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.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Overrun with crows, desperate Yakima Co. town tries 'bird bombs'

By Jackie DelPilar, KIMA-TV News Published: Nov 28, 2014 at 11:07 AM PST

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. - Crows are everywhere in the Yakima County town of Sunnyside.

And now Sunnyside has had enough.

"They create a mess. Obviously, it's a problem for the community," says Officer Samuel Ramos.

City leaders have looked at different ways to get rid of the thousands of crows that nest there and plaster city sidewalks with their messy droppings.

The problem has been growing over the past four years, and now city officials say it's time for them to go. 

In the past, officers used shotguns to kill the pesky birds. They're trying a different method for the first time - nonlethal "bird bomb" flare guns.

"It's more humane to push them away than to obviously kill them," says Ramos.

During the day, the birds feast on cow feed at the local farms. At night, they find dense trees to nest in.

"Our biggest areas right now are in the downtown area near the banks and close to city hall," Ramos said.

Critically endangered bird sighted at Tansa sanctuary

By Vijay Singh, TNN | 29 Nov, 2014, 03.18AM IST 

MUMBAI: The Critically Endangered Forest Owlet, which was till now considered to be endemic to the Satpuda mountain ranges in central India, has now been spotted in Western Ghats by naturalists associated with BNHS. The elusive bird was recently spotted in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary in Palghar District, Maharashtra. Tansa is designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) based on the earlier studies carried out by BNHS. This discovery is significant and more studies are required to identify its presen .. 

Good table manners could save greenfinch

29th November 2014

Good hygiene at bird tables, feeders and baths has been flagged up as a way of helping to halt a decline of one Britain's most colourful birds.
A rapid fall in numbers of greenfinches was first noticed in 2006 and linked to trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease that stops them from feeding.

Cleaning tables and feeders has been recommended in the past.

GreenfinchThe RSPB has renewed the advice after a new report suggested greenfinches were continuing to decline.

The Index of Abundance for Scottish Terrestrial Breeding Birds report was published by Scottish Natural Heritage last week.

The fall in finches has been a long-time concern for the British Trust for Ornithology.

Chaffinches, house Sparrows, dunnocks, great tits and siskins are also at risk to the disease.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Birdwatch: Bid to understand the flight of the starlings

By Bill Teale

Published on the 29 November 2014 

Every autumn and winter, thousands of starlings flock together and swirl across the sky in one of nature’s most dramatic spectacles.

Birders visiting the RSPB’s Blacktoft Sands reserve near Goole to watch marsh and hen harriers coming in towards dusk have been entertained by the spectacle of an estimated 170,000 starlings giving this flying display as they come in to roost a little further down river at Alkborough Flats.

Why starlings perform these displays is not fully understood.

This winter the Society of Biology and University of Gloucestershire have launched a national starling murmuration survey to try and find out why they form and how long they last before the birds plunge down to roost.

It’s also hoped that information can be provided to help stem the decline in starling numbers; 66 per cent since the mid-1970s.

Older readers will recall the huge numbers that used to gather in city centres, much to the ire of local councils, now these are a thing of the past and the remaining starling roosts are in woods and reed beds.

Love at first smell: Can birds choose mates by their odors?

November 28, 2014

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

Mate choice is often the most important decision in the lives of humans and animals. Scientists have found the first evidence that birds may choose their mate through odor. The researchers compared the preen gland chemicals of black-legged kittiwakes with genes that play a role in immunity. Kittiwakes that smell similarly to each other also have similar genes for immunity. Since the birds prefer to mate with unrelated mates, the scientists have now found the likely mechanism by which they recognize relatedness.

Bristol zoo asks John Lewis to help its penguin appeal – the answer is no

Zoo relies on public donations after retailer, whose Christmas ad is about boy seeking friend for his lonely penguin, disappoints

The Guardian, Thursday 27 November 2014 16.32 GMT

When Bristol Zoo urgently needed help to raise money for orphaned penguins this Christmas a large retailer that based its festive promotion around a lonely, flightless bird with a fondness for fish, seemed the obvious choice. But then came the twist: the company, John Lewis, said no.

