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.

Monday 29 April 2019

Protected status secured for Cambodia’s Stung Sen wetlands

Thanks to the work of BirdLife International Cambodia Programme, the rich and biologically diverse Stung Sen wetland has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, protecting the habitat of important species such as the Lesser Adjutant.

Under the sweltering Cambodian sun, a Lesser Adjutant wades through the freshwater swamps of the Tonle Sap Great Lake. Within Tonle Sap lies Stung Sen, a unique wetland characterised by old-growth forest that undergoes seasonal flooding. Nearby, low-stature shrubland and natural grassland provide crucial foraging grounds for the Lesser Adjutant.

This imposing stork feasts on the abundance of fish and invertebrates that reside in Stung Sen. The rich feeding grounds offered by the wetland also attract number of globally Near Threatened species, such as Spot-billed Pelican and Oriental Darter .

But the site doesn’t just benefit wildlife. It also plays an important role in flood mitigation during the rainy season, holding up water that would otherwise inundate nearby settlements. It recharges the area’s groundwater and purifies it through its aquatic plants and trees. All of this is crucial in providing local communities with water for households and agriculture.

“Stung Sen is significantly important in the region as habitat for a number of globally threatened species, the migratory pathway and feeding ground for water birds, and important habitat for mammals” says Reiko Iitsuka, Senior Regional Advisor for Asia/Oceania of the Ramsar Secretariat.

Unfortunately, this area is under increasing threat from expanding and intensifying agriculture, as well as from overfishing and hunting. Thankfully for the species and people that rely on this abundant habitat, the wetlands of Stung Sen has just been protected as a Ramsar Site.

“Recognition as an internationally important wetland will bring significant benefits to this site including more protection support from international, national and regional communities. We also hope to conserve the wetland through sustainable use, including eco-tourism” says Dr Tsubasa Iwabuchi, Senior Programme Officer, BirdLife International Tokyo, who supported the designation process alongside the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan.

Thirty per cent of Cambodia is covered by wetlands, the majority of which have been identified as globally important for the wetland ecosystems and biodiversity. The work that BirdLife International Cambodia has undertaken in order to achieve this recognition is important in securing the future of these vital habitats.

Flamingo holds up easyJet flight

An easyJet flight was held up upon arrival at Palma, Mallorca, after a Greater Flamingo was discovered strutting around the runway. The aircraft had to slowly follow the bird which flew off, only to land again a few metres away. Eventually, however, it left for good and, according to the airport, the flamingo caused no problems or severe delays.

The plane had only just arrived and was taxiing to its bay when the alert was raised about the flamingo very close by. While ground staff contacted pilots, the bird simply kept pace with the aircraft, at one stage deciding to fly off itself but then changing its mind. EasyJet spokesperson Andy Cockburn said: "At no point was any flight delayed or safety compromised in any way."

One of the Palma airport workers commented: "We have a pink flamingo and, it's not a joke, it's walking around Terminal A. An EasyJet plane has had to slow down."

Ground staff beeped their horns to try to dislodge the bird, to no avail. Spanish air traffic control tweeted that a flamingo had welcomed passengers into Palma, and that the bird was "very elegant, walking on the tarmac".

Greater Flamingos are typically seen on the Spanish holiday island during the winter, with April a usual departure time, though normally they don't require a runway to take off.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Campaign launched to help identify breeding Lapwing

March 27th, 2019
BirdWatch Ireland has called on members of the public to engage in a real-life Pokémon Go game by finding breeding Lapwing birds near their places of residence.
The conservation organisation’s new bird spotting challenge for the public is part of efforts to keep track of breeding Lapwings as their numbers are rapidly dwindling.
The survey, funded by the Department of Agriculture, is set to include all incidences of citizen observations of the bird from across the country.
The disappearance of breeding Lapwings or Green Plovers is not an isolated case with the declining number of Ireland’s iconic Curlews being well documented by BirdWatch Ireland.
According to a recent nationwide Bird Atlas study, there has been a 53 per cent decrease in Curlews’ breeding range in Ireland in the last 40 years.
Lapwings are also “red-listed” for immediate action on the Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland dossier with their endangered status raised in the Government’s Prioritised Action Framework 2014 to 2020.
Ricky Whelan, the coordinator for Project Lapwing, described keeping track of breeding Lapwing as a difficult feat since the species is often spotted in massive flocks during winter.

