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, 9 December 2016

With climate change, not all wildlife population shifts are predictable

Ecologists find surprise distribution shift in 17-year mountain bird study 

Date: November 28, 2016
Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
 
Wildlife ecologists who study the effects of climate change assume, with support from several studies, that warming temperatures caused by climate change are forcing animals to move either northward or upslope on mountainsides to stay within their natural climate conditions.

But a new study of lowland and higher-mountain bird species by wildlife ecologists Bill DeLuca and David King at the University of Massachusetts Amherst now reports an unexpected and "unprecedented" inconsistency in such shifts. The majority of the mountain bird community responded against expectation and shifted downslope despite warming trends in the mountains. They say the result "highlights the need for caution when applying conventional expectations to species' responses to climate change."

In their article in the current issue of Journal of Ornithology, DeLuca and King say that although other studies have found species shifting either downslope or toward the equator, the opposite of expectations given the warming climate, theirs is the first to find that the majority of the bird community is responding contrary to these expectations.

DeLuca says of the unexpected shift among many bird species, "This is really important information for mountains in the northeastern U.S. like the White Mountains, Green Mountains and the Adirondacks. It helps to confirm that human activities like climate change, pollution and land management are affecting the distribution of mountain species."



Continued

Researchers map neural circuitry of songbird learning


Date: December 8, 2016
Source: The City University of New York

How do juvenile songbirds learn to sing in a way that preserves both the unique features of local song culture and their specifics-specific song "signature"? Researchers have begun to map the brain circuitry responsible for cultural transmission and species specificity in birdsong.

Two studies appearing in the December 9 issue of Science shed light upon the neuronal architecture of birdsong. In one experiment, Dr. Vikram Gadagkar, postdoctoral fellow and neurobiologist at Cornell University, and his colleagues found that dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain encode errors in singing performance. This dopaminergic error signal may also help juvenile zebra finches learn to accurately imitate the song of their tutor.

In the second study, investigators studied songbird hatchlings fostered by another species. Dr. Makoto Araki, Neuronal Mechanism of Critical Period Unit, 2 3 Collective Interactions Unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan and colleagues determined that, while juvenile zebra finches imitated the song syllables of their adoptive Bengalese finch parents, they adjusted song cadence towards the rhythm typical of their own species, whose song they had never heard, suggesting that songbirds learn rhythm from an innate template rather than from other birds.



Read on

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Rare bird spotted in Herefordshire for the first time

ORNITHOLOGISTS reached for the history books when a flying visitor was spotted in Herefordshire for the first time.

The bearded tit, a striking bird with markings which look like it has a drooping black moustache, was seen at a wetland site at the Wellington gravel pits.

Frances Weeks, from the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, said it was the first time the species has ever been recorded in the county.

While the bearded tit is sometimes seen on the east and south east coast of the UK, there are only around 630 breeding pairs in the country.

The bearded tits prefer reed beds, found around the edges of lowland lakes, where they can feed on the seeds of the reeds during the winter.

The Lugg Living Landscape Officer, Sophie Cowling, said this type of habitat is becoming increasingly scarce across the country but that the lakes found to the north of Hereford have the potential to provide large areas of reed bed.

And at Bodenham Lake nature reserve, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is planning to re-profile areas of the lake to create shallower sides and areas of reed bed.

Ms Cowling added: “This is such an exciting sighting. The bearded tit is exactly the sort of reed bed specialist we are hoping to attract to the reserve." 
 

Fake crane project brings birds back to Britain


November 8, 2016
 
Conservationists dressed in crane costumes have helped bring the graceful grey birds back to Britain's wetlands after they were hunted to near extinction as a delicacy in the Middle Ages.



The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the hand-rearing of 93 cranes in Somerset, southwest England, had been "instrumental" in bringing the total number of cranes in Britain to 160.

"It's an incredibly useful technique. It allows you to act as a surrogate parent," Damon Bridge, one of the conservationists who reared chicks from eggs as part of the "Great Crane Project", told AFP.

Wearing grey body suits, Bridge and other bird enthusiasts socialised with and fed the chicks with devices shaped like a crane's head and painted with a bird's face in a programme that ended in 2014.

Bridge said the aim was to prevent chicks from "imprinting" on humans before being released into the wild so they don't rely on people to feed them.

