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.

Wednesday 31 July 2019

The decline of British starlings


It's winter and the sun is setting over the waving reeds in front you. A few small, black dots begin to fly in: Common Starlings. They're joined by more and more coming from left, right and centre, until thousands of starlings come together as one, and suddenly you're watching a breathtaking murmuration. With so many thousands of birds dancing through the winter sky above you, it's easy to be fooled into thinking the species is doing rather well. Sadly, this couldn't be further from the truth.

The stark facts are that between 1995 and 2016, Britain's breeding population of Common Starling crashed by a staggering 51 per cent. Just let that sink in. It means that there are now only half as many starlings in Britain than when I started watching birds with my dad during the mid-1990s. The situation in England is even worse: we saw an 87 per cent decline between 1967 and 2015. Starlings no longer nest in large parts of Wales and southern England.

Back to that murmuration – many of the starlings you're watching above your head will have travelled here to escape the winter freeze in countries to the north and east. In those places too, numbers are falling, and we're seeing fewer of these birds arriving each year. It means that the large winter gatherings we're used to seeing are becoming smaller. Are the days of starling murmurations numbered?

Birds risk wipeout if grouse moors unmanaged, landowners claim

Ending grouse moor management risks the decline or local extinction of ground-nesting birds, a study claims.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) looked at the potential impact on threatened species such as the curlew, golden plover, lapwing, black grouse, hen harrier and merlin in southwest Scotland.

The organisation, which promotes shooting and other management as “an essential part of nature conservation”, found that the number of hen harriers on a keepered moor had increased but that they declined in areas without management.


Where have all the thrushes gone?

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 July 2019

Alarmed residents in Suffolk have voiced their concerns at the worryingly low number of songbirds spotted in the county this summer.

Their concerns have been raised as songbird populations across the UK have continued to decline over the last 30 years.

Clare-based writer and birdwatcher Sylvia Loch claimed she and fellow villagers have only seen a single songbird in four months.

She said: "We need to wake up to the amount of birds we are losing like swallows and swifts.

"It has been getting worse for years - but I never expected to only see one song thrush in the last four months. It is terrible.

"People love feeding their birds, but there isn't a single bird to feed."

According to the RSPB, the declining population is significantly caused by farming - notably of which through increased efficiency, changing in cropping practices and the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

Parakeets pop in to live in Peterborough

Published: 12:00 Saturday 20 July 2019

Pigeons could be having to take a back seat in Peterborough – as tropical parakeets are making the city their home.

The bright green birds normally live in Africa or south Asia, but it appears a group of ring necked parakeets have moved to Longthorpe.

Carl Whitney, who lives in Nathan Close, said he had seen a number of birds feeding near his home.

He said: “Over the past two or three weeks I have seen them in groups of five or six on a daily basis. The neighbours have seen a similar thing as well.

“They tend to be more active early in the morning or late in the evening.

“They tend to be sitting on the top of the trees, or feeding on fruit trees in the area.

“I first thought they might be escaped birds who were pets, but because there are so many of them together, I think they are colonising in Longthorpe.”

A spokesman for the RSPB confirmed it was likely the birds were living wild in Longthorpe – and the birds would be able to cope with almost anything the British weather could throw at them, despite their tropical roots.

Monday 29 July 2019

Corncrakes return to Rathlin Island for first time in 30 years

Two pairs of corncrakes have been recorded on Rathlin Island for the first time in 30 years, with one of the males potentially ‘coupled up’ with two female birds.

Amy Forde on 28 Jul 2019

For the first time in 30 years, it has been confirmed that there are two pairs of corncrakes on Rathlin Island, off the coast of Ballycastle, Co Antrim.

The corncrake is a red-listed species in Ireland, meaning it is a bird of high conservation concern.

Rathlin is the only place in Northern Ireland where the birds have been heard in recent years, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

A male has been heard calling in one location on Rathlin each year since 2016 and now RSPB Northern Ireland staff have recorded two breeding males in two separate sites on the island this summer.

Known for their unmistakeable "crex-crex" call, corncrakes are highly secretive and like to settle in early growing tall vegetation such as nettles, cow parsley and irises.

One of the sites - in Church Bay - is on land owned by an islander but managed by RSPB NI that has had nettles planted by staff and teams of volunteers to encourage the birds – summer migrants from western Africa – to return to Rathlin.

Puffins being hunted and brought back to the UK despite Government efforts to save the species

Helena Horton
27 JULY 2019 • 4:00PM

Puffins are being hunted 100 at a time by trophy collectors who are allowed to bring the carcasses back to the UK, despite the government’s efforts to save the species.

