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, 24 April 2014

Maryland v. Osprey: The battle of the nest

By Susan L. Ruth, Communities Digital News

Osprey nest at MD Transportation traffic camera

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 — There has been a battle raging in Maryland over the past week between two federally protected Ospreys and the Terrapin State.

The conflict started a week ago when the Maryland Transportation Authority noticed an Osprey nest being build around a traffic camera along the Chesapeak Bay Bridge.

The large nest was being built at the top of a camera pole located at the toll plaza for the busy bridge.

The first problem was that as the nest grew, the camera’s view was being blocked and second was that the birds did not seem to like sharing their newly chosen nesting area with the camera and started attacking it.

According to the local news source, WTOP, the Transportation Authority reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for assistance in relocating the nest before more damage was done to the $6,000 camera and before any eggs were laid.

Once eggs or young birds are in the nest it becomes more difficult to move and would require a permit.

The nest was removed, and the birds rebuilt another one in the same location on the traffic camera pole.

The birds of Shakespeare cause US trouble

By Jane O'BrienBBC News, Washington

It's William Shakespeare's 450th birthday - but in the US not everybody is celebrating his legacy.

Birds feature prominently in Shakespeare's plays and poetry. Choughs, wrens, cormorants, owls, nightingales, larks and some 60 other species all have their place in the canon.

Such references have inspired bird lovers for centuries.

So much so that in 1890, a German immigrant named Eugene Schieffelin decided it would be a great idea to introduce as many of Shakespeare's birds as possible to North America.

One cold winter's day he released 60 starlings into New York's Central Park in the hope they would start breeding.

Unfortunately, they did.

"The cormorant is a voracious fishing bird," says Shakespeare Theater Company's Drew Lichtenberg. In Coriolanus there's reference to the "cormorant belly of Rome".

Sometimes Shakespeare uses birds because their names conjure an image or simply sound interesting. In The Tempest one character says he can "make a chough of as deep chat".

After Romeo and Juliet consummate their marriage they hear a bird singing. They argue over whether it's a nightingale, a bird of the night, or a lark which means it's morning and Romeo must leave.

"When the wind is southerly I can tell a hawk from a handsaw," says Hamlet, seemingly describing how he can feign madness when it suits him.

In Macbeth, Shakespeare turns to birds of the night, says Lichtenberg. After the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth hears the screech of an owl and never regains her sanity. It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman which gives the sternest goodnight.

The US is now home to an estimated 200 million European starlings. Thickset and pugnacious, starlings are the bruisers of the avian world.

And they are now such a nuisance they are one of the few bird species unprotected by law.

"Starlings are lean and mean. In the industry they're often called feathered bullets," says Michael Begier, National Coordinator for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Airports Wildlife Hazards Program.

Birds feel the effects of heat in Pune

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 - 4:46pm IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

Despite efforts by conservationists and citizens the cases of birds falling prey to heat strokes and heat affiliated ailments is on the rise in Pune.

With temperatures soaring in summer, health issues regarding birds is something that can't be ignored. City veterinary hospitals and individual practitioners have seen an increase in the number of emergency cases dealing with birds suffering from heat related ailments. "Most cases are of indigestion and skin related infections but their root cause is heat", said, Dr. Gaurav Pardeshi, vet surgeon at Katraj Animal Rescue Center. However, Pardeshi added, “Exotic birds are not suited to sub tropical temperatures but even indigenous species like kites suffer heat strokes and plummet to the ground.”' Several cases of ‘sub-adult' birds who are not completely trained to fly, also die during summer.

CRUELTY TO BIRDS: 'Savage and sadistic' bird attack in Newquay

Several chickens and ducks have been seriously injured in a "savage and sadistic act of cruelty" in Cornwall, police have said.

One bird was decapitated in the incident in a garden in Hillgrove Street, Newquay.

A number of birds had had their necks twisted in the attack which happened between 21:00 BST on 17 April and 08:30 BST on 18 April.

Two ducks and their 20 incubating eggs were also stolen, police said.

Lack of breeding threatens blue-footed boobies' survival

April 21, 2014

Wake Forest University

Blue-footed Boobies are on the decline in the Galápagos. A new study indicates numbers of the iconic birds, known for their bright blue feet and propensity to burst into dance to attract mates, have fallen more than 50 percent in less than 20 years. Scientists started noticing a strange trend at the Galápagos’ 10 or so blue-footed booby breeding colonies in 1997. The colonies were simply empty. The researchers suspect a lack of sardines, a highly nutritious and easy to find source of food, is the culprit behind the birds’ nose-diving population for a number of reasons.

Link to Chris Packham's Tuesday film on the illegal shooting of migrating birds on Malta

Honey buzzards are among many other migrating birds that are shot as they pass through Malta

April 2014:Heading a self-funded camera crew, wildlife presenter Chris Packham is filing nightly reports on YouTube of the illegal hunting events in Malta. View the first video, from Monday 21, here and the second video, from Tuesday 22, here. These films, which Packham says on his website ( will not make comfortable viewing, will be shown until Saturday, 26 April.

The annual spring slaughter on Malta, which last year involved at least 24 protected species, accounts for the deaths of honey buzzards, golden orioles, ospreys, cuckoos, night herons and black storks, among many others, and jeopardises future populations of these birds, which are either officially endangered or in severe decline here and in other parts of Europe.

In addition, many smaller species of birds such as finches, are trapped in nets, which also often account for the deaths of other animals accidentally caught in them.

Political ravens? Ravens understand the relationships among others

April 23, 2014

University of Vienna

Cognitive biologists have revealed that ravens do understand and keep track of the rank relations between other ravens. Such an ability has been known only from primates. Like many social mammals, ravens form different types of social relationships -- they may be friends, kin, or partners and they also form strict dominance relations. From a cognitive perspective, understanding one's own relationships to others is a key ability in daily social life ("knowing who is nice or not"). Yet, also understanding the relationships group members have with each other sets the stage for "political" maneuvers ("knowing who might support whom").