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.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Success: Seychelles’ Denis Island sees surge in bird population

Victoria, Seychelles | February 28, 2016, Sunday @ 10:40 in Environment » CONSERVATION | By: Sharon Meriton Jean and Betymie Bonnelame | 

(Seychelles News Agency) - When your island hosts four of the most endangered and unique birds of Seychelles, and they are threatened by invaders, a conservationist says that removing those invaders is the only solution.

This strategy proved to be successful on the island of Denis where four endemic birds of Seychelles were introduced in the early 2000s in order to protect and increase their population.

Late last year, the island announced that after an intense eradication programme, the intrusive and often aggressive myna birds have been completely wiped out on the island.
A recent survey has shown a gradual increase in populations of Seychelles magpie robin, Seychelles paradise flycatcher, Seychelles fody and Seychelles warbler since the eradication of the mynas.

“The population of fody and warbler have grown a lot since their introduction,” says the environment manager of Denis Island, Dr. Janske van de Crommenacker.

Van de Crommenacker said there are now about 400 warblers, up from the 58 introduced in 2004, and 600 to 1,000 fodies, up from the 47 introduced.

The paradise flycatcher which has a small population on La Digue, the third-most populated island of Seychelles, has also been doing very well on Denis with about 70 birds.

New dinosaur fossil found in Japan

Last Updated: Saturday, February 27, 2016 - 16:00

According to fossil analysis, the new creature was a small theropod that had both primitive and derived features, according to the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum. It has been named Fukuivenator paradoxus, or “paradoxical hunter of Fukui”, The Japan Times reported.

Fukuivenator is a species that existed when theropods began to evolve into birds. 

Fukuivenator “failed to become a bird”, an expert said.

Fukuivenator was about 2.5 metres long and weighed about 25 kg.

The discovery emerged from a study of some 160 fossil fragments from an animal found in August 2007 in a stratum from the Lower Cretaceous period, some 120 million years ago. Some 70 percent of its body parts were left in very good condition.

Fukuivenator, which was covered with feathers, had two-forked cervical vertebrae, which are not found in any other theropod. Its hearing was equivalent to that of birds, and the shapes of its scapula and thighbones are similar to those of the primitive Coelurosaur, from which flying animals originated.

Staggering £275k reward to find 'evil goose killer' who gunned down bird in 'drive-by shooting'

19:24, 26 FEB 2016
UPDATED 19:41, 26 FEB 2016

The bird, who features on the village welcome sign in Sandon, Hertfordshire, died on Sunday amid reports he was shot in the head

Villagers have been left sickened after a much-loved goose was killed in a drive-by shooting.
The bird, known fondly as 'Goose' died on Sunday, amid reports from villagers that he was shot in the head with an air rifle by a man leaning out of a 4x4 vehicle.

His death has sparked a national outcry among animal lovers who heard he became part of the community in Sandon, Herts., where he even features on the village welcome sign.
And now there is even a staggering reward of £275,000 being offered to those who can find the culprits behind the animal's death.

Two members of the public contacted the BBC 's Jeremy Vine Show today to offer rewards - £250,000 from Peter Hunt in Eastbourne, Sussex, and £25,000 from John Barker in Cambridge.

Texting into the show, Mr Hunt said: "I would like to offer £250,000 to whoever catches the vile killers of the goose so long as it leads to a conviction.

"This incident makes me feel sick."

And after calling in to the Radio 2 lunchtime programme, Mr Barker said: "I am very upset about the whole situation.

"They are utterly scumbags and toerags.

"If the people responsible hand themselves in I will write them a cheque and hand it to them personally.

"They have taken the law into their own hands."

Northumbria bird ringers track 330,000 birds over 50-year history

18:30, 26 FEB 2016

Durham British Trust for Ornithology garden wildlife conference hears of group's conservation feats

Northumbria Bird Ringing Group members with birds from the Gateshead kittiwake nesting tower

For 50 years, volunteers have followed the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of birds in the North East.

