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.

Wednesday 31 December 2014

Scientists observe rare half-male, half-female bird

Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:38AM

A half male, half female rare northern bird has been seen with a split-colored body, scientists say.

Ornithologists Brian D. Peer and Robert W. Motz observed the rare northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) with gynandromorphism -- exhibiting both male and female characteristics-- between 2008 and 2010 and published their findings in the latest issue of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

A gynandromorph cardinal observed
in Texas in 2011. (file photo)
The bird’s condition gives its feathers the distinctive coloring of red male plumage on one half and brownish-grey female plumage on the other.

During their observation, the researchers noted that the cardinal never paired up with others of its species or never sang, but was not targeted by other birds for its unusual appearance.

Gynandromorphy is the result of the incomplete segregation of sex chromosomes after fertilization, and can also occur in butterflies, crustaceans, and arachnids.

Drunk birds don’t sing as well, study finds

December 29, 2014

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online

Just as getting drunk can impact a person’s ability (and willingness) to sing, consuming too much alcohol can have a similar effect on some types of birds, researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) have discovered in a new study.

In an interview with NPR on Sunday, Christopher Olson explained how he and his colleagues used zebra finches as part of their research, since the birds have long been used as a model to study vocal learning and communication skills in humans. Since alcohol can have a major impact on the speech patterns of people, they wanted to see if the finches would also be affected.

“We just showed up in the morning and mixed a little bit of juice with 6 percent alcohol, and put it in their water bottles and put it in the cages,” he explained. “At first we were thinking that they wouldn’t drink on their own because, you know, a lot of animals just won’t touch the stuff. But they seem to tolerate it pretty well and be somewhat willing to consume it.”

The blood alcohol content of the birds were measured in the .05 percent to .08 percent range. While those levels would not be enough to make a person become fall-down drunk, it was more than enough to generate the intended effects, since birds metabolize alcohol differently.

An audio recording indicates that the finches’ song becomes quieter and slightly slurred, or as Olson put it, the birds become “a bit less organized in their sound production.” He added that his research team now wants to find out how being drunk changes the way finches learn new songs.

Bajura declared Diclofenac free

Added At: 2014-12-30 11:41 AM

Last Updated At: 2014-12-30 11:41 AM


BAJURA: The District Livestock Service Office Bajura and Nepal Bird Conservation Association of Kathmandu jointly declared Bajura as a diclofenac free district on Monday.

The campaign against diclofenac is for the awareness and conservation of vulture. The Association declared the district as the diclofenac free after the study that it fatal to vultures. Diclofenac is however used for the treatment of livestock. 

Nepal is a home to nine species of vulture. 

Field officer of the Association, Bhupal Nepal said the conservation of vultures help maintain environment balance. He added that Nepal has six indigenous and three itinerant species of vultures. 

However, more than 95 percent vultures have vanished. 

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Couch’s Kingbird spotted for first time in New York

December 29, 2014 | 3:17am

New York City bird enthusiasts spotted this feathered flier — a Couch’s Kingbird — in Manhattan over the weekend, in what’s being hailed as the Big Apple’s first-ever sighting of the species.
Photo: Splash News
Eagle-eyed avian enthusiasts spotted the yellow-feathered tourist perched atop a tree branch in Abingdon Square the West Village over the weekend.

And there’s a chance it might stick around for awhile.

“This bird may stay around for a few days (or more) since it has been in that area for several weeks,” crowed one enthusiast on the New York Birders Facebook page.

Couch’s Kingbirds are more common “around woodland edges and near ponds and rivers in southern Texas during the summer, and a few remain all winter there,” according to the National Audubon Society.

The bird that travels 29,000km a year

The Rufa red knot’s epic annual migration from Tierra del Fuego to the Canadian Arctic risks being grounded by climate change

Chris Mooney for the Washington Post

Monday 29 December 2014 14.00 GMT

They call him Moonbird, or sometimes, just “B95” – the number from the band on his leg. Moonbird is the most famous, charismatic member of a group of mid-sized shorebirds named Rufa red knots, whose numbers have plummeted so dramatically in the past several decades that they just became the first bird ever listed under the Endangered Species Act with climate change cited as a “primary threat”.

