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 June 2015

New RSPB reserve for Scotland

A tranquil area of wetland and grassland on the south-eastern edge of Alloa has become RSPB Scotland’s newest nature reserve, and the charity’s first in Clackmannanshire.

Black Devon Wetlands is a special place for birds and wildlife, such as snipe, short-eared owls, teals and black-headed gulls.

Work to improve the various habitats at the site has already started, with much more planned for the next few months. Visitors are also set to benefit from new paths, viewing areas and signage, and a series of events will be advertised in the near future.

RSPB Scotland’s Anne McCall, who’s the Regional Director for South and West Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be taking on the management of the Black Devon Wetlands and we hope to transform it into a reserve that will not only help wildlife, but also provide local people with a great nature experience right on their doorstep.

Why are seabirds abandoning their ancestral nesting grounds in the Gulf of California?

Warming oceanographic conditions, fishing pressure are driving nesting seabirds away from their ancestral breeding ground in Mexico into California harbors

Date:June 27, 2015

Source:University of California - Riverside

Summary:Warming oceanographic conditions and fishing pressure are driving nesting seabirds away from their ancestral breeding ground in Mexico into California harbors, a group of researchers has found.

Isla Rasa, in the Gulf of California, is renowned for its massive aggregations of nesting seabirds. Over 95 percent of the world populations of Elegant Terns and Heerman's Gulls concentrate unfailingly every year on this tiny island to nest. Ever since the phenomenon was described by L. W. Walker in 1953 the island has been a magnet for tourists, naturalists, filmmakers, and seabird researchers.

During some years in the last two decades, however, the seabirds have arrived to the island in April, as they usually do, but leave soon after without nesting. The first event was the 1998 "El Niño," when oceanic productivity collapsed all along the eastern Pacific coast from Chile to California. But then colony desertion happened again in 2003, and since then it has recurred with increasing frequency in 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2015. Researchers and conservationists were asking themselves where are the birds going when they leave their ancestral nesting ground, and what is causing the abandonment of their historic nesting site.

Key element of human language discovered in bird babble

New study deciphers bird sounds to reveal language precursors in babbler birds

Date:June 29, 2015

Source:University of Exeter

Summary:Stringing together meaningless sounds to create meaningful signals was previously thought to be the preserve of humans alone, but a new study has revealed that babbler birds are also able to communicate in this way.

Researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Zurich discovered that the chestnut-crowned babbler -- a highly social bird found in the Australian Outback -- has the ability to convey new meaning by rearranging the meaningless sounds in its calls. This babbler bird communication is reminiscent of the way humans form meaningful words. The research findings, which are published in the journal PLOS Biology, reveal a potential early step in the emergence of the elaborate language systems we use today.

Lead author Sabrina Engesser from the University of Zurich said: "Although previous studies indicate that animals, particularly birds, are capable of stringing different sounds together as part of a complex song, these songs generally lack a specific meaning and changing the arrangement of sounds within a song does not seem to alter its overall message."

Monday 29 June 2015

A rare glimpse of Panay’s endemic birds

CULASI, Antique—For a few seconds, the pair of elusive feathered creatures appeared, chirping from a tree branch somewhere in the forest fastness of Mount Madja-as.

“It was a rare encounter,” Detchie Gaad, who was with a team of the Panay Bird Club, said of the “maradyang,” a bird species that is endemic only to Panay Island in Western Visayas.

The majestic Madja-as, mountain ranges of Culasi town in Antique province, 2,113 meters above sea level (masl), is the home of the most diverse flora and fauna, some already in a critically endangered situation. It is dubbed one of the last frontiers of Panay and considered by mountaineers one of the toughest climbs in the country.

The Panay Bird Club visited Madja-as “not only to explore the hidden natural treasures of the unspoiled rainforest but to document the maradyang,” according to Ruperto Quitag, its cofounder.

Only a few scientists have surveyed the species found in Madja-as and the two other peaks—Mount Nangtud (2,117 masl) and Mount Baloy (2,080 masl)—in the vulnerable mountain ranges of Antique. Interestingly, other people have started to document the flora and fauna that might interest them for future entries in scientific publications.