The efforts of the Northumbria Ringing Group were outlined at the Garden and Urban Wildlife conference at Durham, organised by the British Trust for Ornithology.

The event was held in recognition of the increasing importance of gardens for wildlife, which is also having to adapt to creeping urbanisation.

“Private gardens in Britain cover about 270,000 hectares, more than all the designated National Nature Reserves put together. This means they are increasingly important habitats for wildlife as our countryside changes due to development,” said Clare Simm, one of the BTO conference organisers.

The Northumbria Group has ringed an estimated 330,000 birds across 209 species in the last 50 years in the North East and north Cumbria.

The group has 30 qualified ringers and 10 trainees, who carry out their work all year round., with the data being fed to the BTO to assist in conservation work and plotting long term trends.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Record-breaking wintering numbers of Spoon-billed Sandpipers in China

By Adrian Long, Thu, 25/02/2016 - 08:40

Eurynorhynchus pygmeus 2 - Pak Thale.jpg
On 30 December 2015, HKBWS volunteers Jonathan Martinez and John Allcock found at least 30 Spoon-billed Sandpipers near the Fucheng Estuary in south-west Guangdong Province, some of this land is located within the Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve. This was the highest number ever found in China during winter, but the record did not even last a month

At the end of January further coordinated counts in Guangdong Province, including members from the Zhanjiang Bird Watching Society and staff from the Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve Management Bureau. Together they counted at least 45 individuals from a four locations, with Fucheng Estuary having the highest count (38 individuals). 

Jonathan Martinez, commented: ”These numbers are a massive increase on just three individuals counted at Fucheng during our inaugural mid-winter survey in 2012. That year, we found long lines of mist-nets were found flanking shorebird roost sites. We counted hundreds of dead birds, and literally thousand of nets”.

Barbour wind power facility sentenced to $30,000 fine for bird deaths

filed: February 25, 2016 • West Virginia

Credit: By Ken Ward Jr., Staff Writer | Charleston Gazette-Mail | 

The owner of a Barbour County wind energy facility has been sentenced to pay $30,000 in fines after pleading guilty to two federal charges related to the deaths in 2011 of hundreds of migratory birds, court records show.

AES Laurel Mountain LLC was sentenced earlier this month by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Aloi after reaching a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld.

The company was sentenced to pay the maximum fine of $15,000 for each of two misdemeanor counts of “unlawful taking” of migratory birds, a crime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Charges were originally filed against AES Laurel Mountain in late January and a sentencing hearing was held on Feb. 12. Copies of legal briefs about the sentencing were placed under seal, and were not available to the public on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia’s online computer system.

The case concerns events in October 2011 at AES Laurel Mountain’s Battery Energy Storage System, or BESS, located near the company’s wind power generation facility at Belington.

Royal fflier: SSPCA rescuers shocked to discover lost bird is one of the Queen's racing pigeons

14:43, 25 FEB 2016

THE exhausted bird, belonging to Queen Elizabeth II, was rescued at Traprain Terrace in Haddington, East Lothian.

ANIMAL welfare officers who rescued a lost pigeon in East Lothian were surprised to discover it had a royal owner - the Queen.

The Scottish SPCA was called when the exhausted bird was spotted at Traprain Terrace in Haddington on February 2.

Staff traced it back to its owner and the racing pigeon has now been returned to the royal loft at Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

The charity's animal rescue officer Connie O'Neill said: "I've rescued many pigeons during my career with the Scottish SPCA but this was certainly a first for me.

"I was really excited when I found out it was one of the Queen's racing pigeons.

3D-printed titanium beak gives Brazilian macaw Gigi chance to crunch food for first time

A macaw with a deformed beak has been rescued from captivity and given a new 3D titanium prosthesis during delicate surgery in Brazil.

Life with a shorter-than-normal beak meant the bird could not eat solid foods properly.

