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.

Friday 28 February 2014

'Team of rivals' approach works for sparrows defending territories

February 25, 2014

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

A new study of territorial songs used by chipping sparrows to defend their turf reveals that males sometimes will form a "dear enemy" alliance with a weaker neighbor to prevent a stronger rival from moving in. For the first time findings demonstrate the birds' use of a stereotyped, specialized signal, in this case chipping sparrow trills, to establish brief periods of cooperation among neighbor birds who are otherwise rivals.

New insights into origin of birds focuses on key characteristics that preceded flight: Body size, forelimb length

February 23, 2014

University of Bristol

The key characteristics of birds which allow them to fly -- their wings and their small size -- arose much earlier than previously thought, according to new research that examined closely the Paraves, the first birds, and their closest dinosaurian relatives which lived 160 to 120 million years ago. Researchers investigated the rates of evolution of the two key characteristics that preceded flight: body size and forelimb length. In order to fly, hulking meat-eating dinosaurs had to shrink in size and grow much longer arms to support their feathered wings.

RARE SPECIES: Rare songbird faces fire ant threat

By Ella DaviesReporter, BBC Nature

Rain, rats and fire ants threaten the survival of the rare Tahiti monarch, despite a record best year for its conservation.

Just 10 breeding pairs remain in the wild population, which numbers fewer than 50 mature birds in total.
Efforts to save the birds won an award from conservation partnership BirdLife International.

But experts warn that poor weather and predators could dramatically affect the current breeding season.

The Tahiti monarch (Pomarea nigra) is a species of monarch flycatcher that lives in four forested valleys on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Adults are black with pale blue beaks and juveniles are a red-brown colour.

Populations of the songbirds have declined throughout the 20th Century, but a local conservation programme that has been running for the past 16 years has succeeded in boosting breeding figures.

Waterbirds' hunt aided by specialized tail: Swimming birds evolved rudder-like tail to dive for food

February 26, 2014


The convergent evolution of tail shapes in diving birds may be driven by foraging style. Birds use their wings and specialized tail to maneuver through the air while flying. It turns out that the purpose of a bird's tail may have also aided in their diversification by allowing them to use a greater variety of foraging strategies. To better understand the relationship between bird tail shape and foraging strategy, researchers examined the tail skeletal structure of over 50 species of waterbirds, like storks, pelicans, and penguins, and shorebirds, like gulls and puffins. They first categorized each species by foraging strategy, such as aerial, terrestrial, and pursuit diving, and then compared the shape and structure of different tails.

Reciprocity and parrots: Griffin the grey parrot appears to understand benefits of sharing, study suggests

February 25, 2014

University of Lincoln

A study into whether grey parrots understand the notion of sharing suggests that they can learn the benefits of reciprocity. The research involved a grey parrot called Griffin, who consistently favoured the option of 'sharing' with two different human partners.

How birds' visual perception influences flower evolution

4 hours ago by Martin Burd

In Australia, honeyeaters are far and away the most abundant and important nectar-feeding birds, so also the most important avian pollinators of flowers.

What effect has their visual perception had on the evolution of colour among the flowers they visit?

Today, a team of biologists from Monash (including me) and RMIT universities in Melbourne and Bucknell University in the US published the most quantitative and rigorous investigation of this question to date.

We used mathematical models of bird vision to represent the colours of Australian flowers as birds are likely to see them.

STORM CASUALTIES: Jersey seabird death toll 'at least 600 and growing'

More than 600 dead seabirds have now been found on Jersey's beaches, wildlife experts have confirmed.

The National Trust for Jersey organised a second count on Sunday to track the impact of recent storms.

For the second week about 130 birds were discovered dead. Experts put this down to them struggling for food in heavy wind and rain.

Wildlife experts are calling for the Channel Island governments to work to assess the scale of bird loss.

Dozens of volunteers answered a call to scour the island's coast on Sunday to collect some of the hundreds of dead birds which have washed up during the extreme weather early in February.

Cris Sellares, from the National Trust, said there were a total of 136 birds found and some specimens, such as local shags, an oiled razorbill, a kittiwake and some puffins were saved for post-mortem analysis.

