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, 27 May 2016

Taiwan seeking to reduce ecological impact of alien bird

2016/05/26 16:54:15

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) Taiwan is taking steps to deal with the problem of an introduced bird species that is causing an ecological disaster in the country, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Thursday.

The first step is to obtain the opinions of experts and scholars, who will meet Friday in Taipei to discuss the issue of the growing number African sacred ibises in Taiwan and their impact on the country's ecology, the COA said.

Under the auspices of the COA and the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, specialists in ecological balance and wild birds will meet and brainstorm on how to deal with the problem, said Kuan Li-hao (
管立豪), a division chief at the COA's Forestry Bureau.

Kuan said the ibis species, which is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, was first brought into Taiwan more than 30 years by a private zoo.

In 1984, some ibises were spotted in a wetland in Taipei, which indicated that they were breeding in the wild, Kuan said, speculating that the first birds had escaped from the zoo in Hsinchu County during a typhoon.

That year, the number of African sacred ibises recorded in Taiwan was in single digits, but now there are 1,100 in the wetlands stretching from northeast Taiwan to the west coast, he said.

The birds are also seen sometimes at waste water treatment plants, on manure heaps and in garbage dumps, Kuan said.

London’s garden birds disappearing?

Birdwatch News Archive

Posted on: 26 May 2016

Results from the Big Garden Birdwatch suggest a decrease in numbers of garden birds in London, and the RSPB has commissioned special nest boxes to highlight this decline.

London’s most common garden birds seem to be quietly vanishing from the city's green spaces, and research has revealed that Starlings (down 34 per cent), Blackbirds (19 per cent), Blue Tits (14 per cent) and House Sparrows (13 per cent) have disappeared from its gardens over the past 12 years. This data on declining species has been taken from the RSPB’s 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch, the largest citizen science survey in Britain, and was collated and analysed by the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science.

There does indeed seem to be a general trend of decline, 
though this may be exaggerated this year by the effects of a very mild winter, which has seen many species foraging away from gardens, and an increase in the numbers of Goldfinches and Long-tailed Tits.

To highlight this decline and encourage Londoners to attract the missing birds back to the city, East Village – which has the recently created postcode E20 – has enlisted local Essex carpenter Pete Bagg to create a number of unique nest boxes in the form of iconic buildings of the London Skyline. These include historic buildings such as Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge, along with to E20’s very own Arcelor Mittal Orbit and Lee Valley Velodrome. E20 has hosted breeding Black Redstarts in recent years. East Village is the former London 2012 Athletes’ Village and represents a green haven in the heart of one of the world’s largest cities.

Neil Young, CEO of Get Living London which rents and manages homes at East Village, said: “As one of London’s greenest neighbourhoods with a big emphasis on the natural environment, East Village has invested heavily to encourage wildlife. Whether it be through ‘living roofs’ on each apartment building, the 3,000 trees – newly planted in 2011 – or [providing] 25 acres of green open space, we have worked hard to make East Village eco-friendly. With the six-acre Wetlands – a brilliant habitat for native biodiversity – we are delighted to partner with the RSPB to create these unique bird boxes to help encourage even more birds into the neighbourhood.”

The quirky bird boxes will go on show outside Get Living London’s East Village ‘Welcome Office’ from 26th May and will eventually be placed around London’s newest neighbourhood in time for next year's breeding season. The scheme has been introduced this spring as a 'call to action' for the nation to play their part to encourage birdlife wherever they live in the UK.

Rare bird makes only second appearance In the Upper Ottawa Valley in 38 years

By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 3:40:37 EDT PM

Image result for dicksissel birdDuring spring migration, you just never know what bird may appear at your bird feeder. On Thursday, May 12, a rare mid-western bird called a Dickcissel arrived at the feeder of Brian and Judy Mohns of Black Bay. This bird stayed just one night but long enough for Rob Cunningham and me to confirm the bird sighting and photograph it for our county records. This is only the second record of this bird in our area; the last sighting of Dickcissel was 38 years ago on October 1, 1978, by Bill Walker, formerly of Deep River.

The Dickcissel (Spiza Americana) gets its name from its familiar call of 'dick-dick-dick-cissel.' It is normally found in grassy or weedy fields and tall grass prairies that have scattered scrubs, trees, or hedgerows.

This bird is generally the size of a House Sparrow but has a slender and slightly longer bill. It is sometimes mistaken for a small Meadowlark. This bird has plain gray-brown cheeks, yellow breasts, yellowish eyebrow, and a white chin and white under parts. The male, especially during breeding season, has a black bib on the chest underneath its white throat.
During the spring and summer, the Dickcissel tends to be solitary or found in pairs. In the fall, it joins large groups of birds during migration. The male Dickcissel is often seen in the spring singing from a high perch and in flight. This bird mainly eats insects, grains, and seeds. During winter and migration it is seen feeding at bird feeders.

The Dickcissel is primary polygamous, or in other words, has several mates. The nest of the bird is built by the female and is usually located in a low tree or bush anywhere from one to six feet above the ground. The nest is made of grasses, stems and leave and is lined with rootlets, grasses and hairs.

