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

Thursday 31 July 2014

Hummingbirds edge out helicopters in hover contest

30 July 2014 Last updated at 10:52

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

When it comes to flight, nature just has the edge on engineers.

This is according to a study comparing hummingbirds with one of the world's most advanced micro-helicopters.

Researchers found that - in terms of the power they require to lift their weight - the best hummingbird was over 20% more efficient than the helicopter.

The "average Joe" hummingbird, however, was on par with the helicopter, showing "how far flight engineering has come".

The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Interface.

Lead researcher Prof David Lentink, from Stanford University in California, explained that the flight performance of a hummingbird - the only bird capable of sustained hovering - was extremely difficult to measure.

"Imagine a 4g bird," he said. "The forces they generate are tiny.

As birds and insects move through the air, their wings are held at a slight angle, which deflects the air downward.

This deflection means the air flows faster over the wing than underneath, causing air pressure to build up beneath the wings, while the pressure above the wings is reduced. It is this difference in pressure that produces lift.

Flapping creates an additional forward and upward force known as thrust, which counteracts the insect's weight and the "drag" of air resistance.

The downstroke or the flap is also called the "power stroke", as it provides the majority of the thrust. During this, the wing is angled downwards even more steeply.

You can imagine this stroke as a very brief downward dive through the air - it momentarily uses the creature's own weight in order to move forwards. But because the wings continue to generate lift, the creature remains airborne.

In each upstroke, the wing is slightly folded inwards to reduce resistance.

"As a result the drag of a hummingbird wing has never been measured accurately."

Wetland Bird Survey reveals wading birds in decline – in pictures

Ringed plovers, oystercatchers and redshanks among species overwintering on UK estuaries to suffer a big drop in numbers 

First flamingo egg at Washington Wetland Centre in eight years

29 July 2014 Last updated at 22:05

The first flamingo egg in eight years has been laid at a wildlife centre in Wearside, according to the charity that runs it.

Staff at the Washington Wetland Centre spotted the egg on Monday in one of the bird's nests.

It follows a project in which Chilean flamingo eggs were brought into the centre and humans reared the chicks.

They were then integrated into the existing flock in the hope it would encourage natural breeding.

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), which runs the centre, said the last successful breeding took place there in 2006.

Workers have swapped the new egg for a clay dummy while they take care of the real one.

Vocal variety in African penguins: Four basic vocalizations used for adult communication, two more for the young

July 30, 2014


Adult African penguins communicate using four different vocalizations and juveniles and chicks use two begging calls to request food.

Adult African penguins communicate using four different vocalizations and juveniles and chicks use two begging calls to request food, according to a study published July 30, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Livio Favaro and colleagues from University of Turin, Italy.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Seychelles “island that belongs to birds” is barometer of the health of the Indian Ocean

25th July 2014

(Seychelles News Agency) - Cousin Island Special Reserve known worldwide as “the island that belongs to birds’ in the Seychelles archipelago is living to its billing. It is teeming with birds again. Well, the nesting season is here again and thousands upon thousands of seabirds are flapping all over the island. It is a seabird celebration of Tropical Shearwater, White Terns, Bridled Terns, lesser Noddys and Brown Noddy’s which are all nesting in Cousin. At this time of the year visitors are strongly advised not to come with their Sunday best outfits. Wide-brimmed hats at this time of the year are recommended as birds poop on shampooed hair or shiny pates is a surety. Guano is literally everywhere.

The white tailed tropic bird and the wedge-tailed shearwater are also enjoying rare family moments at this time in Cousin which is managed by the environmental non-profit Nature Seychelles. This is not just a special time for the birds but also for the watchful bird monitoring and census group the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG) which consists of specialized staff of ornithologists, marine scientists and volunteers drawn from Nature Seychelles, Cousine Island and Fregate Island Private. Last year the census found that 150,000 birds were breeding at Cousin during this season.

Dauphin Island bird sanctuary gains protection

David Rainer11:47 p.m. CDT July 26, 2014

There's almost nothing that will get your attention more than wildfire, especially when it happens on such an eco-sensitive location as Dauphin Island.

Unfortunately, that rude awakening occurred three years ago when a spark that originated somewhere on the edge of the campground roared through 80 acres of pristine, barrier island habitat.