She said: "It is one storm after another, after another, they can't feed in this weather, they get weak

"The impact of this storm will be felt across the UK and particularly our local birds like the shags. I think we will need to do a full review of the health of our breeding population this year."

Thursday 27 February 2014

STORM CASUALTIES: Fears for iconic seabirds as storms kill puffins and razorbills

Some puffins discovered on beaches in France are believed to be from Skomer

Record numbers of seabirds have been killed in the recent storms on the Welsh coast, raising concerns some species are at risk.

The birds, including razorbills and puffins, have been washed ashore on beaches across Wales.

The Wildlife Trust said many of the birds died from malnourishment because they found it difficult to find food during the storms.

An additional 11,000 puffins have perished in the storms in France.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said many birds have been washed up on Welsh beaches including Newgale, Broad Haven and Ferryside.

The trust, which manages the important seabird islands of Skomer and Skokholm on the Pembrokeshire coast, said birds had been badly hit by the storms.

"The birds have struggled to feed, probably because the sea is so rough," said Skomer warden Ed Stubbings.

Strange State of Matter Found in Chicken's Eye

By Megan Gannon, News Editor | February 24, 2014 02:19pm ET

Never before seen in biology, a state of matter called "disordered hyperuniformity" has been discovered in the eye of a chicken.

This arrangement of particles appears disorganized over small distances but has a hidden order that allows material to behave like both a crystal and a liquid.

The discovery came as researchers were studying cones, tiny light-sensitive cells that allow for the perception of color, in the eyes of chickens. 

TRACKING: New tracking technology reveals birds' epic and amazing journeys

Wednesday 26 February 2014 11.33 GMT

Smaller and lighter tracking devices are opening up whole new insights into behaviour, movements and migrations 

Today sees the launch of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science – and one of the most exciting areas of research the centre will be involved in is tracking birds and other animals as they migrate, forage and breed.

Last June, at the edge of a small loch on the island of Fetlar in Shetland,RSPB conservationists and members of the local bird-ringing group caught a red-necked phalarope, a dainty, sparrow-sized wading bird. They had caught it exactly one year earlier at the same nesting site, and fitted it with a small rucksack. This was a geolocator, made by the Swiss Ornithological Institute, an electronic tag that records light levels and the time.

STORM CASUALTIES: Storms 'slaughter' kills over 21,000 birds on French coast

More than 21,000 sea birds have died since the end of January on France's Atlantic coast due to storms in the worst "slaughter" in a century, the national Bird Protection League (LPO) said Wednesday.

A total of 21,341 dead birds had been counted up to February 24 on the southwestern Basque coast and in Brittany in northwestern France, a statement said.

The worst affected species were the Atlantic Puffin, the Common Murre or Common Guillemot and the Razorbill, it said.

Nearly 2,800 were housed in bird protection shelters in these areas, the LPO said, adding that this was a provisional toll and the final numbers could be much higher.

THREATENED SPECIES: Threatened Owls Pushed Out of Home by Foes

By Megan Gannon, News Editor | February 25, 2014 06:03pm ET

northern spotted owl
A threatened species of owl is losing a turf war in the Pacific Northwest.
Northern spotted owls are getting edged out of their already declining habitat by invading barred owls, a new study finds.

barred owl
Researchers pored over 22 years of data from a study site in Oregon covering 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) where the habitats of the two species overlap. In this area, both owl species were more likely to abandon a neighborhood when their rival was present, the researchers found.

CONSERVATION : Corn buntings saved by farmers

February 2014: Numbers of Corn buntings could increase if there is a change in farming methods say RSPB Scotland. Corn buntings used to be widespread throughout Europe, but are now one of the fastest declining farmland birds with just 800 singing males left in Scotland.

Most commonly associated with cereal cultivation, corn buntings would once have bred in hay meadows too, however intensification of farming, particularly a move to earlier mowing, has made this impossible across large parts of northwest Europe.

In northeast Scotland, silage and hay cuts remain late enough for birds to make nests in these fields. In fact, over the five year study, more than half of the nests started in May and June were in hay meadows. Sadly, more than two-thirds of these were then lost during June and July mowing.

