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, 31 December 2015

California's 'Passenger Pigeon' Wins Protection... For Now

December 14, 2015 4:00 PM

A vanishing songbird that was once the most common bird in California is being formally considered for protection under the state's Endangered Species Act. On Friday, the state's Fish and Game Commission agreed to make the tricolored blackbird a candidate for listing under CalESA, reversing a controversial decision made in June to let protections lapse.

The tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), which once numbered in the uncountable millions in California, has dwindled to the point of near-extinction as a result of damage to its wetland and grassland habitat throughout the state. Though individual flocks may still number in the tens of thousands, that seeming abundance actually makes the tricolored vulnerable: by gathering in massive breeding colonies on the agricultural lands that have replaced its native habitat, the bird can lose huge chunks of its population to a single ill-timed pass of a tractor.

"There's no question that tricolored blackbirds desperately need this long-overdue protection to avoid their slide toward extinction," said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, which had petitioned the Fish and Game Commission to list the bird. "The California Fish and Game Commission made the right decision, based on the overwhelming science documenting the ongoing population declines of these birds."

"The Fish and Game Commission made the right decision," said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California on Friday. "We are pleased that this consideration triggers protections for this struggling species."

Animal rights group's claims of cruelty at game bird farm rejected after government inspection

By WMNPBowern | Posted: December 16, 2015

Allegations of cruelty at a Westcountry farm that rears game birds for shooting estates have been comprehensively rejected after an visit by a government animal welfare inspector.

The League Against Cruel Sports trespassed at the Devon game farm last month and filmed red-legged partridges which are used as breeding birds and kept in raised laying units.

The animal rights charity published the video footage on its website this week, claiming the units at the Devon farm were in an “extremely poor state of repair”. It alleged there were exposed nails and holes in the walls between cages large enough for birds to fit through.

It went on: “This could lead to fights and injuries as partridges are extremely choosy about their cage mate. The wooden structure also makes disinfection impossible, increasing the risk of illness and disease among the birds.”

But north Devon based Southern Partridges, the business at the centre of the allegations, had a visit from an inspector from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as a result of the allegations. She found no evidence to support the League’s claims.

A spokesman at the farm said: “She said there was no evidence of cruelty or breaches of the code. The birds looked perfect and all was well.”

He went on: “The pens are not in a poor state of repair. They are made in top quality marine grade ply and any holes pecked by the birds in the side walls are patched to prevent access to the adjoining pen. There is no difficulty in disinfecting them.

“The exposure of the nails on the top net restraining bar was entirel

Mega bird festival to be held at five locations in Doon valley

Seema Sharma | TNN | Dec 29, 2015, 06.26 PM IST

DEHRADUN: The third Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival is going to be held at massive scale this time, at five places in Doon valley simultaneously from February 11 to 14. These five locations will be Asan Conservatio Reserve -Timli forest, Forest Research Institute - Jhajhra, Rajpur-Sahastardhara, Thano reserve forest-Maldevta and Rajaji Tiger Reserve. The forest department is aiming to improve the profile of the Uttarakhand as a crucial state in India for bird conservation and as bird watching destination. Various NGO's and prestigious institutes such as Wildlife Institute of India , Bombay Natural History Society are collaborating for the event.

DVS Khati, chief wildlife warden said, "The bird festival will help to scale up bird awareness, bird watching activity and benefits through bird tourism and eco-tourism. The festival will also build on the partnerships and investments of the state bird watching program. It will be providing a unique opportunity to a new crops of bird guides to practice their skills and learn."

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Get ready for January's Big Garden Birdwatch

19 December, 2015 01:00

NOW is the time to make a pledge to kick off 2016 by doing something great for nature from the comfort of your own home. The RSPB Northern Ireland's annual Big Garden Birdwatch, the world's largest garden wildlife survey, celebrates its 37th year on the weekend of January 30 and 31.

