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.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

How do birds get their colors?

The role of melanins in creating complex plumage patterns in 9,000 species

Date: August 5, 2017
Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

Birds exhibit an extraordinary diversity of plumage pigmentation patterns. It has been overlooked, however, that complex patterns can be produced only with the contribution of melanins because these are the only pigments under direct cellular control.

Mystery surrounds disappearance of rare bird of prey

16 August 2017 at 10:32am

A rare bird of prey that breeds in Norfolk has gone missing in mysterious circumstances.

Sally, a Montagu's harrier, is fitted with a satellite tag. However, this stopped transmitting a signal on Sunday 6 August.

The RSPB says this is unusual because satellite tags are highly reliable and will continue transmitting signals even when a bird is dead.

Sally is paired with another Montagu's harrier called Roger. They are the only pair of Montagu’s harriers left in eastern England and one of only four pairs in the UK.

Sally and Roger have successfully bred in Norfolk for the past two seasons. This year they raised three juveniles.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Protecting the Nest from the Parasitic Pin-tailed Whydah


The Pin-tailed Whydah, a parasitic bird, could put native Antilles and Hawaiian island species at risk.

The word “parasite” often brings to mind an image a small worm, but sometimes, parasitic species are not what you imagine. Such is the case for the Pin-tailed Whydah, which is one of only about 100 parasitic bird species in the world.

The Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) is native to sub-Saharan Africa where it is known for its bright orange beak, black and white body, and the long tail-feathers they grow during mating season. The distinct coloration of this species has led to their introduction throughout the world via the pet trade. Although such proliferation might seem harmless, the Pin-tailed Whydah’s unique parasitism makes it dangerous to native species if it is accidentally or purposefully released into the wild.

Set nets killing 'hundreds' of penguins each year - Forest & Bird

9:02 am on 4 August 2017 
Eric Frykberg, Transport, Energy & Resource Infrastructure Reporter

Hundreds of penguins are likely dying in fishing nets each year, conservation group Forest & Bird says.

It said the birds, including the endangered hoiho / yellow-eyed penguin, were dying after being unintentionally snared in set nets moored close to the coast.

The group said material gathered from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Official Information Act showed 14 penguin deaths occurred in the year from October 2015 to October 2016, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Thirteen of these were reported by MPI observers but only 3 percent of boats had MPI observers onboard, so the real number of penguin deaths had to be higher, it said.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said this was not good news.

"It looks as if the fishing industry is killing hundreds of penguins in set net fisheries and almost none of it is being reported," he said.

That was because there was no mechanism to determine how many were dying.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Grouse moors actually protect rare birds, study shows

Sarah Knapton, science editor 7 AUGUST 2017 • 12:01AM

Grouse moors owners have hit back at claims that shoots harm wildlife by commissioning a report showing rare birds are thriving on their land.

Last week Chris Packham called for an end to grouse shooting labelling the sport ‘moorland vandalism’ and criticised gamekeepers for killing hen harriers - Britain’s rarest bird of prey - to prevent them from eating chicks.

The RSPB also claims that intensive land management practices, such as burning and drainage of peatlands, tracks and the use of veterinary medicines and killing of mountain hares to reduce the incidence of disease in grouse, harm wildlife.

But a new study commissioned by a dozen grouse moors, and undertaken by Newcastle and Durham Universities which surveyed 18 moorland estates across England and Scotland between April and June this year, found some birds were flourishing.

Great White Egrets breed at Holkham Nature Reserve

PUBLISHED: 17:33 07 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:33 07 August 2017

Holkham Nature Reserve has welcomed another rare bird to its list of species, after three young Great white Egrets hatched at the reserve this year.

Throughout the 19th century, these birds were killed across Europe for their ornate feathers, used in the hat trade, and for much of the 20th century the species was under threat, and restricted to wetland areas in Eastern Europe.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Rare species of butterflies and birds spotted in Kodaikanal

UPDATED: AUGUST 07, 2017 08:46 IST

The Nilgiri Tit butterfly, a rarely spotted species, was sighted on the Kodaikanal hill during a birds and butterfly survey conducted in Kodaikanal forests by forest officials and members of various voluntary organisations in the State.

A team comprising 45 volunteers spotted 14 species of butterflies and 11 rare birds. Ten groups conducted the survey in 30 places.

On the whole, the teams spotted 90 birds and 136 butterfly species, of which 11 were rare species, including Nilgiris wood pigeons, owls, grassland birds wood peckers and 14 rare species of butterflies, including Nilgiri Tit, Palni Four-ring, Palni Fritillary, Common Mime, Nilgri Clouded Yellow and Lesser Gul.

Common Sergeant, Blackvein Sergeant, Clipper, Red spot Duke, Indian Red Admiral, Blue Admiral, Common Tinsel, Indian Awlking Orange Striped Awlet were other butterfly species spotted in Kodaikanal.

Similarly, spot-belled eagle owl, Nilgiri wood pigeon, Crested goshawk, Rufous-bellied eagle, Nilgiri Pipit, White-bellied Short wing, Orange headed thrush, Bay-backed shrike, Rufous wood pecker and Common flave back were some birds spotted.