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, 31 October 2014

Birds (and dinosaurs) have a thing or two to teach running robots

Robots often draw their forms from nature. When building machines that are designed to run, researchers have in the past looked to cheetahs and eventumbleweeds. But new research highlights an unusual candidate to make robots faster and more stable: birds.

An Oregon State University team found that birds that primarily live on the ground, instead of in water or in the air, are actually excellent runners, likely due to the fact their gait has been evolving since their dinosaur ancestors lived 230 million years ago.

The secret to their running is a variance in speed and a bouncing upper body. To keep their path and maneuver around or over obstacles, a bird may slow down and speed up several times. That’s very different from how many animals–and robots–run. Robots, for example, are generally programmed to always run at the same speed. That can actually be more inefficient than varying speed when they have many obstacles to consider.

Foes put differences aside to save rare bird

A rare native bird is facing a brighter future now the fishing industry and conservationists have put aside their differences in a bid to save them.

Black petrels, which migrate from the Hauraki Gulf to South America each year, are often killed when they congregate around fishing boats.

The new agreement sees fisherman being educated on the best ways to deal with the birds as well as new means of deterring them from approaching boats.

"I think it's certainly a step in the right direction especially when you can pull such a diverse group of people around a table," says Dave Moore, of the Leigh Commercial Fishermen's Association.

Bad news for farmland birds, says RSPB

First published Thursday 30 October 2014 in News

The RSPB has called on Defra to make “every pound count” in a new wildlife-friendly farm scheme as official figures reveal another huge drop in the number of bird species, such as turtle dove, skylark and yellowhammer, reliant on farmed landscapes.

The Government’s Farmland Bird Indicator published today has revealed another significant fall in numbers. This indicator has been tracking the fortunes of 19 bird species that are dependent entirely on farmland.

Although partly driven by exceptionally bad weather in 2012, the underlying steady decline of the UK Farmland Bird Indicator has continued, with a 10 per cent decline in the last five years. The UK Farmland Bird Indicator has declined by more than half (55 per cent) since 1970.

2013 bird crime figures released

The true scale of bird crime across the UK has been highlighted in the 2013 Birdcrime report published by the RSPB on October 30.

There were 164 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey. This included the confirmed shooting of two hen harriers, two marsh harriers, five peregrines and 28 buzzards, and 74 reported incidents of wildlife poisoning and pesticide-related offences.

Confirmed victims of poisoning include 30 buzzards, 20 red kites, a golden eagle and a white-tailed eagle.

There were also 14 cases of nests being robbed, including a case that involved the robbery of at least 50 little tern nests, and 29 reports of illegal taking, possession or sale of birds of prey.

More than half of these incidents (54 percent) were reported to have occurred in England, with 27 percent taking place in Scotland, 10 percent in Wales and 8percent in Northern Ireland. Two percent of the cases occurred in an unknown location in the UK

Unbelievably this could also just be the tip of the iceberg as these figures are believed to represent only a fraction of the illegal persecution in the UK, with many incidents thought to be going undetected and unreported. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Gay flamingo couple adopt cute baby chick after parents abandon newborn bird

Flamingo chickEdinburgh Zoo has added five Chilean Flamingos babies to its flock of 33 adults birds this year, following successful breeding for the first time since 2010.

A little flamingo chick has been taken under the wings of a gay couple after it was abandoned by its parents.
Edinburgh Zoo has added five Chilean Flamingos babies to its flock of 33 adult birds this year, following successful breeding for the first time since 2010.

But one of the chicks had a rough start when its parents knocked it out of the nest.

Luckily, a male couple stepped in and adopted the fluffy chick.

Senior bird keeper Nick Dowling said: "We weren't short of drama in the flamingo flock this year.

K-P fails to take steps to control illegal trade


The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) wildlife department has failed to take steps to control the illegal trade of birds and other animals across the province.

Leopard geckos, black scorpions, turtles, tuatara and myna birds are just a few of the animals that are being poached from K-P, they are then being traded illegally not only in the province but throughout the country and some are even being smuggled out of it.

Like in all other provinces, the black scorpion and the gecko have been pushed to extinction by the greed of poachers but it is the province’s birds that are suffering the most at their hands.

The trade is at its peak but arrests and other measures by wildlife officials is limited to vendors who sells myna, parrots and other colourful birds without obtaining licences to do so. “We are poor people and this is the only way we can make a living,” justified Bahadur Khan, who was arrested by wildlife officials for hunting down dozens of Myna birds.