Campaigners and MPs are calling on Theresa Villiers, the new environment secretary, to ban the import of puffin trophies and push the international wildlife trade body to give the charismatic bird stronger protection.

Websites offer grisly hunting trips for around £3,000, offering British people the chance to go to Iceland and kill a “bag” of puffins. The hunters boast of being able to shoot up to one hundred at a time.

Read on (sub required)

Great Indian Bustard nearing extinction due to high voltage power lines, says govt

The GIB population has been reduced by 75 per cent in the last 30 years, said the WII report which has compiled various studies conducted by researchers across the country.


July 28, 2019 4:51:01 PM

The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard(GIB) is nearing extinction due to collision with high voltage power lines that criss-cross their flying path, according to a report by the Ministry of Environment. The report, which has been prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India(WII), a statutory body under the ministry, said only 150 GIBs are left, with the maximum number in Jaisalmer. They are dying at the rate of 15 per cent annually due to collision with high voltage power lines.

The GIB population has been reduced by 75 per cent in the last 30 years, said the WII report which has compiled various studies conducted by researchers across the country. “Mortality of adult GIBs is high due to collision with power lines that criss-cross their flying path. All bustards are prone to collision due to their poor frontal vision and inability to see the power lines from a distance,” it said.

Bird embryos respond to adult warning calls inside their shells

JULY 23, 2019 REPORT

by Bob Yirka ,

A pair of researchers with Universidad de Vigo has found that yellow-legged gull embryos respond to parental warning calls by vibrating inside their shells. In their paper published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, Jose Noguera and Alberto Velando describe their study of the gulls in their lab and what they learned.

Prior research has shown that embryonic birds, amphibians, reptiles, and even insects receive sensory informationthat helps them prepare for the harsh reality of the real world. In this new effort, Noguera and Velando have found evidence that yellow-legged gull embryos hear the warning cries of their parents and respond to them. They also found that hearing adult warning cries resulted in chicks with physical and behavioral changes, as well.

The experiments by the researchers involved collecting 90 gull eggs from nests along the shores of Sálvora Island and bringing them back to their lab for testing. They separated the eggs into individual three-egg clutches and incubated them. The researchers then pulled two of the three eggs from each incubator and exposed them four times a day to either recorded adult warning sounds or silence.

Left eye? Right eye? American robins have preference when looking at decoy eggs

JULY 24, 2019

Just as humans are usually left- or right-handed, other species sometimes prefer one appendage, or eye, over the other. A new study reveals that American robins that preferentially use one eye significantly more than the other when looking at their own clutch of eggs are also more likely to detect, and reject, a foreign egg placed in their nest by another bird species—or by a devious scientist.

The robins have no eye-preference when a decoy egg is a different color than their own eggs, the researchers found. But when a decoy egg mimics their own in color, they are better able to distinguish the foreign egg if they rely on one eye more than the other.

The new results are reported in the journal Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

The findings are important because American robins and other birds are often targeted by brood parasitic species, such as brown-headed cowbirds, that lay their eggs in other birds' nests. Some birds targeted by such parasites have learned to identify and reject the intruders' eggs, thus avoiding raising the chicks of another species while neglecting their own chicks' care.

Previous studies have shown that many vertebrate species prefer to use one eye over the other for particular tasks. This reflects specialization in the different hemispheres of the brain, scientists say.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Best breeding season for decades almost doubles rare orange-fronted parakeet numbers

Jul 17 2019


Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage talks about the success of the breeding of kākāriki karaka/orange-fronted parakeet.

The beech mast has been blamed for an explosion of predators but finally it has brought some good news – a sharp rise in the number of New Zealand's rarest mainland forest bird, the orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki karaka.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said at Peacock Springs Wildlife Park in Christchurch on Wednesday morning that 151 chicks had been born in the wild so far this season.

That potentially doubled the current population to about 300.

"This year's epic breeding provides a much-needed boost to the kākāriki karaka population. It is great news that this year there are more than three times the number of nests compared to previous years," Sage said.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) works with Ngāi Tahu in leading orange-fronted parakeet recovery, including providing predator control in their mainland habitats, running captive breeding programmes and maintaining pest-free island populations.

Scientists describe an almost complete albatross skull from the pliocene epoch

JULY 17, 2019

Senckenberg ornithologist Gerald Mayr, in conjunction with his colleague Alan Tennyson of the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand, describe a previously unknown, extinct albatross species from the Pliocene. The bird, which lived about 3 million years ago, only reached approximately 90 percent of the size of the smallest modern albatrosses. However, the fossil's most remarkable trait is the unusually narrow beak, which suggests that the new species mainly fed on fish. The diet of modern albatrosses, by contrast, is dominated by squid. The fossil discovery thus indicates a higher diversity in the feeding ecology of extinct albatrosses and raises the question why the fish-eating forms ultimately went extinct. The study is published today in the scientific journal Ibis.

