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.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Dozens of bird species face struggle following gorse fire

28 May 2016 by Jamie Ross

A major fire caused by thieves who stole a car and set it on fire could have affected dozens of bird species, a wildlife charity has claimed.

Firefighters battled for five hours to contain the blaze which destroyed gorse near Banff on Thursday night, the result of the car being set alight.

The alert was raised at about 9pm, when residents in Sandend spotted massive plumes of black smoke near the cliffs.

The beauty spot is commonly used by nesting birds and that has now raised concerns that species faced being “massacred”.

Last night, a spokeswoman for The Royal Society For Protection Of Birds claimed that dozens of different breeds regarded the region as their home and called for locals to take better care with fires.

She said: “Gorse is a very valuable habitat. In the north-east, linnets, yellowhammers, whitethroats, song thrushes, dunnocks and stonechats all live in areas of gorse.

“At this time of year, these species will be nesting, so this fire will have destroyed nests, eggs and young birds, which can’t escape.

We urge everyone to take care with fires, especially at this time of year.”

Residents from nearby Portsoy and Sandend had reported smoke rising into the sky on the area of land between the villages and Banff.

One Scottish Fire and Rescue Service appliance from Portsoy and another from Cullen were called to the scene along with a forestry unit from Elgin before the blaze was put out just after 2am yesterday.

The RSPB has branded gorse as “very important” to both birds and invertebrates in material issued to its supporters.

Seychelles hunts down the last ‘destructive’ ring-necked parakeets

Victoria, Seychelles | May 28, 2016, Saturday @ 15:47

(Seychelles News Agency) - An eradication campaign to rid Seychelles of the ring-necked parakeets is now in the final stages, the Seychelles Islands Foundation, SIF, has said.

A team of hunters from New Zealand armed with rifles are tracking the last remaining birds in the western region of the Seychelles main island, Mahé.

“We are currently concentrating our efforts in the Port-Glaud district,” the project coordinator, Laurent Leit, said to SNA.

As they pursue what is believed to be one of the last of the remaining ring-necked parakeets, the hunters are facing mountainous terrain which makes it difficult to track the bird.

According to Leit, there is also the problem of spotting the green parakeets, as they blend in well with the dense, green vegetation.

“These birds are very intelligent. If you’ve attacked them in one spot and they managed to escape, they will not return to that same spot and this makes our work more difficult,” said Leit.

Other than being a threat to native birds of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, the species is also a nuisance to farmers and owners of home gardens as they feed on fruits especially their seeds, even before they are ripe.It is believed that the ring-necked parakeets, better known as the ‘Kato Ver’ [green parrots] due to its green colour, was introduced in Seychelles as early as 1970 as a caged pet. The bird managed to get into the wild some years later.

Several eradication programmes have been implemented as early as 2003, but to no avail. The current campaign started in 2013, when the estimated number of the green bird was said to be between 300 to 400.

According to Laurent Leit, the number was surely much higher as over 500 birds have been killed since the eradication project began.

Crow steals knife from crime scene in Canada

Thursday, May 26, 2016, 10:41 AM

A group of crows is called a murder — but this one may have murderous intent.

Canuck the Crow is a well-known bird in Vancouver. He has a penchant for stealing shiny things and even has his very own Facebook page.

Lately, he’s even developed an interest in crime scene investigation.

On Tuesday, police arrived at the scene of a car fire only to be confronted by a man with a knife. Shots were fired and police collared the man in a McDonald’s parking lot, according to Global News.

Then Canuck got involved.

Canuck — or a bird just like him with a leg tag like his — was caught on camera roaming around the crime scene, pecking at yellow crime scene tape and perching atop a police car.

Then, the crime scene crow swooped in and stole something from the cordoned area, according to Vancouver Courier reporter Mike Howell.

"A cop chased it for about 15 to 20 feet, and then the crow dropped it and took off," Howell told CBC.

"It was really strange. In my 20-plus years reporting from crime scenes, I've never seen anything like that crow trying to take a knife."

