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.

Friday 31 July 2015

Birds, bugs and blanket bogs—Scientists warn an entire eco-system is under threat

July 31, 2015

Several rare upland bird species are being put at risk together with other ecosystem functions by the effects of climate change on the UK's blanket bogs, ecologists at the University of York have discovered.

Most of our drinking water comes from these upland peats and several iconic bird species such as the dunlin, golden plover and red grouse depend on these wetland habitats for nesting and feeding.

The scientists warn that climate change threatens these habitats, not only from rising temperatures increasing peat decomposition, but also via altered rainfall patterns - with summer droughts drastically affecting the blanket bog hydrology.

Number of Puffin pairs plummets on Shetland

The numbers breeding there have halved from around 20,000 to 10,000

Friday 17 July 2015

The number of puffins breeding on Shetland has halved over nearly three decades, according to a recently published long-term study.

Researchers analysed a large puffin colony on Fair Isle, which lies halfway between mainland Shetland and the Orkney islands. They found the numbers breeding there have halved from around 20,000 to 10,000 individuals, with the most likely cause being that the Fair Isle’s young birds were failing to return to it. Experts say this could be because of a lack of fish to feed on.

Dr Will Miles of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory said: “It may be due to declining local fish stocks and poor feeding conditions for seabirds in Shetland waters.”“It is very difficult to find out exactly what happens to immature puffins after they have fledged because of the vast sea areas and the problems of tracing them within other colonies.”

Thursday 30 July 2015

DOMINICA – Rare seabird found in Dominica

Added by Barbados Today on July 29, 2015.

ROSEAU –– A team of scientists from EPIC and Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have recorded –– for the first time –– 968 of the diablotin, also known as the black-capped Petrel, over the mountains of Dominica, for which the last confirmed date of nesting of that species is 1862.

This rare seabird was once abundant on Dominica, but thought to be extirpated in the late 1800s due to overhunting and the introduction of mammalian species. Observations made with radar and supplemented by detection of vocalizations showed large numbers of petrels flying between the sea and potential nest areas in the island’s highest peaks. Details of the expedition are being released at the 20th International Meeting Of Birds Caribbean, taking place now in Kingston, Jamaica.

Adam Brown, co-founder and lead scientist at EPIC states: “Finding this colony of petrels on Dominica is a real game-changer for black-capped petrel conservation. For years we thought the only remaining colonies of petrels were on Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate and pressures of human activity are significant.

“Dominica is an island-nation where nature conservation is a high priority and forests needed by petrels are well protected; so we now have a huge new opportunity to undertake conservation efforts to preserve this imperiled species.”

Biologists from EPIC and the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s Ministry of the Environment teamed up in January to do a systematic survey of the entire island of Dominica to locate the diablotin and determine its status. The diablotin is a very difficult bird to study, as it is a seabird that comes to shore only for a few months of the year to breed, flying into forested mountains at night to underground burrows. A portable marine radar array and night vision scopes allowed biologists to locate, identify and count flying petrels in in the dark.

Grim kiwi winter continues

By Peter de Graaf
9:30 AM Thursday Jul 30, 2015

Another kiwi has been killed by a dog as the national bird's grim winter in the Bay of Islands continues, with at least 12 victims of canines in the last month alone.

The latest death, of an adult male, occurred at Oromahoe, off State Highway 10 south of Kerikeri. The dog's owner was reluctant to hand the dead bird to the Department of Conservation (DoC) so delivered it to conservation group Bay Bush Action instead.

The Bay of Islands is a stronghold for kiwi but many have been killed by dogs this month. Seven mauled kiwi have been found in the Wharau Rd area, near Kerikeri - the total number killed is thought to be at least 10 - and at least five more in places such as Te Puna Inlet, Okaihau and Puketi Forest. One was killed on Golf View Rd in urban Kerikeri and one in Russell cemetery.The kiwi had been stripped of feathers and it had bite wounds to its head and neck.

Bay Bush Action trustee Brad Windust said the dog's owner handed over the kiwi killed at Oromahoe last week.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Prediction model created to protect piping plovers

July 28, 2015
Virginia Tech
A model to help land managers protect the threatened piping plover, a tiny shorebird, against habitat damage and predation has been created by a scientist. The bird's neighborhood preference has resulted in this once common shorebird being on the federal threatened species list since 1986.
Continued ...