Nestling birds at risk from noisy environments

Noise from traffic, construction and other human activities is leaving nestling birds unable to communicate with their parents scientists have discovered.

This means they can go hungry or be more vulnerable of becoming a snack for a passing predator, as they are unable to hear their parent’s instructions.

Nestling birds depend on their parents for both food and protection as they will tell them when it is safe to beg for food, and when they should crouch in the nest to avoid a predator seeking an easy meal.

Without clear instructions and faced with tough competition from hungry siblings, nestling birds instinctively react quickly to any sign that a parent might have food, vigorously begging to attract attention. While this rapid response increases their likelihood of getting a good meal, it also puts them at risk of hastily misidentifying predators as parents. On the other hand, if overly-cautious nestlings fail to hear their parents approach with food, the missed detection could cost them a meal.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

'Extreme Nomad' Bird Puts Your Frequent Flier Miles to Shame

Think you've racked up an impressive number of frequent flier miles? Are you the kind of person to travel at a moment's notice? Sorry, but you've got nothing on the banded stilt. A new study has observed how this remarkable desert-dwelling bird will travel well over a thousand miles at the drop of a hat just to chow down on some incredibly unpredictable prey.
Banded stilts 2 Governors Lake Rotto email.jpg
The study, recently published in the journal Biology Letters, details how Australia's banded stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) has one of the most unpredictable-yet-lengthy migrations among waterbirds.

That's because these unusual waterbirds, which traditionally make thier home along coastal wetlands, exploits an incredibly rich yet-short-lived resource whenever they can.

According to study author Reece Pedler of Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, experts had long noticed that on seemingly random occasions, great flocks of the banded still would disappear from their natural habitats for short periods of time, only to return well-fed and healthy.

Continued ...

'Superdell' faces federal charges for allegedly chasing bird with his paraglider

SALT LAKE CITY — Former computer store owner and TV pitchman "Superdell" faces federal charges for allegedly chasing an owl with his motorized paraglider more than three years ago.

Dell Schanze, 45, of American Fork, was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court with two misdemeanor counts of knowingly using an aircraft to harass wildlife and pursuing a migratory bird.

A video of a paramotorist chasing and kicking a migratory bird west of Utah Lake surfaced on YouTube in April 2013, drawing sharp criticism from members of the paragliding community who asked federal and state authorities to investigate.

Could bird-killing algae help cure human diseases?

A mysterious toxin may offer clues to such human neurodegenerative diseases as ALS, Parkinson's, and dementia

by LINDSEY KONKEL on OCT 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM

J. STROM THURMOND LAKE, Georgia—From their perch in a loblolly pine, two bald eagles swoop low over a floating flock of wintering coots. Most of the water birds scatter, but a few are left struggling on the surface.

They flail on their backs, their wings twitching. They sense danger, but they cannot flee. Choosing its prey, an eagle dives over one of the sick coots, skewering it with sharp talons.

A mysterious toxin—with no name and no cure—lurking in lakes in the South has drilled holes in the brains of these water birds, rendering them unable to swim, eat, and fly. In turn, this poison likely will also destroy the brain of the eagle that ate the coot.

Pair bonding reinforced in the brain: Zebra finches use their specialized song system for simple communication

October 28, 2014


In addition to their song, songbirds also have an extensive repertoire of calls. While the species-specific song must be learned as a young bird, most calls are, as in the case of all other birds, innate. Researchers have now discovered that in zebra finches the song control system in the brain is also active during simple communication calls. This relationship between unlearned calls and an area of the brain responsible for learned vocalizations is important for understanding the evolution of song learning in songbirds.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Penguin chick weights connected to local weather conditions

October 27, 2014

University of Delaware

Oceanographers have reported a connection between local weather conditions and the weight of Adélie penguin chicks. Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2 degrees Celsius on average, and 6 degrees Celsius during winter.

Rare Bewick's swan numbers show 'alarming crash'

The UK's smallest and rarest swan has suffered an "alarming crash in numbers", the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has said.

The Slimbridge-based charity said more than a third of Bewick's swans have disappeared since 1995, when the total population peaked at 29,000.

The latest figures show that, by 2010, there were just 18,000 left.

Scientists believe illegal hunting, power lines and lead poisoning have contributed to the drop in numbers.

