As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 30 June 2014

Enraged seagull assails public - and reporter - in central Belfast street

The RSPB has advised the public to steer clear of seagull chicks they find in towns or cities, after particularly aggressive displays by an adult gull in Belfast.

The avian charity said it is aware of the bird making a nuisance of itself between Adelaide Street and Alfred Street in the city centre, but said the situation is unlikely to last long – adding that the swooping bird is essentially harmless.

The creature has been dive-bombing passers-by for a couple of days in a bid to scare the “predators” away from its chick, which could be seen waddling about on the streets, vainly flapping its wings.

Susan Kula from the RSPB had heard about this and other such instances.

She said: “Gulls are nesting more and more these days in the city centre. Predator-free nesting sites on rooftops and easy access to food in the city centre means it’s a perfect location to raise their young.

Storms bring rare avian visitors

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Conservationists are puzzled at a freaky phenomenon blamed on this winter's monster storms.

A bird rescue centre is caring for six giant petrels after concerned members of the public found the birds in distress.

New Zealand Bird Rescue's Lyn MacDonald said in 27 years working at the shelter, she'd never had more than one giant petrel at a time. In fact, she rarely saw more than one a year. Each of the six birds now at the shelter arrived separately over the past few weeks.

The latest, found near Muriwai, arrived yesterday.

MacDonald believed the most rational explanation lay with wild storms of the last few weeks causing the birds to be blown off course. Yet there were plenty of similar storms over the last quarter-century, and no subsequent increase in wounded petrel sightings.

Initial blood tests indicated some of the birds suffered from internal bleeding.

Cuckoos' shameless egg-laying tactics revealed

Great spotted cuckoos lay their eggs while magpie mothers are still sitting on their nests, a study has shown.

Cuckoos are known for deceiving other birds into raising their young by depositing their eggs into host nests.

It had been thought female cuckoos waited until host birds left the nest before secretively laying their eggs.

But researchers were surprised when they recorded female cuckoos forcing magpies out of the way as they sat incubating their eggs.

The scientists, from Spain and Belgium wrote: "Great spotted cuckoo females entered the nest more frequently when the magpie female was incubating than when the nest was empty.

"This implies that great spotted cuckoo female behaviour is not secretive at all."

Emperor penguin in peril: Climate change threatens dramatic declines

June 29, 2014

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists studying Emperor penguin populations across Antarctica finds the iconic animals in danger of dramatic declines by the end of the century due to climate change. Their study finds the Emperor penguin 'fully deserving of endangered status due to climate change.'

Sunday 29 June 2014

Zookeeper who battered ostrich to death with shovel blames killing on innocent pony

By Alex Wellman

Colleagues of the zookeeper saw him beating the giant bird and told their supervisors who confronted the man only for him to blame a pony

A bungling French zookeeper who beat an ostrich to death with a shovel blamed the killing on an innocent pony.

The unnamed zookeeper falsely accused the pony after shocked colleagues at a zoo in La Teste-de-Buch, southwest France, discovered the giant bird had died.

The ostrich shared a pen with an elderly pony and despite a number of co-workers seeing the man beat the animal over the head with a shovel, he claimed he had nothing to do with it.

According to the New York Daily News, the man claimed the bird had been killed by a savage kick from its equine roommate.

However, closer inspection showed that the bird had died from a blow to the head from a shovel.

The man was sentenced to jail for six months, four of which were suspended, and ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Euros as well as being fired from his job of 15 years.

Police chase exotic bird in Warminster

Baffled residents could not believe their eyes when they spotted an exotic bird - running riot in Warminster town centre. Officers spent 3 hours chasing the 4ft tall rhea - a close relative of the ostrich - around the town before eventually cornering it.

They were alerted to the rogue resident on Friday evening after worried passers-by feared it may be hit by a car. Police called nearby Longleat Safari Park thinking that the Rhea may have escaped from the estate, but they said all animals were accounted for.

Sergeant Jim Suter, Sector Sergeant for Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon, informed followers of the strange chase on Twitter and tweeted that the bird had been returned to it's owner.

State bird added to priority list

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has added the state bird, the western meadowlark, to the state’s updated 2014 Conservation Priority List.

