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.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Where did 50,000 'lost geese' go?

Researchers fit satellite tags to unlock secrets of ‘lost' geese
February 2013. Researchers in Bulgaria have taken the largest ever catch of Endangered red-breasted geese and fitted satellite tracking devices in a bid to unlock one of the biggest mysteries of the natural world.
red-breasted goose (Wikipedia)
Just over ten years ago, more than 50,000 of the small, brightly coloured geese seemingly disappeared from their wintering grounds along the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.

Relocated or exterminated?
Coordinated international counts have not since recorded a significant increase, leaving scientists speculating whether the missing geese - half the world population - have relocated to unknown sites in southwest Asia or fallen foul of hunting, development and changes in farming.

Teams from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) caught 91 red-breasted geese and fitted 11 tags to follow the birds' individual movements along their 6,000 km migration to breeding grounds in Arctic Russia.

But conservationists working to save the red-breasted goose are being realistic about the chances of rediscovering the ‘lost' population. The data gathered will also help conservationists work with farmers, planners and developers in Bulgaria.
Peter Cranswick, Head of Species Recovery at WWT, has been at the heart of the international effort to catch and tag the geese. He said:

50% of the world's population disappeared
"Almost overnight, we were unable to account for around half the world's red-breasted geese. The reasons are still unclear and we are tracking these individual birds to find out more.

"The data we get will be invaluable to our work with local communities in Bulgaria - the farmers, shooters and landowners - to work out how we support the remaining geese, while still meeting their needs. It is also possible that, as the climate has changed, some birds have started to winter further east. We hope our tagged birds will reveal as yet unknown sites, so we can assess their importance and - if necessary - ensure their protection."

The project ‘Safe Ground for Redbreasts' is funded the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community.

Gamekeeper trapped rare birds of prey using illegal cages

A game keeper set out to protect his pheasants by trapping some of Britain's rarest birds of prey using illegal cages baited with live pigeons, a court heard yesterday.

Shaun Allanson, 37, subsidised his income from working on the Blansby Park near Pickering, North Yorkshire, by breeding and selling game birds to shooting parties.

Goshawks, so rare they were once declared extinct, were a known predator on the estate but protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Natural England officer Justine Clark was carrying out a survey at Blansby Park when she stumbled across one of Allanson's illegal cages, the court heard.

It was inside a pheasant pen on the estate which was surrounded by a six foot high electric fence, Scarborough Magistrates were told. She found a wire cage "letter box trap" - with a slot just big enough for a bird to get in but not out again.

"Inside was a buzzard eating what appeared to be a freshly killed pigeon," said Sarah Tyrer, prosecuting for the CPS. "Her immediate thought was that this was an illegal trap. Looking inside she could see food, water, and a perch.

"She released the buzzard and reported the matter to police."

In follow up visits by police, a pigeon skull was found in the bottom of the cage, and a second small trap was discovered hidden in the pen 100ft from the bigger one.

The officer also arranged logs in front of the gate to the pen and when he returned they had been rearranged, showing someone had been inside again.

The court heard such cages were not illegal but were only supposed to be used for catching crows at certain times and not baited with live pigeons.

HABITATS of an endangered bird could stop HS2 in its tracks north of Birmingham.

Rare bird could halt HS2
Feb 20 2013 by Carl Gavaghan, Uxbridge Gazette

The high-speed rail line will threaten the survival of rare willow tits, conservationists warned last week.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust says the tiny species and other woodland birds are in danger because their habitat is close to the proposed route of the high-speed rail trains.

The £32billion line will pass ancient forests, wetlands and patches of mosses, including some areas that are protected by law because of their scientific value.

They include the Lightshaw Meadows nature reserve near Wigan, a haven for rare birds including willow tits. It is feared bats, water voles, newts and other birds including the rare black redstart, could also be at risk.
willow tit (Wikipedia)

Charlotte Harris, director of conservation at Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s clear the government sees high-speed rail as the best deal for the north-west economy, but it’s our job to ensure we get the best deal for wildlife too.”

