As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 31 May 2019

Mourning Dove on North Ronaldsay

At 6 pm on 29 April, a message came through on the North Ronaldsay island WhatsApp from Alex Wright. It consisted of a very blurry photo of an unidentified dove sat on the railings by the lighthouse. It had been taken earlier in the day by Helen Galland and she wanted to know what it was.
Dinner was being prepared, drinks were being served and the photo was inconclusive at best, so it was ultimately dismissed as a dodgy picture of a Collared Dove. Thankfully, though, it was at that moment that Pete Donnelly telephoned the Observatory to discuss a 'funny dove' at the lighthouse.
For the first few minutes of the call, I simply assumed that he was discussing the same photo that we’d all been looking at – but then the penny dropped. He was actually at the lighthouse, watching the bird at that moment! Having been working at the lighthouse, Pete had independently come across the dove and not yet seen the photograph on the island WhatsApp group. Things became a bit more urgent as he described it as "definitely not a Collared Dove" and that it was "too small [for Collared], with wonderful spots on the wings." However, he wasn’t sure exactly what it was.
Enough was enough. I ran into the bar and told Alison Duncan, who was cooking dinner, as well as Toby Green and his tour group. We all bolted out the door and raced up to the lighthouse.
When I arrived, the dove was sat on the grass in front of the café, a mere 10 m in front of Pete, who was lounging against his Land Rover. One look was enough – the small size, attenuated shape, orangey-peach body, shiny, iridescent purple neck patches, pale turquoise eye-ring and the big, black oval patches on the wings that Pete had described – it was a Mourning Dove!

Museum volunteers discover new species of extinct heron at North Florida fossil site

by Halle Marchese • May 16, 2019
When the bones of an ancient heron were unearthed at a North Florida fossil site, the find wasn’t made by researchers but by two Florida Museum of Natural History volunteers.
A previously unknown genus and species, the heron has been named Taphophoyx hodgei (TAFF’-oh-foy-ks HAHJ’-ee-eye) in honor of landowner Eddie Hodge, who has allowed Florida Museum researchers and volunteers to excavate the site on his property near Williston since his granddaughter first discovered fossils there in 2015.
Nearly 700 volunteers have worked at the Montbrook fossil site, collectively digging more than 12,000 hours.
“You couldn’t have a better group of people,” Hodge said. “There’s a lot of negativity when we get home and turn on the television, but it does you good to be out here seeing volunteers get excited and be positive about something.”

There’s outrage over the way that a parliamentary debate on anti-bird netting ended

Glen Black 
14th May 2019
MPs debated the impact and legality of anti-bird netting on 13 May. Anti-netting campaigners welcomed the debate, which came after a petition gained more than 355,000 signatures. But the way it ended left campaigners absolutely fuming.
The issue
Labour MP Mike Hill led the cross-party debate on netting. Developers use the practice to prevent birds from nesting in their chosen location such as trees, hedgerows, rafters and cliffs. Interfering with already-nesting birds is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. So developers get around this law by putting up nets that stop birds from being able to nest in the first place. But conservationists and other wildlife advocates have condemned netting for seriously disrupting birds’ natural breeding patterns. Furthermore, as Hill said in his introduction to the debate:
the issue goes well beyond the detrimental effect of netting on nesting birds; netting affects the wellbeing of other wildlife, as well as having environmental consequences.
The debate took place after a petition on the government’s website reached more than 355,000 signatures. The debate noted this display of public concern. Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan, for example, said that more than 1,000 of the signatures came from her constituency alone and this reflected a “great concern” for the environment. And Hill described the petition as having “raised plenty of interest… and strong feelings”.
Agreement across the floor
MPs across political lines broadly agreed with the sentiment of the petition. Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb highlighted the use of netting on cliffs in Bacton, north Norfolk, and emphasised the need for “close collaboration” between councils and groups such as the RSPB to “absolutely properly… protect birds”. Meanwhile, SNP MP John McNally said that his “feeling is that this practice is in no way acceptable”. And Luke Pollard, a Labour Co-operative MP, said:

Rarity finders: Great Spotted Cuckoo on the Isle of Wight

I'm a keen birder and photographer living in Ventnor, on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, and regularly bird the environs of the village in the hope of bumping into something unusual. On 21 March I decided to take one of my regular walks along the seawall from Ventnor to Bonchurch. It was a dull afternoon so I decided not to take my camera with me, instead opting just for binoculars (something I later regretted). The sea defence wall is backed by chalk cliffs with scrub, including brambles and various interesting plants.
While walking I was aware of a largish bird hopping in and out of a patch of brambles to my left. It was quite close, so gave me a good view through the 'bins', allowing me to note the plumage. With a long tail, spotted upperparts, slight crest and creamy throat fading to white underparts, it was a really striking-looking bird. It stayed for a few minutes, then flew off around the corner to the east.
I didn't stay around but turned back quickly to the car to consult my Collins Bird Guide, which confirmed that I'd seen a Great Spotted Cuckoo. That afternoon I posted the sighting on our local birding website. This brought about a reaction from some local birders who I (mistakenly) failed to tell of my find! Being a relatively novice birder by their standards, I was not at the time aware of the significance of this rarity. I didn't realise that it was the only one in the country at the time − and only the second-ever sighting on the Isle of Wight.
By next morning the word was out. From 6 am onwards there was a flurry of lenses, binoculars and telescopes making their way along the seawall, constituting a mega twitch for the island. Fortunately, the bird was still around and in fact it remained into April, feeding on Brown-tail Moth caterpillars. And in the latter days of its stay, it started moving up the cliff face to feed on the caterpillars of an Isle of Wight speciality − Glanville Fritillary. A change of menu, I guess!

Millions of birds ‘sucked out of trees and killed’ during vacuum olive harvests

May 16th 2019 8:08AM
Millions of birds are being vacuumed up and killed during nocturnal suction olive harvesting in Spain and Portugal.
In Spain, 2.6 million birds die every year from being vacuumed, and in Portugal, 96,000 birds die per year.
Birds from northern Europe winter in these countries, and are at risk while roosting at night, according to BirdGuides.
The noise and light of the machines dazzle the birds, which are then sucked into suction olive harvesting machines and killed.
Olives are vacuumed at night when it's cool, to preserve their flavour.
Some local governments have already stopped the practice, but countries such as Italy and Portugal have not taken action
Domingos Leitão of the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), said: "They should not be subject to disturbance in the rest period.
"If the birds in one row of olive trees are frightened, they fly to another; the Birds Directive says that they should not be disturbed during the rest period."
Nuno Sequeira added: "When negative impacts like these are detected, the authorities must act swiftly and accordingly. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dead birds.
"The lack of regulation allows birds to die as well as other environmental impacts, such as soil erosion and contamination and pollution of aquifers with synthetic chemicals used in intensive and super-intensive agriculture."

Thursday 30 May 2019

Suspected electronic device found on bird's body

IANS  |  Hajipur Last Updated at May 3, 2019 17:30 IST
The Bihar police have recovered an electronic device from the body of a dead bird that usually could not be spotted in the local area.
"Local birds had killed a bird on Thursday that is of different species and could not be seen in local region. The villagers spotted the bird and found a chip in his body and a brass tag was also tied on its feet," said Uday Shankar, SHO, Mahnar police station in Vaishali district.
"The police have handed over the body of the bird to the forest department and is probing the matter," he said on Friday.
He said that some times scientists place electronic devices on birds and animals to collect more authentic information about them.
The device is being checked, he said.

