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 August 2017

Captive-bred, some of world's rarest wading birds released in Mackenzie Basin


51 young Black Stilts were released into the wild at the head of Lake Tekapo on Tuesday.

The last captive juvenile kaki – the rarest wading bird in the world – ventured into the wild for their first time in the Mackenzie Basin.

Fifty-one of the birds were released onto the Godley Delta, at the head of Lake Tekapo on Mt Gerald Station, on Tuesday afternoon.

The 9-month-old kaki were released by Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and pupils from St Andrew's College in Christchurch.

The boxes open and kaki, or black stilts, are released into the wild at the head of Lake Tekapo.

Their release meant there were now no juvenile kaki left in captivity ahead of the next breeding season, DOC aviculturist Liz Brown said.

There are 106 adult kaki in the wild and five adult breeding pairs in captivity. Two of those pairs were in Twizel and three were in Christchurch, she said.

DOC biodiversity senior ranger Dean Nelson said the release of the birds was "very cool"; it was "like all our hard work has come to fruition".

Tuesday was the fourth date to be scheduled for the release. The other dates were affected by rain or high winds.

Eagle successfully raises chicks from two nests


An eight-year-old male White-tailed Eagle known as Turquoise Z has been travelling between Angus and Fife visiting two nests, more than 28 miles apart, and raising chicks with two different females, RSPB Scotland has announced.

This unusual behaviour, known as polygamy, is rarely recorded in sea eagles. It has been seen on the west coast of Scotland on a handful of occasions, but these nests were just a few miles apart and the demands of providing enough food for both nests always resulted in failure.

Despite the vast distance between these two nests, however, there has been a successful outcome. In Fife, Turquoise Z raised a female chick tagged Blue X with his usual partner; he raised a second female tagged Blue V at the nest in Angus with a new partner.

Turquoise Z was released in 2009 as part of the east Scotland reintroduction. It has been breeding in a Forest Enterprise Scotland Woodland in Fife since 2013 with a female released in the same year, known as Turquoise 1.

BRI Announces Findings of Common Loon Translocation Study

Article ID: 679786
Released: 21-Aug-2017 9:00 AM EDT

Portland, ME—Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) has confirmed today that the translocation of loon chicks from Maine to Massachusetts has resulted in at least one loon returning to its release lake. In its fifth year of a five-year initiative funded by the Ricketts Conservation Foundation, Restore the Call is the largest Common Loon conservation study ever conducted. Research efforts have focused in three key U.S. breeding population areas from the western mountains to the Atlantic seaboard.

Restoring bird species to their former range is an accepted bird conservation practice, but this is the first time translocation has been carried out for the Common Loon.

“This is a big moment for loon conservation,” says David Evers, Ph.D., BRI’s executive director and a leading expert on loon ecology and conservation. “This is the first time a translocated loon chick has returned to the lake from which it was released. The implications for future conservation efforts to help restore loons to their former breeding range are tremendous.”

The banded one-year-old juvenile (a term given to loons under three years of age) sighted early on Wednesday morning, August 16, was confirmed to be one of five chicks that were successfully translocated from Maine in the summer of 2016, reared in and released on a lake in southeastern Massachusetts. The juvenile, sighted again on the following day, was initially observed in a group with two other young loons, all in basic plumage (they had not yet developed the recognizable black and white breeding plumage).

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Critically Endangered macaws are learning to trust artifical nest boxes

This year, nine Blue-throated Macaw chicks have successfully hatched from nest boxes erected by Armonía (BirdLife in Bolivia) - including the first-ever second-generation nest box fledging.

Found only in the Llanos de Moxos - a tropical savanna in northern Bolivia - the striking Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis was nearly trapped to extinction as a result of demand for the cage bird trade, until 1984, when live export of the species from Bolivia was banned.