That prompted action from several entities, including the one responsible for the island's habitat, the Dauphin Island Parks and Beach Board. After more than a year of jumping through hoops of various sizes, the board was granted a conservation easement on a 160-acre tract on the east side of the island. The bulk of that tract is the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

Eggshells act like 'sunblock', study suggests

29 July 2014 Last updated at 02:17

By Michelle Warwicker
BBC Nature

The eggshells of wild birds may act like "sunblock", scientists have said.

A range of UK birds' eggs showed adaptations in pigment concentration and thickness to allow the right amount of sun to reach the embryos inside.

Researchers examined 75 species' eggs kept in a museum collection.

"Embryos do need UV exposure to develop - too little and they don't develop enough... too much and it causes damage," said team member Dr Steven Portugal from the University of London.

"Birds whose nests are exposed to the sun and birds which have long incubation periods too, have more pigment and allow less light to go through the shell to avoid UV damage to embryos," he explained.

The study, published online in the journal Functional Ecology, suggests thickness and pigment in eggshells change depending on the nest environment.

Wild birds' eggshell colours can be white, blue and spotted. The blue colour found in many eggs is caused by a pigment called biliverdin, while dark spots are produced by a darker pigment, protoporphyrin.

Rare bee-eaters nest on the Isle of Wight for first time on record

A pair of colourful and rare bee-eaters, normally to be found in southern continental Europe, has set up home on National Trust land on the Isle of Wight.
It is only the third record of the bird breeding successfully in the UK in the last century, the last being in 2002 in a quarry in County Durham. Two young successfully fledged. Before that, two pairs were recorded raising seven young in a Sussex sand-pit in 1955.

The latest bee-eaters, were discovered on the Isle of Wight in mid-July, having set up home in the sandy hills of the Wydcombe Estate in the south of the island.

They chose a small valley where the soft ground, rolling landscape and access to a stream provides ideal conditions for their nest burrow.

Ian Ridett, a National Trust Isle of Wight Ranger, said: “We have set up a 24-hour surveillance operation around the site to protect these rare visitors, as any unhatched eggs could be a potential target for egg thieves.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

This is a trick question. Where would you expect to find the greatest variety of birds?

Downtown, in a city?

Or far, far from downtown — in the fields, forests, mountains, where people are scarce?

Or in the suburbs? In backyards, lawns, parking lots and playing fields?

Not the city, right?

"Everything I have learned as a conservation biologist tells me cities are bad for biodiversity," writes John Marzluff, of the University of Washington.

We all know this. Anyone who goes to downtown Chicago, Toronto, Seattle, L.A., Boston or New York will see the same five birds over and over: sparrows, starlings, mallards (ducks), geese, and, of course, street pigeons. Same goes for downtowns in Europe, Asia and South America. These five bird types are always there, always the same, never surprising. Rather than yawn, scientists have a category for this: "biotically homogenous." We've made cities. They've moved in.

A Seattle Experiment
But now comes a surprise. Actually, several surprises. When John Marzluff and his students went to downtown Seattle to count bird species, within the first 10 to 15 minutes they spotted pigeons, finches, sparrows, crows and an occasional hummingbird. Their count was 10 to 15 different kinds of birds — not many, but they expected that.

When they went the other way (to the far edge of the metropolitan area near the Cascade Mountains, where there is mostly forest, protected parks, reservoirs, and humans are sparse), in the first 10 to 15 minutes, they found a very different set of birds (woodpeckers, wrens, warblers, chickadees ...). In all, 20 different species — more, but not many more than downtown.

Then they went to the in-between zone, the Seattle suburbs, where they expected an in-between count, something like 12 different kinds of birds. But that's not what happened.

Shifts In Habitat May Threaten Ruddy Shorebird’s Survival

Guided by biologists, volunteers briefly catch, band and release some of Delaware’s visiting red knots each spring to monitor the health of the species.

Maggie Starbard/NPR

An intrepid bird called the red knot migrates from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic and back every year. But changes in climate along its route are putting this ultramarathoner at risk.

The federal government has proposed to list the red knot as threatened on the endangered species list, because of the risk of extinction the bird faces over its 9,300-mile journey, largely because of climate change.

“You know, this bird is facing any conceivable difficulty from Terra del Fuego [Argentina] all the way to the Arctic,” says Kevin Kalasz, a biologist who manages the shorebird project for the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. Kalasz has studied red knots for more than a decade.

