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.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Diversified farming practices might preserve evolutionary diversity of wildlife

September 11, 2014

Stanford University

Tinamus majorPCSL00504B.jpg
The great tinamou is an evolutionary-distinct
bird that declines in farmland but
thrives in tropical rainforest.
Habitat destruction significantly reduces the incidence of evolutionarily distinct species, a long-term study in Costa Rica has revealed. The research suggests alternative land-use practices that sustain farming and biodiversity.

As humans transform the planet to meet our needs, all sorts of wildlife continue to be pushed aside, including many species that play key roles in Earth's life-support systems. In particular, the transformation of forests into agricultural lands has dramatically reduced biodiversity around the world.

A new study by scientists at Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, in this week's issue of Science shows that evolutionarily distinct species suffer most heavily in intensively farmed areas. They also found, however, that an extraordinary amount of evolutionary history is sustained in diversified farming systems, which outlines a strategy for balancing agricultural activity and conservation efforts.

Global warming: Could Idaho lose its mountain bluebird?

Idaho Statesman
September 10, 2014 

The Legislature adopted Sialia arctcia as the state bird in 1931. The bird is 6 to 7 inches long and is a member of the thrush family.


What's the problem? Global warming threatens survival of more than half of all bird species in the U.S. and Canada, National Audubon Society scientists claim. Among them is the mountain bluebird, Idaho's state bird.
Why? Increased dryness caused by warming temperatures will alter the habitat ranges of birds in nearly every state, forcing them to migrate to unfamiliar areas, where they will have to adapt or possibly perish.

How credible is the threat? The report has a blind spot: It cannot reliably say that many of the species will not simply adapt in their current habitat or thrive elsewhere. Still, "it's a wake-up call," said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Here's the entire story from The Washington Post's Darryl Fears:

Read more here:

Unusual birds found in Pitmedden Forest

by News Desk

Published on the 12 September 2014 

The Scottish SPCA is appealing for information after a group of ornamental pigeons were discovered in a forest near Auchtermuchty.
Two of the ornamental pigeons resuced by the Scottish SPCA from Pitmedden Forest. (Photo: Scottish SPCA)
Scotland’s animal welfare charity was alerted when a member of the public spotted the unusual birds venturing around Pitmedden Forest last Saturday (September 6).

The three birds are now being cared for at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire.

Scottish SPCA senior inspector John Chisholm said: “We managed to capture the first pigeon on Saturday and then I returned on Sunday and rescued the remaining pair. The lady who called believed there may have been more of them but so far we haven’t been able to find any.

“The pigeons were fairly easy to capture as they couldn’t fly very well, which would have made them easy prey for other animals.

“Although it’s possible the group may have escaped from their home, we have to consider the possibility that the birds were deliberately abandoned and are appealing to anyone who recognises them to get in touch.

“If no one comes forward we’ll find them a caring new home.”

Man arrested in Colombo for smuggling US$50,000 of birds' nests

A Chinese man was arrested in Sri Lanka while trying to smuggle birds' nests worth US$50,000.

COLOMBO: A Chinese man was arrested in Colombo while trying to smuggle out swallows' nests with a street value of US$50,000 on Tuesday (Sep 16), hours before the country's president was due to arrive.

The man was carrying nearly 5kg of the rare birds' nests, a delicacy in China, customs spokesman Leslie Gamini told AFP.

The arrest came on the same day that Chinese President Xi Jinping was making his first official visit to the island, which enjoys close ties with Beijing.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Where have all the birds disappeared?

14th September 2014

Rapid urbanisation taking a toll on resident and migratory bird population.

Rapid urbanisation of Mysore and the expansion of the city is taking a toll on the resident and the migratory bird population, some of which are no longer sighted in the region.

Coupled with encroachment of lakes and tanks and their gradual destruction, the bird population threatens to plummet further. Mysore plays host to nearly 180 to 200 species of birds – both resident and migratory – and some of the lakes like Lingambudi, Kukkarahalli and Karanji are recognised as important bird areas (IBA) which are significant from the conservation point of view.

However, there has been a systematic destruction of bird habitats with a human-centric approach to the development of lakes. “Lingambudhi Lake was one of the best habitats for both resident and migratory birds more than 10 years ago. But over the years, the habitat is losing its sheen for the birds,” C.S. Kulashekara, an amateur ornithologist with a passion for photographing birds.

“The lake is filled with sewage and though there are good rains and inflow into the water body this year, the relief will be temporary. In addition, civil work at Lingambudhi and Kukkarahalli disturbs the birds,” he added.

Continued ...

Island expedition for Tom to save rare birds

A zoo keeper in Devon is travelling to Mauritius to help set up a breeding station for endangered birds.

Paignton Zoo’s senior bird keeper, Tom Tooley will be taking part in a two month long expedition to build a breeding station for the endangered pink pigeon of Mauritius.

Mr Tooley has worked at Paignton Zoo for 16 years and the majority of that time has been spent working with the pigeons.

Having never taken part in anything like this before, Mr Tooley said: “It’s going to be an experience.

“Bringing a chick through is satisfying, it’s rewarding. It’s not easy – you need to be patient, precise and very well organised.”

Mr Tooley will be working alongside the Mauritius Foundation for Wildlife in preparing the aviaries for the new birds.

Mr Tooley’s speciality is hand-rearing and he will be working the field and sharing his skills.

Before deforestation in Mauritius, the pink pigeon, scientifically named Nesoenas Mayeri, was thought to be very common.

Since 1840 the pink pigeon has been regarded as rare and in 1990 it was thought that only around ten pigeons were still in the wild.

The population has now grown and there are currently around 400 free living pink pigeons living in Mauritius. The pink pigeon has a reputation of being very aggressive and therefore each bird needs its own aviary.

Pigeons are considered to be clumsy birds and poor nest builders, which supplies a challenge for any aviculturist.

Red Kites are becoming a pest - don't feed them, say conservation groups

First published Wednesday 3 September 2014 in News
Last updated 18:25 Wednesday 3 September 2014
by Pete Hughes, Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. 

BIRD watchers have been asked to stop feeding Red Kites because the creatures have become too successful in Oxfordshire.

Snatching fledglings out of nests, chasing smaller birds for food and hovering in an “intimidating” way over homes and gardens, conservation groups have said the once-rare species may have become reliant on food left out by its admirers.

Hunted almost to extinction by farmers and poisoned by pesticides, the Red Kite was brought back from the brink of extinction when 93 were introduced into the Chilterns in 1989.
The Chilterns Conservation Board now estimates there are 1,000 breeding pairs in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But the board and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) say they are receiving a growing number of calls from worried residents about the large raptors swooping down on garden bird tables and school playgrounds.