But while that threat has been reduced (if not entirely eliminated), the remaining Blue-throated Macaw population, estimated to be in the low hundreds, faces a significant hurdle in its attempts to rebound. The entirety of its known breeding range is situated on what is now private cattle ranches, and the resultant tree-felling and burning has left the Blue-throated Macaws - picky nesters by necessity - short on viable options.

Blue-throated Macaws prefer trees with spacious cavities to nest in, but 150 years of cattle-ranching has resulted in the clearing of most of the larger trees in the region. The beleaguered species has been recorded to suffer a high rate of nesting failures in recent years, with predation from species such as Southern Caracara Caracara plancus and Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco cited as one of the main factors.

However, since 2006, Asociacion Armonía (BirdLife in Bolivia), the Blue-throated Macaw Species Champion, have been working to boost the species' nesting options. With support from the Loro Parque FundaciónBird Endowement – Nido Adopito – El Beni-Factors ™ and the Mohammed bin Zayed Conservation Fund, Armonía has erected numerous next boxes across the southern part of the Blue-throated Macaw's breeding range, to great effect. In the eleven years since the programme has been running, 71 chicks have successfully hatched - a significant number for a species with such a tiny (50-249) estimated adult population.

Hawk flies into taxi cab to escape Hurricane Harvey, refuses to leave

The cab driver has taken several videos of the hawk in the taxi, and then of the hawk in his home

NBC NewsPublished: August 27, 2017, 10:12 am  Updated: August 28, 2017, 2:39 pm

 (NBC) – A taxi driver in Houston, Texas says as Hurricane Harvey approached, a hawk got into his cab and refused to leave.

William Bruso posted videos of the hawk on YouTube. You can hear Bruso talking about the bird that he’s calling “Sgt. Hurricane Harvey the Hawk.”

He says he saw the bird on the street Friday and got out of his taxi to take some video, when the hawk swooped into the vehicle. Bruso claims he tried to get the bird out, but the hawk refused.

Secret life of the dodo revealed

By Helen BriggsBBC News

24 August 2017 

Scientists are piecing together clues about the life of the dodo, hundreds of years after the flightless bird was driven to extinction.

Few scientific facts are known about the hapless bird, which was last sighted in 1662.

A study of bone specimens shows the chicks hatched in August and grew rapidly to adult size.

The bird shed its feathers in March revealing fluffy grey plumage recorded in historical accounts by mariners.

Delphine Angst of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was given access to some of the dodo bones that still exist in museums and collections, including specimens that were recently donated to a museum in France.

Her team analysed slices of bone from 22 dodos under the microscope to find out more about the bird's growth and breeding patterns.

"Before our study we knew very very little about these birds," said Dr Angst.

"Using the bone histology for the first time we managed to describe that this bird was actually breeding at a certain time of the year and was moulting just after that."

Monday, 28 August 2017

Delight as three curlews hatch at Co Antrim farm

By Staff Reporter
August 18 2017

Curlew chicks have fledged at a Co Antrim farm for the first time in 20 years.

Last year a pair of curlews attempted to breed at Greenmount Hill Farm in Glenwherry for the first time since 2005 - only to fail to hatch any young.

But this summer RSPB NI's conservation adviser Neal Warnock was delighted to see that two pairs arrived back at the farm and he can confirm that one of the pairs has successfully fledged three young.

It is believed these are the first curlews to fledge from the site since the 1990s.

The happy news is a real boost considering that over the past two decades curlew numbers across the UK have almost halved.

In Northern Ireland more than 80% of the curlew population has been lost since 1987.

Mr Warnock said: "When news broke that one of the pairs had hatched three young, their progress became the talk of the community. It was a very long six-week wait watching them grow until they finally stretched their wings and departed.

"Curlews only rarely fledge three young, so this was terrific news for all involved in the project and should help see them become established on the farm."

Red-footed Booby added to BOU's British list

The British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC) has accepted the Red-footed Booby found at St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, on 2 September 2016 on to its British list.