Study of birds' sense of smell reveals important clues for behavior, adaptation

July 29, 2015
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)
From slight sparrows to preening peacocks to soaring falcons, birds have long been known to possess distinct abilities in their sense of smell, but little has been known about the evolution of olfaction. A large comparative genomic study of the olfactory genes tied to a bird's sense of smell has revealed important differences that correlate with their ecological niches and specific behaviors.
Continued ...

Tuesday 28 July 2015

East Anglia's rarest raptors fitted with satellite tags

28 July 2015 at 12:10pm

Three of the UK's rarest birds of prey - which nest in East Anglia - have been fitted with satellite tracking devices.

The RSPB said three Montagu's harriers had been fitted with the trackers this month, in an effort to learn more about them.

A close-up of Rowan, a Montagu's harrier.
Photo: RSPB
So far this year there have only been seven recorded nesting attempts of Montagu's harriers - and three of them were in East Anglia.

Researchers from the Dutch “Montagu’s Harrier Foundation”, together with conservationists from the RSPB, fitted one male and two female Montagu’s harriers with the lightweight tracking devices, which will last for the lifetime of the birds and relay real time location data back to the team.

Mark Thomas, who leads on Montagu’s harrier conservation work for the RSPB, said: “This is an exciting and important application of satellite tracking technology that will help us to monitor their movements and locate their feeding areas to understand more about these harriers’ not just here in the UK, but in their wintering grounds in Africa and on their migratory journey in between.”

EU bird protection laws pegged as effective, better than others

— 28 JUL, 2015

A new joint research by RSPB, BirdLife International and Durham University has found that the European Union’s Birds Directive is one of world’s most effective at providing protection to threatened and that it is better than similar directives from other nations.

The research, which is being published on Tuesday 28 July 2015 in the journal Conservation Letters, reveals that the most consistent single determinant of a species’ fate is whether it is afforded the highest level of protection under the Birds Directive or not. In the language of The Birds Directive this means whether a species is listed under Annex 1 or not.

Researchers found that species listed in Annex 1 (highest level of protection under the Birds Directive) such as Dalmatian pelican, spoonbill, griffon vulture and greater flamingo fare far better in those countries which have been EU members for longer.

In the UK, a number of Annex 1 species are faring better in comparison to species which don’t enjoy the same level of protection. Researchers found that over a 25-year period, the following UK nesting species, listed under Annex 1, increased by the following percentages:

Monday 27 July 2015

Nature laws let down overseas wildlife

Birdwatch news team
Posted on: 27 Jul 2015

The European Union’s Birds and Habitats Directives are some of the strongest wildlife protection laws in the world – which is why it’s so important to keep them in place – but they don’t apply to overseas territories or départements, according to BirdLife International.

These territories are often teeming with biodiversity, such as the penguins, albatrosses and endemic landbirds found on the Falkland Islands; in fact, the RSPB found an amazing 1,547 species unique to the islands of the UK’s Overseas Territories. However, such species, as well as habitats and the surrounding seas, are being let down by a lack of legislation. As a result, they are plagued by problems of invasive alien species, loss of habitat and extinction.

Réunion Island, Martinique and French Guiana (all French overseas départements) are pertinent examples, said BirdLife. Réunion Cuckooshrike has been listed as Critically Endangered since 2008, with just 27 pairs recorded 2010. The species’ numbers dropped drastically due to predation by Black Rats, an invasive species that thrives on picnic remains. A rat eradication programme organised by The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), BirdLife’s Partner in France, increased this number to 40 pairs in 2015. However, the extinction rate of bird species in Réunion remains at more than 50 per cent.

Sunday 26 July 2015

White-tailed eagles: No competitors for fishermen

July 23, 2015
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
White-tailed eagles represent no competition for fishermen. This has been shown by researchers based on the first field study about the foraging behavior of the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Northern Germany. The study allows important insights in the hunting behavior and relevant conservation measures of this species.

Friday 24 July 2015

Dark plumage helps birds survive on small islands

Date: July 22, 2015

Source: Central Ornithology Publication Office

Summary: Animal populations on islands tend to develop weird traits over time, becoming big or small or losing the ability to fly. One less-studied pattern of evolution on islands is the tendency for animal populations to develop 'melanism' (dark coloration), and researchers have now confirmed that bird populations on smaller islands include more dark individuals, for a surprising reason: melanic birds are more aggressive, making them better competitors when space is limited.

