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.

Sunday 30 September 2018

Guwahati counts its ‘ugly old bird’ annually — and this year it’s good news

In a recent survey done in Guwahati by conservation society Early Birds, the endangered Greater Adjutant Stork (or Hargilla) population was pegged at the ‘stable’ figure of 220. But according to local activists, habitat loss for the bird continues to be a pressing problem.
Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati | Updated: September 15, 2018 8:30:27 pm
In a recent survey done in Guwahati last week by conservation society Early Birds, the Hargilla population was pegged at 220.
While traffic jams in a city like Guwahati are commonplace, last year — a day before Diwali — the cause for a hold-up in GS Road was an unexpected one: a huge, gangly bird, seemingly lost among the din of cars and people as it tried to make sense of its new surroundings. 
Before the concerned authorities could come rescue it, the bird — an endangered species called the Greater Adjutant Stork, locally known as the Hargilla — took off itself. However, for the stork, adapting to changing environs is something it has been compelled to do over the last few decades. As its natural habitat — wetlands (or beels) — disappear, the stork has taken to living in garbage dumps which dot the city of Guwahati, the biggest one behind the Guwahati Medical College. 
For long, villagers would shun the stork, but today, conservation efforts by local organisations and activists have changed the its fate.
Ignored for years, recent media reports have extensively covered conservation efforts to protect Assam’s “ugly old bird” — at a height of five feet, with an eight-foot wing span, reports show that out of the 1,200 Hargillas in the world, about 800 are in Assam. It features in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species — in 1988, it was “threatened” but from 1994, it has been considered “endangered”. The decline goes back to the first half of the 20th century — but the bird can still be spotted parts of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam — and India, of course (mostly Assam and Bihar).

Rare white hummingbird makes appearance in Hallsville

Monday, September 17th 2018, 11:04 pm BDTMonday, September 17th 2018, 11:04 pm BDT
By Stephanie Frazier, Digital Content Producer
Hummingbirds clearly love East Texas and its warm weather, as swarms of the brightly-colored little creatures abound wherever there are lots of flowers, or feeders placed for them in area yards.That's fairly common; what is uncommon, though, is the arrival of a white hummingbird around those feeders.

Hallsville residents Scott and Patricia Pasche noticed one of those unique birds on a feeder on their property, and shared the video with us. The bird is easy to spot alongside its colorful counterparts (making it an easier target for predators, unfortunately), and is noticeably less active compared to the other "hummers," though it does finally fly away when satisfied. There may be a reason for that, according to birding experts.

There are two kinds of hummingbirds which appear white: albino hummingbirds and leucistic hummingbirds, according to They say that true albino hummingbirds are extremely rare, and have a genetic mutation that will not allow their bodies to produce dark pigment, or melanin. They will, in addition to having white feathers, have pink or red eyes.

Tawny owl decline: Public urged to record 'twit-twoos'

28 September 2018

Bird lovers are being urged to give up 20 minutes every week to listen out for the "twit-twoo" call of the Tawny owl, amid concerns over its numbers.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is asking people to listen for the distinctive hoot from their garden, a local park or woodland, once every week for the next six months.

"You can even do it from the comfort of your bed," said BTO's Claire Boothby.

Light pollution and urbanisation are thought to be impacting populations.

The conservation status of the Tawny owl recently changed from green to amber, signalling a growing concern for the species.
'Anyone can take part'

Researchers hope the Tawny Owl Calling survey, which runs from 30 September to 31 March, will help them understand if, and where, the bird may be in decline.

They say it is not essential that members of the public listen every single week, insisting that all data will be useful - even in locations where an owl call cannot be heard as this indicates where the species is missing.

"Anyone can take part, and the more people that do, the better picture scientists at BTO will have of our Tawny owl," Ms Boothby said.