The macaw, named Gigi, was operated on at the CETAS Unimonte animal research, training and rehabilitation centre in San Paulo by a team of four veterinarians.

The new beak was designed by professor and 3D designer Cícero Moraes who shared photos of the process on his personal Facebook page.

He dubbed the surgery an "historic moment", saying it was the first time a macaw had received a prosthetic 3D-printed beak.

The centre alluded in a Facebook post to the fact Gigi was rescued because she was involved in the illegal exotic birds trade.

The research centre's veterinarians released photos and videos of Gigi living life with her new beak after the successful surgery.

Reusable chicken nappies the next big thing at Burwood Bird & Animal Hospital as popularity of pet chickens grows

February 25, 2016 7:00am
Allison HardingMonash Leader

BACKYARD chooks are strutting out of their coops and into their owners’ houses.

They’re reclining on armchairs, nestling into beanbags, and even curling up on beds.

And while experts insist that chickens can be toilet trained, accidents do happen. Chook nappies, it seems, are the solution.

Burwood avian vet Phil Sacks has been selling the $24 cotton nappies from his clinic for the past six months, and is about to start selling online. His customers — and probably their chooks — are delighted with the reusable product, which are imported from the Dominican Republic.

“Chicken diapers are popular in the US, but are just starting to take off here as more people like having chickens in their homes,” Dr Sacks said. “They are intelligent, responsive, friendly and interactive pets.”

Dr Sacks said chickens, just like parrots, can learn to “poop on demand” through positive reinforcement — but the machine-washable nappies, which are fastened over the chicken’s tail feathers — provide a great safety net for birds still in training or not able to master the skill.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Fulmars contaminated more by food than microplastics

Date:February 17, 2016
Source:Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

Contrary to previous belief, new research has shown that microplastics are not a significant source of environmental pollutants in fulmars. Seabirds ingest most of these pollutants through food, the researchers concluded.

Millions of tons of plastic float around in the world's oceans, most of it as microplastics. Waves, wind and weather wear down the waste material until it is reduced to microscopic particles that remain in the sea for a long time. Littering of the world's oceans is a major environmental problem, as it is in Norway too.

It is not unusual for the microplastics to end up in the stomach of marine organisms, where it can do great harm. An additional cause of concern is the environmental pollutants linked to plastic. Even though not all plastics contain hazardous substances, plastic has the ability to bind fat-soluble organic pollutants from the environment to itself. Thus, it reflects the concentration of environmental pollutants in the sea.

13 Dead Bald Eagles Prompt Investigation, $10,000 Reward

by Denise Chow, Sci-Tech Editor | February 23, 2016 02:36pm ET

Thirteen bald eagles were found dead recently in Maryland, prompting officials to offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information about what happened to the federally protected birds of prey. The eagles were found in Federalsburg, Maryland, on Feb. 20, after a local resident reported seeing several of the dead birds in a field, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Natural Resources Police. 

Bald eagles were listed as an endangered species in the lower 48 states after the birds nearly went extinct in the 1960s. Though bald eagles are no longer listed under the Endangered Species Act, they are still federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, enacted in 1940, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, according to the FWS. These federal laws carry maximum fines of $100,000 and $15,000, respectively, and violators could face up to one year in prison, agency officials said.

The FWS is offering up to $2,500 for information about the dead bald eagles. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are also contributing up to $5,000. The Phoenix Wildlife Center, Inc., a wildlife rehabilitation center located in Phoenix, Maryland, is also offering $2,500 in exchange for information, according to the FWS.

Longer-distance migratory birds may be smarter

Evidence shows the further birds flew, the more new neurons they had in their brain

Date:February 24, 2016
Source:University of Oxford

Birds that migrate the greatest distances have more new neurons in the regions of the brain responsible for navigation and spatial orientation, suggests a new paper published in Scientific Reports.

For some time scholars have widely accepted the view that neurons, the cells that specialise in processing and transmitting information and contribute to brain plasticity, continue to be generated in the brains of animals even when they are adults. After being created in one part of the brain, the neurons then migrate to those regions of the brain that need them most.