Kevin Kalasz, a biologist with the shorebird project, on the lookout for red knots amid the gulls and other birds.

Maggie Starbard/NPR

8 species of Indian birds added to endangered list

TNN | Jul 26, 2014, 11.40PM IST

Times News Network

Mumbai: Eight species of Indian birds have been added to the endangered list owing to relentless habitat destruction.The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) "red list" (2014) shows that a total of 173 bird species in the country are now threatened. The list is based on studies conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and BirdLife International (UK).

The eight species of birds newly added to the list include Woolly-necked Stork, Andaman Teal (both uplisted from least concern to vulnerable), Andaman Green Pigeon, Ashy-headed Green Pigeon, Red-headed Falcon, Himalayan Griffon, Bearded Vulture and Yunnan Nuthatch (all uplisted from least concern to near threatened). When a species is "uplisted", it means that it has moved up on the threatened ladder, deeper into the danger zone, said a BNHS release.

Feed the Birds? Not Popcorn and Crumbled Bread (Op-Ed)

Deborah Robbins Millman, Director, Cape Wildlife Center | July 26, 2014 03:24am ET

Deborah Robbins Millman is the director of Cape Wildlife Center, one of New England's largest wildlife rehabilitation centers and a leader in rehabilitating endangered and threatened New England species. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

For many, feeding birds at ponds and parks is a cherished childhood memory; one they lovingly recreate for their children and grandchildren. Yet tragically, thousands of birds die annually due to a condition overwhelmingly caused by people who don't know this beloved activity can be deadly.

"Angel wing" is a deformity commonly found in ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl. There has been little scientific study done on the condition, yet most wildlife and waterfowl experts agree the overwhelming cause of angel wing is an unhealthily high protein and/or carbohydrate-based diets. The disorder causes the last joint in one or both wings to unnaturally twist outward, rather than lie flat against a bird's body. 

Monday 28 July 2014

No birds allowed on President’s route!


  • Mamnoon Hussain’s protocol squad runs over an ostrich, leaves another injured at State Guest House in Karachi
  • Wildlife and animal rights experts say ostrich’s death should be treated as an offence under the Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1980 or the West Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Rules 1961 
The protocol squad of President Mamnoon Hussain ran over two ostriches when it drove into the state guesthouse in Karachi two weeks ago, a media report said on Friday, adding that one ostrich had died while the other bird has been left on the premises of the guesthouse without medical care even though its wings are broken.

According to the report, the VVIP vehicles were entering the guesthouse when the incident took place. “The protocol team ordered that the dead ostrich be taken away from the guesthouse,” the report quoted an official as saying.

According to wildlife and animal rights experts, the ostrich’s death should be treated as an offence under the Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1980 or the West Pakistan Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Rules 1961.

“We are not authorised to speak on this issue and I cannot confirm that the incident took place inside the guesthouse,” said Junaid Ahmed, a protocol officer to the president. He added that any further information about the accident could be gleaned from the Press Information Department (PID).

A senior PID official confirmed that one ostrich remains on the premises in injured condition and has not been treated.

Angry Bird Takes Rage Out on Rabbit

A birdwatcher captured some astonishing images of a seagull devouring a rabbit that happened to cross its path.

The scenes took place on Skellig Michael, a popular bird watching spot and a World Heritage site, off the coast of County Kerry in Ireland.

Photographer Michael Kelly described the moment when the seagull swallowed the unlucky rabbit whole.

He said: "I actually went out to photograph puffins and as I was sitting there this gull just came down beside me.

"It just stood there and this rabbit came out. The seagull pulled on its head straight away. The rabbit stood up to it, but it was no contest.

"The gull just caught it, hit [it] a few times, then he picked it up by the head and just swallowed him whole."

Kelly said he "couldn't believe" he was in the right place at the right time to take the dramatic photos.

173 bird species threatened in India: IUCN

Press Trust of India | Kolkata 
July 27, 2014 Last Updated at 13:10 IST

Over 170 species of birds in the country are threatened, with eight new species added to the 2014 Red List prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

The eight species of birds newly added to the threatened list include the woolly-necked stork, Andaman teal, Andaman green pigeon, Ashy-headed green pigeon, red-headed falcon, Himalayan griffon, bearded vulture and Yunnan nuthatch, according to the list. 