As the climate changes, migratory birds are losing their way

By ADAM WERNICK • MAY 16, 2019
Every spring and fall, a journey of thousands of miles begins, as migrating birds find their way between breeding and overwintering grounds.
It’s an amazing phenomenon that naturalist Kenn Kaufman brings to life in his new book, "A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration." Kaufman is also the author of the "Kaufman Field Guide" series and is a contributing field editor with the Audubon Society.
Bird migration is largely invisible to most people because it happens primarily at night, Kaufman says. But if you go outside at dawn near a spot where migrating birds congregate — like along the coast of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio, where he lives — you will see something extraordinary.

Scottish Starlings struggle

Published by surfbirds on May 18, 2019 courtesy of BTOsurfbirds archive
In a report published earlier this month, Scottish Starling numbers have fallen by almost a third, following an alarming trend that is mirrored across the UK.
According to the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) report, the number of breeding Starlings in Scotland has fallen by 28% between 1995 and 2017; across the UK they have declined by 52%. When watching Starling murmurations during the winter months it is easy to think that all is well with this familiar species, but a large percentage of the birds that make up these swirling flocks come from countries outside of the UK, some from as far away as Russia.
The reasons for this decline aren’t fully understood. With breeding success increasing across the UK, falling survival rates – especially of first-year birds appear to explain the decline. The loss, or changing management of grasslands that provide Starlings with invertebrate food could be the main ecological cause of these changes, but this needs further research.
As we make our homes more energy efficient we tend to block the holes into roof spaces, reducing the number of nesting holes for species such as Starlings. By providing a nest box with a 45mm entrance hole, you could relieve some of the struggles these birds are facing.

Shot and decapitated raven found near Delamere Forest

16th May
A PROTECTED raven has been found illegally shot near Delamere Forest, triggering a police investigation.
The bird was found in a field by a man walking his dog along the edge of the forest.
The bird had no head but had no other injuries.
He contacted the RSPB’s Investigations unit for advice, and they arranged for the bird to be collected and x-rayed.
The x-ray revealed as many as nine pieces of shot in the raven’s body. The cause of the bird’s missing head however is not known.
Cheshire Police carried out detailed enquiries, including conducting a search of the area and speaking to local farmers.
However, no leads were uncovered.
The public are now being called on to step forward with any information which may help identify the culprit.
Jenny Shelton, from the RSPB’s Investigations Unit, says: “The countryside is somewhere we should all be able to enjoy, and our incredible birds and wildlife are part of what makes places like Delamere Forest so special.
“Raven populations are starting to recover in the UK following centuries of persecution and superstition. These magnificent birds are protected by UK law, yet this is the latest in a growing number of ravens which have been illegally killed in recent months.
“The persecution of ravens and birds of prey is a serious issue, and much more common than many of us might think.
"It’s incredibly difficult to uncover the culprits in cases like these, and you wonder how many other birds have been illegally shot which we don’t hear about.
"We would like to thank Avian Veterinary Services and Cheshire Police for their help and hard work.”
Ravens and 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.
PC Gerard Gigg of Cheshire Police said: “Can members of the community, when they witness any crime involving wildlife or indeed any other suspicious activity, report it immediately by calling 101, or 999 if the crime is ongoing.”
If you have any information relating to this incident, which occurred around 23 March 2019, call 101, ask for Cheshire Police and quote reference number: 19100137950.
If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form:

Help to monitor breeding woodcock

With an urgent need to understand changes in breeding Eurasian Woodcock numbers, the BTO is appealing for volunteers to consider re-surveying their squares or working another site this summer as part of their 2019 Woodcock Survey. Full results have been published for the 2013 survey, which estimated a population of 55,241 males – a decline of 29 per cent since 2003. Consequently, as many completed surveys as possible is needed to paint the most accurate picture.
The breeding distribution of Eurasian Woodcock covers much of Britain and Ireland, but a considerable reduction in range and abundance has been indicated by the Bird Atlas 2007-11 when compared to the 1968-72 Atlas. In 2015, the species was upgraded to Red listed (previously Amber listed) as a bird of conservation concern, due to the decline in breeding numbers and range.