Rufa red knots are among the avian world’s most extreme long-range flyers (especially in light of their relatively small size). They travel vast distances – some flying more than 29,000km – in the course of an annual migration that begins in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and extends all the way up to the Canadian Arctic(and back again).

Which brings us to Moonbird’s distinction: because he is so old – he is at least 21 – he is believed to have flown as many as 640,000km in his lifetime. The distance to the moon varies, depending on where it is in its orbit, but the average distance is about 380,000km. Thus, Moonbird has not only flown the distance it takes to reach the moon – he has also covered the bulk of the return voyage.

A nightingale sings – but not for much longer if housebuilding drive wipes out its haven

Campaigners fear disaster for the endangered songbirds if a plan to build 5,000 homes on a breeding site in Kent is given green light

Robin McKie, science editor

Sunday 28 December 2014 00.05 GMT

It is revered for the beauty of its song and is a beloved adornment to the British countryside. But the nightingale – hailed by Keats as a “light-winged Dryad of the trees” – is now in trouble, having suffered a catastrophic drop in numbers in recent years.

Even worse, say ornithologists, the best site in Britain for protecting the songbird – at Lodge Hill in Medway, Kent – is under threat of destruction. Its loss, they say, could deal an irreparable blow to the nightingale in this country. It could also open the floodgates to commercial exploitation of hundreds of other protected environmental sites across the country.

“Lodge Hill is the only Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the UK that is specifically set up to protect nightingales,” said Sarah Lee, of the RSPB. “It is the most important site for the birds in the UK. Yet the local council want to build 5,000 homes there. It would absolutely destroy the site and the birds’ homes – and send a very worrying signal about the prospects of protecting other critically important sites in the UK.”

Monday 29 December 2014

Video and Photo Gallery: A Norwich scientist’s plight to save a rare flightless parrot

Kate Royall
Saturday, December 27, 2014

11:43 AM

Andrew Digby on the one of the islands 
which is home to the Kakapo in New Zealand. 
Adored by a country and loved for its quirkiness the world over, the Kakapo parrot is part of a huge conservation project to save it from extinction. Now one man from Norwich is playing an integral part in its recovery over 11,000 miles away in New Zealand.

Andrew Digby, a former student at the Hewett School, returned to Norwich this week to celebrate Christmas with his parents in Upper Stoke Holy Cross - taking a break from his home on New Zealand’s south island.

The scientist, who works for the country’s Department of Conservation, plays a key role in the Kakapo Recovery Programme which aims to help preserve this unique and irreplaceable bird.

The Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project is using crowdsourcing to raise funds for rat traps to help protect endangered native birds

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 27, 2014

After quickly reaching its goal of raising $10,000 to help save endangered birds on Kauai, the first-of-its-kind, crowdsourced fundraiser by the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project has now doubled down on its ambitions while reaching people from as far away as Bulgaria and India.

Lisa "Cali" Crampton, project coordinator of the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project, had little success in the past raising money through grants to buy "humane" traps to kill three species of rats that prey on Kauai's rare, colorful and endangered birds and their eggs in the Ala­kai Wilderness Preserve within Kauai's Na Pali Kona Forest Reserve.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Goose Takes A Wrong Turn, Winds Up Bird Celebrity In Oregon

A tundra bean-goose (top) has been spotted at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Sarah Swanson The Must-see Bird Blog
A bird rarely seen in North America has turned a small bay on the Oregon Coast into a major destination for bird watchers this winter.

Sarah Swanson and her husband Max Smith run a blog in Portland called the Must-See Bird Blog. They tried to explain what it's like to spot a tundra bean-goose at Nestucca Bay in Oregon.

“It's just so exciting, I'm trying to compare it something for a non-birder,” Swanson said.

“Maybe it's like running into a celebrity at the mall, someone you've always idolized,” Smith suggested.

Yes, in the celebrity news of bird watching this has been a top story. It's the first-ever confirmed sighting of a tundra bean-goose in the lower 48. Usually these brown and gray geese spend their winters in Asia and Europe.

Bird rarely seen in Louisiana among 130 species heard or spotted on Grand Isle

Dec. 26, 2014

GRAND ISLE — A bird rarely seen in Louisiana was among 130 species heard or spotted on Grand Isle during the National Audubon Society’s annual winter bird count.

