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 29 June 2018

Protected red kites poisoned in Northern Ireland

June 20 2018
The PSNI have launched an investigation after a pair of protected birds died after being poisoned in Co Down.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) NI and the PSNI have appealed for information after the pair of protected red kites died.
A male bird was found in distress close to a known nest site in the Katesbridge area on April 24. A member of the public alerted RSPB NI but the bird died shortly afterwards.
When the RSPB NI red kite project officer attended the scene, she found the female parent bird immobile on the nest – she too was dead. A rescue mission was launched in an attempt to save three orphaned eggs found in the nest beneath the deceased mother.
The bodies of the parent birds were collected and taken for toxicology testing by the PSNI. This has now revealed that both birds – known as Blue 21 and Red 63 because of their identifying tags - died from Carbofuran poisoning.

Bird family tree shaken by discovery of feathered fossil

by Helen Briggs BBC News

25 June 2018
They're some of the strangest birds in the world, known for their bright plumage and their penchant for fruit.
The turacos, or banana-eaters, are today found only in Africa, living in forests and savannah.
A beautifully preserved fossil bird from 52 million years ago is shaking up the family tree of the exotic birds.
The fossil's weird features suggests it is the earliest known living relative not just of the turacos, but of cuckoos and bustards (large long-legged birds).
And the fact the remains were unearthed in North America shows the distribution of different birds around the globe would have been very different in the past.
The banana-eaters
"Our analyses show with some strong support that the fossil is the earliest known representative of this group, the turacos, or the banana-eaters, that today are only found in sub-Saharan Africa," said Dr Daniel Field, a vertebrate palaeontologist in the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.
"Although, our fossil comes from western North America and it's about 52 million years old."
The attractive and colourful turacos of Africa are noisy, gregarious birds. They feed mostly on fruits and enjoy bananas, as their name suggests.
Dr Field said these fascinating birds, which he has photographed all over Africa, are a group well known to bird watchers.

Garden see influences young turtle doves' survival chance

June 21, 2018, University of Lincoln
Young turtle doves raised on a diet of seeds from non-cultivated arable plants are more likely to survive after fledging than those relying on food provided in people's gardens, new research into Britain's fastest declining bird species has shown.
Ecologists at the University of Lincoln, UK, investigated the dietary habits of adult and nestling European turtle doves – an IUCN Red List Threatened Species – breeding in the UK, using DNA analysis of faecal samples. They found significant associations between the body condition and the diet of the bird.
Nestling turtle doves still being fed by their parents were found to thrive on seeds foraged from non-cultivated arable plants such as scarlet pimpernel and chickweed, but the birds were in poorer condition when their diet was high in seeds provided by humans in back gardens or public spaces. In contrast, adult body condition was better when more cultivated seeds such as wheat, oil seed rape and barley were present in the diet.
Data collected for the study, which was carried out in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the University of Sheffield and Cardiff University, was compared with the results of previous studies carried out in the 1960s and 1990s. It revealed a fundamental shift in the diet of turtle doves, showing that the birds are now relying more heavily on food found in gardens, such as sunflower and niger seeds, than they did 50 years ago.
As the UK's fastest declining bird species, the results of the study have important implications for conservation strategies to save the turtle dove. Previous research has shown that nestling birds with better body condition are more likely to survive after fledging and strategies should be developed to provide the correct diet for the bird at each stage of its life.

Chester Zoo provides new home for 100 exotic birds rescued from illegal traders

The birds were destined to be sold illegally as pets

Community Contributor
21:00, 21 JUN 2018
Chester Zoo has provided a safe haven for almost 100 exotic birds after they were seized from the illegal wildlife trade.
The birds, from 14 under threat species, have been given a safe new home in the zoo’s habitats.
They were destined to be illegally sold as pets before being seized by customs officials in Europe as part of a collaboration against the trade.
The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest international crime in the world, worth around $19 billion annually.
Hundreds of bird species are known to appear in parts of Europe after being taken from the wild in Africa, South America and South East Asia.
The birds at Chester Zoo will now play a crucial role in boosting safety net numbers of each species as part of international breeding programmes, managed by the zoo and the global conservation community.