Bristol Zoological Society this month started an appeal for £20,000 to help care for African penguin chicks abandoned by their parents and being cared for at a rehabilitation centre in South Africa, a project led by the zoo.

The species, commonly known as the jackass penguin, is endangered. The bird’s population fell 70% between 2001 and 2013 and fewer than 18,000 breeding pairs are left in the wild off the South African and Namibian coast. A lack of action could end in extinction, the zoo says.

Every year many chicks are abandoned by parents foraging for food. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, outside Cape Town, usually takes in about 450 over a three-month period. But this year the centre has seen 460 arrive in November alone.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Charles Sturt Council considers ibis cull on Delfin Island at West Lakes

NOVEMBER 27, 2014 5:00PM

CHARLES Sturt Council is considering culling ibises to stop them destroying vegetation and killing ducklings at West Lakes.

Residents have petitioned the council to take action against a group of about 200 ibises on Delfin Island.

Head petitioner Robert Boyd said the birds were killing ducklings, destroying plants and covering the island and homes in bird poo.

The council is consulting a species ecologist to determine the most effective way of controlling the birds.

Council chief executive Mark Withers said a selective cull of the birds was among the options.

“We are considering removing some of the trees in which the birds are nesting to reduce the area for nests and also some selective culling,” he said.

Ibis are a protected species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

To proceed with a cull, the council would need a destruction permit from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

“As we are approaching the end of the breeding season, there is not much time to wait until breeding is over and the birds are just roosting at the sites,” Mr Withers said.

Bid to save birds from predatory Tasmania devils on Maria Island haven

A Tasmanian devil sanctuary established on Maria Island is taking a toll on the island's bird population.

Tasmania's Environment Department is being forced to protect nests to safeguard vulnerable birds on the east coast island.

The ambitious program to safeguard the iconic marsupial from a deadly facial tumour was started in 2012.

Twenty-eight devils were released on the island, which is cut off from the diseased devil population on mainland Tasmania.

The population has grown to more than 90, raising questions about the effect the apex predator is having on the island's other species.

The devils have been attacking ground-nesting birds and there is anecdotal evidence that no chicks have been successfully reared this breeding season.

"I'm not happy to see them here, I think it's most unfortunate," Maria Island ferry owner John Cole-Cook said.

"Why should we threaten the 120 species of birds that use this island as a sanctuary of the predators?"

The translocation of the devils to isolate them from the contagious facial cancer has been hailed a huge success, but the department is now assessing its next step.

Court bans houbara bustard hunt in Balochistan


The Balochistan High Court (BHC) issued orders to cancel the allotment of area to Arabs and other foreigners for hunting birds, including the rare houbara bustard in the provice, private media reported on Friday.

The BHC bench, comprising of Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Ejaz Swati, gave the ruling over two petitions which challenged hunting by royals from Gulf Countries in Balochistan, delcaring hunting houbara bustard and other wild birds ‘illegal.’

The bench issued issued to the Wild Life Department, Federal Interior Ministry and Chief Secretary of Balochistan Saifullah Chattha, seeking report over what steps have been taken for protecting the rare birds in Balochistan.

In hunting season, royal families from the Gulf countries head to Balochistan to hunt Houbara Bustard birds who use Balochistan as a transit route while they migrate to warmer climates in central and south Asia.

Royal families from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain are allocated hunting areas in Balochistan every year and are provided with permits and tight security by the authorities.

Conservation app for birders

Durban - A new phone application could change the way bird conservation is carried out – and also help fight poaching.

The app, called Birdlasser, was showcased at the Nurturing Environmental Sustainability Through Technology summit at the Manyoni Bush Camp in Mkuze at the weekend.