Extant albatrosses are known for their considerable size: the largest species reach a wingspan of more than 3 meters. However, while living albatrosses are among the most iconic pelagic birds, little is known about the evolutionary history of these characteristic flyers, and fossils are extremely rare.

Crows of a different feather, fish crows, are coming to Houston

Gary Clark July 18, 2019

Fish crows look like an American crow but have a different call and flight pattern. Fish crows are common in the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange area and are moving into the Houston area.

Crows, those bulky black birds with the big beak and raucous call, don’t usually pique our curiosity unless we notice something unusual about them.

We might even overlook their kinship to the more colorful blue jays — both are in the Corvidae bird family. Crows got left with black plumes after jays picked up the blue ones.

The crows we normally see around Houston are called American crow, and they utter a loud, grating call, caw-caw-caw. They fly on broad wings vigorously beating the air in level flight and rarely take a moment to soar.

But you may have noticed crows that seemed somehow different.

They probably wouldn’t have been ravens because even a single raven would be extremely rare in our area. In Houston, it’s best to call raven-looking birds crows.

But you might have seen fish crows. These have been relatively common in the Golden Triangle of Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange — but not in the Houston area until the last few years.

People first began telling me about fish crows in Roman Forest in East Montgomery County about 10 years ago. Then they would tell me they’d seen the birds in the Lake Houston area. I have heard the birds calling several times at Jesse H. Jones County Park in Humble.

A Breeding Breakthrough for New Zealand’s Chubby Night Parrot

Chicks born by artificial insemination offer new hope for the endangered kākāpō.


Kākāpō's recovery has been slow but steady. 

IT’S HARD OUT THERE FOR a kākāpō. These famously adorable and unusual parrots—chunky, flightless, nocturnal—are one of the many critically endangered species in New Zealand, but efforts to increase their population have been slow-going.

Kākāpōs once had no natural predators, but now must deal with rats, cats, stoats, and possums. The country is trying to eradicate these predators and help the unusual bird come back from its mid-1990s low of just 52 individuals, but encouraging kākāpōs to breed is an uphill battle. The birds mate only every several years, with the fruiting of the rimu, a native tree. On top of that, they’re plagued with defective sperm and high rates of infertility. Now, for the first time in a decade, the country’s Kākāpō Recovery Team announced successful artificial insemination (of three female birds, resulting in two chicks), a major breakthrough in staving off extinction.

Even though scientists have the genomes of every known individual, which helps them match up suitable breeding pairs, kākāpōs just don’t seem like they’re on board with the plan.

“Females are quite choosy. They want the best males with the best genes,” says Nicolas Dussex, a researcher with the Swedish Museum of Natural History.* “So you can’t force them to mate with a less than ideal male.”

Friday 26 July 2019

Wild Justice challenges DEFRA over mass release of gamebirds


Wild Justice has launched a new legal challenge, this time of DEFRA and its failure to assess the impacts on sites of conservation interest of releasing 50 million non-native gamebirds into the countryside.

The non-profit company, set up by Chris Packham CBE, Dr Ruth Tingay and Dr Mark Avery, sent a Pre Action Protocol letter to Michael Gove on 10 July. The team is launching a crowdfunder on Thursday 18 July at 10 am to raise £44,500 to cover legal costs. The aim is to force Michael Gove and DEFRA to assess the impacts of non-native gamebirds on native wildlife.

Every year 43 million captive-reared Common Pheasants (and 9 million Red-legged Partridges) are released into the countryside. The numbers released have increased tenfold in the last 45 years and, like most of the rest of the shooting industry's activities, are not regulated by government. More paperwork is needed to reintroduce native UK species into the countryside for conservation purposes than to release non-native omnivorous birds on a vast scale to fuel recreational shooting.

Chris Packham said: "The UK's shooting industry is one of the least regulated in Europe with no centralised collection of any data. No one knows how many birds are released or shot, whether wild or captive bred. So how on earth can that shooting industry claim to be making informed decisions about sustainable harvesting, stocking or conservation?

Conservation agency, wildlife group to release 100 songbirds in Kerinci Seblat

Jon Afrizal

The Jakarta Post
Jambi / Tue, July 16, 2019 / 06:24 pm

The Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and Flora and Fauna International (FFI) are set to release 100 white-rumped shamas into the wild amid rampant illegal hunting in Jambi province.

Locally known as murai batu or kurcica hutan, the songbirds will be released at Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) in September.