Up to 11 wildlife sites will be within a 100 metre corridor of the line in the north west, and another 35 are just a kilometre away.

The trust says four sites of special scientific interest are also close to the line, including Holcroft Moss, a wetland reserve near Glazebrook, Warrington.

It says the affected local wildlife sites include ancient woodlands containing trees more than 400 years old.

Leading Bird Group Wants New DOI Secretary To Review Possible Revised Rule Weakening Eagle Protections For Wind Industry

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) called on the agency to suspend further consideration of a revised rule that would weaken protections provided to eagles pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, by allowing private companies to apply for an unprecedented 30-year permit to kill these iconic species.

ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation groups, instead called for the rule to be shelved until Sally Jewell, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Interior, has had time to fully review the proposal and evaluate its potential long-term impacts on eagle populations.

“The public places a high value on both Bald and Golden Eagles, two species that have inspired awe, pride, and patriotism in America’s citizens for generations. The Bald Eagle is America’s national symbol and was only removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Thus, this important and highly controversial decision should not be made without the full participation and careful consideration of the new Secretary of the Interior,” said Darin Schroeder, ABC’s vice president of Conservation Advocacy.

The new, far weaker, version of the eagle protection rule was drafted after requests from the wind energy industry, and represents a curious reversal of a FWS decision in 2009. At that time the USFWS wrote, “…the rule limits permit tenure to five years or less because factors may change over a longer period of time such that a take authorized much earlier would later be incompatible with the preservation of the Bald Eagle or the Golden Eagle.”

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Would changing the law protect Britain's birds of prey?

Get Adobe Flash player
25 February 2013 Last updated at 19:07

Conservationists say there is only one breeding pair of Hen Harriers left in England and claim numbers have dwindled over the last decade partly because of illegal killing.

Some experts believe a change in the law, which has already happened in Scotland could see a revival in their numbers.

Danny Savage reports.

Shearwater identification needed

February 2013. Malcolm Calvert photographed this shearwater off the coast of Costa Rica in January 2013. He has asked Wildlife Extra to help identify this bird, so we are turning this over to our readers. If you can help Malcolm, please leave a note below or email us with your thoughts.


Vampire bats attack penguin chicks

By Ella Davies, Reporter, BBC Nature

Documentary makers have filmed vampire bats preying on Humboldt penguin chicks.

The team travelled to the outskirts of the Atacama Desert in Peru to record how the penguins interacted with other species.

Despite anecdotal evidence of the bats attacking penguins, the behaviour had never been recorded before.

The extraordinary footage features in the BBC One series Penguins: Spy in the huddle.

Humboldt penguins breed in coastal South America where they hunt fish in the cold waters of the current also named after the German naturalist Friedrich Humboldt.

The production team were first drawn to the location by the abundant wildlife, particularly the penguins' survival struggles against a neighbouring colony of 20,000 predatory sea lions.
Although they witnessed vampire bats feeding on the sea lions, it took patience and specialist kit to witness them attacking penguin chicks.

Producer Matthew Gordon admitted that when they first began filming, they were sceptical that the bats fed on penguins.

Continued and video:

Arizona's bald eagle nestwatch program celebrates 35 years of dedication

For more than 35 years, Arizona's Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program has contributed to the tremendous growth of the state’s bald eagle population and helped save the lives of more than 60 eagle nestlings.

This year's nestwatchers begin their four-month tours of duty this week, watching 14 breeding areas, most along the Salt and Verde rivers in national forests, on Native American lands, and in Maricopa County parks. They collect data about the eagles' behavior, educate the public, and notify rescuers of any life-threatening situations for the birds.

So far in 2013, three new breeding areas have been documented bringing Arizona to a record 68 bald eagle breeding areas throughout the state.