Therefore RSPB organised a trial wherel19 farms across Aberdeenshire and Inverness-shire delayed their mowing until august 1. This delay made huge changes as less than five per cent of nests in meadows were lost, and overall breeding success increased by 20 per cent.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

UK RARE BIRD SIGHTINGS: Rare birds take up residence in neighbourhood

25 parrots took up residence in a neighbourhood tree over the weekend.

The Ring-necked Parakeets were seen eating fruit in a tree at Arlington Road, Woodford Green.

The Guardian photographer, who lives nearby, said: “They seem to have taken up residence in the tree two houses down from where I live. They are eating the fruit on the tree and are very noisy.”

There are myths on how the species came to be naturalised in England.

One that they broke out of airport quarantine, and another that they escaped from the set of 1951 film, The African Queen.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs believe the population dates only from 1969, when birds were released from captivity.

UK RARE BIRD SIGHTINGS: Rare bird sets up home at Potteric Carr

A willow tit
willow tit
Potteric Carr Nature Reserve in Doncaster had a bumper bird year in 2013, a recent report by local volunteers has shown.

Bird highlights for this urban nature reserve, one of the largest inland wetland sites in the whole of the United Kingdom included a spectacular show of starlings at the beginning of 2013, with over 10,000 birds displaying over the entrance to the nature reserve.

In addition a number of birds of prey were recorded on several occasions including a peregrine falcon, marsh harrier and three species of owl.

Other notable records was that of the willow tit, a bird which has seen its UK population decline by 93% over the last 40 years with no real conclusive evidence as to why.

Weird Britain: Bizarre British Bird News

February 24, 2014 By Derek

Man with a duck goes into a pub. The bartender says “we don’t serve ducks here.” The duck replies, “That’s okay. My human won’t have any.” Based on a true story.
Image Source: The Express.

It looks like I’ve got a huge backlog of animal-related stories, so this week, I’ll start with the birds.

Owners of African Grey Parrot Threatened with ASBO.

Stephen White of West Norfolk has been threatened with an ASBO or prosecution for a while now, and it’s not because of anything he’s done, but, rather, what his African Grey Parrot Buddy has done. Namely, it won’t shut up.

Winging it — SD Bird Festival: the Super Bowl of ornithology Read more: San Diego Community News Group - Winging it SD Bird Festival the Super Bowl of ornithology

CONSERVATION: Ducks, Wild Turkey, Pheasants and Quails (oh my!) are joining forces

Four of the nation’s largest wild bird conservation organizations say they have joined forces to better protect wild bird habitats for future generations.

Memphis-based Ducks Unlimited Inc. has joined with the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the goal of furthering sporting traditions across North America.

“By entering into this unique partnership, we will be able to reach more than 1 million conservation supporters throughout North America,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall, in a release. “This MOU is the first step to ensuring our hunting heritage remains strong. I look forward to working with each organization and I know that together we can accomplish great things.”


Contributing Writer

Winter bird haven attracts rare off-season visitor

BEAR LAKE – Charles and Marge Keil, of Bear Lake, have an unusual winter visitor in their yard this year.

When Marge noticed a bird she had never seen before, she pulled out her “Audubon Bird Guide” and discovered it was a male Eastern Rufous-sided Towhee.

It's no surprise this bird would choose to dine at the Keils. It is one of more than 20 varieties of birds that eat there, including a magnificent Pileated Woodpecker.

What makes it unusual is that the Eastern Towhee rarely winters in Michigan, according to Dr. Brian Allen, president of the Manistee County Audubon Society. The only other sighting this year was in Holland.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

'Reinvent bird races to conserve, educate too'

TNN | Feb 24, 2014, 01.36 AM IST

NAGPUR: Birders at the annual Nagpur Bird Race expressed a need to reinvent the concept to sustain interest and enthusiasm of bird watchers, and give them a new experience.

The birders were deliberating after the eighth edition of the Nagpur Bird Race, jointly organized by Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) and Yuhina Eco-Media, along with Society for Wildlife Conservation, Education and Research (Wild-CER).

