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.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Thousands sign petition to end kite and buzzard killings

Posted on: 30 Aug 2014

An RSPB Red Kite volunteer has urged the government to take action over bird of prey persecution, after thousands signed the petition she set up.

RSPB volunteer Andrea Goddard has handed over a petition to Scottish government minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP demanding greater action over wildlife crime. Mrs Goddard, who helps out at RSPB Scotland’s Tollie Red Kites visitor centre in Ross-shire, was so outraged by the killing of 16 Red Kites and six Common Buzzards earlier this year, that she set up an online petition which has attracted support from more than 6,900 people. The petition asks the government to extend the investigative authority of SSPCA inspectors, providing them with greater powers to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.

Victorian birds live on in art

By Western Morning News | Posted: August 30, 2014

Sarah Pitt talks to artist Shelley Castle about working with birds, dead and alive.

Shelley Castle has a bit of a thing about birds. In the splendid isolation of her studio – an octagonal game larder on the privately-owned Flete estate in the South Hams – the artist is undisturbed by people or the noise of traffic. What she can hear, though, is bird song.

“It is thronging with them,” she says. “Birds are the most extraordinary creatures for me, because they can fly and we can’t. I also love their colours.”

The relationship between humans and birds is paradoxical, though. And no one knows this better than Shelley.

For the past few months, as artist in residence at Torquay Museum, she has been sketching its taxidermy collection made by Victorian naturalists who shot and stuffed birds which in those days would have sung from every tree and hedgerow.

Alongside them are the egg collections made painstakingly by the same naturalists, at a time when no one imagined that these feathered creatures would ever be threatened.

Mystery solved: Unusual microbursts of downward air killed hundreds of birds in Lancaster County

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014 11:07 am | Updated: 12:00 pm, Fri Aug 29, 2014.

The mystery of the hundreds of dead birds found in eastern Lancaster County the night after a violent storm on July 27 has been solved.

A deadly downward rush of air, known as a microburst, uprooted roosting songbirds from trees in the Leola, Gordonville and Bird-in-Hand areas and slammed them around.

“It appears they were literally blown into the tree branches, the ground — even into each other,” says Greg Graham, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife conservation officer for northeastern Lancaster County.

“It doesn’t happen often.”

The unusual microburst conclusion was reached after the Game Commission sent the refrigerated carcasses of three robins and two house finches to the diagnostic section of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Lab in Athens, Georgia.

New guidelines to limit poisoning of migratory soaring birds

In a bid to reduce the number of migratory birds poisoned as they travel along the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, the migration corridor between Africa and Europe, as well as support local communities in that area, Birdlife International’s Migratory Soaring Birds project has released a set of advisory guidelines for national governments in the affected countries.

Agriculture is central to the social, political and economic life of many countries along the flyway and contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as generating considerable income for the rural population. But production has come at a cost, as excessive use of pesticides has led to many migratory birds across the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, that could actually contribute to keeping down pests, being poisoned.

The newly developed guidelines are designed to help national governments to remain agriculturally productive yet make the region a better place for biodiversity.

Friday, 29 August 2014

New bird spikes at the tennis courts

ESCANABA -- The City of Escanaba’s newly resurfaced tennis courts are not only loved by our local athletes, but also the seagulls. Until recently, these birds were perching on the court’s lights and dropping waste on its surface.

To address this issue, the city purchased 3 to 4 inch bird spikes. These spikes were installed on top of each of the court’s 22 lights. As an added bonus, the city was able to change a few old bulbs while they were using the bucket truck. The bird issue was brought to the city’s attention by community members.

“We’re always looking to take feedback from the public,” said City of Escanaba recreation director, Tom Penegor. “In this case, it was something that we could do, tried, and did and it’s working and hopefully they’ll last a long time.”

The entire bird spike project cost less than $500.

DON'T feed the birds: Pensioner banned from putting out hanging feeders because they're a 'health hazard' - and threatened with police action if she doesn't stop

Frances Cheatham, 71, lays out food every day in Leyfield Court, Chester
Spends her own money feeding the birds at the retirement flats 
Says it has brought her 'untold amounts of joy' for the past four years 
But Chester & District Housing Trust said she was 'spreading disease'
She now says her 'only enjoyment' in life has been taken away 

PUBLISHED: 13:39, 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 01:51, 29 August 2014

For more than two years her greatest pleasure in life has been feeding the birds in the garden.

Pensioner Frances Cheatham watches every morning with binoculars from her kitchen window as they tuck in to the seeds and nuts she puts out for them.

Most days the 71-year-old former driving instructor also enjoys listening to the birdsong that echoes around the communal grounds and sheltered accommodation she shares with other residents. 

But the kind-hearted Bird Lady has found herself in a showdown with her neighbours and authorities – after being ordered to stop.

An investigation involving police, an environmental health specialist and housing trust officials highlighted potential ‘health hazards’ and concluded she risked spreading disease. She was then called to a housing trust meeting attended by a police officer to discuss the bird feeding and neighbour complaints.

Flapping baby birds give clues to origin of flight

August 28, 2014

University of California - Berkeley

The origin of flight is a contentious issue: some argue that tree-climbing dinosaurs learned to fly in order to avoid hard falls. Others favor the story that theropod dinosaurs ran along the ground and pumped their forelimbs to gain lift, eventually talking off. New evidence showing the early development of aerial righting in birds favors the tree-dweller hypothesis.