Agency head Rahmad Saleh acknowledged that the release of the birds was a response to the decline of the species in the wild due to widespread hunting.

Even though the population of the singing bird is reported to be threatened, the white-rumped shama is not listed as a protected bird in Indonesia.

“We have so many singing birds right now. However, the population will continue to decline,” Rahmad said.

The birds, to be released in September, come from breeding facilities in Bogor, West Java. Each breeding facility in the country is obliged to release 10 percent of the animals it breeds into the wild.

Corn Buntings win the lottery

RSPB Scotland has launched a new project as part of their long-term work to help Corn Bunting. Thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Postcode Local Trust has awarded funding for a 'Corn Buntings in the Community' project.

The project aims to celebrate Corn Bunting's return from the brink of local extinction and will create food, farming and wildlife trails for the species. The RSPB has been working with landowners and farmers in Fife for several years to prevent Corn Bunting from disappearing in the region – work has been focused in the East Neuk area, one of the remaining strongholds for the species in Scotland, with the species also hanging on in Angus, north-east Scotland and the Western Isles.


Record breeding season for Cornish Choughs


Conservation group Cornish Choughs has announced a record-breaking year for nesting Choughs in Cornwall. A total of 12 pairs bred successfully this year, two more than in 2018. On top of this, 10 more young birds fledged this year, with a total of 38 youngsters leaving their nests.

The species has enjoyed a successful last few years of breeding in Cornwall, after the species reappeared in the county in 2001, at The Lizard, following a 54-year absence since the previous last breeding record, near Newquay in 1947. The 2001 birds were proven via DNA testing to have come from Ireland.

Chough has a deep-rooted history within Cornish tradition, featuring on the county's coat of arms. Nowadays, following the reappearance at the turn of the millennium and subsequent increase, the species can be found at other sites in the county, including Porthgwarra. There have been records in Devon, too.

Find out more at

A pair of penguins had to be removed by police after making a home under a sushi shop

July 16th

Police in New Zealand detained two penguins who were nesting underneath a sushi restaurant Wellington Railway Station, according to a Facebook post.

They had called attention to themselves by making a "cooing, humming sound" Wini Morris, a restaurant employee, told Radio NZ.

Police captured the animals, and after conferring with a zoo and the Department of Conservation, the birds were released into Wellington Harbour.

But Morris told Radio NZ that the penguins soon returned. Again, they were released into the harbour.

Sushi Bi probably hasn't seen the last of them.

Police in New Zealand were called to a local sushi shop near Wellington Railway Station to help remove a pair of unwanted visitors. In a Facebook post, the Wellington District Police said they temporarily detained two penguins who had taken refuge underneath a local spot called Sushi Bi.

They had called attention to themselves by making a "cooing, humming sound," Wini Morris, a Sushi Bi employee, told Radio NZ.

Police responded to the call on Saturday night. 

After conferring with the Wellington Zoo and the Department of Conservation, the groups decided the best course of action would be to release the animals into the wild. 

With the help of two members of the public, Constable John Zhu released the birds, which have been described as "little and blue," into Wellington Harbour. 

But by Monday, birds were again found crossing the street, headed again to the sushi restaurant. The shop owners again called DOC for assistance, according to Radio NZ.

Mike Rumble, who volunteers with the DOC and helped relocate the penguins the second time, speculated that the restaurant employees and patrons probably haven't seen the last of them.

"It's a natural characteristic of the penguins — they will always return to where they possibly were nesting ... I wouldn't be surprised if the owner of the sushi bar says 'they're back,'" he said

Thursday 25 July 2019

Decapitated ducks discovered in Lincolnshire park

Two decapitated Mallard have been found in Sidney Park, Lincolnshire, with the discoverer believing the grizzly deaths to have been executed by a human. The RSPCA hasn't ruled out that it was a deliberate act.
The finder, who does not wish to be named, says she found the bodies of two decapitated ducks last month, and believes the deaths are not the result of any animal. She was out walking her dog early in the morning, when she found one body a short distance away from the pond before, a few minutes later, she discovered another nearby.
She told the Grimsby Telegraph: "I was out walking the dogs in the park like I do most mornings when I have them, when I was shocked to find two headless ducks near the pond. At first, I thought that it was probably foxes that did it, but then when I looked around the area, I noticed that there were very few feathers scattered about the place, which usually happens whenever a fox attacks a bird like that.

