Colour­ful crow rel­a­tives

Bird Watching (UK) - - Meet The Family -

It’s pretty sim­ple, isn’t it? Closely-re­lated bird species can be grouped into gen­era, such as Ac­cip­iter, which them­selves are then grouped into more loosely re­lated fam­i­lies (in that par­tic­u­lar case, Ac­cip­itri­formes). The more closely re­lated they are, the more likely they are to look sim­i­lar, and to be­have in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. If only. Some­times, ad­mit­tedly, that’s ex­actly how it works. Take some­thing as ob­vi­ous as Song Thrush and Mis­tle Thrush – you don’t have to be a sci­en­tist to see that they’re re­lated. A long, hard look at them in your gar­den should be enough. Widen that out, and you should be able to see that Black­birds, Ring Ouzels, Field­fares and Red­wings are also re­lated, although not quite so closely. At other times, though, it’s much more com­pli­cated. Some re­la­tion­ships be­tween species and gen­era of birds are far less ob­vi­ous, and birds that you wouldn’t dream were con­nected are in fact rel­a­tively close cousins. Ad­vances in DNA science in re­cent decades have made this even more ap­par­ent. Read on for some of these un­likely fam­i­lies… Even if you’re some­thing of a fan of the in­ge­nious and adapt­able corvids, you prob­a­bly don’t think of the Car­rion Crows or Jack­daws who visit your gar­den as at all ex­otic. And they’re not colour­ful, by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. But some of their clos­est evo­lu­tion­ary rel­a­tives are, in fact, the birds-of-par­adise of Aus­tralia and New Guinea. The lat­ter – renowned for their daz­zling and of­ten bizarre plumage, and their spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays and leks, are closely re­lated to the Corvi­dae, as well as the monarch fly­catch­ers (Monar­chi­dae) and the Aus­tralian mudnesters (Struthidei­dae). Go to New Guinea, and one thing that will strike you, af­ter you’ve mar­velled at the beauty of the birds-of-par­adise, of course, is that there are few crows. Three species are found there, but gen­er­ally their more colour­ful rel­a­tives seem to have won out, although they don’t re­place crows, ex­actly, given that they feed mainly on fruit. So, just think about that next time you’re ca­su­ally dis­miss­ing Rooks as noisy pests, or Mag­pies as nestling-snaf­fling pi­rates, although the lat­ter are, when you think about it, a pretty ex­otic look­ing bird for Bri­tain, and jays and some overseas mag­pies have some­thing of their rel­a­tives’ vis­ual panache, too.

To truly ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture, you need to take in­spi­ra­tion from it. This is a con­cept which has been re­flected in every sin­gle idea be­hind the devel­op­ment of ZEISS’ prod­ucts and ser­vices for more than 165 years. Just as na­ture never comes to a stand­still, ZEISS is al­ways striv­ing with a tire­less cu­rios­ity and re­lent­less pas­sion to ques­tion the sta­tus quo and set new stan­dards with tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions.

Since 1846 this en­thu­si­asm has en­abled us to con­tinue per­fect­ing the per­for­mance and qual­ity of our prod­ucts. Take, for ex­am­ple, the world’s first roof prism binoc­u­lars, our ap­pli­ca­tion-ori­ented prod­uct de­sign or the con­struc­tion of op­tics with ever bet­ter trans­mis­sion val­ues. Time and time again, we’ve im­pressed even the most de­mand­ing of bird­watch­ers and na­ture lovers with our new in­no­va­tions.

We also re­main com­mit­ted to this phi­los­o­phy for the fu­ture, as our goal is to con­tin­u­ously pro­vide all bird­watch­ers and na­ture lovers with the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence unique mo­ments of na­ture in all its de­tail and all its forms.

ÈGARDEN VIS­I­TORS Jack­daws are a fa­mil­iar sight for many of us, nest­ing on chim­neys

ADAPT­ABLE Car­rion Crows are found in most habi­tats, but can be seen as pests

DAZ­ZLING Male Greater Birds of Par­adise en­gage in eye-catch­ing dis­plays ELAB­O­RATE PLUMAGE A male Splen­did As­trapia shows off its vivid colours STRANGE TAILS Male Twelve-wired Birds of Par­adise have ex­tra­or­di­nary tails

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