Summer is for the birds
Five Gemini stories that detail the secrets of Norway’s bird populations.
BIRDS: Summer may mean holidays and fun in the sun for us humans, but for birds it’s a busy time. Especially at high latitudes, birds have a fairly short period during which they have to find mates, lay eggs and raise young. Not surprisingly, some of our NTNU researchers have devoted their research careers to understanding the secrets of our feathered friends. Read on for five of our favourite Gemini stories about birds.
1. Uncovering the secrets of Arctic seabird colonies
Thousands upon thousands of seabirds nest in colonies on high cliffs along the Norwegian coast. But virtually all of the largest colonies are north of the Arctic Circle. NTNU researchers have figured out why.
2. Why some cuckoos have blue eggs
Cuckoos are master nest parasites: the females lay their eggs in the nests of other unsuspecting birds and let the other female bird feed and raise the cuckoo chick. But to slip her eggs into another bird’s nest, the cuckoo has to be a master at laying eggs of the right colour. Here’s the trick behind their artifice.
3. Ivory gulls in trouble
Ivory gulls are among the most northerly nesting birds on the planet. But just what is causing their populations to plummet by as much as 80 per cent over the last few decades?
4. Five kilometres between life and death
DNA profiles from the large population of sea eagles on Smøla, an island to the west of Trondheim, are providing new insights into how some birds are able to avoid being killed by wind turbines.
5. How do small birds survive the Norwegian winter?
It may be sunny and (sort of) warm in Norway now, but when winter comes, the days are short (and above the Arctic Circle, completely dark for some periods), cold, and often quite snowy. Yet small birds like blue tits and great tits somehow manage to overwinter. One of NTNU’s best known bird biologists explains how.