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, 20 October 2017

Wellington Zoo urges people to make little blue penguin Bird of the Year

18 Oct, 2017 7:40pm

Wellington Zoo is throwing its weight behind the little blue penguin in a bid to get it voted in as Bird of the Year.

They're only about 25cm tall and weigh about 1kg, but the native New Zealand seabird can eat 40 per cent of its body weight per day, a fact that the zoo's senior keeper of birds Philip Wisker likes to tell visitors during his penguin talks.

As part of Conservation Week, the zoo is pushing for people to vote in the penguins, which can be found around Wellington, for Bird of the Year.

At the time of print, the bird had 541 votes.

They are currently classed as vulnerable thanks to threats such as loss of food and being hit by cars, as well as falling prey to cats and dogs.

There are five little blue penguins at Wellington Zoo, all of which have been brought in from the wild.

Malteser has been a resident at the zoo for five years, after he was attacked by a dog and brought in by a member of the public. The zoo runs an animal hospital called The Nest Te Kohanga, which often takes in native birds.

"They were able to patch him back together but unfortunately they couldn't rescue his eye, so he's got an eye missing," said senior keeper of birds, Philip Wisker.

With the partial loss of that sense, Malteser couldn't be sent back into the wild, so instead lives at the zoo with his partner, Squidge, a penguin that was brought in as a baby.

"Squidge was found when she was very, very young, she was a little ball of fluff."

Someone thought she was abandoned, so brought her in, Wisker said.

Surge in eye injuries as Melbourne magpies go on attack spree

Hospital issues warning as ‘extraordinary’ spate of bird-inflicted injuries include a penetrated eye that required surgery

Australian Associated Press
Thursday 19 October 2017 03.54 BSTLast modified on Thursday 19 October 2017 04.04 BST

A penetrated eye that needed surgery is just one of an “extraordinary” spate of magpie-inflicted injuries in Melbourne, and one hospital has issued a warning about the swooping birds.

The number of eye injuries caused by the bird has risen significantly, according to the emergency director of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear hospital, Dr Carmel Crock.

 “Normally, we might see one or two a month,” she told ABC radio on Thursday. “But in July we saw 14 cases of bird eye injuries. August there were 12.

“In the last week, we saw five in the one day, including a penetrating eye injury that needed to go to theatre.”

Many attacks took place in Lonsdale Street, Punt Road, Lygon Street and Heffernan Lane in the CBD, Crock said.

The “extraordinary” number of incidents led several staff registrars to ask hospital executives to take action, she said. “We really just did want to warn the public.

“Although a lot of the injuries are quite minor … they can really go all the way through and cause a penetrating injury, with bleeding and bruising at the back of the eye.”

Australia’s swooping season starts in spring as predominantly male magpies dive down on cyclists, pedestrians and runners who go near nests.

There have been 3,253 recorded attacks and 518 injuries linked to magpies across the country in 2017, according to the Magpie Alert website.

Engineers identify key to albatross' marathon flight

Flying in shallow arcs helps birds stay aloft with less effort

Date:  October 11, 2017
Source:  Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Engineers have developed a new model to simulate dynamic soaring, and have used it to identify the optimal flight pattern that an albatross should take in order to harvest the most wind and energy. They found that as an albatross banks or turns to dive down and soar up, it should do so in shallow arcs, keeping almost to a straight, forward trajectory.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Rare 'ghost owl' with white feathers spotted in Britain

By Jasper Hamill, The Sun
(Credit: Caters News Agency)
(Credit: Caters News Agency)

An incredibly rare ghostly white "Ino" owl has been spotted in the UK.

The beautiful pure white owl was photographed at a secret location, on private land just outside of Durham City Center.

It is a British species called a Little Owl which has been turned white due to a rare genetic condition known as Ino, which makes it look a bit like an albino.

Photographer Hilary Chambers, a member of the Durham Bird Club, took the extraordinary pictures but was asked to keep the location a secret in a bid to protect the rare bird.
The 68-year-old originally thought it was an Albino owl or a Leucistic owl but presented her incredible shots to Hein van Grouw, bird curator at The National History Museum, who later confirmed it was actually an Ino bird.

"You learn something every day," Chambers said.

"I am a keen birdwatcher and photographer and have been doing this for about 15 years now.

"I have had some great encounters over the years and you just never know what you are going to see next."

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterised by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the feathers and Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the feathers but not the eyes.

Read on  

One big plan to save African-Eurasian vultures by 2029

International commitment is needed now from over 120 countries to ensure the recovery of 15 vulture species

By Shaun Hurrell

African-Eurasian Vultures are the most threatened group of terrestrial migratory birds on the planet. Many have extensive soaring migrations (and a Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelli was recorded as the world’s highest-flying bird when it collided with an airliner), and their massive ranges mean that their safety can only be guaranteed if many countries come together and agree on a plan for their protection. This is where BirdLife International’s work comes in, supported by Partners around the world, with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) providing a key platform.

It’s a huge problem and a huge area, so we have made an appropriate plan: namely, the Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP), developed by BirdLife, the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Vulture Specialist Group and Vulture Conservation Foundation, under the guidance of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU), with input from numerous individual experts on vultures and their conservation.

Ancient preen oil: Researchers discover 48-million-year-old lipids in a fossil bird

Date:  October 18, 2017
Source:  Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum

As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a bird, containing lipids of the same age. The oldest lipids ever recorded in a fossil vertebrate were used by the bird to preen its plumage.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Massacre fears spark race to save rare Australia parrot

October 18, 2017

Critically endangered Swift Parrots are under threat from squirrel-like "sugar gliders" in a battle for space in Australia's ancient forests, scientists say as they race to save the rare birds.

Critically endangered Swift Parrots are under threat from squirrel-like sugar gliders in a battle for space in Australia's ancient forests, scientists said Wednesday as they race to save the rare birds.

Swift Parrots are migratory and only breed in the southern island state of Tasmania.

But the nomadic nectar-eating birds' nesting grounds—gum trees—are also popular with sugar gliders, small possums believed to have been introduced to Tasmania in the early 19th century.

The marsupials, which launch themselves from tree to tree and rarely descend to the ground, eat the nesting birds as well as their eggs and chicks, the Australian National University scientists said.

This year, both species are battling for real estate on Tasmania's east coast due to abundant eucalypt flowering in the region, which contains some of the world's oldest trees.