Prairie music vanishing: Populations of North Dakota's state bird in serious decline

May 31, 2015 12:00 pm • Kim Fundingsland Minot Daily News

Their song is one of the most unique and recognizable in the bird world. They are the state bird of North Dakota and similarly honored in five other states. And they are vanishing from the landscape.

The western meadowlark no longer makes common appearances atop fence posts where they have perched for decades, almost always emitting their unmistakable flute-like call. It is a sound like none other heard on the prairie.

So distinctive is the call of the western meadowlark that it would be hard to find anyone who grew up in North Dakota who couldn't recognize the melodious and lengthy tune of the colorful bird. Now, sadly, the remarkably pure sound is becoming rarer and rarer each year. It is a lasting and disturbing trend that increases the possibility that a growing number of North Dakota residents may be denied hearing what just a few short years ago seemed common for anyone spending time outdoors in the Peace Garden State.

"Western meadowlarks have declined significantly in the last 10 to 15 years. Our breeding survey data shows that," said Ron Martin of Minot. "That's the iconic sound of the North Dakota prairie."

Martin is a long-time birder who has earned regional and national recognition for his expertise. He has participated in numerous surveys, including regularly covering five of 44 standardized observation routes in North Dakota under the supervision of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Bad news and good news for birds nesting at reservoirs

Date:June 25, 2015

Source:Central Ornithology Publication Office

Summary: In a six-year study at Arrow Lakes Reservoir in British Columbia, researchers found that while some nests failed due to flooding as the reservoir filled up in the spring, the higher water levels actually provided benefits for the nests that survived. Their results show that overall, nesting in the reservoir's riparian areas did not reduce nest success.More than half of the world's major river systems are regulated by dams and reservoirs. Many bird species rely on riparian habitat, building their nests in the vegetation that lines rivers and streams. However, whether they can find success nesting on the shores of reservoirs that are drained and flooded according to the needs of water storage rather than the needs of wildlife has been largely an open question.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Past water patterns drive present wading bird numbers

Date:June 25, 2015

Source:United States Geological Survey

Summary:Wading bird numbers in the Florida Everglades are driven by water patterns that play out over multiple years according to a new study. Previously, existing water conditions were seen as the primary driving factor affecting numbers of birds, but this research shows that the preceding years' water conditions and availability are equally important.

"We've known for some time that changes in water levels trigger a significant response by wading birds in the Everglades," said James Beerens, the study's lead author and an ecologist at USGS. "But what we discovered in this study is the importance of history. What happened last year can tell you what to expect this year."

From 2000 to 2009, scientists examined foraging distribution and abundance data for wading bird populations, including Great Egrets, White Ibises, and threatened Wood Storks. To do the research, they conducted reconnaissance flights across the Greater Everglades system, an area that includes Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. They found climate and water management conditions going as far back as three years influenced current bird population numbers and distribution.

Bittern populations back from the brink of extinction in the UK

After facing near-extinction, the Bittern is back in numbers in our reedbeds

Bittern were extinct in the UK by the end of the 19th century and was absent as a breeding bird between the 1870s and 1911, when the first breeding male was recorded.

The bird returned to peak numbers in the 1950s with around 80 breeding males.

From that time the decline began again, attributable to habitat loss. By 1997 there were only 11 breeding males recorded in England.

Concern over a second UK extinction led to a concerted conservation programme which is driving the current recovery. 

Scientists count bitterns by listening for the male’s foghorn-like booming song, and this year over 150 males have been recorded in England and Wales.

During the breeding season, the bittern prefers sizeable tracts of wet reedbed – a habitat which, two decades ago, in the UK had become scarce and under managed.

Simon Wotton, an RSPB conservation scientist, comments: “In the late 1990s, the bittern was heading towards a second extinction in the UK, largely because its preferred habitat – wet reedbed – was drying out and required intensive management, restoration and habitat recreation.

Songbirds have a thing for patterns

Date:June 25, 2015 

Source:Cell Press 

Summary:You might think that young children would first learn to recognize sounds and then learn how those categories of sounds fit together into words. But that isn't how it works. Rather, kids learn sounds and words at the same time. Now, researchers present evidence from European starlings showing that songbirds learn their songs in much the same way.

