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 29 December 2016

Red squirrel-hunting hawk sought on Isle of Wight

9 December 2016

An escaped bird of prey which is believed to have killed red squirrels on the Isle of Wight is frustrating efforts to capture it.

The red tailed hawk escaped from a private owner and is known to have killed at least two of the island's protected population of red squirrels.

Falconer Steven Hain said "everything possible" had been tried in an effort to catch it.

He said traps had been tried but shooting it would be a "last resort".

The hawk, native to the US where it is also known as a chicken hawk, was first spotted in the Seaview area in the late spring.

"We've been going for several months, we've tried all sorts. Bait, traps, literally running after it through the countryside to try and tire it out. We've tried everything possible.

"It doesn't belong here. Our nature isn't designed to cope with the red tailed hawk.

"I don't want to see any bird of prey shot, that would be a last resort."

He appealed for help from local residents in reporting sightings.

Hampshire Constabulary dismissed press reports that armed police were on stand-by to shoot the bird.

A spokesman said officers had helped trace the owner but would not be involved in any operation to shoot it.

The island is a rare stronghold of the red squirrel as the Solent has acted as barrier preventing grey squirrels overrunning them.

Declining male offspring further imperil endangered flycatchers in southern California

Date:  December 21, 2016
Source:  Central Ornithology Publication Office

A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications documents the steep decline of a population of endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatchers over 16 years -- and the change in the sex ratio that has left the birds' future hanging on a dwindling number of males.

Changes in sex ratios can cause problems in small, declining populations, reducing individuals' ability to find mates and reproduce. From 2000 to 2015, Barbara Kus of the U.S. Geological Survey and her colleagues monitored federally endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatchers on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in southern California, collecting data as the population declined from 40 individuals to only five. They found that the number of adult males was stable until 2004, but then began to decrease sharply until females outnumbered males at least two to one from 2012 on.

As the number of males plummeted, more and more of them became polygynous, mating with multiple females. Kus speculates that this may have prevented even faster declines. "It was particularly amazing to watch two or three males manage 10 or so females between them," says Kus. "They seemed to be able to increase their individual efforts such that every female was mated."


Wednesday 28 December 2016

Pakistani birds caught up in international intrigue

By Pamela Constable December 11 at 11:50 AM 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — If any further proof were needed that geopolitical intrigue can stalk the humblest of Pakistan’s inhabitants, consider the recent cases of two Pakistani birds.
The first is a pigeon, a species that people all over the country raise on their rooftops as a simple, inexpensive pleasure and a brief escape from their daily struggles with poverty, corruption and clogged streets below. 

Some weeks ago, tensions were running especially high between Pakistan and its perennial rival India. The source was Kashmir, the disputed border region where Muslim protesters were blinded by pellet guns and Indian soldiers were burned to death in a late-night attack by insurgents. 

Into the fog of belligerent rhetoric between the nuclear powers wandered a white pigeon, which was caught and caged by Indian security forces in a border district adjoining Kashmir. 
According to Indian news agencies, the bird was suspected of having “Pakistani links” and was carrying a warning message for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The arresting officer posed with his feathered prisoner, and the image soon circulated on social media. 

Beeley struggles to cope as thousands flock to see rare dusky thrush

By jilldcfc  |  Posted: December 12, 2016

The village of Beeley has been struggling to cope with a huge influx of birdwatchers who have flocked to Derbyshire in their thousands to see a rare dusky thrush.

The arrival of the bird – more usually seen in China or Japan in winter - has sparked huge excitement in the birdwatching community across the UK and abroad.

More than 2,000 people have visited the village in the past week – around 1,000 last weekend - bringing business to the area's pubs, cafes and B&Bs, but the volume of people has caused parking problems.