One of the iconic Glaslyn ospreys has laid her 50th egg at their special nesting site.

Rare osprey bird lays her 50th egg at North Wales nesting site
The magnificent bird has returned to Gwynedd from west Africa to breed every year since 2004
12:42, 17 APR 2019
UPDATED12:49, 17 APR 2019
The egg laid by the female osprey, known to members of the community-led wildlife charity, Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife (BGGW) as Mrs G, was the second laid by the magnificent bird this season.
Staff at BGGW were delighted to spot the egg in the nest at Pont Croesor near Porthmadog just before midday on Tuesday.
GGW spokeswoman Rebecca Phase said: "We were delighted to see the female osprey known as Mrs G lay her second egg of the 2019 season on Tuesday morning. This marks the 50th egg Mrs G has laid in her lifetime."
This is Mrs G's 16th year of breeding and is the longest breeding osprey in Wales and has laid more eggs than any other osprey in England and Wales.
She was first discovered breeding at the nest in 2004 and to date has hatched 40 live chicks, 36 of which have successfully fledged the nest.
Six of her offspring are known to have bred in Britain and she is known to have 74 ‘grand chicks’.
"We now know two other chicks have returned this year, but are not yet known to be breeding.
"One of the recently returning chicks was hatched in 2015, the first year Mrs G bred with a new partner called Aran, when the original male failed to return from his winter migration," added Rebecca.
The ospreys spend every winter in West Africa and travel thousands of miles to return to the Glaslyn estuary every year to breed and raise their chicks.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Makeover for Labuan Bird Park

Published on: Thursday, May 09, 2019
By: Bernama
LABUAN: The zoo-like Labuan Bird Park is set for a makeover by year-end, with visitors able to enter several walk-in aviaries to observe free-flying birds.
The development of the park, with a RM1-million allocation from the Federal Territories Ministry, will be guided by the emphasis on recreation, education, conservation and research, park director Dr Marysia James Abie said Wednesday.
It will be a recreational facility and also serve to educate the public, she said, adding that visitors will be educated on endangered species and captive breeding.
Marysia said that by next year, at the latest, the park will be home to the Borneo Birds Conservation Centre which undertakes research on the breeding, feeding and rehabilitation of critically-endangered bird species from around Borneo.

She told Bernama the park will house an additional 1,000 birds across 100 species, on top of the more than 600 birds of 70 species, 38 from Borneo and 32 exotic species.
Marysia said the park had become a small rehabilitation centre and sanctuary where free-flying birds have come to feed, live and breed over the years.

Controversial anti-bird netting defended by council after county was declared 'plastic-free'

The measures have been put in place at the site of a new super school

By Gareth Wyn-Williams Local Democracy Reporter
05:00, 1 MAY 2019
UPDATED07:31, 1 MAY 2019
The council for a county which recently became the first in the UK to be declared "plastic free" has defended the installation of controversial netting on the site of a planned super school.
Construction is set to start on the multi-million-pound primary school in Llangefni in Anglesey, which will replace Ysgol Bodffordd and Ysgol Corn Hir as part of a school reorganisation project.
But the presence of the plastic nets on hedgerows around the site has caused concern for the RSPB, who fear that birds and other animals could become trapped in them.
Such nets have become a common sight at developments across the UK over recent months, as nesting birds found at a construction site can mean work has to be delayed until the end of their natural season.
The nets are designed to deter birds from nesting and therefore speed up the process.
The installation of the nets at the school site comes a month after Anglesey was awarded "plastic free" community status by conservation group Surfers Against Sewage in a move unanimously backed by the county council.