The international research team, which included scientists from the University of Oxford, focused on the role played by neurons in two species, turtle doves and reed warblers, making their way from Africa to the Middle East or Europe. In both species, the researchers found that the proportion of new neurons increased in line with the migration distance. Interestingly, however, there was a distinct difference between the two species in the areas of the brain that incorporated the new neurons. In reed warblers, birds that migrate as individuals at night, new neurons were found mainly in the hippocampus -- a region associated with navigation. In turtle doves, a species that migrates as a group, the new neurons were found mainly in the nidopallium caudolateral, an area associated with communication skills.

Dodos might have been quite intelligent, new research finds

X-ray scans reveal that dodo's relative brain size was similar to pigeons, likely had enhanced sense of smell

Date:February 23, 2016
Source:American Museum of Natural History

New research suggests that the dodo, an extinct bird whose name has entered popular culture as a symbol of stupidity, was actually fairly smart. The work, published today in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, finds that the overall size of the dodo's brain in relation to its body size was on par with its closest living relatives: pigeons--birds whose ability to be trained implies a moderate level of intelligence. The researchers also discovered that the dodo had an enlarged olfactory bulb -- the part of the brain responsible for smelling -- an uncharacteristic trait for birds, which usually concentrate their brainpower into eyesight.

The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a large, flightless bird that lived on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. They were last seen in 1662.

"When the island was discovered in the late 1500s, the dodos living there had no fear of humans and they were herded onto boats and used as fresh meat for sailors," said Eugenia Gold, the lead author of the paper, a research associate and recent graduate of the American Museum of Natural History's Richard Gilder Graduate School, and an instructor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University. "Because of that behavior and invasive species that were introduced to the island, they disappeared in less than 100 years after humans arrived. Today, they are almost exclusively known for becoming extinct, and I think that's why we've given them this reputation of being dumb."

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Nocturnal migrating songbirds drift with crosswinds and compensate near coastal areas

Date:February 16, 2016
Source:University of Oklahoma

Using novel, recently developed techniques for analysis of Doppler polarimetric weather surveillance radar data, biologists examined impediments (crosswinds and oceans) of nocturnally migrating songbirds in Eastern North America. Migrants in flight drifted sideways on crosswinds, but most strongly compensated for drift near the Atlantic coast. Coastal migrants' tendency to compensate for wind drift increased through the night, while no strong differences were observed at inlands sites. This behavior suggests birds adapt in flight and compensate for wind drift near coastal areas.

Peacocks Die At Chinese Zoo After Being Roughly Handled For Selfies

February 22, 2016
Newsy / Powered by
Visitors at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park reportedly hugged and even plucked feathers from two of the zoo's peacocks, which eventually died. Video provided by Newsy

Continued ...

Himalayan griffon spotted in Goa

Birdwatchers in south Goa have reported spotting the rare Himalayan griffon, also known as Himalayan vulture.

Birdwatchers in south Goa have reported spotting the rare Himalayan griffon, also known as Himalayan vulture.

Mandar Bhagat and Omkar Dharwadkar of the Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN) said they spotted the bird in Cacora village recently.

“Notes taken from the field and photographs of the bird taken were sent to several expert ornithologists across the country to confirm the species and our suspicions were correct. It is indeed the Himalayan griffon,” said Mr. Dharwadkar, who was the first to spot the avian.
According to the GBCN, the Himalayan griffon was previously believed to belong to the upper Himalayas and was presumed to stray till the Gangetic plains at the most. In 2013, however, “an exhausted juvenile” was rescued in Thrissur district of Kerala. In the same year, multiple sightings of the species were also reported from Bangalore in Karnataka and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier this year, the same species was reportedly spotted in Kaiga in Karnataka, the network of avid birdwatchers said.