The department's bald eagle conservation program is supported by the Heritage Fund, a 1990 voter-passed initiative that provides funding for wildlife conservation and education from Arizona lottery dollars. The nationally-recognized nestwatch program began in 1978 as a weekend volunteer effort by the U.S. Forest Service and Maricopa Audubon to help ensure the continued success of bald eagle breeding. Today, 26 government, private organizations and tribes are involved with the program to monitor bald eagle breeding areas that are under heavy pressure from human recreational activities.

For more information on Arizona's bald eagles, visit or  

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Here's proof that even birds are big jerks sometimes

A Grackle steals a piece of food from a young Kangaroo (chrono1465 via Reddit,

No one ever talks about survival of the nicest out there in the wild, and there's a reason for that. We can only assume that animal jerks like this grabby little bird will probably live forever. Just look at that sweet little kangaroo just peacefully eating a banana (or femur or whatever) and presumably humming Australian folk songs in his head, oblivious to the cunning bird swooping in from behind. The bird comes in quick as a flash and makes his getaway, leaving the kangaroo to look much like we do when our fingers make it to the bottom of the Dorito bag earlier than we intended. Next time keep your treats in your pouch, kangaroo. Haven't had enough of jerky animals for one day? Click through the gallery above to see even more.

Rare birds get back on track

Sunday, 24 February 2013, 11:40 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister of Conservation

24 February  2013       
Media Statement       
Rare birds get back on track

Whio (Wikipedia)
Kokako (Wikipedia)
The $1 million partnership between DOC and Air New Zealand to bring some of our most threatened birds back to our acclaimed Great Walks track network is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when business gets involved in conservation, says Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith.

“This is an inspiring partnership that benefits both conservation and tourism. It will create predator free zones for some of our most threatened birds while adding to the visitor experience on our most famous Great Walks,” says Dr Smith.

“This Bluegreen approach of finding environmentally responsible business partners to help fund conservation helps us do more in tight financial times. The benefits for conservation are more than just the $1 million, as Air New Zealand’s marketing muscles also helps us raise the profile of these threatened iconic birds.

“This is not just about international tourists. This is about New Zealanders being able to see birds like kiwi, whio, takahe and kokako in their natural habitat.

“Air New Zealand is showing real leadership and innovation with this initiative and I am encouraging DOC to continue exploring other partnerships that will help the conservation cause.”

Bird-friendly Farms Catching On in California

Migratory birds find refuge on farms as part of conservation plan.
Ker Than in Staten Island, California

Published February 20, 2013

On a recent bright afternoon in late January, scattered flocks of geese, sandhill cranes, and other birds foraged for food in cornfields on Staten Island (map) in California's Central Valley.

"Some farmers, if they had this concentration of geese, will put out the shotguns and use the sound to distract them," said Brent Tadman, who manages the 9,200-acre (3,700-hectare) Conservation Farms and Ranches on the island.
A pair of sandhill cranes forage on a farm in Staten Island, California.
Photograph courtesy Cynthia Tapley, The Nature Conservancy

But birds on Staten Island are allowed to forage in peace, because this is no ordinary farm. Located about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Staten Island was purchased by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2002 in order to create a place where agriculture and conservation can coexist. (Related: "'Walking Wetlands' Help Declining Birds, Boost Crops.")

TNC hopes bird-friendly practices developed and tested on Staten Island will set an example for other farmers for how they can keep their land productive and profitable—while creating habitat for birds traveling along the Pacific Flyway, one of four primary migratory routes in North America.

All About the Cranes
Staten Island is a major stopover and wintering ground for a broad suite of migratory bird species—including waterbirds such as ducks, snow geese, herons, and tundra swans—and shorebirds such as plovers and sandpipers. (See National Geographic's backyard bird identifier.)

It's also one of the most important sanctuaries in the state for sandhill cranes, one of the oldest species of living birds.

"There's a very similar species, if not the ancestral version, of these guys that was around in the dinosaur era," said TNC ecologist Greg Golet.

NY's Fire Island debris effort faces bird deadline

One special visitor's planned arrival to Fire Island is creating a pressing deadline for the cleanup of tons of rotting wood, sheet rock, old refrigerators and other Superstorm Sandy debris from the popular vacation destination east of New York City.

