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.

Sunday 31 August 2014

RSPB expected to end relationship with stately home linked to illegal killing of birds of prey

Sunday 31 August 2014

BIRD charity the RSPB is expected to stop using a stately home near Edinburgh as an event venue in the wake of fierce controversy over its links with the illegal killing of birds of prey.

For the last three years, RSPB Scotland has staged the Scottish Birdfair at Hopetoun House, west of South Queensferry. It has been occupied by Lord Hopetoun and his family for more than three centuries.

He also owns the 11,000-acre Leadhills grouse shooting estate in South Lanarkshire, which has one of Scotland's worst records for wildlife crime. More than 40 incidents have been reported since 2003, including convictions for laying poisoned bait and the shooting of an owl.

RSPB's use of Hopetoun House has prompted a series of angry attacks from bird-lovers, some of who boycotted the Birdfair. The RSPB, however, defended Lord Hopetoun, saying he did not condone illegal practices on his land and that there was a "clear separation" between Hopetoun House and Leadhills.

But now an activist website, Raptor Persecution Scotland, has reported that the RSPB is dropping Hopetoun House as the venue for next year's Birdfair. Sources have also told the Sunday Herald this is the case, saying a three-year contract with Hopetoun has ended.

Record number of rare birds nesting in Sussex

Last updated Sat 30 Aug 2014
Record numbers of rare Sand Martins have appeared at a nature reserve in Sussex. 

Conservationists at the Arundel Wetland Centre built an artificial colony for the birds to nest in. Now, large flocks of the Sand Martins have arrived to check out the site.

Malcolm Shaw has the story.

Watch video here ...

Rare ‘golden eagle’ swoops past motorist at Kent roadside

29th August 2014

Residents of Kent might expect to come across the odd squirrel or rabbit on their drive to work – but certainly not a golden eagle.

Rare 'golden eagle' swoops over car in Kent
Ricky Shaw, from Ashford, was driving along Cheeseman’s Green Lane when the rare bird of prey swooped down and flew ahead of him.

Recorded on Ricky’s dash-cam, the eagle is initially camouflaged against the bushes lining the road but the huge creature soon emerges, its six-foot wingspan clear to see as it flies up and out of shot.

A Centenary for the Last Passenger Pigeon (Op-Ed)

Steve Zack, Wildlife Conservation Society | August 30, 2014 12:24pm ET

19th-century American painter John James Audubon "was struck with amazement" at the darkened skies caused by the passenger pigeon. The man who would become famous as an artist of nature was, not surprisingly, himself a naturalist. This painting by John James Audubon of a passenger pigeon dates to 1824.
Credit: John James Audubon

Steve Zack is coordinator of Bird Conservation for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). He contributed this article to LiveScience'sExpert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Monday is the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. That timing is precise, because we know that the very last bird (Martha, after Martha Washington) died in the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914. It was, without doubt, the most dramatic extinction ever witnessed. 

No other bird has so impressively darkened the skies and stirred wonder and awe in the immensity of its flocks as did the passenger pigeon. The bird was witnessed by John James Audubon, John Muir, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and countless of their peers in early America.

Warblers and turtle doves join RSPB list of birds at risk of dying out

Bad weather and loss of habitat blamed as more breeding native species are at risk of extinction

Jamie Doward and Atoosa Gitiforoz

The Observer, Saturday 30 August 2014 21.21 BST

Any true love who wants to give their significant other two turtle doves to celebrate the second day of the 12 Days of Christmas may soon be looking for an alternative gift.

In a move that will dismay ornithologists and poets alike, the bird, immortalised in verse by Shakespeare and Wordsworth, could shortly find itself on the near 100-strong list of the rarest birds in the UK as compiled by the RSPB's rare breeding birds panel – a sign that its numbers are plummeting by such a degree that there are fears it could become extinct in the UK within a decade.

The list compiled by the panel, now in its 40th year, is based on sightings by dedicated bird watchers who provide the society with a wealth of information that is used to track the fortunes of different species over time and is the envy of wildlife organisations around the world.

Saturday 30 August 2014

Thousands sign petition to end kite and buzzard killings

Posted on: 30 Aug 2014

An RSPB Red Kite volunteer has urged the government to take action over bird of prey persecution, after thousands signed the petition she set up.