The second-calendar-year or older female bird was seen arriving exhausted on the beach at the town near Hastings mid-morning that day, and then held in care until 16 December 2016, when it was transported to the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately, it then died in quarantine before release.

This news come after Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and Eastern Kingbird were added to the list earlier in the week, both of which were also announced separately.

The bird was initially observed flying and landing on water, before moving to a beach, where it was rescued by the RSPCA, and a full account by its finder, Gail Cohen, was published in Birdwatch 292: 8-9. Although apparently fully rehabilitated, it did not survive the transfer to islands in its natural range.


Ospreys return to UK is one of the great conservation success stories, says STUART WINTER

OSPREYS carry more than the weight of a fish supper in their steely talons.

Generations of conservationists have had their hopes held firm and fast by these modern-day phoenixes with their story of resurrection from the flames of persecution and blind hatred.

Like many hook-billed, broadwinged birds of prey, ospreys were anathema to the huntin’ and shootin’ set who cursed their immaculate fish-catching skills in waters reserved for rods and flies.

As brave men were falling on the pock-marked landscape of the Somme, so did the fortunes of the osprey on British soil.

With bounties placed on the osprey’s head by country estates, along with further harrying by egg robbers and skin collectors, the fish-hawk ceased nesting on our shores in 1916.
An exciting new project has seen eight osprey chicks making their maiden flights over the harbour’s waters in recent days

Its renaissance some 40 years later, culminating with the arrival of three chicks at Loch Garten in 1959 under the watch of the RSPB, is hailed as one of the great conservation success stories of the age.

Since then, the osprey’s fortunes have been as buoyant as its flight.

Tens of thousands of bird lovers have paid homage in pilgrimages to the Highlands as the number of nests have risen to treble figures.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Record year for breeding Black-winged Stilts in Britain

An unprecedented 13 Black-winged Stilt chicks have fledged in Britain from sites in Kent, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, including nine on two RSPB reserves.

This breeding success comes after years of conservation work to create the ideal marshy habitat for stilts. The species has become a more frequent sight in recent years, as it has moved from its traditional nesting grounds in southern Europe in search of wetland habitat to raise young. However, fledglings are still extremely rare in Britain, with just a handful of successful breeding attempts in the past decade.

Cliffe Pools RSPB in north Kent proved to be the most productive site for Black-winged Stilts this summer, as two pairs fledged an impressive seven chicks. A further two young fledged from Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire, with a final four coming from a nest at Potter Heigham Marshes, a Natural England reserve in Norfolk, making this the most successful breeding season for stilts ever in the country.

Read more

Meet ‘the birdman’ Harsukh Bhai who feeds thousands of birds daily

Meet ‘the birdman’ Harsukh Bhai who feeds thousands of birds daily

Harsukh Bhai, a resident of Junagadh district of Gujarat, was just a common man before he decided to dedicate his life for a cause which may sound bit strange for many. Fondly referred as ‘the birdman’, Harsukh Bhai, who is in his 70s, is today known for his noble work of feeding thousands of birds daily. 

From last 17 years, everyday around 10,000 birds including sparrows visit Harsukh Bhai’s house. It all started in 2000 when Harsukh Bhai met with an accident and had a fracture in his leg. While he was resting at his home to recover from injury, one of his friends got some pearl millet from his farm. Harshukh Bhai hung one of these cobs on his balcony and this was the turning point in his life. Harshukh Bhai’s this act attracted a parrot and gradually their number increased. This made him feel to do something more for these birds. 

Few days later, he realised that there was not enough space in balcony to feed the birds. Harsukh Bhai then got some old pipes, drilled holes in them and fixed the pearl millet cobs allowing the birds feed on it comfortably. 


Prairie-chicken nests appear unaffected by wind energy facility

Date: August 9, 2017
Source: American Ornithological Society Publications Office

Wind energy development in the Great Plains is increasing, spurring concern about its potential effects on grassland birds, the most rapidly declining avian group in North America. However, a new study suggests that for one grassland bird species of concern -- the greater prairie-chicken -- wind energy infrastructure has little to no effect on nesting. Instead, roads and livestock grazing remain the most significant threats to its successful reproduction.