Friday 28 September 2018

52 Percent of World's Birds of Prey Populations in Decline

Sep. 11, 2018 01:16PM EST

Grim news for the world's raptors—an iconic group of birds consisting of hawks, falcons, kites, eagles, vultures and owls.
After analyzing the status of all 557 raptor species, biologists discovered that 18 percent of these birds are threatened with extinction and 52 percent have declining global populations, making them more threatened than all birds as a whole.
Comparatively, 40 percent of the world's 11,000 bird species are in decline, according to an April report from BirdLife International.
The new research, published last week in the journal Biological Conservation, was led by biologists at The Peregrine Fund and in collaboration with nine scientific organizations and is the first to focus specifically on the status of raptors, according to Stuart Butchart chief scientist at BirdLife International and one of the paper's coauthors.

Red Tide endangers more than sea life. Birds are latest victims

Published: September 17, 2018
One recent morning, Elizabeth Forys saw a strange sight on St. Pete Beach.
The Eckerd College biology professor was visiting to check on the condition of certain seabirds as a Red Tide algae bloom rolled into Pinellas County’s iconic beaches. She saw a laughing gull just sitting on the sand, and she walked up to it. Instead of flying away, it didn’t move, not even when someone came to pick it up.
As with other birds she’d seen staggering around as if they had vertigo, she suspects the gull was poisoned by Red Tide.
Amid all the talk of the wildlife killed by Red Tide this year — eels, snook, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles — seabirds and shore birds are frequently left out.
But they’re suffering as well, to the point that wildlife rehabilitation experts are on the lookout for ailing birds. They are particularly searching for the ones that are supposed to be protected by state and federal law, such as black skimmers, least terns, snowy plovers, oystercatchers and red knots.
"We’re really worried about the red knots," said Lorraine Margeson, an avid birder who monitors nesting behavior at For DeSoto. She noted that this time of year, more than a thousand often wind up on the beaches between St. Pete Beach and Sand Key.
The birds that get sick appear to fall ill after eating the dead fish killed by Red Tide. The algae’s toxins collect in their avian bodies and affect their neurological and digestive systems.
Sometimes the poison is fatal. Forys said four snowy plovers died on Lido Key near Sarasota, all apparently killed by Red Tide. She said that’s an unheard of number of simultaneous deaths for that species, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The hardest hit area appeared to be Sarasota. There, a wildlife rehabilitation facility called Save Our Seabirds took in 45 sick birds in a single morning, said Melissa Dollard, avian hospital director for the Seashore Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores. Dollard said she’s hoping her facility doesn’t get that many Red Tide patients in such a short space of time.
"We’ve gotten about 20 birds so far that are presenting with Red Tide symptoms," Dollard said.
The ones most commonly affected are the laughing gulls, she said, but the sanctuary has also cared for a pair of cormorants, a ruddy turnstone and a few pelicans, among other species.
Treating them involves giving them food that’s not tainted by Red Tide, providing fluids to flush out the toxins and sometimes treating them with activated charcoal, which helps purge the Red Tide, Dollard said. Usually they’re fine after seven to 10 days of treatment, she said.

‘Exceptional’ rare bird of prey footage captured at Scots hen harrier nests

5th September

By Nan Spowart Journalist

BEHAVIOUR never seen before in a rare bird of prey has been recorded by cameras in a Scottish conservation project.
The “exceptional” footage shows male hen harriers standing guard over nests and a hen harrier brood being hunted by two species of owl.
Conservationists say the pictures tell an amazing story that shows the kind of hurdles hen harrier chicks – the species nests on the ground – have to overcome to survive.
The discoveries were made as part of Heads Up for Harriers, a Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW) project, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Figures released today also show 30 young birds have successfully fledged on participating estates.
On two occasions, a male harrier was recorded spending up to 35 minutes standing over or beside a nest, guarding the chicks when the female harrier was away.
This is believed to be highly unusual harrier behaviour as the only time a mother usually leaves a nest for the first six weeks is to briefly catch a food drop from the father to feed the chicks.
The footage has also captured a hectic night of activity involving a fox and a short-eared owl which ended with five chicks being killed by another owl.
According to the pictures from the nest camera, the mother spent eight days taking care of her five newly-hatched chicks, until she was scared off the nest by a fox. The unattended chicks were then surveyed first by a short-eared owl before being killed by a long-eared owl.