Bossy rooster takes lead vocal of cock-a-doodle-do

Date: July 24, 2015

Source: Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (WPI-ITbM), Nagoya University

Summary:  From ancient times, people have been aware of the rooster's "cock-a-doodle-do" that marks the break of dawn, but has anyone wondered who crows first? In a new study, biologists have revealed that there is actually a systematic rule based on social ranking that determines the order of crowing in roosters.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Kiwi bird genome decodes growth of nocturnal animals

Last Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 11:11

London: In a first, the genetic code of the endangered Kiwi bird, identifying several sequence changes that give insights into the evolution of nocturnal animals has been discovered.

Researchers from University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, found several genes in Kiwi involved in colour vision to be inactivated and the diversity of odorant receptors to be higher than in other birds.

It suggests an increased reliance on Kiwi's sense of smell rather than vision for foraging.

"It is very likely that the kiwi lost its colour vision since this was no longer needed for its new nocturnal lifestyle," said first study author Diana Le Duc from University of Leipzig.

"The kiwi's sense of smell - which was required for foraging in the dark of the night - became more acute and the repertoire of odorant receptors increased adapting to a wider diversity of smells," Le Duc added.

Kiwi, national symbol of New Zealand, gives insights into the evolution of nocturnal animals have a number of features that make them interesting for study.

They only have rudimentary wings, no tail and a very long beak with nostrils. They are mainly nocturnal with a low basal metabolic rate and the lowest body temperature among birds.

The team has now sequenced the genome of the brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli). Their analysis show genetic changes that likely reflect adaptation to nocturnal life.

It's a bird-eat-bird world as shocking snaps show hungry gull chowing down on tiny starling

10:38, 23 JULY 2015

The images show the deadly relationship between birds - and the unforgiving nature of a hungry gull set on bagging some dinner

An aggressive gull has been snapped chomping down on a smaller bird in a bizarre cannibal attack.

Gulls don’t respect species relationships and will not only eat other bird species, but engage in cannibalism from time to time within their own kind.


Wednesday 22 July 2015

Do not feed seagulls or they will attack, RSPB warns

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that councils which see gulls as a nuisance should not encourage feeding

11:55AM BST 22 Jul 2015

The RSPB has warned members of the public not to feed seagulls because it could be fuelling attacks on humans.

The charity said the management of gulls is a "complex" issue as coastal populations of the birds are declining while urban gulls are doing well.

A spokesman for RSPB said councils would be right not to encourage feeding gulls.

"To manage conflict in towns we must look at gull behaviour, and not their population size.

"If we feed gulls they will grow more confident, they will learn that we are a source of food.

"They will not then distinguish between food offered and people simply walking around carrying food, cafe tables outdoors and the like."

continued ...

Growing threat to England's curlews from climate change

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News

Much-loved birds including curlews and cuckoos are under a growing threat from climate change in England, according to a new report.

Other species including golden plovers and lapwings are also at risk from rising temperatures in the coming decades.

The report says changing conditions in England will significantly benefit wasps, ants and many southern species.

The study is said to be the largest of its kind ever undertaken in England.

Researchers looked at the impacts of a 2 degrees C rise in global average temperatures on over 3,000 species. They projected where the most suitable ranges for these plants and animals would be found in 2080.

When the researchers looked in more detail at 155 species listed as being of high conservation concern, 38% were identified as being at risk with 39% potentially benefitting from warmer temperatures.

"The positive side of things is kind of painting maybe too rosy a glow, because many species may not get there," Dr Humphrey Crick from Natural England told BBC News.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Ornithologists find new bird species in Lithuania

Elta EN Monday, July 20, 2015 

A new bird species has been observed in Lithuania, the Baillon's crake (porzana pusilla). 

Baillon's crake (porzana pusilla). Photo Wikimedia
Baillon's crake (porzana pusilla). Photo Wikimedia
It was spotted in Rokiškis region in north-eastern Lithuania, the Lithuanian Ornithological Society said.  The bird was first found on 28 May in the valley of the river Saltoja in Rokiškis district by Darius and Daiva Norkūnai of the Lithuanian Ornithological Society. 