“Himalayan griffons do not breed in the first three years, and hence juvenile birds of the species do not remain in breeding grounds to avoid competition. Such long-distance straying from home territory also points towards a lack of navigational experience in immature birds. All individuals of the species previously reported as sighted from south India, including the one spotted in Goa, are the immature ones. With this, the list of birds of Goa officially stands at 460 species, of which 14 additions were made in the last three years alone,” said Pronoy Baidya, a reviewer for eBird, an online programme that crowdsources information from birdwatchers.

Continued ...

Pesticides poisoning birds in the Balkans

By Marko Tucakov, Thu, 11/02/2016 - 16:35

You may think that bird species of the Least [conservation] Concern on the European Red List of Birds are not threatened because of the name of the category they are in. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t face serious, often man-made threats to their survival that must be addressed.

The White-tailed Eagle is one such bird. Native to Serbia and its neighbouring East European and Central Asian countries, the Serbian population of the species has been growing: it reached 125 pairs in 2016. The annual growth rate of the species is about 50 birds across Serbia, only five of which reach sexual maturity and reproduce in monogamous couples, according to Serbian researchers. So losing even one bird is a big loss.

Since 2009, 33 White-tailed Eagle carcasses have been found in Serbia. The culprit? In a majority of the cases: pesticide poisoning.

Poison problems
The bodies of most poisoned White-tailed Eagles and other affected species such as theCommon RavenCommon Eurasian Buzzard and Black-billed Magpie were found close to poisoned baits (mainly cattle carcasses intended for predators like Golden Jackals and Red Foxes).

The majority of the cases was recorded around Gornje Podunavlje and Karađorđevo, two nature reserves in the northwest that host a large concentration of White-tailed Eagles – almost 30 breeding pairs and more than 100 individuals in the winter.   

Monday, 22 February 2016

Mystery surrounds annual WA bird deaths

February 12, 2016 6:12am

Mystery surrounds annual WA bird deaths

Wildlife officers are working to solve a mysterious spate of bird deaths occurring annually in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

Littlecorella.jpgScores of corellas have died each February and March for the past five years, according to Department of Parks and Wildlife officer Chris Roy, who says the event coincides with heavy rainfall followed by warm weather.

"The corellas are either consuming or coming in contact with something, we're still not sure what that is," Mr Roy told AAP on Friday.

He said no other bird species had been affected by the mystery illness - with symptoms that include lethargy, poor motor function and green diarrhoea - while toxicology results were yet to yield conclusive results.

"Some of the birds, with a bit of care and rest, come good but others die and others are humanely euthanased by the vet," he said.

Mr Roy said close to 100 corellas died last year, while 30 deaths had been recorded so far this year, with more test samples recently sent to Perth.

DPAW officers had been able to link the deaths to a specific area in the town of Tom Price, known as Area W, which included the local primary school's oval.

"Its a little bit of a mystery. We had a lot of tests done last year and they all came back negative for a cause, so we've got on to it early this year," Mr Roy said.

'Amazing' animated map shows a year of bird migrations in 30 seconds


Published on: February 15, 2016 | Last Updated: February 15, 2016 3:33 PM EST

Birders can now watch the looping and weaving migration routes of more than 100 North and South American bird species on an animated map.

Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, which has a major public outreach office, has posted the information showing how migration routes intersect and diverge.

The map of 118 species condenses the movements of a whole year into about 30 seconds, with the changing dates shown in one corner. It shows which species stay in their northern nesting grounds for several months, and which visit only for a few short weeks. Each species is identified on a second animated map on the site.

And it shows that on any day in the year, something is migrating somewhere.

Ottawa naturalist Dan Brunton called the effect “amazing. Watch it a few times and distinct patterns really start emerging. One of the dramatic things it establishes is that at least some of these species are on the move at all times.”

Cornell published the work in a major science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
In the meantime, birder Bruce Di Labio says year-round resident birds such as cardinals, chickadees and house finches are reacting to the longer days and starting to voice their spring calls. Ottawa has gained more than an hour and 40 minutes of daylight since winter began.