'It wasn't clear whether this kind of learning -- where knowledge of a pattern informs understanding about the categories that make up the patterns -- was unique to humans and language, or is a more general process shared with other animals,' says Timothy Gentner of the University of California, San Diego. 'We showed that this kind of learning is shared with, at least, songbirds. When birds learn to recognize patterns of song elements, they get a big boost in their ability to categorize those elements.'

Friday 26 June 2015

African vultures more critically endangered than previously realised

In a report published in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, scientists from across Africa, Europe, and North America have published the first continent-wide estimates of decline rates in African vultures: and find that many national parks and game reserves appear to offer vulture species in Africa little effective protection.

The international team of research scientists from The Peregrine Fund, the University of St Andrews, and Hawk Conservancy Trust, say African vultures are now likely to qualify as ‘Critically Endangered’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s global threat criteria.

Scavengers such as vultures are essential to a healthy ecosystem; without them carcasses are largely consumed by mammalian scavengers such as dogs and jackals and this can increase levels of disease transmission, with potential consequences for human health.

Dr Darcy Ogada of The Peregrine Fund and lead author of the study, says: “Large declines of Africa’s vultures should ring alarm bells due to their immense ecological importance.

Birds of a feather: Pigeon head crest findings extend to domesticated doves

Date:June 23, 2015

Source:Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)

Summary:A few years ago biologists found that a prominent change in pigeon plumage, head crests, could be traced to a mutation in a single gene. Now the research team has found an almost exact repeat in the evolutionary playbook in distantly related doves.

Evolutionary biologist Michael Shapiro and his team from the University of Utah made international headlines in 2013 when they found that a prominent change in pigeon plumage, head crests, could be traced to a mutation in a single gene.

Now, in the new advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, the research team has found an almost exact repeat in the evolutionary playbook. A mutation in the same gene, EphB2, has led to a similar result in domesticated ringneck doves. The mutation causes the feathers on the back of the head and neck to grow up toward the head in a striking look.

Why parrots are great vocal imitators Regions of bird's brain likely duplicated at least 29 million years ago

Date:  June 24, 2015

Source: Duke University

Summary: Scientists have uncovered key structural differences in parrot brains that may help explain why this group of bird species can mimic speech and songs so well. These brain structures went unrecognized in studies published in the past 34 years. The results may lend insight into the neural mechanisms of human speech.

Thursday 25 June 2015

VIDEO: East Anglian turtle dove helps scientists solve migration mystery of UK fastest declining bird

08:59Thursday 25 June 2015

The migration route of a UK breeding turtle dove has, for the first time, been revealed by the RSPB – providing valuable data in the conservation fight to help save the species from UK extinction.

Last August, the RSPB fitted a small, light-weight satellite tag to a turtle dove from Suffolk before it embarked on its mammoth migration journey. In a UK science first, the RSPB was able to track Titan, the tagged turtle dove, on his 5,600km migration route from Suffolk to Mali, and back again, all in real time.

Rustler fear over missing rhea

The owner of an "aggressive" ostrich-like bird which has been hunted by armed police since it was reported missing two days ago fears he has been stolen.

Last updated: 25 June 2015, 14:30 BST

The owner of an "aggressive" ostrich-like bird which has been hunted by armed police since it was reported missing two days ago fears he has been stolen.

People living near Carlton-in-Lindrick, in north Nottinghamshire, have been warned to stay clear of the 6ft tall male rhea and told to call 999 immediately with any sightings.

But owner Alex Macdonald said that despite police officers turning out earlier this week with shotguns and rifles to look for the unnamed bird, he thinks it must have been stolen.

Mr Macdonald said that even though the missing rhea is a male, he is sitting on eggs at the moment and it is unlikely he would stray far.

Today, the bird's female partner was pacing the field they share looking for her mate.

"They used to play a lot running around the fields and stuff and she's not doing that at the minute. She's just getting over the fact she's on her own now," Mr Macdonald said.

"It's speculation but I think it's been taken. Nobody's reported it and it's something you would report if you saw it."

