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Current News


Field Biologist, Marion Island April 22 - May 23
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 - 11:30

The Marine Apex Predator Research Unit (MAPRU; Coastal and Marine Research Institute at Nelson Mandela University) in collaboration with the FitzPatrick Institute of Ornithology (University of Cape Town), is offering one suitably qualified candidate an opportunity to spend a year on sub-Antarctic Marion Island collecting field data on seabirds and avian scavengers to be used for conservation and academic purposes.

Fitz Director, Peter Ryan joined the Arctic Century Expedition
Tue, 07 Sep 2021 - 08:45

Peter Ryan joined the Arctic Century Expedition to the Russian Arctiic to study the plastic pollution of the region, as well as document the region's birds and marine mammals.

New paper: The impacts of high temperatures on rockjumper chicks
Fri, 03 Sep 2021 - 10:30

The paper from Krista Oswald's PhD research, part-funded by the Fitztitute and co-supervised by Dr Susie Cunningham shows the impacts of high temperatures in the Cape Fold mountains on rockjumper chicks: the hotter it gets, the smaller they are.

Fitz study finds that ships are illegally dumping plastic bottles that end up on South African beaches
Thu, 29 Jul 2021 - 10:00

A new study by researchers at UCT's FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and Nelson Mandela University found that ships are a major source of plastic bottles littering South African beaches.The findings, just published in the journal Environmental Pollution, also show that some bottles drift across the Indian Ocean from countries in southeast Asia, especially Indonesia.

BirdLife SA Virtual Birdfair 30-31 July 2021
Mon, 19 Jul 2021 - 12:30

BirdLife SA are holding their Virtual African Bird Fair on Friday and Saturday, 30-31 July 2021. All you need to do to be part of this two-day FREE event, is to register. FitzPatrick staff and students will be presenting at 09h00 on Saturday July 31. 

Sunbirds maintain flower colour diversity
Thu, 08 Jul 2021 - 12:15

Orange-breasted sunbirds Anthobaphes violacea pollinate at least 67 Erica plant species in the Cape and recent research suggests that these sunbirds have contributed to creating the great diversity of flower colours we see today.

New study suggests falcons have natural ‘eye makeup’ to improve hunting ability
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 - 14:15

A new study by MSc student Michelle Vrettos suggests that falcons have natural ‘eye makeup’ to improve hunting ability. A paper from this study has been published in Biology Letters.

New paper published in the African Journal of Marine Science
Fri, 18 Jun 2021 - 11:45

MSc student Farisayi Dakwa recently published a paper on the diet of two Vulnerable penguin species; Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) and Eastern Rockhopper (Eudyptes filholi) penguins that breed at sub-Antarctic Marion Island.

New study published : The importance of sociable weaver colonies to the surrounding animal community
Mon, 14 Jun 2021 - 12:00

A new study by Anthony Lowney and Robert Thomson demonstrates the importance of sociable weaver colonies to the surrounding animal community was recently published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.


New paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Fri, 19 Mar 2021 - 13:15

A new paper from the Fitz and the ANU describes how behavioural changes for thermoregulation carry opportunity costs with implications for fitness, population persistence and ecosystem function. 

Unpleasant meals may help manage crow predation on bird nests
Wed, 24 Feb 2021 - 07:30

Crows are notorious for robbing eggs and chicks from other birds nests, especially where crow numbers have been boosted by human activity. However, research led by UCT student Angela Ferguson, indicates one way to stop the marauding crows.

Sensing good vibrations: a remarkable sensory organ in the beaks of ancient fossil birds
Thu, 03 Dec 2020 - 10:15

Newly published research by an all-women team from the University of Cape Town (UCT) shows how one of the most ancient groups of birds (from the time of the dinosaurs) was able to detect minute mechanical vibrations in the soil using their beaks referred to as remote-touch.