Western Cattle Egret nests in three new counties


Western Cattle Egret has bred in three counties for the first time this year, as the species' seemingly inevitable – yet somewhat drawn out – colonisation continues. Nesting birds have been confirmed in Essex, Hampshire and Northamptonshire for the first time, with the species only previously breeding in Cheshire and Somerset.
The species has increased significantly during the past decade. In winter 2007/8, an influx numbering some 200 individuals resulted in at least two pairs breeding on the Somerset Levels in summer 2008. Another large influx occured in winter 2015/6 and, the following summer, at least one pair nested in Cheshire.
Despite this, no nests were publicised last year (though it's thought some birds bred), perhaps symptomatic of a somewhat staccato colonisation that has stopped and started over the past decade, rather unlike that of Little Egret in the late 1990s. However, following another influx during the winter of 2018/19, Western Cattle Egret has spread into at least three new counties, suggesting the most successful breeding season ever for the species in the UK.
At Chigborough Lakes in Essex, a pair has raised four chicks that, on 8 July, looked set to fledge. In Hampshire, the anticipation of as many as seven nests at Langstone Mill Pond in Chichester/Langstone Harbour (a site of significance during the early days of Little Egret colonisation) was confirmed on 5 July.
It's likely that more breeding success will be confirmed in the coming weeks and months, and it seems plausible that, after an up-and-down decade since the first ever breeding in 2008, Western Cattle Egret may now be here to stay.

Natural England grants the killing of thousands of Brent Geese


At least 6,000 Brent Geese were shot while they overwintered in England between 2014 and 2019 after Natural England issued hundreds of licences to kill the Amber-listed species.
However, it is thought the exact death toll could in fact be as high as 8,000, with official data unclear. The number of geese to be killed on some of the applications isn't listed, hence the confusion over the precise figures involved.
Brent Goose is somewhat localised in Britain in winter, with an estimated 100,000 migrating to our isles during the colder months, meaning that perhaps some 8 per cent of the population has been killed since 2014. Natural England claimed the species causes 'serious damage to crops, vegetable or fruit', despite the geese having a varied diet, particularly eel-grass, but also seaweed and grass.
During winter, Brent Goose is almost exclusively coastal, with particularly large concentrations of Dark-bellied Brent across the estuarine habitats of Lincolnshire, North Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, North Kent and Hampshire. Pale-bellied Brent has a more northerly range, with Strangford Lough and Lough Foyle, both in Northern Ireland, and Holy Island, Northumberland, holding significant numbers. The shootings involved Dark-bellied Brent and took place in Essex, Kent and Lincolnshire.

Roller takes boat ride off Lundy Island

European Roller was seen and photographed on a boat in the Bristol Channel between Milford and Lundy Island, Devon, on 30 June 2019.
The bird arrived on deck when the vessel was some 10 miles off Lundy and stayed with the bewildered crew for some time until the boat came within a few miles of the island.
Skipper David Milledge explained: "It stayed with us for about two hours, mainly perched on the crosstrees high on the mast. It took a few short flights but always returned to perch.
"It was about the size of a large thrush. When we looked in the book it was rather the colour of the bee-eater, but the tail was fan-shaped with no central tail feathers."
David sent the photos to Lundy Warden Dean Jones, who was able to confirm that the bird was indeed a European Roller, an identified which David had suspected, and then kindly passed the news onto BirdGuides. The bird is presumed to have flown towards Lundy, as it was seen leaving the boat not far from the island, but was not seen there and news only came to light on the evening of 4 July.
Find out more about Lundy Island at and

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Roseate Tern chicks hatch at Larne Lough


A major restoration project is expected to give Roseate Tern a significant boost in Northern Ireland, with recently hatched chicks at RSPB's Larne Lough confirming that the programme is off to a successful start.
Larne Lough reserve is one of the most important sites around the island of Ireland for breeding terns and, after sea defences collapsed causing flooding and erosion, it has now been restored as part of a £391,000 project, with costs partially covered by the EU-funded Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project, Ahead of the 2019 breeding season, RSPB-led works shored up the island and extended the tern nesting area, making it a prime potential site for a Roseate Tern colony.
While there were between 20 and 35 breeding pairs at Larne Lough between 1985 and 1989, just one pair has been recorded in recent years. However, last week a survey revealed that two chicks hatched, with RSPB Northern Ireland Tern Conservation Officer Monika Wojcieszek saying: "This is fantastic news that we have two Roseate Tern chicks on Blue Circle and we're hopeful that we can see their numbers increase year on year.
"This restoration project was a major piece of conservation work and it was vital to safeguard this tern colony. The works were needed to preserve the integrity of the site – parts of it were completely inundated at high tide periods, limiting nesting and breeding opportunities.
"On the island we have approximately 7,000 birds, but Roseate Tern is one of the rarest of all our breeding birds in the UK and Ireland, so it's fantastic that we have been able to work with partners, including Tarmac, to complete this work on the island."