Indonesia's booming caged-bird trade is fueling trafficking and threatening extinction

Harry Pearl 
June 25, 2015

This article was produced under the Mongabay Reporting Network and can be re-published on your web site or blog or in your magazine, newsletter, or newspaper under these terms.

The Indonesian shop owner turns and motions to the back of the grubby, concrete-floor stall. 

Beyond the boxes of chirping parakeets stacked four high, two bamboo cages hang from the low ceiling. Inside each is a chattering lory (Lorius garrulus), a forest-dwelling parrot endemic to North Maluku, which over the past 25 years has seen its population plummet by between 30 and 50 percent, according to Birdlife International. 

"From Ambon, very beautiful bird," the shop owner says, pointing to the two cages. 

The two parrots, each about 30 centimeters in length and mostly red, with green thighs and wings, bob mutely on their perches. In the wild, getting a glimpse of the noisy birds, which are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is increasingly difficult. 

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Bird Notes: Bitterns are booming on Anglesey

Less than 20 years ago, Bitterns were on the verge of extinction in Britain. The males’ low booming call can carry more than a kilometre. With just 11 males in 1997, it was feared we would lose this reedbed-dwelling heron.

The shock figures triggered a huge habitat restoration effort, led by the RSPB with significant funding from the European Union. New reedbeds were created away from the east coast, vulnerable to rising sea levels. Other reedbeds were made wetter, with better access to fish.

This year, wardens counted 140 booming Bitterns, including 40 in Somerset where until recently no Bitterns had bred for decades. New reedbeds have been established on Anglesey, where RSPB wardens heard a Bittern booming this Spring, a positive sign for the future.

Another bird almost lost from our shores is the Roseate Tern, a seabird that winters off West Africa.

Over 100 pairs nested on Anglesey in the late 1980s. Now they are scarce visitors, though two were at NWWT Cemlyn Bay at the weekend, along with a Little Gull. A count of Little Terns at Gronant recorded 72 pairs settling down to nest on the beach.

Lucknow zoo, Nawabganj bird sanctuary to be renamed

Press Trust of India | Lucknow 
June 23, 2015 Last Updated at 17:22 IST

Uttar Pradesh government today decided to rename Lucknow Zoological Garden and Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary in Unnao after Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad respectively. 

The decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav here. 

It was decided that Lucknow Zoological Garden would be renamed as Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden while Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary as Chandrashekhar Azad Bird Sanctuary, an official spokesman said here. 

In the meeting, the cabinet also decided to make solar energy devices, equipment and parts as tax free, it added. 

The government also cancelled contract of Kanpur Electricity Supply Company (KESCO) with Torrent Power Limited for power distribution in Kanpur city on mutual consent. 

The power supply was not handed over to Torrent by KESCO and after a meeting last year both KESCO and Torrent representatives had decided to cancel the contract.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Antarctic Treaty Nations Recognize the Continent's Important Bird Areas

June 22, 2015 

In 1959, 12 countries with scientists active in and around Antarctica signed the Antarctic Treaty, which committed all signatories to respecting the continent as a place of peace and science. Today, 52 nations are party to the treaty, and from June 1 to 10 they gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) to discuss issues vital to Antarctic land conservation.

Members of Pew’s global penguin conservation campaign were in attendance, along with representatives from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, an international network of nongovernmental organizations committed to the conservation of the continent and its surrounding waters.

Each year at the ATCM, various issues related to Antarctica’s future are discussed, including the effects of tourism, ongoing scientific research, and climate change. But at this year’s meeting, a meaningful new action was taken: Treaty members formally recognized BirdLife International’s newly released Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Antarctica.

Britain's rarest bird of prey nests at Blacktoft Sands

Posted on: 23 Jun 2015

A pair of the country's rarest birds of prey have chosen the RSPB's Blacktoft Sands reserve to raise a family.

The Montagu’s Harriers are nesting in the main reedbed at RSPB Blacktoft Sands, East Yorkshire, on the Humber, and are one of only a handful of pairs in Britain. It is a migratory bird of prey species which spends the winter in West Africa and then travels to mainland Europe for the breeding season. However, fewer than 10 pairs make it as far as England, and these are normally confined to East Anglia and the South-West.