The latest IUCN list also shows that the newly discovered small colourful bird Bugun Liocichla from Arunachal Pradesh is now "critically endangered", as compared to the earlier safer status. 

Relentless habitat destruction is regarded as the reason for decline in the population of birds, one of the best indicators of environment.

Football stadium a "death trap" for birds, conservation group warns

July 24, 2014, 3:51 PM

ap997295852174620x350.jpgA conservation group is warning that unless a planned sports stadium is redesigned to meet bird-safety specifications, its glass will pose a big threat to migrating flocks.

The new Vikings stadium under construction in Minneapolis could be a so-called "death trap" for migrating birds, according to the local Audubon Society. Almost a billion birds die each year from flying into buildings nationwide, the group told CBS Minnesota.

Joanna Eckles of Audubon Minnesota told the station that reflective surfaces are seen as real habitats -- trees, clouds and bushes -- by birds. Thinking they see their perfect landing spot or wide open sky, they unknowingly fly into the glass.

The Audubon Society has documented nearly 125 species of birds as victims. The group says deaths could be prevented with "fritted" glass, a type of glass that's lined with dots to make it easily visible to the birds.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Emu escapes! Runaway bird Zig on the loose after disappearing from home

Zig the emu went missing from his North Wales home while his owners were out

The search is on for an emu called Zig after it escaped from its home.

The bird is one of a pair hatched from eggs which made an unusual birthday present from Lindsey Wright to her husband Peter.

Both Zig and Zag disappeared from their remote Llangywer home in North Wales on Monday while the family was out.

Although Zag showed up at a neighbour's house on Tuesday her brother is still at large and his owners are hunting for him.

Mrs Wright thinks the emus had been missing for three hours when the family discovered they were gone at about 6.30pm on Monday.

They searched all evening without success, but had more luck the following morning.

Physicists discuss quantum pigeonhole principle

26th July 2014
7 hours ago by Nancy Owano

The pigeonhole principle: "If you put three pigeons in two pigeonholes at least two of the pigeons end up in the same hole." So where's the argument? Physicists say there is an important argument. While the principle captures the very essence of counting, the investigators said that they showed that in quantum mechanics it is not true.

Science writers reporting on the physicists' findings heard resonance with that other blogger-comment favorite, Schrödinger's cat. They suggested that those mulling over counterintuitive implications of quantum physics now have one more animal-related paradox to think about, in the form of pigeons, if any, found in pigeonholes. Physics World on Friday referred to "paradoxical pigeons" as the latest quantum conundrum. Scientists identified the paradox involving quantum pigeons; specifically, they have posed their findings on what the team calls the "quantum-pigeonhole effect." According to the team, when you put three pigeons in two pigeonholes, it is possible for none of the pigeons to share a hole. They found instances when three quantum particles, they wrote, put in two boxes "yet no two particple are in the same box."

'Light pollution' may affect love lives of birds in the Viennese Forests

July 25, 2014

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

Artificial light in cities exerts negative effects on humans, animals, and their environment. In an ongoing research project, behavioral biologists are investigating how blue tits in the Viennese Forests react to "light pollution." The study might help to understand effects of “light-at-night” on reproductive behavior of birds. In consequence, it could help developing concepts, minimizing negative effects on the lives of animals and the ecological system, by reducing light sources in specific regions.

Saturday 26 July 2014

One tenth of bird species have been flying under the conservation radar

The first of a two-part comprehensive taxonomic review, carried out by Birdlife international on behalf of the IUCN, has led to the recognition of 361 new species of non-passerine birds, which were previously treated as ‘races’ of other forms.

Somali ostrich
This brings the total number of non-passerine birds – such as birds of prey, seabirds, waterbirds and owls – to 4,472 different species and worryingly means that previous classifications have undersold avian diversity at the species level by more than 10 per cent.

“Put another way, one tenth of the world’s bird species have been flying below the conservation radar,” said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Head of Science.

This new data has thrown fresh light on the conservation status on different species and has led to a quarter of the 361 new species being added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species - making them urgent priorities for conservation action.

Three fledglings discovered in car bumper

Three pied wagtail fledglings have had a lucky escape, after being rescued from a car bumper by the RSPCA in Bournemouth.

Car technician Jon Brooks was about to start an oil change on the car, which had been booked in for a service, when he heard chirping and decided to investigate.