RSPB volunteer Andrea Goddard has handed over a petition to Scottish government minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP demanding greater action over wildlife crime. Mrs Goddard, who helps out at RSPB Scotland’s Tollie Red Kites visitor centre in Ross-shire, was so outraged by the killing of 16 Red Kites and six Common Buzzards earlier this year, that she set up an online petition which has attracted support from more than 6,900 people. The petition asks the government to extend the investigative authority of SSPCA inspectors, providing them with greater powers to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.

Victorian birds live on in art

By Western Morning News | Posted: August 30, 2014

Sarah Pitt talks to artist Shelley Castle about working with birds, dead and alive.

Shelley Castle has a bit of a thing about birds. In the splendid isolation of her studio – an octagonal game larder on the privately-owned Flete estate in the South Hams – the artist is undisturbed by people or the noise of traffic. What she can hear, though, is bird song.

“It is thronging with them,” she says. “Birds are the most extraordinary creatures for me, because they can fly and we can’t. I also love their colours.”

The relationship between humans and birds is paradoxical, though. And no one knows this better than Shelley.

For the past few months, as artist in residence at Torquay Museum, she has been sketching its taxidermy collection made by Victorian naturalists who shot and stuffed birds which in those days would have sung from every tree and hedgerow.

Alongside them are the egg collections made painstakingly by the same naturalists, at a time when no one imagined that these feathered creatures would ever be threatened.

Mystery solved: Unusual microbursts of downward air killed hundreds of birds in Lancaster County

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014 11:07 am | Updated: 12:00 pm, Fri Aug 29, 2014.

The mystery of the hundreds of dead birds found in eastern Lancaster County the night after a violent storm on July 27 has been solved.

A deadly downward rush of air, known as a microburst, uprooted roosting songbirds from trees in the Leola, Gordonville and Bird-in-Hand areas and slammed them around.

“It appears they were literally blown into the tree branches, the ground — even into each other,” says Greg Graham, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife conservation officer for northeastern Lancaster County.

“It doesn’t happen often.”

The unusual microburst conclusion was reached after the Game Commission sent the refrigerated carcasses of three robins and two house finches to the diagnostic section of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Lab in Athens, Georgia.

New guidelines to limit poisoning of migratory soaring birds

In a bid to reduce the number of migratory birds poisoned as they travel along the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, the migration corridor between Africa and Europe, as well as support local communities in that area, Birdlife International’s Migratory Soaring Birds project has released a set of advisory guidelines for national governments in the affected countries.

Agriculture is central to the social, political and economic life of many countries along the flyway and contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as generating considerable income for the rural population. But production has come at a cost, as excessive use of pesticides has led to many migratory birds across the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, that could actually contribute to keeping down pests, being poisoned.

The newly developed guidelines are designed to help national governments to remain agriculturally productive yet make the region a better place for biodiversity.

Friday 29 August 2014

New bird spikes at the tennis courts

ESCANABA -- The City of Escanaba’s newly resurfaced tennis courts are not only loved by our local athletes, but also the seagulls. Until recently, these birds were perching on the court’s lights and dropping waste on its surface.

To address this issue, the city purchased 3 to 4 inch bird spikes. These spikes were installed on top of each of the court’s 22 lights. As an added bonus, the city was able to change a few old bulbs while they were using the bucket truck. The bird issue was brought to the city’s attention by community members.

“We’re always looking to take feedback from the public,” said City of Escanaba recreation director, Tom Penegor. “In this case, it was something that we could do, tried, and did and it’s working and hopefully they’ll last a long time.”

The entire bird spike project cost less than $500.

DON'T feed the birds: Pensioner banned from putting out hanging feeders because they're a 'health hazard' - and threatened with police action if she doesn't stop

Frances Cheatham, 71, lays out food every day in Leyfield Court, Chester
Spends her own money feeding the birds at the retirement flats 
Says it has brought her 'untold amounts of joy' for the past four years 
But Chester & District Housing Trust said she was 'spreading disease'
She now says her 'only enjoyment' in life has been taken away 

PUBLISHED: 13:39, 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 01:51, 29 August 2014

For more than two years her greatest pleasure in life has been feeding the birds in the garden.

Pensioner Frances Cheatham watches every morning with binoculars from her kitchen window as they tuck in to the seeds and nuts she puts out for them.

