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.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Rescue plan underway for Mallee emu-wren after bushfires destroy natural habitat

Updated 7 Sep 2017, 10:03am

A rescue plan is underway to try to save one of Australia's smallest native birds, the Mallee emu wren, in the eastern parts of South Australia.

The tiny endangered bird, which weighs less than a pen, is under threat after bushfires destroyed much of its habitat and sent bird numbers plummeting.

Now the Mallee emu-wren, described by bird enthusiasts as the 'holy grail' of birds, can only be found in Victoria's north-west after the 2014 bushfires in South Australia.

Researchers like Dr Simon Watson from La Trobe University are worried a severe bushfire season could threaten the remaining bird population.

"The very worst-case scenario is that we have such a fire season that we don't need to worry about Mallee emu-wrens anymore, because they don't exist," Dr Watson said.

Read on 

Reintroducing the pink pigeon and echo parakeet in Mauritius

5 Sep 2017

By Jean Hugues Gardenne and Obaka Torto

Re-introducing birds to suitable habitats where species have gone extinct is often a very important and sometimes a last resort to sustain the survival of some threatened Mauritian bird species. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), the BirdLife International Partner in Mauritius, has a long and successful track record of exploiting bird translocation opportunities at any given time.

In recent years, MWF has worked with other partners in the country like the National Parks and Conservation Service of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, the CIEL Group, the UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), HSBC, Chester Zoo (UK),and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), to translocate several Mauritian birds, including the Pink Pigeon, Echo Parakeet, Cuckoo Shrike and Paradise Flycatcher from the Black River Gorges National Park in the south west to the east of the island, in Ferney Valley (Bambous Mountains). This strategy has helped to create new subpopulations and increased the total population of some bird species, as it contributes to their distribution, saves them from extinction and loss of genetic diversity.

Friday, 22 September 2017

New bird discovered breeding in UAE

The Egyptian Nightjar had not been suspected of breeding in the Arabian Peninsula before 2010

September 10, 2017

Updated: September 10, 2017 06:57 PM

A species of bird once thought to be a rare guest to the UAE in the winter has now been found to be a regular breeder, according to a scientific paper published in Sandgrouse.

The Egyptian Nightjar breeds from Morocco to north-eastern Egypt and to southern Kazakhstan, but had not been suspected of breeding in the Arabian Peninsula before 2010.

Summer field surveys conducted by UAE birdwatchers since 2013 have now shown that the species is found regularly in the Ajban area, north-east of Abu Dhabi between March and September.

Breeding was confirmed in March 2016 and April this year.

Young birds were first seen by Emirati bird photographer, Mohammed Al Mazrouei, the Under-Secretary of the Court of the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra (Western) Region in Abu Dhabi.

"I am delighted to have played a small part in this discovery," said Mr Al Mazrouei.

His work along with that of Oscar Campbell and Mark Smiles, two local birdwatchers, led to the publishing of their paper, ‘The discovery of a breeding population of Egyptian Nightjars Caprimulgus aegyptius’, which reports on the five years of fieldwork in the Ajban area.

Up to five pairs, located by hearing the song of male birds, are believed to have been present earlier this year.

Barn owls found to suffer no hearing loss as they age

September 20, 2017 by Bob Yirka report

(—A small team of researchers with the University of Oldenburg has found that barn owls do not suffer hearing loss as they get older. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes hearing tests they conducted with a group of trained owls, what they found and why they believe more study of the birds may lead to preventing hearing loss in aging humans.

Most everyone knows that growing older can lead to hearing loss. It happens because humans and other mammals have an inability to regenerate sensitive cells inside the ear. As damage accumulates over time, hearing degrades. This is not the case with birds, however. Prior research has shown that some experience little if any hearing loss in their old age. In this new effort, the researchers looked to see if that also applied to long-lived birds such as the barn owl.

Barn owls are the most widespread of all the owls—they are found all around the world except in polar and desert regions. They earned their name by taking up residence in barns, drawn by the rodents that are attracted to stored grains. Barn owls have exceptionally good hearing—approximately 10 times as sensitive as human hearing, according to previous research. Barn owls are able to use hearing alone to capture prey moving in total darkness. They also live a long time—some in captivity have lived to be over 20 years of age.

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Curious properties: Researchers analyze flocking behavior on curved surfaces

Date:  September 7, 2017
Source:  University of California - Santa Barbara

A murmuration of starlings. The phrase reads like something from literature or the title of an arthouse film. In fact, it is meant to describe the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of these birds fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Rare seabird rescued from Gloucester ice cream factory after being blown off course

300 of the birds were rescued in the past week across the UK

10:58, 20 SEP 2017
UPDATED12:14, 20 SEP 2017

A rare seabird has been rescued from an ice cream factory in Gloucester after the recent strong winds blew it off course.

The exhausted Manx shearwater was rescued by RSPCA animal collection officer
Staff at the factory, which is known for making Walls Ice Cream, contacted the charity after spotting the unusual bird in their compound and becoming concerned for its welfare.

The bird, who is now being cared for by a wildlife centre before being released back into the wild, is one of more than 300 Manx shearwaters rescued by the animal welfare charity during the past week after blustery weather caused problems for the unusual birds.

Genome of threatened northern spotted owl assembled

Genome completion will help researchers better measure interbreeding among hybrid owls and guide conservation priorities in the West

Date:  September 5, 2017
Source:  California Academy of Sciences

A charismatic owl iconic to Pacific Coast forests is no longer ruling the roost, and scientists now have another tool for understanding its decline. Researchers have assembled the California Academy of Sciences' first-ever animal genome after sequencing the DNA of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). Academy scientists and collaborators extensively mapped the bird's genetic material to better understand how this threatened forest dweller is interacting with non-native owls invading its habitat.