Fish farm nets kill purple heron at Basai wetland

Shilpy Arora| TNN | Updated: Jun 23, 2018, 02:12 IST
GURUGRAM: A purple heron, a wading bird that nests around wetlands, died in the Basai marshes earlier this week allegedly after getting entangled in nets put up by illegal fish farming units — the incident coming to light about two weeks after a black-necked stork was spotted with its beak stuck in a plastic ring in the area.

The bird, reportedly an adult one with a height of five feet, was found dead on Monday morning, a couple of days after some senior forest officials visited the spot (last Friday) and promised steps to protect the wetland that is home to numerous species of indigenous birds.

Dr. Indranil Halder, a birder from Noida, who had first spotted the bird, said, “It was so shocking to see such a big, magnificent bird entangled in fishers’ nets. Illegal fishing has become a major threat to birds in Basai. Though I spotted only one bird, I am sure many birds fall prey to these nets but they are removed immediately to hush up the incidents.”

Read on

Thursday 28 June 2018

Male peacocks can make females’ heads vibrate at a distance

18 June 2018

By Chris Baraniuk
Many of us feel a buzz when approached by a charming and attractive stranger, but not in such a literal sense. When a peacock rattles his opulent train feathers at a female of the species, it makes a sound at a specific frequency – causing the crest on her head to vibrate energetically.
Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) are famous for the spectacular train of feathers worn by males. The feathers are brightly coloured and have iridescent “eyespots”. Males display them to attract females.


Maine farm under fire after nesting fields for declining bird species gets mowed over

Abigail Curtis
This time of year, two familiar sounds seem to signal the arrival of summer.
One is the reassuring thrum of a tractor’s engine as farmers mow their sweet-smelling hayfields. The other is the bubbling, lyrical song of the bobolink, a small grassland bird with a shrinking population that is known for its cheerful plumage and captivating voice.
But put them too close together, and the bobolink and the tractor sound more like disaster. Just ask scores of ardent bird lovers who have registered their dismay that a farmer last weekend mowed large open fields at the Hart Farm in Holden, a historical dairy farm that was purchased last year by the Holden Land Trust.
Bobolinks are known to nest there, and a few of the birders had asked land trust officials if the mowing could be delayed so that the chicks would have a better chance of survival. But the farmer leasing the land needed to make sure that the hay he cut had sufficient nutrients to feed his herd of dairy cows and couldn’t wait, according to Betty Jamison, a board member of the land trust.
“We did not go out to kill off the bobolinks — it’s just a hard balance,” she said this week. “The farmer knew the bobolinks were an issue, but there’s not much you can do about it. These have been hayed fields for years. There are other wildlife that can be damaged in mowing a field. It’s a balancing act between trying to keep habitats and to preserve farming in this area.”

New research on avian response to wildfires

The varied ways birds respond to fires of mixed severity
Date:  June 22, 2018
Source:  Point Blue Conservation Science
As we enter another wildfire season in California, attention will turn to the inevitable fires and efforts to extinguish them. After these fires burn, land managers are tasked with deciding how, where, and when to act to manage these new conditions. It is vital that land managers use the latest science to understand the effects that fire has on the ecosystem and the wildlife species that inhabit them. New research Point Blue Conservation Science explores these effects, looking at impacts of the severity of fire on birds and how that changes as the time since fire increases. Scientists looked across 10 fires up to 15 years after they burned through forests in the northern Sierra Nevada. Key among the findings is the observation that wildfire had a strong effect on the density of many of the bird species that were studied.

