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 30 April 2015

Bird nests on Jersey’s offshore reefs been deliberately damaged says Department of the Environment

Birds’ nests on Jersey’s offshore reefs have been deliberately destroyed by visitors to the reefs Jersey’s Department of the Environment have reported.

Visitors are also reported to disturbing seals and dolphins, building bonfires, leaving litter and clearing a sizeable area of vegetation on Maîtresse Île, Les Minquiers, leaving bare soil exposed to the erosive action of the weather and sea spray.

The Department of the Environment are asking ask boat owners to take care when they visit Jersey’s offshore reefs this summer.

All Jersey’s offshore reefs (Les Écréhous, Les Minquiers, Les Dirouilles and Paternosters) are recognised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and the main islands are part of Jersey’s Coastal National Park area.

All parts of the reefs are considered to be ecologically sensitive. Between March and August the main islands are home to nesting seabirds, which it is an offence to disturb under the Conservation of Wildlife Law (Jersey) 2000. In the autumn large numbers of migrating birds are dependent on the vegetation on the reefs for shelter and food.

Bryan’s Shearwater is confirmed breeding in Japan’s Ogasawara Islands

News is now in of the confirmation of breeding by the Critically Endangered shearwater with an incubating bird being discovered on Higashijima Island in the Ogasawaras, as described below by the Mainichi Japan of 25 March.

"A team of scientists has confirmed a nesting site of an endangered seabird species once thought to have gone extinct on the Ogasawara island chain, it has been learned -- the first time a nesting site of the species has ever been discovered.

The species, "Bryan's Shearwater," whose body length ranges between 27 and 30 centimeters, was believed to have gone extinct after it was last seen on Midway Atoll in 1991. Scientists conducted DNA testing on seabirds found on the Ogasawara Islands -- which have been recognized as a UNESCO world natural heritage site -- between 1997 and 2011, as their features matched those of the Bryan's Shearwater.

In 2012, it was confirmed that the birds were indeed members of the Bryan's Shearwater species. The Ministry of the Environment subsequently included the birds in the Red List as a critically endangered "IA" species.

In the latest discovery, scientists including Kazuto Kawakami, a senior researcher at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, went ashore on several uninhabited islands of the Ogasawaras during the night, and searched for the rare bird by observing its high-pitched cry.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Vulture culture atop coconut palms sends bird numbers soaring

By Vijay V Singh, TNN | 27 Apr, 2015, 02.57AM IST

NAVI MUMBAI: Around 200 km south of Mumbai in the picturesque coastal town of Shrivardhan in Raigad district, a meticulous Vulture Conservation Centre is slowly but surely taking shape atop tall coconut trees. 

Forest officials of Roha taluka informed that at present there are 30 nests of white backed and long billed vulture species at their Shrivardhan centre which was started around three years back with the sole purpose of increasing the vulture population. 

Unusual bird spotted at Upton Warren en route to Eastern Europe

First published 2 hours ago in Regional News by Alex Townley

AN unusual birds has dropped in on the Moors pools at the Upton Warren Nature Reserve on its way to Scandinavia or Eastern Europe to breed.
A red-necked grebe has been spotted near the shallow waters of the nature reserve between Droitwich and Bromsgrove, complete with its summer breeding plumage.

John Belsey, a volunteer warden at Upton Warren, said: “A small number of red-necked grebes overwinter in the UK and they pass through on their way to and from breeding grounds in spring and autumn. This is the first time we’ve ever seen one at Upton Warren and to have one in full summer breeding plumage is absolutely fantastic.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

1,000 twitchers in a flap as ‘lost’ rare bird flies into Britain

MORE than a thousand bird watchers got themselves into a flap after a rare wader took a 4,000-mile detour to Britain.

PUBLISHED: 00:01, Mon, Apr 27, 2015 | UPDATED: 11:51, Mon, Apr 27, 2015

The Hudsonian godwit usually migrates to South America in the winter and then heads north to its breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska in spring.

It is only been spotted in the UK a handful of times.

A keen-eyed twitcher spotted the bird late last week before news spread via an online forumon Saturday after an expert confirmed the sighting.

A crowd of birdwatchers from all over the country lined the water’s edge on the Somerset Levels by the afternoon.

Birdwatcher Michael Trew, 70, said: “It is quite a strange affair.

"We don’t know how long it has even been here.

“It’s not supposed to be here at all.