The free technology encourages users to log bird sightings they make and enter the information in the app. The data then gets sent to the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town and becomes available for academics, people doing environmental impact assessments, conservation companies – as well as the public.

The entire process, from the time someone logs the information to being received in Cape Town, takes just three minutes.

The information will also form part of the Southern African Bird Atlasing Project 2, an update of the previous project which was conducted between 1987 and 1991.

The project will help provide an understanding of the changes bird populations have gone through in terms of habitat and population.

Birdlasser creator Henk Nel said: “It started with a vision four years ago on how technology can work towards conservation. I saw birding needed technology. There were apps, but they were not professionally done.”

Thursday, 27 November 2014

New habitat will be perfect home for rare birds

A new purpose built wetland habitat has officially opened next to the Welney centre.

The creation of this additional wetland habitat, called Lady Fen, was made possible thanks to a partnership project between the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN) and the Environment Agency.

The wetland creation at Lady Fen started in 2006 with the first 38 hectares; the latest section takes the total area of the wetland habitat to 114 hectares. This is in addition to the traditional reserve which lies on the Ouse Washes.

The increased periods of deeper and more prolonged flooding of recent years on the Ouse Washes have had a detrimental effect on the condition and availability of the habitat for wetland wildlife.

This new area will create a more stable wetland habitat with no chance that it will flood uncontrollably.

Amazing Giant Bird Sculpture Can Realistically Flap its Wings

Brooklyn artist and sculptor Tim Laursen created an incredible and enormous giant bird sculpture that uses a solar-powered motor to realistically flap its wings. Jen Markham explains.

Watch video ...

Dozens of dead crows found in Portland parks

ODFW will conduct necropsies, Audobon Society helping to investigate
By Ken Boddie and KOIN 6 News StaffPublished: November 26, 2014, 11:45 am Updated: November 26, 2014, 4:59 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — About 30 dead crows were found along the Willamette River waterfront and some Portland parks, and officials don’t have any idea at this time what caused their deaths.

Several crows were seen suffering seizures and flopping on the ground at Waterfront Park, police said, and several dead crows were seen nearby. Other dead crows were found around Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks and the Lovejoy Fountain.

PPB Sgt. Roger Axtelm said the bureau “had a number of phone calls from citizens calling about the blackbirds that were down and apparently ill. Some were deceased.”

A few of the birds were alive but in bad shape. Bob Sallinger with the Portland Audobon Society said the ones still alive “were convulsing.”

Continued ...

Europe urged to investigate £60m bird protection scheme

Published on the26November 2014 

THE European Commission has been asked to urgently investigate a £60m scheme to protect birds displaced by a massive “green energy” development on the Humber by a farmer who says it is likely to fail.

Able UK wants to build Europe’s largest offshore wind park on the south bank of the Humber - a £440m development set to create more than 4,000 jobs but which will also destroy mudflats which are one of the top sites in the country for black-tailed godwits.

Proposals to flood hundreds of acres of agricultural land at Cherry Cobbs Sands at Keyingham, almost opposite, as part of legally required “compensation” have not been proven to work, according to tenant farmer Stephen Kirkwood.

Mr Kirkwood who faces seeing a quarter of his land going underwater has now lodged complaints with the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Mr Kirkwood said the disruption could affect five per cent of the Icelandic population of black-tailed godwits and there was compelling evidence from other similar sites “that at least a proportion die or lose vigour.”

He says if that happens it will mean the UK Government has failed its obligations under the Habitats Directive and could be liable to a massive fine.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Vultures evolved an extreme gut to cope with disgusting dietary habits

November 25, 2014

Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

How is it that vultures can live on a diet of carrion that would at least lead to severe food-poisoning, and more likely kill most other animals? This is the key question behind a recent collaboration between a team of international researchers from Denmark's Centre for GeoGenetics and Biological Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, the Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution in the USA. An "acidic" answer to this question is now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

UK zoo owner convicted of allowing invasive species to escape

The owner of South Lakes Wild Animal Park (SLWAP) in Cumbria, David Stanley Gill, along with the zoo itself, has been convicted of allowing an invasive bird species to escape, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Sec. 14(1).

