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, 27 August 2015

Something to crow about: New Caledonian crows show strong evidence of social learning

Date: August 26, 2015

Source: University of California - Santa Barbara

Summary: Among our greatest achievements as humans, some might say, is our cumulative technological culture -- the tool-using acumen that is passed from one generation to the next. As the implements we use on a daily basis are modified and refined over time, they seem to evolve right along with us.

Even cockatoos draw conclusions

Smart cockatoos infer by exclusion

Date: August 26, 2015

Source: University of Vienna

Summary: If there is a certain pool of choices and we can exclude A and B, we can easily deduce that C must be the appropriate choice. The ability of animals to be able to solve this has been the focus of many studies in recent comparative cognitive research. A team of researchers have now found a method to test if Goffin cockatoos have the ability to infer by exclusion.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Power lines restrict sage grouse movement in Washington

Date: August 24, 2015

Source: University of Washington

Summary: Transmission lines that funnel power from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines across Eastern Washington affect greater sage grouse habitat by isolating fragile populations and limiting movement, a new study finds.

The paper, which looks at how features in the landscape limit the species' distribution and gene flow, is the first to show that power-line corridors are an obstacle for sage grouse as they move across the landscape to feed and reproduce. The study was published early online this summer in the journalLandscape Ecology.

Power lines and future development across the Columbia Plateau could further weaken the species, which is listed as threatened in Washington state. The entire U.S. population that spans 11 western states is up for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act and a decision on whether to officially designate the population as endangered is expected by the end of September.

Britain's most famous Cuckoo has dropped off the radar

The satellite-tagged Cuckoo named Chris after wildlife presenter Chris Packham, seems to be missing in action the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) reported last week.

Chris, who was fitted with a satellite-tag in 2011, has been providing scientists with ground-breaking information on Cuckoo migration for longer than any of their other tagged cuckoos.

This year he left Britain on 4th July on his annual migration to Africa, arriving at his usual stop-over site in the Po valley, northern Italy on 16th July.

On arrival however, Chris will have faced a tough time because the region has been experiencing its worst drought in years.

The lack of rain is likely to have limited vegetation growth and reduced the availability of caterpillars, the preferred food of Chris and other Cuckoos, which is bad news for those British Cuckoos who use this area to fatten up.

They need this period of stocking up their resources to give them the energy to make a successful crossing of the Sahara Desert.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

RSPCA warns against latest blood sport - seagull fishing

By North Devon Journal | Posted: August 23, 2015

THE RSPCA has warned that anyone caught deliberately hurting seagulls will be prosecuted.

The statement comes following reports of a cruel new blood sport – seagull fishing.

In one recent incident in the South West the charity was called to reports from passers by that a group of youngsters were trying to catch gulls.

Officers have said that one bird was killed and others badly injured by people who have been deliberately catching seagulls using fishing lines.

RSPCA inspector Paul Kempson said: “When we arrived, we found one gull that had unfortunately died and another gull that was badly injured. We rushed the injured gull to a local vet and he is now being rehabilitated at one of the RSPCA’s wildlife centres.”

Mr Kempson warned that anyone caught deliberately injuring the animals could face prosecution.

He said: “Deliberate cruelty is not only completely callous and unacceptable but it is also against the law. We have launched an investigation into the incident and would urge anyone with any further information to please contact our inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.


Published at 16:47, Monday, 24 August 2015

It has to rank as one of the most unusual rescue operations undertaken this year by Cumbrian firefighters.

Sky the Harris hawk decided to go exploring after the lead which secures him to his perch snapped.

Initially, his owner Jonathon Graham, 20, was not too worried as the bird of prey was never likely to stray too far from his regular source of food at his home in Harraby Grove, off London Road, Carlisle.

But Jonathon was horrified when he caught up with Sky just along the road – and saw his bird’s tether had become tangled in a tree branch 50ft off the ground.

But thanks to the skill of firefighters Janice Scott and Steve Johnston expert help was at hand.

ASBO handed to woman, 70, for feeding seagulls

By North Devon Journal | Posted: August 24, 2015

Rose Rodell

A COUNCIL in Devon has taken the unusual step of slapping an ASBO on a pensioner for feeding bread to seagulls.

The 70-year-old has been banned from feeding seagulls and all other birds in her home town but the local council banned her after complaints from some residents.

East Devon lady Rose Rodell has fed various birds at her local park and cemetery for years and has launched a legal bid to get the order overturned in court.

But now she has even been threatened with eviction from her council home if she continues feeding the gulls, pigeons and doves.

Rose believes that concerns raised from big hoteliers in Sidmouth town about the "flying rats" are behind her "victimisation" from the council.