationship and to suggest the inclusion of both in Accipitridae (Falconiformes). However, deeper analyses indicated that the placement of the New World vultures (cathartids) in this Order is uncertain. Chromosome analysis has shown that cathartids retained a karyotype similar to the putative avian ancestor. In order to verify the occurrence of intrachromosomal rearrangements in cathartids, we hybridized whole chromosome probes of two species (Gallus gallus and Leucopternis albicollis) onto metaphases of Cathartes aura. The results showed that not only were the syntenic groups conserved between Gallus and C. aura, but probably also the general gene order, suggesting that New World vultures share chromosomal symplesiomorphies with most bird lineages. PMID:21637548
Naidoo, Vinny; Wolter, Kerri
Vulture (Accipitridae) poisonings are a concern in South Africa, with hundreds of birds dying annually. Although some of these poisonings are accidental, there has been an increase in the number of intentional baiting of poached rhinoceros (Rhinocerotidae) and elephant (Elephantidae) carcasses to kill vultures that alert officials to poaching sites by circling overhead. The primary chemicals implicated are the organophosphorous and carbamate compounds. Although most poisoning events can be identified by dead vultures surrounding the scavenged carcass, weak birds are occasionally found and brought to rehabilitation centers for treatment. The treating veterinarian needs to make an informed decision on the cause of illness or poisoning prior to treatment. We established the reference interval for serum and plasma cholinesterase activity in the Cape Griffon Vulture ( Gyps coprotheres ) as 591.58-1,528.26 U/L, providing a clinical assay for determining potential exposure to cholinesterase-depressing pesticides. Both manual and automated samplers were used with the butyrylthiocholine method. Species reference intervals for both serum and plasma cholinesterase showed good correlation and manual and automated measurements yielded similar results. PMID:26981685
Zhang, Zihui; Feduccia, Alan; James, Helen F.
Background Old World vultures are likely polyphyletic, representing two subfamilies, the Aegypiinae and Gypaetinae, and some genera of the latter may be of independent origin. Evidence concerning the origin, as well as the timing of the divergence of each subfamily and even genera of the Gypaetinae has been elusive. Methodology/Principal Findings Compared with the Old World, the New World has an unexpectedly diverse and rich fossil component of Old World vultures. Here we describe a new accipitriform bird, Anchigyps voorhiesi gen. et sp. nov., from the Ash Hollow Formation (Upper Clarendonian, Late Miocene) of Nebraska. It represents a form close in morphology to the Old World vultures. Characteristics of its wing bones suggest it was less specialized for soaring than modern vultures. It was likely an opportunistic predator or scavenger having a grasping foot and a mandible morphologically similar to modern carrion-feeding birds. Conclusions/Significance The new fossil reported here is intermediate in morphology between the bulk of accipitrids and the Old World gypaetine vultures, representing a basal lineage of Accipitridae trending towards the vulturine habit, and of its Late Miocene age suggests the divergence of true gypaetine vultures, may have occurred during or slightly before the Miocene. PMID:23152811
Erdoǧan, Serkan; Pèrez, William; Alan, Aydin
This research aimed to examine the morphological features of the tongue and laryngeal entrance of long-legged buzzard by macroscopic and scanning electron microscopic methods. Two adult buzzards were used as material. The tongue was fairly elongated and terminated in oval shovel-like apex. Scale-like projections were localized on the apex and body of tongue. Both lateral sides of lingual body were contained considerably long thread-like projections. Many orifices of lingual posterior salivary glands were discerned among scale-like projections in median sulcus of the lingual body. Papillary crest of sharp conical papilla were observed on the between the body and root of the tongue. No conical papillae or other projections were existent on the root of the tongue, but numerous orifices of posterior salivary gland ducts were detected. In addition, orifices of anterior salivary gland ducts were present on the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the lingual body. Numerous conical papillae were observed on the caudal region of glottis and no conical papillae or any similar projection which were bordered the glottic fissure was noted. Anatomy of these organs in the long-legged buzzard and white tailed eagle which are the member of the same family, Accipitridae, revealed very high similarity. PMID:22496047
de Oliveira, Edivaldo Herculano C.; Tagliarini, Marcella Mergulhão; dos Santos, Michelly S.; O'Brien, Patricia C. M.; Ferguson-Smith, Malcolm A.
