Detail of Kingfisher, woodblock printed in colour, Kitagawa Utamaro

Why does the kingfisher have blue feathers?

12 Aug 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, K is for Kingfisher. Look out for them among the swamp cypresses at the Botanic Garden, where the secrets behind their cyan and blue feathers are being studied by an extraordinary collaboration of scientists.

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Here’s looking at you: research shows jackdaws can recognise individual human faces

11 Aug 2015

When you’re prey, being able to spot and assess the threat posed by potential predators is of life-or-death importance. In a paper published today in Animal Behaviour, researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology show that wild jackdaws recognise individual human faces, and may be able to tell whether or not predators are looking directly at them.

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Stressed young birds stop learning from their parents and turn to wider flock

23 Jul 2015

Juvenile zebra finches that experience high stress levels will ignore how their own parents forage and instead learn such skills from other, unrelated adults. This may help young birds avoid inheriting a poor skillset from parents – the likely natural cause of their stress – and becoming trapped by a “bad start in life”.

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Cuckoos impersonate hawks by matching their 'outfits'

17 Oct 2013

Evolutionary trick allows cuckoos to mimic the plumage of birds of prey, and may be used to scare mothers from their nests so that cuckoos can lay their eggs. Mimicry in cuckoos may be more much more widespread than previously thought.

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