Colourful crow relatives
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