FKNK: BirdLife’s possession of shot cuckoo may have been “breaking the law”


The hunters’ federation FKNK has said in a statement today that BirdLife “may have been breaking the law” when it was in possession of a protected bird on Thursday.

The FKNK was referring the BirdLife Malta’s statement on Thursday regarding a shot protected cuckoo, that was found by a dog walker at Mizieb.

The Federation’s statement said that it hoped in the future BirdLife would be more correct in its actions, since if it is found that a protected bird has been illegally shot, it increases the chances of the perpetrators being caught and prosecuted.

It is also possible that the injured cuckoo could have been saved and rehabilitated, the FKNK said.

The FKNK also said that is has made a request to the police to keep it informed of the outcome of the investigations.

New York state to dim lights to save migrating birds

28 April 2015 

The state of New York is to turn off non-essential lights in state-run buildings to help birds navigate their migratory routes in spring and autumn.

Migrating birds are believed to use stars to navigate but they can be disorientated by electric lights, causing them to crash into buildings.

The phenomenon, known as "fatal light attraction", is estimated to kill up to one billion birds a year in the US.

Millions of birds migrate through New York along the Atlantic Flyway route.

Now those passing over the city by night will stand a better chance of making it further north.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that bright outdoor lights will be turned off between 23:00 and dawn during peak migration seasons in spring and autumn.

The state will join several well-known New York landmarks that have already signed up to the National Audubon Society's Lights Out programme, including the Rockefeller Centre, Chrysler Building and Time Warner Centre.

Monday 27 April 2015

Another white-tailed eagle poisoned in Ireland

The magnificent White-tailed Eagle is the subject of a conservation project to reintroduce the species to Ireland

Another White-tailed Eagle has been found dead, at a nest site in Connemara, reports the Golden Eagle Trust, an Irish conservation organisation.

This is the 13th confirmed poisoning of a White-tailed Eagle in Ireland since the reintroduction project began in 2007.

White-tailed Eagles reach maturity and begin breeding at about five years of age so this female was only in her second year.

The six-year-old female was discovered by Conservation Ranger Dermot Breen and was recovered a day later by a team from the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Subsequent post-mortem at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Athlone and toxicology analysis at the State Laboratoratory established that the bird had been poisoned.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, condemned the apparent illegal poisoning, saying: “The loss of this breeding female comes as a major blow to the reintroduction project for White-tailed Eagles.

Hoopoe causing a hoopla in southeast as 50 exotic birds spotted

Birdwatchers believe a funnel of air caused them to overshoot France and land in Ireland

A hoopoe: it is 50 years since so many have been spotted in Ireland.

First published:Mon, Apr 27, 2015, 01:00

If you think you spotted an unusual pink bird with zebra-patterned wings in recent weeks, you are not alone.

The hoopoe, so called because of the sound it makes, has come to these shores in unexpectedly large numbers this year, with at least 50 being spotted, according to Birdwatch Ireland’s head of operations, Oran O’Sullivan. It is 50 years since so many hoopoes have been spotted here.

Usually, fewer than 10 are recorded in early spring or late autumn when migrating birds stray off course.

Mr O’Sullivan said the exotic birds, about the size of a starling or thrush, were a Mediterranean species, typically nesting in trees and olive groves.

Camera Traps Catch Rare Amazon Bird Following Peccaries

By Jeremy Hance, | April 26, 2015

NeomorphusSalviniSmit.jpgAlthough a large, attractive bird found across Latin America, scientists know almost nothing about the rufous-vented ground cuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi). Renzo Piana, the director of science and research with the Amazon Conservation Association, described the bird as “rare,” “cryptic,” “mainly solitary,” and “mostly silent”—much of which explains why so little is known about it. But camera traps are helping to reveal more about this, and thousands of other little known species. 

Piana and colleagues recently documented never-before-seen behavior of the rufous-vented ground cuckoo on camera trap in the Peruvian Amazon. A series of photos shows the cuckoo boldly following a group of collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu). 

Sunday 26 April 2015

RSPB lays down strict rules to protect ospreys at T in the Park

Arts Correspondent
Saturday 25 April 2015

A wildlife charity has said it will oppose T in the Park's controversial new home at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire this July unless strict rules to care for protected birds are put in place.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) does not want nesting ospreys close to the proposed site to be disturbed.

RSPB Scotland is urging Perth and Kinross Council not to grant planning permission for the event without safeguards being secured.