In July 2013 last year a Sacred Ibis had been sighted on the Cumbrian coast in the region of Dalton-in-Furness a number of times. An expert ornithologist working for Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) established it was the Sacred Ibis and the birds were originating from SLWAP.

The Sacred Ibis does not occur naturally in Great Britain, and if it was allowed to colonise it would pose a significant threat to the natural fauna of Britain. As such it is one of only a handful of species that the government has put an action plan in place to deal with if it does colonise. 

The case was then picked up by officers from Cumbria Police and the NWCU, who with APHA, searched the zoo. During the visit officers found a large open enclosure housing just 27 Sacred Ibis, when the zoo’s records indicated that there should be 36. The officers also witnessed and filmed the birds flying out to the park. 

Female color perception affects evolution of male plumage in birds

November 25, 2014

University of Chicago Medical Center

The expression of a gene involved in female birds' color vision is linked to the evolution of colorful plumage in males, reports a new study. The findings confirm the essential role of female color perception in mate selection and sexual dimorphism.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Rare geese make unusual — and deadly — stop in the Lowcountry

BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC — When avid birdwatcher Carol Clemens had a chance to see a rare species -- one that usually migrates only along the West Coast -- just 45 minutes from her Hilton Head Island home, she couldn't pass it up.

A Ross's goose, similar to but smaller than a snow goose, had been spotted in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge near Hardeeville, and Clemens hopped in her car almost as soon as she heard.

"This bird is so unusual that if I hadn't called my friend to go out and see it, then it would have been a lost opportunity," said Clemens, membership co-chairwoman of the Hilton Head Island Audubon Society.

"We were hoping to get a glimpse of the goose, but thought that it would be just a white speck on the horizon," she added. "But then we got almost 10 feet away and could really admire it."

Read more here:

Twitcher's double 1,500 miles apart: Birdwatcher tags same blackcap during Portuguese holiday weeks after he spotted bird close to his Staffordshire home

Dave Clifton had tagged the small bird near his Staffordshire home
Weeks later on holiday 1,500 miles away in Portugal he captured same bird
Mr Clifton was part of a group catching migrating birds to check tags to see where they had flown from in Europe while making their way to Africa
Chances of catching the same bird twice are almost incalculable 

PUBLISHED: 00:28, 25 November 2014 | UPDATED: 00:29, 25 November 2014

A British birdwatcher enjoying a sunshine holiday in Portugal thought he was experiencing a case of deja vu when he captured a tiny bird.

When Dave Clifton examined the identification ring on the leg of the blackcap he thought it bore an uncanny similarity to the one he had ringed weeks earlier.

But that was 1,500 miles away close to his home Staffordshire and the chances of capturing the same bird twice are almost incalculable.

New bird species confirmed 15 years after first observation

24th November 2014

A team led by researchers from Princeton University, Michigan State University and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences have confirmed the discovery of a new bird species more than 15 years after the elusive animal was first seen on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

The Sulawesi streaked flycatcher (Muscicapa sodhii), whose discovery has just been confirmed 15 years after the first sighting in Indonesia, is distinguished by its mottled throat and short wings. (Photo by Martin Lindop & Ticiana Jardim Marini)

The newly named Sulawesi streaked flycatcher (Muscicapa sodhii), distinguished by its mottled throat and short wings, was found in the forested lowlands of Sulawesi where it had last been observed. The researchers report in PLOS ONE that the new species is markedly different from other flycatchers in its plumage (feathers), body structure, song and genetics, proving that it is a new species. Because the bird has survived in a region heavily degraded by cacao plantations, the species is not currently at risk of extinction.