Contractor crews are scrambling to get the trash removed by the end of March, before truck access is severely restricted to protect the nesting areas of the endangered bird species known as the piping plover.

"The deadline has everyone's attention," said Suzy Goldhirsch, president of the Fire Island Association, which represents businesses and homeowners on the 32-mile-long barrier island south of Long Island.

She said most homeowners do not begrudge laws protecting the plover, a compact, pale shorebird with coloring that makes it all but vanish against the open sand flats where it nests.

But if officials can't get the cleanup done by the deadline, they will have to haul away the estimated 82,500 cubic yards of trash by barge, which will be much more expensive and take longer.

That could push the cleanup closer to the Memorial Day-to-Labor Day tourist season, when the population of Fire Island swells from 300 to 75,000.

Access to the beachfront by vehicle will be banned until after September, according to environmentalists.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Bird makes home, lays eggs on car’s windshield wiper

Reddit user gorbok posted a photo his friend Trevor Maltby took upon returning to his car after leaving it at the Cairns International Airport in Australia for six days while away on business. The photo, taken on Feb. 19, features a small bird, a nest and tiny eggs, all perilously perched atop the windshield wiper blade of an Audi hatchback. 

Maltby told us about the discovery. "At first I thought it was just trying to 'blend in,' then I noticed it looked like it was trying to make a nest. As I got closer it appeared it was not about to fly away. I called over a colleague who had just arrived on the same flight and got him to come have a look. ... I took a picture of it sitting there, then we both tried to give it a bit of a hurry up—we could basically pet it if we wanted too— and my colleague put his hand right up to it's face, and that's when it raised its wings and exposed those eggs." 

Maltby spent an hour on the phone with wildlife officials. They confirmed that the bird was a native Peaceful Dove. "They are known for nesting in awkward places," Maltby said. He was told he could either ask somebody to come down and "relocate the nest" or he could leave the car there and wait for the eggs to hatch. 

Being the good guy that he is, Maltby offered to leave his car and got a ride home. "The next day I got a call from the airport to say that the wildlife officials had come and removed the nest as its location was deemed to be far from ideal, and that I could come and collect my car. The eggs have been taken to an incubator and the mother was unable to be caught and taken with them, though they figured she would probably lay again in the very near future." 

Reporter Attacked By Wild Bird

These Swedish reporters didn’t know quite what they were in for when they stopped along an old country road to shoot a quick segment. A very aggressive bird is out to make sure that they know this is his turf and that humans are not necessarily welcome. Watch now and find out who will win in this battle of wills.

Rare birds becoming common sight — Siberian Accentor, bramblings visit Kenai Peninsula

By Joseph Robertia

Photos courtesy of Carol Griswold. A Siberian Accentor — a small bird with a brown-streaked back and yellowish eyebrows and underparts — showed up in Seward late last month.

Redoubt Reporter
While lightning rarely strikes the same spot twice, an equally unusual occurrence has been happening on the Kenai Peninsula this winter as not just one, but two more rare bird sightings have taken place in a winter already marked by a number of odd avian identifications.

A Siberian Accentor — a small bird with a brown-streaked back and yellowish eyebrows and underparts — showed up in Seward late last month, while several small groups of bramblings — long-winged, long-tailed birds with orange to their breasts and shoulders — have been seen in not just Seward, but several other locations, since their November arrival.

“The Siberian Accentor is really exciting. The last observation of one was in Hope back about 20 years ago, so this is a big deal,” said Ken Tarbox, of the Keen Eye Birders, a retired Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist, and one of the organizers of the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail Guide.

Seward birders Kit and Janet Durnil first spotted the Siberian Accentor on Jan. 22. They knew they had never seen a bird with a mask like the accentor, but they weren’t entirely sure what they were seeing. They called Carol Griswold, an avid Seward birder who leads bird-watching trips to see unusual species, such as this.