Monday, 30 May 2016

Bird research in Seychelles links inbreeding with shorter lifespans for entire animal kingdom

Victoria, Seychelles | May 27, 2016, Friday @ 14:31

(Seychelles News Agency) - Birds of a feather may flock together, but if birds mate with family members, it's likely to lead to a shorter lifespan for the offspring.

That's the conclusion scientists reached after carrying out a genetic study of birds in Seychelles.

The Seychelles warbler was found to be the perfect candidate by evolutionary biologists seeking to pin down the effect of inbreeding on the entire animal kingdom, including on humans themselves. This is in spite of the fact that the tiny brown bird is found on only a handful of Seychelles' islands.

According to Kat Bebbington, a British PhD student at the University of East Anglia, the risk of inbreeding is particularly high in any population of animals which are small in numbers and geographically isolated.

“Lots of research is being done to try and understand how small populations avoid inbreeding, either by evolving some way of recognising relatives or making sure that offspring disperse far enough away that they will never encounter family members of the opposite sex,” Bebbington told SNA.

Bebbington is the lead author on the research paper published earlier in an online journal, Molecular Ecology, earlier in May.

Migrant bird swaps the Med for Montrose

13:10Thursday 26 May 2016

A migrant bird more often seen in southern Europe has made a rare visit to Montrose.

At least two of the birds have been spotted by visitors and staff at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Montrose Basin Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve in the past two weeks.

The glossy ibis is a similar shape and size to a curlew but has a distinctive bottle green wing and a sickle shaped beak.

The species winters in Africa and is more commonly found in the south of Europe during summer, but increasing numbers are finding their way to the UK.

Anna Cheshier, reserve ranger at Montrose Basin, said: “It’s unusual for a glossy ibis to come quite as far north as Montrose so it has caused a bit of a stir among visitors to the reserve over the past week.

“They are coming to the UK more frequently, possibly because drier conditions in countries, such as Spain, are pushing them north in search of more suitable habitat.”

Montrose Basin covers 1000 hectares and is located on an enclosed estuary of the River South Esk.

The reserve has a rich mosaic of saltmarsh, reed bed, mixed agriculture, extensive mudflats and a mix of fresh, brackish and salt water.

uReport: Rare bird spotted in Brighton

May 26, 2016 | Vote0 0

Northumberland News

Ruff female RWD.jpgBRIGHTON -- A rare bird, the Ruff, was spotted in Brighton.

Brighton Wastewater supervisor Keith Lee submitted the photo of the bird he captured at the Constructed Wetland in Brighton on May 12. He said the Ruff is not a bird you would normally see in Canada.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Investigation continues into bird killings

Evidence still points to loose dogs

More than 30 Wedge-tailed shearwaters were discovered dead near Lawai on Sunday. Loose dogs are still being blamed for the carnage.

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 1:15 am | Updated: 9:08 am, Wed May 25, 2016.
Jessica Else - The Garden Island

LAWAI — The Sunday discovery of 34 dead wedge-tailed shearwater birds near Kauai’s Spouting Horn remains under investigation, but officers with Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources still believe dogs are behind the killings.

“The birds weren’t eaten, cats eat them. Rather, they were bitten and shaken, which leaves broken bones, wings and large puncture holes,” said Sheri Mann, Kauai Department of Forestry and Wildlife district manager.

Mann explained wildlife biologists have seen this pattern before and it’s almost certain dogs are the culprit, but more answers will come from a necropsy of the birds.

The birds were found mostly near the parking lot end of Lawai Road. The carcasses have been taken to the Department of Fish and Wildlife baseyard in Lihue for necropsy.

DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said there’s no word yet on the necropsy, and DLNR staff members have undertaken a dog trapping effort, with the permission of private landowners in the area.

“The dogs are just acting on instinct,” Mann said.

The Search Is On For South America's ‘Lost Birds'

By Daniel Lebbin May 25, 2016

High in the Santa Marta Mountains of Colombia in early 2015, two guards from Fundación ProAves' El Dorado Reserve found the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, a hummingbird nobody had seen for 69 years. The rediscovery of such lost birds is not as infrequent as one might guess. Finding them, as other ABC-funded expeditions have done in the past with the Pale-headed Brush Finch and other birds, can be vital to their conservation. It's hard to protect birds if you don't know where they live.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature currently ranks at least 24 species in the Americas as threatened even though the species have no known individuals in the wild nor surviving in captivity. Most of these species should probably be considered extinct. But some may still persist, living in areas that are difficult to search and where few people go.