Most days the 71-year-old former driving instructor also enjoys listening to the birdsong that echoes around the communal grounds and sheltered accommodation she shares with other residents. 

But the kind-hearted Bird Lady has found herself in a showdown with her neighbours and authorities – after being ordered to stop.

An investigation involving police, an environmental health specialist and housing trust officials highlighted potential ‘health hazards’ and concluded she risked spreading disease. She was then called to a housing trust meeting attended by a police officer to discuss the bird feeding and neighbour complaints.

Flapping baby birds give clues to origin of flight

August 28, 2014

University of California - Berkeley

The origin of flight is a contentious issue: some argue that tree-climbing dinosaurs learned to fly in order to avoid hard falls. Others favor the story that theropod dinosaurs ran along the ground and pumped their forelimbs to gain lift, eventually talking off. New evidence showing the early development of aerial righting in birds favors the tree-dweller hypothesis.

Wagtails showing signs of being in trouble in the UK

The diminutive yellow wagtail brightens up our rivers in summer

The latest Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) annual report, published by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), shows that all three UK breeding wagtail species are in long-term decline.

However, the reasons behind these trends are not clear. Our three wagtail species are: yellow wagtail, a farmland bird that migrates to sub-Saharan Africa, grey wagtail and pied wagtail, both of which remain largely in the UK over the winter.

Importantly, the races of both pied and yellow wagtails breeding in the UK nest almost nowhere else in the world. 

Yellow wagtails are in severe decline, as the latest BBS figures reveal a 43 per cent reduction between 1995 and 2012.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Rare treat for birdwatchers: a snake bird nesting colony

Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times New Delhi, August 28, 2014

Birdwatchers in Delhi are chirping with delight at the rare sight of an oriental darter nesting colony at the Okhla Sanctuary, the first time the bird has built a colony in this part of Asia, say experts.
The darter, also called the snake bird because of its long snake-like neck that is the only visible part of its body when it swims underwater, has been sighted in Delhi earlier, but a nesting colony is unusual.

"It has never happened before. So far, 14 of these birds have been seen at the sanctuary," said ecologist TK Roy. "While there is a decline in bird diversity and population, spotting of threatened bird species is a pleasant surprise."

The 400-hectare sanctuary on the Delhi-Noida border has a large lake - created by the construction of a barrage over the Yamuna river - which serves as a bird habitat, with 330 species recorded so far.

The darter presents a fascinating sight when it spears a fish and tosses it in the air before swallowing it. The bird, one among 173 listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened bird species in the Indian sub-continent, is also one of two existing darter species in Asia.

Kandahar DLA Disposition Services employees protect bird’s nest

When birds were found nesting
in a large box of wire at the DLA 
Disposition Services yard in Kandahar, 
Afghanistan, employees took steps to
 protect the nest until the birds are
 old enough to fly away. (Courtesy photo)
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services employees protect the environment by ensuring property turned in by customers is reused or recycled, but DLA Disposition Services employees in Kandahar, Afghanistan, have temporarily taken environmental protection a step further.

When a bird’s nest with two eggs was discovered inside a large box of wire, employees took steps to protect it. The box was marked to prevent any accidental disturbances of the nest and to provide a safe haven for the baby birds, DLA Disposition Services environmental protection specialist Nikisone Leoso wrote in an email.

Seabirds Facing Threats, says National Trust

Written by Betty Laseter on 28 Aug 2014

Seabirds around the UK coastline are being affected by a triple whammy of extreme weather, predators, like foxes, rats and non-native mink, and disturbance by human walkers and their dogs, said the National Trust.

The charity's experts fear that severe winter storms such as the ones witnessed in the Westcountry in the past 12 months and unseasonal heavy rain such as the deluge, which washed out the summer of 2012, will become more regular and strong as the climate is getting warmer.

Considering the future of Britain's marine birdlife, the national trust has published a report, which is echoed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). RSPB is concerned about the various species that are surviving around the South West peninsula.

One of the problems of seabirds includes predators like foxes, rats and non-native mink, according to the survey. The other common danger faced by breeding seabirds was disturbance by humans like walkers and their dogs.

Gwen Potter, a National Trust Ranger in Ceredigion, in west Wales, told the Today programme that population of birds such as terns and Atlantic puffins has been hit by recent storms and dogs.