Repeated observations show that the species has settled in the region and is forming a local population, although their breeding habitat normally is in south-eastern Europe. The Baillon's crake is the third bird species for the first time observed in Lithuania this year. The others are the Pacific golden plover (pluvialis fulva) and the Dalmatian pelican (pelecanus crispus).

'Revenge' On Seagulls Following Spate Of Bird Attacks

By Caroline Thain | Yahoo News – 21 hours ago

Angry birds are causing a storm but there’s no need to attack seagulls – even though they can injure people and pets. That’s the message from the police and RSPCA, after one seagull was poisoned in Bridport, Dorset.

It was left dumped outside a police station, along with its chick, in what seems like a backlash against the aggressive birds, which have hit the headlines recently.

Scott McGregor, from the Bridport police service, said: “Whether you love them or loathe them, one of our seagulls is suffering following a suspected poisoning.

“The seagull had vomited considerably and when the RSPCA were sent out, it was their view that the bird was poisoned.

‘Seagulls are protected for a reason and there is no need to poison them, causing them unnecessary cruelty and suffering.”

Warming impacting bird populations in Hawai'i

Published July 20, 2015 07:07 AM

October 12, 2007 07:31 PM

Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.

Mosquito-carried diseases such as avian pox and avian malaria have been devastating native Hawaiian forest birds. A single mosquito bite can transfer malaria parasites to a susceptible bird, where the death rate may exceed 90 percent for some species. As a result, many already threatened or endangered native birds now only survive in disease-free refuges found in high-elevation forests where mosquito populations and malaria development are limited by colder temperatures. Unlike continental bird species, island birds cannot move northward in response to climate change or increased disease stressors, but must adapt or move to less hospitable habitats to survive.

Monday 20 July 2015

Is ISIS developing suicide CHICKENS? Pictures appear to show bombs strapped to hens by bird-brained jihadis

ISIS militants said to be building suicide belts for use on live chickens
Jihadis strap bombs onto the hens and send them into an enemy camp site
Suicide chickens are able to get close to top fighters without being spotted 
ISIS militants can then use simple remote controls to detonate the IEDs 

PUBLISHED: 10:18, 20 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:38, 20 July 2015

Depraved jihadis fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq have started using chickens as mobile improvised explosive devices, it has been claimed.

Members of the terror group operating in and around the city of Fallujah are said to be strapping explosive belts to chickens, which are then encouraged to wander into enemy camps.

Once the chickens are successfully within striking distance without having aroused suspicion, the ISIS extremists apparently use remote controls to set off the devices, killing all those close by.

Bird-brained idea: Images of the Islamic State's so-called 'suicide chickens' have been widely shared online by both pro and anti ISIS users, although their authenticity could not be verified

Suicide chickens: ISIS jihadis operating in and around the city of Fallujah are said to be strapping the explosive belts to chickens, which are then encouraged to wander into enemy camps

Images of so-called 'suicide chickens' have been widely shared online by both pro and anti ISIS users, although their authenticity could not be verified. 

Details of why the terror group are apparently using exploding birds were told to the Daily Star.

Rare birds returning to the Island

JULY 20, 2015 12:00 AM

There's a certain bird species present on Vancouver Island that has shown a significant rise in population and prominence in recent times.

Back in 1985 and near extinction, there were only five breeding pairs of the Purple Martin present throughout the whole of B.C. Now, there's more than 1,000 in the Nanaimo region alone. Part of that is due to the ongoing efforts of the B.C. Purple Martin Recovery Program, orchestrated by the Georgia Basin Ecological Assessment and Restoration Society based in Nanaimo. The non-profit society is dedicated to the protection of species and ecosystems that are at risk within the Georgia Basin.

Director/administrator Charlene Lee says providing enough nesting sites and boxes is key to the survival and prosperity of the Purple Martin.

"Historically, Purple Martins have nested in burned areas with freshwater, so we live where Purple Martins used to live," said Lee. "Also, when we have a good year like this with lots of warm weather, there are more flying insects for them to feed on and so they produce more young."

Since 1985, the society and other biologists have gradually increased the number of nesting boxes over time. Lee said that there was an observation in 1985 where a group of Purple Martins were found living in rock pilings in Cowichan Bay, as well as parts of Victoria.

