Roadside-nesting cliff swallows have evolved shorter, more manoeuvrable
wings, which may have helped them to make hasty retreats from oncoming
vehicles, according to a study published in Current Biology.
The study’s authors discovered the trend after noticing that the
number of vehicle-killed birds had declined over the past three decades.
They suggest that the two findings provide evidence of roadway-related
“I’m not saying that it’s all because of wing length,”
says Charles Brown, a biologist at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma
and one of the authors of the study. But, he says, the shortening does
support the idea that the birds are adapting to disturbed environments,
as other organisms presumably are.
Together with Mary Bomberger Brown, a ornithologist at the
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Brown tracked roadside populations of
cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) in western Nebraska for 30 years, mostly to study the birds social behaviors within their colonies.
Written By: Beth Marie Molecontinue to source article at nature.com