What I love about this event is that it provides a way for veteran and novice nature buffs to spend time appreciating wildlife in their own backyards while helping to provide information on the wellbeing of our best-known bird species across the north.

“It couldn't be easier to take part in the survey. Pick up a survey leaflet from your local RSPB NI nature reserve during January or register at Then make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and spend one hour during the Birdwatch weekend counting the visitors to your garden,” says spokeswoman Amy Colvin.

Last year more than 22,000 in Northern Ireland took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and of the 127,700 birds they counted, house sparrows were the most commonly seen.

The Big Garden Birdwatch also asks participants to record other garden wildlife, including hedgehogs and squirrels. See

Also, teachers and pupils should take note that they can take part in Big Schools' Birdwatch between January 4 and February 12. More at

Meanwhile, the latest assessment of the status of all the UK's 244 birds, entitled Birds of Conservation Concern 4, shows that 67 species are now classed as being of 'highest conservation concern'.

Taiwanese team first to band near-mythical bird

Staff writer, with CNA

A Taiwanese research team banded a juvenile Chinese crested tern (Thalasseus bernsteini) in July, hoping to track its migration and learn more about the “mythical” bird that roosts in three groups of islands off the southeastern coast of China from May to August, a Forestry Bureau official said.

Photo: Courtesy of the Forestry Bureau
It was the first-ever successful banding of a Chinese crested tern, Forestry Bureau conservation official Hsia Jung-sheng (夏榮生) said.

The rare species nests in Taiwan’s Matsu (馬祖), as well as Jiushan and Wuzhishan islands off China’s Zhejiang Province from May to August and locals consider it a summer migratory bird.

The population of the bird was estimated at less than 50 in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List in 2000 and it is categorized as critically endangered, Hsia said.

Nature photographer Liang Chieh-te (梁皆得) happened to photograph the Chinese crested terns in Matsu while filming his documentary Fly, Kite Fly (老鷹想飛) in 2000.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry releases takahe in Murchison Mountains


Conservation Minister Maggie Barry releases takahe in the Murchison Mountains in Fiordland.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry had her hands full when she met Punchbowl the takahe.

Punchbowl was one of 10 of the native birds Barry helped Department of Conservation staff release at Plateau Creek in the Murchison Mountains in Fiordland on Thursday afternoon.

The call of the wild proved too great for Punchbowl, who flapped free of Barry's grip and ran off into the mountains.

Punchbowl the takahe struggles to free himself from Conservation Minister Maggie Barry's grip in the Murchison Mountains in Fiordland on Thursday.

Barry said the bird was very peaceful and quiet until someone pointed out how placid he was.

"For a flightless bird, even though they are very bulky and their centre of gravity is quite low to the ground, they still have power in those wings," she said.

With intensive predator control, the area's takahe population should be able to reach carrying capacity, she said.

"For New Zealanders to understand that conservation is about killing things, that's quite a hard thing to grasp," Barry said.

"For an endangered population like [takahe], to be able to return them to where they were rediscovered by Dr [Geoffrey] Orbell is a fantastic moment."

DOC takahe senior ranger Glen Greaves said the release was the second of three, which would take the total population in the Murchison Mountains to 110 birds.

Big farmland bird count 2016 aims to show how agriculture and nature can work hand in hand

By WMNPBowern | Posted: December 18, 2015

When declining wildlife is on the agenda, farmers are often in the firing line.

But sensible conservationists acknowledge that if you want to conserve species you need to protect habitat or turn environmental deserts into homes for a wide range of insects, mammals and birds.

Given that the vast majority of countryside in Britain is farmed, that means getting the farmers onside.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust – the conservation charity that sees rearing game and supporting shooting sports as a positive way to improve the landscape and boost biodiversity – is helping farmers to demonstrate their commitment to bird life next year with the third Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).

It takes place between February 6 and 14 2016.

Launching this now national event, GWCT’s Jim Egan said: “More people than ever took part in last year’s count. The more people who count the better idea we have as to how our farmland birds are faring, so I urge people to get out and count!