To untangle this mystery and determine if the birds are still out there—and therefore deserving of our conservation attention—ABC is mobilizing resources and partners to conduct searches for some of South America's lost birds. We're starting with three: the Tachira Antpitta, the Turquoise-throated Puffleg, and the Kinglet Calyptura.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Taiwan seeking to reduce ecological impact of alien bird

2016/05/26 16:54:15

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) Taiwan is taking steps to deal with the problem of an introduced bird species that is causing an ecological disaster in the country, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Thursday.

The first step is to obtain the opinions of experts and scholars, who will meet Friday in Taipei to discuss the issue of the growing number African sacred ibises in Taiwan and their impact on the country's ecology, the COA said.

Under the auspices of the COA and the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, specialists in ecological balance and wild birds will meet and brainstorm on how to deal with the problem, said Kuan Li-hao (
管立豪), a division chief at the COA's Forestry Bureau.

Kuan said the ibis species, which is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, was first brought into Taiwan more than 30 years by a private zoo.

In 1984, some ibises were spotted in a wetland in Taipei, which indicated that they were breeding in the wild, Kuan said, speculating that the first birds had escaped from the zoo in Hsinchu County during a typhoon.

That year, the number of African sacred ibises recorded in Taiwan was in single digits, but now there are 1,100 in the wetlands stretching from northeast Taiwan to the west coast, he said.

The birds are also seen sometimes at waste water treatment plants, on manure heaps and in garbage dumps, Kuan said.

London’s garden birds disappearing?

Birdwatch News Archive

Posted on: 26 May 2016

Results from the Big Garden Birdwatch suggest a decrease in numbers of garden birds in London, and the RSPB has commissioned special nest boxes to highlight this decline.

London’s most common garden birds seem to be quietly vanishing from the city's green spaces, and research has revealed that Starlings (down 34 per cent), Blackbirds (19 per cent), Blue Tits (14 per cent) and House Sparrows (13 per cent) have disappeared from its gardens over the past 12 years. This data on declining species has been taken from the RSPB’s 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch, the largest citizen science survey in Britain, and was collated and analysed by the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science.

There does indeed seem to be a general trend of decline, 
though this may be exaggerated this year by the effects of a very mild winter, which has seen many species foraging away from gardens, and an increase in the numbers of Goldfinches and Long-tailed Tits.

To highlight this decline and encourage Londoners to attract the missing birds back to the city, East Village – which has the recently created postcode E20 – has enlisted local Essex carpenter Pete Bagg to create a number of unique nest boxes in the form of iconic buildings of the London Skyline. These include historic buildings such as Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge, along with to E20’s very own Arcelor Mittal Orbit and Lee Valley Velodrome. E20 has hosted breeding Black Redstarts in recent years. East Village is the former London 2012 Athletes’ Village and represents a green haven in the heart of one of the world’s largest cities.

Neil Young, CEO of Get Living London which rents and manages homes at East Village, said: “As one of London’s greenest neighbourhoods with a big emphasis on the natural environment, East Village has invested heavily to encourage wildlife. Whether it be through ‘living roofs’ on each apartment building, the 3,000 trees – newly planted in 2011 – or [providing] 25 acres of green open space, we have worked hard to make East Village eco-friendly. With the six-acre Wetlands – a brilliant habitat for native biodiversity – we are delighted to partner with the RSPB to create these unique bird boxes to help encourage even more birds into the neighbourhood.”

The quirky bird boxes will go on show outside Get Living London’s East Village ‘Welcome Office’ from 26th May and will eventually be placed around London’s newest neighbourhood in time for next year's breeding season. The scheme has been introduced this spring as a 'call to action' for the nation to play their part to encourage birdlife wherever they live in the UK.