Vermivora luciae -North America-8.jpgA Lucy’s warbler, which normally lives in the U.S. Southwest or in Mexico, was the exciting find of the day on Grand Isle, said Chris Brantley, who organized the count on Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island and one of nearly 30 planned around Louisiana between mid-December and Jan. 5.
There are only a few records of the bird ever being seen in Louisiana, Brantley said.

Around 15 observers scoured the island on Dec. 18 for the annual event designed to get a sense of bird population trends.

The current count is the 115th nationally; Brantley said Grand Isle has had a bird count every year since 1997 and, with a few breaks, since 1949.

Other birds Brantley noted as special finds were an American redstart, ovenbird, western tanager and a few ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds.

Counters from Lafayette to Baton Rouge gathered at Grand Isle, binoculars in hand. They broke into groups that searched a 15-mile diameter circle from Grand Isle State Park to Fourchon.

A mixed year for our wildlife – but which species were nature’s winners and losers in 2014?

Saturday, December 27, 2014 
6:45 AM

2014 brought mixed fortunes for East Anglia’s wildlife and, in a region which is naturally abundant in wild places and farmland habitats, there have been some stand-out moments – both good and bad – during the last 12-month cycle of the seasons.


A stone curlew
Although there has been a long-term decline in many farmland bird species, 2014 has been recognised as a good year for farming and conservation working together to reverse those trends.

In The Broads, grazing management of wet grassland has been helping lapwings return to the countryside in increasing numbers. The RSPB also reported the highest-ever numbers of breeding lapwings this summer at three reserves on the Suffolk coast

In The Brecks, stone curlews have recovered from two bad breeding seasons, which was attributed to a combination of good weather and sensitive farming practices. The population of the species in the area fell by 20pc in 2013, but this year’s improved weather saw the number of breeding pairs up to 240 by the end of the summer.

Saturday 27 December 2014

Vet accuses county council of 'abducting and killing' young swan he was treating

Margaret Roddy

A vet has accused a county council of "abducting and killing" his patient after a young swan he was treating was put down.

It has emerged that the two-month-old cygnet which Peter Rafter was treating was taken by a council worker to another veterinary practice where it was put down.

Mr Rafter, who has a practise at Bridge House Veterinary Clinic, Coe's Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, has worked with wild birds since 1982.

He was treating the cygnet, which originally came from Stephenstown Pond in the Co Louth town.

He has accused the council of "abducting and killing my patient" and says he is "bewildered and frustrated" at the lack of progress on his attempts to find out what happened to the bird, which he had been treating for suspected lead poisoning.

Mr Rafter says the bird was responding to an intensive programme of treatment and was moved to a nearby property on St Alphonsus Road.

He fed the cygnet on his way to work at approximately 8.30am on November 24.

"I checked again at 11m and it was fine in the garden," he said.

"I returned at 1pm and the cygnet was missing."

The winged wonders that bring a splash of colour

This year saw rare birds, insects and butterflies fly in from the Continent, but could 2015 prove even more memorable? Liam Creedon reports.

This has proved to be an exciting year for the UK’s army of nature lovers.

Several species of exotic birds bred here for the first time in decades and very rare migrant butterflies appeared unannounced across the east coast.

Wave after wave of scarce and unusual wildlife winged in from the Continent and the presence of these glamorous and unexpected arrivals has been undeniably exciting, but their arrival also suggests that a warming climate means that the shape and make-up of British wildlife may never look quite the same again.

Rare bird alert: 2 more snowy owls spotted

6:25 AM EST Dec 26, 2014

Two have recently been spotted near the airport and another was seen in Plainfield.

Both were part of the New Hampshire Audubon Socity's Rare Bird Alert for Monday, Dec. 22.

The two snowy owls were seen in the vicinity of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on Dec. 15 and at least one was still present on Dec. 17 and 18.

The best place to look for the owls is in the parking area of the Aviation Museum located on the east side of the airport on Navigator Road, or at the circle off Delta Drive near Harvey Road.

Do not park on the perimeter road on the edge of the airport, or security will ask you to leave.

Also there, an American kestral was seen Dec. 19.