Conservationists hail “special” first flight as rare birds are released in Cambridgeshire Fens

PUBLISHED: 15:56 21 June 2018

A flock of rare black-tailed godwits were released in the Cambridgeshire Fens after being painstakingly hand-reared by conservationists.

Many of the birds released on June 20 were not expected to hatch due to the terrible condition of the eggs as a result of the late spring downpours.

However, the eggs, which were rescued from muddy farmland, and the chicks were safely raised until old enough to look after themselves.

This practice is one element of Project Godwit – a partnership between the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) and the RSPB - which aims to restore the UK breeding population by collecting eggs for rear and release, known as head-starting.

Read on  

Development threatens rare parrots

Friday, 22 Jun 2018

TANJUNG Aru Beach on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu is a popular haunt for both the locals and visitors, and is much loved for its tall old Casuarina trees, lovely sand and magnificent sunsets. Sunsets in Kota Kinabalu are among the most spectacular in the world.

Tanjung Aru Beach is also home to the uncommon blue-naped parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis), which Bird Life International has described as near threatened (close to extinction).

The estimated number of this narrow-range parrot is between 1,500 and 7,000 and is declining further due to trapping and forest loss.

The parrots at Tanjung Aru beach owe their existence to Quentin Phillipps, author of Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, who is credited with saving them from their cages at a nearby market. The population is maintained at around 30 to 50 birds due to competition for nesting holes in the old Casuarina trees with other birds.

Unfortunately, this beach has been designated for extensive development for a 133ha golf “retreat”, a marina, seven hotels, 5,000 commercial and residential rooms, among others.

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Miami's Wild Parrots Are Being Poached, and There's No Law to Protect Them

MOLLY MINTA | JUNE 5, 2018 | 8:00AM

Every morning for the past 25 years, a flock of blue and gold macaws has flown into Daria Feinstein’s backyard in Coral Gables. They swoop between surrounding homes and over boats docked on the nearby canal to perch on Feinstein’s royal palms and poincianas or maybe have a bite to eat on the artificial nests she’s set up for them.

In 2010, one of Feinstein’s favorite wild parrots, Scruffy — an old blue and gold macaw she named for the bird's frayed feathers — began showing up in her yard with a youngster she named Fuzzy for a fluff of red fuzz on his head.

 “He was a character,” Feinstein says of Fuzzy. The baby would always disobey Scruffy and swoop down to eat before he was given the signal. “I was afraid he’d never get airborne because he’d eat so much.”

A year later, Fuzzy disappeared. Feinstein thought perhaps he’d grown up and found a mate in a different place. "But," she says, “one by one, more birds just kept disappearing.”

Feinstein began to hear similar reports from fellow members of the Bird Lovers Club, a nonprofit dedicated to South Florida’s avian population. A professor at the University of Miami told her someone came on campus with a net gun and took six birds. One of the other feeders in her neighborhood said the macaws were flying at night. “Parrots don’t fly after nightfall,” Feinstein says. “Something scared them.”

Feinstein realized the parrots were being poached. Since 2010, she says, the number of blue and gold macaws in her neighborhood has gone from 44 to 12 because of legal poaching. Parrots can sell for thousands of dollars each on local and national websites, which is significant motivation for poachers.

Rare white magpie sighting delights South Australian birdwatchers

Updated 9 Jun 2018, 10:48pm

First, there was the exciting sighting of a black kookaburra in a West Australian backyard. Now bird enthusiasts in South Australia are talking about a rare white magpie that has been spotted in the Flinders Ranges.

The bird is mainly white and a very light brown where it would normally be black. It has been spotted frequently near a creek about six kilometres north of the town of Quorn.

Quorn resident and bird enthusiast John Paynter said the magpie does not let people get too close.

"We drove around and all of a sudden it was sitting right in the middle of the road, picking a bit of carrion off the road," Mr Paynter said.

"But once he worked out we were trying to photograph it, he took off pretty quickly."

Mr Paynter keeps birds and said the white magpie would be at a higher risk of predation than other magpies in the area.

