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.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Young alala part of effort to bring Hawaii’s birds back from brink

By Carolyn Lucas-Zenk
29th September 2014 
West Hawaii Today

web1_b92014926105614334.jpgAn hour before the sun rises each day, the very raucous and loud calls of nine rare alala, or Hawaiian crows, can be heard by the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center staff. Inside their large open-air aviary, these juveniles seemed to engage in a vocal sparring of sorts in a manner that’s reminiscent of monkeys for research associate Amy Kuhar.

“There’s a big sound missing from the forest,” she said of the alala, which were once widespread on Hawaii Island and now survive only in captivity at this Volcano center and the Maui Bird Conservation Center in Olinda.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, Kuhar enters their stress-free environment to deliver enrichment, which this time is food and habitat items wrapped in ginger leaves. Perched on various branches, the young birds make their musical vocalizations while curiously watching their silent visitor’s every move as she throws and hides the packets. When she leaves, some of the birds begin to explore and manipulate the packets to get the reward hidden inside.

Existence of rare and new species found

Researchers have found the existence of some rare species of birds, Slender Billed Gull and Red Phalarope, and the Jungle Glory butterfly in the country's forest reserves.

Of them, the Jungle Glory butterfly was spotted at Tanchi area of Bandarban hill district when researchers were updating the Red List of Species in Bangladesh for this year.

Prof Monwar Hossain of Jahangirnagar University's zoology department said this particular type of butterfly was last seen in the country some 132 years ago in forests in the Sylhet region.

The findings were unveiled at the 1st preliminary species assessment sharing workshop on updating species Red List of Bangladesh, held at the capital’s Spectra Convention Centre in the capital yesterday.

The Red List estimates the risk of extinction of a certain species which will help to set conservation plans and priority.

New controversy over Malta's bird slaughter

Island MP Karmenu Vella nominated as European commissioner to head green policies, including wildlife protection

Robin McKie, science editor

The Observer, Saturday 27 September 2014 20.31 BST

Karmenu Vella has unusual credentials for a man selected to be the next European commissioner for the environment. The 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta's Labour government, which is accused of direct involvement in the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island – including many endangered species.

Every spring and autumn, thousands of migratory birds – including quails, song thrushes and brood eagles – pass over Malta as they fly between northern Europe and Africa, only to be greeted by thousands of local hunters who gather in trucks bearing slogans like "If it flies it dies". They duly open fire on the birds.

"Turtle doves have suffered a catastrophic decline in western Europe, including Britain. Yet the Maltese government continues to allow them to be shot in their thousands every year," said Andre Farrar of the RSPB. "This slaughter has widespread implications and involves dozens of rare species, many of them regular visitors to the British Isles."

Campaigners say Malta's bird culls, which have intensified over the last two years, have been specifically encouraged by its Labour government. For example, new rules have extended shooting curfews, which previously limited the hours when hunters are permitted to fire at birds each day. Such moves have helped make Malta the ecological pariah of Europe.

Monday 29 September 2014

Threatened birds of prey 'vanish' - via Mike Playfair

By Claire Marshall
BBC environment correspondent

Two of the rarest birds of prey in England, which had been satellite tagged, have vanished in unexplained circumstances, conservationists say.

The young female hen harriers had left their nest sites in Lancashire only a few weeks ago.

Named Sky and Hope, they were among the first hen harrier chicks to fledge in England since 2012.

Last year, no chicks were born after the only two nesting pairs failed to breed.

As part of an ongoing conservation project, Sky and Hope had been fitted with lightweight solar-powered tags.

Scientists examining the satellite data became worried when their tags stopped transmitting. Sky's signal stopped suddenly on 10 September and Hope's signal died three days later.

Searches of the area have failed to find any trace of them.

The tracking devices are designed to operate for at least three years. The scientists say it's "improbable" that this is due to technical failure. The more likely cause is that the birds were killed by other animal predators, or humans.

