As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Great tits' 'black ties' smaller in the city

12 June 2014 Last updated at 01:27

By Michelle WarwickerReporter, BBC Nature

Urban great tits have smaller black breast stripes than their rural neighbours, a study has found.

Scientists discovered significant differences between birds living in Barcelona, Spain and a nearby forest.

Smaller "black ties" appeared to improve male great tits' survival rates in the city, while in the countryside birds with larger ties fared best.

"The urban habitat favours a different kind of bird than the natural habitat," said researcher Dr Juan Carlos Senar.

His team captured and recaptured birds over several years and used a predictive computer model to compare survival rates of great tits with different sized ties.

"Recapturing a bird means that it is alive, and so we can relate survival probability to tie size," explained Dr Senar, who is head of research at the Natural History Museum of Barcelona.

The size of the distinctive black stripe on great tits' yellow chests is hereditary. It varies more in males, and is linked to their personality.

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