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, 1 October 2014

High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behavior in birds

Date:
September 30, 2014

Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Summary:
A long-term study on different populations of great tits has shown that risk-taking behavior correlates with both metabolic rate and ambient temperature. High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behavior, as in these scenarios birds were more likely to approach potential predators.


How to beat monk parakeets at their own game: Scientists prevent nests on utility poles

Date:
September 30, 2014

Source:
University of Connecticut

Summary:
Researchers have announced they have found a way to prevent Monk Parakeets from building huge nests on utility poles by blocking access to the electric lines that are the gateway to their nesting sites.


How dinosaur arms turned into bird wings

Date:
September 30, 2014

Source:
PLOS

Summary:
Although we now appreciate that birds evolved from a branch of the dinosaur family tree, a crucial adaptation for flight has continued to puzzle evolutionary biologists. During the millions of years that elapsed, wrists went from straight to bent and hyperflexible, allowing birds to fold their wings neatly against their bodies when not flying. A resolution to this impasse is now provided by an exciting new study.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Young alala part of effort to bring Hawaii’s birds back from brink

By Carolyn Lucas-Zenk
29th September 2014 
West Hawaii Today

web1_b92014926105614334.jpgAn hour before the sun rises each day, the very raucous and loud calls of nine rare alala, or Hawaiian crows, can be heard by the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center staff. Inside their large open-air aviary, these juveniles seemed to engage in a vocal sparring of sorts in a manner that’s reminiscent of monkeys for research associate Amy Kuhar.

“There’s a big sound missing from the forest,” she said of the alala, which were once widespread on Hawaii Island and now survive only in captivity at this Volcano center and the Maui Bird Conservation Center in Olinda.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, Kuhar enters their stress-free environment to deliver enrichment, which this time is food and habitat items wrapped in ginger leaves. Perched on various branches, the young birds make their musical vocalizations while curiously watching their silent visitor’s every move as she throws and hides the packets. When she leaves, some of the birds begin to explore and manipulate the packets to get the reward hidden inside.

Existence of rare and new species found

Researchers have found the existence of some rare species of birds, Slender Billed Gull and Red Phalarope, and the Jungle Glory butterfly in the country's forest reserves.

Of them, the Jungle Glory butterfly was spotted at Tanchi area of Bandarban hill district when researchers were updating the Red List of Species in Bangladesh for this year.

Prof Monwar Hossain of Jahangirnagar University's zoology department said this particular type of butterfly was last seen in the country some 132 years ago in forests in the Sylhet region.

The findings were unveiled at the 1st preliminary species assessment sharing workshop on updating species Red List of Bangladesh, held at the capital’s Spectra Convention Centre in the capital yesterday.

The Red List estimates the risk of extinction of a certain species which will help to set conservation plans and priority.

New controversy over Malta's bird slaughter

Island MP Karmenu Vella nominated as European commissioner to head green policies, including wildlife protection

Robin McKie, science editor

The Observer, Saturday 27 September 2014 20.31 BST

Karmenu Vella has unusual credentials for a man selected to be the next European commissioner for the environment. The 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta's Labour government, which is accused of direct involvement in the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island – including many endangered species.

Every spring and autumn, thousands of migratory birds – including quails, song thrushes and brood eagles – pass over Malta as they fly between northern Europe and Africa, only to be greeted by thousands of local hunters who gather in trucks bearing slogans like "If it flies it dies". They duly open fire on the birds.

"Turtle doves have suffered a catastrophic decline in western Europe, including Britain. Yet the Maltese government continues to allow them to be shot in their thousands every year," said Andre Farrar of the RSPB. "This slaughter has widespread implications and involves dozens of rare species, many of them regular visitors to the British Isles."

Campaigners say Malta's bird culls, which have intensified over the last two years, have been specifically encouraged by its Labour government. For example, new rules have extended shooting curfews, which previously limited the hours when hunters are permitted to fire at birds each day. Such moves have helped make Malta the ecological pariah of Europe.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Threatened birds of prey 'vanish' - via Mike Playfair

By Claire Marshall
BBC environment correspondent

Two of the rarest birds of prey in England, which had been satellite tagged, have vanished in unexplained circumstances, conservationists say.

The young female hen harriers had left their nest sites in Lancashire only a few weeks ago.

Named Sky and Hope, they were among the first hen harrier chicks to fledge in England since 2012.

Last year, no chicks were born after the only two nesting pairs failed to breed.

As part of an ongoing conservation project, Sky and Hope had been fitted with lightweight solar-powered tags.

Scientists examining the satellite data became worried when their tags stopped transmitting. Sky's signal stopped suddenly on 10 September and Hope's signal died three days later.

Searches of the area have failed to find any trace of them.

The tracking devices are designed to operate for at least three years. The scientists say it's "improbable" that this is due to technical failure. The more likely cause is that the birds were killed by other animal predators, or humans.