Brown Crake in Bangladesh: a century-long wait

12:00 AM, April 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:38 AM, April 19, 2019
It’s quite an incredible feat to still have more than 600 species of birds in our country and with the increasing numbers of birdwatchers and wildlife photographers every year, many new species are being discovered or rediscovered.
One such rediscovery was made in Chapainawabganj in February by a Rajshahi-based photographer Nur E Saud, who is a dentist by profession and wildlife photographer at heart.
Saud found a Brown Crake -- a bird whose presence was last reported in Bangladesh by an English Captain named Robert Tytler in 1854. There has been no definite record from Bangladesh after Tytler’s note more than 150 ago.
To see this rare Brown Crake, I got on a train to Rajshahi during a not-so-cold February night with birding mates Prince and Ratul. The train reached Rajshahi early in the morning where Saud waited for us. Along with him, we took another train to Chapainawabganj and then a local vehicle to Babudang -- where the bird was spotted.
I have always liked the countryside in north Bengal, as the landscape is never monotonous. The famers here cultivate wheat, sesame, sugarcane and various kinds of vegetables; the landscape is vibrant and offers a variety of habitats for wildlife. Many ground-dwelling species such hare, button quail and quail are still doing well in this region, although at the national level they have disappeared from many other parts of Bangladesh.
Babudang is basically an open space surrounded by cultivated land and villages. The small hillocks of Babudang support patches of trees and the rest of the area is either scrubland dotted with small bamboo stands or agricultural lands.

Friday 26 April 2019

Tennessee hunter kills bizarre albino turkey in Rutherford County - (Just had to kill it though eh?)

Mike Organ  Nashville Tennessean
Published 12:28 PM EDT Apr 13, 2019
It's being called the "turkey of a lifetime," by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
That's how TWRA officials described a rare leucistic gobbler killed by a hunter in Rutherford County last week.
Cameron Bond of Warren County shot the unusual bird on April 6.
A rare leucistic turkey was shot by a hunter in Rutherford County.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Leucism in birds, according to the TWRA, is a loss of pigmentation. It is a genetic abnormality.
The beard on the turkey Bond killed was dark and the back feathers still held some color. 
Bond said the turkey weighed 20 pounds. It's beard measured nine and one-half inches and its spurs were .75.
Spring turkey hunting season in Tennessee opened on March 31 and continues through May 1.

How the wild parrots of San Diego arrived in America's Finest City

Posted: 5:46 PM, Mar 27, 2019
Updated: 10:02 PM, Apr 04, 2019
By: Mark Saunders
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Residents in many San Diego neighborhoods get a daily reminder of the odd inhabitants that are not native to the area.
As the sun rises over the region, the squawks can be heard. The wild parrots are awake.
While the sight of emerald, red-headed birds has long been gold for local photographers, what has remained a mystery to many is how they arrived in San Diego.
Parrot origins
All of the wild parrots in San Diego are birds or descendants of birds brought to the area by people, according to Sarah Mansfield with SoCal Parrot, though some have speculated they migrated from Mexico.
Mansfield added the birds weren't released in the area just once.
"Whether they were released intentionally or accidentally, several 'micro-releases' happened over many years," Mansfield said. "There are five established species of wild parrots in San Diego, and 13 species in Southern California, so it definitely wasn't just a pair or two that got out long ago."
It wasn't illegal to buy wild-caught parrots until 1992, when the Wild Bird Conservation Act was signed into law in order to ensure exotic bird species were not harmed by international trade.
"The birds that were released came from the wild and have remained wild since," she adds.
University of San Diego professor Janel Ortiz, who started the San Diego Parrot Project to research the parrots' eating habits and natural behaviors, says parrots may have been here longer than we think.
"No parrots are native to California; there has been evidence of the parrots being here in the 1940s and weren't well documented until the 1960s," Ortiz says.