It has also expressed disappointment that the issue has not been resolved "at this very late stage".

On the final day of consultation before a decision is made next month, the RSPB called for a series of measures to be put in place, including restrictions on the use of fireworks and lighting, and permanent 'no go' buffer zones around an active osprey nest.

These zones would measure 500m until after mid-June - this covers the period when the birds are likely to lay eggs, incubate them, and raise small chicks.

It is also asking for an 'ornithological clerk of works', a specialist qualified and experienced bird expert, to be appointed who will be able to overrule others on site to stop any activities that may cause disturbance.

Some T in the Park infrastructure, like the Slam Tent, big wheel and funfair should also be moved 500m away from the osprey nest.

Conservationists turn tiny New Zealand island into bold wildlife experiment

Big things are happening on Rotoroa, a new sanctuary for endangered species that aims to create a whole new ecosystem

Tuesday 21 April 2015 22.00 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 22 April 201517.25 BST

Auckland Zoo conservationist holds the first
North Island brown kiwi chick to be released
 on Rotoroa Island. Photograph: Auckland Zoo
Rotoroa Island, off the coast of New Zealand is tiny, at just 82 hectares (200 acres), but don’t let its diminutiveness fool you: big things are happening here. Over the past few years the island has become the site of a quiet, but grand, conservation experiment. What would happen if you populated an island with a whole suite of endangered species, some of which were never found there to begin with? And what would happen if you didn’t fence the island off and keep pesky humans out, but let people – school groups even – tramp through the grounds? 

Across most of our planet, truly wild, unmanaged places are a thing of the past.Onnie Byers

“We are deliberately aiming not to recreate an ecosystem, but to create an ecosystem anew,” says Jonathan Wilcken, the director of Auckland zoo. “We don’t frankly care very much whether those species existed on Rotoroa Island.”

Wilcken’s words – a shot across the bow of traditional conservation – marks just how radical and interesting the experiment on Rotoroa Island has become. The zoo has partnered with the island’s private mangers, the Rotoroa Island Trust, to conduct this wild endeavour: creating a new, managed ecosystem on a patch of land rising from the North Island’s Hauraki Gulf. 

Wilcken adds: “Nor do we care very much if the species could sustain themselves if we weren’t there to manage them.” 

Saturday 25 April 2015

Planners give green light for office and bird sanctuary development

Marjo Distribution applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council for permission to build new offices in Third Drove, alongside an eco-friendly bird sanctuary.

Marjo, which employs eight people, told the council that it has been based in temporary offices for 15 years and wished to expand into a more permanent location.

And, together with the new offices, Marjo said it wanted to build “a hub” for surrounding wildlife.

Although Little Downham Parish Council was apposed to the plans, saying that it constituted development in the countryside, East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Rebecca Saunt disagreed and backed the proposal.

Marjo told the council: “We wish to create a bird sanctuary and building that re-encourages the now diminishing local bird population.

“The droves used to be a hive of bird activity but changes in agriculture have led to a huge decline in various birds. With the help of the RSPB, which has advised on the project, we wish to plant the necessary vegetation to reinstall the habitat that would be ideal for various local birds.

Carmichael mine may push rare bird to extinction, scientists warn Greg Hunt

Scientists say clearing the largest remaining habitat of the black-throated finch to make way for coalmines will have ‘irreversible consequences’

Friday 24 April 2015 06.43 BSTLast modified on Friday 24 April 201508.31 BST
The creation of Australia’s largest mine will have “serious detrimental and irreversible consequences” for the endangered black-throated finch and may even push it to extinction, a recovery team for the species has advised Greg Hunt, the federal environment minister.

Poephila cincta -Baltimore Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland, USA-8a.jpgThe black-throated finch recovery team, comprised of scientists from the CSIRO and James Cook University as well as representatives from Townsville council, have written to Hunt and the Queensland government to warn of the impact of the $16.5bn Carmichael mine, set to be situated in the Galilee Basin region.

The letter states that there are only two remaining habitats where significant populations of black-throated finches remain, with the largest of these areas to be cleared to make way for the network of open-cut and underground mines that will make up the 455 sq km Carmichael project.

The clearing of 87 sq km of prime finch habitat will pose a “serious risk” to the future of the species, the recovery team warns, while plans to mitigate the threat are “inadequate”.