A snowy owl was also reported in fields along River Road in Plainfield on Dec. 18.
Snowy owls live in the Arctic but they are visitors to New Hampshire particularly when food sources are scarce.

Last year, an irruption of snowy owls brought them south and this year, a number of them have been seen, mostly at the seacoast.

Runaway ostrich races onto highway in Zhejiang

12-26-2014 05:36 BJT

An over-two-meter high, 75 kilogram ostrich accidentally crashed into the fast lane in eastern China’s Zhejiang province Monday. An ostrich ran onto an expressway in eastern China’s Zhejiang province Monday. 
Surveillance footage captured the run-away ostrich, over 2 meters tall and weighing 75 kilograms, bursting through a toll gate. The bird then ran on the side of the road and raced with passing cars.

Police officers eventually caught up with the bird and accompanied it until it was willing to walk off the expressway.

Friday 26 December 2014

Flamingos give a miss to Ajmer lakes for 3rd time

AJMER: In the last three years, migratory birds like flamingoes have shifted their winter abode from the lakes of Ajmer. Even in the last days of December no Siberian birds are dwelling in the Anasagar Lake here. To provide facilities to these birds at Anasagar, the Ajmer Development Authority (ADA) has started the Natural Wooden Log Platforms Project. 

There was a time when Anasagar was the main centre for flamingos which especially come to this place from China, Magnolia and also from the Rann of Kutch. "They not only stayed here for winters but made their nests on the trees of Baradari and lay eggs," said a bird watcher. 

Besides flamingos there were black tail duck, cranes and Siberian ducks that added to the scenic beauty of the lake. But since last three years these birds are not seen here though there is good amount of water in Anasagar. "There are only water hens and local black ducks that are seen swimming in the lake," he added. 

Continued ...

Pacificorp guilty in bird deaths

US utility Pacificorp must pay a $2.5m fine on charges related to the deaths of protected birds in Wyoming.

Subsidiary Pacificorp Energy pled guilty to two counts of unlawful take of migratory birds under a plea deal with prosecutors. Since 2009 more than 350 dead birds, including 38 golden eagles, were found at two wind farms.

The company must also implement a migratory bird compliance plan to avoid bird deaths at four Wyoming wind farms: Seven Mile Hill, Glenrock/Rolling Hills, Dunlap and High Plains/McFadden Ridge.

“PacifiCorp is concerned about the impacts to wildlife from our renewable energy facilities and we have been diligently working with federal and state agencies to protect migratory birds,” said VP renewable resources Mark Tallman.

“We are committed to enhancing protections to wildlife that minimize and mitigate impacts.”

Thursday 25 December 2014

Debate Over Protecting Sage-Grouse Re-Ignited with New Federal Bill

Dec 23, 2014 12:10 PM EST

The long-standing debate over protecting the sage-grouse, a rare bird species in Coloradoand the West, has been re-ignited with a new federal bill passed by Congress last week.

According to The Associated Press (AP), certain provisions or "riders" in the 1,603-page spending bill has barred the federal government from splurging on rules to protect the bird. Meanwhile, wildlife managers with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) say that the sage-grouse is heading towards extinction, and this bill would prevent them from intervening on behalf of the species' survival.

3 teenage poachers held, 7 migratory birds carcass found

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 18:19

Berhampur (Odisha): Wildlife officials arrested three more teenagers engaged in poaching of migratory birds from different villages under Tangi range in Chilika wildlife division.

The officials also seized carcass of seven migratory birds from the arrested youths yesterday.

While they arrested two juvenile boys from Ujjala-Gopinathpur village and seized four migratory birds, two pond heron and two spot-billed duck, another boy was caught from Tentuliapada village and three dead shovellers were seized from him.

The two juvenile poachers of Ujjala Gopinathpur village allegedly trapped to kill the migratory birds while the other accused in Tentualiapada allegedly poisoned the lake to kill the shovellers, said divisional forest officer (DFO) Chilika wildlife division Bikash Ranjan Das.

With this, at least six teenage boys were so far arrested on charges of poaching the migratory birds in the lake in a span of 15 days.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

52 bird species spotted in Aurangabad, Jalna

Mohammed Akhef,TNN | Dec 23, 2014, 05.41 AM IST

AURANGABAD: As many as 52 species of birds were spotted at different water bodies and wetlands in Aurangabad and Jalna districts during a survey conducted by the Aurangabad forest department on Sunday. 