The birds at Blacktoft, a wetland site, are the only Montagu’s Harriers nesting in northern England. This is the second consecutive year that the species has nested on the Humber, with a pair last year also raising a single chick in a reedbed nearby. While the Blacktoft nest is inaccessible, RSPB staff believe that at least one chick has hatched after noticing a change in the feeding behaviour of the adult female. The rarity of the birds makes the nest a prime target for egg collectors so RSPB staff and local birders are guarding it around the clock.

Silent flights: How owls could help make wind turbines and planes quieter

Date: June 21, 2015

Source: University of Cambridge

Summary: A newly designed material, which mimics the wing structure of owls, could help make wind turbines, computer fans and even planes much quieter. Early wind tunnel tests of the coating have shown a substantial reduction in noise without any noticeable effect on aerodynamics.

Early tests of the material, which mimics the intricate structure of an owl's wing, have demonstrated that it could significantly reduce the amount of noise produced by wind turbines and other types of fan blades, such as those in computers or planes. Since wind turbines are heavily braked in order to minimise noise, the addition of this new surface would mean that they could be run at much higher speeds -- producing more energy while making less noise. For an average-sized wind farm, this could mean several additional megawatts worth of electricity.

Monday 22 June 2015

Nation's oldest bald eagle - a Minnesotan - dead at 38 - via Doug Shoop

If you’re the dean of American bald eagles, your life should conclude more gloriously than by getting hit by a car in the middle of nowhere while you’re dining on a freshly-killed rabbit.

A name wouldn’t be a bad idea either. But that’s the fate that struck 0629-03142, officials have determined. He was the oldest living bald eagle — 38 years old — when he died in upstate New York a week and a half ago, struck by a car in Henrietta, N.Y.

The leg band on the oldest documented bald eagle.
 N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation
He was one of us — a Minnesotan who, like a lot of Minnesotans, moved away at a young age after an initial upbringing in northern Minnesota in the mid-’70s.

“We hired a tree climber, who climbed up white pines, 80 to 90 feet, to eagle’s nests, put a chick in cloth bag and lowered it by rope to the ground,” Carrol Henderson, former head of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nongame wildlife program, tells the Star Tribune. “We always took just one chick from a nest, and left a healthy chick.”

Vagrant bachelors could save rare bird

Date: June 16, 2015

Source: Zoological Society of London

Summary: A study has revealed the importance of single males in small, threatened populations. Results from a study of endangered New Zealand hihi birds shows that bachelor males who don't hold breeding territories, known as 'floaters,' could help maintain genetic diversity and decrease the likelihood of inbreeding by sneakily fathering chicks.

These underestimated individuals are vital to the long-term survival of small populations, such as in the hihi, a rare bird found only in New Zealand. There are thought to be only 2,000 individuals left in the wild, making them extremely vulnerable to natural disasters or disease, of which a single severe incident could wipe out the whole species.

While floaters have much lower breeding success rates than coupled males, in hihis they are able coerce females, which are already coupled up, into mating. This has been shown to have a small but significant impact on population size by increasing the number of breeding birds, as well as influencing the sex ratio. These factors are important in maintaining genetic diversity and decreasing levels of inbreeding.

Nightingales show off their fathering skills through song

Song of male nightingale tells females how good a father he will be, according to research

Date:  June 18, 2015

Source:  BioMed Central

Summary:  The song of the male nightingale tells females how good a father he will be, according to research. The study shows that better singers will feed their offspring more often, and that they advertise this to potential mates by singing in a more orderly way through repeating song sequences, and using more variable song, including many different 'buzz,' 'whistle' and 'trill' songs.

In around 80% of all bird species, males play a key role in raising their young. Male nightingales feed the female during incubation, provide food to chicks and defend the nest against predators. A male's parental skills are therefore likely to be a crucial factor for females when choosing a mate.