"Considering that 98 percent of the world's birds have been described, finding a new species is quite rare," said co-author J. Berton C. Harris, a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton's Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, which is based at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "And despite being a globally important avian hotspot, Sulawesi has largely gone unstudied by ornithologists."

Monday, 24 November 2014

Fairy tern crowned NZ Seabird of the Year

The fairy tern has won the New Zealand Seabird of the Year poll, after three weeks of close competition.

The poll is run by the independent conservation charity Forest & Bird.

The fairy tern and the Fiji petrel traded the lead in the poll several times. But a late surge saw it come out on top with 1882 votes. The Fiji petrel won 1801 votes, and 563 people voted for the little blue penguin.

The co-campaign manager for the fairy tern, conservationist and author Wade Doak, says the fairy tern’s win is great news for the species, and for the people who work so hard to protect it.

“Sadly, the dwindling numbers of fairy tern are disproportionate to their popularity, with only between 8-10 breeding pairs of the birds left,” says Wade Doak.

“However the upside is that there are plenty of people who are prepared to go to great lengths to save the fairy tern. Regardless of the conditions at Mangawhai Heads, you’ll almost always find a solitary figure – sitting on an upturned bucket – guarding a fairy tern colony.

“The courage and devotion of the public to saving these birds is incredible. Which is fortunate, because it’s entirely up to us as to whether the birds will survive,” Wade Doak says.

New Bird Found in Brazil Goes Straight to the Endangered Species List

A new bird species, discovered in Brazil in a narrow strip in the Atlantic Forest, on the coast of the northeastern state of Bahia, has already been reported as endangered. 

The bird was locally called "macuquinho-preto-baiano" and was cataloged under the scientific name Scytalopus gonzagai, after Luis Gonzaga, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, whose investigations lasted 20 years.

Ornithologist Giovanni Nachtigall Maurício, the main author of the article that describes the species, said that the study estimates the existence of nearly 3 thousand specimens in the area.

"We've made a calculation that indicated around 2,888 birds, [which] led [to its being classified as endangered]", he reported. The assessment entailed the adoption of criteria from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The general rule stipulates that the species, if totaling up to 2,500 individuals, is considered critically imperiled; from 2,500 to 10,000 just endangered; and vulnerable from 10 to 20 thousand.

Protecting A Slice Of Paradise

Monday, 24 November 2014, 10:25 am
Press Release: Manawahe Eco Trust

24 Nov 2014 08:00 am | Sheldon Nesdale

Standing beneath towering rimu, rata and tawa trees in the Manawahe Ecological Corridor can make you feel like you’re in the middle of a fairytale scene.

The Manawahe Ecological Corrider in the Eastern Bay of Plenty

Nikau ferns and mossy glades surround you, while the extraordinary sounds of kokako, tui, bellbirds, grey warblers and cuckoos ring out from the sky above.

This regional ecological treasure spans 800ha between Lake Rotoma and Matata in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. It is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest birds and threatened species, and is the only forested corridor that exists between Rotorua’s lakes and the sea.

Looking after the land

One of the guardians of this beautiful bush is the Manawahe Eco Trust (MET) – a group of 40-odd volunteers and 100+ members who work to protect the environment, educate local children and other groups, and encourage recreational use of this area.

MET chairperson Fran van Alphen says the group formed seven years ago to represent the community’s interest in the corridor, and to help improve biodiversity within the native forest.

“The corridor has a lot of unique biodiversity attributes beyond just the kokako [which the area is famous for]. There are amazing, beautiful pockets of bush up to 200ha each and our vision is to one day see those pockets linked up.”