“Once again we are asking farmers, landowners, birdwatchers and gamekeepers to spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm this coming winter.”

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Indian myna bird eradication program claims success in far north Queensland

Mark Rigby
Posted 1 Dec 2015, 1:59am

A far north Queensland community alliance is waging war against the Indian myna bird and believes it may have trapped and euthanased nearly 40,000 birds since 2011.

Earlier in 2015 the Cairns Remove Indian Mynas (RIM) group, in conjunction with the Cairns Men's Shed, set about collecting information on the numbers of myna birds captured by the owners of bird traps in far north Queensland.

RIM president, Peter Goulding said the group had contacted less than half of the people on their database of trap owners, but the number of birds euthanased already exceeded 23,000.

"We're saying if it's 23,000 for that group, we're probably quite reasonable in saying that we've caught somewhere near 40,000 since we started," Mr Goulding said.

The man who designed the bulk of the traps being used in far north Queensland, Ron Moon, said the program's success in far north Queensland was largely thanks to the amount of support it had received from the community.

"People just got behind it and it's really taken off," he said.

"Over 1,500 traps have been built and they're out there in the community."

The design of Mr Moon's trap tricks the birds into moving away from the bait and into a separate compartment of the trap — the collection box.

"I reverted back to how I used to make crab pots years ago," Mr Moon said.

"They get in there, they find out they're caught, and then they find the entrance to the collection box and think they're getting out."


Saturday, 12 December 2015

A Dannemora woman has been slapped with a $10,000 fine by the Manukau District Court after admitting to possessing and selling illegally imported edible bird nests.

Judge Charles Blackie last week declined Stacey Miao Yu’s application for a discharge without conviction on two charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993. She had pleaded guilty to the charges on July 3.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has applauded the punishment.

MPI seized 500 grams of raw swiftlet bird nests  - nearly 50 nests - after raiding Yu’s Auckland property in June 2014.

College student gets over 10 yrs' jail for poaching rare birds

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing December 2, 2015 Last Updated at 16:22 IST

A Chinese court today sentenced two persons, including a college student, to 10 years in prison for hunting 12 endangered birds during summer vacation and selling them online.

The court of Huixian county in central China's Henan province heard that Yan, born in 1994, was college student in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan.

He caught 12 Eurasian hobbies on July 14 last year with a friend surnamed Wang.

One of the birds died while another escaped.

The remaining 10 were sold via the internet for more than 1,000 yuan (about USD 156).

The pair caught two more Eurasian hobbies on July 27, as well as two other falcons, before they were put into custody by the forestry police bureau of Huixian county.

Yan also bought a crested goshawk illegally. 

15 birds of prey killed in Northern Ireland last year

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

26 November 2015

Fifteen birds of prey were killed in Northern Ireland last year, according to a new report from the RSPB.

Almost half of the cases were caused by poisoning.

Buzzards, red kites and a peregrine falcon were amongst the birds targeted. The worst area was in County Down, where seven birds were found dead.

The charity says that is "very concerning" as it is where it is trying to reintroduce the red kite.

At present there are 12 breeding pairs - well short of the 50 pairs needed for a sustainable population.

The project suffered a blow in 2014 when a member of the public contacted the charity about a possible poisoning incident.

A nest, near Katesbridge, was found to contain a dead female and two dead chicks.

"The problem is a constant battle and will only be won through raising awareness and concerted efforts to identify and penalise the minority of people who threaten these birds' very existence," said Michelle Hill, senior conservation officer with RSPBNI.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Bird crime big threat to survival of species

10:54am Thursday 26th November 2015

By Neil Athey, Ribble Valley reporter

A CHARITY organisation has called for better application of laws that protect UK birds, after illegal persecution continued.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is demanding more protection for birds of prey after the latest ‘Birdcrime’ report stated that our native birds are being prevented from recovering to their natural population levels.