Friday 24 April 2015

'Flameproof' falcons and hawks: Most polluted bird on record found in Vancouver

April 22, 2015

McGill University

A Cooper's hawk, found in Greater Vancouver, is the most polluted wild bird that has been found anywhere in the world. A team of Canadian researchers made this startling discovery while analyzing liver samples from birds of prey that were discovered either injured or dead in the Vancouver area.

The levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the contaminated Cooper's hawk were 196 parts per million, significantly higher than those recorded in birds found either in cities in California or in an electronic waste site in China. PBDEs are a group of chemicals that act as flame retardants and were once used widely in computers, stereos, televisions, vehicles, carpets and furniture.

A focus on flight: Birds use just two postures to avoid obstacles during flight

April 23, 2015

Harvard University

A new study shows birds use two highly stereotyped postures to avoid obstacles in flight. The study could open the door to new ways to program drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles to avoid similar obstacles.

Songbirds Emerge for Spring, But Is the Timing Off? (Essay)

Naomi Eide, University of Maryland, College Park | April 23, 2015 04:15pm ET

Naomi Eide is a master's student in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Just before dawn, birds wreak havoc on the stillness, cackling and calling to the world that spring has arrived and that it is time to mate. It's 6:32 on Easter morning, the sunrise is 14 minutes away, and the world is a hazy mosaic of muted colors, too pale to call yellow or orange. 

A golden-crowned sparrow sings its three descending notes, sounding mournful in a minor key among the cheerful songs of avian neighbors. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's guide, many say the golden-crowned sparrow's whistles sound like a phrase, such as "I'm so tired" or "Oh, dear me." The air is bustling with the songs of flirting birds, yet sleeping houses remain blissfully unaware that nature's instinct has taken over with the change in day length.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Berries clue to boosting numbers of rare capercaillie

21 April 2015 
From the sectionHighlands & Islands

Numbers of capercaillie have been falling since the 1970s

Managing woodland in a way that boosts the quality of blaeberries could in turn help to better protect a rare bird, a new report suggests.

Scottish capercaillie have declined to as few as 1,000 individuals since the 1970s.

Adult birds and their chicks feed on blaeberry leaves and the insects the plants attract.

The new research suggests better quality blaeberries are found where trees have been thinned out.

The study published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said it was likely that in these areas the plants benefitted from an increase in sunlight and also nutrients from cut branches left to rot on the forest floor.

More research would be needed to better understand how woodland management could aid this process, the report has recommended.

Aquarium welcomes two feathered friends

By Simon Jones
Published Apr 22, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 22, 2015 at 8:11 am)

The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two new feathered additions to the animal population.

Two fluffy tawny frogmouths have successfully hatched and been hand-reared by staff who worked around the clock to feed and care for the birds.

For more than four weeks, experts in Bermuda have been in regular contact with specialists in Columbia, South Carolina, and in Orlando and Seattle to ensure the survival of the chicks.

It is the first time that these rare birds, which are native to Australia, have been successfully bred in Bermuda.

“It’s a huge moment for us, especially from the hand-rearing standpoint,” said Roma Hayward, animal care and quarantine officer.

“It has involved a great deal of collaboration with other establishments, including Sea World in Florida, the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina, and the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

“Being part of the Aquarium and Zoo Association allows us to work with these other establishments and maximise the chances of successfully hand-rearing these birds.

“We also had staff coming in to watch and feed the chicks around the clock, especially in the early days when they had to be fed every two hours.”

Staff at the zoo removed the first chick from the nest after it had hatched on March 21, as well as a second egg.

The second egg hatched on March 28 and the two little tawny frogmouths have been cared for in an incubator at the zoo.

“What makes this even more exceptional is the father Kermit’s genetics and his age, too,” said Patrick Talbot, the zoo’s curator.

'Mega rare' blue heron spotted on Isles of Scilly

By WMNAGreenwood | Posted: April 22, 2015

Birdwatchers are flocking to the Isles of Scilly after a twitcher filmed a “mega rare” species of heron, the first time it has been recorded in the UK.

The great blue heron was caught on camera by keen enthusiast Ashley Fisher from a bird hide on a nature reserve. He described the bird as “striking“, with a long heavy bill and maroon patches at the end of its wings.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

These Endangered Penguins Are Getting ‘Honeymoon Suites’

April 18, 2015

Biologists hope privacy will encourage endangered African penguins to breed 

Things are about to get a little racy between the animals at the New England Aquarium. 