Friday, 25 August 2017

26,000€ fine for electricity company for electrocution of vultures

A Spanish court in Albacete has confirmed recently, in a landmark case, that an electricity utility (Iberdrola) should pay a penalty of 26,000€ for the electrocution of 4 griffon vultures in Ossa de Montiel (Albacete) last year. In October 2016 the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development had fined the company 26,000€ because the line "had no mechanism to prevent electrocution".

The company then appealed to the court, which now confirmed the penalty. This is important because it confirms, in the eyes of the Spanish courts, civil liability for electrocution of wildlife.

Electrocution is one of the major threats affecting vultures worldwide, as it was clearly demonstrated in the Vulture multi-Species Action Plan (MsAP), an international action plan covering 15 old world-vultures in more than 120 range states. This umbrella new strategy for vultures - nature’s primary scavengers, providing indispensable ecological services as carrion feeders and disposers of disease-carrying carcasses, was developed by VCF, BirdLife International, and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group under a contract from the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and will be hopefully adopted in the CMS conference of parties this fall. The Vulture MsAP provides several solutions to minimize deaths by electrocution, including legal advocacy towards the type of civil liability now enforced in Spain.

There are relatively cheap and effective solutions readily available to insulate dangerous pylons, so this threat could easily be solved if electricity utilities, governments, and NGOs all work together.

7th August 2017

Night vision for bird- and bat-friendly offshore wind power

ThermalTracker software can aid responsible wind farm siting and operations

Date: August 11, 2017
Source: DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

ThermalTracker software analyzes video with night vision, the same technology that helps soldiers see in the dark, to help birds and bats near offshore wind turbines.

Targeted forest regeneration: A blueprint for conserving tropical biological diversity?

Date:  August 22, 2017
Source:  University of Utah

Targeted forest regeneration among the largest and closest forest fragments in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and the Atlantic Forest of Brazil can dramatically reduce extinction rates of bird species over time, new research shows.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Northern breeding grounds of Myrtle Warbler discovered

Using isotope fingerprints in feathers, researchers have pinpointed the northern breeding grounds of Myrtle Warblers.

Myrtle Warblers breed across much of Canada and the eastern United States, but winter in two distinct groups—one along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, another along the US Pacific Coast. They are also one of the few breeds of eastern warbler that have been able to extend their range into the far northwest of the continent.

"The Pacific Coast warblers migrate through the Vancouver area, but it's been a bit of a mystery exactly where they breed over the summer," says David Toews, who began the research while a graduate student at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

So Toews, UBC undergraduate student Julian Heavyside, and UBC professor Darren Irwin used isotope signatures to pinpoint where the Myrtle Warblers breed.

'We were able to match stable hydrogen isotopes in feathers collected in Vancouver to latitudinal isotope records in rainwater, to determine where the feathers were actually grown," says Toews, who conducted the analysis as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University.

Chile rejects iron mine to protect penguins

22 August 2017

The Chilean government has rejected plans for a billion-dollar mining project because it would disrupt sea life, including endangered penguins.

A Chilean company, Andes Iron, had wanted to extract millions of tonnes of iron in the northern Coquimbo region as well as building a new port.

Ministers said the project did not provide sufficient environmental guarantees.

Coquimbo is close to the islands which form Chile's Humboldt Penguin Reserve.

The area is home to 80% of the world's Humboldt penguins as well as other endangered species, including blue whales, fin whales and sea otters.

Environment Minister Marcelo Mena said: "I firmly believe in development, but it cannot be at the cost of our environmental heritage or cause risk to health, or to unique ecological areas in the world."

Mr Mena said the decision of the ministerial committee had been based on technical aspects and the evidence of fourteen agencies and was taken without "political considerations."