Rare bird makes only second appearance In the Upper Ottawa Valley in 38 years

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 3:40:37 EDT PM

Image result for dicksissel birdDuring spring migration, you just never know what bird may appear at your bird feeder. On Thursday, May 12, a rare mid-western bird called a Dickcissel arrived at the feeder of Brian and Judy Mohns of Black Bay. This bird stayed just one night but long enough for Rob Cunningham and me to confirm the bird sighting and photograph it for our county records. This is only the second record of this bird in our area; the last sighting of Dickcissel was 38 years ago on October 1, 1978, by Bill Walker, formerly of Deep River.

The Dickcissel (Spiza Americana) gets its name from its familiar call of 'dick-dick-dick-cissel.' It is normally found in grassy or weedy fields and tall grass prairies that have scattered scrubs, trees, or hedgerows.

This bird is generally the size of a House Sparrow but has a slender and slightly longer bill. It is sometimes mistaken for a small Meadowlark. This bird has plain gray-brown cheeks, yellow breasts, yellowish eyebrow, and a white chin and white under parts. The male, especially during breeding season, has a black bib on the chest underneath its white throat.
During the spring and summer, the Dickcissel tends to be solitary or found in pairs. In the fall, it joins large groups of birds during migration. The male Dickcissel is often seen in the spring singing from a high perch and in flight. This bird mainly eats insects, grains, and seeds. During winter and migration it is seen feeding at bird feeders.

The Dickcissel is primary polygamous, or in other words, has several mates. The nest of the bird is built by the female and is usually located in a low tree or bush anywhere from one to six feet above the ground. The nest is made of grasses, stems and leave and is lined with rootlets, grasses and hairs.

Small offshore oil spills put seabirds at risk: Industry self-monitoring failing

May 26, 2016

Seabirds exposed to even a dime-sized amount of oil can die of hypothermia in cold-water regions, but despite repeated requests by Environment Canada, offshore oil operators are failing when it comes to self-monitoring of small oil spills, says new research out of York University.

Chronic pollution from many small oil spills may have greater population-level impacts on seabirds than a single large spill, suggest researchers Gail Fraser and Vincent Racine of York U's Faculty of Environmental Studies. However, seabirds are rarely considered in the monitoring of small spills from offshore oil production projects in Newfoundland and Labrador even though Environment Canada has asked that they be included.

In an article published in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Fraser and Racine looked at how offshore oil operators monitored and responded to small spills (less than 1,000 litres) for three production projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In three high-profile environmental assessments Environment Canada repeatedly requested that impacts on seabirds be monitored following small spills, but this has not happened.

"Industry self-monitoring of spills has failed to collect information that would allow researchers to understand the impact of chronic oil spills on seabirds," said Fraser, who along with Racine is calling for independent observers on the offshore platforms. "Many seabird populations are declining and understanding sources of mortality is critical to their conservation."

Fraser and Racine looked at reporting and monitoring of spills between 1997 and 2010. The researchers obtained operator spill reports under an Access to Information request. They found there were 220 daytime spills. Reporting on the presence or absence of seabirds was done in only 11 (five per cent) of the cases. The Canadian Wildlife Service's seabird survey protocol should be followed when a spill occurs, but none of the reports showed evidence of that. The time it takes for a small spill to dissipate was also not in the spill reports and this information is required to estimate possible interactions of oil spilled with seabirds. "The lack of information on seabirds during oil spills indicates a need for third-party observers," said Fraser.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Indonesian birds face extinction due to pet trade: study

JAKARTA - Thirteen species of Indonesian birds, including the country's symbolic Javan Hawk-eagle, are at serious risk of extinction mainly due to the pet trade, a wildlife watchdog warned Wednesday.

The vast Indonesian archipelago is home to a dizzying array of birds and keeping them as pets has long been part of the national culture, with birdcages a common sight outside homes and shops across the country.

However increasing demand for some species as pets has led to dramatic population declines, wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC warned in a new study.

"This is a multi-million-dollar industry, there's a huge criminal element and many people are profiting illegally from this business," Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC's director for Southeast Asia and a co-author of the study, told AFP.

Huge demand for songbirds in Indonesia has also put bird species in other countries such as Malaysia and Thailand in danger, Shepherd said.