NDGF Conservation Section Supervisor Steve Dyke said the majority of the species on the list — which has grown to 112 this year, up from 100 on the original 2005 list — are suffering population declines because of a statewide decrease in habitat. Wetlands and grasslands have been lost due to increased agricultural production and less participation in the Conservation Reserve Program. CRP land is land that has been pulled or protected from agriculture production by landowners who sign multi-year contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and receive payments for letting those acres go fallow.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Project preying for East Lancs votes to save harrier

AN RSPB project focused on protecting hen harriers, England’s most threatened bird of prey, is in need of East Lancashire’s votes.

Skydancer, a four-year scheme to save the hen harrier, has reached the final of this year’s National Lottery Awards in the Best Education Project category.

Lancashire Telegraph: People of East Lancashire are being asked to vote for the Skydancer scheme to save hen harriersIt aims to raise awareness and promote the conservation of the birds of prey across the North of England including Lancashire.

Selected from more than 750 applications, the project is one of seven finalists, which are battling for the public’s vote, with the winner receiving £2,000 at a BBC-televised award ceremony in September.

Edinburgh zoo hatch nine rare Darwin Rhea chicks


Published on the 27 June 2014 

Bird keepers at Edinburgh Zoo had a surprise when NINE of the Darwin rhea chicks hatched. Picture:contributedEDINBURGH zoo bird keepers have faced a delightful dilemma of having “an incredible nine” rare and endangered chicks to care for.

The bird keepers were hoping their hard work would pay off by getting one chick from a rare pair of Darwin’s rheas -- instead they were surprised with nine chicks.

The development was hailed today/yesterday [FRI] as a great achievement for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which owns and manages Edinburgh Zoo, as Darwin’s rhea chicks have only been born and successfully raised in a very small number of zoos in the UK -- certainly never thriving in such large numbers.

Darwin’s rheas are large flightless birds, named after Charles Darwin who came across one of the birds during the second voyage of HMS Beagle in 1833; his party shot and started to eat one of the birds before Darwin realised it was a new species.


Thousands flock to Ashdown Forest for rare glimpse of short-toed eagle

Thousands flock to Ashdown Forest for rare glimpse of short-toed eagle

By East Grinstead Courier | Posted: June 26, 2014

By Sam Satchell

THOUSANDS of twitchers from all over the country have been flocking to Ashdown Forest to get a glimpse of a rare and majestic bird.

A short-toed eagle, which has a massive wingspan of about six feet, has been causing a sensation among birdwatchers since it was first spotted in the area about three weeks ago.

Wildlife enthusiasts say the eagle disappeared for a few days before returning to the heathland last week, where it has survived on a diet of snakes and lizards.

Among the excited bird lovers is Matt Eade, who took some of the stunning photos on this page and who describes himself as "an amateur with a good camera".

Friday 27 June 2014

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper returns home to breed

An extensive hand-rearing programme, aimed at saving the highly endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, is celebrating the news that for the first time one has returned to its Russian ancestral grounds to breed, two years after she was released.

This is a major milestone for the programme, which is a collaboration between WWT, Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo and the RSPB working with colleagues from the BTO, BirdLife International, ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.

It aims to give the chicks a head start to ensure they survive their crucial first days of life, and stabilise the species’ population, which is estimated at 100 breeding pairs in the wild.

The team carefully removed eggs from breeding grounds on the tundra of the Chukotka region in eastern Russia to be monitored, hatched and nourished in the nearby village of Meinypil’gyno before being released.

Rogue goose attack or 'evil' breed of bird?

Geese were called evil, vicious and jerks online after the news that a goose attacked an Ottawa cyclist, sending her to hospital.

But Ottawa birder Jeff Skevington says while geese do become aggressive when their goslings hatch, serious attacks are not common.

You can listen to his conversation with Ottawa Morning's Stu Mills below and scroll through our recap of some of the reaction we received.

US declares wood storks no longer endangered

TOWNSEND, Ga. (AP) — The American wood stork, a bird scientists once feared would be extinct by the year 2000, has made such an impressive comeback that it's getting an official status upgrade 30 years after first being listed as an endangered species, the Obama administration said Thursday.

The tall, bald wading birds that nest in swamps and coastal marshes from Florida to the Carolinas are now a "threatened" species, a step up that indicates the wood stork is no longer considered at risk of extinction, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during a visit to Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, home to a large wood stork colony on the Georgia coast.

"It's a day for good news about an iconic bird from the Southeast that is doing a great job of recovering," Jewell said, though she cautioned: "There's still important work to do before we can propose to remove it from the list altogether." Until then, threatened species receive essentially the same legal protections as endangered animals.