The RSPB received 15 reports of bird of prey incidents in Lancashire and a further 179 nationwide.
These including the confirmed shooting of 34 buzzards, nine peregrines, three red kites and a hen harrier.

The report also documents 72 reported incidents of wildlife poisoning and pesticide-related offences, including 23 red kites, nine buzzards and four peregrine falcons.

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.

Elliot Lorimer, a spokesman for the Forest of Bowland, said that bird species will not be able to last forever by being persecuted.

Fly like a bird! Life-like simulator recreates the wind, sights, and even SMELLS of flight and is based on human dreams

Birdly machine has goggles uploaded with real city skylines that user sees
Canisters release smells - like salt or smoke - that relate to the landscape
User flaps and angles body to climb or descend and fan blows air into face
May be used as therapy for disabled as is so real it gave one user vertigo 

PUBLISHED: 12:13, 4 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:10, 4 December 2015

A futuristic simulator which claims to recreate the experience of flying like a bird over America could soon go into production.  

The Birdly simulator is now touring American cities and stimulates all of the senses to give a sense of flying based on human dreams, its inventor claims.

Users lie down flat on their stomachs to use the machine and angle their bodies up and down to dive or ascend, as it blows wind into their face with appropriate force.

They also strap on goggles, programmed with life-like visuals of American cities that allow them to observe real skylines and landscapes below.

The simulator even recreates smells that relate to the landscape below, with machines bellowing out a salt-air aroma as the user flies over the sea, and more industrial odors above the city.

Crows' tool time captured on camera

By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News

23 December 2015 

Ecologists have used a tail-mounted "crow cam" to catch wild New Caledonian crows in the act of making and using hook-shaped tools.

This species is well-known for its clever tool tricks, but studying its behaviour in the wild is difficult.

These tiny cameras peer forwards beneath the birds' bellies and record precious, uninhibited footage.

As well as glimpsing two crows making special foraging hooks, the team was able to track their activity over time.

This "activity budget" offers a rare insight into the natural lives of New Caledonian crows - but it has not yet solved the mystery of precisely what drives these birds to use tools.

When we got that footage it was a proper high-five moment in the field campDr Christian Rutz, University of St Andrews

That is the "big money question" according to senior author Christian Rutz, from the University of St Andrews in the UK.

"Why is it that New Caledonian crows use tools but other corvids don't? I think the answer to that lies in looking at their time budgets and figuring out how important tool use is in their everyday lives - what kinds of prey sources they tackle with tools," Dr Rutz told the BBC.

Mystery switch
In nearly 12 hours of "crow cam" footage from 10 different birds, described in the journal Biology Letters, he and his team actually caught surprisingly little tool time on camera.

"Out of total observation time, only about 3% was spent making or using tools," Dr Rutz said. And only four of the 10 subjects picked up a tool at all.

Tree-top turbulence helps flapping vultures soar

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

24 December 2015 

Some species of vultures have developed the ability to tap into turbulent air as a way of gaining altitude according to a new study.

Researchers found that these species compensate for their poor flapping skills by seeking out turbulence at low altitudes.

The researchers say this explains their awkward, wobbling flying style near tree-tops.

The study is published in the journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

Sometimes called buzzards, Turkey vultures are the most widespread of these species in North America

They are unique among these birds as they use their sense of smell to find carrion.

For this study researchers in this study observed both Turkey and Black vultures in south eastern Virginia in the US.

According to the study's lead author Julie Mallon, then at the University of West Virginia, these particular vultures have evolved a different style of flying, skirting low along the edge of forests.

"It's an energetic thing," she told BBC News.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Hornbill bird survey to start in Panay

November 25, 2015

Iloilo — By next year, researchers will find out how many of the endangered hornbill bird species still exist in Panay Island.

The Biodiversity Partnership Project of the Region 6 office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-6) will lead the first simultaneous hornbill count in the central Panay mountains.

In collaboration with the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PBCFI), the survey will try to establish the existence of hornbills, which are only endemic to Panay and Negros Islands.
Over the years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the Visayan Tarictic as endangered while the dulungan (also known as Rufous-Headed) hornbill as critically endangered.