Blue tits: Bad news for kids – parents do not defend their offspring at all cost

Do parents defend their offspring whenever necessary, and do self-sacrificing parents really exist? To answer this question, researchers of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna examined defence behaviours of parent blue tits. They investigated whether birds would risk everything to protect their young from predators. Their conclusion: parents weigh the risks. It is not only the risk to the nestlings, but also their own risk that plays a role when defending their nests. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The degree to which parents sacrifice themselves for their children depends on a variety of factors. On the one hand nest predators pose a threat to the young and the parent birds. But also the time of hatching plays a role. Earlier studies have shown that birds born late in the season are more likely to be protected by their parents, as the adult birds often do not have the chance to produce replacement clutches. Older offspring also tend to be protected more readily than younger ones, as much more parental care and energy have already been invested.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Darwin 2.0: New theory on speciation, diversity

Birds that are related, such as Darwin's finches, but that vary in beak size and behavior specially evolved to their habitat are examples of a process called speciation. It has long been thought that dramatic changes in a landscape like the formation of the Andes Mountain range or the Amazon River is the main driver that initiates species to diverge. However, a recent study shows that speciation occurred much later than these dramatic geographical changes. Researchers from LSU's Museum of Natural Science have found that time and a species' ability to move play greater parts in the process of speciation. This research was recently published in the print edition of Nature.

"The extraordinary diversity of birds in South America is usually attributed to big changes in the landscape over geological time, but our study suggests that prolonged periods of landscape stability are more important," said Robb Brumfield, LSU Museum of Natural Science director and Roy Paul Daniels professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, one of the lead authors.

Brumfield and his colleagues examined the genealogy of 27 species of birds in the most bio-diverse region in the world, the Neotropics, which extends from southern Mexico through Central America to southern Brazil and includes the Amazon rainforest.

Fish and chips harming eider ducks - wildlife expert

3 November 2014 Last updated at 04:40

Eider ducks in Northumberland's coastal areas are being harmed by people feeding them fish and chips, a wildlife expert has warned.

Chris Watson says people living or visiting the area often wrongly believe eiders are tame as they are "friendly".

He told BBC Radio Four's Broadcasting House the sea birds may seem to enjoy the food but it damages their eggs.

The Northumberland coast is recognised as a haven for wild birds, including colonies of eiders.

Mr Watson, whose work as a nature sound recordist includes documentaries with Sir David Attenborough, said: "Normally eider ducks eat shellfish not fish and chips - [which is] lacking calcium so the eggs are failing.

"There's a problem because they are such attractive, friendly birds to feed, and yet the food that we are giving them - bread and things like that - is actually causing a dietary problem."

The RSPB says eiders are the UK's heaviest ducks and the fastest flying. As well as the Northumberland coast, they are resident off Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How the hummingbird achieves its aerobatic feats

November 21, 2014

Vanderbilt University

Although hummingbirds are much larger and stir up the air more violently as they move, the way that they fly is more closely related to flying insects than it is to other birds. Now, the most detailed, three-dimensional aerodynamic simulation of hummingbird flight conducted to date has definitively demonstrated that the hummingbird achieves its nimble aerobatic abilities through a unique set of aerodynamic forces that are more closely aligned to those found in flying insects than to other birds.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lapwing numbers boosted by RSPB nature reserves

Conservationists are thrilled that lapwings, birds which have been disappearing from the UK, have had a successful 2014 breeding season in grassland habitats managed by the RSPB.

Lapwings belong to a group of birds known as waders: typically long-legged birds which generally feed at the water’s edge or in wet grassland. The RSPB manages a number of sites in lowland England where the birds nest, including Otmoor in Oxfordshire and Rainham Marshes on the outskirts of London. The wildlife charity has also been working on Great Bells Farm on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, converting 160 hectares of poor-quality farmland into a freshwater nature reserve. In 2014, many of the RSPB’s sites were able to announce lapwing breeding successes, thanks to land management based on knowledge built up over decades across RSPB nature reserves, in lowland England.

Known as “peewits” after their distinctive call, black-and-white lapwings have a ‘red status’ in the UK, which means that the speed and nature of their decline is causing concern. These birds have been disappearing from lowland England since the middle of the 19th century. The most recent falls in numbers of lapwings is due to changes in agricultural land use. From the mid 1980s they began vanishing from south west England and parts of Wales. This year, numbers of lapwings breeding on RSPB lowland wet grassland reserves grew, with a higher number of chicks fledging, giving conservationists hope that these birds face a brighter future.