The charity said it feared the next census, due this winter, would reveal a "further, more worrying decline" in population.

In some winters, the Ouse Washes spanning Norfolk and Cambridgeshire receives 33% of the northwest European Bewick's swan population.

Head of UK waterbird conservation Eileen Rees said swans were not producing enough offspring to replace the ones that have died over the year.

Feathers in flight inspire anti-turbulence technology

October 27, 2014

RMIT University

Inspired by nature’s own anti-turbulence devices – feathers – researchers have developed an innovative system that could spell the end of turbulence on flights.

Researchers from the Unmanned Systems Research Team at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have lodged a provisional patent on the system, which mimics the way feathers help birds detect disturbances in the air.

Monday, 27 October 2014

‘Subirdia’: Surprisingly, birds thrive in suburban areas

Ornithologist and UW professor John Marzluff writes in his new book, “Welcome to Subirdia,” that the suburbs around Seattle provide habitat for a greater diversity of bird species than either the city or nearby forests. And after 12 years of study, he has some theories as to why.

John Marzluff bought two acres in suburbia 17 years ago. Marzluff and his wife, Colleen, are world-renowned wildlife researchers, and they purchased the forested tract in Snohomish County as a home for their nine sled dogs, their partners in previous research on raven behavior in the brutal Maine winter.

The dogs have passed to their reward, but Marzluff has turned his piece of suburbia into Subirdia, using knowledge gleaned from a life’s work with birds to turn his land into a haven.

The Marzluffs allow dead trees to stand — they’re visited by pileated woodpeckers, who dine on the termites within. (On one recent August day, Marzluff saw three of these majestic black, red and white birds.) Salmonberry hedges shelter Pacific wrens. Though the hum of the highway a block away is audible through the trees, the brush piles and feeders the Marzluffs have installed have attracted 60 bird species in all, including western tanagers, Pacific wrens, sparrows, towhees, juncos, Anna’s hummingbirds and owls, plus native red squirrels, Townsend’s chipmunks, tree frogs and coyotes.

Speculation around bird of prey deaths has become more hysterical

Monday 27 October 2014

The announcement by Police Scotland that the 20 raptors found poisoned in March near Conon Bridge were "not deliberately targeted" raises number of serious matters.

Despite the trend of crimes against birds of prey having gone down in the last 3-5 years, particularly by poisoning, the speculation around each case has become more hysterical; the RSPB even tried to link the Conon Bridge incident to grouse moor management. There are now websites and bloggers and organisations involved in police investigations who are not slow to feed information to the media and promote speculation.

This speculation is having a corrosive knock-on effect on many other aspects of land management, severely straining the relationship between land managers and conservation bodies.

Swooping butcher bird targets pensioner with walking frame

FOR the past month, pensioner Dodie Allen has been a prisoner in her small one-bedroom Silkstone unit.

She has been too afraid to venture outside knowing if she does she will immediately come under attack.

The villain in her life is an aggressive butcher bird that swoops and claws at her head.

Having to use a walker means she can't even lift her hands to try and fend off the dive-bombing bird she says targets her daily.

"I get sick in the stomach because I know it's coming after me," she said.

"You're like a prisoner, you feel like you can't go out anywhere."

Close to tears, Mrs Allen described the terror she felt due to the daily attacks.

"This happens every year but this year has been the worst ever," she said.

"Once it hit me so badly in the head I thought it was cracked open, I was terrified.

"I've tried wearing a hat, sunglasses and even taking an umbrella but it still gets me."

Mrs Allen lives in a public housing complex and said the bird left others alone while just targeting her.

National bird on verge of extinction

ACHHAM: The national bird of Nepal Danphe (Lophophorus) is on the verge of extinction in Achham district.

Lack of preservation and the conservation of Ramaroshan, the one and only place in the district that houses this national bird, has been attributed for it.
Himalayan Monal Adult Male East Sikkim Sikkim India 11.05.2014.png
Casting light to the situation, Kali Bahadur Budha, a local said that unlike in the past, the villagers do not see the bird of this species in bulk. 

"The concerned authority is not making any effort to conserve the bird as well its habitat, Ramaroshan," he complained. 

A local social worker Govinda Saud added that if the government continues to turn blind eye towards it, Ramaroshan will soon lose its existence apart from its habitats such as birds like Danphe and other wild animals.

People should work united at local level to address this issue, opined Chandra Prasad Dhungana, chairman of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Achham.