After 12 years, western tragopans to fly back into the wild

Two pairs of the western tragopan, fitted with high-frequency radio collars, will be released at Daranghati wildlife sanctuary from the nearby pheasantry in Sarahan, 160 km from Shimla, by the year-end.
CHANDIGARH Updated: Jul 13, 2019 10:09 IST
Twelve years after launching a conservation programme to breed the western tragopan, Himachal Pradesh’s state bird, the wildlife wing has met success and will be releasing four pheasants from captivity into their natural habitat.
Two pairs of the western tragopan, fitted with high-frequency radio collars, will be released at Daranghati wildlife sanctuary from the nearby pheasantry in Sarahan, 160 km from Shimla, by the year-end.
This was decided at a recent wing of the state forest department’s wildlife wing.
The radio collars will help conservationists study and monitor the birds after their release from the lone breeding centre for the western tragopan, which is found in the northwest Himalayas, including Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand besides Himachal Pradesh. The species inhabits the high-altitude temperate forests at elevations between 2,400 and 3,200 metres.
“This is for the first time that the western tragopan bred successfully in the wildlife department’s pheasantry will be released into the wild,” says Savita, the principal chief conservator of the forest wildlife department.
Wildlife experts attribute the fall in numbers of tragopans to habitat degradation, hunting and extensive grazing of the forest by livestock.
“Himachal Pradesh is an important range-state for western tragopans, where it is distributed in sizeable populations in all three catchment areas of the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi,” says chief conservator, wildlife (south), Sushil Kapta.
The bird, locally known as Jujurana, is also the national bird of Nepal. The Himachal Pradesh government declared it the state bird in 2007.
Western tragopan belongs to the family phasianidae, which includes peafowl and red jungle fowl.

Bill Uhrich: Black-crowned night-heron sighting in Berks raises questions

SUNDAY JULY 14, 2019 11:10 AM
The bird was spotted feeding below the spillway at Lake Ontelaunee.
This type of sighting is always tantalizing.
Last Sunday at Lake Ontelaunee, Matt Spence, along with Dale Beitzel and Barton and Phil Smith, spotted an adult male black-crowned night-heron feeding below the spillway at Lake Ontelaunee.
The black-crowned night-heron is among my favorite birds, based on its rarity as a breeding bird in Pennsylvania, where it is listed as a threatened species, and the fact that at least one black-crowned night-heron nesting colony had been a part of the Berks scene for a century or more.
That nesting streak came to an end in the May 2014 hailstorm that obliterated the last nesting site in Wyomissing Hills.
Plus, this squat heron with its neck pulled in brings to mind an avian version of the "Star Wars'" R2-D2 character, always eliciting a smile.
Birders have been looking for the reassembly of that colony in Berks ever since, to no avail.
The closest nesting colony to us is one in Ephrata that's been active for close to a decade.
Whether any Berks refugees from Wyomissing were absorbed into that colony is a matter of speculation.
Patti Barber, the threatened-and-endangered-species biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, noted that in 2018, four black-crowned nesting colonies were reported in the state.
Now, what makes the sighting at Ontelaunee so juicy is its timing.
It's right on the cusp.

Ovington residents oppose anti-bird netting

Villagers in Ovington, Northumberland, are challenging a developer that has erected bird netting. The nets went up last November in the village, covering a large hedgerow along Post Office Lane, forcing the local parish council to register a number of objections.
Last November Malcolm Buttery, of Stockton, applied for planning permission to build a detached dwelling and garage, with the nets placed during the spring of this year. Ovington Parish Council said: "Ovington Parish Council and many residents of Ovington village are strongly opposed to the hedgerow netting which has now been in place for approximately four months. 
"There is no evidence of the netting in Ovington being monitored. It has also been poorly maintained and the netting does not fully enclose the hedge.” The parish council has written to both the applicant's ecological consultants and the county council to express its concern. The proposed development has led to 26 objections.
The developments in Ovington are the latest in a run of anti-bird netting incidents, including cases in Somerset and Cumbria.