Standing nearly 4 feet tall with a wingspan of about 5 feet, the wood stork is the only stork species that nests in the U.S. The birds' survival depends on ability to nest in wetlands with an abundance of fish and trees surrounded by water to protect eggs from predators.

Improved habitat in south Devon brings cirl buntings back from the brink of extinction

The cirl bunting once faced extinction in the UK. However, it is now making a comeback in its south Devon stronghold.

In November 2008 the RSPB purchased Labrador Bay in Devon from Teignbridge District Council.

A contributing sum of £100,000 towards the purchase came from Devon County Council as compensation for what had been predicted to have a significant impact on cirl bunting habitat – the South Devon Link Road.

The plan for Labrador Bay was to have a reserve that would provide a safe-haven for this colourful bunting, providing all the vital elements it needed to flourish: safe nesting habitat and plenty of food, seeds in the winter and insects in the summer.

Cath Jeffs, cirl bunting project manager said: "At the time of purchase, we estimated that there were three pairs of cirl buntings on site.

Rare bird alert: Rare bicknell thrush, Black-backed woodpecker spotted

FRANCONIA, N.H. —The Bicknell's thursh, a rare neo-tropical migrant whose nesting habitat is at high elevations, is being heard by hikers and birders on Mount Kinsman, Pierce and Eisenhower.

Hikers reported two Bicknell's thrushes, two boreal chickadees, an olive-sided flycatcher, a spurce grouse and an Eastern screech-owl, all on June 17 on Mount Kinsman.

They were reported as part of the New Hampshire Audubon"s Rare Bird Alert. Here's the alert for June 23.

Birders hiking on Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower reported 16 Bicknell's thrushes as well as a black-backed woodpecker, four boreal chickadees, five gray jays and five fox sparrow on June 21-22.

A Mississippi kite was seen in Newmarket on June 22.

An Acadian Flycatcher was discovered off of Bennett Road in Durham on May 24, and was seen several times since then. It was last reported on June 22. It has been seen and heard singing less than one mile from Route 108 on the north side of the road, among scattered alders in a field and near a small pond.

Thursday 26 June 2014

A Star Is Born: Wimbledon's Resident Hawk a Celeb

A hawk named Rufus whose sole job description reads "chase away pigeons" has made a name for himself with this year's Wimbledon Championship tennis tournament.

Rufus has become a star on television -- a Stella Artois commercial features his labors -- and his handler Imogen Davis recently participated in an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) on the website Reddit.

Between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. each day during the tournament, Rufus, a Harris hawk, is set loose in the sky to cruise the stadiums. He keeps a sharp eye out for pigeons feasting on the famed Wimbledon lawns. He's welcome news to any tennis fan who has had to wait for a pigeon to shuffle off or be chased off the court so a crucial break point could be played between the two non-pigeons holding tennis rackets.

Pink pigeon is identified - but colour is still a mystery

A PIGEON expert has identified a pink bird spotted in Bolton as a Tippler — but admits he has no idea why it is such as unusual colour.

Terry Dawber, secretary at the North West Homing Union, says that pigeon fanciers would call the colour red, not pink — but added the colour pattern is rare.

He added that some fanciers dye their pigeons to distinguish which are the better flyers.

And it seems the unusual bird is on the move as it has been spotted elsewhere in Breightmet.

Joanne Carney of Crossdale Road took a snap of the pigeon in her back garden last Thursday.

Local resident David Taylor captured the unusual looking bird in Tetbury Drive at about 8am on Friday.

Since the photograph featured in The Bolton News, it has baffled residents as to why it has such brightly coloured feathers — one saying it might have been dyed the colours of the St George’s flag to represent England in the World Cup.

Mr Dawber said: “Tipplers are bred for their flying endurance and ability. Looking at the photograph, the bird has got a normal coloured head of what we call a 'light print' Tippler, but the coloured sections are definitely 'pink' — or as we pigeon men would call it, red.

Beach bird nests destroyed by motorcycle on Siesta Key

SIESTA KEY, Fla. -- A motorcycle has torn through a protected species habitat on Siesta Key, according to wildlife officials.

It happened in an area of the Siesta Key public beach Monday night. The Audubon Society tells ABC 7 that 13 Least Tern nests were destroyed, and 12 Black Skimmer nests were disturbed, along with a pair of Snowy Plovers.