The chicks that were reared in this way have survived in the wild and have now themselves begun breeding.

"The population has probably grown to a size where it has reached a critical mass," said Bridge.

The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

"It's a dream come true... Cranes are well on track to become a true conservation success story for the UK," said Rebecca Lee, principal conservation breeding officer at the WWT.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-fake-crane-birds-britain.html#jCp

Fake crane project brings birds back to Britain
November 8, 2016

The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust

Conservationists dressed in crane costumes have helped bring the graceful grey birds back to Britain's wetlands after they were hunted to near extinction as a delicacy in the Middle Ages.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the hand-rearing of 93 cranes in Somerset, southwest England, had been "instrumental" in bringing the total number of cranes in Britain to 160.

"It's an incredibly useful technique. It allows you to act as a surrogate parent," Damon Bridge, one of the conservationists who reared chicks from eggs as part of the "Great Crane Project", told AFP.

Wearing grey body suits, Bridge and other bird enthusiasts socialised with and fed the chicks with devices shaped like a crane's head and painted with a bird's face in a programme that ended in 2014.

Bridge said the aim was to prevent chicks from "imprinting" on humans before being released into the wild so they don't rely on people to feed them.

The chicks that were reared in this way have survived in the wild and have now themselves begun breeding.

"The population has probably grown to a size where it has reached a critical mass," said Bridge.

The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

"It's a dream come true... Cranes are well on track to become a true conservation success story for the UK," said Rebecca Lee, principal conservation breeding officer at the WWT.

Read more at: 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Eyebrowed thrush - rare sighting sparks twitcher stampede to Northumberland

Student Ross Moore spotted it first and when he posted pictures of it online birdwatchers flocked to the region

Student Ross Moore took a walk around a Northumberland beauty spot – and sparked a birding stampede.

Ross, who has just taken up wildlife photography, was walking around Bolam Lake Country Park on Friday afternoon with his parents when he photographed a bird perched in a nearby hawthorn tree.

His father Andrew trained his binoculars on the tree and concluded that it was a bird he had never seen before.

When they returned to the family home in Prudhoe, they identified it as an eyebrowed thrush, which breeds in Siberia and migrates for the winter to south East Asia.

Once Ross posted his pictures online, it sparked an internet surge from birders across the country.

“Everything went into meltdown, and it started to sink in about what I had stumbled across,,” said Ross.

It turned out to be the first eyebrowed thrush to be seen in Northumberland and only the 24th to be recorded in the UK, with the last bird accessible to spotters being back in 1995.



Read on

Decreasing woodland bird population needs closer monitoring, says Island Nature Trust

'If we're not out there on the ground, these things catch up to us'

By Sara Fraser, CBC News Posted: Nov 08, 2016 6:00 AM AT Last Updated: Nov 08, 2016 6:00 AM AT


There's been a big drop in the number of woodland birds on P.E.I. according to recent surveys, says the Island Nature Trust. 
 
The surveys aren't part of a structured monitoring program, but the group said it's seeing a general trend towards fewer forest birds across the Island.

"If we're not out there on the ground, these things catch up to us," said Megan Harris, the executive director of the trust.

"And before we realize what's going on, we're trying to scramble to fix something that we don't fully understand."



continued


Monday, 5 December 2016

Some of Ireland's favourite birds are on brink of extinction - report


Large parts of Ireland's environment is in a worse state today than 20 years ago, a major report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says. 
 
Bird species, including the corncrake and the curlew, are almost extinct. There has been a "dramatic reduction" in the number of pristine rivers with high water quality, and traffic is causing serious air pollution.

The 'Ireland's Environment: An Assessment 2016' report also shows the average household now produces 20pc more waste than two decades ago, and says there is a need for "decisive leadership". While the overall state of the environment is "good", there are "serious underlying signals of concern".

Report co-editor Dr Jonathan Dernham said there was a need for integrated policies to protect the environment.


"We have not done well on nature protection, and we have lost some of our highest quality waters while at the same time reducing the number of seriously polluted waters," he said.

"If it was a school report card, it would be 'could do better'. We're winning and losing at the same time. The real challenge for the State is we're seeing that improvement is inconsistent and sporadic, as the joined-up policies are not there."



Continued