Asia’s Harry Potter obsession poses threat to owls

From Indonesia to India, wild birds are being sold as pets to families who want their own Hedwig. Ecologists call for protection to help species survive

Saturday 12 August 2017 21.44 BSTLast modified on Sunday 13 August 2017 06.43 BST

The Harry Potter phenomenon has broken publishing and cinema box-office records and spawned a series of lucrative theme parks. But wildlife experts are sounding the alarm over a sad downside to JK Rowling’s tales of the troubled young wizard. The illegal trade in owls has jumped in the far east over the past decade and researchers fear it could endanger the survival of these distinctive predators in Asia.

Conservationists say the snowy owl Hedwig – who remains the young wizard’s loyal companion for most of the Harry Potter series – is fuelling global demand for wild-caught birds for use as pets. In 2001, the year in which the first film was released, only a few hundred were sold at Indonesia’s many bird markets. By 2016, the figure had soared to more than 13,000, according to researchers Vincent Nijman and Anna Nekaris of Oxford Brookes University in a paper in Global Ecology and Conservation. At around $10 to $30, the price tag is affordable to most middle-class families.

The issue is of critical concern because the owls being offered for sale are nearly all taken from the wild. “The overall popularity of owls as pets in Indonesia has risen to such an extent that it may imperil the conservation of some of the less abundant species,” Nijman and Nekaris say.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Night herons breed in Britain for the first time

News has just been released by the Wildlife Trusts today that a pair of Black-crowned Night Herons has successfully bred in Britain for the first time ever on one of its reserves.  

Two adults and two recently fledged juveniles are now roosting at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Westhay Moor NNR on the Somerset Levels, having either bred there or nearby on the Avalon Marshes site. The birds were captured on camera and made their debut on Flickr.

Black-crowned Night Heron is a scarce visitor to Britain, with around 10 or so records each year on average (accounting for occasional fluctuations); only a dozen or so have been reported in Somerset since 1800. With Somerset's recent history of breeding Cattle and Great Egrets and Little Bitterns, this is perhaps a long-overdue event and reaffirms the Avalon Marshes and Somerset Levels' significance as one of the country's most important breeding areas for the heron family and other larger marshland birds.

Britain’s seabird colonies face catastrophe as warming waters disrupt their food supply

Populations of gannets, puffins and other marine birds are in freefall, but a crucial scientific study to pinpoint the causes is being blocked, say experts

Robin McKieScience editor

Sunday 20 August 2017 00.04 BSTLast modified on Sunday 20 August 2017 09.20 BST

Bempton Cliffs bird reserve was in fine fettle last week. The last of its population of puffins had departed for the winter a few weeks earlier, while its thousands of young gannets were still being cared for by their parents on the chalk cliffs of the East Yorkshire nature site. For good measure, kittiwakes, cormorants and fulmars were also bathing in the sunshine.

It was a comforting sight for any birdwatcher but this benign picture was in stark contrast to many other bird reserves in Britain. Our populations of seabirds – arctic skuas, arctic terns and kittiwakes – are in freefall. And, in some cases, the numbers are dire.

“For reasons that are not entirely clear – though they are almost certainly concerned with climate change – Bempton Cliffs has not suffered from the precipitous declines in seabird numbers that we see elsewhere,” said Euan Dunn, a principal policy officer for the RSPB.

Wing shape helps swifts glide through storms

August 23, 2017

They are among nature's best fliers, spending most of their time in flight … now scientists have shed new light on how swifts can glide with ease, whatever the weather. A new study suggests that the aerodynamics of swifts' wings enable them to adapt effortlessly to sudden changes in wind speed and direction.

The wings' crescent shape lessens the effects of blustery conditions, helping to stabilise them as they glide during turbulent weather, researchers say. This means swifts – which eat, mate and even sleep on the wing – are not forced to use up vital energy to stay on course.