Di Labio says one oddity this winter has been the American robin, which has stayed in Ottawa in unusually high numbers this winter.

“They stayed through the warm fall and early winter,” he said. “And this year there was a large amount of fruit on the trees, so they’ve been able to find enough food. But as the winter goes on they’re having to move around (to find food), and then people see them and think, hey, the robins have returned.”

Penguins seeking food must now waddle 60km to the coast to fish. Over the years, the arduous journey has had a devastating effect on the size of the colony.

Since 2011 the colony of 160,000 penguins has shrunk to just 10,000, according to research carried out by the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia’s University of New South Wales. Scientists predict the colony will be gone in 20 years unless the sea ice breaks up or the giant iceberg, dubbed B09B, is dislodged.

Penguins have been recorded in the area for more than 100 years. But the outlook for the penguins remaining at Cape Denison is dire.

“The arrival of iceberg B09B in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, and subsequent fast ice expansion has dramatically increased the distance Adélie penguins breeding at Cape Denison must travel in search of food,” said the researchers in an article in Antarctic Science.

“The Cape Denison population could be extirpated within 20 years unless B09B relocates or the now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out”

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Georgia Scientists Get Creative To Protect A Threatened Bird

By MOLLY SAMUEL • FEB 15, 2016

Sometimes what scientists need to protect a threatened species is a chainsaw, some roofing material and a little bit of creativity. On the Georgia coast, the Department of Natural Resources is channeling MacGyver to help out a big, gawky, bald-headed bird. 

It’s a bird that hasn’t always nested in Georgia, but now that it does, scientists are working to protect it.

Wood storks aren’t exactly conventionally beautiful.

WoodStorkWhole.JPG“They’ve got virtually no feathers on their neck or head, except when they’re very young,” says Tim Keyes, a biologist with the DNR. “They’ve got long sort of drooping bills. And as adults, they have kind of a black scaly look to their head and neck."

Their feathers are mostly white. Their bodies are sort of football shaped, and they’re tall – over three feet.

“In flight, from a distance, they’re actually quite attractive. The closer you get, the less attractive they appear,” says Keyes, laughing.

Keyes and a group from the DNR recently went to Sapelo Island, to a place where the birds nest. Dozens of storks gather in a few big old oak trees here every year to raise their chicks. Storks typically nest in trees that are surrounded by water, which protects them from raccoons. But this spot on Sapelo Island isn’t safe, and raccoons can wreck a wood stork colony.

How Migratory Birds Could Save the Paris Agreement From the Supreme Court

The death of Antonin Scalia may have spared the historic agreement from a premature demise, but its constitutional underpinnings are still in jeopardy.

FEB 15, 2016

In December, nearly every country on the planet came together in Paris for a historic deal to cut carbon emissions and beat back the rising tide of climate change. Now, the Supreme Court threatens to tear it all down.

Last week, the Supreme Court barred the Obama administration from implementing any part of its Clean Power Plan, the core of the United States' carbon emissions pledge that was the centerpiece of the Paris Agreement, until lower courts can determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency actually has the legal authority to follow through on the administration's commitment in Paris. In their plea to the Court for a temporary hold, nearly 30 states argued that the slate of regulations in the administration's carbon emissions plan would be an unconstitutional abrogation of state sovereignty; the "EPA would no longer be an environmental regulator but rather the nation's central planning authority," as NBC News reports. The stay, issued by the court, indicated that a majority of justices would likely strike down Obama's plan.

But with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, the Clean Power Plan has been spared its doomed fate. As Jonathan Chait notes, Scalia's absence reduces the court to a veritable four-to-four split, meaning the conflict over the Paris Agreement's implementation at home will be decided by a Democrat-heavy D.C. Circuit panel, which will likely uphold the new EPA regulations without the risk of the court striking it down. "Modern conservative legal doctrine has moved toward a form of aggressive judicial activism, devising—or, more precisely, resurrecting—theories that allow the Court to strike down vast swaths of laws conservatives find objectionable," Chait writes. "Activist Courts require a majority. That is now gone."