Wild Birds' Songs, Feather Colors Changed by Mercury Contamination

Helen Fields and Alanna Mitchell


WAYNESBORO, Virginia—Standing in the woods along the South River, Kelly Hallinger held the microphone up to capture the cacophony of songs, one at a time: the urgent, effervescent voice of the house wren; the teakettle whistle of the Carolina wren; and the sharp, shrill notes of the song sparrow.

It was the summer after her freshman year at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and Hallinger was working with her professor, ecologistDan Cristol, to investigate the effects of mercury left behind by a factory. Over and over she recorded birdsong, visiting various sites in the woods and along the shore, some polluted, some unpolluted.

When she got back to Williamsburg with her tape recorder, Hallinger sorted through the hours of bird songs. She turned them into digital files in the computer, then analyzed them. The differences were striking: The wrens and sparrows along the contaminated South River were singing simpler, shorter, lower-pitched songs.

Invasive phragmites hurting bird population on Leslie St. Spit

By: Eric Andrew-Gee Staff Reporter, Published on Thu Aug 28 2014

Leslie St. Spit is a bird nerd’s paradise. The man-made peninsula curling out from the foot of the Port Lands has become internationally famous for its ornithological riches, home — or at least hotel — to both migratory beauties like the Cedar Waxwing and threatened Ontario birds like the Least Bittern, a kind of heron.

But that claim to fame is under threat, not by foresters or skyscraper windowpanes, but by an invasive plant with a menacing name. For the last few years, Phragmites australishas been gnawing away at the native vegetation of Tommy Thompson Park, located on the Spit. That’s hurting a handful of important bird species who rely on the local mud flats and bulrushes for food and shelter.

For now, Tommy Thompson park authorities have all but given up on fighting phrag, as it’s known. According to Karen McDonald, a project manager with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), which operates Tommy Thompson Park, “We aren’t taking any action to control it, simply because it’s so difficult to control.”

The phrag invasion is not limited to the Spit — it’s been spreading throughout Ontario for decades. Feasting on moisture, the plant proliferates in wetlands and marshes, along lakeshores, and in the disturbed soil bordering highways. Stands have been reported as far north as Sudbury in the east and Fort Frances in the west.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

4 Videos: Threatened Birds Face Polar Bears, Poop-Sniffing Reporters

Posted by Jeff Hertrick of National Geographic Society in Weird & Wild on August 26, 2014

As National Geographic this week presents a special series on the plight of threatened bird species around the world, Winged Warnings, we highlight some of our most recent and best videos about species facing extinction.

With fewer than 800 adult Cape parrots left in the wild, National Geographic grantee Steve Boyes is doing his part to save the species. In the video above, Boyes rehabilitates birds that have psittacine beak and feather disease, caused by a virus. Boyes describes this as a particularly nasty airborne virus that destroys the skin and feathers while opening large, painful fissures in the beak that eventually break it apart.

Polar Bears Threatening Birds
Sometimes trouble for one species spells trouble for another. The loss of sea ice is forcing polar bears to search for food on land more often, and that endangers birds, whose eggs become high-protein snacks for the bears. In this video, researchers watch a pair of polar bears eat the eggs from more than 250 nests of eider ducks. And the bears don’t stop with eggs; they eat the birds, too, especially the threatened arctic ducks.

Great year for breeding birds at Glenwherry thanks to RSPB

The population of threatened breeding waders in the Glenwherry area has increased again, thanks to the efforts of local farmers.

Since 2011, farmers have been working to make homes for lapwing, curlew and snipe on their land as part of the RSPB’s Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP). Breeding waders have declined in Northern Ireland by 83 per cent over the last 25 years, but HELP has caused a reversal in fortune for these birds. This year the population reached 174 pairs – an increase of 10 pairs on last year’s total.

Nearly £1.5 million has been given to HELP from the European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Programme, which is delivered locally by the Special EU Programmes Body. The project will run until the end of December 2014.

Thousands of bird eggs found in Merseyside

Around 5,000 bird eggs have been voluntarily handed over to the NWCU and Police by a 44 year old from Merseyside

When the call came in the officials were expecting to collect a few hundred birds’ eggs, but instead they found several huge specimen cabinets filled with 1000’s of eggs, including osprey, golden eagle and many foreign species. Officers were also provided with a large number of data cards, some of which date back around 100 years.