Buteoninae (Falconiformes, Accipitridae) consist of the widely distributed genus Buteo, and several closely related species in a group called “sub-buteonine hawks”, such as Buteogallus, Parabuteo, Asturina, Leucopternis and Busarellus, with unsolved phylogenetic relationships. Diploid number ranges between 2n = 66 and 2n = 68. Only one species, L. albicollis had its karyotype analyzed by molecular cytogenetics. The aim of this study was to present chromosomal analysis of three species of Buteoninae: Rupornis magnirostris, Asturina nitida and Buteogallus meridionallis using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) experiments with telomeric and rDNA probes, as well as whole chromosome probes derived from Gallus gallus and Leucopternis albicollis. The three species analyzed herein showed similar karyotypes, with 2n = 68. Telomeric probes showed some interstitial telomeric sequences, which could be resulted by fusion processes occurred in the chromosomal evolution of the group, including the one found in the tassociation GGA1p/GGA6. In fact, this association was observed in all the three species analyzed in this paper, and also in L. albicollis, suggesting that it represents a cytogenetic signature which reinforces the monophyly of Neotropical buteoninae species. PMID:23922908
Steadman, David W.; Oswald, Jessica A.; Rincón, Ascanio D.
The Neotropical lowlands sustain the world's richest bird communities, yet little that we know about their history is based on paleontology. Fossils afford a way to investigate distributional shifts in individual species, and thus improve our understanding of long-term change in Neotropical bird communities. We report a species-rich avian fossil sample from a late Pleistocene tar seep (Mene de Inciarte) in northwestern Venezuela. A mere 175 identified fossils from Mene de Inciarte represent 73 species of birds, among which six are extinct, and eight others no longer occur within 100 km. These 14 species consist mainly of ducks (Anatidae), snipe (Scolopacidae), vultures/condors (Vulturidae), hawks/eagles (Accipitridae), and blackbirds (Icteridae). Neotropical bird communities were richer in the late Pleistocene than today; their considerable extinction may be related to collapse of the large mammal fauna at that time. The species assemblage at Mene de Inciarte suggests that biogeographic patterns, even at continental scales, have been remarkably labile over short geological time frames. Mene de Inciarte is but one of 300 + tar seeps in Venezuela, only two of which have been explored for fossils. We may be on the cusp of an exciting new era of avian paleontology in the Neotropics.
O'Rourke, Colleen T.; Hall, Margaret I.; Pitlik, Todd; Fernández-Juricic, Esteban
Background Different strategies to search and detect prey may place specific demands on sensory modalities. We studied visual field configuration, degree of eye movement, and orbit orientation in three diurnal raptors belonging to the Accipitridae and Falconidae families. Methodology/Principal Findings We used an ophthalmoscopic reflex technique and an integrated 3D digitizer system. We found inter-specific variation in visual field configuration and degree of eye movement, but not in orbit orientation. Red-tailed Hawks have relatively small binocular areas (∼33°) and wide blind areas (∼82°), but intermediate degree of eye movement (∼5°), which underscores the importance of lateral vision rather than binocular vision to scan for distant prey in open areas. Cooper's Hawks' have relatively wide binocular fields (∼36°), small blind areas (∼60°), and high degree of eye movement (∼8°), which may increase visual coverage and enhance prey detection in closed habitats. Additionally, we found that Cooper's Hawks can visually inspect the items held in the tip of the bill, which may facilitate food handling. American Kestrels have intermediate-sized binocular and lateral areas that may be used in prey detection at different distances through stereopsis and motion parallax; whereas the low degree eye movement (∼1°) may help stabilize the image when hovering above prey before an attack. Conclusions We conclude that: (a) there are between-species differences in visual field configuration in these diurnal raptors; (b) these differences are consistent with prey searching strategies and degree of visual obstruction in the environment (e.g., open and closed habitats); (c) variations in the degree of eye movement between species appear associated with foraging strategies; and (d) the size of the binocular and blind areas in hawks can vary substantially due to eye movements. Inter-specific variation in visual fields and eye movements can influence behavioral
Williams, Vivienne L.; Cunningham, Anthony B.; Kemp, Alan C.; Bruyns, Robin K.