Moorhens get the five star treatment with new floating bird hotel

PUBLISHED: 12:31 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:05 27 March 2019
Moorhen chicks at risk of being eaten by predators have a new, five star safe haven, in the shape of a floating bird ‘hotel’ installed on a pond in the centre of a north Norfolk conservation area.
When Sheringham town councillor Neil Espin heard that three of the four-strong brood of moorhen chicks hatched last spring on the banks of the pond on Beeston Common had either been eaten by crows or drowned, he decided to take action.
After asking honorary warden Francis Farrow for advice, Mr Espin got together a group of fellow councillors and launched a project aimed at giving this year’s hatchlings a better chance of survival.
Using materials donated by councillors and local businesses, Mr Farrow, 68. built a moorhen ‘hotel’ featuring a wooden floor and frame, a drawbridge and “The idea is to protect the chicks from herons, stoats, rats, crows and foxes,” he explained.
 “The problem was that the moorhens had nowhere else to go except around the reeds at the sides of the pond, so this should hopefully give them a refuge in the middle.”
Mr Farrow, who has been involved in conservation work on the commons since 1969, is a founder member of Beeston Common Management Group, which looks after the 61 acres of grassland, heath, marsh, fen and woodland making up the commons of Sheringham and Beeston Regis.
Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, the commons boast flora and fauna ranging from adders, bats and deer, to 26 species of butterfly and more than 400 varieties of flowering plant.
Mr Farrow said the pond, which has been a permanent fixture on the commons since 1984, was visited by 19 species of dragonfly, as well as kingfishers, herons, frogs and toads.

2 dads, 1 mom: Bald eagles raising 3 young in rare single nest and you can watch

Sonja Haller  USA TODAY
Published 8:20 AM EDT Apr 15, 2019
 The trio of birds who are sitting on the nest take part in the parental care of three eaglets.
Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge
Every bald eagle does its part for the three fuzzy-headed eaglets.
The two males, Valor I and Valor II, assist the female, Starr, "in nest maintenance, incubation and raising the young" in Illinois near the Mississippi River, according to the Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge.
The family is nontraditional, but established after a history of death and drama.
They eagles have been documented as nesting together since 2017. Starr laid her first eggs in September 2018 with support of the two males. Both eggs hatched, and one of the eaglets successfully fledged, or left the nest. The other fledgling died from unknown causes. 
A complicated family history 
The history of how these birds became a feathered family is a soap opera of sorts. 
Here's a fun fact — the two dads were a family unit first. Because before there was Starr, there was the female Hope. But Hope was injured by other birds in March 2017 and never returned to the nest. That just left Valor I and Valor II, who had shared a nest with Hope. 
It's rare, but not unheard of that trios of bald eagles share nests, according to the National Audubon Society. Documented trios were found in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992. Many times, one bird serves as a helper. But in this case, both birds were copulating with the females.

Bird rings reveal life history of seabirds

 2019-03-26 09:33:56 24 days ago
Titus Shaanika and 
Samantha Matjila
The Albatross Task Force (ATF) Namibia received two bird rings from fishermen last August and October. 
The latter was of a juvenile Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross and the previous was of an adult Cape Gannet. The Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatross was caught during fishing operations in a trawl net, and the Cape Gannet on a fishing hook by a longline vessel, both accidentally. Wild birds are permanently tagged by registered ringers. Each metal ring has a unique number in order to keep track and study the birds’ movements, habits, breeding, deaths and survival rates.  
The ring found on the juvenile Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatross belongs to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and had the code MA43682 on it. Upon sending the ring details to the relevant authorities in Britain (, they revealed the history of the specific bird. This specific Yellow-nosed Albatross was ringed as a chick last January on Nightingale Island in Tristan Da Cunha Island groups (UK overseas territory). 
A distance of 2 940 km south west from the Namibian fishing grounds, where the bird was found 576 days after it was ringed. The bird was ringed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) team working in partnership with the Tristan Da Cunha government conservation department.  
Fifteen out of twenty-two albatross species are considered at risk of extinction due to several threats such as plastic pollution, habitat disturbances and incidental mortality due to interaction with fishing gear. The Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatross is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatrosses occur in the southern Atlantic oceans between South America and Southern Africa and live up to 70 years.
The Cape Gannet was ringed by Pete Bartlett, a Senior Fisheries Research Technician from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), on March 02, 2000, on Ichaboe Island (Namibian island). It was ringed as a chick, and was found 130 km away from Ichaboe, 6 800 days (18 years 7 months 20 days) later. This was revealed by the South African Bird ringing Unit (, after ATF Namibia sent the ring code: 9A 25783, to them.
Cape gannets face threats such as pollution, human disturbances and bycatch from the fishing industry. They are also listed as endangered by the IUCN.  Cape gannets only breed on 3 islands in Namibia and 3 islands in South Africa.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Taking him under her wing: Owl raises a duckling after mistaking the bird's eggs for its own