Egg collecting in the UK was an acceptable hobby in Victorian times and the early 1900’s. However, it became illegal to take birds eggs in 1954 and the law was further strengthened in 1981 when possession of wild birds’ eggs was made an offence.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

The 1,300 Bird Species Facing Extinction Signal Threats to Human Health

Alanna Mitchell


Birds are the planet's superheroes, built for survival.

The ice of Antarctica doesn't faze them. Nor does the heat of the tropics. They thrive in the desert, in swamps, on the open ocean, on sheer rock faces, on treeless tundra, atop airless mountaintops, and burrowed into barren soil.

Some fly nonstop for days on end. With just the feathers on their backs, they crisscross the hemisphere, dodging hurricanes and predators along the way, arriving unerringly at a precise spot, year after year.

They have penetrated nearly every ecosystem on Earth and then tailored their own size, habits, and colors to each one, pollinating, dispersing seeds, controlling bugs, cleaning up carrion, and fertilizing plants.

But for all their superhero powers, birds are in trouble.

Doubletree Bird Poisoning

updated: Aug 25, 2014, 9:46 AM 

Source: Environmental Defense Center

The Fess Parker Doubletree in Santa Barbara was investigated and found in violation of regulations related to its poisoning of up to roughly 21 protected and desired bird species at its Cabrillo Boulevard location. After complaints were filed by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner investigated this matter and have concluded that the Doubletree applied a bird poison known as Avitrol in bird feeders and illegally used this poison with the intention to control pigeons and sparrows near the hotel's rotunda.

EDC received several reports from Santa Barbara residents between February and April 2014 and contacted CDFW wardens which were dispatched to the site. It was quickly determined that the Doubletree placed bird food in feeders for several weeks then hired Hydrex to periodically place the poisoned bait in the bird feeders. No experts were employed by the hotel to monitor the poison to ensure that it only affected target nuisance species birds. This violated the Avitrol Mixed Grains label which specifically states "Avitrol must not be exposed in any manner that may endanger desirable and protected bird species." Additionally, the Avitrol label states "a certified applicator must ensure children, pests, and non-target species do not come in contact with the blend during the entire application period." Hydex left bait at the site unsupervised, thus violating Avitrol label use restrictions.

Madagascar pochard ducklings dying before they can fledge

A study of the world’s rarest bird – the Madagascar pochard – has revealed that 96 per cent of the chicks die before fledging.

Madagascar Pochard, Captive Breeding Program, Madagascar 4.jpg
The conclusion reached by researchers from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is that the last remaining population will never expand without outside help.

Just 25 pochards remain in the wild, restricted to one wetland in northeast Madagascar – a complex of lakes near Bemanevika.

The study, published in Bird Conservation International, found that the level of mortality actually increases as the chicks get older, peaking when they are between two and three weeks old.

The researchers conclude that most chicks slowly starve to death once they’re old enough to dive for food, because the water in the lakes is too deep for them.

Historically, it is unlikely that the pochards bred at Bemanevika, but they have been forced from their favoured habitats as wetlands across Madagascar have been turned over to rice and fish farming. The lake’s remoteness has allowed them to survive undisturbed.

The volcanic lakes that are the last refuge of the few remaining wild Madagascar pochards

The wetlands that had formed in volcanic craters are deep with steep sides and surveys showed that, even in the sediment, little food is available to the ducks. Researchers found that ducklings fed at the surface until they were two weeks old, which is typically when related species switch to diving for food. The elevated levels of mortality were observed after this point.

Last ditch plea to protect pine forest adopted by Carnaby's black cockatoos

The Australian government has been asked to intervene to save the habitat of about 4,000 black cockatoos near Perth, Monday 25 August 2014 07.59 BST

Calyptorhynchus latirostris Carnaby gnangarra.jpgConservationists have made a last ditch plea to the federal government to intervene to help prevent a species of cockatoo from becoming extinct due to the felling of its habitat.

Research by BirdLife Australia found there are 3,922 Carnaby’s black cockatoos in the large Gnangara pine plantation, north of Perth. This equates to around 10% of the global population of this endangered cockatoo.

The Western Australian government has been clearing the 23,000 hectare (57,000 acre) plantation to protect Perth’s water catchment area due to the amount of water the trees require.