The Javan Hawk-eagle is Indonesia's national bird and the inspiration for the Garuda, the mythical winged creature that adorns the country's coat of arms.

Other species at risk of extinction include the Silvery Woodpigeon, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet, Javan Green Magpie, Black-winged Myna, Bali Myna, Straw-headed Bulbul, Javan White-eye, Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush, Sumatran Laughingthrush and Java Sparrow.

The Helmeted Hornbill is also at risk but unlike the others, is not kept as a pet. Thousands are being illegally killed and traded for their unique "casques" - a solid lump of fibrous protein that runs along the top of the bill and onto the skull.

'Sea hating' rare pelican and vulture could stay in UK

Two extremely rare birds which were blown across to the UK due to prolonged wind currents could remain in the country due to their dislike of sea crossings, experts have said.
A Dalmatian pelican which has been spotted in Cornwall had not been seen in the country for hundreds of years.

Meanwhile, a bearded vulture has been seen in Wales, Devon and Cornwall.

Experts said the birds, which are both "major rarities" had arrived in the UK on prolonged south easterly airflows.

The species are more commonly found across south eastern Europe, India and China.
Paul Freestone, from the Cornwall Birding website, said thousands of birdwatchers had travelled from across the country to try to see the birds.

"It's completely unprecedented to have two major rarities in the South West," Mr Freestone said.

'Reached end of the land'
Paul Stancliffe, from the British Trust for Ornithology, said both birds were first seen in other parts of Europe, with the pelican seen in Poland and vulture reported in Belgium before they arrived in the UK.

Mr Stancliffe said both birds, which are currently in Cornwall, "don't like sea crossings" so it was "possible" for them to remain in the UK for the foreseeable future.

The Met Office said that since the beginning of May south easterly winds had been regular across central and southern Europe.

Japan hatches rare penguin chicks using artificial insemination

Wednesday May 25, 2016
05:01 PM GMT+8

A Japanese aquarium said today it had hatched two Humboldt penguin chicks after using artificial insemination, the first time the technique has been successfully deployed for the vulnerable species.

The two chicks were born early April after frozen then thawed sperm from a male penguin was used to inseminate a female penguin at the Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum in Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan.

“I was speechless when the babies were born safely thanks to the success of the artificial insemination,” Teppei Kushimoto, who is in charge of the penguins at the aquarium, told AFP.

The aquarium said it had taken four years of experiments for scientists to figure out how to collect, freeze, and correctly time the artificial insemination for the penguins.

- See more at: 

Individual quality trumps reproductive tradeoffs in ducks

May 25, 2016

Not all ducks are created equal. In female Wood Ducks, variation in individual quality is what matters for breeding success and survival, according to the results of a new long-term study being published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

Drawing on 11 years of data on almost 500 ducks, Robert Kennamer of the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and Gary Hepp and Bradley Alexander of Auburn University found a positive relationship between annual survival and nesting success—females that were better at raising their offspring were also better at surviving. This contradicts an established theory predicting the existence of a tradeoff between current reproductive effort and future success.

"Theory predicts that current reproductive effort will negatively affect survival and future reproduction," says Hepp. "In our long-term study of Wood Ducks, however, females that nested successfully were not less likely to survive and nest successfully again the following year compared to females that had nested unsuccessfully." This suggests that there's a high degree of variation between individuals, with healthier, higher-quality females living longer and producing more offspring.

The study was carried out at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina. "Federal legislation promoting the conservation and protection of the environment provided the initial funding for Wood Duck population monitoring beginning in 1981 in an area of the SRS potentially impacted by thermal water releases from the restart of a nuclear production reactor," according to Kennamer. "When that resulted in a wealth of interesting data, we secured support for continuing the project much longer than first anticipated."