Dying brain cells cue new brain cells to grow in songbird

September 23, 2014

University of Washington

Using a songbird as a model, scientists have described a brain pathway that replaces cells that have been lost naturally and not because of injury. If scientists can further tap into the process, it might lead to ways to encourage replacement of cells in human brains that have lost neurons naturally because of aging or Alzheimer's disease.

Dinosaur family tree gives fresh insight into rapid rise of birds

September 25, 2014

Swarthmore College

The study shows that the familiar anatomical features of birds – such as feathers, wings and wishbones – all first evolved piecemeal in their dinosaur ancestors over tens of millions of years. However, once a fully functioning bird body shape was complete, an evolutionary explosion began, causing a rapid increase in the rate at which birds evolved. This led eventually to the thousands of avian species that we know today.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Tempers flare as Malta temporarily bans legal hunting season

news/2010_jan/white_storkFollowing the illegal shooting of a rare juvenile white stork, and the growing body of support for the campaign against illegal hunting, the Maltese government has decided to temporarily close the autumn legal hunting season until 10 October.

This move is to prevent illegal hunters using the legal hunting season as a cover to shoot endangered birds.
“The urge to target these protected species is something we continue seeing each and every time rare visitors, such as storks, grace these islands,” said Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager. 

The ringed stork was a migrant from a reintroduction project in Udine, Italy that was set up by the local community to help stork repopulate the area.

“This is a loss of great significance as we would have expected the bird to return to Fagagna in a few years to breed,” said Bruno Dentesani the project’s scientific ringer.

“This was its first migration, I’m very sad to hear of this news.”

Natural selection causes early migration, shorter parental care for shorebirds

September 25, 2014

De Gruyter

All bird migrations are fraught with danger – from the risk of not finding enough food, to facing stormy weather, and most importantly – trying not to be eaten along the way. Raptors such as peregrine falcons are the main predators of migratory birds, and huge flocks of congregating shorebirds can be easy pickings. In a new paper, researchers provide new evidence that shorebird species can adopt substantially different ways of dealing with this predation pressure.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Migratory shorebirds could face extinction within a decade

Migrating shorebirds that travel to Australia from Siberia are under serious threat from development, which is destroying the vital feeding grounds they rely on during the epic journey.

Director of Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology Professor Marcel Klaassen, along with other researchers, is examining the migratory behaviour of shorebirds to see how they cope with changes in their environments. Their findings to date have been concerning, and reveal that there has been a dramatic drop in the number of migratory shorebirds arriving in Australia.

Alarmed by the statistics, Klaassen states, “The rate of decline among some of these bird species is such a dramatic drop in numbers as to be truly depressing. For instance, the rate of decline in numbers of one of these, the Curlew sandpiper, is a staggering 10 per cent per year which means they face extinction within a decade.’’

When David beats Goliath: Smaller birds can dominate larger species, especially when related

September 24, 2014

Queen's University

Body size has long been recognized to play a key role in shaping species interactions, with larger species usually winning conflicts with their smaller counterparts. But a biologist has now found that occasionally, small species of birds can dominate larger species during aggressive interactions, particularly when they interact with distantly related species.

Continued ...

Friday 26 September 2014

Bird brains more precise than humans'

( —Birds have been found to display superior judgement of their body width compared to humans, in research to help design autonomous aircraft navigation systems.

A University of Queensland (UQ) study has found that budgerigars can fly between gaps almost as narrow as their outstretched wingspan rather than taking evasive measures such as tucking in their wings.

UQ Queensland Brain Institute researcher Dr Ingo Schiffner said previous research showed humans unnecessarily turned their shoulders to pass through doorways narrower than 130 per cent of their body width, whereas birds are far more precise.

"We were quite surprised by the birds' accuracy – they can judge their wingspan within 106 per cent of their width when it comes to flying through gaps," Dr Schiffner said.

