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 July 2018

Trump Administration Moves to Strip Endangered Species Protections From Threatened Western Songbird

Immediate Release, June 26, 2018
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Agricultural, Mining Interests Push to Delist Yellow-billed Cuckoo

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The Trump administration announced today it may end federal protection for the western yellow-billed cuckoo even as delays mount in conserving the species’ habitat and the threatened bird’s numbers continue to fall.

songbird is threatened with extinction as its streamside habitat has dried up from agricultural water withdrawals and development of its streamside homes. But livestock and mining interests in Arizona and an extreme property-rights group in Texas pushed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to review the bird’s status.

“The last thing the yellow-billed cuckoo needs is to lose its federal protection,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “After flying a thousand miles from South America, these migratory birds need healthy rivers to nest and feed alongside. The Trump administration should protect their nesting grounds, not abandon them to polluters.”

The western population of the yellow-billed cuckoo was first identified as needing federal protection in 1986. The Center submitted a scientific petition to list it under the Endangered Species Act in 1998, but it did not gain protection until 2014, and the Service still hasn’t protected critical habitat for the rare bird.

“Trump’s ongoing delay in protecting the cuckoo’s habitat is bad enough,” Robinson added. “Stripping this remarkable bird of its Endangered Species Act safety-net would leave our cottonwood groves silent and make the waters that sustain them even more vulnerable to diversion, extraction and despoliation for short-term profits.”

In its announcement today, the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the industry’s claim that the western population of the cuckoo was not sufficiently different from the more common and secure eastern population, which is not federally protected. But the Service said it would review whether the cuckoo used more habitat than was thought.

The yellow-billed cuckoo once thrived along nearly every water body in the contiguous United States, but its western population has been devastated by dams, livestock grazing, water withdrawals, river channelization and development.

Today the bird survives in scattered locations in small numbers, including along California’s Sacramento, Eel and Kern rivers; the Colorado, Gila, Verde and San Pedro rivers in Arizona; New Mexico’s Gila and Rio Grande rivers; and in scattered locations in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming and Utah. Historically it was common from the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle to the mouth of the Colorado River.

The cuckoo is a visually striking bird with a long tail with flashy white markings. It is also referred to as the “rain crow” for its habit of singing right before storms. It breeds in streamside forests of cottonwood and willow.

The cuckoos are one of the few species that can eat spiny caterpillars, such as tent caterpillars, which the adult birds and their chicks gorge on in the spring and summer before flying to South America in the late summer

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


Endangered plovers face new threat: snowy owls

By NAINA RAO • JUN 26, 2018

A new predator has emerged for a little shorebird in our region, the piping plover.

Snowy owls often spend time out on Great Lakes beaches in the winter. It’s a good habitat for them. But something unexpected happened this year.

Vince Cavalieri is the piping plover coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It became very apparent early this year that there were a lot of snowy owls still being seen,” he says.

He says the owls hung around later than usual.

“This is the first time I’ve seen snowy owls this late into the season in these kinds of numbers and also it’s the first time we know that piping plovers were predated by snowy owls,” says Cavalieri.

This is a problem because piping plovers are an endangered species. There are fewer than 80 nesting pairs in the Great Lakes region.

Oldest recorded Little Tern

On Monday the first chicks fledged at the only Little Tern colony in Wales, from the few nests that survived Storm Hector in mid June.

Prof David Norman, who has ringed the chicks at Gronant beach for decades, as a member of Merseyside Ringing Group, recently caught a bird he first ringed there in July 1993.

At almost 25 years of age, this appears to be the oldest Little Tern ringed anywhere in the world, and it’s still producing chicks!

Volunteers at Gronant have installed live-streaming cameras from a couple of nests. With Denbighshire Council wardens they are also starting a programme of diversionary feeding to provide a local pair of Kestrels with an alternative food source to fledging terns.

The first signs of autumn wader migration came with Spotted Redshanks at RSPB Conwy and at Connah’s Quay , where up to three Great White Egrets have been feeding.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Albino kingfisher chick draws birding community to East Coast Park

JUL 3, 2018, 10:07 PM SGT

SINGAPORE - A rare albino kingfisher chick is shooting to mini-stardom among the birding community here, after it was spotted last Wednesday (June 27) by wildlife observers at East Coast Park.

While white-collared kingfishers are common in Singapore, the sighting of an albino one was the first for many watchers, said observers.

The bird first flew into the public eye on Facebook pages such as the Nature Society (Singapore) group, and has made regular appearances online since.

Volunteers wanted for rare bird study on isolated N.S. islands

Applicants must be prepared for long hours, rustic accommodations, physical exertion and severe weather

Frances Willick · CBC News · Posted: Jul 03, 2018 12:00 PM AT | Last Updated: July 3

It could be a trip of a lifetime or your worst nightmare: being stuck on an isolated island for weeks at a time with no running water or electricity, rustic shared accommodations and potential exposure to extreme weather.

The volunteer application for a study on rare birds warns applicants of the position's challenges: "If you cannot take isolation, communal living, long hours, physical exertion, bugs, the heat, the cold, irregular supplies of fresh food, or primitive working conditions, this may not be the right job for you."

Researchers from Oxford University and Acadia University are travelling to Seal Island and Bon Portage Island to study why rare birds end up off the coast of mainland Nova Scotia and whether they make it back to their fall migration destinations.

Lucinda Zawadzki, a PhD student at Oxford, explains that since rare birds are by definition infrequent visitors, "nobody really has an understanding of why or how they get here."

Vulture chicks and rare bird eggs seized at Heathrow airport

Man arrested and bailed after discovery of 19 eggs from South African birds of prey

Press Association
Fri 29 Jun 2018 13.44 BSTLast modified on Fri 29 Jun 2018 17.05 BST

Two vulture chicks and more than a dozen eggs containing rare and endangered species have been seized at Heathrow airport.

Border Force officers confiscated 19 eggs, two of which had hatched, from a man who had arrived on a flight from South Africa.

While the exact species have not yet been identified, the eggs, which had been concealed in a body belt, were from South African birds of prey including vultures, eagles, hawks and kites, the Home Office said.

Border Force specialist officers identified that the eggs were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The chicks and eggs were being cared for at a specialist facility, the Home Office said.

The man, 56, was arrested and bailed pending further inquiries. The investigation has been passed to the National Crime Agency.

How a tiny bird signals big improvement for a Palatine forest preserve

The Henslow's sparrow has been spotted at the Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine for the first time since 1993.

Although the Henslow's sparrow is small in size, conservationists say its return to Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine after a 15-year absence is a big sign that longtime restoration work is paying off.

Palatine birder Heidi Tarasiuk spotted and photographed the roughly 5-inch sparrow during its nesting season early this month at Deer Grove, the state's first dedicated forest preserve. Linda Masters, a restoration specialist for the Openlands conservation organization, said the Bird Conservation Network confirmed Tarasiuk captured an image of the Henslow's sparrow.

"When I saw the Henslow here, I thought, 'Wow, this is a big deal,'" Tarasiuk said during a recent walk through Deer Grove East, where the sparrow's "hiccup" sound could be heard not far from an egret and sandhill cranes.

Officials at Chicago-based Openlands say the Henslow's sparrow is an indicator species for the health of natural areas, so its first appearance at Deer Grove since 2003 represents a milestone for the organization's work managing the preserve's continuing restoration. Openlands began the task in partnership with Forest Preserves of Cook County in 2008.