A rare visitor to nature reserve

Published: 14:00 Friday 14 September 2018
There was great excitement when the Hauxley Bird Ringing Group caught an Arctic warbler on Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Hauxley Nature Reserve – especially as there are only about five records in the UK each year. Arctic warblers breed in the far north of Fennoscandia and northern Asia. It is believed that the birds that reach Britain will most likely have bred in eastern Russia before migrating to South East Asia in the autumn – so this one was well off course. The ringers visit the Hauxley reserve each spring and autumn and are part of The Constant Effort Sites Scheme, the first national standardised ringing programme that is supported by the British Trust for Ornithology and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.


Thursday 27 September 2018

Elephant bird mystery solved? Discovery may explain demise of world's largest-ever birds

Analysis of bones from now-extinct elephant birds could shed new light on the fate of the giant fowls.
A team of scientists led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) studied skeletons of the huge birds that were discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. The species of 10-foot-tall birds (known as Aepyornis and Mullerornis) weighed up to 1,100-pounds.
The bones were found in 2009 at the site of Madagascar’s Christmas River. Cut marks and fractures on the bones were likely made by prehistoric hunters, according to the experts. By using radiocarbon dating, the scientists discovered that the birds were killed around 10,500 years ago.
The study is significant because previous research on lemur bones and other artifacts indicated that humans first arrived in Madagascar 2,400 to 4,000 years ago. The butchered bones therefore suggest that humans reached the island much earlier than previously thought.
Scientists published their findings in the journal Science Advances.
The new research also rekindles the debate about whether humans caused the extinction of the giant bird, according to Science. “We already know that Madagascar’s megafauna – elephant birds, hippos, giant tortoises and giant lemurs – became extinct less than 1,000 years ago,” said lead author Dr. James Hansford of ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, in a statement. “There are a number of theories about why this occurred, but the extent of human involvement hasn’t been clear.”

Borders Chilean flamingo chicks a first for Scotland

Published: 18:57 Saturday 15 September 2018
The owners of a rare bird centre in the Borders have become the first people in Scotland to hand-rear flamingos. Mark Haillay and Owen Joiner of new Oxton visitor attraction, Bird Gardens Scotland, took delivery of nine flamingo eggs last month. Mark Haillay feeds a flamingling at Bird Gardens Scotland in Oxton. Laid by the established Chilean flamingo flock at Chester Zoo, the eggs, which take 30 days to develop, were incubated there before being carefully transported to Oxton to hatch. The two-week-old flaminglings are now being hand-reared by Owen and Mark in the centre’s baby barn. “It’s a special moment when you first hear a flamingo egg grunt, and you know that within 48 hours there will be a chick asleep, resting after its epic journey from inside the egg out into the world,” Mark said. “It’s incredibly exciting to think that these little balls of grey fluff will grow to be majestic flamingos.”

Read more at: 

Road to recovery for the Roseate Tern

11 Sep 2018

By Chantal Macleod-Nolan
Neighbouring BirdLife partners, RSPB (UK) and BirdWatch Ireland, have joined forces to put Europe’s rarest breeding seabird, the roseate tern, on the road to recovery.
The history of Europe’s rarest breeding seabird, the roseate tern Sterna dougallii, in Britain and Ireland has been a rocky one. Its characteristic pink breast (in breeding) plumage was once prized for fashionable hats, driving them to verge of extinction back in the 19th Century. Although the creation of wildlife laws brought them much-needed protection, the 1970s saw another population crash, with only 467 pairs remaining by 1989.
Long-term conservation efforts at its remaining three colonies – Rockabill Island and Lady’s Island Lake on Ireland’s east coast and Coquet in Northumberland, UK – have been rewarded with steady growth, reaching a record level of 1,980 pairs in 2018. As in previous years, the growth was mostly driven by Rockabill with 1,633 pairs recorded, but also Lady’s Island with 227 pairs and Coquet with 118 pairs. The productivity on Rockabill has been declining in recent years, falling to a low of 0.66 chicks per pair in 2016 and only slightly better 0.83 last year. On the other hand, Coquet had an exceptional productivity of 1.50 chicks per pair in 2017.