To his surprise he found a nest, with three young birds inside, behind the bumper, balancing on part of the car’s under-tray. He carefully transferred the nest into a box, before calling in the RSPCA. 

It proved a lucky chirp for the young nestlings, who were seemingly unscathed despite having travelled under the car for about five miles to the garage!

“We’re very grateful to Mr Brooks and all the staff at the dealership for acting so quickly and carefully to protect these tiny birds," said RSPCA inspector Graham Hammond.

"Thanks to them they have been given the best chance of surviving but you do have to feel a little sorry for the parent birds who would have come back to find not only their nest, but the whole car gone!

“Of course we would usually ask anyone finding fledglings to leave them alone as their parents will return to them, but in this case it would have been impossible to find the exact area that they came from so they will be given the best of care and released when they are ready.”

US government steps in to save the Gunnison sage grouse

A coalition of conservation groups, including the Wild Earth Guardians and Rocky Mountain Wild, have applauded the US government’s announcement of a planning process to adopt stronger protections for the Gunnison sage grouse across federal lands in south western Colorado and eastern Utah.

Government lands make up approximately half of the remaining occupied habitat for the endangered bird with its elaborate courtship display.

“Even though the federal government has been working on beefing up protections for the greater sage grouse [a close relation of the Gunnison] across 11 states for more than three years, federal land protections for the Gunnison sage grouse have been slow in coming, even though the prognosis is far more grave for the survival of this bird,” said Erik Molvar, wildlife biologist with WildEarth Guardians.

Defending nest and young 'part of gull DNA'

By The Cornishman | Posted: July 24, 2014

A CHARITY set up to protect birds believes that many of the problems associated with seagulls is down to looking after their young.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says seagulls can become aggressive if they fear their nest is in danger.

Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB, said: "Herring gulls take parenting very seriously – defending their nest and their young is part of their DNA.

"If the gulls believe their eggs or young are in danger, they understandably become very protective and can be aggressive in defence of their young.

"However, if you, your loved one, or pet experience this type of gull behaviour it can be a very frightening experience and you don't much care if the gull's motives are actually honourable because they are protecting their young."

Friday 25 July 2014

Bird droppings can be mosquito busters!

IANS | Bangalore 
July 22, 2014 Last Updated at 15:10 IST

Don't get upset if birds mess up your courtyard or your home garden with their dropppings. These winged creatures may actually be helping to protect you and your family from dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Researchers at the Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) in Pondicherry have discovered that bird droppings contain certain bacteria that kill mosquitoes. They say they are now working to develop a formulation based on bird droppings for mosquito control.

"Mosquitocidal bacteria are environmental friendly alternatives to chemical insecticides," says their report published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. "Therefore, there have been efforts worldwide to identify such bacteria from the natural environment," the report says.

Because wild birds consume food from a variety of environmental sources like soil, water, fruits and decaying animals, VCRC scientists decided to look for potential mosquito killing bacteria in the bird droppings.

Coming soon — a treatment for bird flu!

Editorial Team July 22, 2014 at 7:03 pm

In a novel discovery, scientists have identified six potential therapeutics to treat the deadly H7N9 avian influenza.’The seriousness of the disease often results from the strength of immune response, rather than with the virus itself. Turning down that response, rather than attacking the virus, might be a better way to reduce that severity,’ explained Juliet Morrison from University of Washington, Seattle.

The viruses that cause severe illness like H7N9 trigger gene expression signatures that are different from the signatures seen in milder infections. ‘Importantly, we can exploit these signatures for antiviral drug discovery,’ Morrison added. The investigators used a computational approach to identify potentially therapeutic drugs. They searched databases containing gene expression profiles of cultured human cells that had been treated with different drugs. These drugs could potentially dampen the harmful host response. (Read:Potential treatment for drug-resistant H7N9 influenza virus comes closer to reality)

Bird relocation plan could cost millions

Last updated Tue 22 Jul 2014

The debate is continuing over plans to build a major new airport in the Thames Estuary. Today a new report says the cost and effort required to move waterbirds that use the estuary would run into millions of pounds. But airport supporters say it's got to be done.

David Johns reports, speaking to Labour Councillor Vince Maple from Medway Council, Paul Outhwaite from the RSPB, and Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London's Aviation Advisor.

