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.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Fresh hope for rare honeyeater bird

Oct. 24, 2014, 9:37 a.m.

Bird lovers Shirley Cook and Beth Williams are bringing attention to a rare avian friend in the New England region for National Bird Week.The regent honeyeater once flew in flocks of thousands in Australia but now there may be less than 400 left.

But the New England region has one known breeding pair near Bundarra which Mrs Cook visited yesterday.

University of New England academic Steve Debus said the main reason for their decline was the same as with many other endangered species: habitat loss and fragmentation.

The birds are a migratory species, so when areas are cleared by humans they become easy targets for prey in the open.

National Bird Week is an initiative by BirdLife Australia, which also monitors the regent honeyeater.

It's aimed at raising the profile of bird conservation nationally.

Shirley Cook is part of two bird watching groups in town and said while some birdwatchers in Armidale were taking part in the week.

One way people participate is by taking part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count.

Twitchers in a flap over rare bird

A RARE bird has caused a bit of a flap in South Tyneside – the first time the species has been recorded in Britain this year.

Twitchers have been flocking to Whitburn Coastal Park after a northern treecreeper was spotted.
RARE BIRD .... a northern treecreeper has visited Whitburn Costal Park. Below, ranger Dougie Holden.
The tiny creature, which normally lives in northern Norway or Sweden, was caught in one of the Coastal Conservation’ Group’s (CCG) nets last week as members carried out their ringing programme.

Group member John Brown was responsible for finding it in the nets, and records show it’s only the fourth time the species has been recorded in the area since records began.

National Trust ranger, Dougie Holden, said: “Members of the CCG had the nets out as part of their ringing work and the northern treecreeper ended up getting caught.

Rare Kiwi Chick Hatches at San Diego Zoo

Created on Thursday, 23 October 2014 19:00
Written by IVN

San Diego, California - After undergoing a 78-day incubation, one of the longest of all birds, a rare kiwi chick hatched this morning at the San Diego Zoo's Avian Propagation Center. Animal care staff made the decision to intervene with the hatching of this newest chick when it didn't proceed as it should.

Unlike most birds, it is the father kiwi that incubates the enormous egg. The female is nearby and will sometimes lay a second egg a few weeks later. When hatching, a kiwi chick typically pokes a ring at the top of the egg with its beak, allowing it to emerge from the top of the egg. This chick accidentally poked its legs through the bottom of the egg, making it difficult to emerge. Staff monitoring the chick carefully taped the bottom of the egg to give the chick the opportunity to hatch on its own, but after the chick was still unsuccessful, keepers peeled back part of the shell to assist with the hatching.

Continued ...

Rescued 'abandoned' penguin chicks survival similar to colony rates

October 22, 2014


Abandoned penguin chicks that were hand-reared and returned to the wild showed a similar survival rate to their naturally-reared counterparts, according to a study published October 22, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Richard Sherley from University of Cape Town and colleagues.

The Endangered African penguin population has been rapidly decreasing since 2001. In the Western Cape of South Africa, penguins breed from February to September and moult between September and January, once chicks have fledged. If adult penguins begin the moulting process, a 21 day period where they no longer have the waterproofing necessary to dive for food, with chicks in the nest, the chicks may starve. Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) recovers 'abandoned' penguin chicks that are no longer being fed and cares for them until they can be reintroduced into breeding colonies. Researchers documented the care, release, and survival of over 840 and 480, in 2006 and 2007 respectively, hand-reared chicks.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

English bird egg collector fined £2,000 by Bulgarian court

An English egg collector living in Bulgaria has been given a £2,000 fine and a six month suspended prison sentence by a Bulgarian court for illegally possessing 16 birds’ eggs and three taxidermy specimens.

Jan Frederick Ross, a known and previously convicted egg collector, is believed to have moved to Bulgaria in 2004 from Greater Manchester following a trio of convictions for egg collecting in the UK.

The raid on his home followed a lengthy investigation by the Burgas Police, assisted by The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and the RSPB.

The 16 birds’ eggs found included the egg of a Griffon Vulture, a rare breeding bird in Bulgaria (60 pairs).

Also found were detailed diaries and photographs that indicated Ross’ egg collecting in Bulgaria was much further-reaching than the 16 eggs found. The diaries revealed over a thousand potentially illegally collected bird’s eggs including a number of very rare breeding birds such as a clutch of eggs from the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture (24 pairs in Bulgaria) and three clutches of the Imperial Eagle (24 pairs in Bulgaria). No charges could be brought against Ross for taking of these eggs and the location of them remains unknown.

Birds roosting in large groups less likely to contract West Nile virus

October 23, 2014

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

Although it would seem logical that large numbers of roosting birds would attract more mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and contract the disease when bitten, recent research has found the opposite to be true. That is, when large groups of birds roost together the chances that an individual bird will get bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and subsequently contract the disease actually go down.

Farmland birds show rapid decline

23 October 2014 Last updated at 15:39
By Claire Marshall
BBC environment correspondent

Farmland birds are at their lowest levels since records began, according to government figures.

Numbers of birds such as grey partridge, turtle dove and the starling are down more than 85% since 1970s.

But there has been an increase in some other bird species, including seabirds.

The figures come from an assessment of wild bird populations in England, which has been compiled by the Department for Environment and covers 118 different bird species.

It includes data on 19 species reliant on the farmed countryside.

Over the last 40 years, indicators used in the report show a decline in farmland birds of 56%, with turtle doves declining the most rapidly - down 96% since 1970.

Other species under pressure include skylarks - down 62% since 1970 - and lapwings which are down by 50%.

Much of this decline is blamed on the rapid change in farmland management in the late 1970s and early 1990s.

Modern intensive farming methods means that fields have become much bigger, and more chemicals are used. With a significant loss of hedgerows, birds have fewer places to nest.