Assistant District Forest Officer in Accham, Bhaktaraj Giri, stated that since it is the responsibility of the Department of National Park to conserve wild animals, the District Forest Office so far has not run any programme as such. - 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Romanian princess, husband sentenced for Oregon cockfighting ring

By Courtney Sherwood

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - A princess fifth in line for the Romanian throne and her husband who admitted running a cockfighting ring in rural Oregon have both sentenced to probation and ordered to forfeit $200,000 from the sale of the property, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Irina Walker and her husband John Walker pleaded guilty in July to one count of running an illegal gambling operation with at a barn-like structure on their ranch in Irrigon, near the Washington state border, where they held cockfighting "derbies."

Prosecutors said the cockfighting events came complete with a chef cooking Mexican food and alcoholic drinks. They said the Walkers charged attendees $20, while participants paid $1,000 to enter up to five roosters in fights.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that saw additional charges dropped, the couple admitted to financing, supervising and owning the cockfighting venture during 2012 and 2013.

Retaining forests where raptors nest can help to protect biodiversity

October 23, 2014

University of Helsinki

Raptors can affect the distribution of other species and they can also be used to find forests with high biodiversity value, researchers say. Predators influence decisions on conservation actions because they awake a remarkable interest in the society. However, favoring just predators in conservation can also mislead the scarce funding invested in nature conservation.

After 42 years of charting the health of our seas, scientist’s studies now face the axe

Guillemot survey has provided wealth of data on climate – but funding could be cut

The Observer, Sunday 26 October 2014

Tim Birkhead has been monitoring guillemots for 42 years – with intriguing results. His surveys, carried out on Skomer island in Wales, have provided key information about the wellbeing of the sea birds’ population around the British Isles and has also produced important insights into the health of our seas.

However, the zoologist’s four-decade-long project is now threatened with closure. The newly formed quango Natural Resources Wales has said it will not continue to fund the £12,000-a-year survey, as part of a cost-cutting exercise. Unless cash can be raised as a matter of urgency, this year’s survey will be the last.

The news has dismayed the 64-year-old professor of zoology at Sheffield University. “This is an incredibly short-sighted decision,” Birkhead said. “We have built an extremely important database of guillemot population parameters and breeding rates, which tells a great deal about variations in numbers of these birds, about the health of their populations and about the health of our seas in general. But that entire database is now under threat merely to save a modest amount of money.”

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Police say Highland raptors 'not deliberately targeted'

Birds of prey found dead in Ross-shire in the Highlands earlier this year were most likely not targeted deliberately, police have said.

More than 20 raptors were discovered at various locations in March and April.

Police Scotland confirmed that 16 of them - 12 red kites and four buzzards - were probably accidentally killed by pest control measures.

A reward is being offered for witnesses or further information which could help with the ongoing inquiry.

A criminal investigation into the deaths remains ongoing.

Det Supt Colin Carey said: "Investigations into the suspicious deaths of wildlife and especially raptors can be difficult and prolonged.

"The areas covered can be vast and it is seldom immediately apparent why a bird may have died.

"We work closely with partners to identify and thoroughly investigate all wildlife crime."

He added: "The death of the raptors in Ross-shire remains an on-going investigation during which we are endeavouring to establish all of the circumstances around this crime.

"We would ask anyone who may have further information to come forward."

RSPB demands cash for farmland birds as populations plunge

By Western Daily Press | Posted: October 25, 2014


Wildlife-friendly farming schemes should be given more Government funding, conservation groups have said, after the latest wild bird survey showed continuing declines.

Farmland specialist species were particularly badly hit, falling to a new low 56 per cent below the 1970 figure.

That prompted the RSPB to demand more work to help the survival of specialist species, building on work that has seen the rate of decline slow in recent years, to nine percent since 2007.

But that still puts them worst off against woodland or marine cousins, with the overall picture showing a 12 percent decline in the longer-term, slowing to 5 per cent since 2007.

The RSPB said yesterday it wants Defra to make "every pound count" by directing funding towards those farmers who can make the greatest contribution towards conserving farmland wildlife and those who have the potential to start restoring farmland bird populations.

Fears for rare bird in holiday season

The Department of Conservation (DOC) fears for the endangered fairy tern in Northland as the summer holiday season gets under way.

There are only 39 tara-iti left, including 12 breeding pairs, which live and nest in wildlife refuges in Northland.

