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.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Boko Haram 'strapping bombs to birds' as Isis-affiliated group continues bloody insurgency in Africa

The commander of a multinational force fighting the Islamist insurgents revealed the discovery

Thursday 21 April 2016

Boko Haram is strapping bombs to birds as it continues to develop more deadly weapons in its bloody insurgency in Africa.

The commander of a coalition battling the Isis-affiliated militants revealed the discovery at a meeting with American diplomats and security officials.

Major General Lamidi Adeosun showed gruesome photos of the victims of Boko Haram’s attacks and their latest weapons during the briefing at the Multinational Joint Task Force's headquarters in Chad on Wednesday.

One picture showed a bird with an explosive strapped on its back, demonstrating “a lot of ingenuity,” he said. 

Maj Gen Adeosun said his forces had received intelligence that Isis members were being imbedded with Boko Haram but that the Nigerian terrorist group had not satisfied requirements for greater operational co-ordination.

It is not the first report of birds being used to carry explosive devices.

Photos emerged in July last year claiming to show bombs strapped to chickens by Isis fighters in the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

There was speculation that they could be resorting to increasingly bizarre means of destruction while running out of ammunition but the account could not be verified.

Goose camp: Tracking troubled birds

Date:April 28, 2016
Source:University of Delaware

Summary:A research team is studying the Atlantic brant goose in Canada’s Hudson Bay region. The bird's population has been on a moderate decline, and the team is looking to seen if limitations during the summer breeding season have accelerated that trend.

When the University of Delaware's Chris Williams traveled to Southampton Island in Canada's north Hudson Bay in the summer of 2015 to study the nesting sites of the Atlantic brant goose, the last thing he and his research group expected to run into was a fellow Mid-Atlantic resident. But as he scoured the scenery one day, he found someone else who made the trip in the form of a red knot.

Red knots are shorebirds that come north through the Delaware Bay on their trip from South America to the Arctic, eating horseshoe crabs to refuel on their trip.

Williams said he was pleased to get a photograph of the bird, which had a leg flag markings J7V that was last re-sighted in 2010 and 2011 around Cape May, New Jersey.

"It was fantastic to run into this little bird that had made the long trip north just like us," said Williams, associate professor of wildlife ecology who oversees a Waterfowl and Upland Gamebird research program in UD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Brant in decline

The focus of the research team, which includes UD graduate student Clark Nissley, was on the Atlantic brant goose, a bird whose population has been fluctuating and on a moderate decline for many years, to learn if limitations during the summer breeding season have accelerated that trend.

The brant has a number of factors working against it, beginning with its size. Because the brant is smaller than the other two birds that nest in the area -- snow geese and cackling geese -- it is at a disadvantage when competing for habitat and food.

Also due to its size disadvantage, the brant arrives at its breeding grounds later than the other geese, which can build up larger fat reserves prior to make the trip north, enabling them to make fewer stops to the Arctic nesting grounds. The smaller brant, on the other hand, must stop more along the way in order to feed and rebuild its fat stores. Because of these delays, the brant arrive about 1-2 weeks after lesser snow geese and cackling geese causing them to miss out on prime nesting real estate.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Endangered Hawaiian Bird Immortalized In Space

Thanks to a science teacher in India, an asteroid has been named after the critically endangered Akikiki.

April 20, 2016

One of Hawaii’s most endangered native birds, the Akikiki, recently received an unexpected honor: an asteroid has been named after it.

Oreomystis bairdi.jpgThe idea for the unusual moniker—most asteroids receive the name of their discoverer—came from Prakash Vaithyanathan, a teacher in Chennai, India. As part of a lesson on at-risk and extinct species around the world, Vaithyanathan asked his middle school students to adopt nicknames of endangered birds. He hoped the exercise would spur more interest in the animals and their plight, and he was pleasantly surprised when seven girls wanted to be called Akikiki. (The top scorer on a science quiz ultimately got to keep the title.)

The children’s enthusiasm got Vaithyanathan wondering about taking the name game to another level, potentially sparking interest in imperiled wildlife beyond his classroom. Encouraged by his students, he wrote to the International Astronomical Union in May 2015 to see if it would be possible to name a celestial body after an endangered bird or flower. The IAU responded the same day with a yes and asked what species he had in mind. He suggested Akikiki, not only because it was so popular among his students, but also knowing that the IAU was about to hold its triennial meeting in Hawaii. It took nearly a year, but in December the asteroid formerly known as 7613 officially became Akikiki.