The census, a part of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2014, is an annual event across the country. In Marathwada, it was done in coordination with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), NGOs, bird lovers and students. The next survey is scheduled for January 11. 

A D Bhosale, deputy conservator, Aurangabad forest department, said, "After the department received directions from the state principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Nagpur, to check the status of waterbirds and wetlands in Aurangabad and Jalna district, the survey was carried out at 20 spots, where 52 species of birds were found." 

Drought causes birds to nest later, reducing nesting success


Future of desert birds in question


Tucson, Ariz.--A recent study suggests drought conditions are delaying nesting by two weeks or more for some Sonoran Desert bird species, such as Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and Verdins.

Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions persist in much of the southwestern U.S. Drought negatively impacts, many wildlife species, making it harder to maintain their numbers, even when adapted to a dry environment.

Newly published research from Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds that increased drought frequency in southwestern North America results in increased instances of delayed nesting. This delay can push the start of nesting back by several weeks in severe drought. This, in turn, makes it harder for many Sonoran Desert bird species to successfully produce young that year, as they are more vulnerable to nest predators and parasites.

"To understand how late the delay is, it would be like if the robins nesting in your yard, who typically begin nesting in late April, did not begin to nest until nearly Memorial Day," says Chris McCreedy, Point Blue ecologist and the study's lead author.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

African warriors want East Yorkshire bird feathers

Published on the 23 December 2014 

African ostrich feathers have long-inspired international fashion styles, but now the opposite is true: feathers from the humble British pheasant are topping trends in Africa.

The mottled brown plumage is in such demand amongst warriors in northern Kenya wanting exotic trimmings for their headdresses; a Yorkshire wildlife artist is posting a fistful to the region for Christmas.

All this year wildlife artist Robert E Fuller, of Thixendale, North Yorkshire, has been collecting this common game bird’s tail feathers to give to Samburu tribesmen.

“It’s probably the most unusual gift I’ve ever sent,” said Mr Fuller.

Mr Fuller befriended the warriors whilst on safari in northern Kenya in 2012.

“I visited Elephant Watch Camp, an eco-camp run by the celebrated elephant conservationist Iain Douglas-Hamilton and his family, in order to study elephants for a painting I was working on.

Robin makes a home for Christmas in London Sainsbury's, to the delight of festive shoppers

Published: 23 December 2014

Updated: 14:34, 23 December 2014

A robin has taken up residence among the festive displays in a London supermarket.

The red-breasted bird was first spotted two weeks ago at Sainsbury’s in Chiswick, delighting crowds who have flocked to snap photos of the festive visitor bobbing along the shelves and swinging on decorations, including a giant heart-shaped mobile of his cousins.

Attempts to safely trap the bird and usher him back outside have so far failed, and bosses at the superstore in Essex Place are now under pressure to ensure they do not upset his fans while stopping him from feasting on food.

Monday 22 December 2014

Female minds outperform those of males ... among garden birds at least.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Girls gain higher marks than boys in the Leaving Certificate exams. Women are better at ‘multi-tasking’, and their intuitive faculties, it’s claimed, are superior to men’s. When it comes to ‘spatial ability’, however, males are judged the better performers.

Are these differences inherited or are cultural factors responsible for them? Do males and females of other species have differing cognitive skills?

Measuring such traits in the wild is exceedingly difficult but researchers in Sweden have done so for one of our common garden birds. They claim that female great tits have better memories than their male counterparts. 

The great tit, found throughout Europe and Asia, is probably the most extensively studied bird in the world. Although sometimes confused with its smaller cousin the blue tit, the great tit is distinctively marked.

The crown is jet black and both sexes wear elegant black bibs, the male’s merging into a line down the breast and belly.

The rhythmic ‘chee-ou chee-ou chee-ou’ song is a familiar sound of spring. Intelligent and resourceful, these denizens of suburban gardens woodland and scrub sometimes use pine needles as tools to rake in food items out of reach.

MSU paleontologist contributes to bird origin study

BOZEMAN — A casual conversation in the Japanese city of Fukui led to renowned paleontologists from Montana State University and China publishing a paper together in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal “Science.”