To help birds weather climate change, stop eating them


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals September 19, 2014 

A sobering report released earlier this month by the National Audubon Society warns that half of all bird species in the U.S. and Canada could be on the brink of extinction if we don't take steps to mitigate climate change. As warming temperatures alter birds' habitats and migratory routes, some 300 species of birds in North America - from bald eagles to Baltimore orioles - will be forced to find new places to live, feed and breed. Those who can't could become extinct.

Here's one thing that everyone can do today to help our free-roaming feathered friends: stop eating their cousins - farmed chickens - and other animals. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions is caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. The fastest, most effective way to combat climate change is with diet change - by going vegan.

We have no time to waste. In the same week that the Audubon Society released its report, the United Nations' meteorological advisory body announced that the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached a new high in 2013 - just under 400 parts per million.

That's the threshold that "climate scientists have identified as the beginning of the danger zone," Princeton University geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer told The Washington Post. "It means we're probably getting to the point where we're looking at the 'safe zone' in the rearview mirror, even as we're stepping on the gas."

Read more here:

Young falcon on the mend after being peppered with shotgun

A young peregrine falcon shot down illegally near Long Melford is “on the mend”, according to the animal expert caring for her.

The rare bird of prey was blasted from the sky with a shotgun. Bird protection charity the RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the crime.

The peregrine, whose numbers have increased in the UK to about 1,400 breeding pairs, is considered a rare bird and it is an offence under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act to intentionally kill or injure it.

The juvenile was found by a member of the public on a footpath by Chad Brook River near Long Melford. They thought it had accidentally flown into a fence and was just stunned.

Peppered with shot from the shotgun and with a broken wing, it was taken to Mulberry Court vets in Sudbury.

And it is now being looked after by falconry expert Stephen Younge at the Lavenham Falconry Centre in Monks Eleigh.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Proposal to force farmers to 'shoo before they shoot' pest birds rejected

By WMNPBowern | Posted: September 16, 2014

A proposal by Natural England that farmers and others who control pest bird species should have try to shoo them away before they could legally shoot them has been rejected.

The measure was widely opposed by shooting groups and farmers who registered their concerns during the consultation period earlier this year.

They warned it would have made the shooting of woodpigeons, a major threat to arable crops in the UK and other species that are controlled because of the risks they pose, much more restricted than is currently the case.

There were also proposals to take some species of the crow family off the list of birds that can currently be legally shot to protect crops and health.

Giant scary robot monster bird to protect Sydney Opera House from marauding seagulls

In a bid to keep gulls from scavenging, management is currently trialling a giant mechanical bird

The giant mechanical bird is reported at a cost of $6500

The idea followed after Scotland's Network Railway used a robot falcon to keep one of its train stations free from birds and poop

The lifelike plastic predators are designed to swivel their heads, flap their wings and shriek

Management has installed signs in multiple languages advising the public to not feed birds and prevent them from scavenging

PUBLISHED: 05:29, 20 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:07, 20 September 2014

Restaurateurs and their diners know the best way to a hungry seagulls' stomach is through their half-eaten food.

The idea followed after Scotland's Network Railway turned to technology to keep Edinburgh's main train station free from birds and poop by building a robot falcon to scare them awayIn a bid to keep gulls from scavenging, management is currently trialling different deterrents, including a robot bird to protect patrons who dine along the Sydney Opera House.

The giant mechanical bird is reported at a cost of $6500 to prevent the out-of-control gulls targeting or attacking tourists and diners for free food.

As spring approaches, seagulls are continuing to feast off plates or brazenly stealing food out of visitors' hands as patrons sit outside to enjoy the sunshine

Hollywood pop singer, Hilary Duff was under attack when she was plagued by a flock of seagulls while eating lunch Down Under early this month.

Nibbling on hot chips and salad at Sydney's Opera bar, the Lizzie McGuire actress looked nervous and was spotted protecting herself by hunching throughout the meal.

Management have installed signs in multiple languages around the city and beaches, advising the public to not feed birds and prevent them from scavenging.

