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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Rare 'ghost owl' with white feathers spotted in Britain


By Jasper Hamill, The Sun
(Credit: Caters News Agency)
(Credit: Caters News Agency)

An incredibly rare ghostly white "Ino" owl has been spotted in the UK.

The beautiful pure white owl was photographed at a secret location, on private land just outside of Durham City Center.

It is a British species called a Little Owl which has been turned white due to a rare genetic condition known as Ino, which makes it look a bit like an albino.

Photographer Hilary Chambers, a member of the Durham Bird Club, took the extraordinary pictures but was asked to keep the location a secret in a bid to protect the rare bird.
  
The 68-year-old originally thought it was an Albino owl or a Leucistic owl but presented her incredible shots to Hein van Grouw, bird curator at The National History Museum, who later confirmed it was actually an Ino bird.

"You learn something every day," Chambers said.

"I am a keen birdwatcher and photographer and have been doing this for about 15 years now.

"I have had some great encounters over the years and you just never know what you are going to see next."

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterised by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the feathers and Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the feathers but not the eyes.


Read on  

One big plan to save African-Eurasian vultures by 2029


International commitment is needed now from over 120 countries to ensure the recovery of 15 vulture species

By Shaun Hurrell

African-Eurasian Vultures are the most threatened group of terrestrial migratory birds on the planet. Many have extensive soaring migrations (and a Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelli was recorded as the world’s highest-flying bird when it collided with an airliner), and their massive ranges mean that their safety can only be guaranteed if many countries come together and agree on a plan for their protection. This is where BirdLife International’s work comes in, supported by Partners around the world, with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) providing a key platform.

It’s a huge problem and a huge area, so we have made an appropriate plan: namely, the Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP), developed by BirdLife, the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Vulture Specialist Group and Vulture Conservation Foundation, under the guidance of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU), with input from numerous individual experts on vultures and their conservation.


Ancient preen oil: Researchers discover 48-million-year-old lipids in a fossil bird


Date:  October 18, 2017
Source:  Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum

Summary:
As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a bird, containing lipids of the same age. The oldest lipids ever recorded in a fossil vertebrate were used by the bird to preen its plumage.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Massacre fears spark race to save rare Australia parrot

October 18, 2017

Critically endangered Swift Parrots are under threat from squirrel-like "sugar gliders" in a battle for space in Australia's ancient forests, scientists say as they race to save the rare birds.

Critically endangered Swift Parrots are under threat from squirrel-like sugar gliders in a battle for space in Australia's ancient forests, scientists said Wednesday as they race to save the rare birds.

Swift Parrots are migratory and only breed in the southern island state of Tasmania.

But the nomadic nectar-eating birds' nesting grounds—gum trees—are also popular with sugar gliders, small possums believed to have been introduced to Tasmania in the early 19th century.

The marsupials, which launch themselves from tree to tree and rarely descend to the ground, eat the nesting birds as well as their eggs and chicks, the Australian National University scientists said.

This year, both species are battling for real estate on Tasmania's east coast due to abundant eucalypt flowering in the region, which contains some of the world's oldest trees.


Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

13 October 2017 


All but two Adelie penguin chicks have starved to death in their east Antarctic colony, in a breeding season described as "catastrophic" by experts.

It was caused by unusually high amounts of ice late in the season, meaning adults had to travel further for food.

It is the second bad season in five years after no chicks survived in 2015.

Conservation groups are calling for urgent action on a new marine protection area in the east Antarctic to protect the colony of about 36,000.

WWF says a ban on krill fishing in the area would eliminate their competition and help to secure the survival of Antarctic species, including the Adelie penguins.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Computational study sheds doubt on latest theory of birds' mysterious magnetic compass

Date:  October 3, 2017
Source:  Cell Press

Summary:
The European robin and other birds know where to migrate by sensing the direction of the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers have recently attributed this ability to a chemical reaction that takes place within the eye and whose success depends on the field direction. However, researchers now report that the current form of this 'radical-pair mechanism' is not sensitive enough to explain the disruption of the avian magnetic compass by certain radiofrequency magnetic fields.



Pheasant roadkill peaks in autumn and late winter


Date:  October 3, 2017
Source: University of Exeter

Chickens' motives for crossing the road are often questioned -- but pheasants should probably avoid it altogether, new research suggests. Researchers from the universities of Exeter and Cardiff compared roadkill figures from the 1960s and 2010s -- before and after the start of mass release programmes of pheasants for shooting -- and found pheasants remain disproportionately likely to be run over compared to other birds. "There may be a number of reasons why pheasants are so commonly killed on the roads, including their short flight distances and relatively small brains," said Dr Joah Madden, of the University of Exeter.