Rodents put bird sanctuary on high alert

Nine rats have been caught inside Bushy Park's predator fence.

The park has made a huge effort to keep its populations of native birds safe but in the last few days rats have been trapped in the 100 hectare park, which is mainly native bush.

Volunteers spent Friday morning trying to find any breach in the fence that was built around the park in 2008 to keep rats and other predators out. They were unsuccessful but more traps will be set around the area.

"It's action stations," said Bushy Park Trust chairperson Liz Tennent. "We still don't know how the rats got into the sanctuary and there is no clear breach of the fence.

"Maybe branches near the fence allowed the rats to climb over. It is known that rats can live in a tree canopy."

More money and volunteers are urgently needed to combat the problem.

Murray-Darling bird population reportedly halved in the last 30 years in wake of droughts and dams

Scientists believe Murray-Darling bird numbers have more than halved in the last 30 years.

Researchers conducting an annual aerial waterbird survey have just completed their most comprehensive analysis ever of the river system.

University of New South Wales Professor Richard Kingsford is now into his 32nd year of surveying.

"We've been doing these surveys since 1983 and we've seen a 60 per cent decline in waterbird numbers since then," Professor Kingsford said.

"Largely that's due to the impacts of building dams and developing our wetland systems and taking water out of rivers so these places don't last as long."

Professor Kingsford said waterbirds were a key indicator of the health of the system.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Eight new bird species breeding in Denmark

Warmer climate and protection attracting them to settle in the Danish countryside

November 20, 2014

by Lucie Rychla

The ed-crested pochard, caspian tern, great egret, peregrine falcon, bee-eater, white-wing crossbill, golden eagle and Egyptian goose can be spotted breeding in the Danish countryside.

According to the Danish ornithological society (DOF), these species were recorded during the first phase of the Atlas III project.

Its aim is to provide completely updated documentation of the current circulation of all bird species breeding in the country.

Equipped with notebooks and binoculars, 1,040 ornithologists have been scrutinising Danish woods, lakes and cities mapping local bird-life since early spring. 

Better climate conditions
The new species are quite different, so it is not clear why they have all decided to move to Denmark. 

However, a DOF biologist, Iben Hove Sørensen, believes that some of them moved north because of the climate changes that have created more suitable conditions for the birds.

"We believe that, for instance, the caspian tern moved to Denmark because it did not have a very successful breeding season in Scania. So, it decided to give it a go here instead," Sørensen explained to Jyllands-Posten.

RSPB urges Defra to publish part of Hen Harrier Action Plan

First published Wednesday 19 November 2014 in Newsby Katie Dickinson

THE RSPB is urging Defra to publish the workable elements of the Hen Harrier Action Plan, which the Society believes could bring about the recovery of one of England’s most threatened birds of prey.

But the charity is also highlighting its rejection of one point of the six-point plan, known as brood management, saying it believes immediate removal of chicks from the wild and rearing them in aviaries is ‘unacceptable and legally ambiguous’.

Ravens sabotage others' bonding activities

Presented by
Michelle Douglass

Ravens are renowned for their intelligence and sophisticated social behaviour. But a new study has revealed a previously unknown strategy among the social-climbing corvids.

Ravens attempt to prevent others forming alliances that might lead to them becoming future competitors.

In raven society, individuals may gain power by forming coalitions. “The hierarchical structure among the ravens is highly dependent on their bonding status,” explains research team member Dr Jorg Massen from the University of Vienna’s Department of Cognitive Biology.

Within this hierarchy, established 'bonded' birds are further up the social ladder than those in the process of making bonds, known as 'loosely bonded' birds. At the bottom of the social hierarchy are birds with no specific bonds, these are known as 'nonbonded' individuals.

