The BBC is reporting on a new study in the journal Animal Behavior suggesting that bizarre feathers ornamenting the heads of some seabirds may actually be functional. Long thought to be mere sexual ornamentation serving as advertising to potential mates, crests and whiskers now appear to afford some protection against walking into things in dark places. Many of the species sporting such feathers also happen to breed in dark burrows where “feelers” would be very helpful.
When the feathers were experimentally flattened, the birds walked into walls quite a lot. This strikes the SEANET blogger as a very amusing study in which to participate.
On an unrelated note of shameless self-promotion, don’t forget to tell all your seabird loving friends to visit the blog–our stats are relatively steady, but we have a shot at being in the top 40 sites (out of 900+) on the Nature Blog Network, so visit often and do share the link widely.