Friday, January 15, 2010

Longest Living Birds Are . . . [Extra, Extra!]

A study just published in the Journal of Zoology finds that the longest lived birds are large, social, vegetarian, and live on islands.

Large, social, vegetarian, island-dwelling birds live longer than other birds, reports a new Cornell study that examined the relationships between evolution and life spans in birds.

Some of the longest-living birds include flamingos, parrots, petrels and shearwaters, all of which can live 30 years and more, while many perching birds, grebes and woodpeckers have the shortest life spans of under 10 years, the researchers found.

So, what is it about island dwelling, body size, diet, and behavior that allows a longer life span?

. . . bigger birds have fewer predators; herbivorous birds avoid risks that carnivorous birds may face, such as getting hurt or picking up parasites and pathogens when attacking prey, and compared to carnivores, may find food more readily available; social species can mob and warn of predators, and may find safety or may hide in numbers; and island breeders face fewer predators, pathogens and parasites.

For more: read the press release, or the abstract and full text (note: abstract free, full text requires a subscription).

Meanwhile, I'm going to contemplate a move to the Caribbean.



Nate said...

Petrels and Albatrosses are vegetarian?

noflickster said...

@ Nate - Well, yeah, they don't eat red meat. I think that's the new, convenient definition of vegetarianism.

noflickster said...

Full disclosure: I haven't read the details (no access to the full article from home), but I'll check it out later today and report back on the author's clarifications.

Nate said...

My wife would not agree with this new definition of vegetarianism, to my detriment... :)

Anonymous said...

It's a numbers thing.
They must be looking at averages.
"30 years or more"?
I know that ravens live 60-70 years.
I found these elsewhere:
Turkey Buzzard = 118 years
Swan = 102 years
Parrot = 80 years
owl = 68 years
Eagle = 55 years
Doesn't seem that diet matters much.

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