The colony was clearly marked off with posts and signs, but Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators say a motorcycle drove right through it.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

As for the birds, the Audubon Society says the Least Terns are becoming aggressive and dive-bombing people because of the incident, and the snowy plovers are sticking it out despite their nests being disrupted.

Emergency research underway in Japan after birds found with perplexing deformities

“Something unusual occurring inside their bodies” — Never reported in 500,000 exams done before 3/11 — Now observed at every site across country, some over 1,000 km from Fukushima (PHOTO)

Asahi Shimbun, June 25, 2014: [Noboru Nakamura, a researcher at the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology] has visited the riverbed [in Fukushima] 20 times [...] looking into whether the earthquake or the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused abnormal changes among wild birds. [...] [Researchers] first verified abnormal change [200 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi] in Niigata Prefecture [...] Oct. 24, 2011, a common reed bunting, a small migratory bird, was found with uneven tail feathers that had a moth-eaten appearance. The institute started emergency surveys [...] The most perplexing thing was the overly long feathers [...] Its feathers very reliably grow to a certain length [...] [Kiyoaki Ozaki, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology deputy director-general,] could not imagine a reason for them to be longer. By March 2012, the same abnormality was identified at all research sites across Japan, such as Tochigi, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Shizuoka, Shimane, Kagawa and Fukuoka [over 1,000 kilometers from Fukushima]. The proportion of birds with the abnormality was 13.8 percent. In at least one place, the ratio exceeded 25 percent. Birds born in 2011 account for 97.3 percent of the specimens with the abnormality. [...] Researchers have found feathers that already appear moth-eaten when they split open the sheath. Some birds even grew back feathers with the same deformity after the researchers plucked out older, misshapen feathers. [...] One thing is certain: The common reed [...] pass through or stop in the Tohoku region during their migration.

Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

June 25, 2014

Wildlife Conservation Society

Biologists have found that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snowmelt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason why.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

First photo evidence of Glossy Ibis snapped in Luzon

A team of researchers from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines taking part in a bird-migration study in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, snapped the first ever photographs of a wild Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) in mainland Luzon on June 2.

The Glossy Ibis has a global range and is the most widespread of all ibis species, but it is very rarely observed in the Philippines, where its status is unclear. 

Suspected breeding grounds
Scientists have long suspected that it breeds in Mindanao but it was only this year that at least one nest was documented in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat. This species is believed to undergo post-breeding dispersal, with individuals sighted in Luzon but never photographed, until now. To date, the Glossy Ibis has not been reported in the Visayas.

Thousands of wild birds imprisoned in shoplots

The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?” - Jeremy Bentham.

Human are causing unnecessary trouble and distress towards animals which were created in this world. We do not have any reason for causing misery to the creatures which can’t express their feelings. We are the weak and cowardly creatures in this earth by troubling other living beings. For that reason the entire human race is suffering and fighting against each other. Karma will take revenge.

Recently, while I was teaching my brother how to drive a car, we went to a residential area where it was very quiet. That was my first time to enter that place. It was called Taman Jayamas phase 1, Jalan Tun Dr Ismail, Seremban. Negri Sembilan. When I passed by a shoplot, I heard terrific noises from birds which seemed like they were crying. It was a heartbreaking sound.

KASKI, JUN 24 - Two new bird species have been found in the Annapurna Conservation Area, the country’s largest sanctuary located in the western region.

Paras Bikram Singh, conservation officer at the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), and Sijan Gyanwali, a researcher, spotted Pied Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) and Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica), putting the total number of avian species in the region at 490.

In course of their three-month long study, the duo reported the sightings of the two new species in Birethanti and Ghandruk areas inside the ACAP that covers five districts—-Manang, Mustang, Lamjung, Kaski and Myagdi.

This is the first time that these species, believed to be found at an altitude of 400 meters above sea level, were found in the conservation area having an elevation range of 790 m to 8,091 m. “The impact of global warming is affecting the migration pattern. Birds normally found in lower elevations are moving higher in search of suitable habitats,” said Singh.