Nesting Killdeers delay new stadium opening

A pair of nesting Killdeers has postponed the opening of the Rio Americano High School Raiders' newly renovated track and artificial American football pitch in Sacramento, California.
The new facility was planned to be opened last week, but with the plovers currently monitoring a clutch of eggs in one of the end zones, the grand unveiling has been delayed.
At the end of March, while finishing touches were being made to the new artificial surface at the school near Sacramento, construction workers discovered four eggs in one of the end zones. A protective barrier was immediately installed and Brian Ginter, the school's principal, said the field's opening day will be postponed until the eggs have hatched and the birds have vacated the nest.
The average incubation period for Killdeer eggs is 24-28 days and the species tends not to hang around long after the young hatch, so Ginter estimates the field will likely be ready for action by the time students return from spring break.

Record number of shearwater birds taken into care after getting lost on journey north

Posted Fri at 5:37am
The short-tailed shearwater can fly from remote Tasmanian waters to the Arctic Circle in a matter of weeks, but at the moment it's having trouble navigating its way out of Hobart.
A record number of shearwaters (Tasmanian mutton birds) have been taken into care after becoming disorientated and stranded around the city.
They can fly more than a million kilometres over their lifetime; every year juvenile birds leave their island burrows to fly north, and many become lost after taking a wrong turn.
Members of the public have reported seeing them dead on the busy Tasman Bridge or stranded on roads and footpaths around Hobart.
The nearest colonies are on islands around Storm Bay, so the birds shouldn't be seen outside these areas.
Birdlife Tasmania's Eric Woehler said they should be heading north-east on their journey to the Northern Hemisphere.
"We've seen an unexpected and novel event occurring this autumn, with young short-tailed shearwaters heading inland rather than heading out to sea and north to the Pacific," he said.
The birds spend the Australian winter in the western Pacific near Japan and Russia, as well as Alaska, before returning for the breeding season.

Animal welfare groups condemn Barrow driver for killing geese

11th May

By Michael Thomas Barrow and Ormsgill reporter
A MOTORIST has been blasted for the ‘cold-blooded murder’ of a family of geese.
Wildlife charities and witnesses have blasted the driver of a yellow VW Golf, who was seen mowing down goslings near the Soccer Bar on Holker Street, Barrow.
Mike Cape witnessed the incident and described how the driver of the car slowed down to a halt as they approached the geese, and the moment they quickly sped up and drove into them.
He said: “I think this was such a heartless and cold thing for someone to do.
“They clearly recognised what was in the road otherwise they wouldn’t have slowed down.
“So to think they decided to go through the geese anyway, I don’t know what kind of person would do something like that.”
He said it was difficult to watch as the injured adult goose returned to the road and stood over its dead goslings.

Rare sight of black swans, native to Australia, spotted in Rainbow Harbor

They are typically owned by collectors, fanciers, breeders, aviaries, estates that keep them as ornamental birds. They are a restricted species in California that need a permit to possess.

A pair of black swans were spotted off of Long Beach on May 10, 2019.
By LAYLAN CONNELLY | | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: May 10, 2019 at 3:21 pm | UPDATED: May 13, 2019 at 2:51 pm

A pair of black swans was spotted in the Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, a rare sight for the species that is native to Australia and New Zealand.

Harbor Breeze boat captain Erik Combs said he was getting ready for the morning whale watch tour when he noticed two large dark-feathered birds next to the dock.

They had their heads in the water, and at first he thought they were Canadian geese. But when the exotic birds’ heads emerged, he noticed they had red bills.

“They came a little closer to the dock, they were coming right to us like they were hungry, they were making little honks,” he said. “They were very friendly, it looked like they were someone’s pet.”

Sign up for our Coast Lines newsletter, a weekly digest of news and features on how the residents of the SoCal coast are building ties to their changing environment. Subscribe here.
Martin had to search the internet to find out what kind of bird they were, and was surprised when the search showed they were the black swans that are native to Australia and New Zealand.