Exotic bird gets Hounslow locals in a flap

Portrait of a Golden Pheasant.JPGThis large multi-coloured bird, revealed to be a Golden Pheasant, was seen in the court yard of offices in Staines Road earlier this week.

It has since made a couple of appearances there, and has also been spotted in Hounslow High Street.

Natasha Malhotra works in NHS offices in Staines Road. She first saw the bird, thought to be a male, on Wednesday (September 17).

The 30-year-old, who also lives in Hounslow said: “It’s really amazing to see, especially in Hounslow.

“I’ve been told it has been around for the last week, and it has been in and out of our office courtyard.

“I first saw it two days ago, when I was popping out for lunch and saw it in the bushes. I thought it looked just beautiful. It’s quite big, bigger than a parrot, and its tail is really really long.

“A colleague of mine has seen it in the High Street as well. It’s caused a bit of a stir in Hounslow.”

Peacock's train is not such a drag afterall: Flight unchanged with and without plumage

September 17, 2014

University of Leeds

The magnificent plumage of the peacock may not be quite the sacrifice to love that it appears to be, researchers have discovered. "These feathers weigh about 300g and can exceed 1.5m, so it's expected that the male birds would be making a significant sacrifice in their flight performance for being attractive," one researcher said. However, experiments showed that in fact, the plumage made no difference to take-off and flight of the birds.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Bewildered bird falls in love with its own reflection

By Nikki Papatsoumas
3:53 PM Wednesday Sep 17, 2014

A bewildered bird has entered into a very one-sided relationship after falling in love with its own reflection.
A seagull pecking at its own reflection
 on a tinted-glass door of a disused factory 
in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast. 
Photo / Mark Mitchell
The narcissistic seagull has taken up residence at an abandoned building on Omahi St in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington.

Carolyn Mitchell, owner of nearby business The Pantry, said the seagull has been there for the last two days, tapping at its reflection all day long.

Ms Mitchell said at first she thought the seagull might have had a mate trapped in the abandoned building.

"But then we realised no, he's actually seeing his reflection, and it is like he thinks it's a mate and he is actually trying to get food in there."

The bird had also begun to gather things to build a nest, Ms Mitchell said.


Visayan tarictic hornbills17th September 2014
On Monday night, thieves stole more than 30 very rare birds from the Avifauna bird park in Alphen aan den Rijn. According to the animal park, the thieves knew what they wanted and specifically took the valuable and rare breeding pairs. 

Thieves took several toucans, mynas and some parrot species as well as diverse hornbills. These hornbills seemed especially important to the robbers, as they took a total of 16 of the tropical bird species.

Among these hornbills, there were some very rare endangered species such as the white-crowned hornbill, Tickell’s brown hornbill and the very close to extinction Visayan tarictic hornbill. Avifauna writes on their website that these last birds need specialized care, and are only found in a select number of zoos in the world.

Migratory Bird Shot On Road - What Can Be Done To Prevent It?

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 16: The magnificent and statuesque Demoiselle Crane (Grus virgo) is a soaring migratory bird and is considered a vagrant in Kuwait, with only 8 confirmed records for this species. The first record was of 4 birds in 1954 and the last record was of 3 birds in 2012, so they are certainly not common nor annual visitors to Kuwait.

Demoiselle Cranes migrate in large flocks on a narrow front via specific routes and may travel vast distances without alighting to rest or feed. The autumn migration begins in late summer and generally they would only pass by on thermals high overhead, but occasionally bad weather or strong headwinds would force them to land to rest.

Like many other migratory birds, Demoiselle Cranes are under threat from habitat loss and degradation from agriculture across its range, as well as building of dams and drainage of wetlands, but also from shooters along their migration route and this was brought to light just this week, right here on our doorstep.

About 2 days back a single young (juvenile) Demoiselle Crane is observed walking along the pavement near TGIF on Gulf Road in Kuwait - it is probably exhausted and has been separated from the flock - but it appears to be walking and feeding oblivious to the cars rushing by on this very busy road.