Five species that show why ‘bird brain’ is a stupid phrase

2:00PM, NOVEMBER 23, 2015

Call someone a “bird brain” and they are sure to be offended. After all, it’s just another way of calling someone “stupid.” But it’s probably time to retire the insult because scientists are finding more and more evidence that birds can be pretty smart. Consider these five species:

We may call pigeons “flying rats” for their penchant for hanging out in cities and grabbing an easy meal. (Long before there was “pizza rat,” you know there had to be “pizza pigeons” flying around New York City.) But there may be more going on in their brains than just where to find a quick bite. Richard Levenson of the University of California, Davis Medical Center and colleagues trained pigeons to recognize images of human breast cancers. In tests, the birds proved capable of sorting images of benign and malignant tumors. In fact, they were just as good as humans, theresearchers report November 18 in PLOS ONE. In keeping with the pigeons’ reputation, though, food was the reward for their performance.

New Caledonian crows
No one would suspect the planet’s second-best toolmakers would be small black birds flying through mountain forests on an island chain east of Australia. But New Caledonian crows have proven themselves not only keen toolmakers but also pretty good problem-solvers, passing some tests that even dogs (and pigeons) fail. For example, when scientists present an animal with a bit of meat on a long string dangling down, many animals don’t ever figure out how to get the meat. Pull it up with one yank, and the meat is still out of reach. Some animals will figure out how to get it through trial and error, but a wild New Caledonian crow solved the problem — pull, step on string, pull some more — on its first try.

Twitchers' excitement over rare multicoloured bird spotted in New York

Thursday 3 December 2015

Passerina ciris-20090208.jpgA beautiful rare multi-coloured bird has rapturous nature lovers descending on a New York park in their hundreds.

The unusual specimen, called a painted bunting, has a dark blue head, a bright orange and red breast and a green and yellow back.

He was spotted in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and is thought to be one of only 10 seen in New York since 1927.

The New York Post reported “at least 100” bird enthusiasts were visiting the park every day to see the bird. 

“A lot of people are losing their s*** over this bird,” birding tour leader Doug Gochfeld told the paper.

Other birdwatchers were described as “ecstatic” and “shaking” when they clapped eyes on the brightly-coloured male.

How hummingbirds avoid overheating

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

16 December 2015 

· Colourful footage, shot with a thermal camera, has revealed how hummingbirds avoid overheating as they beat their wings up to 70 times per second.

· The birds have "windows" for heat loss, around their eyes, shoulder joints, feet and legs.

· This study, led by George Fox University in Oregon, US, is part of a Nasa-funded project to uncover the effects of climate change on the birds.

· Dissipating heat is complex in birds because feathers are such effective insulators.

· Lead researcher Dr Donald Powers said many nest birds formed bare "brood patches" when sitting on eggs, "so that the eggs are not insulated from their warm skin by the feathers".

· "We wanted to understand how hummingbirds, and birds in general, get rid of the extra heat."

· As bright white patches on the footage reveal, hummingbirds - and, researchers say, probably birds in general - have special areas around their eyes, shoulders, and legs that have low feather density.

· These serve as windows to rapidly dissipate heat during flight.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Amazing footage shows raven patiently letting a woman pull huge porcupine spikes out of his face

Gertie Cleary found injured bird in Nova Scotia, Canada, and tries to help
Bird screeched and tried to bite her as she took spikes out face and wing
Daughter filmed removal and video now has two million views on YouTube
Family nursed the injured bird back to health feeding it tuna and dog food 
PUBLISHED: 09:22, 7 December 2015 | UPDATED: 15:32, 7 December 2015

This amazing footage shows a raven perching patiently on a ledge as a woman pulls out painful porcupine spikes.
Gertie Cleary comes to the rescue of the distressed bird in Nova Scotia, Canada, when she finds it with three quills in its face and another in its wing.
The huge raven tries to bite her hand and screeches at her, but the patient mother manages to remove the spikes as the crow sits on the fence.
Mum comes to the rescue of wild raven in need of help