"Obviously a white magpie is a lot easier to see than a coloured one, a dual-coloured one anyway.

"I'm hopeful that it survives, but the chances of that are probably a bit slim with the colour … these things don't tend to last in the wild but hopefully it will be okay and hang out for a while."
Birds SA secretary Kate Buckley showed a photo of the bird to other members and they said that while rare, the bird was not an albino.

Magnificent rare bird of prey spotted flying over Coventry

Red kites were once one of the most endangered birds of prey in the UK after being hunted to near extinction

A rare and magnificent visitor has been spotted in the skies above Coventry.

A red kite was seen flying over the A46 Warwick Bypass on Sunday, June 17.

Another one was later seen near Draycote Water between Dunchurch and Southam.

Once one of the most endangered birds of prey in the UK after being hunted to near extinction by the early 20th century, a successful breeding programme has seen numbers steadily climb.
They are now a common sight in Oxford and along the M40 corridor, but are rarely seen in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Red kites are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Read on 

Black-necked stork spotted, rescue op on

Jun 12, 2018, 12:57 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2018, 12:57 AM (IST)

Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 11

Rescue teams have spotted the black-necked stork with a plastic ring stuck around its beak in the Basai wetland in a daylong attempt at sighting. The bird is reported it to be in good health despite its inability to eat or drink, raising fears of dehydration due to severe heat.

Three rescue teams are coordinating operations to trap the bird so that the ring is removed before it is too late. Additional Principal Conservator of Forests Vinod Kumar said the teams had moved closer to their rescue mission, that was suspended on Monday evening and would resume on Tuesday.

Environment Minister Vipul Goel assured all help to various teams involved in the rescue. He instructed officials to leave nothing to chance and involve other experts, if required, in saving the life of the bird. He said the government was considering serious action against the plastic dump owner whose negligence and violation of pollution norms had endangered wildlife.

Nature lover captures rare moment of cuckoo flying with egg in its beak

THIS is the rare moment that a cuckoo has been caught flying through the air with an egg resting in its beak.

Stephen Davies caught the unusual moment when he stopped in the countryside near the Ochil Hills.

He got his camera out when he spotted a cuckoo flying from the nest and could not believe his eyes when he noticed a full egg resting gently in between its beak.

The 48-year-old from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, did not realise how unusual the picture was until he checked his camera at home.

The phone shop manager said: "Two cuckoos actually flew in front of me. I stopped and got the camera out of the car and captured the female cuckoo carrying the egg.

"It looks like she found a nest then removed the eggs to lay her own eggs.

"I didn't know I had actually captured it. So when I got home I noticed it in my pictures, I knew it was something I've never seen before.

"I knew it was a female cuckoo when I saw the colouring of the bird.

Read more and see photos 

Monday 25 June 2018

Egg rescue helps boost population of rare bird

5th June

Press Association 2018

Conservationists who rescued eggs from muddy farmland have helped boost the population of a rare wading bird which is likely to be threatened with extinction in the near future.

There are around 60 pairs of black-tailed godwits in the UK, where they are red-listed by the RSPB and possess Near Threatened status globally.

Flooding forced godwits in East Anglia’s Nene and Ouse Washes, where about 46 of the UK’s 60 pairs can be found, away from the safety of their natural wetland nesting habitat and on to farmland.

Some of the eggs, on land hit by heavy spring downpours, were in “such bad condition that they resembled muddy potatoes”, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) said.

Conservationists, working with farmers, rescued 32 eggs from the farmland.

The WWT said 42 chicks have hatched so far this year as part of the wider Project Godwit.

