You may have read about birth control for stateside pigeons (find that article here: Planned Parenthood For Pigeons). Now, scientists in New Zealand are trying to develop a deodorant for their native birds to stop them from falling prey to introduced predators. – Global Animal
From correspondents in New Zealand
Scientists are hoping to develop a deodorant for New Zealand’s native birds to stop them falling prey to introduced predators.
New Zealand has an abundance of native bird species, including the famous kiwi, but no native land mammals, meaning introduced animals such as cats and stoats have had a devastating impact on bird numbers.
Associate Professor Jim Briskie from New Zealand’s Canterbury University said it appeared the country’s birds suffered from body odour, making them an easy target for predators.
He said unlike their overseas counterparts, which evolved alongside mammals, New Zealand birds emitted a strong smell when preened to produce wax to protect their feathers.
He said the kiwi smelled like mushrooms or ammonia, while the flightless kakapo parrot’s odour was like “musty violin cases,” possibly contributing to its endangered status.
The Marsden scientific research fund has given Associate Professor Briskie a NZ$600,000 (US$437,000) grant to study native bird body odours over the next three years in the hope of making them less exposed to predators.
“Down the line, if we do find some species are particularly smelly or vulnerable, perhaps I can design a deodorant for kiwis,” he told the Dominion Post newspaper.