Griswold said that the bird has been a little tricky to spot. It’s been moving a bit and also traveling with other birds, including varied thrush and fox, golden-crowned, white-crowned and song sparrows.

Low-Pitched Song Indicates Fairy-Wren Size

Feb. 20, 2013 — A male fairy-wren's low pitch song indicates body size, a new international study has shown. The study led by University of Melbourne researcher Dr Michelle Hall, is the first to show that the larger the male fairy wren, the lower the pitch of his song.

"This is the first time we have been able to show that song pitch indicates body size in song birds," said Dr Hall from the University's Department of Zoology.

The study, which began when Dr Hall was at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, has been published February 20 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Reliable communication about body size between animals is particularly important when communicating with mates or rivals. For example the bigger the rival is, the more likely it is to win in a fight so a song pitch indicating a large size may deter rivals.

"Surprisingly, there is very little evidence that the pitch of calls indicates body size differences within species, except in frogs," she said.

"In birds in particular, there has been no evidence that the pitch of songs indicated the size of the singer until now."

Sunday, 24 February 2013

New bird houses can be built into your walls.

February 2013. Having worked for many years as a builder, Duncan McCutchan was frustrated by the lack of opportunities to incorporate nesting sites into housing developments which are increasingly happening on green sites. 

So he decided to do something himself, and he started to build nesting sites into walls. He has now built on his knowledge and experience to produce nesting boxes which are designed to be incorporated into buildings.

The boxes are designed so that the fronts can be easily removed so that they can be cleaned out and monitored. The boxes, suitable for birds and bats, are unique and have the potential to benefit many British species of birds and bats. These boxes provide permanent nesting and roosting sites and will last the lifespan of the building; they are also more predator proof and weather resistant than traditional wooden boxes.

Wildlife Extra would like to see the day when it is compulsory to include something like this in all new build houses.

To find out more about these boxes, go to

$85,000 fine for killing an endangered Whooping crane

$85,000 in restitution to be managed, as it becomes available, by the International Crane Foundation to further Whooping Crane conservation

February 2013. The International Crane Foundation (ICF) is very pleased and relieved that an appropriate sentence was issued to the man who shot an adult male Whooping crane in South Dakota last April. The migrating adult crane was one of fewer than 300 individuals remaining in the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population, the only self-sustaining wild population of Whooping cranes in the world.

Jeff Blachford, 26, was given a sentence that includes $85,000 in restitution (Compensation), 2 years probation, confiscation of his hunting rifle, and removal of his hunting and trapping rights anywhere in the U.S. for 2 years. Read full sentencing details here.

"Today, hunters and other citizens are receiving a clear message that there is a real price to shooting an endangered species," notes Dr. Richard Beilfuss, President & CEO of the International Crane Foundation.

Because of ICF's leadership and experience in crane conservation, the USFWS has decided that the restitution money, as it becomes available, will be managed by ICF to further Whooping crane conservation. To address the continued threat of illegal shooting to the recovery of Whooping crane populations, ICF and our partners are expanding their educational outreach to students, hunters and the general public across the Whooping cranes' range. The goal is to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation for these natural treasures.

To learn more about ICF's ongoing conservation efforts for these birds, visit:

Common Swifts Make Mysterious Twilight Ascents

Feb. 21, 2013 — Common swifts climb to altitudes of up to 2.5 km both at dawn and dusk. This unexpected behaviour was discovered by geo-ecologist Dr Adriaan Dokter of the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) together with colleagues from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Lund University.

The research results were published as a featured article in the March issue of the scientific journal Animal Behaviour.

In the summer, swifts make their presence felt in the city, especially because of the screaming sound they make. These common urban birds appear to have unusual movement patterns. Besides a short breeding period under urban roofing tiles, these birds spend all year on the wing: foraging, mating and even sleeping are all performed in flight. Using a novel radar technique, Dokter and his colleagues studied the nocturnal flight behaviour of the common swift with the assistance of a weather radar belonging to the KNMI.