David Varricchio and Xing Xu — who wrote that birds definitely descended from dinosaurs — were attending a conference in Fukui, Japan, last year when they struck up a conversation during one of their breaks, said Varricchio, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences. When Xu told Varricchio about the paper he was writing, Varricchio suggested that he might be able to contribute. Modern birds were thought to have developed from dinosaurs, and Varricchio is an expert on dinosaur reproduction from theropods to birds.

The encounter resulted in Varricchio becoming co-author on the Science paper titled “An integrative approach to understanding bird origins.” Xu is the lead author. Among the other five co-authors is Gregory Erickson, former graduate student of Jack Horner, the curator of paleontology and regents professor of paleontology at MSU’s Museum of the Rockies. Erickson is now in the Department of Biological Science at Florida State University.

Beijing's red alert for 'lost' robin

CHEEKY robins for all their Christmas charisma are hardly poster pin-ups for the twitching masses.

Published: 10:08, Sun, December 21, 2014

Appearances on greetings cards, wrapping paper and festive tree baubles are one thing but the notion of a cheery redbreast preening in front of hundreds of assembled cameras does sound a little incongruous.

Take a peek at this week's photo and while the robin looks very much like your common-orgarden favourite, the way it was pictured in all its flame-toned glory has become the talk of the birdwatching world.

However this delightful individual has been holding court in Beijing's Temple of Heaven Park, creating the kind of scenes reminiscent of a rarity arrival on the Isles of Scilly or the north Norfolk coast.

How this robin arrived in the Chinese capital thousands of miles from its European home is open to conjecture. There is increasing evidence that small populations of migratory birds often take a "left-hand turn" and fly in the reverse direction in autumn as a survival technique against a possible disaster on their normal wintering ranges.

Whatever the reason for the robin's arrival in Beijing, its presence has been headline news and the talk among China's burgeoning birding community or, to be more accurate, bird photographers who have turned up in huge numbers to get the kind of close up that epitomises the festive season in the UK.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Wind Company Convicted in Deaths of Eagles, Other Birds

A Portland-based wind energy company that recently sued the federal government to keep its bird death data secret has been convicted in federal court over deaths of protected birds at two of its wind facilities in Wyoming.

The carcasses of 38 golden eagles were found at PacifiCorp Energy's "Seven Mile Hill" and "Glenrock/Rolling Hills" installations in Carbon and Converse counties between 2009 and this year, along with 336 other birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, PacificCorp disregarded risk to eagles and other birds when it built its turbines at the two facilities.

"PacifiCorp Energy built two of its Wyoming wind projects in a manner it knew would likely result in the deaths of eagles and other protected birds," said Sam Hirsch, the U.S Department of Justice's Acting Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources.

RSPB and WWT object to Barnacle Goose cull on Islay

Posted on: 20 Dec 2014

The RSPB and WWT have slammed a new 'sustainable' goose management strategy for the island of Islay, announced yesterday by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Crop damage on the Argyll island will be reduced through scaring, diversionary feeding for Greenland White-fronted Geese, and "population reduction" of Greenland Barnacle Geese – that is, a partial cull. The local goose management group are charged with developing a scheme to deliver the strategy objectives, and any population reduction is planned to be made in increments.

Virus causing mass duck die-offs on Cape Cod identified

December 16, 2014

Cornell University

Since 1998, hundreds and sometimes thousands of dead eider ducks have been washing up every year on Cape Cod's beaches in late summer or early fall, but the reasons behind these cyclic die-offs have remained a mystery. A team of scientists has now pinned down one of the agents responsible.

Friday 19 December 2014

Canadian driver jailed for deaths caused by stopping for ducks

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Thursday for causing two deaths in 2010 when she stopped her car on a Quebec highway to help a group of ducklings crossing the road.

Emma Czornobaj had been convicted in June of two counts each of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death.

According to media reports on Thursday, Czornobaj stopped her car abruptly in the passing lane of a highway south of Montreal when she saw the ducklings. The motorcycle behind Czornobaj's car then crashed into her vehicle, killing the 50-year-old man driving the motorcycle and his 16-year-old daughter.