Rare Harry Potter owl spotted in North Wales for only the fourth time in history

Bird Notes columnist Julian Hughes of RSPB Conwy reveals how the Snowy Owl got twitchers in a flap, and outlines 11 birding events in the coming days

Andrew Forgrave Rural Affairs Editor
11:02, 19 JUN 2018
UPDATED11:39, 19 JUN 2018

Early June can be an excellent time for rare birds, Anglesey’s most memorable being a Black Lark at RSPB South Stack in 2003 that brought thousands of birders from across the UK to see a bird hardly ever witnessed in western Europe.

Last week’s twitch to Amlwch was not on the same scale, but the sight of a Snowy Owl on the Anglesey coastal path will live long in the memory of those fortunate to see it.

Reported by walkers over several days, it proved a one-Friday wonder for birders with no sign since.

This same female was in Pembrokeshire in late May; readers may recall that one was also reported from Holy Island in late March .

Snowy Owls found in Britain usually originate from Arctic Canada, some undoubtedly hitching a ride on trans-Atlantic freighters.

More than a dozen appeared in Britain last winter but this is only the fourth ever seen in North Wales, and the last on Anglesey was in 1972, so it drew a keen crowd from as far away as the English Midlands.

Original habitat is best, but restoration still makes a big difference

Date:  June 13, 2018
Source:  American Ornithological Society Publications Office

A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications presents some of the best evidence to date that restoration efforts in Missouri's Ozark Highlands make a difference for nesting songbirds that breed there. Recent studies support that these efforts are making a positive impact on the ecosystem and increasing the survival of bird species that breed there.

A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications presents some of the best evidence to date that restoration efforts in Missouri's Ozark Highlands make a difference for nesting songbirds that breed there. The reduction of Missouri pine savannah and woodland areas has caused birds that rely on these habitats to decline. Current efforts to bring these habitats back are under way and include prescribed fire and thinning tree stands. Recent studies support that these efforts are making a positive impact on the ecosystem and increasing the survival of bird species that breed there.

Botswana raptor declines shock researchers


A two-year project, repeating a famous bird survey by driving more than 12,500 miles across Botswana, has confirmed researchers' worst fears: many birds of prey are fast disappearing from one of Africa's last great wilderness areas

Reported sightings of several iconic species of eagle and vulture declined by as much as 80 per cent when compared with the previous survey, while some migrant species recorded last time have vanished, according to the study published this week in the international scientific journal Biological Conservation.

The data is based on a return trip to a network of roads criss-crossing most of northern Botswana, an area first surveyed over 20 years ago by a former Wildlife Biologist with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Botswana, Dr Marc Herremans. Driving at similar speeds and using a similar vehicle, researchers retraced Herremans's route across gravel and tar roads. Bird of prey were initially spotted with the naked eye, before optics were used to positively identify the species involved, as in the original survey.

Sunday 24 June 2018

Hen Harriers breed in Bowland


Hen Harrier has bred in Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, for the first time since 2015.

RSPB wardens discovered two Hen Harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence, who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them. A single male harrier has fathered young at both nests and is now regularly taking food to each.

The good news makes a welcome change to the procession of reports of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers either killed or disappearing in unexplained circumstances.

Hen Harrier remains on the verge of extinction as a breeding bird in England owing to the continuous illegal persecution of the species associated with driven grouse shooting. Although experts estimate there is sufficient habitat for at least 300 pairs across northern England, last year there were only three successful nests in the whole country. Bowland used to be known as England's last remaining stronghold for breeding Hen Harriers, but both 2016 and 2017 proved blank years after just a single chick fledged in 2015.

New generation of cuckoos tagged by BTO


As part of an ongoing study to find out why Common Cuckoo is declining, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has fitted a further 10 individuals with tiny satellite tags this summer.

The study aims to better understand the reasons behind why we have lost almost three-quarters of our Common Cuckoo population over the past 25 years. It has already identified important migration routes via stopover sites in northern Italy and southern Spain, and the precise wintering locations in the Congo rainforest.

