Thursday, August 27, 2009

Toucan bills are not for snagging dates

At the National Zoo, we only had time to see the pandas and the birds.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to photograph the most colorful birds. This toucan was behind white wires, but when I stood close to the wires with my telephoto lens and an open aperture, the wires simply disappeared (just like they say in the books!). You can see the wires when I zoomed out or stepped away from the wires.

After our trip, I learned from this Scientific American's 60 Second Science podcast that "the toucan's bill is so big because it acts like a radiator strapped to its face. When a toucan needs to cool down, its beak heats up."  So all the conventional wisdom (including Darwin's) of the colorful beaks attracting mates may be false.  Wow, you learn something new every day!

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