Monday 27 May 2019

Conservationists welcome birth of endangered bird chick in Negros Occidental

12:42 PM May 03, 2019
BACOLOD CITY — Wildlife conservationists in Negros Occidental hailed the recent birth of a critically endangered Walden’s Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni), locally known as Talarak, at the Negros Forest Park, South Road Capitol Road in this city.
The Walden’s Hornbill chick has been named “Valentin” because it was first heard making a sound from within a tree where it was sealed with its mother on Valentine’s Day, said Paul Lizares, vice president of Talarak Foundation Inc. (TFI), which manages Negros Forest Park, formerly known as the Negros Forest and Ecological Foundation Inc. Biodiversity Conservation Center.
Valentin’s parents, Ligaya and Kalantiaw, were born in the wild, he added.
When the female Walden’s Hornbill lays her eggs, she is sealed in the trunk of a tree for about 105 days to incubate the eggs and later take off the chicks. She can only leave when her chicks are ready to fledge.
In the meantime, she relies on the male Walden’s Hornbill to bring her food every single day. If the male is poached or hunted, the whole family dies.
The Walden’s Hornbill, also known as the Visayan Wrinkled Hornbill, Rufous-headed Hornbill or the Writhed-Billed Hornbill, is now near extinct.
“They are functionally extinct in Negros, and there have only been a few sightings and calls heard, but no photographic proof, so far,” said Fernando Gutierrez, TFI president.
The Walden’s Hornbill was used to be seen in the forests of Negros and Panay islands.

At least seven bald eagles killed by banned pesticide in Maryland

The rare birds were poisoned to death after ingesting a farm pesticide that's been illegal since 2009.
May 3, 2019, 6:16 PM GMT+1
By David K. Li
At least seven bald eagles have been killed in the past nine weeks on Maryland's Eastern Shore after the rare birds were exposed to a powerful pesticide that's been illegal for a decade, officials said Friday.
Six of them died in Kent County from ingesting carbofuran, which had once been sold under the trade name Furadan, according to a statement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Natural Resources.
Then on April 3, authorities found three bald eagles that were sickened in Talbot Country after feeding on the carcass of a red fox that officials suspect was killed by carbofuran. One of those eagles has since died.

Rare bird of prey Harris Hawk found in Solihull garden

Felix Nobes 8th May, 2019 Updated: 8th May, 2019

A RARE Harris Hawk suspected to have escaped captivity has been pictured in a Solihull resident’s garden.

Stephen Parrack from Olton took a picture of the imposing bird – which is native to the US and South America – on Saturday (May 4).

The photo shows the ‘at-large’ hawk – with distinctive brown markings and impressive talons – perched on his garden fence.

It also appears to have a thin leather strap around its leg which could be used by a falconer to tether the bird.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has confirmed to us that the bird in the photo is a Harris Hawk.

Mr Parrack says he and his wife Janis are keen birdwatchers and often feed birds in the back garden.

The Warwick Road resident says he even tried to catch the hawk with thick gloves and some meat so he could take it back to its owner.

He said: “It is obviously an escapee as these are not native to the UK and as can be seen by the jesses and bell on its legs – but an interesting spot for ‘birders’ to see.

“At first I thought it was a young golden eagle or a buzzard.

“It was a good 18 inches high, with a wingspan of easily a metre.

“It had lovely markings on it, a lovely white rump and bars on its tail – with this reddy brown colouration to its wings.

“It had a heck of a beak on it and fantastic looking talons.

“It feasted on some wood pigeons. I didn’t see it attack any other birds but it was sitting on a dead pigeon.”

It is a crime to release the birds deliberately in the UK as they pose a risk to other birds and wildlife – even cats.