Cirl Bunting numbers on the rise in Cornwall

Cornwall’s re-introduced population of Cirl Buntings has hd its best year yet with 39 pairs producing more than 100 fledglings at the Roseland site. Cirl Bunting numbers have been steadily increasing in Cornwall, since 2006 when the first hand-reared birds were released.

“These are encouraging signs that the population is on its way to becoming self-sustaining, and as the first passerine reintroduction to take place in Europe, the project can be considered a huge success,” said Cath Jeffs, RSPB Cirl Bunting Project Manager

Next year, it is predicted that the population will exceed the milestone of 50 pairs, which would be a great achievement. The key to the future of this project is ensuring that the right habitat is provided through the delivery of agri-environment schemes. If the habitat is there, the birds will continue to flourish.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

4 important bird habitats in Canada listed as 'in danger'

Urban development, resource extraction and wind turbines are threatening some of the most important bird habitats in Canada, a new report says.

Four of Canada's top bird habitats have made a list of 356 around the world that are considered "in danger," in a report by the conservation group BirdLife International:
Boundary Bay in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, one of Canada's richest sites for migratory waterbirds.

Prince Edward Point in eastern Ontario, another important area for migratory waterbirds.
N.W.T.'s Mackenzie River Delta, an important habitat for snow geese.
Lancaster Sound Polynya in Nunavut, an important habitat for a small seabird called the dovekie.

Some of those areas are not protected at all, while others are only partially protected.

Boozy berries sending Yukon birds to the drunk tank

WHITEHORSE — The Canadian Press and Globe staff

Published Tuesday, Nov. 18 2014, 6:18 AM EST

Imbibing and then flying for some birds in the Yukon is proving to be a hazardous experience – and the territory’s environment agency has made a makeshift drunk tank to help them sober up.

Environment Yukon is warning that Bohemian waxwings in the territory have been gorging on fermented mountain ash berries, then attempting to fly off with less than successful results. Anyone spotting the birds is urged to catch them and bring them to Environment Yukon’s animal health unit.

Swan brings Heathrow runway to a standstill

11 November 2014 Last updated at 06:53 GMT

A swan has caused a queue of aircraft at Heathrow, leaving passengers waiting while staff tried to escort it from the runway.

Aviation enthusiast Daniel, who was flying back to his home in Sweden, caught the incident on camera as he waited for his flight at Heathrow Airport.

He told the BBC that he and several other onlookers watched the chase and said that the situation was "handled very well".

Hundreds of important sites for nature threatened with destruction

More than 350 of the planet’s most important sites for nature are threatened with being lost forever according to a new report by BirdLife International.

Hundreds of important sites for nature threatened with destructionImportant Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are places of international significance for the conservation of the world’s birds and other nature, with over twelve thousand identified worldwide. IBAs are the largest and most comprehensive global network of important sites for nature conservation. Now, 356 of these – known as ‘IBAs in Danger’ – have been identified in 122 countries and territories as being in imminent danger of being lost. About half of these are legally protected, which highlights the importance of improving the management effectiveness of protected areas.

“‘IBAs in Danger’ provides an essential focus for governments, development agencies, the international environmental and conservation conventions, business and wider civil society to act to prevent the further damage or loss of these sites of international significance”, said Melanie Heath, BirdLife’s Director of Science, Policy and Information.

“Collectively we must work together to mitigate these threats, strengthen the implementation of national and local laws and policies ensuring environmental safeguards are implemented at the earliest stages of development, as well as enhancing the management of these sites”.

Examples of ‘IBAs in Danger’ include the lowland forests of the island of São Tomé – which are threatened by industrial scale plantations, hydroelectric dam building as well as illegal hunting, and the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand – a key feeding area for many globally threatened seabirds and marine mammals. Unfortunately, the ingestion of plastic debris is estimated to be higher at this site than any other worldwide.