A Florida photographer captured an unusual image of an owl and a duckling side-by-side looking out from a bird box
Initially, Laurie Wolf thought it was an owl hatchling but it was a duckling 
Wood ducks are brood parasites and don't like to lay their eggs all in one nest in the hope that at least some will hatch
PUBLISHED: 23:44, 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 05:26, 18 April 2019
Did you hear the one about the owl and a duckling that lived together?
It might sound as though it has come straight from the pages of a story book but the bizarre real-life partnership has been captured by a photographer from Florida in their own back yard.
Laurie Wolf, from Jupiter, initially thought an eastern screech owl that lived in a nearby tree had chicks of her own, known as owl hatchlings.
Upon closer examination it became clear that the cute yellow bird peeking out next to their nest mate was in fact a little duckling - which the owl was raising as its own. 
'The two of them were just sitting there side by side,' said Wolf to National Geographic, 'It's not believable. It's not believable to me to this day.'   
Initially, Wolf was concerned that the predatory owl might end up eating the wood duck chick and even contacted a bird expert who confirmed her fears. 
A local wildlife sanctuary agreed to care for the baby bird if she could catch it, but just as she and her husband attempted to capture it, it jumped out of the box and scuttled over towards a nearby pond. She hasn't seen the duckling since. 

Florida Man Attacked, Killed By 'World's Most Dangerous Bird'

Apr 16, 2019, 09:22am
A large flightless bird killed a Florida breeder with its long claws in a “tragic accident” after the man fell in its enclosure
A 75-year-old Florida man was mortally wounded in an attack on Friday morning by a large flightless bird that he kept. He was taken to the UF Health Shands Hospital by paramedics, where he later died from his injuries. The man, Marvin Hajos, lived north of Gainesville in a rural part of Alachua county, according to local newspapers.
“My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point, fell,” Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the Gainesville Sun.
“When he fell, he was attacked,” Mr. Taylor said, adding that the incident appeared to be a “tragic accident”.
According to a report by CNN, the first emergency call was made by Mr. Hajos, the bird’s owner, whilst a second call was received shortly afterward from another person on the property. It is not yet known what Mr. Hajos did to motivate the attack.
The attacker was identified as a southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, a large flightless bird that is native to tropical rain forests in northeastern Australia, New Guinea, and on several nearby island archipelagoes of Indonesia. The birds can weigh as much as 58.5 kg (130 pounds) and adults stand between 1.5 and 2.0m (5 and 6.5 feet) tall. Amongst living birds, only ostriches are larger.
Both sexes of cassowaries are clad in glossy funereal black plumage, and have featherless bright blue heads and necks accentuated with red wattles. Females are larger and more colorful than males. The birds’ colors intensify during courtship, territorial disputes and when they are threatened. Curiously, their skin is a uniformly bright blue color, even under their feathers.

Research has implications for New Zealand bird conservation

MARCH 28, 2019
Research by recent Victoria University of Wellington Ph.D. graduate Dr. Nyree Fea shows significant differences in the way bird species respond to conservation efforts.
Her work, done as part of her Ph.D. in Ecology, has implications for conservation management in New Zealand.
According to Dr. Fea's research, large endemic birds like kaka or kereru respond positively to control of the mammalian predators that threaten birds in New Zealand forests: possums, stoats, and rats. However, species that arrived in New Zealand more recently, like the blackbird, silvereye and fantail, either show no change at all after the removal of mammalian predators, or in some cases even show a decline.
"Large, deeply endemic birds, like the kaka and tieke (saddleback), are believed to have been isolated from mammalian predators for longer and may have lost any natural defences against such predators," Dr. Fea says. "For example, birds like kaka and tieke nest in holes and can be trapped by an approaching mammalian predator. Intensive predator control, like eradication of mammals from off-shore islands or sanctuaries like Zealandia, particularly benefits these species."