Man used poison to kill more than 130 wedge-tailed eagles in Australia, prosecutors say

Incident is largest case of protected species' poisoning in state history, Victoria officials say
Thursday 13 September 2018 09:36
A man has been charged over the deaths of more than 130 wedge-tailed eagles – Australia’s largest bird of prey.
The bodies of 136 birds were found hidden in scrubland on properties in Tubbut, Victoria, in south east Australia’s Snowy Mountains region, in April.
It is alleged the man used poisoned baits to kill the protected species between October 2016 and April 2018.
Victoria’s Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) said it was the largest case of wedge-tailed eagle deaths in the state’s history.
“We would like to inform the community that investigations are ongoing, including forensic examination of evidence recently seized during searches of relevant properties,” a spokeswoman said.
In June, locals told the authorities they feared the true figure could be far higher.
The remains of the birds found were spread across four properties which covered about 2,000 hectares.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation understands the man charged is not the owner of the Tubbut properties involved.
He is facing two charges under the Wildlife Act 1975 and has been released on bail. The deliberate killing of this number of wedge-tailed eagles carries a maximum penalty of up to six months’ imprisonment and fines totalling about AUS$115,000 (£63,000) the ABC said.
The man was charged following a state-wide investigation involving more than 30 people.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

More swans are 'stolen' from Radipole Lake bird reserve in Weymouth

14th September

More swans have gone missing from a Weymouth bird reserve.
A week after the Dorset Echo reported the sad news that a family of mute swans were feared dead after being taken from the RSPB Radipole Lake reserve, it has been revealed that more of the protected birds have been targeted.
Swan warden at Radipole Lake Derek Davey claims a further nine birds, including some cygnets, have been stolen by thieves. This is on top of the seven which were taken previously and reported to police.
Police have said there is nothing to suggest the original family of swans were stolen.
The RSPB has also suggested an animal could be responsible, but that it was a 'mystery'.
Mr Davey is adamant that human thieves are at work.
He would not speculate on why the swans are being removed and by whom but said it was possible the birds were being targeted for food.
He has again asked people to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour.
Swans are protected under the 1981 Wildlife Countryside Act which makes it illegal to keep or kill them.

A record year for Denbighshire's terns ... but will the picture be so rosy after Brexit?

Bird Notes columnist Julian Hughes of RSPB Cymru reveals what birds have been spotted in the past week and lists some upcoming birding events
Andrew Forgrave Rural Affairs Editor
23:40, 17 SEP 2018
Supporters of Wales’ only nesting colony of Little Terns are celebrating another successful breeding season under the watch of wardens from Denbighshire County Council .
Despite 89 nests being lost to Storm Hector’s metre-high tidal surge in June, a record 171 pairs reared 192 young on the beach at Gronant .
Wardens saved 27 nests from the waves by moving nests up the beach, and numbers were boosted by influx of birds whose nests failed in Ireland, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.
Every year since 2014 each pair has fledged a chick, enough to grow the population, making Gronant the second biggest Little Tern colony in Britain & Ireland.
Wardens have witnessed some chicks refusing food, an indication of good supplies of small fish offshore.