Avian malaria may be behind drastic decline of London’s House Sparrows

London’s House Sparrows have plummeted by 71% since 1995, with new research suggesting avian malaria could be to blame.
Once ubiquitous across the capital city, the sudden, and unexplained decline of the iconic birds led a team from ZSL, the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the University of Liverpool to investigate if parasite infections were involved.
Researchers collected data between November 2006 and September 2009 at 11 sites across London. Each site was centred around a single breeding colony and spaced at least four kilometres apart to ensure that birds from different groups didn’t mix. The team estimated changes in bird numbers by counting the mature males and took tiny blood and faecal samples from sparrows, carefully caught and soon released, to monitor infection rates and severity.
Of the 11 colonies studied, seven were declining. On average 74% of sparrows carried avian malaria – a strain that only affects birds - but this differed between groups with some as high as 100%. However, it was infection intensity (i.e. the number of parasites per bird) that varied significantly and was higher on average in the declining colonies.
Former ZSL Institute of Zoology researcher and lead author Dr Daria Dadam, now of the BTO, said: “Parasite infections are known to cause wildlife declines elsewhere and our study indicates that this may be happening with the House Sparrow in London. We tested for a number of parasites, but only Plasmodium relictum, the parasite that causes avian malaria, was associated with reducing bird numbers.”

Monday 22 July 2019

Dozens of dead birds found floating in Perthshire loch

11 July 2019
The discovery of about 100 dead birds in a Perthshire loch has been reported to police, amid fears of a possible illegal cull.
Dozens of carcasses - believed to be crows - were reported floating on Loch Freuchie, west of Dunkeld.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which licenses the culling of crows and ravens, was informed as a result.
A spokeswoman said the discovery had been reported to police for further investigation.
Brenda Henderson from Crieff told The Courier newspaper: "They all looked like young crows. There must have been close to 100. It was quite alarming."
An SNH spokeswoman described the incident as "disturbing", but said it was difficult to determine exactly what had led to the birds' deaths.
She added: "We strongly encourage anyone who believes they have witnessed wildlife crime to contact the police as soon as possible.
"In cases such as these we advise that dead birds should not be handled and pets be kept away. We will assist the police with any inquiries they make."

Check out this chukar — a rare game bird — spotted in Calgary

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'Well this is an interesting and odd bird,' says avian expert
CBC News · Posted: Jul 11, 2019 1:43 PM MT | Last Updated: July 11
An unusual bird photographed by a southwest Calgary resident this week is a rare chukar, according to an avian expert.
"Well this is an interesting and odd bird," Birds of Alberta author Chris Fisher said in an email, after reviewing the images.
Chukars are a type of partridge. They have stripes on their sides and a black band of feathers that runs over their faces and around their eyes, giving them a distinct look in a city known for its magpies.
Native to Eurasia, chukars have been introduced to North America and have succeeded in setting up sustainable populations in the western United States and some parts of British Columbia, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
It's uncommon to see them in Calgary, although this is not the first time one has been spotted here. Another was photographed in the city in 2016.

Fossil of 99m-year-old bird with unusually long toes found

Ancient bird’s foot is so distinctive palaeontologists declare it a new species
Nur Pirbhai
Thu 11 Jul 2019 16.00 BSTLast modified on Mon 15 Jul 2019 11.58 BST
The fossilised remains of a bizarre, ancient bird that had middle toes longer than its lower legs have been found in a lump of amber from Myanmar.
The elongated toe resembles those seen on lemurs and tree-climbing lizards, and suggests an unusual lifestyle for some of the earliest birds that lived alongside the dinosaurs, researchers said.
“We have the leg of a little 99-million-year-old bird, preserved in amber, that shows a foot morphology unlike any known previously,” said Jingmai O’Connor, a vertebrate palaeontologist and co-author of the study at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The foot was so distinctive that O’Connor and her team declared the bird, which was probably about the size of a sparrow, a new species, naming it Elektorornis chenguangi. The first part of the name translates to “amber bird”. It is the first bird species to be recognised from amber.
The bird’s foot had four toes, with the third measuring 20% longer than the bird’s lower leg bone, and 41% longer than its second toe.
Scientists compared the bird to the only other known species that has such disproportionately long digits: the aye-aye, a type of lemur which uses its elongated fingers to pry larvae and insects out of tree trunks. The researchers believe that Elektorornis might have used its toes for similar purposes.