Gertie Cleary comes to the rescue of the distressed bird in Nova Scotia, Canada, when she finds it with three quills in its face and another in its wing

The raven, which the family later named Wilfred when nursing him back to health, lets her take the first and the second quill out of his face with little bother but starts screeching and trying to bite her on the third

Mrs Cleary said: 'It reminded me of a child with a splinter and when you pull a splinter out they holler and screech and pull their hand away,' reports CNN.

The footage, filmed by her daughter, shows Gertie carefully approaching the raven wearing gloves and moving her hand slowly towards the spikes.

The raven, which the family later named Wilfred when nursing him back to health, lets her take the first and the second quill out of his face with little bother.

But after getting a taste of the painful process it screeches and tries to bite her as she reaches for the third spike in the video, which has now been viewed more than two million times on YouTube.

Mrs Cleary persists, using her other hand to distract Wilfred on the right of the screen, before finally extracting the final spike

But Mrs Cleary persists, using her other hand to distract Wilfred on the right of the screen, before finally extracting the last two spikes.

The ‘big business’ of bird trapping in Cyprus

By George Psyllides

A bird protection campaign in Cyprus has seen 36 bird trappers arrested and a large number or poaching equipment destroyed, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) announced on Tuesday.

According to a news release, more than 3,314 illegal limesticks and 155 nets were destroyed during a bird protection camp conducted by CABS in cooperation with the SPA (Foundation for Biodiversity) on Cyprus this autumn.

Dubbed Operation Safe Passage, the camp covered five weeks from September to October 2015 and involved more than 30 conservationists and bird experts from six EU-countries.

CABS said its teams found and reported 162 illegal bird trapping sites equipped with 3,314 limesticks and 155 nets spanning more than 3.1 kilometres to the authorities.

According to CABS a total of 64 illegal electronic bird lures have also been discovered by the activists and later confiscated by the police.

Hotspots of illegal trapping activity this autumn were Ayios Nicolaos and Cape Pyla inside the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (Dhekelia British military base) and Avgorou and Liopetri in the Republic.

Volunteers found 855 trapped birds from 26 different species.

“All could be released after some days of intensive cleaning and rehabilitation in the CABS office.”

Penguin cam captures hunt for prey

Little penguins work together to hunt schooling prey

Date: December 16, 2015
Source: PLOS

Little penguins were more likely to work together to hunt schooling prey than solitary prey, according to observations made using animal-borne cameras published Dec. 2, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Grace Sutton from the Deakin University, Australia, and colleagues.
Group foraging in cooperative animals provides predators with advantages over prey, but for less cooperative colonial-breeding predators, like the little penguin, the benefits of group foraging are less clear due to the potential for competition between penguins. The authors of this study used animal-borne cameras on 21 little penguins from two breeding colonies in south-eastern Australia to determine the prey types, hunting strategies, and success of little penguins, a small, marine predator that extensively forages with other little penguins.

New evidence of tool use discovered in parrots

First evidence of tool use by greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa)

Date: December 16, 2015

Source: University of York

Psychologists at the University of York and University of St Andrews have uncovered the first evidence of tool use by greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa).

Studying ten captive parrots, researchers in the Department of Psychology at York observed the birds adopt a novel tool-using technique to acquire calcium from seashells and also the active sharing of tools among themselves.

The birds used small pebbles or date pits to grind calcium powder from the shells or to break off small pieces of shell to ingest. This behaviour, never before seen in this species, is the first evidence of a nonhuman using tools for grinding, and one of the few reports of nonhuman animals sharing tools directly.

Observing and filming the parrots over an eight month period (March to October), researchers documented their interactions with cockle shells on the floor of their aviary. Shells are a known source of calcium for birds.