Police called to reports of youths trying to lead injured bird into road in Malvern

Ian Craig / Sunday 19 July 2015 / News

Sunday 19 July 2015

AN INJURED gull has been nicknamed Steven Seagull after a lucky escape in Malvern.

Police were called at about 8.30pm on Monday, July 13, to reports of three boys attempting to lure the injured bird into a busy main road.

One of the boys was described as tall with blond hair, the second short with blond hair while the third was said to be fat and "looked like he was from The Goonies".

Although officers arrived at the scene in Pickersleigh Road, near Russell Close, too late to catch the culprits, they were able to rescue the gull and handed it to the RSPCA.

It has been nicknamed Steven Seagull (after Hollywood movie star Steven Seagal).

Sunday 19 July 2015

Spanish town puts its pigeons on the pill in bid to reduce numbers

Officials estimate the population will fall by up to 80 per cent within five years

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Don’t feed the pigeons! It’s a common demand designed to stem the population of the flying vermin that occupy almost every major European city.

But now, a town in Spain is going one step further by putting the birds on a course of contraceptives that it hopes will lead to a dramatic fall in numbers.

Badia del Valles in Catalonia has installed dispensers to scatter the pigeon Pill, Ovistop, along with grain each morning. The dispensers will operate from now until the end of the year, the time when ornithologists say most pigeons breed. “Every morning, three automatic dispensers will scatter the required dosage to the pigeon population,” said a statement on the town’s website.

Number of Puffin pairs plummets on Shetland

The number of puffins breeding on Shetland has halved over nearly three decades, according to a recently published long-term study.

Researchers analysed a large puffin colony on Fair Isle, which lies halfway between mainland Shetland and the Orkney islands. They found the numbers breeding there have halved from around 20,000 to 10,000 individuals, with the most likely cause being that the Fair Isle’s young birds were failing to return to it. Experts say this could be because of a lack of fish to feed on.

Dr Will Miles of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory said: “It may be due to declining local fish stocks and poor feeding conditions for seabirds in Shetland waters.”“It is very difficult to find out exactly what happens to immature puffins after they have fledged because of the vast sea areas and the problems of tracing them within other colonies.”

Friday 17 July 2015

Dinosaur find: Velociraptor ancestor was 'winged dragon'

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

16 July 2015 
From the section

Scientists have discovered a winged dinosaur - an ancestor of the velociraptor - that they say was on the cusp of becoming a bird.

The 6ft 6in (2m) creature was almost perfectly preserved in limestone, thanks to a volcanic eruption that had buried it in north-east China.

And the 125-million year-old fossil suggests many other dinosaurs, including velociraptors, would have looked like "big, fluffy killer birds".

But it is unlikely that it could fly.

The dinosaur has been named Zhenyuanlong, meaning "Zhenyuan's dragon" - in honour of the man who procured the fossil for the museum in Jinzhou, allowing it to be studied.

The University of Edinburgh and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences collaboration is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lead researcher Dr Steve Brusatte said it was "the single most beautiful fossil I have had the privilege to work on".

"It has short arms, and it is covered in feathers [with] proper wings with layers of quill-pen feathers," he said.

Oriental honey buzzards might stop to smell the pollen

Buzzard identifies food by the pollen smell, yellow color

Date: July 15, 2015

Source: PLOS

Oriental honey buzzards, birds of prey, likely use a combination of their senses of smell and sight to identify nutritious pollen dough balls found in Taiwanese beehives.

Oriental honey buzzards, birds of prey, likely use a combination of their senses of smell and sight to identify nutritious pollen dough balls found in Taiwanese beehives, according to a study published July 15, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Shu-Yi Yang from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, and colleagues.

Scientists think that raptors, birds that hunt and feed on other animals, may use their sense of smell to detect food, but this has only been demonstrated in one type of vulture. The Oriental honey buzzard, a bird of prey in Taiwan, regularly forages in apiaries for yellow pollen dough, a softball-sized mixture of pollen, soybeans, and sugar that beekeepers provide as a supplementary food for bees. Since pollen dough is not similar to any naturally occurring food, the authors of this study investigated whether the buzzards identify the dough's nutritious contents using their sense of smell, or perhaps in combination with vision. The authors of the study used a series of experiments where individual birds could choose between two doughs that varied in pollen content or color, to test whether buzzards use the scent of pollen to find their food, and whether the food color influences their preference.