Probably not many motorists even noticed this magnificent crane and what is (was) the 9th record of this species for Kuwait, but there were a few that did notice and admire a bird that they would probably never have seen before.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

White Stork from reintroduction scheme in Italy, shot in Malta on first migration


Update: BirdLife Malta has discovered that the flock of ten White Storks that has been in Malta since Monday includes storks from a conservation reintroduction project in Italy.

“The flock was targeted on Tuesday in Marsa, with one of the birds killed bearing a colour numbered ring. The White Stork is part of a flock originating from a re-introduction scheme set-up in Udine, North East Italy, and was on its first ever migration south to the Africa.”

When the White Storks arrived on the mainland from Comino on Monday, they landed on a crane in Marsa, attracting many local bird watchers and photographers.

BLM said that 3 of the flock were seen to have coloured rings on their legs, a process carried out to monitor the birds’ movements from a distance. Birdwatchers, using telescopes, were able to read the details on two of the rings, IAB PA190 and IAB PA200, the details of which were sent to the Italian ringing scheme to confirm the origin of the birds.

Audubon Fights to Save the Piping Plover


BROOKLYN (CN) - Efforts to shore up Fire Island and prevent more damage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy threaten the "survival and recovery" of the threatened Atlantic Coast piping plover, the National Audubon Society claims in Federal Court.

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to preserve the coast by building a series of sand dunes and berms along 19 miles of the Fire Island shoreline in Long Island.

The Audubon Society claims that the project "will result in immediate and long-term significant adverse impacts on piping plover habitat."

Audubon claims the federal government failed to "properly consider" the "cumulative impacts on piping plovers," nor did it objectively study all alternatives.

The group has "long advocated" for the piping plover's protection on Long island and Fire Island.

The group identified the area as an "Important Bird Area" in 1998, and reaffirmed that designation in 2005.

It hired a full-time biologist in 2009 to "help steward piping plovers on Long Island by installing predator enclosures and string fencing around piping plover nests, and advising beachgoers and managers on how to avoid negative impact to plovers," according to the lawsuit.

The group submitted its objections to the government's plan to install the berms on Fire Island in April, and asked for alternative measures to protect the birds.

It says that 1,615 of its members formally submitted comments to the Corps of Engineers critiquing the project, and that it met with Wendi Weber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife northeast region director, to "discuss concerns about the impacts" of the project.

Chicks starving in Newfoundland as warmer sea water imperils food supply for birds

Northern gannets are good parents. The seabirds mate for life, lay just one egg a year and dutifully feed and protect their chick until it leaves the nest in September.

But this year, thousands of gannets on Newfoundland’s south coast — on North America’s most southern gannet colony — abandoned their nests during the last few weeks of August. Many of the hungry chicks soon began tumbling off rocky cliffs and into the sea.

“It’s shocking,” says Bill Montevecchi, a biologist at Memorial University who describes it as one of the strangest events he has witnessed in his more than 30 years studying the seabirds. But, then, so too was the sea water near the colony that was several degrees Celsius above normal in August and appears to have triggered the abandonment.

It could be a harbinger of things, say scientists at the Audubon Society who have made the bold prediction that climate change could “imperil” nearly half of North America’s birds by the end of the century.

“It’s not so much that the adults are just going to die, but that they’ll not be able to successfully raise enough young to replace themselves over succeeding generations,” says biologist Gary Langham, lead author of Audubon’s grim forecast.

Monday 22 September 2014

RSPB plea to find missing Mongatu Harrier called Mo

Kieran LynchThursday, September 18, 2014 
6:30 AM

Bird fanatics have voiced their pleas in a hope to find Mongatu Harrier, Missing Mo.

The female bird is one of the rarest species in the UK , with just seven breeding pairs in the UK.

Mo was one of three Montagu harriers who were fitted with tiny satellite trackers to track migration routes earlier this year.