Female birds assess paternal qualities on the basis of traits, including plumage coloration and courtship behaviour. In nightingales, it is a male's elaborate nocturnal song prior to pair formation that is presumed to be key in advertising their skills as a father. While male birds are able to sing around 180 different song types, little has been understood on the exact song features that are important.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Elaborate egg shells help prevent forgery

Songbirds in a visual arms race with 'brood parasites'

Date: June 17, 2015

Source: Duke University

Summary: Songbirds in the scrublands of southern Zambia are engaged in a high-stakes arms race that they wage with colors and patterns on their eggs. It's a battle that's probably being fought everywhere there are birds practicing what is known as 'brood parasitism' -- laying eggs in the nests of another bird species.

In a new study appearing online June 17 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Duke University graduate student Eleanor Caves has found that African songbirds that are frequently victimized by brood parasitic cuckoos have taken to creating elaborate patterns on their eggs to help them recognize the forgeries.

But of course it doesn't work perfectly, or the war would be over.

During her Master's research at the University of Cambridge, Caves methodically examined how two kinds of songbirds pattern their eggs to try to stay one step ahead of two species of parasitic birds.

Proposed Scottish wind farm could put special breeding birds at risk

Red-throated Divers could be one of the species affected if the this Flow Country wind farm goes ahead, says RSPB Scotland

The future of special breeding birds could be in jeopardy if the planned wind farm for the heart of the Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland gets the green light, the RSPB Scotland has warned.

A public local inquiry has been held to scrutinise an application by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which wants to build a 39 turbine wind farm at Strathy South.

RSPB Scotland's Conservation Planner for North Scotland, Peter Gordon, has highlighted the possible fate of a range of birds, including Greenshanks and Red-throated Divers which breed at Strathy South.

He says: "These two species are characteristic of the wildest parts of the Highlands and Islands and don't breed anywhere else in Britain. This wind farm would be built in an area that is very important for both species.

"One of the most wonderful wildlife experiences you can have in the Flow Country is to witness the aerial breeding display of Greenshanks as they circle and call above their territories.

Barn owls threatened by Africanized bees in South Florida

Date:  June 19, 2015

Source:  University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Summary:  Throughout the past two decades, researchers have seen barn owl populations in the Everglades Agricultural Area, centered around Belle Glade, expand from mere dozens to more than 400 nesting pairs. But these beneficial raptors, currently listed as a threatened species, are now being threatened by Africanized honey bees.

Swarming as frequently as eight times per year, the invasive bees have been taking over nesting boxes Raid and students have built for the owls, using them as hives, and displacing or even killing the desired raptors.

"In 20 years, we've never had any problems with any other critters moving into our boxes," said Raid, a plant pathologist for UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "But the Africanized honey bees became established in 2005 and are spreading throughout the peninsula of Florida."

Friday 19 June 2015

Angry red-winged blackbird attacks passersby on Parliament Hill

And now it has a Twitter account

CBC News Posted: Jun 11, 2015 4:18 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 12, 2015 2:29 PM ET

Parliament Hill angry bird attacks passersby 1:39

For yet another spring, a red-winged blackbird has been divebombing people as they walk by its nest on Parliament Hill.

The fun speculations abound.

Maybe it's mad it wasn't chosen as the unofficial bird of Ottawa, or perhaps this is the bird's way ofpushing for Senate reform?

Maybe the Parliament Hill bird is hoping for this kind of CBC TV coverage.

More likely, it's simply protecting its family.

But it didn't take long for a Twitter account to materialize, of course.

Rep. Jeff Duncan takes issue with migratory bird protections

Jun 12 2015 4:46 pm Jun 12 5:23 pm

The bald eagle and countless other species of birds are protected by a century-old federal law that a South Carolina congressman is trying to alter.

Bird conservation groups are horrified. The National Audubon Society, among others, is fighting the appropriations bill amendment proposed by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.

A Duncan staffer said the amendment is designed to promote wind energy production, aimed at eliminating penalties for accidental bird deaths such as from wind turbine blades. The thing is, the language in the amendment approved by the House of Representatives eliminates all penalties.

“The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is no more a barrier to U.S. commerce or economic development now than in all the decades since it was enacted in 1918,” said Nathan Dias, of Cape Romain Bird Observatory. “The United States has done just fine economically with it in place for almost 100 years. Jeff Duncan should be ashamed of his sneaky bird-killing amendment.”