Senior bird watcher Dr Tarique Sani said, "In Nagpur, the time when we needed to get people interested in birding has passed. There are plenty of birders now, and we need to improve the quality of the birder community. Apart from the competition aspect, conservation and educational aspects can be added to bird races."

This year, however, the number of participants was very low compared to earlier times. "TheMaharashtra Pakshimitra Sammelan forced us to delay this event, and the birding season is almost over. Now, children are also busy with exams," said Dr Bahar Baviskar of WILD-CER.

Researchers Provide New Insights Into The Origin Of Birds

February 24, 2014

Image Caption: Skeleton of the paravian dinosaur Microraptor, from the Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago) of NE China. This dinosaur was experimenting with flight, but its unique kind of flight – gliding using all four feathered limbs – did not lead to anything. Credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Beijing / Wikipedia (CC BY 2.5)

The key characteristics of birds which allow them to fly – their wings and their small size – arose much earlier than previously thought, according to new research from the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield into the Paraves, the first birds and their closest dinosaurian relatives which lived 160 to 120 million years ago.

Mark Puttick and colleagues investigated the rates of evolution of the two key characteristics that preceded flight: body size and forelimb length. In order to fly, hulking meat-eating dinosaurs had to shrink in size and grow much longer arms to support their feathered wings.

“We were really surprised to discover that the key size shifts happened at the same time, at the origin of Paraves,” said Mr Puttick of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences. “This was at least 20 million years before the first bird, the famous Archaeopteryx, and it shows that flight in birds arose through several evolutionary steps.”

Kavilvastu lakes await conservation efforts

KAPILVASTU, FEB 24 - Lakes carrying historical and archaeological significance in the district have been shrinking due to utter negligence of the authorities concerned.

The Jagdishpur lake at Niglihawa-1 and 4, located 11 kilometres east from the district headquarters, is supposedly the largest man-made lake in the country. The lake, which also is a habitat to a variety of aquatic birds, has been shrinking every year due to the lack of proper sanitation and conservation efforts.

According to Ram Krishna Ghorasaini, engineer at the Western Regional Irrigation Development Division, water in the lake has decreased to three million qubic metres though it was built with a capacity to hold 4.7 million qubic metres.

The lake is constructed to collect water brought from a barrage at Laxmanghat, where the Bandaganga and Koili rivers converge, for irrigation.

Port Fairy Landcare group takes fight to save rare water bird's habitat to VCAT

A Landcare group heads to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to continue its fight to save the habitat of a protected bird species from a proposed development.

Each year, a small, brown Japanese water bird - the Latham's Snipe - migrates from the northern hemisphere to south-eastern Australia.
The rare bird is protected under several international agreements, including the Japan Australia Migratory Bird Agreement and by the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Jodie Honan of the South Beach Wetlands and Landcare Group says many of the birds flock to Port Fairy's Powling Street wetlands, which is made up of three ephemeral or seasonal wetlands.

"It comes to our part of the world to rest and to feed and get ready for its migration back to Japan."

At its beak! Winged visitors to Pashan Lake hit new high

Effort to reduce water level, decade-long initiative to increase silt islands pay off; experts say migratory and local bird populations on the rise after several years

Mayuri Phadnis

Posted On Monday, February 24, 2014 at 01:31:15 AM

Several years after dwindled bird populations at the sylvan Pashan Lake alarmed conservationists, it appears that the authorities’ efforts to rehabilitate the water body and the surrounding areas have taken wing. Over the last one month, the lake has managed to attract larger flocks of migratory birds than have been seen for the last few years, harking back to the days before pollution played havoc with flora and fauna at the spot.

While the latest result is a direct offshoot of decreasing water levels in the lake to make silt more accessible for birds, the increase in numbers can also be attributed to efforts taken over nearly a decade by the Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Institute of Environmental Education Research (BVIEER), Naik Environment Research Institute Limited (NERIL) and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), to restore the lake.

Scotland prepares for natures homecoming

Scotland prepares for natures homecomingWildlife experts are hoping for a record number of birds, insects, mammals and fish species to return to their spring home in Dumfries & Galloway this year. And to celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2014, the region’s Wild Spring Festival (taking place from 5 April to 5 May) is offering over 100 family-friendly events where participants could discover some of these species. Many of the events are free and most hosted by local wildlife guides and experts.

