Category Archives: animal behavior

Caterpillar makes a tent out of its dinner to hide itself

Reader Paul sent in this video of a caterpillar who hides itself in a leaf tent to remain undetected by predators while eating the leaf. It works only because the beast eats only one layer of the leaf. But look at the sophistication of this behavior! I particularly like the way it makes the “hinge” […]

Pig mourns its friend

All I know about this short video is the information in the title. It’s ineffably sad and makes me tear up. Yes, pigs are intelligent, and can you doubt that this is mourning? How does the pig know that its longtime companion is not just sleeping? That’s above my pay grade, but the video bespeaks […]

The Andean condor: a bird that hardly ever flaps its wings

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is a bird with one of the longest wingspans in the world—about 3.3 meters, or 10 feet 10 inches. Their mean weight is 11.3 kg (25 lb), with males weighing about a kg more than females. Wikipedia notes that its wingspan is “exceeded only by the wingspans of four seabirds […]

The uncommon common swift

Reader Jacques Hausser, a Swiss biologist, sent some lovely YouTube videos of swifts, who rarely land anywhere, and can’t even take off from the ground. Their diet consists entirely of insects. The swifts shown are common swifts, Apus apus, which are anything but “common”! Their most amazing feature (from Wikipedia): Except when nesting, swifts spend […]

Templeton pays $1 million for an unanswerable question: do keas feel joy?

Keas, Nestor notabilis, are the world’s only alpine parrots, found in New Zealand. What is it like to be a kea? When Tom Nagel wrote his famous article about what it is like to be a bat, he concluded that although bats may have consciousness, the content of that consciousness is inaccessible to us. He’s […]

Watch a horsefly bite human flesh and drink the blood

To make this educational video, some stalwart soul offered themselves as food for a horsefly of the genus Hybomitra.  Like mosquitoes, only female horseflies drink blood, and they do so so with fearsome mandibles that contain six sharp blades, or stylets. Here’s a picture by Anthony Thomas of the mandible of a Hybomitra affinis horsefly, […]

Tiny sea creatures make huge, fantastic houses to protect themselves and get food

Of all the posts I’ve written about the amazing things animals do, testifying to the power of natural selection, this is one of the most amazing. It concerns a very tiny animal, Bathochordaeus stygius, a “giant larvacean”, which is a free-swimming marine tunicate, a chordate in the same phylum as we humans.  It’s about 1.5 inches […]

Man makes birdbath in his palm for a finch

The translated Spanish from this video goes like this: “My goldfinch Tweety taking a refreshing dip in my hands, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.” I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t look like a goldfinch to me. Readers?

Squirrel-proof bird feeder? Don’t bet on it!

Many readers sent me this video made by engineer and inventor Mark Rober about his attempt to build a Rube-Goldberg-like bird feeder that would foil squirrels. (This is the ultimate pandemic project.) Thanks to all who sent this; it’s truly awesome (as the kids say), and “viral”, with over 14 million views in four days! […]

Hawk steals sandwich

I really like this video, as it recalls a similar incident that happened to me in India. In the very short video below, posted on “Twitch” (whatever that is), a hawk swoops in and, with unerring accuracy, nabs a girl’s sandwich. I watched it several times to see how it swooped in. Those things have […]