Three critically endangered hen harriers disappear in ‘suspicious circumstances’, says RSPB

Birds of prey 'vanish without a trace' within months of hatching, raising suspicions of illegal killing
Three critically-endangered birds of prey have disappeared from the British countryside “in suspicious circumstances”, raising fears they have been illegally killed.
The young hen harriers all “vanished without a trace” months after hatching, said the RSPB, which had tagged the birds with satellite trackers as part of a conservation programme.
Police are investigating the birds’ presumed deaths in Northumberland, the Peak District and North Wales.
“While we don’t yet know what has happened to these three birds, we do know that the main factor reducing the hen harrier population in the UK is the illegal killing of birds associated with the intensive management of grouse moors,” said Cathleen Thomas, project manager of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life project.
She said tags attached to each raptor had “inexplicably stopped” working. The devices typically continue to send details of their location if a bird dies of natural causes.
Hen harriers are one of the UK’s rarest birds of prey, with only nine successful nests recorded in England this year despite sufficient habitat for 300 breeding pairs.
Illegal persecution linked to moorland grouse shooting is thought to be principally to blame for their low numbers.
Two of the three birds that recently vanished were last known to have been over land that was managed for driven grouse shooting.
A young female harrier known as Hilma was recorded at moorland near Wooler, Northumberland, on 8 August, before going missing.
Another female, Octovia, vanished in the Peak District weeks later. She had hatched alongside three other chicks from a nest in the National Trust’s High Peak Moors in June, the first time the species had bred in the area for four years.

Rare visitor flies in to Yorkshire coast

Published: 13:19 Updated: 14:59 Tuesday 11 September 2018
An unusual breed of woodpecker had birdwatchers flocking to the Yorkshire coast last week. The wryneck was spotted at Bempton, after a spell of easterly and north-easterly winds. Tony Hood, secretary of Flamborough Bird Observatory, said: “They are a former breeding bird in Britain but due to habitat loss, we lost them in the 1960s and 1970s.” Usually found in Europe at this time of year, wrynecks spend their winters in Africa - and the Bempton visitor proved to be very friendly. 
“It was very amenable,” Tony added. “It was near the exit road and cars were driving past it and it wasn’t bothered. “I’ve not seen one for a couple of years.”The weather conditions also brought a couple of other rare visitors to Bempton - an Arctic warbler and a greenish warbler.

‘Italian bird smugglers brought species to Malta’

Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 19:45 by Ivan Martin

Maltese link to Carabinieri-led investigation announced by Europol

Carabinieri-led investigations saw two suspects involved in poaching and trafficking of endangered bird species, identified and prosecuted in Italy.
A recently arrested Italian gang of bird smugglers are believed to have been involved in bringing protected species to Malta. 
Maltese police sources told the Times of Malta that the country was a known destination for smuggled bird species, and a recently uncovered racket in Italy was believed to have ties to the island. 
Europol announced on Tuesday that Carabinieri-led investigations had seen two suspects involved in poaching and trafficking of endangered species of birds identified and prosecuted in Italy.
The Italian police said the two were involved in collecting nests and protected birds in the central region of Lazio to later sell them on the illegal market.
Meanwhile, a Maltese police source said that while the group were believed to have mostly supplied birds to continental European countries like Germany, they were also linked to other gangs in southern Italy through a wide-ranging black market network that had supplied birds to Malta.
Europol said the operation had resulted in over 50 protected species of birds being rescued, some of which so young that were still featherless, including hawfinches, jackdaws, goldfinches and serins.
Among them were 15 European roller birds, migratory birds with blue feathers, which are protected under national and international legislation and so cannot be hunted.
Once collected, the birds were sold on the clandestine market at prices from €500 for a roller, €200 to €300 for a kestrel, €150 for a hawfinch and €30 to €80 for a goldfinch.

Friday 21 September 2018

Speaker: Rare birds in 1080 protest died from blunt-force trauma

Henry Cooke19:33, Sep 13 2018
Speaker Trevor Mallard has laid a complaint with the police over several dead birds used in a protest that were "almost certainly" bludgeoned to death.
The rare native birds placed on Parliament's steps during an anti-1080 protest were "almost certainly" bludgeoned to death, the Speaker says.
He has referred the matter to police.
The birds were definitely killed by blunt force trauma, and Massey University is now performing post-mortems on them to ascertain exactly whether or not they were bludgeoned.
About a dozen birds were placed on Parliament's steps, including five native birds who have protected status, meaning it is illegal to kill or possess them.
"The expert advice is that the birds were almost certainly bludgeoned to death," Speaker Trevor Mallard said.
The native birds were two kereru, two weka, and a Red-Billed gull.
The protest also involved throwing likely-fake 1080 pellets through the grates of the main doors into Parliament.
Video evidence would be provided to police or the courts of the incident but not to the public.
Mallard said he believed strongly in the right to protest but "they've got to stay within the bounds of the law."
"As a protected species under the Wildlife Act 1953 it is an offence to kill any absolutely or partially protected wildlife. It is also an offence to buy, sell or otherwise dispose of, or have in his or her possession any absolutely protected or partially protected wildlife. Individual persons are liable for an imprisonment term not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both."
He found it "particularly regrettable" that children were involved in the protest.
Anti-1080 protesters marched on Parliament in their hundreds on Saturday calling for an end to the use of the pesticide.
It was part of a nationwide series of protests attended by thousands.
Some of the protesters at Parliament wore skull and crossbones capes, chemical hazard suits and masks while others dressed in black with white crosses to symbolise the loss of the wildlife they say was killed by the poison.
A small number have camped out on Parliament's front lawn since then, writing messages in chalk on the border of Parliament's grounds.
It is not clear which group organised the placing of the birds, but comments online denied the birds were "bludgeoned", suggesting some were roadkill and some were picked up from a 1080 drop zone.

Crows using roof top to crack open walnuts is driving dog crazy

The homeowner is none too happy either. What can be done to discourage the crows and their pounding?

Large flocks of crows can cause issues for humans ranging from excessive noise, harassment and raiding of gardens, orchards and field crops.
By JOAN MORRIS | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: September 17, 2018 at 7:00 am | UPDATED: September 17, 2018 at 7:05 am
DEAR JOAN: I think it’s called a murder of crows, but maybe I just want to murder the crows.
Every year we get 40 or 50 crows eating breakfast on our roof and it drives Chrissie, our normally non-vocal bichon frise, crazy. The crows bring large, nut type husks the size of walnuts and use our roof as an anvil to break them open.
The pounding on the roof by so many crows sounds like we have a family of raccoons up there, and as you can expect, the crows don’t seem to get along with each other as they caw and chase each other nonstop, dropping the husks that then roll across the roof and accumulate in the rain gutters.
Poor Chrissie isn’t very happy with the knocking and pounding on the roof and neither am I as I don’t know what kind of damage they might be doing up there. It I step outside and rap on the rain gutter with a long cardboard tube, the crows take flight and the sky turns black for a few moments as they scatter, only to return 10 minutes later.
I’m guessing that the parents are teaching their youngsters how to hunt for food but do you have any ideas how I might discourage the crows from turning my roof into a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast venue?
Art Mayoff, Benicia
DEAR ART: Keeping certain birds out of your yard is not an easy task, unless maybe you build a glass dome over your house, and then I think the crows might create another problem for you that would require constant window washing.
There are devices you can attach to the eaves and ridge lines of your house, common roosting spots for birds, that are intended to keep them off. The bird spikes are just what the name implies — spikes that would make perching very uncomfortable. However, as the crows are doing more than roosting, they could continue to use your roof as a giant nutcracker.
You could hang Mylar ribbons and sparkly disks above your roof, but crows soon figure out those are nothing to worry about.
How about creating a place in your yard for the crows to use? You could build a platform, install large rocks or other hard surfaces to substitute for your roof. Place some bird seed and walnuts out to attract them to the spot. As crows seem to do exactly what we don’t want them to do, be sure to tell them they need to stay off.

'Sick to my stomach': dolphin and penguins locked in derelict Japan aquarium

Anger after hundreds of fish and reptiles have been left in tiny pools amid crumbling concrete since January
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Fri 31 Aug 2018 02.12 BSTLast modified on Sat 1 Sep 2018 03.12 BST
Anger is mounting in Japan after a dolphin, 46 penguins and hundreds of fish were found to have been abandoned for months in a derelict aquarium.
Animal rights campaigners have warned that the marine animals could die if they are not rescued from the Inubosaki marine park aquarium in the Pacific coastal town of Choshi north-east of Tokyo.
The plight of Honey, a female bottlenose dolphin, as well as scores of Humboldt penguins and hundreds of fish and reptiles, has triggered outrage following reports that they were abandoned when the facility closed seven months ago.
Images taken from outside the marine park in March this year show the solitary dolphin languishing in a tiny pool. In another photograph, dishevelled-looking penguins can be seen perched on a structure near what appear to be piles of loose concrete.
The marine park closed at the end of January following a dramatic drop in visitor numbers blamed on the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s north-east in March 2011.
Reports said employees of the marine park were feeding the animals, although it is unclear how they are sourcing food and how much they have left. It is possible that the park still has large stocks of frozen food or that employees are purchasing fresh fish in Choshi, a fishing port.
Animal rights campaigners have been refused entry to the facility, while local authorities have been unable to contact its private owner, Inubosaki Marine Park. Calls to the park’s owner went unanswered.


The outbreak of a dangerous African bird disease is killing blackbirds and other bird species in the Czech Republic. The mosquito-carried Usutu virus has spread to Europe from tropical and subtropical Africa and has been raising the bird toll across the continent. I spoke to Petr Voříšek of the Czech Society for Ornithology and I first asked him to tell me more about the disease.
“We don’t know all the details about the disease. What we know is that it’s a virus. It’s called the Usutu virus, it comes from Africa and it’s transmitted by mosquitoes. 
“The virus is transmitted mostly to birds, but there are also a few cases of the disease being transmitted to humans, but without the deadly consequences. So the most victims, at least here in Europe, are birds, blackbirds in particular.” 
Is this the first time you have detected the disease in the Czech Republic? 
“The first case of the disease was detected in the Czech Republic in 2011. This is the second outbreak, but we can hardly say the disease has not been here before.” 
Could the current outbreak of the disease be connected to the unusually hot and dry summer? 
“This is difficult to say, since mosquitoes usually need some water to develop, on the other hand I think it is almost without any doubt that the spread of this disease and other diseases as well is linked to the climate change. So I can hardly say that it is directly linked this hot and dry summer, but is almost definitely linked to climate change.” 

Thursday 20 September 2018

Here's Why There Are Hundreds of Ancient, Mummified Penguins in Antarctica

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | September 10, 2018 03:21pm ET
The bodies of hundreds of mummified penguins in Antarctica aren't a sign of an ancient illness that swept through the icy continent, nor are they the remains of a penguin massacre by a ravenous predator.
Rather, these penguins, who were mummified by the cold, dry Antarctica environment, likely died from weather on the opposite end of the spectrum: two extremely rainy and snowy events that happened over the past 1,000 years, a new study finds.
"It is quite likely that global climate warming caused enhanced precipitation, which led to the tragedy," said study lead researcher Liguang Sun, a professor of Earth science at the Institute of Polar Environment at the University of Science and Technology of China. [Charming Chick Photos: Antarctica's Baby Penguins]
The research team stumbled across the remains of the "preserved, dehydrated mummies," many of them chicks, in East Antarctica's Long Peninsula in 2016.
It's actually common to find the remains of dead Adélie penguins(Pygoscelis adeliae), including their feathers and bones, in Antarctica, Sun said. "But it is very rare to find so many mummified penguins, especially mummified chicks," Sun told Live Science in an email.

Impact of habitat fragmentation on migrant birds

Date:  September 6, 2018
Source:  University of Stirling
Experts at the University of Stirling have shed new light on the impact of habitat fragmentation on migrant birds.
Scientists used audio technology to analyse the behaviour of willow warblers, after spring migration, in 23 woodland patches across Scotland and England. While the patches were of a similar size, the landscapes in which they were located had differing amounts of available habitat.
Significantly, the study found that migrant male willow warblers arrived earlier in woodland patches when there was less habitat in the surrounding landscape, within a 2km radius.
The team also found that an individual's decision to remain in a patch after initial colonisation depended on patch quality, as measured by vegetation characteristics. In particular, birds preferred to stay in woodlands with a relatively open understorey, also known as undergrowth.
Robin Whytock, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, led the work as part of his PhD alongside colleagues at the University, Professor Kirsty Park, Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor and co-supervisor Dr Kevin Watts at Forest Research.