Wildlife watchers are being encouraged to look out for 39 bird, insect, mammal and fish species returning from their wintering quarters to Dumfries & Galloway this spring, one of the biggest wildlife homecomings in Scotland.

Monday 24 February 2014

Mauritius Kestrels Show Long-Term Legacy of Human-Made Habitat Change

February 20, 2014

Cell Press

The widespread loss of forest to sugarcane fields on the island of Mauritius has forced kestrels living there to survive by speeding up their life histories, according to a report. By getting an earlier start, the birds are managing to have just as many offspring, even though they die sooner. Those changes to the kestrels' life history are apparently driven entirely by their early life experiences, the researchers say. The researchers analyzed 23 years of longitudinal data on the Mauritius kestrel to find that females born in territories affected by habitat change shifted investment in reproduction to earlier in life at the expense of late life performance.

Researchers, volunteers search for rare marsh bird


lwalck@sunherald.comFebruary 17, 2014 

"Bird!" Someone shouted in the distance, signaling about 20 people to start sprinting toward the voice.
That is, as much as one can sprint in the bumpy, grassy and muddy land of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

Headlamps and flashlights bouncing, a group of researchers, refuge workers and volunteer birders were in search of the rare and elusive yellow rail on Monday night.

Kelly Morris, a graduate student at Mississippi State University, is leading a study on the bird, which flies here from Canada in the winters.

The yellow rail is a bird of conservational concern, a national watchlist by the American Bird Conservancy and National Audubon Society. It is also a focal species for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's migratory bird program, which means its conservation is a priority.

33 Bird Species Spotted in Sivarakottai

By Express News Service - MADURAI
Published: 18th February 2014 11:38 AM
Last Updated: 18th February 2014 11:38 AM

Black-headed munias

A group of bird enthusiasts camped in the village in the early hours on Sunday, to save wetland birds visiting Sivarakottai by documenting their numbers. 

At the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a global annual four-day event (February 14-17, 2014) engaging bird watchers of all ages in counting birds in their area to know bird population, around thirty nature enthusiasts and bird watchers from the city chose Sivarakottai village for bird watching.

“Wetland birds grab attention in all places and those in the Madurai region are no exception. Hence, we decided to go for wetland birds and the area surrounding the Malaiurani Perumal Koil in Sivarakottai was the apt place for bird watching,” said Tamildasan, a member of a youth-friends’ group called ‘Naanal Nanbargal Kuzhu’.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Rare birds vanish from Delhi’s new jungle

Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times New Delhi, February 22, 2014

First Published: 23:59 IST(22/2/2014) | Last Updated: 00:03 IST(23/2/2014)

Many bird watchers flocking to Delhi’s forests this winter are returning home disappointed after failing to spot their favourite species.

An annual bird census at one of Delhi’s newest forests — Garhi Mandu — found only 79 species this year as compared to the 90 species recorded in the 2013 census.

The drastic fall has put a spotlight on the degrading habitat of Garhi Mandu and other forests in Delhi due to climate change, human interference and pollution.

Spread over 894.73 acres along the left bank of the Yamuna river in northeast Delhi, Garhi Mandu has been a good habitat for birds because of adjacent wetlands.

“But there’re several factors such as burning and dumping of garbage, using water for cleaning vehicles, fishing and playgrounds that are scaring the birds away,” said TK Roy, one of the team members who took part in the Asian Waterbird Census-2014.

In fact, the pollution and human interference has been so bad that many of Delhi’s resident birds such as Gray Hornbill, Crimson-breasted Barbet, Purple Sunbird and Pied Kingfisher were not spotted at all.

Amid California Drought, Migrating Birds Enjoy Pop-Up Cuisine


Millions of birds migrate through California this time of year, but the waterways and wetlands they rely on for food and rest are largely dry due to the ongoing drought. So farmers are keeping their fields flooded to make temporary wetlands, providing a place for migrating birds to rest and eat.