Scottish gamekeepers hit back at RSPB over accusations of Hen Harrier shooting

The RSPB has called for sporting estates to stamp out illegal persecution of the protected hen harrier after a male bird was allegedly hunted down and shot in the Cairngorms by unnamed gamekeepers. A spokesperson for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said gamekeepers should not be “demonised”. Read the full story published yesterday

Conservationists described the killing, on a Highlands grouse moor, as “appalling”. Two unnamed witnesses reported the incident to police on 30 May last year.

They described watching for almost three hours as two people with shotguns searched the moor for the bird’s perch. It’s believed the gunmen were taking directions by radio from at least one other person in a vehicle.

A police investigation was launched but found insufficient evidence to bring charges. Should anyone be surprised, based upon most wildlife crimes which take place in Scotland, for some reason evidence seems to be very difficult to produce.

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, said: “All the evidence indicates that this appears to have been an appalling, organised killing of one of our rarest birds of prey, which shows a complete disregard of the laws protecting our wildlife. The hen harrier population in Scotland is in trouble, with a 20 per cent decline from 2004 to 2010.

“The intolerance shown towards this species on grouse moors, with this latest case being yet another example, gives a clear indication of one of the main causes of this decline.”

Poop Stains Reveal Penguins Migrate With Climate

By Kelly Dickerson, Staff Writer | June 23, 2014 04:29pm ET

In the face of rising temperatures, emperor penguins in Antarctica may be forced to find new breeding grounds instead of returning to the same spot to mate year after year, new research finds.

Scientists are tracking this climate-driven march by studying the penguins' poop stains; in satellite images, the birds' dark droppings against a gleaming white backdrop of ice reveal their every move.

Emperor penguins are a philopatric species, meaning they return to the same spot each year to breed. When confronted with rising temperatures and receding ice sheets, however, the penguins may forgo their philopatric nature.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Grassland Birds Likely Dying Off From Habitat Loss, Not Insecticide Use

Contrary to publicized research, the decline in grassland bird populations may be related to habitat loss and not insecticide use.

Last year two researchers linked the drop in grassland bird population to insecticide use, but after a reexamination of the data suggests the loss of grasslands is a more likely cause, a Penn State news release reported.

"Many people think of grassland loss as something that happened long ago in North America, but the amount of grassland lost since the 1980s is absolutely staggering, whereas the insecticide use greatly declined prior to the 1990s," Jason M. Hill, a postdoctoral research associate in ecosystem science and management, Penn State said in the news release.

The researchers looked at data that showed a loss of grasslands larger than the state of Indiana between the years of 1982 and 1997; this loss was linked to the expansion of agricultural practices.

Paragliders criticised for disturbing nesting birds at Wells

Harbour master Robert Smith said he had noticed increasing numbers of the lightweight, free-flying aircraft, whose pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, similar to a parachute canopy.

But this weekend, he said one flew dangerously close to moored boats and frightened a number of birds away from their nests.

“What they are doing is irresponsible and dangerous, and it is unlawful to disturb nesting birds – particularly the terns,” he said.

“Yesterday (Saturday) we had one which was weaving in and out of the yachts on the quayside and virtually landed on one of the masts.

“It is a problem all along the coast and we need to identify these people in order to educate them.

“No-one wants to spoil their fun and I don’t want to be a killjoy, but we just want them to take more care.

“There are lots of fields and open spaces in Norfolk where they can do this, and they don’t need to do it over the marshes.”

Rare bird species found in northern Myanmar

A sedge of rare sarus cranes has been discovered in the wetlands that surround Kachin State’s Indawgyi Lake.

A press statement released on June 22 by the British-based biodiversity and conservation group, Fauna and Flora International, said they first made the discovery of the distinctive red-headed bird in December 2013.

“First we just saw their charismatic red heads sticking out of the tall green grass but through our telescopes we soon spotted the amazing number of nine individuals,” said Ko Ngwe Lwin, FFI’s project manager at Indawgyi Lake.

FFI said the species is the tallest of the flying birds, measuring up to 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) in height and is occasionally spotted in Rakhine State and the Ayeyarwady Delta, but is rarely seen in such numbers in northern Myanmar.

Hope for little terns' revival at Langstone Harbour

Conservationists working to return one of the country's rarest seabirds to a Hampshire beach, say they have seen the first signs of a revival.

Little tern chickNo little tern chicks have been raised at Langstone Harbour since 2011, when nests were swept away in storms.

The RSPB said there were now about 30 nests, although the chicks were still vulnerable to predators.

About 500 tonnes of aggregate were added to South Binness Island in 2013 to protect nesting areas.