Few regional or continent-wide assessments of bird use for traditional medicine have been attempted anywhere in the world. Africa has the highest known diversity of bird species used for this purpose. This study assesses the vulnerability of 354 bird species used for traditional medicine in 25 African countries, from 205 genera, 70 families, and 25 orders. The orders most represented were Passeriformes (107 species), Falconiformes (45 species), and Coraciiformes (24 species), and the families Accipitridae (37 species), Ardeidae (15 species), and Bucerotidae (12 species). The Barn owl (Tyto alba) was the most widely sold species (seven countries). The similarity of avifaunal orders traded is high (analogous to “morphospecies”, and using Sørensen's index), which suggests opportunities for a common understanding of cultural factors driving demand. The highest similarity was between bird orders sold in markets of Benin vs. Burkina Faso (90%), but even bird orders sold in two geographically separated countries (Benin vs. South Africa and Nigeria vs. South Africa) were 87% and 81% similar, respectively. Rabinowitz's “7 forms of rarity” model, used to group species according to commonness or rarity, indicated that 24% of traded bird species are very common, locally abundant in several habitats, and occur over a large geographical area, but 10% are rare, occur in low numbers in specific habitats, and over a small geographical area. The order with the highest proportion of rare species was the Musophagiformes. An analysis of species mass (as a proxy for size) indicated that large and/or conspicuous species tend to be targeted by harvesters for the traditional medicine trade. Furthermore, based on cluster analyses for species groups of similar risk, vultures, hornbills, and other large avifauna, such as bustards, are most threatened by selective harvesting and should be prioritised for conservation action. PMID:25162700
O'Rourke, Colleen T.; Pitlik, Todd; Hoover, Melissa; Fernández-Juricic, Esteban
Background Relatively little is known about the degree of inter-specific variability in visual scanning strategies in species with laterally placed eyes (e.g., birds). This is relevant because many species detect prey while perching; therefore, head movement behavior may be an indicator of prey detection rate, a central parameter in foraging models. We studied head movement strategies in three diurnal raptors belonging to the Accipitridae and Falconidae families. Methodology/Principal Findings We used behavioral recording of individuals under field and captive conditions to calculate the rate of two types of head movements and the interval between consecutive head movements. Cooper's Hawks had the highest rate of regular head movements, which can facilitate tracking prey items in the visually cluttered environment they inhabit (e.g., forested habitats). On the other hand, Red-tailed Hawks showed long intervals between consecutive head movements, which is consistent with prey searching in less visually obstructed environments (e.g., open habitats) and with detecting prey movement from a distance with their central foveae. Finally, American Kestrels have the highest rates of translational head movements (vertical or frontal displacements of the head keeping the bill in the same direction), which have been associated with depth perception through motion parallax. Higher translational head movement rates may be a strategy to compensate for the reduced degree of eye movement of this species. Conclusions Cooper's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and American Kestrels use both regular and translational head movements, but to different extents. We conclude that these diurnal raptors have species-specific strategies to gather visual information while perching. These strategies may optimize prey search and detection with different visual systems in habitat types with different degrees of visual obstruction. PMID:20877650
Williams, Vivienne L; Cunningham, Anthony B; Kemp, Alan C; Bruyns, Robin K
Few regional or continent-wide assessments of bird use for traditional medicine have been attempted anywhere in the world. Africa has the highest known diversity of bird species used for this purpose. This study assesses the vulnerability of 354 bird species used for traditional medicine in 25 African countries, from 205 genera, 70 families, and 25 orders. The orders most represented were Passeriformes (107 species), Falconiformes (45 species), and Coraciiformes (24 species), and the families Accipitridae (37 species), Ardeidae (15 species), and Bucerotidae (12 species). The Barn owl (Tyto alba) was the most widely sold species (seven countries). The similarity of avifaunal orders traded is high (analogous to "morphospecies", and using Sørensen's index), which suggests opportunities for a common understanding of cultural factors driving demand. The highest similarity was between bird orders sold in markets of Benin vs. Burkina Faso (90%), but even bird orders sold in two geographically separated countries (Benin vs. South Africa and Nigeria vs. South Africa) were 87% and 81% similar, respectively. Rabinowitz's "7 forms of rarity" model, used to group species according to commonness or rarity, indicated that 24% of traded bird species are very common, locally abundant in several habitats, and occur over a large geographical area, but 10% are rare, occur in low numbers in specific habitats, and over a small geographical area. The order with the highest proportion of rare species was the Musophagiformes. An analysis of species mass (as a proxy for size) indicated that large and/or conspicuous species tend to be targeted by harvesters for the traditional medicine trade. Furthermore, based on cluster analyses for species groups of similar risk, vultures, hornbills, and other large avifauna, such as bustards, are most threatened by selective harvesting and should be prioritised for conservation action. PMID:25162700
Fowler, Denver W.; Freedman, Elizabeth A.; Scannella, John B.; Kambic, Robert E.