Aquarium experts are building “honeymoon suites” for eight pairs of endangered African penguins, as a way of encouraging them to breed more chicks, the Associated Press reports. The aquarium hopes to grow the population of the birds, which are expected to be extinct in the wild by 2025. 

The honeymoon suites will be plastic igloo-like homes and private nooks built off of the main exhibit to protect the penguins’ modesty from the prying eyes of the aquarium’s visitors.

After 100 Year Absence, Bald Eagles Return to Big Apple

April 21, 2015 - 12:52 PM

( – For the first time in more than a century, a pair of bald eagles has been spotted building a nest on the southern shore of Staten Island in New York City, the Audubon Society announced last week.

The local birding community has named the new city residents “Vito” and “Merica”.

The last time eagles were seen nesting within New York’s city limits was 1914, the same year the passenger pigeon went extinct.

“The eagles are engaging in brooding behavior typical of nesting birds incubating their eggs,” said Todd Winston, communications manager of NYC Audubon, which noted that eagles built a “practice nest” last year at the site, which belongs to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Male and female eagles mate for life. Both parents incubate the eggs and tend the young eaglets until they are ready to fly on their own.

Rare falcon finds residency on Vermont nuclear smokestack

April 21,2015

VERNON — A rare falcon has found a permanent home on a nuclear power plant smokestack. 

Employees at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station have played an active role in creating and maintaining a home for peregrine falcons, the Brattleboro Reformer reported. 

The falcon is listed as state-threatened in New Hampshire, and Vermont has roughly 40 pairs across the state. 

Employees of the now-closing plant became aware of the falcons in 2009 after receiving a call from a New Hampshire Audubon biologist. Employees received permission from management to install a nest box on the smokestack, built by Steve Skibniowski, a longtime Yankee employee who now serves as a consultant at the plant. Audubon experts sent him the plans for a wooden box with an open front and a special perch. 

“I’m surprised it’s held up as well as it has, because it’s very severe weather up there,” he said. 

Battle For Our Birds a great success

Wednesday, 22 April 2015, 11:43 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Battle For Our Birds a great success

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species.

The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign.

“There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says.

“If we had done nothing and treated it as business as usual, the rat and stoat plague accompanying last year’s beech mast would have wiped out local populations of some of our rarest birds such as the kakariki, mohua/yellowhead or whio/blue duck.”

Last spring brought with it a once-in-15 year beech mast, with more than a million tonnes of seed dropped by beech trees in South Island forests.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Why One Idaho Woman Is Trying To Save A Rare Bird In Central America

An Idaho woman is studying the migration patterns of a rare bird in Central America. The three-wattled bellbird makes bell-like calls, and those sounds can travel half a mile. Some experts believe it’s the loudest bird in the world.

Robin Bjork has a day job at Trout Unlimited in Boise, but she’s also a research scientist and her passion is birds. She’s studying the bellbird because its numbers are falling thanks to deforestation and habitat degradation. Her goal is to find ways to preserve the bird's high cloud forest habitat; she says this bird shows how important habitat is to the survival of a species.

“They’re showing us that one protected area alone is not necessarily enough to save certain species because some species require a lot of different regions and these regions aren’t even necessarily in close proximity to each other,” says Bjork.

Parks Authority calls for swift action to curb bird poisonings

During the past six weeks, three poisoning cases have occurred, the most recent of which was discovered just last weekend.

In light of several troublesome cases of bird poisonings in the past few weeks, Israel Nature and Parks Authority director-general Shaul Goldstein is calling upon all relevant parties to help eradicate the phenomenon.

Goldstein drafted a letter on Monday to the directors-general and officials of government bodies and environmental organizations, requesting that they urgently prioritize the matter “in order to efficiently and rapidly reduce the amount of illegal poisonings in Israel which harm nature and may also impact humans,” the INPA said.

During the past six weeks, three poisoning cases have occurred, the most recent of which was discovered just last weekend. While two griffon vultures stricken by the poison over the weekend received treatment and were returned to nature on Sunday, two kites and one Egyptian vulture died, according to the INPA.

On March 13, meanwhile, five griffon vultures and two black vultures died of severe poisoning on the Golan Heights. Just two weeks later, on March 28, five griffon vultures died of poisoning in the country’s South, the INPA added.