Dokter explains: 'We always assumed that common swifts ascended in the evening as part of their sleeping cycle. However, now that we have observed the bird perform ascents at both the start and the end of night-time periods, this interpretation seems to be incorrect. The ascents must have a different function, with the birds making use of the unique opportunities offered by the twilight period.'

What's troubling subarctic bird species like ptarmigan, gyrfalcon?

A Yukon biologist says ptarmigan and gyrfalcon populations could be in decline across Canada's northwestern Yukon territory. Dave Mossop says the fluctuations in these two "key" species could be a sign of greater trouble across the food chain.
Robert Massolini photo

Both populations usually peak in a 10-year cycle but recent bird surveys do not indicate a peak as expected. Mossop says the unexpected change in the cycle could be a result of climate change or other factors.

"For the last cycle yes, it declined, for reasons that we don't understand," says Mossop. "But the great hope is that things will re-establish themselves. The 10-year cycle in the boreal system is one of the most obvious things that's happening, and for some reason it faltered. That's kind of where we are now."

Mossop says gyrfalcons depend on ptarmigan as a source of food and that the predatory birds will stop breeding when there aren't enough ptarmigan to eat.

He says the Yukon Research Centre has access to a database on arctic birds which dates 50 years. Mossup says tracking willow ptarmigan and gyrfalcons is important because the birds are respectively at the bottom and top of the food chain.

"A lot of the research went into understanding the amazing intricacies between these two species," he says. "They evolved together and depend on each other. But recently as everybody knows the tundra systems are in harm's way and things are changing. In particular at the top of the food chain because the gyrfalcon is dependent on the whole thing working properly. What we're seeing is a change in the birds' ability to maintain their populations."

Scientists recently counted gyrfalcon eggs in the Ogilve Mountains in central Yukon as part of a falcon survey.

Mossup says the predators are relatively easy to monitor because they build nests in the same place year after year.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lost Antarctic Royal penguin found in New Zealand

The penguin is being treated for malnutrition and kidney failure

A royal penguin is being cared for at a New Zealand zoo after being found stranded on a beach 2,000km (1,240 miles) from its Antarctic home.

The young male bird, which was dehydrated and starving, is thought to be only the fourth royal penguin to wash up there in more than a century.

He is believed to have come from a breeding colony in the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.
Vets said the bird, dubbed Happy Feet Jr, may have been drifting for a year.

Lisa Argilla, a vet at Wellington Zoo, said the penguin had possibly struggled to find enough food or had had problems hunting and had come ashore as he needed to go through his seasonal moulting.

He was found on Tora beach, on the coast to the south of Wellington, on Sunday.

"It's very weak, doesn't want to stand. It's making very small progress every day but it's still in critical condition," Ms Argilla told the TVNZ channel.

She told AFP his kidneys were not functioning properly, adding: "Hopefully we can reverse that, feed him up and bring him back to good health but it's touch and go at the moment."

If he recovered, she said, he would be released to make his way home.

"They're amazing at navigation so that shouldn't be a problem for him," she said.

Last year, an emperor penguin, the original Happy Feet, made headlines when he appeared on New Zealand's shores.

He had surgery to remove 3kg (6.6lb) of sand from his stomach, which he is thought to have eaten thinking it was snow, before being released with a tracking device.

But he disappeared soon after and was believed to have been eaten.

UPDATE:  No Happy ending for lost penguin
Posted 22 February 2013, 12:30 AEST

A lost penguin dubbed Happy Feet junior has died, despite intensive efforts by New Zealand vets to save him.

A penguin dubbed Happy Feet junior that washed up in New Zealand 2000 kilometres from his home has died despite intensive efforts to save him, Wellington Zoo said on Friday.

A veterinary team spent five days caring for the bird, a juvenile royal penguin which had drifted far from a breeding colony in sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island after spending an estimated 12 months at sea.

But the zoo's chief vet, Lisa Argilla, said the penguin died overnight as malnutrition and kidney failure took their toll.