Mo’s transmission stopped sending signals on the morning of August 8, and her disappearance still remains a mystery.

Jim Scotts, site manager at RSPB Snettisham Nature Reserve, said: “The unfortunate likelihood is that she has died because of a fox or was illegal persecuted and the tag was destroyed.

“But you would like to think there has been a fault with the technology and that there are people out there with information on her disappearance.”

Norfolk Constabulary has launched an investigation into the bird’s disappearance.

Ortolans: could France's cruellest food be back on the menu?

As French chefs lobby for ortolan to be reintroduced on to menus, we explain why cooking the rare and delicate songbird is so controversial.

12:15PM BST 17 Sep 2014

Q. What is an ortolan?

A. A songbird that's small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, the average ortolan weighs less than an ounce. They are neither very pretty nor particularly musical, but they are rare, especially in Britain, where they are only occasionally spotted on the south coast. They are usually found in warm parts of Europe, especially the south of France, Italy, Spain and Greece. They eat insects in summer, and grains and seeds from the ground at other times.

Q. Why are they in the news?

A. A clutch of leading French chefs, including Alain Ducasse, who has 18 Michelin stars in total across his many restaurants, has lobbied the French Government to partially reverse the ban on killing and cooking ortolans, Le Parisien newspaper has reported. They say they want the right to cook the bird, even if it is only for one weekend of the year.

Impact on bird life is assessed for Hayling solar bid

BIRD surveys are to be 
carried out to prepare for a proposed solar park on Hayling Island.

Hive Energy is considering setting up solar panels on a 46-acre site next to West Lane.

The site is part of Manor Farm and is on the east side of West Lane, with Daw Lane to the north.

The borough council has now asked the energy firm to do winter bird surveys to assess the likely impact on wildlife.

Tim Purbrick, Hive Energy’s commercial director, said: ‘Overall, we still remain very positive about the prospects for a solar park on this site on Hayling Island. When we have proper surveys to tell us how the birds are using the area, we’ll be able to work with the planning authority and consultees to determine the way forward.’

The earliest date for a planning application would be April next year.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Bohai reclamation projects threaten migratory bird habitats

Staff Reporter 
08:58 (GMT+8)

The coastal areas of the Bohai Sea in northeastern China, long a habitat for birds flying one of the world's eight major migration routes, is being been replaced by massive sea reclamation projects and aquaculture farms, reports Chinese online news service the Paper.

Bohai Sea is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of northeastern China. Its proximity to Beijing makes it one of the busiest seaways in the world.

A Chinese research team made up of experts including Su Jilan, an academician at a research institute run by China's State Oceanic Administration, has found that during the 2006-2010 Five-Year Plan Beijing launched to boost economic development, land reclamation projects in coastal provinces and cities around China created some 5,000 square kilometers of new land.

AUDIO MNR tracks threatened Eastern Whip-poor-will

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is asking people for help tracking the whereabouts of the threatened Eastern Whip-poor-will in northwestern Ontario.
There's a good chance you've never spotted a Whip-poor-will, but you may have heard its call.
The small, mottled-brown bird is named for its distinctive song. It's also well-camouflaged and nocturnal, with a particular fondness for brightly moonlit nights.
"When we go out and do surveys, folks would go out at night and drive along roads and simply get out of the vehicle and listen for that call," said Peter Addison, a species-at-risk specialist with the MNR in Thunder Bay.
"That's how we would figure out where they are and how many there might be in an area."
Addison says the Whip-poor-will population has been declining for several decades, at a rate of about three per cent each year in Ontario.
For the past four years MNR offices in the northwest have collected information about the birds in an effort to learn more about where they are nesting, so that those areas can be protected.

RSPB names East of England as vital region for declining turtle dove species

Posted: September 18, 2014


Communities across the East of England are being urged to come together to support the declining turtle dove species.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is highlighting the plight of the bird, which is currently halving in number every six years.

The Eastern region is a stronghold for vulnerable turtle dove populations in the UK, home to over 60 per cent of the summer breeding population.