Rice farmer Douglas Thomas is one of these farmers. On a recent morning some 3,000 snow geese float in his rice fields in California's Central Valley. He's watching a young bald eagle awkwardly dive at the flock.

"As soon as they start getting here, this is what I sit and do," he says. "I keep my binoculars in my truck."

Shipment of rare birds confiscated in Mindanao

By Manolo B. JaraFebruary 21, 2014

MANILA: A shipment of about 100 exotic animals and birds some of which have been included in the world’s “critically endangered” list has been seized by government agents in Surigao City in volatile Mindanao, according to an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Josefina de Leon, the chief of the DENR wildlife division, disclosed the illegal shipment was the handiwork of an international criminal syndicate engaged in the smuggling of exotic wildlife for sale to rich collectors in the Philippines.

The contraband, De Leon said, was seized by DENR agents in Surigao City, Mindanao while they were about to be loaded into an inter-island vessel bound for Manila.

The driver and a helper of a van that brought the exotic animals and birds to the Surigao port have been arrested and charged for violating the country’s law penalising the illegal transport of wildlife, De Leon said. According to De Leon, the law imposes a penalty of six months in jail and a fine of more than $1,000 depending on the rarity of wildlife involved.

Among the wildlife confiscated were four wallabies from Australia and 90 parrots from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea including yellow-crested cockatoos and long-beaked echidnas listed as “critically endangered species” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Unfortunately, De Leon reported that DENR agents found several of the wildlife already dead apparently due to stress and suffocation as they were placed in small containers.

Three-year bird study ends plans to extend world's biggest windfarm

by ClickGreen staff. Published Wed 19 Feb 2014 11:05

The consortium behind the world's biggest offshore windfarm, the London Array, has today announced it will no longer proceed with its next phase of planned development.

The decision follows a review by the consortium members of their respective portfolios, the technical challenges and the environmental uncertainties surrounding the site, which require a wait of at least three years until Phase 2’s potential impact on birds could be completely assessed.

Operators of the London Array have now formally requested The Crown Estate to terminate the agreement for lease for the Phase 2 area and has cancelled the remaining grid capacity it had reserved at the National Grid substation at Cleve Hill, Graveney, Kent.

News of the abandoned plans was made as another development consortium Forewind confirmed it was downsizing the total capacity of offshore wind farm projects in the Dogger Bank Zone from 9GW to 7.2GW.

The group, which is made up of RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil, said the revision follows “more than four years of offshore and onshore surveys and assessments, which have concluded that the developer’s focus should be on those projects which are most likely to achieve a positive financial investment decision at this time”.

The double blow of losing nearly 2GW of planned wind energy capacity is a setback in the UK's race to achieve its 2020 renewable energy targets.

London Array General Manager Mike O’Hare said: “Phase 2 has always been subject to a Grampian condition requiring London Array to demonstrate that any change caused by the additional turbines to the habitat of the Red Throated Divers that overwinter in this part of the Thames Estuary would not compromise its status as a designated environmental Special Protection Area.

Chile: Owls drafted in to fight deadly hantavirus

Officials in Chile are turning to an unlikely ally - wild owls - as they try to fight a contagious disease that has already caused about 15 deaths, it seems.

Owls are the natural predators of the rats carrying the deadly hantavirus, the Santiago Times newspaper reports. Long-tailed pygmy rice rats transmit the virus to humans as they come into contact with campers in the forest, while foraging for bamboo.

But forest fires during Chile's summer months have forced the rats into urban areas, making more people sick. The disease does not affect the rats themselves.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Speaking Up for the Mute Swan


THE Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to kill New York State’s entire population of free-ranging mute swans, those graceful white water birds long treasured as symbols of romance and fidelity. New Yorkers have until Feb. 21 to submit responses to a plan that calls for the removal by 2025 of the estimated 2,200 birds by methods that could include shooting, gassing, decapitation and egg addling.

Mute swans — so called because they’re not generally vocal, their most arresting sound being the beating of their wings — arrived in New York from Europe in the late 19th century, imported as aristocratic decoration for country estates. They adapted with ease and soon spread to public lands, where they were embraced for their beauty and as evidence of environmental health. Only in recent decades, as conservationists’ preoccupation with the geographical origins of species has intensified, have these immigrants with established communities on Long Island, in the Hudson Valley and on Lake Ontario become perceived as a problem.

