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.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Big Interview: What persuaded Jemima Parry Jones to buy Newent's birds of prey centre three times

For Jemima Parry Jones, The International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent is more than just a visitor centre with a worldwide reputation. It's also her home.

The centre is gearing up to welcome visitors for the Easter holidays and spring is well and truly under way.

Baby owls are expected to hatch this week, and a Condor is expected to hatch in April.

"And the centre is looking wonderful right now with wild daffodils in flower. There's always something different to see every time you visit," said Jemima.

The International Centre for Birds of Prey has been the home that Jemima has returned to time and time again and she laughs when she explains she has bought the centre three times.

The birds of prey centre was founded by her father Philip Glasier in 1966, when Jemima was 17, and now half a century later it has become a leading conservation centre and visitor attraction.

But it hasn't been an easy journey to build it up to its world class status.

For a start it has involved flying more than 100 birds across the Atlantic, and back again.

Jemima worked with her father and the rest of the family to get the centre off the ground in the early days.

She later flew the nest, and moved to London where she studied musical drama at the Guildhall, alongside fellow students including Celia Imrie and Bill Nighy, and then spent three years at the Royal Academy of Music studying singing and piano.

RSPB shock at M4 relief road decision

Birdwatch news team
Posted on: 30 Mar 2015

A judicial review has concluded that Friends of the Earth Cymru does not have sufficient evidence to mount a full challenge against the Welsh government regarding the construction of a relief road around Newport, RSPB Cymru has announced. The charity has said that it is “shocked and disappointed” at the decision, which was revealed on 26 March.

The so-called Black Route, an M4 relief road to ease congestion around Newport, will run through part of the Gwent Levels. Much of the levels are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and are home to a variety of rare and declining animal and plant species, including Northern Lapwing.

The review considered whether FoE Cymru could mount a challenge based on three grounds for concern:• The Welsh government failed in its duties in relation to the conservation and enhancement of the SSSIs and didn’t acknowledge the harm the plan will do to those protected sites.
• The government didn’t identify, describe and evaluate reasonable alternatives.
• The government didn’t consider an increase in carbon emissions if the new road is built in the context of its own climate change policies and emission targets.

Council could ban bird feeding in revamped square

Published date: 30 March 2015 | Published by: Owen Evans 

PIGEON excrement is blighting a town square which has just undergone a £500,000 improvement.

Plans are now in the pipeline to ban people feeding birds in the Daniel Owen Square in Mold.

Mold Town Council is exploring ways of reducing the amount of bird droppings in the town centre square, named after Mold’s literary great.

A council meeting heard that people leaving feed for birds in the square was adding to the problem.

Town Mayor Carol Heycocks said: “The seats are covered in bird droppings.”

The square has just undergone a massive revamp which saw extensive landscaping, a raised platform to serve as an artistic hub for performers and the Daniel Owen statue moved.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Oddie backs red grouse for Britain’s national bird

Bill Oddie is clearly a little hot under the collar the moment, as he makes his case for the red grouse being adopted as Britain's national bird. His suggestion has arisen because the famous naturalist and former comedy star of the Goodies is concerned that certain wealthy people in society are killing the feathered moorfowl for sport. By elevating the bird to national 'emblem' status, he feels that they are likely to receive more protection and the people who are currently killing them may think twice about their actions.

Speaking earnestly and very obviously from the heart at the Oxford Literary Festival, Oddie asked the assembled audience how they thought that people would react about "blasting the national bird to buggery?" His comments were in reaction to what he perceives as the actions of a number of rich "dishonest, cruel" people in society, who have been hunting the red grouse for what he views as being purely for the reasons of sport.

Why Did the Pink Chickens Cross the Road?

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The mystery of Portland's pink chickens is solved.

Multnomah County Animal Services says the birds' owner told the agency he used food coloring, beet juice and Kool-Aid to dye the two birds, then released them to "make people smile."

Owner Bruce Whitman of Portland says the prank succeeded beyond his wildest hopes. In his words, "I didn't expect to get this many people to smile."

He says he tucked the chickens into a tree to roost early Thursday in a waterfront park, figuring they'd wake to a good day with water nearby and bugs to eat, spread some smiles and he'd pick them up Thursday evening. He soon heard news reports that the birds had become poultry celebrities.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

RSPB backs pheasant shoots and says they’re good for the countryside

Wildlife benefits from management of copses and hedgerows, argues conservation director

Sunday 29 March 2015 00.05 GMTLast modified on Sunday 29 March 201500.09 GMT

The UK’s managed shoot industry, which sees millions of pheasants raised and shot every year, has received support from an unexpected quarter.

In a blog published on the website of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, its conservation director Martin Harper has praised the role of managed shoots in protecting wildlife.

“The contribution progressive shoots can make to supporting threatened wildlife is significant, and we are delighted to help them further,” Harper wrote. “This isn’t a contradiction. We simply do whatever nature needs and will work with anyone that wants to help wildlife.”

His views might come as a surprise to some of the RSPB’s 1.1 million members, who would have been persuaded by its original pledge “to discourage the wanton destruction of birds”; they would equally have been a surprise to the RSPB’s detractors in the shooting world.

Sexual selection not the last word on bird plumage

Among birds the world over, natural selection - during migration, breeding in subtropical locales and care of young - is as powerful as sexual selection, researchers have found.

Looking at nearly 1,000 species of birds, the team from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that while males often have brighter feathers than females, the two sexes have come closer together in colour over time to blend into their surroundings and hide from predators.

"Our study shows that ecology and behaviour are driving the colour of both sexes, and it is not due to sexual selection," said Peter Dunn and Linda Whittingham, professors of biological sciences at UW-Milwaukee.

Although most studies of bird plumage focus on dichromatism, evolutionary change has most often led to similar, rather than different, plumage in males and females, the authors wrote in the journal Science Advances.

The team spent four years collecting data from 977 species of birds from six museums in the US and Australia.

They analysed the data, assigning each bird a colour score based on scales of brightness and hue.