Sunday Sketch: Wiley as a Fox

Hunting is hard. Hunting in the snow? Even harder. A study on wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the Czech Republic indicates that these cunning hunters have an additional weapon in their arsenal—magnetic sensation! The study showed that foxes strongly preferred to pounce on their prey by jumping in the direction facing magnetic north east….

Field Frame Friday: A whole new meaning to being called a "bird-brain."

While the idiom, “bird brain” may mean a silly or stupid person, we may want to reconsider it as a compliment. Turns out, African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) have more abstract logic than the average human toddler. When briefly shown the contents inside two canisters (walnuts or nothing) and then presented the parrots with the…

Field Frame Friday: No provisioning allowed!

When humans voluntarily feed wildlife, it is referred to as provisioning. Although this may appear a harmless and fun activity for visiting tourists, these small acts of “kindness” can have profound effects on wildlife. For example, provisioning can lead to increased aggression among individuals monkeys in a social group, as they are competing over a…

Field Frame Friday: Day gecko, night gecko

Madagascar day geckos (Genus Phelsuma) are important pollinators for Malagasy plants. In fact, the plants often have colored nectar, which is preferred by the day geckos. [Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz] Minnaar, I. A., Köhler, A., Purchase, C., & Nicolson, S. W. (2013). Coloured and Toxic Nectar: Feeding Choices of the Madagascar Giant Day…

Field Notes: Jungle Prozac

Jungle Prozac, my mom calls it. A potent drug, elements unknown. Possible components include the slurry of plant-produced volatile compounds infusing the air, the pleasing fractal dimensions of so many trees, adventure-induced hormone cascades, frequent exercise, a vegetative buffer from the anxieties of society, and a palm-framed view of Lake Gatun, Panama. Whatever its true…

Field Frame Friday: Mistletoe Munching

Mistletoe does not only serve to incite smooches on Christmas, but it’s also a tasty snack for Diademed Sifakas (Propithecus diadema) in Madagascar. When resources are few and far between in the winter, Sifakas rely on mistletoe and this reliance can reduce group cohesion in fragmented forests. Mistletoe may bring humans together, but it makes…

Field Frame Friday Holiday Edition: Christmas in the Field

Alexander is spending Christmas on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The island is quiet for the holiday: only him, a handful of guardabosques (“Forest Guards”, similar to game wardens, that help maintain and protect the Barro Colorado National Monument), and a few cooks. They had a special lunch,…

Creature Feature: Reindeer

With jack frost nipping at your nose and holiday spiced drinks at your local coffee shop, ‘tis the season to be on the lookout for reindeer. Even if you don’t leave carrots by the chimney for Rudolf on Christmas Eve, reindeer are handsome, hardy animals that inspire thoughts of sparkling white snowscapes, the north woods,…

Field Frame Friday: Beggars can’t be choosers

Ever had your pet beg to you for food? Well this is no different. This is Emma, performing her signature “hands out” behavior to indicate that she would like you to share whatever scrumptious things you have with her. Emma is a long tailed macaque that lives in a tourist park outside of Kuala Lumpur,…