Good news for Spanish seabirds

The Spanish government has announced the establishment of 39 new marine protection areas which closely mirror the Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas identified by BirdLife International’s Spanish partner SEO/BirdLife after a decade of scientific research tracking seabirds and understanding their behaviour at sea.

The Balearic shearwater is one of the birds 
that will benefit from the new protection areas
The new sites are Special Protection Areas for Birds (SPAs), designated under the European Birds Directive. The SPAs will offer protection to seabirds whilst they are at sea, complementing the existing network of sites on land.

Spain, with its Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines and islands, is extremely important for European seabirds, including Europe’s most threatened seabird, the Balearic Shearwater, and other species endemic to the Mediterranean, such as the Yelkouan Shearwater and Audouin’s Gull.

Smarter than a first-grader? Crows can perform as well as 7- to 10-year-olds on cause-and-effect water displacement tasks

July 23, 2014

University of California - Santa Barbara

In Aesop's fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over the pitcher, the bird drops pebbles into it -- one at a time -- until the water level rises enough for him to drink his fill. New research demonstrates the birds' intellectual prowess may be more fact than fiction.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Columbia Mountain Range Reserve Protects Rare Birds

A coalition of conservation groups have established a new protected area in one of Latin America’s most neglected ecosystems: the Colombian-side of the Serranía de Perijá mountain range. Following decades of bloody conflict and rampant deforestation, experts say only five percent of rainforest is left on the Colombian side of this embattled mountain range, which is home to a large number of birds found no-where else.

“Without this reserve, the chances are high that within a few years nothing would be left of the spectacular forests that once covered Colombia’s Serranía de Perijá,” said Paul Salaman, the CEO of Rainforest Trust, which helped create the new park, known as the Chamicero de Perijá Nature Reserve. The Rainforest Trust partnered with ProAves, which has worked in the region for over a decade, and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC).

Rare bird alert: Red-necked stint spotted in Keys; first sighting ever in Florida


Swedish biologist Viktor Nilsson-Ortman came to Florida to collect damselfly eggs for his post doctorate research and left last week with a discovery that turned the birding world all aflutter.

On the shoreline he spotted a red-necked stint, the first time this species has been seen and documented in the Sunshine State.

“What a great find Viktor!” was the salute on

The red-necked stint is a tiny shorebird in the sandpiper family that breeds in Siberian Asia and parts of western Alaska. It migrates thousands of miles to winter in east India and Taiwan south through Australia and New Zealand. In the continental Untied States, the species has been spotted along the Pacific coast and in New England and New Jersey. And in July 2012, a red-necked stint caused a big stir when one was discovered by a national wildlife refuge biologist in Kansas.


Bird 'backpacks' put wood thrush migration on the map

July 23, 2014

York University

Researchers have created the first migratory connectivity map produced for a songbird, using tracking from both breeding and winter sites. They were able to trace the route taken by wood thrushes from North America using bird 'backpacks'. They discovered that wood thrushes from Canada don't migrate to the same areas as their southern neighbors, and actually have a longer migratory route. The map will help identify specific areas for habitat protection.

Mixed genes mix up the migrations of hybrid birds

July 22, 2014

University of British Columbia

Mixed genes appear to drive hybrid birds to select more difficult routes than their parent species, according to new research. "Instead of taking well-trodden paths through fertile areas, these birds choose to scale mountains and cross deserts," says one of the researchers.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Rare nightjar seen at nature reserve

Dave BeasleySaturday, July 12, 2014 
1:20 PM

A rare bird, of which there are just 2,000 pairs in the UK, has been caught on camera at Exmouth’s Bystock Nature Reserve.

The number of birds, whose population had been decimated because of the change to their habitat over decades, has recovered thanks to the work of wildlife charities and local volunteers. Their distinctive drill-like call rings out loud and is unmistakable.

They were once called the goatsucker, as it was believed it fed from goat’s milk during the night.

They are mainly nocturnal birds, spending most of the day on the ground, with very large eyes and a large gape to catch insects, mainly moths.

John Deakins spotted the bird and took a few snaps and added: “I have been fortunate enough to watch and photograph nightjars at Bystock for several years.

“These migrant birds are nocturnal and during the day will rest and blend into their ground nests by camouflaging themselves as tree bark.”

A spokesman for the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) said: “They are a beautiful bird and a local group of volunteers has adopted the area. Nightjars like a mixture of habitats, heathland and young trees and the work from the local group with advice from the DWT over the last five to ten years has made the difference.”