Breeding season has just begun and continues until February, DOC conservation services ranger Vivienne Lepper says.

"This is a particularly vulnerable time for the birds, and with the summer influx of visitors to the area, we are asking locals to remind visitors of the laws, which include no dogs, cats or vehicles on the wildlife refuge and for people to keep their distance from the birds, their nests and their eggs."

The wildlife refuges are located at Waipu, Mangawhai, Pakiri and Papakanui Spit.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Fresh hope for rare honeyeater bird

Oct. 24, 2014, 9:37 a.m.

Bird lovers Shirley Cook and Beth Williams are bringing attention to a rare avian friend in the New England region for National Bird Week.The regent honeyeater once flew in flocks of thousands in Australia but now there may be less than 400 left.

But the New England region has one known breeding pair near Bundarra which Mrs Cook visited yesterday.

University of New England academic Steve Debus said the main reason for their decline was the same as with many other endangered species: habitat loss and fragmentation.

The birds are a migratory species, so when areas are cleared by humans they become easy targets for prey in the open.

National Bird Week is an initiative by BirdLife Australia, which also monitors the regent honeyeater.

It's aimed at raising the profile of bird conservation nationally.

Shirley Cook is part of two bird watching groups in town and said while some birdwatchers in Armidale were taking part in the week.

One way people participate is by taking part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count.

Twitchers in a flap over rare bird

A RARE bird has caused a bit of a flap in South Tyneside – the first time the species has been recorded in Britain this year.

Twitchers have been flocking to Whitburn Coastal Park after a northern treecreeper was spotted.
RARE BIRD .... a northern treecreeper has visited Whitburn Costal Park. Below, ranger Dougie Holden.
The tiny creature, which normally lives in northern Norway or Sweden, was caught in one of the Coastal Conservation’ Group’s (CCG) nets last week as members carried out their ringing programme.

Group member John Brown was responsible for finding it in the nets, and records show it’s only the fourth time the species has been recorded in the area since records began.

National Trust ranger, Dougie Holden, said: “Members of the CCG had the nets out as part of their ringing work and the northern treecreeper ended up getting caught.

Rare Kiwi Chick Hatches at San Diego Zoo

Created on Thursday, 23 October 2014 19:00
Written by IVN

San Diego, California - After undergoing a 78-day incubation, one of the longest of all birds, a rare kiwi chick hatched this morning at the San Diego Zoo's Avian Propagation Center. Animal care staff made the decision to intervene with the hatching of this newest chick when it didn't proceed as it should.

Unlike most birds, it is the father kiwi that incubates the enormous egg. The female is nearby and will sometimes lay a second egg a few weeks later. When hatching, a kiwi chick typically pokes a ring at the top of the egg with its beak, allowing it to emerge from the top of the egg. This chick accidentally poked its legs through the bottom of the egg, making it difficult to emerge. Staff monitoring the chick carefully taped the bottom of the egg to give the chick the opportunity to hatch on its own, but after the chick was still unsuccessful, keepers peeled back part of the shell to assist with the hatching.

Continued ...

Rescued 'abandoned' penguin chicks survival similar to colony rates

October 22, 2014


Abandoned penguin chicks that were hand-reared and returned to the wild showed a similar survival rate to their naturally-reared counterparts, according to a study published October 22, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Richard Sherley from University of Cape Town and colleagues.

The Endangered African penguin population has been rapidly decreasing since 2001. In the Western Cape of South Africa, penguins breed from February to September and moult between September and January, once chicks have fledged. If adult penguins begin the moulting process, a 21 day period where they no longer have the waterproofing necessary to dive for food, with chicks in the nest, the chicks may starve. Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) recovers 'abandoned' penguin chicks that are no longer being fed and cares for them until they can be reintroduced into breeding colonies. Researchers documented the care, release, and survival of over 840 and 480, in 2006 and 2007 respectively, hand-reared chicks.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

English bird egg collector fined £2,000 by Bulgarian court

An English egg collector living in Bulgaria has been given a £2,000 fine and a six month suspended prison sentence by a Bulgarian court for illegally possessing 16 birds’ eggs and three taxidermy specimens.

Jan Frederick Ross, a known and previously convicted egg collector, is believed to have moved to Bulgaria in 2004 from Greater Manchester following a trio of convictions for egg collecting in the UK.

The raid on his home followed a lengthy investigation by the Burgas Police, assisted by The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and the RSPB.