Mortality of cuckoos taking the route via Spain has been linked to population decline within the UK. What scientists at the BTO would like to know now is how well our cuckoos make it to and from Africa in different summers, and specifically, how relatively important conditions in the UK and southern Europe are in contributing to a successful – or otherwise – Saharan crossing in autumn.

Sister species of birds reveal clues to how biodiversity evolves

June 19, 2018 by Hayley Dunning, Imperial College London

Extensive new datasets about the world's birds are helping to solve the riddle of how life on Earth diversified.

By combining global datasets on bird characteristics, citizen-science species sightings and genetics, researchers have begun to answer some key questions in biodiversity. The results are published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, in two parallel studies that include Imperial College London researchers.

The first paper compiles body measurements and estimates of evolutionary history for hundreds of closely related bird species (called 'sister species') to study how new species evolve.

In most cases, new bird species begin to emerge when one population is isolated geographically from others, such as by a mountain range. Later, the diverging species may extend their geographical ranges, bringing them back into contact.

These encounters can play out in one of three ways: the species can interbreed and form a single species again; they can stay separated but with hard borders between their two ranges; or they can continue to expand their ranges until they coexist over a wide area.

What determines whether emerging species stay separate or coexist? The team, led by Dr. Jay McEntee at the University of Florida, used a vast citizen-science database of bird sightings worldwide to identify where sister species were seen in the same place at the same time, allowing the timing and extent of coexistence among sister species to be estimated.
Different traits allow coexistence

The researchers found that if sister species had very different traits that affect their way of life, such as beaks adapted to different foods, they were more likely to coexist sooner and over larger areas.

In contrast, those with very similar traits appeared not to overlap successfully. The researchers think this is because there is 'interference' between the species, such as interbreeding, or competition for resources like food.

Is it a bird? Yes – 1,500 of them!

They swoop, they soar, they light up the sky … meet the pigeon-fancier who has trained his flock to wear LEDs and perform a hypnotic night dance

Tue 19 Jun 2018 06.00 BSTLast modified on Tue 19 Jun 2018 10.57 BST

You can see them in the sky long before you get close, circling high above, wheeling and diving between each other, their wings flashing in the sunshine and making a faintly mechanical whirr each time they pass overhead. This vast flock of pigeons, flying over a disused golf course next to a sewage works on the eastern edge of London, has been assembled by Duke Riley, an American artist who has now spent months training these birds to re-enact a show that caused a storm when it hit the night skies over Brooklyn in 2016.

Though genetically similar to feral pigeons, these birds are specialist varieties that were selectively bred over thousands of years for their endurance and acrobatic abilities. “Most are tipplers and rollers,” says Riley. He’s a compact man with blue eyes, a square jaw and hands that look as though they are used to making things. “These are the birds people fly in New York, but they’re all English breeds originally.” There’s something knowingly old-fashioned about Riley. He wears overalls with the word “Duke” embroidered on the pocket and speaks in a hard Boston lilt.

In Europe, most fanciers, as pigeon-keepers are called, are interested in racing: they take their birds away from their lofts and time how long it takes them to fly back. But in the rest of the world, it’s more of a spectator sport. Fanciers will breed a flock (or “kit”) of birds, then train them using flags and whistles to fly tightly together over their loft. In competition, points are awarded for style and time in the air, or for attracting your opponents’ birds into your flock.

Read on 

Friday 22 June 2018

Foreign donations prop up Australia's endangered parrot response

Western ground parrot needs millions spent on it, but volunteers say Coalition is trying to shift costs to not-for-profits

Mon 18 Jun 2018 23.19 BSTFirst published on Mon 18 Jun 2018 19.00 BST

The Turnbull government helped broker a $200,000 agreement for a German not-for-profit to fund conservation work for a critically endangered Australian parrot, bolstering criticism it is shifting the cost of protecting threatened species to community and philanthropic organisations.

The western ground parrot is one of only three ground nesting parrots found in Australia and is one of 20 birds the government has committed to helping as part of its threatened species strategy.