However, BirdLife Australia said the plantation isn’t being replaced with any native forest, meaning the “catastrophic” clearing will hasten the Carnaby’s black cockatoo’s extinction. The wildlife organisation said the cockatoo’s population is in collapse, declining by around 15% a year.

Unlike many other woodland creatures, the Carnaby’s black cockatoo has adapted somewhat to the widespread felling of native forest in favour of timber plantations.

Monday 25 August 2014

Bird's nest that can bring down a tree!

IANS | London 
August 24, 2014 Last Updated at 16:28 IST

Can a bird's nest bring down a huge tree? For Africa's incredible social weaver birds, pulling down a tree is a child's game.
About the size of sparrows, these birds come together in colonies of as many as 500 to build enormous nests that weigh over 900 kg, are 20-feet-long, 13-feet-wide and seven-feet-thick.

"The structures are so big they can collapse the trees they are built on and so well-constructed they can last for a century," Gavin Leighton, a biologist at University of Miami, said.

This is how they weave monstrous nests.

Social weaver birds line the insides of the chambers with grass and feathers and, occasionally, cotton balls taken from fields.

One chamber provides three or four birds a warm place to rest as winter settles in.

Rare glossy ibis might stay at Frampton Marsh over winter

24 August 2014 Last updated at 12:28

Two rare birds from southern Europe that were spotted building a nest at a nature reserve in Lincolnshire might stay over winter, the RSPB has said.

The pair of glossy ibises, who arrived in June, created a nest platform at Frampton Marsh, near Boston, but did not raise young.

The species has never bred in the UK and it is thought they flew north due to drier conditions in the south.

RSPB officer Chris Andrews said the site's wetlands could suit the birds.

Glossy ibises are a heron-like bird, with a green sheen to their coat, and usually breed in the south of France, southern Spain and in south-east Europe.

First test-tube baby penguin says hello to the world

By Eric PfeifferAugust 13, 2014 10:26 AMThe Sideshow

Officials hope the first penguin hatched via artificial insemination at SeaWorld in San Diego will help make strides …

To science, she’s simply known as “184.” But on the empirical cuteness scale, the world’s first test-tube penguin scores a “100.”

The still unnamed baby Magellanic penguin was hatched at SeaWorld in San Diego 12 weeks ago, but the first images of her were released to the public this week.

She’s the first penguin to be born using artificial insemination, a technique researchers say will help them increase diversity in the captive penguin population and help their studies of the creatures.

“The goal of our research center is to study a species’ reproductive biology, to learn as much as we can about that and use this to not only monitor the health of not only our zoological populations but wild populations as well,” said Sea World’s reproductive center Scientific Director Dr. Justine O’Brien.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Palila enjoy successful breeding season on Maui

UPDATED 10:32 PM HST Aug 22, 2014

Critically endangered palila bird finds help

MAKAWAO, Hawaii —If you've never seen a palila up close and personal, now's your chance. The small songbird with a golden-yellow head and greenish wings are only found on the Big Island in the wild. But now, the colorful birds are on Maui.

"This is the first year we are breeding palila at the Maui Bird Conversation Center and we've produced five chicks this year," said San Diego Zoo Global Research Coordinator Josh Kramer.
Animal care staff at the conservation center artificially incubated eggs laid by a pair of palila and hand-reared the offspring.

"These birds are easy to fall in love with and that's what brings me to work everyday to avoid extinction of these animals," said Kramer. "These animals never been seen in the wild. We would like to see it the other way around and enjoy them for generations."

Palila are highly dependent on the mamane tree. That's where they consume unripe seeds. Right now, palila are found in less than 5 percent of their historic area. Why? Primarily due to the loss of native dryland forest habitat and that's why conservation centers are helping to boost the population.

The Hawaii endangered bird conservation program is a part of the San Diego Zoo institute for conservation research. The goal is to bring species back from the brink of extinction.

Seagull spray-painted red by cruel yobs 'faces bullying by other birds'

The young herring-gull was sprayed all over with red paint by cruel yobs
The bird was taken in by Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary in North Yorkshire
'Poppy' will not be live among other gulls as she will be victim of bullying 
Wildlife experts call the act 'disgusting' and say bird's feathers are ruined 

PUBLISHED: 11:35, 22 August 2014 | UPDATED: 08:18, 23 August 2014

A young herring-gull will need specialist care for years after cruel yobs attacked it with spray paint.