The 16 birds’ eggs found included the egg of a Griffon Vulture, a rare breeding bird in Bulgaria (60 pairs).

Also found were detailed diaries and photographs that indicated Ross’ egg collecting in Bulgaria was much further-reaching than the 16 eggs found. The diaries revealed over a thousand potentially illegally collected bird’s eggs including a number of very rare breeding birds such as a clutch of eggs from the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture (24 pairs in Bulgaria) and three clutches of the Imperial Eagle (24 pairs in Bulgaria). No charges could be brought against Ross for taking of these eggs and the location of them remains unknown.

Birds roosting in large groups less likely to contract West Nile virus

October 23, 2014

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

Although it would seem logical that large numbers of roosting birds would attract more mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and contract the disease when bitten, recent research has found the opposite to be true. That is, when large groups of birds roost together the chances that an individual bird will get bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and subsequently contract the disease actually go down.

Farmland birds show rapid decline

23 October 2014 Last updated at 15:39
By Claire Marshall
BBC environment correspondent

Farmland birds are at their lowest levels since records began, according to government figures.

Numbers of birds such as grey partridge, turtle dove and the starling are down more than 85% since 1970s.

But there has been an increase in some other bird species, including seabirds.

The figures come from an assessment of wild bird populations in England, which has been compiled by the Department for Environment and covers 118 different bird species.

It includes data on 19 species reliant on the farmed countryside.

Over the last 40 years, indicators used in the report show a decline in farmland birds of 56%, with turtle doves declining the most rapidly - down 96% since 1970.

Other species under pressure include skylarks - down 62% since 1970 - and lapwings which are down by 50%.

Much of this decline is blamed on the rapid change in farmland management in the late 1970s and early 1990s.

Modern intensive farming methods means that fields have become much bigger, and more chemicals are used. With a significant loss of hedgerows, birds have fewer places to nest.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bird-cam offers an eagle-eyed view of Paris

If you’ve ever wondered what one of the world’s most famous cities looks like from the perspective of a bird, wonder no more. An action camera has been strapped to a rare bird of prey to provide a unique view of the streets and sights of the French capital from on high.

A white-tailed eagle was released from the top of the Eiffel Tower with a Sony HDR-AZ1 strapped to its head to document its flight.

Check out the footage above to experience what the eagle saw as it flew over the Seine and down into the Trocadéro Gardens to meet its handler Jacques Olivier Travers.

First cross-border initiative tries to save threatened bird

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The first truly cross-border joint initiative to secure a future for one of the UK's most threatened but spectacular birds of prey has been launched.

The European-funded Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project is an ambitious five-year programme of direct conservation action. It is focusing on seven Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated for breeding hen harriers in southern and eastern Scotland and northern England,

Scotland holds the bulk of the UK breeding population, mostly on Orkney, the Hebrides and parts of the western mainland.

The hen harrier used to be widespread and familiar in the uplands of Britain. However, by 1900 persecution by game preservers and skin and egg collectors had pushed the bird of prey to extinction as a breeding species on the UK mainland.

Although it has clawed back some of its lost ground, its diet of birds and small mammals includes red grouse, thereby bringing the species into conflict with man, despite special legal protection.

Studying common birds could help save rare species in Vietnam

Studies in conservation biology often focus on rare, threatened species faced with impending extinction, but what about common animals of least concern? Could they too help conservationists fine-tune their approach? 

Doctoral researcher Laurel Yohe not only claims that they can, but demonstrates how in a new study recently in's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. She and five other researchers from universities in the U.S., U.K., and Vietnam compared ranges of five babblers (family Timaliidae) with development across Vietnam. They then used that comparison to predict which areas of the ever-urbanizing country warrant the most protection and which species were hit hardest by past urbanization. 

New feather findings get scientists in a flap

October 21, 2014

University of Southampton

Scientists have revealed that feather shafts are made of a multi-layered fibrous composite material, much like carbon fiber, which allows the feather to bend and twist to cope with the stresses of flight. Since their appearance over 150 million years ago, feather shafts (rachises) have evolved to be some of the lightest, strongest and most fatigue resistant natural structures.

Continued ...

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Farmer convicted of killing vultures

October 20 2014 at 09:16am 
By Kieran Legg

For some of the people working tirelessly to look after the Cape vulture s dwindling population, the sentence is nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Cape Town - An Eastern Cape farmer has been convicted of killing 46 endangered vultures after the birds feasted on a poison-laced sheep’s carcass he had left outside to kill a pack of stray dogs.