Geese Population Control At Walnut Creek Golf Course Draws Complaints Over Cruelty To Goslings

by John RamosApril 20, 2015 6:15 PM

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX 5) — An East Bay community’s solution to overpopulation of geese – the forced starvation of young goslings or exposure to predators – is creating bad feelings among many of the residents.

At Walnut Creek’s Rossmoor retirement village, the golf course has become a haven for hundreds of Canada geese, which are fun to look at for walkers – not so much for golfers.

“Many of them don’t care because they hate stepping into poop,” said Rossmoor resident Karen Perkins. “And they hate their golf balls getting into goose poop, right?”

It’s a problem for a lot of Bay Area courses and sports grounds, especially this time of year when the birds settle in to raise their newly-hatched goslings. But while people here may understand the problem, many are very upset by the golf course’s solution.

“They don’t have a chance…and it seems so cruel,” said Rossmoor resident Madeleine Davenport.

Endangered bird finds sanctuary in Northern Irish prison for dangerous inmates

Around 20 pairs of breeding lapwings have made their home at HMP Maghaberry

By AOL Travel, Apr 20, 2015
Updated: April 20, 2015 7:23 AM

Lapwings, one of the world's most threatened birds, have found a sanctuary within a prison used for housing the most dangerous inmates in Northern Ireland.

Life sentence prisoners helped create the habitat for around 20 pairs of breeding lapwings which have made their home at HMP Maghaberry on a marshy no-man's-land dominated by razor wire and lookouts behind reinforced glass.

The six acres of waste ground lies between the perimeter fence and wall of a jail, near Lisburn in County Antrim, more familiar as a holding centre for dissident republicans, sex offenders and murderers. WORDS: PA. 

A combination of swampy short grass because of the clay ground left over from the prison's foundations and the lack of predators like foxes has created the ideal conditions for breeding chicks, retired prison guard and gardener Denis Smyth said.

He added: "Once they are big enough to fly, over the fence they go."

Monday 20 April 2015

The Great Cuckoo Race is won - but not by Dudley!

We have a winner! First back to Britain after his long migration from sub-Saharan Africa was Hennah, who was satellite tagged in the New Forest last May and was named after First Lieutenant William Hennah who was on HMS Mars in the Battle of Trafalgar.

The winner, Hennah, named 
after a man who sailed with
Bookmakers William Hill has been betting on the inaugural Great Cuckoo Race, involving the migration of 17 tagged cuckoos, with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) tracking their progress from Africa to the UK.

Dudley had become the odds-on favourite after extending a commanding lead and touching down in France while all the other cuckoos were still in Africa. But Hennah came through at 25/1, arriving on 15 April after making fast progress on the final leg. 

Hennah was last picked up on radar on the 9th February in Sierra Leone, but just as hope was fading that he was even alive, a faint signal was picked up from the New Forest, which steadily grew as the sunny weather charged his solar-powered tagging device. 

Carrion Crows in Spain thrive when they have a cuckoo in the nest

Carrion Crow chicks derive benefits from having to share their nest, researchers have found

A study in Spain has uncovered an interesting relationship between Carrion Crows and Great Spotted Cuckoos, reports Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

When the cuckoos lay up to three eggs in the nests of the larger crows, the chicks of both species are often raised together successfully, with the young crows ultimately growing bigger than the cuckoos.

So it’s not so bad for crow chicks as it can be for other species of birds who find their nests taken over by a cuckoo youngster.

When our Common Cuckoos utilise the nests of Reed Warblers, the growing cuckoo chick will push other eggs and chicks out of the nest.

When Great Spotted Cuckoos parasitise and take over Magpie nests, they do not evict the host’s young from the nest. They do, however, succeed in out-competing the magpie chicks for food, which often leads to the latter’s death.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Compromise and concessions

Sunday, April 19, 2015, 00:01 by 
Nicholas Crampton, Mundford, Norfolk, England

I have watched the story of Malta’s attempts to solve its bird conservation problems since 2000, and tried to analyse these and offer some ideas to the Maltese government on their resolution in the form of a report in 2012, in which both Birdlife Malta and FKNK (hunters’ lobby) were consulted.

I am fully persuaded on ecological grounds that the idea of recreational hunting in spring is plainly wrong, and that the EU Birds Directive which allows it is thus fundamentally flawed. However, the fact is that it is legally possible and now likely to be a feature of Maltese life for some time, as it seems unlikely that either of the main political parties will make an election pledge to abolish it in the foreseeable future.