The bird was taken in by Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary, North Yorkshire, after she was found covered in thick red paint.

The baby gull, who rescuers have named Poppy due to her new colour, is only a few months old and now faces a couple of flightless years while waiting for the damaged feathers to fall out.

A young herring-gull was discovered with her feathers painted red after it was taregted by yobs

Alexandra Farmer, 25, who runs the sanctuary, said Poppy will not be able to live among the other gulls because she will be the victim of bullying.

She said: 'She will be staying here at the sanctuary for a couple of years.

'She won't be able to fly now because the paint has made the feathers rock hard and stiff. She keeps looking at her feet because they are so red but there is not way to wash it off.

Mumbai airport to implant special grass which deters birds

Saturday, 23 August 2014 - 7:30am IST | Agency: DNA

In order to address the problem of bird hits which endangers flight safety and causes huge loses, city airport will soon implant special variety of grass which will keep away insects and birds.

The authorities at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) have sanctioned a year-long study to a Pune-based NGO, Ela Foundation, to survey the behavior of birds, including the migratory ones, in and around 10 km of the airport (risk zone).

The survey by the NGO also includes the bird movement during the night. "Once the study gets complete, then the airport authorities at CSIA have plans to implant specially modified grass which is not to the liking of insects. Birds wont frequent the area in the absence of the insects," said an airport official. The specialized grass, also called as an 'avian-deterrent' grass, has natural fungus in the form of endophyte which produces chemicals not conducive for growth of insects.

According to data available with Air Traffic Control (ATC), so far 65 cases of bird hits have been reported during the year 2013-14 and 52 cases during 2012-13. According to an estimate prepared by Aeronautical Society of India, as much as Rs 18 crore of loses were incurred by airlines in 2011, which was Rs 22 crore a year before.

San Antonio airport takes non-lethal approach to bird removal

Dillon Collier, KENS 510:04 p.m. CDT August 22, 2014

San Antonio International Airport records obtained by the I-Team show lethal bird removal is not used here

SAN ANTONIO -- Last month, hundreds of birds were killed at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport as part of a bird abatement project created by the airport and United Airlines.

The birds, which included pigeons and grackles, ingested a poison called Avitrol, which had been manufactured to resemble corn kernels.

While legal, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations, the method caused the birds to suffer epileptic-like seizures before they died.

Animal rights activists called the project "cruel and inhumane."

San Antonio International Airport records obtained by the I-Team show that this type of lethal bird removal is not used here.

Since 2011, the airport has carried out at least one major bird removal or relocation project each year.

The projects were implemented without killing a single bird.

Songbirds: Juveniles delay departure, make frequent stopovers during first migration

August 20, 2014

York University

Juvenile songbirds on spring migration travel from overwintering sites in the tropics to breeding destinations thousands of kilometres away with no prior experience to guide them. Now, a new study has tracked these 'student pilots' on their first long-haul flight and found significant differences between the timing of juvenile migration and that of experienced adults.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Woman called 999 over lonely goose

A woman called 999 to ask police to rescue a goose because it had 'lost its friends' and looked 'hungry' in Manchester.

The caller dialled the emergency number to tell officers she had spotted the lonely bird wandering around Blackley Cemetery, reports the Manchester Evening News.

She said she feared the goose was in danger as it didn't have any companions and looked like it needed feeding.

The woman didn't leave her name but was told the goose's welfare was not a police matter and the call was not an appropriate use of the 999 number.

She was also advised to call the RSPCA if she believed the bird was injured.

A GMP North Manchester division spokesman said such calls were a drain on police resources.

"Hoax calls are a misuse of the system and put the people who are in need of urgent assistance from the emergency services at risk," he said.

Earth houses 462 more species of bird than previously thought

There are 462 more species of bird in the world than previously thought after the most comprehensive avian analysis ever undertaken identified 46 new species of parrot, 26 extra owls and a host of other new entrants to the record books.

The study of the world’s 4,087 known species of non-songbirds discovered that there are in fact 4,549 of them, after the research group Birdlife International changed the way it analysed the birds to a more consistent approach.

As a result, hundreds of birds that had been regarded as sub-species – essentially two or more different "races" of the same species – were in fact different enough to be considered separate species in their own right.

Conservationists welcomed the increase in bird species but cautioned that by splitting up often small populations more had also become endangered.