Last week he was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for five years, and ordered to pay more than R20 000.

For some of the people working tirelessly to look after the Cape vulture’s dwindling population, the sentence is nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Conservationists are now calling for laws around the use of poison and the protection of animals to be re-evaluated to save the birds from extinction.

In December last year, Armand Aucamp – a 34-year-old farmer with a plot of land in the province’s Molteno district – had laced a sheep’s carcass with the insecticide carbofuran.

Rehabiliting the endangered Crane in east Africa

Once a flourishing species, Crane numbers have fallen 80% in Rwanda. A new initiative looks to rehabilitate the birds and return them to the wild

Olivier Nsengimana

The Guardian, Tuesday 21 October 2014 11.34 BST

Only the other day I saw a man walking through the wealthier part of town with two grey crowned-cranes tucked under his arms wrapped in blankets, probably looking for a potential buyer. I remember, as a child, going to fetch water and hearing the sound of the grey crowned-cranes.

They foraged in the marshes at the bottom of the hill I lived on – beautiful, long-legged birds with their golden crests and their head-bobbing dance. I’d go to get water, and I could hear their booming calls. Sadly, they are no longer there. These days you’re more likely to see one strutting around a garden or the grounds of a hotel than you are in the wild. What few people realise is that they are endangered, and it is illegal to poach or sell the birds.

People cut the feathers so that they can’t fly away, and sometimes even break their wings. It’s ironic in a way, because in Rwanda people prize the birds as a symbol of wealth and longevity, and yet most of the birds die in captivity, due to stress, injuries and malnutrition. They die without ever breeding. The crane population has fallen by around 80% in the past 45 years and, with only a few hundred left in the wild, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has put the bird on the endangered list. It is for this reason that I decided to act.

Later supper for blackbirds in the city: Artificial light gives birds longer to forage for food

October 20, 2014

Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research - UFZ

Artificial light increases foraging time in blackbirds. Birds in city centers are active not just considerably earlier, but also for longer than their relatives in darker parts of the city. The study showed that artificial light has a considerable influence on the activity times of blackbirds in the city and therefore on their natural cycles.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Canaport LNG faces charges for bird kill

Environment Canada accuses company of violating laws that protect sensitive and threatened species

By Neville Crabbe, CBC News Posted: Oct 20, 2014 6:29 AM AT Last Updated: Oct 20, 2014 6:29 AM AT

A large number of red-eyed vireos were among the estimated 7,500 migrating songbirds killed by the flare at Canaport LNG in Saint John. (Courtesy of the Migration Research Foundation)

Canaport LNG faces three charges after an estimated 7,500 songbirds flew in to a gas flare at the Saint John plant last September, CBC News has learned.

Kate Shannon, a company spokesperson, confirms Canaport was informed of the charges late last week.

The charges include two alleged violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act and one from the Species at Risk Act. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $1,000,000 for an indictable offence.

Shannon said the company is considering its options.

"We're currently reviewing the charges as we just received them on Thursday and we will respond in due course," she said.

The charges come one year after federal enforcement officers carried out search warrants at Canaport LNG.

At the time, uniformed Environment Canada officers were monitoring people entering and leaving the facility, but it's unclear what evidence or items were seized.

The real-life road runner: Huge rhea bird has been on the loose on British streets for TWO YEARS foiling all attempts to catch it

Common Rhea, native to South America, spotted in the English countryside
Giant bird was photographed near the RAF Odiham base, in Hampshire
Flightless birds can go up to six feet tall and weigh up to four stone
The Rhea, nicknamed Ron, has been on the loose for two years 

PUBLISHED: 10:09, 20 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:38, 20 October 2014

An ostrich-sized bird that is capable of disembowelling a human with its claws has been seen roaming around the English countryside.

The South American rhea, which stands six feet tall and can run at 40mph, has been on the run for two years foiling all attempts to catch it.

The giant flightless bird, which has six-inch claws and could kill with a single blow, was photographed by Steve Lynes near the RAF Odiham base in Hampshire.

Climate change alters cast of winter birds

Date: October 17, 2014

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summary: Over the past two decades, the resident communities of birds that attend eastern North America’s backyard bird feeders in winter have quietly been remade, most likely as a result of a warming climate.