These extremely cute and rare Viking chicks are set to be Kynren 2019 stars

Kynren is a live outdoor show in Bishop Auckland which tells the story of England's history - this year there is a Viking theme
11:21, 13 MAY 2019
UPDATED11:32, 13 MAY 2019
These adorable rare Viking chicks are the newest members of an epic live theatre production which celebrates 2,000 years of English history.
The dozen baby chickens will take part in Kynren , a spectacular outdoor show in County Durham set to run from June 29 to September 14.
Kynren 2019 has a 'year of the Viking' theme, which is why the Icelandic chickens are joining the cast.
The birds are so rare that research has found their DNA is 78% unique to the species, setting them apart from other chicken breeds.
Icelandic 'Viking'  chickens nearly became extinct in the 1950s, but were saved by a conservation effort in the 1970s. There are only 5,000 of the birds alive today.
Kynren's birds were brought over as eggs from a specialist breeder in Germany and  hatched out in incubators. Once they're old enough they will become permanent  residents of Kynren's new walkthrough Viking Village.
The first chicks to hatch out were welcomed by Viking Kevin Watts from Bishop Auckland , who plays one of the marauding Norsemen in the new  show.
They are part of a menagerie of animals featured in the show including 33  performance horses, donkeys, sheep, geese, goats and cows.
Taking place every Saturday from 29th June to 14th September*, " Kynren – an  epic tale of England" is a multi-award winning outdoor theatre show featuring a  1,000-strong cast and crew, performed on a gigantic stage.
The show magically transports audiences back through time through 2,000 years of English history and legend; from Boudicca and King  Arthur to Queen Elizabeth I and the English Civil War on to Queen Victoria's  Diamond Jubilee and both World Wars.
Tickets are now available online at

Endangered Bird Gains New Support in The Bahamas

Published by surfbirds on May 6, 2019 courtesy of American Bird Conservancysurfbirds archive
The Kirtland’s Warbler — one of the rarest nesting migratory songbirds in the United States and Canada — now has additional support, thanks to the establishment of an avian ecologist position geared to executing conservation activities on the bird’s wintering grounds in The Bahamas. Scientist Bradley Watson has been hired by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) as part of the plan to keep the Kirtland’s Warbler population growing after its expected removal from the U.S. endangered species list this spring.
Watson, who is Bahamian, holds a Master of Science from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, along with a Bachelor of Science from the College of Charleston. Prior to accepting the new position, Watson worked with the Cape Eleuthera Institute and The Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation. He has contributed to multiple studies on terrestrial ecology, while his graduate research focused on carbon sequestration in prairie systems.
On the verge of extinction, the Kirtland’s Warbler numbered only 167 breeding pairs in 1987. Today, the population is approximately 2,300 breeding pairs, thanks to science-driven management by state, federal, and nongovernmental partners, supported by protection and funding through the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, the species will require long-term habitat management and ongoing support to continue to thrive after ESA protections are removed.


Volunteers are squaring off against smugglers who traffic thousands of birds a year.
CAGLIARI, ITALY - As a choir of songbirds creates a melodic soundtrack, 10 anti-poaching activists are hiding out among dense shrubs in the mountains overlooking this city on the southern Italian island of Sardinia. They’re hoping to spot an illegal bird trapper who’s known to be active in the area. “This guy is like a Swiss clock,” says Giovanni Malara, the team’s leader. “He checks his nets and heads back at exactly the same time every day.”
Moments later, a turquoise motorbike comes racing down a narrow dirt road. “That’s him,” Malara exclaims. Now the second part of the operation—finding his bird traps—begins.
The activists, members of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), a conservation organisation that conducts anti-poaching operations, fan out to check the motion-sensor cameras they’d hidden the day before. They hoped that images from the cameras would point them to the path used by the alleged poacher to reach his trapping sites. The activists would then search the ground for clues—footprints, shreds of fabric—that would lead them to the “mist” nets he’d placed to snag birds in flight. Typically suspended between two poles, they’re called mist nets because they’re made of thread so fine that birds don’t see them.
On that day in February 2019, the CABS team failed to locate the trapping stations. But two days later, as more clues emerged through their on-the-ground activities, they found 28 nets. Malara says the evidence was handed over to the local police, who are continuing the investigation.