WATCH: Rare hoopoe bird spotted on Isle of Wight captured on video

18th April
By James Woolven Senior Reporter
A RARE visitor to the Isle of Wight was spotted by bird watchers at Brading.
A hoopoe, which is a rare migratory bird, was seen yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon.
Bird watcher Alan Brown, shared this video with the County Press.
The RSPB says Britain enjoys around 100 individual hoopoes that visit each spring as birds migrating north to Europe from Africa overshoot and land on the south coast of England.
Alan said: "They are a scarce visitor to Britain. We had one at Shanklin last year, but generally go several years between sightings.
"I go birding for hours everyday and it’s only my third in 50 plus years on the Island.
"They are of course more common in the Mediterranean countries.
"These birds are often seen on golf courses, where they feed on their favourite food, leather jacket beetles.
"It was first spotted by the land owner who posted on the Facebook nature group, so obviously I went straight over with a couple of birding mates and that’s when we saw it.
"We are very grateful to the lady land owner."

Critically endangered kākāpō – the world's fattest parrot – has record breeding season

Just 147 adult kākāpō are alive today in their native New Zealand, but scientists hope their fortunes are turning around
Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
Wed 17 Apr 2019 03.56 BSTLast modified on Thu 18 Apr 2019 01.05 BST
The world’s fattest species of parrot has had a record-breaking breeding season in New Zealand, with scientists saying the fortunes of the critically-endangered bird are finally turning around.
There are only 147 adult kākāpō alive today, although a few hundred years ago they were one of New Zealand’s most common birds, before being hunted to the brink of extinction, killed by introduced pests, and losing their forest homes to farming.
The nocturnal, flightless parrot is one of New Zealanders' favourite birds, and is known for its charismatic nature and owl-like face.
Because the population is so small every kākāpō has a name – including Ruth, Hoki, Suzanne and Zephyr – and is subject to one of the most intensive management programmes of any species in the world. Infertility and in-breeding have been long-term issues for the birds’ reproductive efforts.
But this year 76 kākāpō chicks have hatched and 60 are expected to make it to adulthood, the result of heavy seeding in the New Zealand bush that has produced an abundance of the bird’s favourite food: fruit from the Rimu tree, a southern species of conifer.
Forty-nine out of 50 breeding females laid eggs this year. The last record-breaking breeding season was in 2016, when 37 chicks fledged.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

The Adjutant Army: an all-female campaign for an Endangered stork

25 Mar 2019
A gangly, bald, leathery bird with a penchant for eating garbage, the Greater Adjutant’s unconventional appearance has brought it to the edge of extinction. But in India, an all-female group of conservationists is fighting to clear its name.
By Neha Sinha
The village hall is a riot of colour. Women in vivid clothing give speeches, sing and shake percussion, and a large, ornately decorated cake is placed at the centre of the throng, complete with candles. But whose birthday are they celebrating? The words iced on the cake offer a clue: “Happy Hatching Hargilla”. This is a hatching ceremony, celebrating the successful breeding of a bird once hated and feared.
Previously widespread across the wetlands of South Asia, the towering Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius (Endangered) suffered dramatic declines during the 20th Century. Some of the causes are familiar – habitat destruction, pollution – but others less so. Their Assamese name, Hargilla – derived from the Sanskrit for “bone-swallower” – gives a clue as to this scavenger’s public image. Because it has a habit of leaving a trail of bones and debris in its wake, the stork was seen as a harbinger of bad luck, to the extent that some villagers even poisoned them or destroyed their nests.
But not anymore. In India today, the stork has found refuge in two locations – the Eastern state of Bihar, and the North Eastern state of Assam, both of which now have substantial nesting sites. Their security hasn’t come easily, though. In both districts, it took eight years of grassroots, intelligent community intervention to secure habitat for these birds.

140 species recorded in the best ever Big Farmland Bird Count

3rd April
A FANTASTIC effort from farmers have helped secure a best-ever year for the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).
Results show 1,400 people – a 40% increase on last year – recorded 140 species over 1 million acres in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) initiative which took place between February 8 to 17.
Encouragingly, a total of 30 red-listed species were recorded, with 5 appearing in the most-commonly seen species list. These included fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, yellowhammers and song thrushes, with the first four seen by over 30% of the farms taking part.
The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks. A total of 148,661 were found, making up nearly 50% of the total number of birds recorded.
“It’s brilliant to see an increase in the number of participants,” said Jim Egan, who has co-ordinated the count for the past six years.
“I’m particularly pleased by the way the facilitation funds and farmer clusters have worked together to embrace this across a landscape scale.
“The fact that in, many cases, farmers and birders have worked together and inspired each other shows the power of sharing our skills and knowledge. A huge congratulations to everyone involved.”
The average farm size of those taking part was 739 acres, with 66% growing arable crops, 52% having beef or sheep, and 13% growing field vegetables. There were also dairy farms, horticulture units, poultry producers and pig producers submitting counts.
The survey areas included important environmental features such as hedges, woodland ponds, grass margins, ditches and trees.