Bumper season for nearly extinct bird

With only about 150 taiko left, a flock of 22 hatchlings has given a huge boost to the birds' chances of survival.

16 February 2016 

They were once thought extinct, and only about 150 are still left - so those trying to save the Chatham Island taiko have reason to celebrate a bumper breeding season.

This season, 22 of the highly endangered native birds were hatched - smashing the previous record of 13.

Chatham Island Taiko Trust co-ordinator Mike Bell said he was thrilled with the result, which was a massive boost given the population numbers.

"There are only 26 pairs of these birds in the whole world - the rest are too young to breed - so every chick counts in protecting and building the population," he said.

But the season wasn't all smooth sailing, with one of the eggs being left by its parents.

"It looks like the female literally dumped the egg and left, then the male just stood around outside their burrow and didn't sit on the egg for about 10 days before going off out to sea," Mr Bell said.

Eagle big enough to snatch a dog on the loose in Kent

Bird with a wingspan of 9ft is believed to be flying around Kent after it escaped from a midday show in Dartford

3:19PM GMT 15 Feb 2016

A huge hunting eagle capable of carrying off an adult dog in its massive talons is on the loose in Kent.

Rex the Steller's sea eagle, who went missing after a birds of prey demonstration, has a wingspan of 9ft and is considered the most aggressive of its kind - and is easily capable of killing a Jack Russell.

The king of the skies can carry off prey weighing up to 13lbs, the weight of an adult Shih Tzu, a miniature poodle, or an Italian Greyhound and should not be approached.

Home to far eastern Russia, the eagle usually feasts on wild salmon, but is more than partial to pets and wild birds, which it dives down upon and clutches with its powerful talons.

In the wild some Steller's have been recorded preying on young seals weighing more than 18lbs.

The huge bird, which makes a deep barking cry when aggressive, is believed to be flying around Kent after it escaped from a midday show in Dartford on Sunday.

Since Rex's disappearance, the Eagle Heights Wildlife Park have been attempting to find him but the transmitter they had hoped to use has failed.

The park, which last heard that Rex was seen on Monday afternoon perched in a tree in Lullingstone, Kent, is appealing to the public for help.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Is it a bird? No, it's vermin: Goa reclassifies the peacock

Move by India’s popular tourist state could lead to mass culling of the country’s national bird

The peacock is India’s national bird and is protected under the country’s Wildlife Protection 
Agence France-Presse
Friday 12 February 2016 12.45 GMTLast modified on Friday 12 February 201612.53 GMT

India’s popular tourist state of Goa has ruffled feathers with its proposal to reclassify its national bird, the peacock, as vermin, reports said.

The move, which is aimed at making the bird easier to cull, comes just weeks after Goa’s legislative assembly caused similar consternation when it ruled that the resort state’s beloved coconut trees were not in fact trees, but palms.

 “We have listed several wild species, including wild boar, monkey, wild bison (gaur), peacock as nuisance animals,” the Press Trust of India quoted Goa’s agriculture minister, Ramesh Tawadkar, as saying.

“These animals are creating [a] problem for farmers and are destroying their cultivation in rural areas,” he told reporters, according to the PTI report.
The peacock is India’s national bird and is protected under the country’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

But animal rights groups fear the Goa government’s proposal to reclassify the peacock as a “nuisance animal” will make it easier to cull the birds.

“Goa seems to be trying to … [have] India’s national bird labelled this way so that they may be hunted and killed,” Poorva Joshipura, the CEO of Peta India, said.

Bird population on Scilly Isles recovers after islands are declared 'rat-free'

Project to eradicate non-native brown rats that feed on eggs and chicks on St Agnes and Gugg is declared a success

Press Association
Saturday 13 February 2016 00.01 GMTLast modified on Monday 15 February 201611.04 GMT

A project to protect breeding seabirds from invasive rats on the Scilly Isles has been a success with the two islands declared “rat-free”.