Duncan was forced to remove the “accidental” language from the amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill in the House of Representatives because of a House rule prohibiting legislating in an amendment to an appropriations bill made from the House floor, said spokesman Allen Klump.

Fight not flight: Magnificent bald eagles wage war in mid-air as one bird of prey swoops in to steal fish from the talons of another

The impressive birds took to the skies in a grapple over fishing rights 
One Bald eagle swept in to snatch a hapless fish from another 
A Malaysian photographer snapped the shots while on a visit to Seabeck in Washington
The magnificent birds of prey have a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres

PUBLISHED: 11:23, 14 June 2015 | UPDATED: 11:41, 14 June 2015

These bald eagles waged war in the skies with talons locked in a vicious mid-air grapple over fishing rights.

The action-packed shots show one of the magnificent birds of prey swooping in to snatch a hapless fish from the claws of another.

Programme manager Phoo Chan, 50, from Kelantan, Malaysia managed to snap the shots on a U.S. visit to Seabeck in Washington. 

Quick grab: Although the normally target injured or dying prey, the birds are opportunistic hunters and are willing to fight for their food

The bald eagle - which has a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres - is the national animal of the United States, appearing on the nation's seal.

The bird of prey was on the brink of extinction within the United States in the late 20th century but populations have recovered in recent years.

The species was removed from the government's list of endangered species in July 1995. It was further removed from the list of threatened species in June 2007.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Rentokil looking at using drones for bird control

11 Jun 2015

Pest control firm Rentokil Initial is looking into using drones for bird pest control, according to the firm's global director of enterprise, Anthony Meadows.

Meadows, who was speaking at Computing's Enterprise Mobility and Application Management Summit 2015 yesterday, said that the company has to carry out a lot of ‘bird work', and that it is looking into the use of drones as an alternative control method.

"Instead of having to get a ladder out, we could send a drone up with a camera," he told delegates.

Meadows was taking part in a discussion around the Internet of Things (IoT), which he believes is "huge" for the pest control company.

He said one of the projects the firm is currently working on is ensuring that pest boxes have sensors so that workers know when a rodent has been caught.

"It's not easy to get a mouse in a box. What that means for us when it comes to providing services is that you have to check every box which can be a very time-consuming process, meaning that we aren't using our time [efficiently] to help customers," he said.

In the urban jungle, birds rule the roosts

JUNE 13, 2015 06:00 AM

When Jacqueline Davis noticed an osprey building its home atop a 16-bulb light standard beaming down on Royal Athletic Park, she envisioned slow-cooked eggs or a nest turned to kindling.

The nest has become an attraction for North Park residents, who sometimes wander into the adjacent parking lot with binoculars.

But Davis’s new avian neighbours should be fine, says a wildlife expert.

Many urban birds make homes in unusual places.

“There are lots of animals that have adapted to the urban area,” said Kari Marks, manager of B.C. SPCA’s WildARC program.

Marks said “cavity nesters” are the most common: starlings, house sparrows and wrens that make homes in nooks and crannies in buildings. But bats and owls have also been known to settle down in human-made structures.

Celebrating our endemic birds

Saturday, June 13 2015

The Caribbean is a tourist’s dream - a network of beautiful islands basking in the sun. And while sun, sea and sand are important elements of Caribbean life, the region can also boast of other natural treasures – including 150 species of birds that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club (TTFNC) has been involved in the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival (CEBF) since 2008, making this the seventh year of CEBF activities in Trinidad. 

The festival, now in its 14th year, is led by BirdsCaribbean, the largest organisation devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean. The annual festival included Caribbean-wide activities that began on Earth Day ended on International Biodiversity Day on May 22. Over 20 countries participated. The events celebrated the 150 bird species that are found only in the Caribbean, known as endemics, and attract over 80,000 participants and volunteers each year. 

“Restore Habitats, Restore Birds” was the theme for this year’s Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival. At dozens of events throughout the region, participants of all ages learned how restoring local habitats can benefit the unique birds found only in the Caribbean. Events on many islands included habitat restoration activities, such as clean ups and distribution of native tree seedlings for planting. Events in Trinidad included presentations at TTFNC monthly meetings, school talks, field trips and displays at the Emperor Valley Zoo, the San Antonio Green Market and the Institute of Marine Affairs. 