The Dodo Bird’s Closest Living Relative Puts On a Stunning Show of Iridescent Feathers

March 30, 2019 Updated: March 30, 2019
The last dodo bird was publicly spotted hundreds of years ago, falling extinct generations ago and gaining a near-mythical status in history.
Its closest genetic relative, the Rodrigues solitaire, has been extinct for nearly as long—but on islands around the Indian Ocean, the iconic flightless bird has a close cousin that’s very much still alive.
Meet the Nicobar pigeon. Although significantly smaller and drastically different in appearance from the famed dodo, this brightly colored avian species is just as much fun to look at—and if you visit the right zoos and exhibits, you can see one for yourself in person.

How you can help save Lancashire's rarest bird

Published: 11:27Monday 01 April 2019
The RSPB is calling on people who spend time in the remote hills and moorlands of Lancashire to look out for England’s most threatened bird of prey.
The nature conservation charity has relaunched a hotline with the aim of finding out where hen harriers might be nesting in the county.
In spring, the male hen harrier performs his courtship display known as skydancing, involving a spectacular series of swoops and somersaults. If he attracts a female, he attempts to further impress her by passing food offerings in mid-air.
Experts estimate there is enough suitable habitat in England for around 300 pairs of breeding hen harriers. But last year there were only nine successful nests in the whole country, three of which were in Lancashire.
Hen harriers are teetering on the verge of extinction in England because of ongoing illegal killing. As they sometimes eat red grouse, they are often unwelcome on moors managed for driven grouse shooting.

Two bird species at risk of extinction

Caroline Chebet  10th Apr 2019 00:00:00 GMT +0300
Two bird species endemic to Taita Forest have been classified as critically endangered.
This has been attributed to extensive logging, forest fires and fragmentation of the vital ecosystem for farming.
The birds, Taita thrush and Taita apalis, according to Birld Life International and International Union for Nature and Conservation (IUCN) Red List, are critically endangered, meaning, they face high risk of extinction in the wild with their declining population trend.
Population estimate shows a declining trend of the birds, with Taita apalis estimated to be less than 150 mature birds and Taita thrush numbering 930, according to IUCN Red List.
Taita apalis currently survives in just four habitat fragments.
Taita thrush is less known than Taita apalis, but recent assessments suggest dramatic and rapid decrease as well. Its global population probably ranges between 500 and 1,000 birds and is restricted to just four forest fragments.
The statuses of the birds were last accessed in October 2016, with IUCN publishing the new studies in 2018. Still, it remained critically endangered.
‘Most of the original forest in the Taita Hills has been cleared for cultivation or reforested with non-native, timber-tree species, and the remaining tiny area is under serious threat. Lack of clear boundary demarcations for some protected forest fragments may compromise conservation efforts,” Birldlife International notes.
In 1997, population of Taita thrush was estimated to be 1,350 birds, occupying areas of Mbololo, Ngangao and Chawia.

Monday 22 April 2019

News flash: Rufous-headed Robin spotted for first time since 2016

4 Apr 2019
This secretive Endangered songbird has been spotted for the first time in three years, in the cloud forests of Malaysia – a completely new habitat for this species. Could this be its formerly unknown wintering grounds?
By Jessica Law
When local birdwatcher Long Roslee Ngah photographed a small, pretty brown bird in the cloud forests of the Genting Highlands in February, he didn’t realise the importance of what he had discovered. It wasn’t until other birdwatchers and researchers spotted the photo in a WhatsApp chat group that they realised it was in fact a Rufous-headed Robin Larvivora ruficeps (Endangered) – an incredibly rare and secretive migratory bird that has only been sporadically sighted in the past few years. To this day, very little is known about this species – but thanks to this sighting, we now know a little more.
The Rufous-headed Robin is one of the most narrowly-distributed migratory landbirds in Asia, with its breeding grounds restricted to a tiny area of central China in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces. Fortunately, all three of the locations where it had been recorded in recent years are protected areas – Jiuzhaigou, Wanglang and Baihe Nature Reserves, all classed as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. Here, it rubs shoulders with iconic Asian species such as the Giant Panda, Golden Snub-nosed Monkey and Takin (“Gnu Goat”). However, not much is known about where it heads to spend its winter.
Until now. Observations by local birdwatchers and photographers over many weeks have confirmed that Malaysia’s high-elevation cloud forests are indeed part of the Rufous-headed Robin’s long sought-after wintering grounds. The only previous clues came in 1963, when one male bird was mist-netted and banded in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands by researchers who then assumed it was an extreme vagrant, and another brief sighting in the Genting Highlands in 2014.