How birds learn foreign languages

Biologists have succeeded in teaching wild birds to understand a new language

Date: July 16, 2015

Source: Australian National University

Biologists have succeeded in teaching wild birds to understand a new language. After only two days of training, fairy wrens learned to flee when they heard an alarm call that was foreign to them, showing that birds can learn to eavesdrop on the calls of other species.

The research, led by biologists at The Australian National University (ANU), could be used to help train captive animals to recognise signals of danger before they are released in to the wild.

"The first bird we tested lived on the ANU campus near my office. There was general disbelief and excitement when the bird learned the task perfectly," said the leader of the study, Professor Robert Magrath, from the ANU Research School of Biology.

"We had been doing experiments on learning using different methods, but until then with little success. So it was exciting to finally crack the practical problems of carrying out this experiment, and get clear results."

Many animals get information about danger by eavesdropping on each other, but how they do it has been an ongoing puzzle.

"Recognizing other species' calls is a remarkable ability, because there are lots of species in a natural community, and lots of different types of calls. It's like understanding multiple foreign languages," Professor Magrath said.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Angry bird dive-bombing customers at Seattle parking lot

By Michelle Esteban Published: Jul 15, 2015 at 8:46 PM PDT

SEATTLE -- "Angry Birds" isn't just the name of a video game for patrons of a parking garage in downtown Seattle.

A territorial, diving-bombing seagull has people running for cover at one local lot.

You won't see many people or parked cars these days on the rooftop lot of Seattle's Goat Hill Parking Garage. A mamma seagull has staked out the lot for herself and her family, and nobody else is welcome there.

Many patrons know the bird is just doing what all good moms do and they're happy to give up their spot.

"It's internal, it's something you have no control over," said Kathy Tremper, who parks in the lot.

Rare set of golden eagle triplets born in the east Highlands

15 July 2015 17:44 BST

A rare set of golden eagle triplets has been born in Scotland, a wildlife charity has revealed.

The female chicks hatched nine weeks ago and are being raised by their parents in the east Highlands.

The RSPB is keeping their exact location secret to protect the birds and has fitted them with satellite tags.

There are around 450 pairs of golden eagles in Scotland but fewer than 300 breed each year and it is very unusual for them to lay more than two eggs.

The chicks are likely to leave their nest soon but will probably stay in the area they were born until next spring.

Scotland is home to a number of species of eagle, including the white-tailed eagle which was reintroduced to the Inner Hebrides in 1975 nearly 60 years after it was hunted to extinction in the UK.

Pet dog pecked to death by seagull in 'horrific' garden attack

Cornwall Council tells distraught owner there is nothing they can do about the unruly seagulls which are a protected species

By Agency

12:29PM BST 15 Jul 2015

A beloved pet dog has been pecked to death in a "horrific attack" by a ferocious seagull in Cornwall.

The eight-year-old Yorkshire terrier, called Roo, was attacked in the garden of his owner's home at St Columb Minor near Newquay.

The tiny dog received a wound to his head and brain damage during the attack by the Herring gulls, which swooped down from the roof and pecked at the tiny dog's head. They are believed to have been protecting their nest.

He was later put down after a vet decided he could not survive his wounds.

Roo's owner Emily Vincent now fears for the safety of her four children and her two other dogs, Maltese Terriers Millie and Louis.

Ms Vincent said: "Jace [my son] was with Roo in the garden and then all of a sudden Jace started screaming that Roo is bleeding.

"I ran into the kitchen and saw Roo lying on his side and there was blood everywhere. Roo had managed to run indoors and then collapsed. Blood was coming out of his head.

"It was like a murder scene. I couldn't get any sense out of Jace initially but then he kept saying the big bird has got sharp teeth.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Philippine Eagle nest found in Apayao, thanks to IP habitat conservation scheme

ByContributoron July 14 2015 11:48 pm

Jayson C. Ibañez
Director-Research and Conservation
Philippine Eagle Foundation

In July of 1896, a local Samareño acting as guide to British Ornithologist John Whitehead brought back to camp one of the largest forest birds that Whitehead has ever seen. Then a new species to the western world, this first Philippine eagle specimen from Samar was a jewel among Whitehead’s wildlife collections. It was then one of the world’s greatest discoveries for a biological expedition.