Sam Lee, RSPB turtle dove conservation advisor in the East, said: The gentle purr of the turtle dove has become increasingly rare following rapid and sustained population declines.

"Across the region, we are working on developing urgent practical solutions and are heartened by how many individuals and communities are passionate about halting the decline of this iconic species."

In Cambridgeshire, the RSPB's Hope Farm develops and trials farming techniques that can produce food cost-effectively while creating valuable wildlife habitats.

If you have land on which you would like to create a habitat for turtle doves, contact the RSPB on 01603 660066.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Manx shearwater in distress alert from RSPCA

Manx shearwater birds may be seen in distress on Welsh beaches as their migration season approaches, the RSPCA has warned.

People have been urged to keep a look out after inspectors rescued their first Manx shearwater of the year, washed up on the coast at Carmarthen.

The stricken bird was released after a rest and a feed at the Gower Bird Hospital.

It will make another attempt to fly to South America for the winter.

The birds rely on thermals in the air to aid their transatlantic flight, and can be blown back to Europe by adverse weather conditions.

RSPCA Inspector Rohan Barker collected the Manx shearwater at Bronwydd Road, Carmarthen, on 9 September.

Pests wiping out unique ‘land of birds’

OPINION: Maryann Ewers and Bill Rooke spell out the importance of using 1080.

Nicky Hager
The debate regarding 1080 use is again hot news and opponents are making headway via the media and some political parties. The general public are being led to believe that this issue is far more divisive than it actually is.

The greater proportion of those against its use comes from a hunting ethos that's embedded in New Zealand's culture. No amount of peer-reviewed scientific evidence or two in-depth reports have changed their opinions.

Quite simply, to these people, the protection of introduced game animals, to later kill at will, is more important than halting the extinction of species that evolved here millions of years ago.

Do human recreational values take precedence over the survival of these species? This is the question the public is being asked to make a judgment on.

We and many people like us, who have spent years trapping pests, not as a recreational pursuit but out of a deep felt obligation to try and save our precious native biota, have no hidden agenda.

Deer, pigs, thar, chamois, goats and wallabies are found in accessible places all over New Zealand and on DOC estate, yet an increase to 7 per cent of 1080 use on DOC land has spawned the emergence of a Ban 1080 political party and constant ridicule of our Department of Conservation (DOC), Forest and Bird and other conservation groups.

Tawny owls casualties of speeding cars

A total of ten tawny owls were rescued from roadside incidents by WRAS

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is warning drivers in East Sussex to slow down when driving at night following a spate of collisions with tawny owls.

A total of ten tawny owls were hit over a six-week period at Ashdown Forest, Uckfield, Scaynes Hill, Magham Down, Hastings, Lewes, Polegate, and Eastbourne.

“Unfortunately three died out on site before our emergency ambulances arrived,” said WRAS Casualty Centre Manager and Director Kathy Martyn, “three had to be put down due to the severity of their injuries, two have been released and two are still in care.”

The incidents all happened at night or at dusk, when the owls are active, hunting on the roads for rodents in grass verges and roadside embankments. “Many people think it’s safe to drive fast at night as you can see approaching car’s head lights from a distance,” said Trevor Weeks, MBE founder of East Sussex WRAS, “sadly wildlife don’t have lights on them and could easily run out into the road causing potentially fatal injuries to both the animal as well as humans.”

Colorado birds receive protection against wind turbines

Wind farms in Colorado must soon adhere to new legislation to protect birds

The US’ first wind energy legislation to protect birds against wind energy and other renewable energy has been passed. The Bird Protection Act will come into force in January 2015, requiring energy producers to ensure that their facilities protect birds and other wildlife.

The bill – drafted by State Senator David Balmer – referenced a recent study, which stated that in 2012, 573,000 birds were killed by the wind industry. Another study also referenced by the bill estimated that around 1.4 million birds will be killed annually by 2030, based on current unregulated wind industry expansion.