It was hoped that raising the height of the beach would help prevent nests from being washed out by higher tides.

Wez Smith, RSPB Langstone Harbour site manager, said lower fish stocks in the harbour also meant the parent birds "will have to work very hard to find enough food".

"Hopefully they'll be able to raise their families within sight of Portsmouth's skyline again.

"The Solent's little terns have been in a worrying decline for some time now and these new broods of young represent real hope for the future," he added.

Rare glossy ibis spotted at RSPB Frampton Marsh

A rare Mediterranean visitor has been spotted wading through the marshes at a local RSPB nature reserve.

The large glossy ibis bird is a rarely-seen visitor to the UK, but has been paddling around RSPB Frampton Marsh since Saturday, eating insects, worms and small fish.

Chris Andrews, visitor service officer at the reserve, said: “It is wonderful to see such a dramatic and unusual bird as this, and it just goes to show what a valuable resource for wildlife a place like Frampton Marsh can be. We hope the ibis stays for a long time and lots of people get to see it.”

He added: “The bird is related to herons and normally to be found in the Mediterranean, but there does appear to be a growing trend of them in the country. Worldwide, they are very widespread, covering all six continents.”

Monday 23 June 2014

Starlings are on the decline in south east

6:00pm Wednesday 18th June 2014 in News

THEY put on a dazzling performance for the people of Brighton and Hove each year.

But birdwatchers will be disappointed to hear that starlings could be slowly vanishing.

UK populations of the British bird have seen their numbers drop by 84% since 1979, according to the latest figures from the voluntary RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey.

In the South East numbers of the beloved bird have plummeted by 58% from 1995 to 2010, a figure that continues to fall.

A spokesperson from the South East RSPB said although there is no clear explanation for the fall in numbers, the increasing lack of foraging areas means they are less likely to breed.

In recent years changes in farmland practice, development cutting the amount of grassland and draining of permanent pastures have attributed to the destruction of potential foraging areas for the starling.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, says: “Many garden birds rely on us humans for help.

First corncrake heard on Rathlin in over 15 years 'scared off by helicopter'

A helicopter has scared off Rathlin's first Corncrake in 15 yearsThe first corncrake heard on Rathlin Island in more than 15 years has fallen silent – after a helicopter landed in the hayfield where it was calling.

RSPB staff, who had been battling to lure the species back to Northern Ireland after it went extinct here in the 1990s, said they were "devastated" that the disturbance appeared to have scared off the male bird.
"Rathlin Island is directly on the flight path for birds returning to breed on the islands of Islay, Colonsay and Oransay to the north," Peter Harper from RSPB Northern Ireland explained.

"To hear there was a calling bird on the island was just fantastic news and the longer he stayed the more likely it was that we could have breeding corncrake on Rathlin once again."

The Belfast Telegraph revealed that the corncrake had been heard calling from an uncropped hayfield in late May.

RSPCA: Seagull population under threat

By ThomasBrown | Posted: June 18, 2014

THE RSPCA are urging people to look out for young gulls as the population is under threat.

The birds divide opinion but they are endangered and have been added to the RSPB amber alert list.

Thousands of young gulls fall from their nests at this time of year, ending up in gardens, driveways and roads.

Gulls are very hard working and dedicated parents and will normally fend for their young even when they are displaced.

However, these young birds sometimes need human intervention to survive the dangers of predators, traffic, exposure and other gulls.

In the South East, the RSPCA's Mallydams Wildlife Centre is busy with the numbers of wildlife admitted almost overwhelming.

With limited resources, it is unable to attend to every problem with a young gull, so here are some tips:

• Interfering with any nesting birds (including their eggs and young) is illegal unless the bird is orphaned, injured or is sick. Contact the RSPCA for advice if you are not sure.

• When a gull chick falls from a roof, providing it is not injured and you know which roof it has come from, the best thing to do is to put it back on the roof.

The parents will continue to feed and protect it. Only do this if it is safe to do so.

Mystery pink pigeon spotted on rooftops in Breightmet

6:39pm Friday 20th June 2014 in NewsBy Jeremy Culley, reporter

A MYSTERY pink pigeon has been spied in Breightmet.

The bird, which has pink and white plumage, but still has a normal grey head, was spied on a rooftop in Breightmet earlier this morning.