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Eyes in the Sky: A Short History of Bird Spies

It’s not paranoia if it’s true.

By Emma BryceJune 11, 2015

Earlier this month, police in India detained a pigeon on suspicion of espionage. Not only were its feathers stamped with suspicious numbers and words, but its coloring suggested it was a species from neighboring Pakistan, India’s arch enemy. Was the bird a…spy?

It may sound crazy—and the story was widely ridiculed in the media—but the fear of undercover avians has deep roots, and history tells us it’s not unfounded: For more than a century, birds have served as bona fide 007s.

The origins of the bird-as-spy meme can be traced back to 1907, when a German pigeon fancier named Julius Neubronner devised a small automatic camera to strap onto his birds to learn what routes they took from Point A to Point B. His invention paved the way for the very first aerial photography, and camera-fitted pigeons were deployed by the German military during World War I.

Pigeon-based espionage rose to fame during World War II as keepers across Britain and the United States donated their homing birds for use by Allied troops in relaying secret messages across enemy lines. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency also began strapping cameras onto top-secret reconnaissance pigeons. As the agency explains with a straight face on its website: “Being a common species, the pigeon concealed its role as an intelligence collection platform among the activities of thousands of other birds.” (Sadly, while pigeons are apparently excellent at recon—they naturally fly low enough to take detailed shots of the land—examples of their work are hard to come by: Many of the CIA’s “pigeon missions”remain classified to this day.)

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Birdspotters in frenzy after extremely rare Hudsonian Whimbrel SPOTTED in Britain

AN extremely rare bird which has only been seen a handful of times in the UK has caused mass excitement after being spotted flying on the south coast.

PUBLISHED: 10:42, Fri, Jun 12, 2015 | UPDATED: 16:33, Fri, Jun 12, 2015

Matt Eade/Solent NewsMore than 1,000 bird watchers gathered to catch a glimpse of the rare bird

More than 1,000 bird watchers have travelled to Pagham Harbour near Chichester, West Sussex, in the last four days to catch a glimpse of the Hudsonian Whimbrel.

It is thought to be the only bird of its kind in the UK and only 10 others have been seen in this country since 1950.

The bird is so rare because it is native of North America and is hardly ever seen in Britain.

Tim Webb, communications officer for the RSBP said: "It is definitely confirmed that it is here and is still here.

"On these shores this is about the eleventh one in our recorded history, which goes back to about the 1950s.

"This Hudsonian Whimbrel is the only one in the UK right now to our knowledge.

"It is incredibly unusual and rare for this species to be seen in this country.

"We do have Whimbrel in this country but not this type."

It is believed this particular Hudsonian Whimbrel got lost and with the help of jet streams ended up in the UK as this country is not a usual flight path for it.

Rare bird alert: Atlantic puffins spotted on the Isles of Shoals

These birds use their wings under water to swim
UPDATED 12:00 AM EDT Jun 14, 2015

ISLES OF SHOALS, N.H. —A pair of Atlantic puffins were spotted on the Isles of Shoals this past week and are included in this week's rare bird alert by the NH Audubon Society.

These clown-like birds with magnificent colored beaks spend most of their lives at sea, but return to land to form breeding colonies during spring and summer.

They are more often breeding north of New Hampshire.

These birds live most of their lives at sea, resting on the waves when not swimming.

According to National Geographic, they are excellent swimmers that use their wings to stroke underwater with a flying motion.

They steer with rudderlike webbed feet and can dive to depths of 200 feet, though they usually stay underwater for only 20 or 30 seconds.

Puffins typically hunt small fish like herring or sand eels.

In the air, puffins are surprisingly fleet flyers. By flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute they can reach speeds of 55 miles an hour.

The birds often select precipitous, rocky cliff tops to build their nests, which they line with feathers or grass. Females lay a single egg, and both parents take turns incubating it, according to National Geographic.

When a chick hatches, its parents take turns feeding it by carrying small fish back to the nest in their relatively spacious bills.

Puffin couples often reunite at the same burrow site each year and have a lifespan of about 20 years.