One hundred nineteen years later today, we celebrate the same spirit of scientific discovery to announce another first in the history of Philippine Eagle research and conservation – the discovery of the world’s first active Philippine Eagle nest on Luzon Island.

On April 24, 2015, the first Philippine Eagle nest on Luzon with a downy chick was finally located by Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) biologists andIsnagresearch assistants in the lush lowland forests of Apayao Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region of Luzon.

The nest search was everything except easy. Finding the elusive nest involved a total of 3,456 hours of observations, which is equivalent to watching television 24/7 for over three months straight. Field work spanned five years in rugged and remote jungles. In the field, observers spent time mostly on platforms atop trees, scanning ridges and valleys for the highly secretive national bird.

The tedious nest search tested the team’s skills, patience and determination said PEF Biologist and expedition team leader Tatiana Abaño. “In the thick lowland jungles of Apayao, finding an eagle nest is like searching for a needle in a pile of hay”, Abaño added.

Magpies, kookaburras and willie wagtails among common Australian birds 'starting to disappear', report suggests

Updated earlier today at 4:57am

Sightings of magpies, laughing kookaburras and willie wagtails are on the decline in some regions, a report tracking the health of Australia's bird populations has found.

The State of Australia's Birds Report, published by Birdlife Australia, analysed data collected in more than 400,000 surveys across the country, the majority done by bird-loving volunteers.

.(Audience submitted: Tess Kleine)
Editor of Australian Birdlife Sean Dooley said the decline of common birds in parts of Australia was a surprise to researchers.

He said while predators including cats, habitat loss and even changes in climate might be to blame, more research was needed before certain species became endangered.

"The stuff that Birdlife Australia has come out with is showing is that a lot of birds that we assumed were really common and sailing along quite fine are showing significant declines," he told 774 ABC Melbourne.

"While they're still not endangered, it's basically the first step to them becoming endangered, so we really need to use this as a wake-up call and start looking at what we're doing across landscapes to try and figure out what's going on."

Of Australia's 137 terrestrial bird species, only 10 per cent showed a "consistent overall trend" the report found, with most birds, including magpies and willie wagtails, appeared to be declining in some regions, while increasing in others.

Environment, not distance, triggers genetic differences in 'sky island' birds

Date: July 14, 2015
Source: University of Kansas
Summary: Joseph Manthey's paper in Molecular Ecology has been hailed as a 'blueprint' for future isolation-by-environment studies.

Genomic sequencing of White-breasted nuthatches populating isolated mountains in Southern Arizona shows pressure to adapt to unique habitats prompts genetic branching among clades of the birds, rather than distances separating the "sky islands" where they live.

"Non-random gene flow is causing these birds to become genetically distinct based on certain environments," said Joseph Manthey, doctoral student at the University of Kansas' Biodiversity Institute. "As the nuthatches can fly, their ability to disperse suggested they'd either be able to move easily between nearby sky islands or not at all because of distances between them. So I was expecting a pattern of isolation-by-distance -- or that some sky island populations were genetically distinct due to isolation from other populations. "

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Rare Slaty-breasted rail spotted at Gangapur

NASHIK: Bird watchers claim to have spotted not one but two Slaty-breasted rail birds at the Gangapur dam. This is the second time this year that a rare species has been spotted at the dam.

Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus photographed in Malaysia in 2013 by Devon Pike.jpgThe Slaty-breasted rail is very shy and it is very rare to witness its breeding. The bird is found in the Indian sub-continent and South-east Asia. These birds are generally found in Dehradun in India.

"At present, there are more than 4,000 migratory and resident birds in Gangapur. On Sunday, we spotted a rare species of the Slaty-breasted rail for the first time in Nashik district. We saw two birds of this species a male and a female," said bird watcher Bishwarup Raha.

"The male bird, a size of a partridge, has a long red beak and grey back with white spots. Its underside is grey and the belly has white barred lines. The females are not as colourful as the males," said Raha.

The breeding season for these birds is in July but birders doubt if they would be able to witness it as these birds are very shy in nature.