Farm board gives green light to bird cannon on dairy farm

The fight to “ban the cannons” could shift to a new battlefield with a recent Farm Industry Review Board decision to allow a propane cannon on a Vancouver Island dairy farm.

For almost a decade, many who live near Lower Mainland blueberry fields have been lobbying various levels of government to ban the noisy propane cannons used to scare away berry-eating birds.

The FIRB, which is tasked with administering the Farm Practices Protection Act and hearing complaints about farm noise, smell and other nuisances, has typically sided with blueberry farmers, defining cannon use as a normal farm practice. Opponents have made limited gains in recent years, however, with some municipalities passing tighter regulations on their use.

RSPB recruit overnight “Protection Staff” to help guard hen harriers at 3 Northern England regions

Reference number: 7020214

Location: Northern England

RSPB’s Northern England region is recruiting for six seasonal flexible contract staff for overnight nest protection of hen harriers in Northern England. The posts will most likely be based in Northumberland, Cumbria (Geltsdale) or Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, but with the flexibility to move elsewhere dependent on the location of a nesting attempt.
The main purpose of the job is to prevent disturbance/destruction of nesting hen harriers if a nest is found in Northern England. This involves carrying out overnight nest watches, the time and length of shifts to be coordinated by the Species Protection Coordinator. The nestwatch will commence once the female has constructed the nest and will continue until any young are fully fledged.

QUACKERS! Man raises duckling in his BEARD

A first-time parent has worked wonders with his whiskers after raising an orphaned chick - in his beard. 

Hero Brian Doss came to the rescue of Peeps the Duck by letting her nestle in his facial fur. 

The 33-year-old had purchased a handful of eggs from a farm near his home in Athens, Ohio, USA with a view to raising them. 

Peeps was the sole survivor when they hatched and she immediately latched on to her adopted mother Brian. 

Friday 21 February 2014

Authorities say 2 teens shot eagle perched in tree

Posted: Feb 14, 2014 7:46 PM GSTUpdated: Feb 14, 2014 7:46 PM GST

MONTEZUMA, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say two teenagers shot a bald eagle near Montezuma, injuring the bird so severely that it died.

Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel told The Des Moines Register ( ) deputies were called Wednesday afternoon to property near Montezuma, about 50 miles east of Des Moines.

Kriegel says the bird was shot once, injuring its wing and knocking it from a tree. It was shot again on the ground.

A property owner gave deputies a description of a car at the site, and deputies soon stopped the vehicle.

Pet peacock killed in Texas after attacking women

HOUSTON (AP) — The suburban Houston caretaker of a pet peacock dubbed "Meanie" has shot and killed his feathered friend after the bird fanned his feathers and used his talons to attack several women.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office says in a statement the peacock attacked a woman on Friday while she was being questioned by a deputy investigating a complaint about the bird. The deputy fired a stun gun at the peacock, but he continued his attack. The statement says the frightened woman fled indoors and the peacock's caretaker used his shotgun to kill the bird.

The peacock's caretaker Riley Richards told KHOU-TV ( ) he and his wife called the bird Meanie. He says the bird, who was owned by his daughter, had previously attacked other female relatives.


A slightly misleading heading to this story, but interesting nevertheless:

By NewsdeskGy | Posted: February 15, 2014
golden plover

A new nature reserve at Huttoft Marsh near Mablethorpe hopes to transform an area of rough grassland and redundant drains into a wildlife paradise.

The area, which also includes unmanaged scrubland, is being turned into a coastal grazing marsh, with wetland features, scrapes and undulating sand dunes.

A series of shallow scrapes will create pools and wet grassland, which will attract all kinds of wildfowl and wading birds.

Throughout the winter it is hoped that flocks of golden plover, lapwing, curlew, brent geese, whooper swan and little egrets will be attracted to the area. There is also potential for species such as reed bunting, reed warbler, marsh harrier and redshank, as well as frogs, damselflies and dragonflies to visit the 40-acre site.