Bird populations on St Agnes and Gugh, linked by a sand bar, are starting to recover after a quarter century of year-on-year declines following work to eradicate the non-native brown rats which were feeding on eggs and chicks, conservationists said.

They are thought to have first colonised the islands in the 18th century following several shipwrecks and grew to a population that was harmful to birds such as European storm-petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus) and Manx shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus), which have been in decline since the 1980s.

Local volunteers and conservationists began work in 2013 on a project to monitor rat activity on the island, followed by an intensive programme of baiting and poisoning for a month in the winter. No rats have been spotted since November 2013, and after a thorough month-long inspection at the beginning of this year the islands have been declared officially “rat-free”.

Since the removal of the rats, both Manx shearwaters and European storm-petrels are successfully breeding on the islands for the first time in living memory, conservationists said, with more than 40 chicks recorded on the islands in the last two years.

DNA analysis of sandpiper feces reveals a broad diet

Date: February 3, 2016
Source: Central Ornithology Publication Office

The researchers behind a forthcoming study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances have shown that Semipalmated Sandpipers on their annual stopover in Canada's Bay of Fundy eat a far broader diet than anyone suspected--and they did it by analyzing poop.

Analysis of stomach contents had led researchers to believe that Semipalmated Sandpipers in the Bay of Fundy rely on an amphipod species called Corophium volutator as their major food source. However, the new study of feces by Travis Gerwing, Myriam Barbeau, Diana Hamilton, Jason Addison, and Jin-Hong Kim of the University of New Brunswick shows that the sandpipers' diet knits together several adjacent food webs--freshwater insects that wash down onto the beach in streams and eggs of ocean-going fish deposited on the shore by tides get eaten alongside organisms that live in the beach's intertidal zone.

This broader diet may increase their exposure to pesticides and other toxins, in addition to making the birds more resilient to changes in their habitat, such as those due to climate change. "Current Semipalmated Sandpiper conservation efforts in the Bay of Fundy focus on beach and intertidal habitats, neglecting terrestrial, pelagic, and freshwater systems that may not only supply nutrients, but harmful chemicals or pesticides as well," according to Gerwing. "Future studies need to explore this possibility, attempting to determine if bioaccumulation of harmful toxins from multiple ecosystems in the Semipalmated Sandpipers are having any negative impacts upon this species."

Let's All Chill: Antarctica's Adélie Penguins Are Probably Fine

By Becky Oskin, Contributing Writer   |   February 16, 2016 07:05am ET

Let's give the penguins a little credit.
The news reported around the world was startling — that some 150,000 Adélie penguins have died in Antarctica because a colossal iceberg cut off their sea access.

But there's no proof yet that the birds are dead. No one has actually found 150,000 frozen penguins. In fact, experts think there's a less horrific explanation for the missing birds: When the fishing gets tough, penguins simply pick up and move. It wouldn't be the first time Adélie penguins marched to new digs. When an iceberg grounded in the southern Ross Sea in 2001, penguins on Ross Island relocated to nearby colonies until the ice broke up.

"Just because there are a lot fewer birds observed doesn't automatically mean the ones that were there before have perished," said Michelle LaRue, a penguin population researcher at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, who was not involved in the study. "They easily could have moved elsewhere, which would make sense if nearby colonies are thriving," LaRue told Live Science in an email interview.

Where did they go?
The misplaced penguins lived at a colony on Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay, in East Antarctica. In mid-February 2010, the Rhode Island-sized iceberg B09B crashed into the bay's Mertz Glacier. The stranded iceberg forced the penguins to walk more than 37 miles (60 kilometers) for food, researchers report in a new study. The greater the distance to dinner, the harder it is for baby chicks to get enough calories from their penguin parents.