Rare and Endangered Birds Are Bred in Almaty Nursery


ALMATY – The Sunkar nursery in Almaty, that has bred more than 1,000 birds, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

This falcon house breeds rare and endangered birds and keeps more than 400 rare and endangered birds of prey species of Kazakhstan, most of which are falcons and eagles. These include saker falcons, peregrine falcons, barbary falcons, northern falcons, steppe kestrels, steppe eagles, imperial eagles, as well as 20 of the biggest species of gold eagles along with vultures, long-legged buzzards, hawks, kites, white-tailed eagles and eagle owls.

Of the more than 1,000 birds the centre has bred, 632 of them have been released into the wild and the genealogy of each pair of birds is carefully traced. About 150-170 chicks of these birds of prey are hatched annually, and, through selection, they have bred birds of a size and with plumage that is not found in nature.

Technology tracks the elusive Nightjar

July 21, 2014

Newcastle University

Bioacoustic recorders could provide us with vital additional information to help us protect rare and endangered birds such as the European nightjar, new research has shown. The study found that newly developed remote survey techniques were twice as effective at detecting rare birds as conventional survey methods.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Bengal Florican on verge of extinction

BengalFlorican.jpgRSSKANCHANPUR, July 18:Bengal Florican, known as khar majur in Nepal, one rarest bird species in the world, is on the verge of extinction. 

The population of the Bengal Florican, found only in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Chitwan National Park, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Bardiya National Park, has been found decreased for the past three years. 

As per the survey carried out by the Bird Conservation Nepal, number of Bengal Florican has been decreasing every year for lack of habitat and conservation. It is only found in lowland grasslands favouring thatch grass called khar in Nepali.

Audubon Society helps track wood thrushes to protect population

By Lewisboro Ledger on July 19, 2014 

The Bedford Audubon Society is joining forces with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Audubon’s International Alliances Program, and Forsyth Audubon in North Carolina for an innovative research effort to discover why wood thrush numbers are down more than 50% in the past 40 years, according to a press release.

The wood thrush’s flute-like song has long been considered a harbinger of spring in eastern forests, but the sweet tune is becoming rarer each year.

National Audubon identified the wood thrush as a priority species for conservation in 2012, largely due to a steady population decline at a rate of almost 2% each year since the mid-1960s.

Wood thrushes are neotropical migrants; they breed in the Northeast, but winter in Central America. In order to track the migratory movement of wood thrushes, Audubon teams in North Carolina and New York deployed 44 lightweight geolocators on adult male wood thrushes. The geolocators will record 50 waypoints of fall migration, overwintering, and their return north to their breeding grounds in the spring. An additional allotment of geolocators will be deployed in Minnesota this summer.

How rockstars and peacocks attract the ladies

What is it that makes rockstars so attractive to the opposite sex? Turns out Charles Darwin had it pegged hundreds of years ago – and it has a lot to do with peacocks.

In The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), Darwin suggested natural selection can occur by individuals out-producing others in a population, through enhanced ability to secure a mate.
Darwin used the ornate  plumage and bird songs to exemplify this concept.
Peacocks are best known for flaunting their brightly coloured and sizable tails. Yet the tail is cumbersome and expends energy.
In addition, its extravagance makes the peacock conspicuous to predators and less able to escape them, reducing its survival prospects. Why then has the tail not been bred out of existence?
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Monday 21 July 2014

Fluffy Doncaster comeback for birds once driven out

A rare and once threatened bird species is making a comeback at one of Doncaster’s most popular beauty spots this summer.

Concerted efforts to nurture habitats have paid off for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust volunteers who have seen three healthy marsh harrier chicks hatch at its Potteric Carr nature reserve. The wetlands here provide ideal conditions for the birds.

Raising young marsh harrier chicks is no mean feat, as the female has to sit on the eggs for more than a month, only leaving the nest briefly to catch food dropped mid-flight by the male. Once the young fledge they sit on visible perches waiting to be fed - a sight the Trust expects to be common on the reserve in the next couple of weeks.

The breeding of marsh harriers at Potteric Carr is exciting for twitchers as the bird was extinct in England by the end of the 19th century as a result of habitat loss and persecution. Although numbers are still very low, the species has returned to breed in eastern England in recent years.