Most non-avian theropod dinosaurs are characterized by fearsome serrated teeth and sharp recurved claws. Interpretation of theropod predatory ecology is typically based on functional morphological analysis of these and other physical features. The notorious hypertrophied ‘killing claw’ on pedal digit (D) II of the maniraptoran theropod Deinonychus (Paraves: Dromaeosauridae) is hypothesized to have been a predatory adaptation for slashing or climbing, leading to the suggestion that Deinonychus and other dromaeosaurids were cursorial predators specialized for actively attacking and killing prey several times larger than themselves. However, this hypothesis is problematic as extant animals that possess similarly hypertrophied claws do not use them to slash or climb up prey. Here we offer an alternative interpretation: that the hypertrophied D-II claw of dromaeosaurids was functionally analogous to the enlarged talon also found on D-II of extant Accipitridae (hawks and eagles; one family of the birds commonly known as “raptors”). Here, the talon is used to maintain grip on prey of subequal body size to the predator, while the victim is pinned down by the body weight of the raptor and dismembered by the beak. The foot of Deinonychus exhibits morphology consistent with a grasping function, supportive of the prey immobilisation behavior model. Opposite morphological trends within Deinonychosauria (Dromaeosauridae + Troodontidae) are indicative of ecological separation. Placed in context of avian evolution, the grasping foot of Deinonychus and other terrestrial predatory paravians is hypothesized to have been an exaptation for the grasping foot of arboreal perching birds. Here we also describe “stability flapping”, a novel behaviour executed for positioning and stability during the initial stages of prey immobilisation, which may have been pivotal to the evolution of the flapping stroke. These findings overhaul our perception of predatory dinosaurs and
Reuter, Anne; Müller, Kerstin; Arndt, Gisela; Eule, Johanna Corinna
Intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured with the TonoVet rebound tonometer in 10 raptor species, and possible factors affecting IOP were investigated. A complete ophthalmic examination was performed, and IOP was assessed in 2 positions, upright and dorsal recumbency, in 237 birds belonging to the families Accipitridae, Falconidae, Strigidae, and Tytonidae. Mean IOP values of healthy eyes were calculated for each species, and differences between families, species, age, sex, left and right eye, as well as the 2 body positions were evaluated. Physiologic fluctuations of IOP were assessed by measuring IOP serially for 5 days at the same time of day in 15 birds of 3 species. Results showed IOP values varied by family and species, with the following mean IOP values (mm Hg +/- SD) determined: white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), 26.9 +/- 5.8; red kite (Milvus milvus), 13.0 +/- 5.5; northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), 18.3 +/- 3.8; Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), 15.5 +/- 2.5; common buzzard (Buteo buteo), 26.9 +/- 7.0; common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), 9.8 +/- 2.5; peregrine falcon, (Falco peregrinus), 12.7 +/- 5.8; tawny owl (Strix aluco), 9.4 +/- 4.1; long-eared owl (Asio otus), 7.8 +/- 3.2; and barn owl (Tyto alba), 10.8 +/- 3.8. No significant differences were found between sexes or between left and right eyes. In goshawks, common buzzards, and common kestrels, mean IOP was significantly lower in juvenile birds than it was in adult birds. Mean IOP differed significantly by body position in tawny owls (P = .01) and common buzzards (P = .04). By measuring IOP over several days, mean physiologic variations of +/- 2 mm Hg were detected. Differences in IOP between species and age groups should be considered when interpreting tonometric results. Physiologic fluctuations of IOP may occur and should not be misinterpreted. These results show that rebound tonometry is a useful diagnostic tool in measuring IOP in birds of prey because it provides rapid