"I just wanted to pick all these ducklings up and put them in my car," Czornobaj had testified during her trial. "I know it was a mistake."

Birds detect approaching storm from 900km away

Infrasound may have alerted warblers to the massive storm, prompting them to fly more than a thousand kilometres to avoid it

Ian Sample, science editor

Thursday 18 December 2014 17.00 GMT

A group of songbirds may have avoided a devastating storm by fleeing their US breeding grounds after detecting telltale infrasound waves.

Researchers noticed the behaviour after analysing trackers attached to the birds to study their migration patterns. They believe it is the first documented case of birds making detours to avoid destructive weather systems on the basis of infrasound.

The golden-winged warblers had just returned from South America to their breeding grounds in the mountains of Tennessee in 2013 when a massive storm was edging closer. Although the birds had just completed a migration of more than 2,500km, they still had the energy to evade the danger.

The storm, which spawned more than 80 tornadoes across the US and killed 35 people, was 900km away when the birds, apparently acting independently of one another, fled south, with one bird embarking on a 1,500km flight to Cuba before making the return trip once the storm had passed.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Forest department commits to save rare species

NASHIK: Efforts are being made to conserve the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard, known to have been spotted two years ago near Pimpalgaon, about 30 km from Nashik city. 

The forest department, along with the Nature Conservation Society of Nashik (NCSN), organized a seminar on the rare species on Thursday. Pramod Patil, a medical practitioner from the Bharat Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai, who studied and surveyed the bird in Solapur and is an expert on the Great Indian Bustard, spoke at the event and informed the staff of the forest department and the environment activists about the bird and its current status. 

As part of its preparations to conserve the species, the forest department, with the aid of the bird activists, will soon be conducting a survey of the grasslands where the near-extinct bird, also called 'Maldhok' in Marathi, was spotted two years ago. 

Crows are smarter than you think: Crows join humans, apes and monkeys in exhibiting advanced rational thinking

December 18, 2014

University of Iowa

Crows have the brain power to solve higher-order, relational-matching tasks, and they can do so spontaneously, according to new research. That means crows join humans, apes and monkeys in exhibiting advanced relational thinking, according to the research.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Booming year for bitterns

More likely to be heard than seen, the bittern has been found in record numbers in England thanks to its loud call

Bitterns, which were once extinct in the UK, have been found to be at their highest levels ever recorded in England.

As a shy, secretive bird with plumage that perfectly camouflages it against its reed bed habitat, the bittern (Botaurus stellaris) can be easily overlooked.

However, the male’s booming mating call, created by pumping air through their throats and able to be heard from several kilometres away, gives its presence away and it is this distinctive call that has helped researchers count them.

The breeding population has just been discovered to be in the most rudest of health since the 1800s.

Show us how you play and it may tell us who you are

December 15, 2014

University of Vienna

The way in which toys are handled and combined with one another during object play can tell use a lot about the cognitive underpinnings of the actors. An international team of scientists studied parrot species, as well as crow species, with the same set of toys and found out that the birds willingly brought objects into complex spatial relationships: behaviors that occur in only a few species of primates.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

EU under pressure to ban diclofenac to protect Europe's vultures

Veterinary drug for cattle that led to collapse of vulture populations of Asia is a risk to 55,000 birds, says European Medicines Agency 

Monday 15 December 2014 17.52 GMT

Pressure is mounting on Europe to immediately ban a drug used by vets which has been linked to the poisoning of vultures and other birds which feed on the corpses of cows treated with it.

The use of veterinary diclofenac, a pain-killing anti-inflammatory medecine given to livestock led to the unintentional but almost complete collapse of many vulture populations in Asia in 1990s and early 2000s. But a loophole in Europe allows it to be legally used in Spain and Italy where nearly all Europe’s estimated 55,000 vultures live. 

Now, following an investigation of the death of a Spanish vulture in 2012, theEuropean Medicines Agency has confirmed that vultures and other carrion-eating birds are at risk. The European commission asked the agency, which is responsible for the scientific evaluation of all medicines developed by EU drug companies, to consider the risks it posed to birds after scientists and ornithologists protested when Spain authorised use of the drug on cattle last year. A dose of just 0.1–0.2 mg/kg body weight can cause rapid, lethal kidney failure.