Lisa “Cali” Crampton, project leader for the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project, was “thrilled and excited to hear that someone from across the world cares about our endangered species here in Kauai.” (She first learned of the asteroid receiving the avian appellation when Auduboncontacted her for this story.)

Aggressive swan killed by state; local man says pair were friendly

Posted Apr 20, 2016 at 5:08 PM
Updated Apr 21, 2016 at 11:50 AM 

KILLINGLY — State wildlife officials killed a swan on Wednesday after the animal reportedly attacked several people on a Danielson waterway, an outcome a local man said could have been handled in a much more humane manner.

The male swan was protecting a nesting area on Five Mile Pond, said Dennis Schain, spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Earlier this week, we were notified that a husband and wife out on the water were attacked by the swan, but were able to make it to shore,” he said. “A short time later, the same swan went after two boys in a canoe, causing the boat to tip over."

State employees caught the animal on Wednesday and snapped its neck, a widely used euthanizing technique in such situations, Schain said.

Undergraduate researchers win support for international fieldwork on endangered bird species

Bahama Oriole.jpgFour UMBC undergraduates in Kevin Omland’s biological sciences lab have won Youth Activity Fund Grants from the Explorers Club to support team-based field research on the critically endangered, and largely unstudied, Bahama oriole (Icterus northropi). This species only lives on the remote Andros Island in the Bahamas.

The Omland lab is internationally known for expertise on oriole genetics and evolution. A major goal of this new research project is to increase awareness of the rare Bahama oriole and promote conservation of endangered wildlife in the Caribbean broadly. Omland’s hope is to not only help the bird population, but also to support sustainable economic development for the island’s residents.

The project is multifaceted, and the four grant winners reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the research. They include Alexis Scarselletta ’16 and Michael Rowley ’18, biological sciences; Jennifer Christhilf ’18, geography and environmental systems; and Daniel Stonko ’16, chemistry and biochemistry.

Stone the crows! Giant bird’s nest discovered in Combe Martin

17:31 20 April 2016

Eight foot structure at community centre contained scraps of clay pipe and a parking ticket from the 1990s...

Jaws dropped when a giant bird’s nest was discovered in the roof of Combe Martin Community Centre.

The construction of twigs and litter is thought to have been made by jackdaws over decades and stood around eight feet high.

Incredibly, according to parish clerk Michelle Beaumont, it appeared the loft insulation had been neatly cut to fit around it.

When former owner Devon County Council was queried, an email said the only birds able to make a nest that big would be ‘an eagle or an osprey’ and blamed it on a ‘colony of rodents’.

Michelle said they had been worried about the weight of the nest on the ceiling and so it had to be removed.

“It’s like a pyramid shape that started as a small nest that has been added to over the years,” she said.

“When they cleared it they found things like a bit of clay pipe. It was a health hazard, because you get little beasts in it and it’s not the sort of thing you could leave there.”

The nest also contained a parking ticket from the 1990s and newspaper scraps from that time.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


Published: Monday, 25 April 2016 15:36

The laws and protected areas to help conserve the Caribbean birds is the highlight of this year’s Caribbean Endemic Birds Festival 2016.

This year marks the 13th year Dominica is joining in the celebration of the festival since it began in 2001.

The festival is observed throughout the Caribbean from Earth Day, April 22nd to International Biodiversity Day, May 22ndunder the theme, “Spread your wings for bird conservation.”

The Hon Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Johnson Drigo, during his address in observance of the month’s activities, encouraged the protection of our endemic birds especially after the negative impacts of our island from natural disasters.

“It would be beneficial to observe more than ever all sections of the Wildlife Act which in a nutshell demands that we do not hunt in protected areas nor during closed seasons. Furthermore, respect other sections of the relevant laws which warn against the young and eggs in their nesting areas. Keep yourself informed concerning the Wildlife Act, the Forest Laws and National Parks and Protected Areas Act. Strictly observe which wildlife can be and cannot be hunted during the open season,” he said.