Small offshore oil spills put seabirds at risk: Industry self-monitoring failing

May 26, 2016

Seabirds exposed to even a dime-sized amount of oil can die of hypothermia in cold-water regions, but despite repeated requests by Environment Canada, offshore oil operators are failing when it comes to self-monitoring of small oil spills, says new research out of York University.

Chronic pollution from many small oil spills may have greater population-level impacts on seabirds than a single large spill, suggest researchers Gail Fraser and Vincent Racine of York U's Faculty of Environmental Studies. However, seabirds are rarely considered in the monitoring of small spills from offshore oil production projects in Newfoundland and Labrador even though Environment Canada has asked that they be included.

In an article published in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Fraser and Racine looked at how offshore oil operators monitored and responded to small spills (less than 1,000 litres) for three production projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In three high-profile environmental assessments Environment Canada repeatedly requested that impacts on seabirds be monitored following small spills, but this has not happened.

"Industry self-monitoring of spills has failed to collect information that would allow researchers to understand the impact of chronic oil spills on seabirds," said Fraser, who along with Racine is calling for independent observers on the offshore platforms. "Many seabird populations are declining and understanding sources of mortality is critical to their conservation."

Fraser and Racine looked at reporting and monitoring of spills between 1997 and 2010. The researchers obtained operator spill reports under an Access to Information request. They found there were 220 daytime spills. Reporting on the presence or absence of seabirds was done in only 11 (five per cent) of the cases. The Canadian Wildlife Service's seabird survey protocol should be followed when a spill occurs, but none of the reports showed evidence of that. The time it takes for a small spill to dissipate was also not in the spill reports and this information is required to estimate possible interactions of oil spilled with seabirds. "The lack of information on seabirds during oil spills indicates a need for third-party observers," said Fraser.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Indonesian birds face extinction due to pet trade: study

JAKARTA - Thirteen species of Indonesian birds, including the country's symbolic Javan Hawk-eagle, are at serious risk of extinction mainly due to the pet trade, a wildlife watchdog warned Wednesday.

The vast Indonesian archipelago is home to a dizzying array of birds and keeping them as pets has long been part of the national culture, with birdcages a common sight outside homes and shops across the country.

However increasing demand for some species as pets has led to dramatic population declines, wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC warned in a new study.

"This is a multi-million-dollar industry, there's a huge criminal element and many people are profiting illegally from this business," Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC's director for Southeast Asia and a co-author of the study, told AFP.

Huge demand for songbirds in Indonesia has also put bird species in other countries such as Malaysia and Thailand in danger, Shepherd said.

The Javan Hawk-eagle is Indonesia's national bird and the inspiration for the Garuda, the mythical winged creature that adorns the country's coat of arms.

Other species at risk of extinction include the Silvery Woodpigeon, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet, Javan Green Magpie, Black-winged Myna, Bali Myna, Straw-headed Bulbul, Javan White-eye, Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush, Sumatran Laughingthrush and Java Sparrow.

The Helmeted Hornbill is also at risk but unlike the others, is not kept as a pet. Thousands are being illegally killed and traded for their unique "casques" - a solid lump of fibrous protein that runs along the top of the bill and onto the skull.

'Sea hating' rare pelican and vulture could stay in UK

Two extremely rare birds which were blown across to the UK due to prolonged wind currents could remain in the country due to their dislike of sea crossings, experts have said.
A Dalmatian pelican which has been spotted in Cornwall had not been seen in the country for hundreds of years.

Meanwhile, a bearded vulture has been seen in Wales, Devon and Cornwall.

Experts said the birds, which are both "major rarities" had arrived in the UK on prolonged south easterly airflows.

The species are more commonly found across south eastern Europe, India and China.
Paul Freestone, from the Cornwall Birding website, said thousands of birdwatchers had travelled from across the country to try to see the birds.

"It's completely unprecedented to have two major rarities in the South West," Mr Freestone said.

'Reached end of the land'
Paul Stancliffe, from the British Trust for Ornithology, said both birds were first seen in other parts of Europe, with the pelican seen in Poland and vulture reported in Belgium before they arrived in the UK.

Mr Stancliffe said both birds, which are currently in Cornwall, "don't like sea crossings" so it was "possible" for them to remain in the UK for the foreseeable future.

The Met Office said that since the beginning of May south easterly winds had been regular across central and southern Europe.

Japan hatches rare penguin chicks using artificial insemination

Wednesday May 25, 2016
05:01 PM GMT+8

A Japanese aquarium said today it had hatched two Humboldt penguin chicks after using artificial insemination, the first time the technique has been successfully deployed for the vulnerable species.

The two chicks were born early April after frozen then thawed sperm from a male penguin was used to inseminate a female penguin at the Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum in Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan.

“I was speechless when the babies were born safely thanks to the success of the artificial insemination,” Teppei Kushimoto, who is in charge of the penguins at the aquarium, told AFP.

The aquarium said it had taken four years of experiments for scientists to figure out how to collect, freeze, and correctly time the artificial insemination for the penguins.

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