But the parrot is receiving just $80,000 in species-specific funding from the federal government through its threatened species recovery fund to construct new facilities for “a captive breeding trial at Perth zoo”.

The environment department says additional money to support the birds is coming from a $1.7m feral cat baiting program in WA and an agreement it “brokered” with a German parrot association for $200,000 for a western ground parrot project.

The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, a Berlin-based not for profit, agreed to provide the funds in 2017 for work by the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to increase feral animal control, “monitor existing populations and enhance captive breeding methods”, an environment and energy spokeswoman said.

Conservation groups say the international donation is an example of the government increasingly trying to move the cost of threatened species work onto volunteers and charities and at a time when it has been trying to stop not-for-profits from accepting overseas donations for political advocacy work.

Read on 

The loss of a parent is the most common cause of brood failure in blue tits

Date:  June 12, 2018
Source:  British Ecological Society

Complete brood failure in blue tits is almost always associated with the sudden and permanent disappearance of one of the parents. Scientists show in their study that the remaining parent substantially increased its effort to raise at least some of the chicks, which turned out to be successful in two thirds of the nests.

Single parent males generally do worse, probably because they are not able to keep their chicks warm. Their findings are published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Apart from being a popular garden feeder visitor, blue tits have been the focus of much research on the causes and consequences of variation in reproductive success. Blue tits typically lay between 8-15 eggs, of which a varying number of young will survive to leave the nest. In some nests, however, all the offspring die before they are old enough to leave the nest.

Finding out what causes these cases of complete brood mortality has proven challenging. Does one parent leave all the care to its mate? Can a single parent not cope with the demands? Do both parents decide to desert their brood? To find out, we need to know exactly when parents stop bringing food and when the offspring perish.

Therefore, Peter Santema and Bart Kempenaers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen equipped all adult blue tits in their study site with a tiny, passive integrated transponder.

Dramatic drop in native bird numbers spotted in gardens

There's good and bad news for stay-at-home bird spotters across the country.

The latest State of New Zealand Garden Birds report has been released - and shows that while the number of some native species spotted in gardens is on the rise, there has been a dramatic drop in others.

And researchers say the numbers show birds could be a sign of major environmental change.

You may not recognise the sound of the tauhou - or silvereye - but in the last eleven years, the number of the native birds spotted in New Zealand gardens has dropped by 43 percent.

And it's not just the silvereye bird enthusiasts are struggling to spot in their gardens - the number of starling, song thrush and goldfinch has also dropped.

According to Landcare research associate Dr Eric Spurr the birds could be signalling major environmental changes.

"We don't know what changes they are signalling, but they are signalling that something is going on - whether it's increased human population, increased urbanisation, increased use of herbicides, insecticides, pesticides - we don't know, and that's what we need to find out," he said.

These findings are part of the annual State of New Zealand Garden Birds report produced by Landcare research.

For the past eleven years, 31,000 volunteers have taken part in the survey - recording the birds they see in their garden for an hour, for seven days in winter.

Bird population increases around Lake Erçek in Van

June 19 2018 00:01:00

VAN – Anadolu Agency

The number of birds in eastern Turkey’s Van lake basin have increased following heavy rains in the region, according to a biology professor. 

Atilla Durmuş, a professor at Yüzüncü Yıl University’s Department of Biology in Van, told state-run Anadolu Agency that the birds enjoy easy nourishment and breeding due to rainfall this year. 
Visitors in the region can observe around 213 bird types among hundreds of other birds in the Van lake basin, which is home to one five of wetlands in Turkey. Different bird species in the basin offer unique beauties to visitors. 

The basin, which is also one of the places preferred by scientists for their research, is home to birds like flamingoes, swans, white-headed ducks, black-winged stilts, avocets, herons, ringed plovers, wild geese and others. 

As the region is on the migratory route, various bird species can be seen in every season. Festivals are organized to promote the region to the world.