As of early next year, wind energy producers will be required to follow ‘Bird Smart wind energy standards’, which will include the following:

Friday 19 September 2014

Wildlife licences: can’t shoot robins, but Egyptian geese are game

Changes spare top birds of Britain and allows trapping and releasing protected species found on farmland

The Guardian, Wednesday 17 September 2014 18.00 BST

Landowners wanting to be allowed to shoot robins, pied wagtails, starlings and other favourite birds seen eating their crops have been rebuffed by the government. But shooters will be able to legally kill or destroy the nests of Egyptian geese and trap and release protected birds like song thrushes, blue tits and dunnocks found foraging in food stores and barns.

Natural England, the government’s wildlife adviser, was swamped by over 2,000 responses from individuals and competing shooting and conservation groups earlier this year when it consulted the public on 46 proposals to change the licences which dertermine what wildlife can be legally controlled. Twenty-five changes were agreed by the board but many others were rejected.

Proposals dismissed included allowing schools to take temporary possession of great crested newts for educational purposes, and taking some species of the crow family off the list of birds that can be legally shot to protect crops and health.

But it was agreed that the jackdaw, jay and collared dove should continue to be killed under “general licences” that prevent agricultural damage. All three species have stable or rising populations, though none has been proven to constitute a threat to farming.

Rare British bird on the rise

A new study on birds in Dartmoor has revealed that the number of dunlin have increased in response to efforts to restore the moor’s mires.

Dunlins are small wading birds that breed across northern Europe, Russia, and North America, choosing Dartmoor as their most southerly breeding location. Their population in the UK is currently recorded at 9,600 pairs.

As they rely exclusively on good quality blanket bog to breed, Dartmoor provides an important location for them in the UK. The Dartmoor Mires Project is a pilot scheme that has been set up to assess the feasibility and impact of restoring the degraded blanket bog. 

The RSPB was contracted by the Dartmoor Mires Project to conduct a bird survey of blanket bogs on the north moor in 2014, following a similar survey undertaken in 2010, and two smaller ones in 2007 and 2013.

The results of the survey were positive, and revealed a 37 per cent increase in dunlin between 2010 and 2014, with 22 territorial pairs compared with 16 in 2010. 

Commenting on the finding, Helen Booker, Conservation Officer for the RSPB in the South West said: “It would genuinely seem that the restoration works have had an important positive effect on the dunlin breeding population. This is great news, and it’s to be hoped that continuing efforts to restore the mires will continue to pay off and secure the future of this wonderful bird here at its most southerly site in the world.

Being social: Learning from the behavior of birds

September 17, 2014

National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)

Science has learned a great deal about complex social behavior by studying nonhuman mammals and primates, but parrots might have something to teach too. A new study -- the first to quantify the social lives of parrots using social network analysis -- provides intriguing new insights into parrot sociality revealing a sophisticated social structure with layers of relationships and complex interactions.

Thursday 18 September 2014

CABS Bird Guards witness 4 protected birds shot down in Malta & Gozo


In the last 24 hours teams of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said that they have witnessed hunters shooting down 4 protected birds. in both Malta and Gozo.

“These include a Kestrel killed near Safi at around 7:35 AM this morning, a Honey Buzzard which was shot down in Has-Saptan valley today at around 8:15 AM and a Grey Heron which was blasted out of the sky close to Bidni at 8:23 AM.”

The case in Bidni was documented on video and can be seen below. CABS said that “the footage was shown to an ALE patrol which arrived 40 minutes after CABS alerted the Police General Headquarters. The officers conducted a search in the area but did not find either the dead bird or the person who shot it down.”

“The poacher would have had enough time to hide the bird or to leave the area with his illegal prey,” commented CABS spokesman Axel Hirschfeld. He said that CABS was informed that two of the ALE off-road vehicles used for hunting surveillance are currently not available due to various malfunctions thus decimating the number of ALE patrols in the field by two.