The researchers suggest that future studies should examine the factors that influence individual variation in migratory birds and explore their impacts on the successful management of these species. Birth and death rates and what causes them to vary are key to increasing population sizes, guiding the decisions of wildlife managers and conservationists, and this study highlights how much we still have left to learn about how they work.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Anne Murray: First-ever online B.C. Breeding Bird Atlas finds many bird species are on the move

by Anne Murray on May 20th, 2016 at 1:16 PM

Did you know there are two different species of hummingbirds in the Vancouver area? The rufous hummingbird is a tiny orange-red hummer that visits B.C. each summer and winters in Mexico, while the slightly larger maroon-and-green Anna’s hummingbird is here all year.
Anna's hummingbirds have increased their numbers in B.C. dramatically in the past two decades in response to the warmer climate and availability of year-round food. It is on the front cover of the new Birder’s Guide to Vancouver, and it is one of many bird species spreading across the province, as demonstrated by the newly released British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas. The atlas was published online this month, coinciding with Vancouver Bird WeekInternational Migratory Bird Day, and the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The B.C. Breeding Bird Atlas is based on an unprecedented five-year field survey carried out by an army of enthusiastic volunteers and coordinated by the nonprofit group Bird Studies Canada (BSC). Its completion required more than 56,000 hours of fieldwork that collected more than 630,000 records. This massive collaborative effort involved impressive numbers of people: 1,300 field volunteers, 40 writers and editors, 45 regional coordinators, 40 photographers, and 150 partners and special contributors.

Read on …

Rare avocet birds breeding in Chichester’s RSPB’s Medmerry

16:36Thursday 19 May 2016

Avocet hatchlings will soon make their first appearance in Chichester now the rare birds are breeding at the RSPB’s Medmerry nature reserve for the third year in row.

Approximately 24 pairs of the graceful black and white birds have nested in the reserve’s stilt pools, and each pair is expected to lay between two and four eggs.

The long legged chicks have already started emerging, and with the stilt pool only a short distance away from the footpath visitors can view the incredible sights of a species classed as extinct in the UK until 1941.

Chris Corrigan, RSPB regional director, said: “This success story is particularly thrilling for us, as the avocet is the emblem of the RSPB and its increase in numbers since the 1940’s represents one of our most successful conservation and protection projects.

“Conservation work undertaken by staff and volunteers at Medmerry is vital in increasing populations of avocets and other species which are at risk, and it’s wonderful that visitors can get close enough to see the chicks just beyond the protective fence.”

The RSPB managed site is home to the only known breeding population in West Sussex.

Avocets first bred at RSPB Medmerry in 2014, with eight pairs taking advantage of the newly created wetland habitat. In 2015 a further 18 pairs nested.

Having bred successfully, avocets are often faithful to a site in subsequent years, so it is likely that some of the pairs are returning guests.

One Small Bird Faces Off With the Lone Star State to Keep Its Protection

The Endangered Species Act is all that stands between the Golden-cheeked Warbler and extinction.
May 23, 2016

Dendroica chrysoparia1.jpg
A well-funded group of anti-conservation interests wants to strip the warbler of its endangered status.
And it may be the first of many victims.

In the four decades since the Endangered Species Act (ESA) became law, it hasn't just protected the hundreds of species that have found themselves on the Endangered Species List; it has also inspired proactive collaboration to protect species before a listing becomes necessary. Last year, when the Greater Sage-Grouse was able to remain off the list thanks to a groundbreaking joint effort by different interest groups to develop a plan to protect its habitat, it was a major victory for birds, landowners, and conservationists alike.

But the Greater Sage-Grouse success doesn't mean the ESA is obsolete—not by a long shot. The protections of the ESA are crucial to the survival of species like the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler, a small pin-striped bird that breeds and rears its young exclusively in Texas, which has found itself at the center of a delisting effort by groups that have an interest in developing its habitat.

an article for The Huffington Post, Audubon CEO David Yarnold outlines the challenges facing the Golden-cheeked Warbler:

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the warbler on the endangered species list in 1990 because its habitat in Hill Country was being sliced up and sold off to developers at such an alarming rate.

Even with the protection of the act, an estimated 1.5 million acres (nearly a third of the Golden-cheeked Warbler’s home range) disappeared between 1999 and 2011.
And now a coalition of groups and individuals would like to strip the warbler of its safety net altogether so developers have an easier time paving over more Hill Country habitat. 

The little songbird is up against some Goliaths that include former Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs and current Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush—grandson of former President George H. W. Bush—along with a foundation supported by billionaire David Koch."