Think millennials are apathetic about conservation? Think again

12 Apr 2019
If you think millennials are too busy looking at their phones to care about conservation, you haven’t met these young people. Every year, we grant funding and support to young people whose new, fresh ideas are changing the way we protect the planet. Here are this year’s winners.
By Sherilyn Bos
Today’s young people are going to be dealing with some of the biggest conservation challenges the planet has experienced – but we think they’re up to the task. That’s why we give up-and-coming conservationists the support they need to kick-start their careers through BirdLife Young Conservation Leaders (YCL) and the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP).
This year’s winners will be working across the Americas to protect threatened bird species and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). These projects are possible thanks to the generous support from the British Birdwatching Fair and The Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation.
 Saving the Saffron-cowled Blackbird in Argentina
In the pampas grasslands of Argentina, a team lead by biologist Florencia Pucheta will be developing a strategy to protect the Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus (Vulnerable). Threatened by poaching and habitat loss from agriculture and livestock grazing, the Argentinian population of this brightly-coloured bird has dwindled to only 500-600 individuals confined to two isolated sites. In order to enact a conservation strategy, it is important to understand everything about the species. That’s why Pucheta’s team will be researching the bird’s distribution, reproduction, and many more aspects of its life before designing a well-informed plan of action.
The foundation of this project was laid by three years of hard work and dedication with minimal funding or support. Now, Pucheta and the team can take it to the next level. “It took us three years to study the species and learn from scratch, without any textbook or course, how to fundraise, build this amazing team with the local communities, deal with advocacy and politics and also determine our scientific approach. We feel profoundly fortunate and proud to be able to receive the support that the Young Conservation Leaders offers to young professionals,” says Pucheta.

Cyclone Trevor throws migration flight of Far Eastern curlew into disarray

Updated 10 Apr 2019, 5:51am
One endangered bird's northern migration has unravelled into a cross-country journey of confusion, loneliness and cyclonic winds.
Rup is a Far Eastern curlew, a migratory shorebird that makes an enormous annual journey from Australia to breeding grounds in northern China and Siberia.
Unlike the prolific bush stone curlew — known for their shrill, eerie calls — the Far Eastern curlew is critically endangered.
A local conservation project tracking the birds shows Rup's travel through Victoria, Central Australia and into the western Top End.
What happened next, according to migratory shorebird researcher Amanda Lilleyman, was a matter of unfortunate timing.
"Its two fellow flock members left Victoria just a few days beforehand, so it was maybe a bit late to leave," Ms Lilleyman said.
Instead of continuing north, tracking data shows Rup zig-zagged through the Gulf of Carpentaria as it encountered Cyclone Trevor, whose category-four winds reached 250kph.
"It got caught up in this cyclone and it's just terrible news, because it probably spent a lot of energy flying through this cyclone."
After taking a brief break in Karumba, the bird landed in Townsville, where it meandered between a salt marsh and local beach.

House sparrows staging a comeback, survey suggests

5 April 2019 at 12:02am
House sparrows appear to be staging something of a comeback after suffering major declines, the Big Garden Birdwatch suggests.
Results from the survey, run every year since 1979 by the RSPB which asks volunteers to count the birds in their garden or local park during a weekend in January, showed a mixed picture this year.
Sightings of some of the smallest garden birds were lower than last year, with long-tailed tits down by 27% and wrens by 17% after being seen in large numbers in 2018.
Populations of both species may have been hit by last year’s severe cold weather brought by the Beast from the East, which is likely to have hit smaller birds hardest, but experts said it was too early to say if it was a one-year blip or the start of a trend.