Five out of ten birds were documented using tools, placing either pebbles or date pits inside shells to grind against the shell, or using them as a wedge to break apart the seashell.

Interest in the shells was greatest from March to mid-April, just before the breeding season -- this may be due to calcium supplementation being critical for egg-laying. Researchers were therefore initially surprised to find that it was the males, not the females who showed the greatest interest in shells.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Snail Kites’ Affinity for Home Leaves It in More Peril

Date: December 10, 2015

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

The endangered snail kite's affinity for its birthplace can come back to haunt the bird, leaving it in more peril, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study.

Snail kites are important for at least two reasons: Bird enthusiasts flock to see them in their natural habitat, so they're a bit of a tourist magnet. Secondly, wildlife managers use the snail kite as a barometer for conservation actions to preserve the Everglades, said Robert Fletcher, a UF/IFAS associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation.

The population of snail kites declined from about 3,500 to about 700 from 1999 through 2008. The bird has bounced back a bit, to about 1,700 birds in 2014, mostly in the lake habitats to the north of the Everglades.

Because of the snail kite's dwindling population, Fletcher led a 17-year study into dispersal patterns of the federally endangered bird. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, spans the years 1997 to 2013.

Researchers counted birds and determined where individual snail kites nested over time to see if they returned to their abodes. The scientists' work shows that despite the fact that snail kites move around considerably, they have strong preferences for places like home, and this impacts breeding, Fletcher said.

779 raptors killed illegally in Scotland during last 20 years says new report

A detailed 20 year review of the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland, published by RSPB Scotland, confirms that 779 protected raptors were illegally killed between 1994 and 2014.

In total, 468 birds of prey were poisoned, 173 were shot and 76 were caught in illegal traps. There were also seven attempted shootings. The figures include 104 red kites, 37 golden eagles, 30 hen harriers, 16 goshawks and 10 white-tailed eagles.

RSPB Scotland’s specialist investigations team has been meticulously documenting the illegal killing of birds of prey inScotland for 20 years to provide a thorough public record of the scale, location and methods of wildlife crime. This effort, supported by an extensive body of peer reviewed science, has shown the severe impact of criminal activities on some of Scotland’s most iconic and vulnerable bird species. 

The report deals only with incidents that have been confirmed as involving criminal activity, either by post mortem at a government laboratory or by reliable witnesses. The number of birds actually killed will therefore be much higher (1).

In a further 171 incidents, poison baits and/or non-bird of prey victims of poisoning were found, including 14 domestic cats and 14 dogs. There were also an additional 134 incidents where, although no victim was recovered, clear attempts had been made to target raptors - through the use of illegal traps for example. 

Norfolk has highest rate of bird crime in the east

13:14Thursday 26 November 2015

Police and wildlife experts have seen a rise in the number of incidents reported against birds in Norfolk.

The county has the highest rate of incidents against birds in the eastern counties, with 28 reported during 2014, according to the Birdcrime report.

The county has seen a 55 per cent increase on the number of incidents. The 2013 total was 18.

A total of 19 of the incidents were reported against birds of prey, including the illegal poisoning of nine buzzards in north Norfolk.

The figures have been released days after a rare red-footed falcon was found shot in the Whittlesey area.

Dr James Robinson, Director of the RPSB in Eastern England, said: “Illegal persecution of wildlife has no place in any society and incidents like the shocking poisoning of nine buzzards here in Norfolk are abhorrent to anyone who loves wildlife.

“The Birdcrime 2014 report makes a clear case for closer cooperation between conservation charities, landowners, farmers, game keepers and police, as well as public users of the countryside, to ensure that the laws that protect wildlife are effectively enforced so we can end wildlife persecution here in the east.”

Birdcrime 2014 documents 179 reports of shooting and destruction of birds of prey, and 72 of illegal poisoning of birds and other animals, in the UK in 2014.

Neighbouring Lincolnshire recorded 10 incidents, with eight in Cambridgeshire, 13 in Suffolk but the lowest is five in Bedfordshire.