Model wing
Scientists at Edinburgh constructed a triangular model wing with the characteristic trailing edge shape of swifts' wings. They studied its aerodynamic properties by fitting it into a water flume that simulated airflow during flight. Using a laser sheet and a digital camera, researchers tracked the movement of tiny glass balls in the water, to reveal how air flows over the wing.

Results showed for the first time that as air passes over the wing, it can form into two or three circulating regions of airflow – known as leading-edge vortices, or LEVs. In aircraft with triangle-shaped wings – including Concorde – LEVs can generate extra lift, researchers say.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Jackdaws flap their wings to save energy

Date: August 11, 2017
Source: Lund University

For the first time, researchers have observed that birds that fly actively and flap their wings save energy. Biologists have now shown that jackdaws minimize their energy consumption when they lift off and fly, because the feathers on their wing tips create several small vortices instead of a single large one. The discovery could potentially be applied within the aeronautical industry.

In search of Edwards' pheasant: Almost extinct?

Genuinely extinct or just not worth looking for? Scientists set out to discover just how endangered certain species are

Date: August 17, 2017
Source: Newcastle University

Summary: Scientists say we need to improve our information about little-known species to reduce the risk of one going extinct just because no-one is interested in looking for it.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Stress in the nest can have lifelong effect

Date: August 16, 2017
Source: The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Why do some sparrows hatch six chicks while others don’t hatch any? How does upbringing affect the remainder of their lives? Physiological stress in the nest can actually affect birds’ DNA and possibly their lifespan.

4,200 yo bird found 'perfectly preserved' in ice (PHOTO)

Published time: 5 Aug, 2017 22:56Edited time: 6 Aug, 2017 16:12

A frozen 4,200-year-old redwing thrush has been found perfectly preserved in Norway. The bird, whose age was determined through carbon tests, was dissected to determine if the bird’s organs have also survived the test of time.

The thrush was discovered by a warden with the Norwegian Nature Supervisor Agency on the edge of a snow bank in the Oppdal mountains, according to Jorgen Rosvold, a researcher with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who spoke to NRK.

“That it is 4,000 years old is absolutely fantastic,” said Rosvold. “We have never opened and seen how a 4,000 year-old bird looks inside,” he added.

Researchers initially believed the bird to be no more than a few hundred years old, and now believe it flew over Norway’s skies thousands of years ago. It’s also thought the bird was caught and killed by a wolverine or fox.

“It was probably caught by a wolverine or a fox. We know that wolverines use ice to store food during the summer. So this thrush may have been put in the ice by a wolverine and has only been found again now,” Rosvold said.#

Friday, 18 August 2017

Amateur collectors in Japan discover country's first and oldest fossil diving bird

August 8, 2017

During a walk near a reservoir in a small Japanese town, amateur collectors made the discovery of their lives - the first and oldest fossil bird ever identified in their country.

After sharing their mysterious find with paleontologists at Hokkaido University, brothers Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera later learned the skeletal remains were that of an iconic marine diving bird from the Late Cretaceous Period, one that is often found in the Northern Hemisphere but rarely in Asia. The remarkable specimen - which includes nine skeletal elements from one individual, including the thoracic vertebrae and the femoral bones - is being heralded as the "best preserved hesperornithiform material from Asia" and to be "the first report of the hesperorinthiforms from the eastern margin of the Eurasian Continent."

Identified as a new species, it has been named Chupkaornis keraorum - Chupka is the Ainu word used by indigenous people from Hokkaido for 'eastern,' and keraorum is named after Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera, who discovered the specimen. The bird would have lived during the time when dinosaurs roamed the land.

Hen harriers at risk of extinction have rallied in Northumberland

Dean Kirby
Monday August 7th 2017 

Hen harriers fighting for survival have rallied despite fears they are on the brink of extinction in England. Ten chicks have hatched in Northumberland, according to conservationists who say three out of five nesting pairs in the county produced young this year. i told in June how hen harrier numbers have fallen by 204 pairs in the last 12 years to just 545 – a decline of more than 27 per cent – with just a handful of territorial pairs now remaining in England. Hen harriers are still facing an uphill battle to re-establish themselves in the uplands of England. Andrew Miller, chairman of the NHHPP The RSPB has warned that the iconic bird is under “severe threat” from extinction, with illegal killing a “significant factor” behind the diminished numbers. 

The Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership said the arrival of the chicks was a positive step in efforts to re-establish them. After another very poor season for hen harriers elsewhere in England, with no successful breeding attempts. Andrew Miller, head of programmes and conservation at Northumberland National Park and chairman of the partnership, said: “Hen harriers are still facing an uphill battle to re-establish themselves in the uplands of England. ”However, with the positive support of all our partners including landowners, ten young birds have successfully fledged. Working together and using the latest scientific techniques is also increasing our knowledge of this amazing species.“ Hen harriers were driven to extinction in mainland Britain during the 19th century. Despite making a comeback, the species has remained rare, with a breeding population under 1,000 pairs making it vulnerable.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

200 gulls shot dead this year after city decides on lethal crackdown

August 4, 2017

ALMOST 200 seagulls – including 30 chicks – have been shot this year after a Scottish city decided to take lethal measures over a plague of aggressive birds.

After trying everything from noise deterrents, plastic owls, anti landing systems and netting, Dundee City Council have taken to using deadly force in a bid to control the birds.

Not only have pest controllers shot down almost 200 gulls in just eight months – they have also removed 401 gull eggs.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to kill, injure or remove any wild birds including seagulls.

Ibis Revival Helps Town Take Flight

- Midori Aoki

A wild bird once thought to be extinct is making a comeback in inland China. The endangered crested ibis' population is now in the thousands. Its revival is also hatching economic spinoffs in the area.

"The crested ibis is known for its beautiful color. In China, we believe that it brings luck and beauty," says Photographer Li Ping.

For more than 2 decades, Li has dedicated his life to capturing photos of the endangered crested ibis. He wants to raise awareness about the rare species.

"In order to save the crested ibis, more people need to know about it. We need to understand that saving the bird also means protecting the environment," says Li.

The wild bird used to live in East Asia and the Russian Far East. But its population plunged as human development encroached on the bird's habitat. At one point, researchers thought the crested ibis was extinct.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

How do birds get their colors?

The role of melanins in creating complex plumage patterns in 9,000 species

Date: August 5, 2017
Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

Birds exhibit an extraordinary diversity of plumage pigmentation patterns. It has been overlooked, however, that complex patterns can be produced only with the contribution of melanins because these are the only pigments under direct cellular control.

Mystery surrounds disappearance of rare bird of prey

16 August 2017 at 10:32am

A rare bird of prey that breeds in Norfolk has gone missing in mysterious circumstances.

Sally, a Montagu's harrier, is fitted with a satellite tag. However, this stopped transmitting a signal on Sunday 6 August.

The RSPB says this is unusual because satellite tags are highly reliable and will continue transmitting signals even when a bird is dead.

Sally is paired with another Montagu's harrier called Roger. They are the only pair of Montagu’s harriers left in eastern England and one of only four pairs in the UK.

Sally and Roger have successfully bred in Norfolk for the past two seasons. This year they raised three juveniles.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Protecting the Nest from the Parasitic Pin-tailed Whydah


The Pin-tailed Whydah, a parasitic bird, could put native Antilles and Hawaiian island species at risk.

The word “parasite” often brings to mind an image a small worm, but sometimes, parasitic species are not what you imagine. Such is the case for the Pin-tailed Whydah, which is one of only about 100 parasitic bird species in the world.

The Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) is native to sub-Saharan Africa where it is known for its bright orange beak, black and white body, and the long tail-feathers they grow during mating season. The distinct coloration of this species has led to their introduction throughout the world via the pet trade. Although such proliferation might seem harmless, the Pin-tailed Whydah’s unique parasitism makes it dangerous to native species if it is accidentally or purposefully released into the wild.