There is a breed of bird called a pink pigeon — called nesoenas mayeri which are native to Mauritius — but these are very rare and normally such a paler shade of pink they are almost white.

David Taylor managed to photograph the unusual bird in Tetbury Drive at about 8am on June 20 and said: "I was having breakfast this morning and saw this red and white pigeon on top of a neighbour's roof.

"When I went out it was gone but then 15 minutes later I spotted it on a neighbour's roof.

"I don't know why it's that colour, I thought someone had painted it.

Jackie Fish, who also from Tetbury Drive, thought someone had spray painted the bird in the colours of the St George flag.

Pair of rare little ringed plovers with “squatters rights” hold up building work for new centre in Cley

Sabah Meddings Sabah.Meddings@Archant.Co.Uk 
Friday, June 20, 2014 
8:15 AM

Work on a wildlife reserve which keeps rare birds safe was delayed after a pair of protected waders with “squatter’s rights” bit back and nested before builders could move in.

The long stretches of picturesque marshes at Cley are a haven for bird enthusiasts, providing a habitat for rare species.

Owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the jewel in the crown of the reserve was to be a new education centre sitting behind the visitors’ centre.

But before work could begin, a pair of little ringed plovers nested on a field next to the building site.

The Schedule One protected birds settled down to lay their eggs, delaying building work on the new Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Endangered birds make a comeback in Wales

Section Environment | Published on 19 Jun 2014

Rare birds thought to be in danger of extinction are making a comeback in Wales.

The number of rare black grouse in a part of north Wales is almost back to 2011 record breaking high numbers (328 lekking males were counted) thanks to work to protect them and improve their habitat.

In north Wales, there were only around 140 displaying black grouse males left in 1980s and the extinction of one of Wales’s most enigmatic bird seemed likely.

But recent dawn surveys by staff from Natural Resources Wales, RSPB Cymru, Denbighshire County Council and many other organisations, has revealed that almost 320 lekking males were counted this spring. So following two years of lower counts (2012 there were 297 counted and in 2013, 249 were counted), black grouse numbers seem to be making a comeback.

The bird has been in serious decline and had disappeared from all of south and most of mid-Wales by 2000, matching declines in England and other parts of western Europe.

Going Wild: Saving the Mariana birds

HONOLULU —Some Honolulu zoo keepers are part of a group helping a dwindling bird population soar again.

They're building up the population of feathered friends of the Northern Mariana Islands after scientists noticed the numbers were dropping: the golden white-eye, Mariana fruit dove and rufous fantail

Crews scooped up birds from one island where they were thriving and dropped them off on another to try to build up the numbers there.

"We are translocating those birds to the different islands to help protect them from risk of extinction," said James Breeden, zoo keeper.

From islands like Saipan to Sarigan, keepers say they have seen a decline in the population because of brown tree snakes.

Two crows kept separate by their looks

Despite their differing colourings, carrion crows and hooded crows are almost identical genetically.
20 June 2014

Hooded crows live mainly in eastern Europe, but interbreed with carrion crows from the west.

To the west, the skies belong to the carrion crow. To the east, the hooded crow rules the roost. In between, in a narrow strip running roughly north to south through central Europe, the twain have met, and mated, for perhaps as long as 10,000 years. But although the crows still look very different — carrion crows are solid black, whereas hooded crows are grey — researchers have found that they are almost identical genetically.

The taxonomic status of carrion crows (Corvus corone) and hooded crows (Corvus cornix) has been debated ever since Carl Linnaeus, the founding father of taxonomy, declared them to be separate species in 1758. A century later, Darwin called any such classification impossible until the term 'species' had been defined in a generally accepted way. But the definition is still contentious, and many believe it always will be.

The crows are known to cross-breed and produce viable offspring, so lack the reproductive barriers that some biologists consider essential to the distinction of a species, leading to proposals that they are two subspecies of carrion crow. In fact, evolutionary biologist Jochen Wolf from Uppsala University in Sweden and his collaborators have now found that the populations living in the cross-breeding zone are so similar genetically that the carrion crows there are more closely related to hooded crows than to the carrion crows farther west1.

Emperor penguins are more willing to relocate than expected

June 20, 2014

University of Minnesota

The long-term future of emperor penguins is becoming more clear, thanks to new research showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than expected. Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, which means they would return to the same location to nest each year. The new research study used satellite images to show that penguins may not be faithful to previous nesting locations.