"As the penguin arrived nearly three kilograms underweight, it had absolutely no reserves and subsequently we suspect that this led to multiple organ failure, following the kidney failure diagnosed on its arrival," she said.

"Wildlife medicine is a very challenging field and though we did the best we could, sadly the penguin didn't survive."

The bird's discovery revived memories of the original Happy Feet, an emperor penguin that was found stranded near Wellington in June 2011, attracting worldwide interest during an eight-week recuperation at the zoo.

A New Zealand research ship eventually released the penguin into the Southern Ocean after it received visits from celebrities such as Stephen Fry and best wishes from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

However, a tracking device attached to the bird stopped transmitting after a few days, sparking fears it had been eaten by a shark.

Precedent-Setting Verdict Should Reduce Bird Collision Deaths In Canada

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
A significant legal precedent was set last week in Canada that could have ripple effects worldwide. A Canadian judge has recognized in a ruling the need for building owners to take action to reduce migratory bird deaths from lethal collisions with the highly reflective windows of office buildings.

“This is a significant development in an increasingly serious issue that is gaining more attention worldwide – the impact of man-made structures on wildlife, especially birds, and the need to modify existing buildings, as well as incorporating bird-friendly design into new construction,” said Dr. Christine Sheppard, Bird Collisions Campaign Manager for American Bird Conservancy, one of the leading U.S. bird conservation organizations and the only one in the U.S. with a national bird collisions program.

Cadillac Fairview, one of Canada’s largest commercial property owners and managers, was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In a ruling, Judge Melvyn Green of the Ontario Court of Justice found that hundreds of birds, including threatened species, had been injured and killed at the company’s Yonge Corporate Centre, consisting of three office buildings in Toronto, during the 2010 spring and fall migrations. Judge Green ruled that both the EPA and SARA are properly interpreted to prohibit the emission (intentional or unintentional) of reflected light where that reflection causes the death or injury of birds.

While the Toronto court acquitted Cadillac Fairview and related companies of the charges, that verdict was handed down only as a consequence to the corporate steps being taken to address the problem. The company began investigating window films as a solution after Ecojustice and Ontario Nature laid similar charges against a different building owner, and subsequently installed window films on the most lethal side of their complex at a cost of over $100,000. The company also committed to retrofitting the remainder of the complex.

Great Backyard Bird Count Goes Global, Shatters Records

Feb. 21, 2013 — From Antarctica to Afghanistan, bird watchers from 103 countries made history in the first global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 15-18, 2013. In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird watchers set new records, counting more than 25.5 million birds on 120,000+ checklists in four days -- and recording 3,144 species, nearly one-third of the world's total bird species. The data will continue to flow in until March 1.

Building on the success of the GBBC in the United States and Canada for the past 15 years, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada opened the count to the rest of the world for the first time this year, powered by eBird, a system that enables people to report birds globally in real-time and explore the results online. Bird watchers are invited to keep counting every day of the year at

Cornell Lab director Dr. John Fitzpatrick says: "This is a milestone for citizen science in so many respects -- number of species, diversity of countries involved, total participants, and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the start of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how all our planet's birds are faring as the years go by."

Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham: "People who care about birds can change the world," said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. "That's why this year's record-setting global participation is so exciting. Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them."

Germany discovers bird flu case on poultry farm

Published February 15, 2013
German authorities said a case of H5N1 bird flu had been discovered during initial tests on a poultry farm in the eastern state of Brandenburg.

The case was discovered in a duck farm, which was carrying out its own tests, the Brandenburg state agriculture ministry said on Friday.

The H5N1 virus mainly affects birds but occasionally jumps to people. Experts fear it may mutate into a form that could spread easily among humans, who have no natural immunity against it.

The initial finding was confirmed by a state laboratory, and final tests are currently being carried out, the state ministry said.

The farm has been sealed off and its poultry will be culled, the statement said.

The cause is unknown and an investigation has started.

Bird flu is currently present in Asian countries including China, Cambodia and Indonesia. It has also been reported in wild birds in parts of Europe.

Read more: