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 31 January 2019

Woman fined for feeding birds

A Wiltshire resident will have to pay more than £2,000 for putting out too much food for birds. Maureen Francis, of Trowbridge, has been fined £500 with £1,600 costs after she breached a community protection notice which ordered her not to put out so much food for the local gulls and Feral Rock Doves.
She was convicted at Salisbury Magistrates Court after failing to attend. The court was told that flocks of gulls and pigeons apparently brought noise, mess and nuisance to residents after she allegedly fed the birds excessively over a two-year period.

Following complaints from neighbours, Mrs Francis was issued with a community protection notice and an order to stop leaving out such amounts of food. She was asked to put out just a single bird feeder, but she ignored the notice, and consequently was prosecuted by Wiltshire Council.
Cllr Jerry Wickham, Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for public protection, said: "Our officers made numerous attempts to engage with Mrs Francis to try and resolve this problem. We were reluctant to take legal action but for the sake of the neighbours, prosecution was the only option."

In pursuit of the rifleman: NZ's smallest bird is one of its most elusive

Amanda Saxton 05:00, Jan 20 2019
A bird in the hand is worth a whole heap of conservation cred for one Kiwi couple. Amanda Saxton joins the hunt.
"No, no, no, no, you silly bugger," scolds Morag Fordham, as a North Island robin crashes into her net.
Snaring the right species is difficult on the Hauraki Gulf's Tiritiri Matangi, a sanctuary island where laughing saddlebacks and rogue robins can dart past your nose at any moment.
Morag and her husband Simon have set up what looks like a bush volleyball court on a forest track. They're trying to catch New Zealand's tiniest avian – the rifleman, named for its military-green feathers and weighing the same as two ten cent coins – to band adolescents' bare ankles.

Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas announces rare birds displayed

January 16, 2019
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Two rare endangered tropical birds named Petey and Millie have a new home at a South Texas zoo.
Officials with the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville have announced the rhinoceros hornbills are now on display. Officials say it’s been 45 years since the zoo had any rainforest-dwelling rhinoceros hornbills, known for the hollow horn-like feature above their beaks.
The Brownsville Herald reported Monday that the male and female birds were provided by the Sacramento Zoo. The pair arrived Oct. 27 at the Gladys Porter Zoo and spent time in quarantine before settling in at the Indo-Australian Aviary.
Associate curator Natalie Lindholm says the Gladys Porter Zoo is getting back to working with some exotic species that haven’t been at the facility in a number of years.

Rare kākā seen in Christchurch

Michael Hayward16:48, Jan 17 2019
An endangered kākā has been spotted in a Christchurch backyard – about 100 kilometres away from home. 
The Department of Conservation (DOC) has had only two or three sightings of the native parrot in the Garden City reported to it in the last 30 years.
Mandy Dickie was shocked to see the kākā, which is classified as nationally vulnerable, feeding on some big cankers in the wattle trees in her Mt Vernon backyard last week.
Did you see the kākā? Email
She said she initially thought someone's parrot had escaped, but after getting binoculars out it was clear the colouring was wrong for that; "The deep red on the tummy, it had a white head, the lovely nutty brown colour on the back and wings."

Protecting the pelican: Plans rise to restore Louisiana state bird habitat

BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - Louisiana wildlife officials are helming a $19 million project to save their state bird's breeding space from shrinking coastlines.
Subsidence and coastal erosion have dwindled the brown pelican habitat on Queen Bess Island to roughly six acres. Officials with the state's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, along with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, hope to restore damaged rookeries using settlement funds from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
"Those birds need a little more room to spread out," said Todd Baker, a state biologist aiding the reconstruction project. "Hopefully we can provide that for them."
The project would add 30 acres for pelicans to nest, with another 7 acres for terns and skimmers. Biologists say the grounds must be high enough for eggs to stay above water — and low enough to hide from predators.
Construction is slated to cost $17 million. Roughly $2 million have already gone toward design. The project would be the first of its kind for the state.
"Louisiana has never gone out and purposely restored a rookery for the purpose of restoring a rookery," Baker said. "It will teach us a lot about how we're going to do projects in the future, not just for brown pelicans but a whole suite of colonial waterbirds."
The eroding Gulf Coast hardly marks the first threat in the brown pelican's history. In 1961, brown pelicans stopped hatching in Louisiana, after heavy use of the pesticide DDT made eggshells too thin to incubate. By 1963, the birds disappeared from Louisiana marshes.
State officials started reviving the pelican population in 1968. They shipped chicks from Florida and brought them fish twice a day until they got old enough to fly. In 1971, the birds returned to Queen Bess and laid 11 nests, from which the population gradually rose. Brown pelicans were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2009.

Wednesday 30 January 2019

Thousands of birds found dead in WA's 'most important' inland wetland

22 January 2019 — 3:42pm
Thousands of birds have been found dead at one of Western Australia's most important inland wetlands.
A Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development veterinarian arrived at Lake Gregory in the East Kimberley earlier this month to take sample, and found a number of wild birds in "poor conditions with low body weights".
On a department inspection, it was found several thousand birds had died at the wetland, but the cause of death remains a mystery.
Lake Gregory is a permanent freshwater lake located between the Great Sandy Desert and the Tanami Desert and was previously described by the department as the most important inland wetland in Australia.
Its ecosystem helps support about 650,000 waterbirds and is a major breeding ground for up to 80 species and a major migration stopover area for shorebirds.
It supports more than 1 per cent of the world population of pink-eared ducks; the same species believed to have been found dead. A number of black swans also died.
A department investigation excluded bird flu and Newcastle disease as a cause of death, but later identified the presence of blue-green algae close to the lake.

Bird of prey disappears in suspicious circumstances

Published by Minster FM News at 1:31pm 21st January 2019.
The police and the RSPB are investigating the sudden disappearance of yet another satellite tagged hen harrier in North Yorkshire, the county with the worst reputation for bird of prey persecution.
The bird, named River, was one of several hen harrier chicks in England fitted with a satellite tag as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project last summer.
These lightweight tags allow the RSPB to monitor the birds after they fledge.
Her tag’s last known transmission came from a driven grouse moor between Colsterdale and Nidderdale – an area with a history of bird of prey persecution – on 14 November.
She was known to have been hunting and roosting in the area for several weeks. RSPB Investigations staff and North Yorkshire Police searched the area, but there was no sign of the bird or the tag. She has not been heard from since.
All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. North Yorkshire Police investigated the disappearance, but no information has been forthcoming.
Hen harriers are rare birds which nest in moorland, especially in the uplands of Northern England and Scotland. However just nine nests were recorded in England last year, despite enough prey and habitat to support over 300 pairs. They have not successfully bred in North Yorkshire since 2007.
Over 30 hen harriers were tagged last summer in the UK. Between August and November 2018, nine of these, including a 10th bird tagged in 2017, disappeared at different locations in the UK.

Extremely endangered bird sees population rise

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-18 14:47:15|Editor: ZD
HANGZHOU, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Scientists in eastern Zhejiang Province are pleased that that the population of rare Chinese crested tern has exceeded 100 for the first time.
"It means that the bird will probably avoid extinction," said Chen Shuihua, deputy head of Zhejiang Museum of Natural History.
The Chinese crested tern, discovered in Indonesia in 1861, is the world's most endangered tern species. The birds migrate to China's east coast in summer and fly to the Southeast Asia for the warmer winter. For a long time, it was believed that its population was less than 50.
In 2013, Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, Oregon State University of the United States and Xiangshan county ocean and fisheries administration started an experiment in Jiushan island natural reserve, attracting crested terns with fake birds and by playing recorded birdsong.
The experiment successfully attracted 19 Chinese crested terns in 2013, and 43 in 2014. The terns gave birth to 13 baby birds in 2014.

Rare great black hawk rescued after suffering frostbite in Maine

A rare great black hawk that has become a celebrity for bird enthusiasts in Maine was rescued by visitors at a Portland park after they found the animal on the ground and suffering from frostbite Sunday morning, according to a local bird rehabilitation center.
The hawk, which is native to Central and South America, was expected to be examined by a veterinarian on Monday, according to a Facebook post by Avian Haven, a Freedom, Maine-based organization that cares for injured and orphaned birds.
“The bird’s obvious difficulty was frostbitten feet. After some emergency care for that condition as well as general debilitation, the hawk was settled into an ICU for the night. This morning, he was alert and standing,” Avian Haven said in the post.
UPDATE:  Rare raptor’s health improving after being rescued during snowstorm
January 22, 2019
Portland Press Herald
PORTLAND — A great black hawk that was found on the ground in Portland during Sunday’s snowstorm and brought to a midcoast wildlife rehabilitation center was standing and looking alert Monday morning, Avian Haven reported.
The rare raptor was residing in Deering Oaks Park the past few weeks and was found by passersby who said it was unable to stand and who contacted Avian Haven in Freedom, which specializes in the rehabilitation of wild birds.
Before this year, a great black hawk – a raptor native to Central and South American – had never been seen in Maine and was extremely rare in the United States.
great black hawk believed to be the same bird found Sunday first appeared in Maine on Aug. 9, only the second time the bird had ever been seen in the U.S., according to Maine Audubon Naturalist Doug Hitchcox.
Avian Haven co-owner Diane Winn said the injured hawk that was found in the snow in Deering Oaks Park appeared to have frostbite on its feet, although frostbite can “take a while to declare itself.”

Haida Gwaii home to northern goshawks, rare genetic cluster of raptors

Only 50 of the raptors are left on the archipelago.
NEWS Jan 20, 2019 by Hina Alam The Canadian Press
A northern goshawk is shown feeding on a chicken. Haida Gwaii's population of northern goshawks are the last remnant of a highly distinct genetic cluster of the raptors. - Caitlin Blewett, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Haida Gwaii's population of northern goshawks are the last remnant of a highly distinct genetic cluster of the birds, a new study by University of British Columbia researchers has found.
Researchers estimate the population of birds may have been evolving separately on Haida Gwaii for 20,000 years — right around the last time the glaciers melted, causing the sea levels to rise and potentially separating the birds from their kin.
While the birds can fly long distances — with goshawks from Michigan and Manitoba travelling as far away as the central United States — they don't seem to like travelling over vast expanses of water, which could account for their long-term isolation, said study co-lead Armando Geraldes.
"There don't seem to be strong geographic barriers anywhere on the continent, but then you get that body of water — about 70 kilometres of water between Haida Gwaii and the mainland — and that is apparently is enough to isolate that population," he said.
Only 50 of the raptors are left on the archipelago.

Monday 28 January 2019

The Albatross-like bird that can sniff out fish up to 15 miles away

Bird Notes columnist Julian Hughes of RSPB Cymru reveals what birds have been spotted in the past week and lists nine upcoming wildlife events
Andrew Forgrave Rural Affairs Editor
00:03, 22 JAN 2019
Calm weather accompanied a pleasant walk along the Anglesey coast near Moelfre at the weekend, perfect conditions to watch Red-throated Diver and Black Guillemot on the waveless sea.
Fulmars occupied the stratified cliffs, periodically flying into Lligwy Bay on stiff-wings.
Superficially like Gulls, they are more closely related to Albatrosses and have a great sense of smell, using “tubenoses” atop the bill to sniff out fish from up to 15 miles away.
The Fulmars here are occupying the premium nest sites, but they will travel out to sea regularly before egg-laying begins.

Wildlife lovers upset by bird ensnared in discarded twine at Walthamstow Wetlands

19th January

Wildlife lovers are calling for monitoring of animals after a bird was ensnared at the Wetlands.
A tweet from @Green_Balcony reported a visitor to Walthamstow Wetlands had seen a bird ensnared in discarded twine "left to suffer in the water".
The tufted duck caught in fishing wire on Thursday was rescued by rangers and returned to the Wetlands.
The ten reservoirs at the site offer a haven for overwintering wildfowl, such as pochard and gadwell, and breeding birds such as grey heron, tufted duck and little egret.
Additionally, swifts visit during the spring and kingfisher and peregrine falcon can be seen all year round.
A Walthamstow Wetlands spokeswoman said: "We had a report that there was a tufted duck caught in fishing wire today.
"The bird was rescued promptly by the rangers onsite and released in good health.
"This is an unfortunate, but rare, occurrence, and our onsite team monitor the wildlife onsite daily."
The Wetlands is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, part of the Lee Valley Special Protection Area and is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Water bird numbers reveal long-term decline of Menindee Lakes' health

21 January 2019 — 11:50pm
Water bird numbers at the world famous Menindee Lakes, near the site of this year's massive fish kill, are in long-term decline, amid an ongoing failure to manage water levels to match weather fluctuations, leading ecologist Richard Kingsford says.
Bird numbers at the lakes in far-western NSW peaked at about 140,000 in 1985, according to surveys taken annually since 1983. For each good wet year since that record, the bird count has been falling.
Water populations "are a bit like a tennis ball...but the bounce is just getting lower and lower" during good years, said Professor Kingsford, who is director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW.
The lakes "are one of the hotspots for water bird in eastern Australia, and they've been declining for some time".

Rare Bird Species Recorded During Wintering Waterbird Count in Bulgaria

Society » ENVIRONMENT | January 16, 2019, Wednesday // 16:26| Views: | Comments: 0
Rare and unexpected bird species have been recorded by the participants in the 43rd count of wintering waterbirds in Bulgaria, said the press office of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds.
The teams of specialists and volunteers have recorded six bean geese, a rare wintering species for Bulgaria, whiskered terns and sandwich terns that breed in the country but do not typically stay put for the winter. Among the rare winter visitors there are records of seven common cranes, a velvet scoter, and two red knots.

Other interesting species on record include Dalmatian pelicans, white-tailed eagles, tundra swans, European shags, great black-headed gulls, common goldeneyes and others. There are also quite a few species included in the IUCN Red List, such as the red-breasted goose, the common pochard, the long-tailed duck, the white-headed duck, the velvet scoter, and the horned grebe.

The cold weather, a week before the count, increased the number of waterbirds wintering in Bulgaria, but it also froze bodies of water throughout the country. Some 70% of the collected data has been processed so far, and it suggests that this January the birds in our land are three times more than in the warmer winter of 2018, or 361,933 individuals compared to 130,000, respectively. 

Rare birds spotted on Paddington Meadows

ORNITHOLOGIST members of Warrington’s New Cut Heritage group have spotted some rare birds on Paddington Meadows.
Some have been species not spotted before and others have been old favourites returning.
Top of the list was a Red Kite, a species almost extinct in Britain a few years ago but after successful reintroductions in Wales and Southern England they are now spreading out across the country.
While surveying the average number of different species seen on this special habitat the group found 32 with a peak of 40 in June and other new arrivals included Black Necked Grebe, Hobby, Common Sand Piper, Curlew plus Goldeneye and Shoveller Ducks.
The very distinctive call of the Cuckoo was heard in dense foliage, a sound not heard for many years, and a Skylark again not seen in recent years was also been sighted. The ornithologists are hopeful that the Skylark species once a permanent resident of the meadows and which gave its name to nearby Larkfield Avenue will return in numbers.
The New Cut Heritage and Ecology Group liaise with local authorities and statutory bodies to help maintain the unique environment of Paddington meadows and New Cut Canal. In addition they carry out regular litter picks, lobby for better seating / benches along the canal and have begun hedge laying work parties.

Sunday 27 January 2019

Rare Firecrest, the joint smallest bird in Europe visits Attenborough

Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:42 pm
Over the past couple of weeks there have been many people with binoculars and cameras gathered around the lane into Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Attenborough Nature Reserve.
But what have a few bushes got that the 145 hectares of nature reserve hasn’t?
Weighing around the same as a 10p coin, the Firecrest holds joint position with its relative the Goldcrest for the smallest bird in Europe. To the untrained eye they may look similar, but there are a few distinguishing features that set them apart. The black eye stripe and white markings above the eye are only present in the Firecrest, but the most notable difference is their bright orange crown.
They rarely stay still, so look out for the flash of orange that can be seen darting through branches whilst they catch insects and spiders to eat.
Firecrests are undeniably a charming bird to watch but why is this one in Nottinghamshire attracting so much attention?
Firecrests are much rarer than the Goldcrest and don’t often visit this area of the country, with only 15 records at Attenborough Nature Reserve since 1974.
In the past Firecrests were simply passage migrants, meaning they would only stop in the UK during their spring and autumn migration, a sort of pit stop if you like, on their way to the warmth of Southern Europe and North-west Africa.
This bird travels from Eastern Europe and despite its small size crosses the blustery North Sea before taking a well-earned break in the UK. However, in 1962 the first record of them breeding in the UK was made in the south of the country. Although they haven’t stayed in Nottinghamshire to breed, chances are this fiery visitor could well be spending the winter with us. The last Firecrest at the reserve was in 2016 and is thought to have stayed in the area throughout the colder months.
It seems that this particular Firecrest has chosen the bushes along Barton Lane for its winter stay, if you want to catch a glimpse yourself, head to Attenborough Nature Reserve and keep an eye out along Barton Lane, just before the level crossing.
If the bird is nearby there are likely to be at least a few people waiting to see it too, but as any birdwatcher will tell you – prepare to be patient and it’ll be well worth the wait.

For more information about the Firecrests and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves visit

Rare birds to be protected at Poole Harbour

22 January 2019
Rare and endangered birds will be protected with the expansion of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Dorset, Natural England has said.
A further 1,800 hectares (4,450 acres) of land and sea at Poole Harbour is to be moved into the SSSI.
Its saltmarshes and mudflats are a feeding and breeding ground for seabirds including spoonbills, avocets and black-tailed godwits.
They are all listed on Schedule 1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Spoonbills are also described as a "very rare breeding bird" in the UK by the RSPB.
Natural England said: "Below the waves, seagrass beds flourish in the shallows while the channels hide the spectacular peacock worm and a rich variety of other marine species including sponges, sea squirts and tube worms."
Emma Rance, marine conservation officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said the seagrass beds "provide refuge for juvenile fish and shellfish which become a rich food source for overwintering and roosting seabirds".
More than 4,100 hectares (10,100 acres) of the harbour are already protected within the SSSI.
This SSSI extension connects to heathland as well as marine habitat protected under the Bluebelt programme, including Poole Rocks Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), and Studland Bay proposed MCZ.

How do you bring wildlife back to the city

By Martha Henriques
21 January 2019
Urban rewilding projects are tempting nature back into our cities, from creating city butterfly meadows to building unlikely homes for deadly birds of prey.
The middle of London’s hectic West End doesn’t seem like the likeliest location for one of the UK’s rarest birds. There are only an estimated 20-40 breeding pairs of black redstarts in the country. But in recent years, without being artificially introduced into the area, this rare bird has started to make a home in this crowded part of Central London.
The black redstart isn’t the only unexpected species of wildlife to start living in conspicuously urban landscapes. Moths, butterflies, woodpeckers and even serotine bats, more commonly found in rural pastures, have also been on the rise in this part of London.
It’s a trend growing in strength worldwide. While in New York, peregrine falcons – once nearly extinct in the US, can now regularly be seen diving at breakneck speeds from skyscrapers across the city.

Is this proof Australian wildlife is related to dinosaurs? Incredible photo of a giant claw baffles the internet - but it's not as rare as you might think

Palaeontology student shared image of cassowary claws during anatomy study 
Sarah Davis said the image shows the clear links between birds and dinosaurs 
The cassowary is native to Australia and is the country's heaviest flightless bird 
PUBLISHED: 00:52, 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 00:59, 22 January 2019
A palaeontology PhD student has shared an amazing image of a southern cassowary, claiming it is evidence that birds and dinosaurs are related. 
Texas woman Sarah Davis, a palaeontology PhD candidate at the University of Austin, is using the bird to study 'avian anatomy, colour, and feathers as part of multiple graduate research projects' she wrote on her Twitter account. 
'Holding the claws of a male southern cassowary... Just in case any of your friends still need convincing that [bird] equals [dinosaur],' she wrote with the post. 
A palaeontology PhD candidate has shared an amazing image (pictured) of a Southern Cassowary claiming it was another piece of evidence that birds and dinosaurs are related
'I feel incredibly humble to be able to work with such a magnificent bird. Cassowaries are native to Papua New Guinea and Australia, and are fruit eaters.
'But, that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to use those impressive claws.' 
The post drew the attention of a number of social media users. 
'I remember the first time I saw a cassowary in real life and was shocked, thinking how the hell could anyone doubt where all the dinosaurs went,' one user wrote.

Rampant indiscriminate killing of Lebanon's birds continues

The shocking image of a dead Cinereous Vulture photographed in Lebanon and shared on social media suggests the indiscriminate killing of birds continues to be rampant across the country.
The shooting of vultures, a practice once common across Europe, that contributed to their widespread decline in the 19th and 20th centuries, is thankfully now a rare occurrence in Europe – although still happening here and there, as we saw with the killing of a Griffon Vulture in Montenegro recently.
The situation is sadly not the same across much of the Middle East where the intense killing of vultures, eagles and other birds for sport continues, as the killing of this visiting Cinereous Vulture illustrates.
Lebanon lies right at the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean Flyway, an important migratory route for birds migrating between Africa and Eurasia, which sees millions of endangered birds pass over the skies of the country, including Egyptian Vultures as well as other raptors such as buzzards, short-toed eagles, kites, honey buzzards and many falcons.
Widespread illegal killing of birds has always been a problem in Lebanon, so much so that a moratorium on hunting of birds was declared in 2004 – on paper, hunting was illegal since then, but the killing did not abate – on the contrary. A 2015 Birdlife International study estimated that 2.6 million birds were shot down in Lebanon each year, which per capita is the second most number of birds shot in the Mediterranean region, after Cyprus. Hunting is considered a tradition passed down the generations, smaller birds are usually cooked and eaten but vultures, raptors and other larger birds are shot just for sport.

Friday 25 January 2019

Possible Oahu populations offer new hope for Hawaiian seabirds

The two seabird species unique to Hawaii, Newell's Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels, are the focus of major conservation efforts—at risk from habitat degradation, invasive predators, and other threats, their populations plummeted 94% and 78% respectively between 1993 and 2013. However, a new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications offers hope of previously undetected colonies of these birds on the island of Oahu, from which they were believed to have vanished by the late 1700s.
Shearwaters and petrels nest colonially in crevices, burrows, and under vegetation at mid to high elevations. They currently breed on other Hawaiian islands including Kauai and Maui, but were both believed to have extirpated from Oahu prior to European contact in 1778; biologists believed that occasional records from the island were birds thrown off-course at night by city lights.
Pacific Rim Conservation's Lindsay Young and her colleagues used a spatial model based on elevation, forest cover, and illumination to identify potential suitable breeding habitat for both species on Oahu, then deployed automated acoustic recording units at 16 sites on the island to listen for the birds' calls in 2016 and 2017, accessing remote mountain locations via helicopter. To their surprise, they detected petrels at one site and shearwaters at two sites.
"We were doing a statewide survey for these species for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of recovery action planning, but Oahu was not initially included as one of the sites to survey, since evidence suggested they weren't there," says Young. "Since we're Oahu-based, we thought we would at least put a few recording units out to see if there was anything. And we were surprised, to say the least, that we not only had calls detected, but detected both species across two years."

Unique camera enables researchers to see the world the way birds do

Date:  January 22, 2019
Source:  Lund University
Using a specially designed camera, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have succeeded for the first time in recreating how birds see colours in their surroundings. The study reveals that birds see a very different reality compared to what we see.
Human colour vision is based on three primary colours: red, green and blue. The colour vision of birds is based on the same three colours -- but also ultraviolet. Biologists at Lund have now shown that the fourth primary colour of birds, ultraviolet, means that they see the world in a completely different way. Among other things, birds see contrasts in dense forest foliage, whereas people only see a wall of green.
"What appears to be a green mess to humans are clearly distinguishable leaves for birds. No one knew about this until this study," says Dan-Eric Nilsson, professor at the Department of Biology at Lund University.
For birds, the upper sides of leaves appear much lighter in ultraviolet. From below, the leaves are very dark. In this way the three-dimensional structure of dense foliage is obvious to birds. This in turn makes it easy for them to move, find food and navigate. People, on the other hand, do not perceive ultraviolet, and see the foliage in green; the primary colour where contrast is the worst.

Mega flock of 5 million Brambling in Slovenia

Estimating the size of bird flocks is hard enough, as British and Irish birders know when watching a large Starling murmuration such as those at Ham Wall (Somerset), Gretna (Dumfries and Galloway) or Nobber (Co. Meath), all of which have featured prominently on social media in recent weeks.
So spare a thought for Tomaž Mihelič and the other poor Slovene ornithologists of the country’s BirdLife partner, DOPPS attempting to count a roost of Bramblings as it develops in Beech woods along the River Sava, a feeder river of the Danube in Central Europe. A minimum of 2 million birds, but probably as many as 5 million, have descended on an area of about 100 square kilometres, but every night they pack into a patch of trees covering just 5 hectares, a circle about 250 metres in diameter. The exact site of the roost is not being revealed to prevent disturbance but is drawing crowds of locals to watch each evening.

Global mercury pollution threatens to impact the energy metabolism of birds

Mercury is a highly toxic and pervasive pollutant that has dramatically increased in the environment as a result of coal combustion, gold mining, cement production, hospital waste incineration, and various other human activities around the globe. Its impacts on birds and other wildlife are not yet fully understood, but a new study published in the journal Environmental Pollution suggests that current levels of mercury contamination in many parts of the world are capable of compromising the ability of birds, and likely other vertebrates, to both conserve and rapidly exert energy when needed.
The research team from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, College of William & Mary, and Great Hollow Nature Preserve & Ecological Research Center found that exposure to environmentally relevant dietary levels of mercury significantly increased the resting metabolic rate of zebra finches while significantly reducing the maximum rate at which they could sustain high-intensity activity (i.e., their "peak metabolic rate").
"The ability of birds and most other living things to conserve and efficiently manage their energy is critical for reproduction, self-maintenance, and even their overall survival," said one of the study's authors, Chad Seewagen. "During winter, for example, when temperatures are cold and food is extremely limited, a bird's ability to conserve energy can easily mean the difference between life and death. At the same time, the ability of birds to rapidly exert large amounts of energy for behaviors like predator escape and long-distance flight is also of critical importance."

Police pick up penguins stolen from Nottingham zoo

Two missing Humboldts were found this week in Strelley Village after a tipoff
Press Association
Fri 18 Jan 2019 13.01 GMTLast modified on Fri 18 Jan 2019 16.20 GMT
Two penguins have been found by police officers two months after they were stolen.
The pair of Humboldt penguins were taken in November last year from a zoo in Nottinghamshire.
Police officers rescued them on Wednesday afternoon in Strelley Village, west Nottingham, after a tipoff, and returned them to the undisclosed zoo.
A 23-year-old-man was arrested on suspicion of burglary and theft. He has since been released under investigation.
Sgt Andrew Browning and PC Paul Toon of Nottinghamshire police worked together during the investigation.

Thursday 24 January 2019

Rare migratory birds sighted flying over Pampanga islet

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:24 AM January 15, 2019

SURPRISE VISITORS Three black-faced spoonbills fly over Bangkung Malapad islet in Sasmuan town, Pampanga province, on Sunday, a once-in-a-century sighting that has become a cause for celebration among local bird watchers. —PHOTO COURTESY OF DON GEOFF TABARANZA/WILD BIRD PHOTOGRAPHERS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Three globally endangered black-faced spoonbills (Platalea minor) were seen flying over Bangkung Malapad islet in Sasmuan town, Pampanga province, on Jan. 12, more than 100 years after its last recorded sighting in Manila Bay.
The bird species is a rare migrant in the Philippines, which is within its confirmed wintering range along with coastal areas in China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
 “Philippine sightings of the black-faced spoonbill in the past decade have relied on citizen science,” said Arne Jensen, an associate expert of Wetlands International and records committee chair of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).
These are limited from one to three reports from Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province; Candaba in Pampanga; Bicol River Estuary; Olango Island in Cebu province; and Batan Island in Batanes province, according to the WBCP and the International Black-faced Spoonbill Working Group of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

Plastic found in almost all gannet nests on Alderney

Virtually all of the 8,000 Northern Gannet nests on Alderney are contaminated with plastic pollution, a survey has found.
This shocking statistic comes despite the fact that, as recently as 20 years ago, only small quantities of plastic were seen in the nests on the third-largest of the Channel Islands. According to the Alderney Wildlife Trust (AWT), plastic build-up in the breeding colonies is killing the birds, with some entangled gannets found hung or missing legs.
Northern Gannets are known to forage as far as 20 nautical miles in order to collect nesting materials and the plastics found in the nests generally consist of rope or line from the fishing industry. Alderney, 15 km from France and the northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands, holds around 2 per cent of the entire global population of Northern Gannets.

Record breeding year for endangered parakeet

Grey-breasted Parakeet, a threatened species endemic to northern Brazil, enjoyed a fantastic year in 2018, in part thanks to the prize-winning project for its protection and recovery, conducted by the Brazilian NGO Aquasis with the Loro Parque Fundación as principal supporter since 2007.
Prior to 2007, the wild Grey-breasted Parakeet population suffered a dramatic decline due to habitat destruction and trapping for trade. Now it is found in only three places in Ceará State, with the main population residing in the Baturité Mountains, south of the city of Fortaleza. This so-called 'sky island' is a remnant of humid Atlantic Rainforest, completely surrounded by unfavourable dry lowland caatinga scrub and agriculture.  Much smaller populations occur in the Quixadá Inselbergs, and another elevated area called Ibaretama. The combined area of these sites totals no more than 830km2.
The selective removal of certain trees and the destruction of nest sites by poachers have resulted in a shortage of suitable nesting cavities for parakeets. In response, Aquasis has made a determined effort to install nestboxes in forested areas on the land of sympathetic owners, being places which provide more deterrence against nest poachers. The nestboxes preferred by the parakeets are wooden with more than one entry and exit hole. The project discovered that Grey-breasted Parakeet is a co-operative breeder, with occupation of a single nest by a group of parakeets instead of just one breeding pair. 

RBA Annual Rarity Roundup

RBA Annual Rarity Roundup 2018 Part 1

RBA Annual Rarity Roundup 2018 Part 2

Moa for sale: trade in extinct birds' bones threatens New Zealand's history

Skeletons fetch thousands, but sales put swathes of environmental and climate data out of reach of scientists

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin

Wed 16 Jan 2019 19.00 GMTLast modified on Wed 16 Jan 2019 22.43 GMT

Paleontologists are begging the New Zealand government to immediately halt the trade in the priceless bones of the extinct moa bird, fearing that millions of years of science is disappearing as entire skeletons are broken up and sold over the internet or smuggled overseas.

Moa, giant flightless birds which stood up to 3.6m tall, were endemic to New Zealand and became extinct about 500-600 years ago. When they were first discovered by Europeans they were considered a scientific marvel and kickstarted a global frenzy, as museums competed to acquire specimens.

Under New Zealand law it is legal to sell moa bones and egg shells found on private land. There is no requirements for experts to sample or study the bones, or survey the site, as is standard practice in the UK and many other countries. In November a private collector in Britain purchased an entire moa skeleton for $34,000 in West Sussex.