July 2009

Toucan Bills serve as Heat-Exchangers

The bird famous as the mascot for Fruit Loops cereal, the Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco,

since you asked) a native of South American rain forests, is the largest member of the toucan family. Its proboscis is ginormous. Researchers Glenn J. Tattersall, Denis V. Andrade, and Augusto S. Abe from Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Universidade Estadual Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil, Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia em Fisiologia Comparada, respectively, have joined forces under the auspices of a research grant at Brock University to study the Toco toucan's bill, and determine why it is so very large.

Canary Fighting in Connecticut

Doesn’t that title simply sound absurd? When I picture a canary, it’s always a cute little singing yellow bird—something like Tweety from Looney Tunes. I’ve always found it cruel to have birds in cages anyway—even though some of my friends do have birds as pets. I know if I had wings, I’d much rather use them in the wide open air than in someone’s stuffy house.

And canary cruelty is already familiar to some of us. You may know that canaries were used by miners to warn them if deadly gases were present. Though modern miners thankfully use more humane methods of detection—such as carbon monoxide monitors and detectors—they used to take canaries (or mice) in groups of three into the mines, and if they showed signs of “distress”—meaning they died, typically—the miners knew it wasn’t safe to follow suit. Canaries have also been used in lab research as well.

Turkey Abusers Gobbled Up and Spit Out

For the first time ever, two people were recently convicted of cruelty to animals for turkey abuse.

And it wasn’t even on Thanksgiving.

Two ex-employees of an Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. factory farm in Lewisburg, West Virginia, Edward Eric Gwinn and Scott Alvin White, were found stomping on turkeys’ heads, force-feeding the birds feces and breaking their necks in an undercover investigation.