Burly bird gets the worm

Date:  September 5, 2018
Source:  University of Exeter

The pecking order of garden birds is determined by their size and weight, new research shows.
In a study at bird feeders, researchers from the University of Exeter and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) found larger species like house sparrows and greenfinches monopolised the best food and spent longer feeding than smaller birds.

Meanwhile, smaller birds such as blue tits and coal tits had to feed quickly and were left with lower-quality food.

The researchers say the findings have "important implications" for using bird feeders as a conservation method.

"Bird feeding has become increasingly popular in the UK and throughout much of the world in recent decades," said senior author Professor Jon Blount, of the Centre for Ecology and
Conservation on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"However, its impacts are still poorly understood. "Bird feeders create a concentrated food source which can result in more quarrels between individuals of different species, which we predicted would lead to the formation of a dominance hierarchy.

'Live fast, die young' lifestyle reflected in birds' feathers

Date:  September 5, 2018
Source:  American Ornithological Society Publications Office

Animals' lives tend to follow a quicker tempo as they get farther from the equator -- birds at more northern latitudes mature faster, start reproducing younger, and live shorter lives, probably as a way of dealing with seasonal variation in resources. A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows for the first time that this pattern also plays out in birds' feathers, with northern birds completing their annual molt faster to keep up with the demands of life far from the tropics.

Louisiana State University's Ryan Terrill looked at museum specimens of four bird species with ranges that span a wide swath of latitude in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Slight differences in feather growth between day and night during birds' annual molt produce visible pairs of light-colored bars, each pair representing 24 hours' growth. Terrill could determine the rates at which individual feathers grew by measuring their spacing. He found that for all four species, individuals collected at higher latitudes had grown their feathers faster.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Tiny bird poses triumphantly on top of unconscious hawk

Kate Buck
Friday 7 Sep 2018 9:52 pm

A tiny bird has been photographed posing triumphantly on top of an unconscious hawk it managed to escape from.

In a photo that would not look out of place in the WWE hall of fame, the little guy, believed to be a Northern wheatear, holds his head aloft as he does a victory pose before flying away. As the sparrowhawk tried to hunt the tiny bird, Mother Nature decided to play with the food chain and it smashed into a window, knocking itself out.

But don’t worry, the unlucky predator recovered after 20 minutes, before going hunting again and devouring another unlucky bird. The incredible snap was taken on a wind farm site in the North Sea on Thursday. It later was shared on Twitter by ‘Nestfinder5978’ who says their nephew sent them the snap.

How Puffin Island's bird population is fighting back from effects of invasion of shipwreck's four-legged stowaways 200 years ago

The colony was ravaged when the ship went down in 1816, and the island's puffin population has never fully recovered

19:00, 11 SEP 2018
UPDATED19:51, 11 SEP 2018

The bird population of Puffin Island has spent 200 years trying to recover from a shipwreck that brought unwelcome stowaways to its shores.

At the peak, more than 50,000 puffins resided on the island, just off the east coast of Anglesey.

But a shipwreck in the 1800s plagued it with brown rats. Their number exploded, and the consequences for the puffins were catastrophic.

To this day, the puffins that give the island its name have never got back up to their previous strength. But work is going on to try to reverse the damage.

An estimated 500,000 rodents were on the island by 1971, virtually wiping out the thriving sea bird population, cutting the number down to around 2000 by 1907, and leaving less than 20 pairs of puffins by the 1990s.

By 1998 the situation got so bad that the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) stepped in to eradicate the vermin.

Despite the intervention, according to Puffin Island Seabird Research, there were only eight breeding pairs of puffins left on the island in 2010.