Birds could make a Swift exit

By Maurice Garvey
A BIRD enthusiast has warned of a Swift exit in Clondalkin Village, should proposed plans for a 155-bed nursing home at Presentation Convent go ahead.
A colony of Swifts are located in the cloisters of the convent building, a site earmarked for development, pending an appeal to An Bord Pleanála by residents.
One of the fastest flying birds in Ireland, Swifts spend virtually all their life airborne, only nesting to breed, but they will be wiped out unless precautions are put in place to protect their colony, according to Daithí De Brún, founder of Swift Conservation Clondalkin and a member of Birdwatch Ireland.
“South Dublin County Council have shown zero to no interest in preserving the Swift population,” said De Brún, who attributes their decline to the loss or renovation of the many 1970/80s style buildings they use for breeding.
He says the colony are the only remaining Swifts in Clondalkin.
However, SDCC say they have identified an active colony in “one of the council’s properties in the Clondalkin area.”
The Swift population in Ireland has declined by over 40 per cent in the last 15 years, and they are on the amber list of birds of conservation concern.
De Brún continued: “Dublin City Council, Kildare, Dún-Laoghaire-Rathdown, Belfast, are all conscious of breeding sites, and have built nest boxes, but Swifts are just not on the agenda for SDCC. They talk about bio-diversity, but only started to do something on their 2015-2020 bio-diversity plan last year.”
De Brún has monitored the Clondalkin colony for ten years, and says the numbers have decreased from 20 to seven in that time.
He made a submission during the planning process for the nursing home, citing “great concerns” for their future, as they are “faithful to their nest sites.”
On Monday, De Brún gave a Clondalkin Tidy Towns talk to residents at the convent grounds, pointing out the distinctive scythe shaped wings of Swifts, who he says, sleep and eat on the wing and travel as far away as southern Africa and the China Royal Palace.

The first star tern in the Dee estuary for almost 60 years

Bird Notes columnist Julian Hughes of RSPB Cymru reveals what birds have been spotted in the past week and lists 16 upcoming wildlife events
Andrew ForgraveRural Affairs Editor
00:17, 9 JUL 2019
Young birds are fledging from North Wales’ colonies of nesting terns, seabirds that will head for a southern hemisphere summer in just a few weeks.
Wardens looking after Little Terns at Gronant , Sandwich Terns at Cemlyn Bay, and Common and Arctic Terns on The Skerries , report a good breeding season so far.
Much rarer in North Wales was a Gull-billed Tern in the Dee estuary at the weekend, making occasional forays into Wales.
More thickset than our native terns, Gull-billed Terns nest in the Mediterranean. This was only the fifth in the region, and was the first in Flintshire since 1960.

Sunday 21 July 2019

Eastern student, East Haddam resident studying endangered birds in Buzzards Bay

By Press Staff
 Published 4:47 pm EDT, Friday, July 12, 2019
Rachael Finch ‘21, a biology major at Eastern Connecticut State University from East Haddam, has spent the past five weeks working with the endangered birds in Massachusetts’ Buzzards Bay.
WILLIMANTIC — Rachael Finch, ‘21, a biology major at Eastern Connecticut State University from East Haddam, has spent the past five weeks working with the endangered birds in Massachusetts’ Buzzards Bay.
As the recipient of an Eastern Summer Research Fellowship, she is working to help restore the population of roseate terns — an endangered, migratory seabird that nests in the Northeast, according to a press release.
Under the supervision of Biology Professor Patty Szczys, and in collaboration with Mass Wildlife, Finch’s field work occurred on Ram and Bird Islands in Buzzards Bay. Each morning, she’d take a boat ride to either of the islands and spend the day monitoring the birds, the release said.
“Being on the island every day is exhausting,” she said of the early mornings and long hours in a prepared statement. “However, the work we’re doing for the birds is crucial to help their survival.”
Among her objectives, Finch is assessing whether leg banding — the traditional method of tracking and monitoring terns — is in fact harming the already endangered birds.
“The bands may cause an increase in mortality on their wintering grounds, thus potentially contributing to their slow population growth,” said Finch, who is comparing survival rates in banded versus unbanded terns.

Rescuing the Rookery: Fergus Falls birders work to save the city's unique attraction

NEWS - Rescuing the Rookery 
Posted: Mon 6:42 PM, Jul 15, 2019  | 
Updated: Mon 7:07 PM, Jul 15, 2019
FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (Valley News Live) - For Wayne Perala - birding is a labor of love that has lasted for years.
"I've been birding non-stop probably for six years, but I think most people know I bird almost in all of my free time. So I work and bird and that's what I do," the avid birder says. "It's the most rewarding hobby I've ever picked up. It's so fulfilling – you're not taking anything from the environment, all you're doing is observing. And it's the chase of finding a lot of birds and photographing birds and finding rare birds – it's extremely satisfying."
Perala visits Fergus Falls' bird sanctuary at Adams Park often - and his passion is matched by others all over the country.
"From the state of Minnesota – the western side of the state is viewed as we get all of the good birds. So there's a lot of trips where people come from the cities out to this side of the state in order to catch a glimpse of some of the rare birds found out here," he says. "We bring busloads of people down here to view the birds up close. It's always a popular destination."
And it isn't just the birders who benefit.
"This rookery draws visitors in from all over – bird watchers and tourists come here to see them. It's an asset to our city," says Molly Stoddard, the Instructional Systems Specialist at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. "I'm just glad this rookery is here. It's so different, it's so unique. And it's a great opportunity for people to watch wildlife."