Rare vultures nesting in Israel poisoned by farmers aiming to kill wolves

The poison in the bodies of dead livestock is racking an Israeli vulture population that has already shrunk in recent years.
By Zafrir Rinat | Apr. 19, 2015 | 1:29 PM

Two vultures are in critical condition Sunday, suspected of being sickened by farmers who spread illegal poison in the carcasses of cows and sheep as a way to kill wild dogs, wolves and jackals.

The number of vultures and eagles nesting in Israel has fallen sharply in recent years, so these and other recent poisonings represent a serious blow to the country’s wildlife.

The two vultures were found in the Shunra Sands region in the south, which is used by farmers and also by the army for training. The birds were found over the weekend and sent to the animal hospital at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan, commonly known as Safari Park.

Alongside the vultures lay the bodies of two other birds of prey — one kite and one Egyptian vulture — and three wild dogs. All the animals had died from the poison, whose source was probably the decaying body of a dead sheep, which was found nearby.

This was the third incident in six weeks in which wild animals have been poisoned in either the Negev in the south or the Golan Heights in the north.

This weekend’s poisonings were discovered after an exhausted vulture was spotted at the Shunra Sands. It was suffering heart problems and was treated with atrophine, which can neutralize harm to the nervous system. Its condition improved.

Curious young birds in Wellington sanctuary trip on magic mushrooms

5:00 AM Sunday Apr 19, 2015

A group of inquisitive birds were left out of their tree after eating what is believed to be magic mushrooms at a Wellington wildlife sanctuary.

Five rare little hihi - mostly juveniles - were found "sort of paralysed or spasming" on the ground in the Zealandia Sanctuary in Karori after a ranger noticed them pecking at an unidentified fungus.

Zealandia lead ranger conservation Matu Booth said the age of the birds that ate the mushrooms may go some way towards explaining their strange behaviour.

"Maybe it was a bit of a teenage 'let's try it' mentality. Perhaps one bird was down there trying it and others were encouraged to do it, too," he said.

All the birds recovered after being placed in cardboard boxes and left to come down for a few hours.

Booth said the birds were always looking for new food sources.

"But for a species to suddenly go from nectar and insect eating to apparently eating fungi, that's a bit of a strange one. One explanation may be that there were some insects on the fungi."

The hihi, or stitchbird, is one of New Zealand's rarest birds because of its carefree, friendly nature and propensity to nest in tree holes, making it an easy target for rats and other predators.

Saturday 18 April 2015

BirdLife launches Europe’s most ambitious bird project

Posted on: 18 Apr 2015

BirdLife International has launched a project to radically improve the conservation of 16 charismatic European bird species across 10 countries.

The new EU-funded project will aim to tackle the severe threats that represent a danger for the conservation of a number of iconic birds. 'LIFE Euro SAP' will run for 3 years, involving 13 partners, covering a total of 16 species. The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) and the hunters’ association FACE will also participate and contribute.

The project will develop new Species Action Plans (SAPs) for 2 species (Yelkouan Shearwater and Monteiro’s Storm-petrel), and will review and update existing SAPs for six bird species with continuous population declines: Velvet Scoter, White-headed Duck, Black and Bearded Vultures, Dalmatian Pelican andEuropean Turtle Dove. It will also develop and pilot a Multi Species Action Plan for the major European lowland grassland breeding waders: Oystercatcher, Northern Lapwing, ‘Baltic’ Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Common Redshank.

Friday 17 April 2015

The Lost Condor: Man finds rare Grand Canyon bird near Cortez

By Shannon Livick
The Cortez Journal

A California condor “missing and feared dead” from near Grand Canyon National Park, was found Thursday by seasonal park ranger Franz Carver.

Carver, who drives around looking for birds on his days off, spotted the California condor on Thursday, April 16, in the Summit Ridge area, south of Dolores.

At first, he thought it was a common bird.

“I saw this bird and thought it was a turkey vulture, but thought that it was too big,” Carver said.

So Carver, who describes himself as an amateur photographer who loves birds, stopped to take some photographs.

“I probably took 15 to 20 shots,” he said. “I thanked the bird for being so cooperative.”

It wasn’t until he downloaded the photographs that he saw a tag that read “N8” on the bird’s wing. 

“Then I knew it was a condor,” he said.

Carver quickly did some research and found a list of birds on the Grand Canyon National Park’s website.

It turns out that N8, also known as bird 680, is a 2-year-old male. The park listed him as “missing and feared dead” in February.