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.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

RSPB lays down strict rules to protect ospreys at T in the Park

Arts Correspondent
Saturday 25 April 2015

A wildlife charity has said it will oppose T in the Park's controversial new home at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire this July unless strict rules to care for protected birds are put in place.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) does not want nesting ospreys close to the proposed site to be disturbed.

RSPB Scotland is urging Perth and Kinross Council not to grant planning permission for the event without safeguards being secured.

It has also expressed disappointment that the issue has not been resolved "at this very late stage".

On the final day of consultation before a decision is made next month, the RSPB called for a series of measures to be put in place, including restrictions on the use of fireworks and lighting, and permanent 'no go' buffer zones around an active osprey nest.

These zones would measure 500m until after mid-June - this covers the period when the birds are likely to lay eggs, incubate them, and raise small chicks.

It is also asking for an 'ornithological clerk of works', a specialist qualified and experienced bird expert, to be appointed who will be able to overrule others on site to stop any activities that may cause disturbance.

Some T in the Park infrastructure, like the Slam Tent, big wheel and funfair should also be moved 500m away from the osprey nest.

Conservationists turn tiny New Zealand island into bold wildlife experiment

Big things are happening on Rotoroa, a new sanctuary for endangered species that aims to create a whole new ecosystem

Tuesday 21 April 2015 22.00 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 22 April 201517.25 BST

Auckland Zoo conservationist holds the first
North Island brown kiwi chick to be released
 on Rotoroa Island. Photograph: Auckland Zoo
Rotoroa Island, off the coast of New Zealand is tiny, at just 82 hectares (200 acres), but don’t let its diminutiveness fool you: big things are happening here. Over the past few years the island has become the site of a quiet, but grand, conservation experiment. What would happen if you populated an island with a whole suite of endangered species, some of which were never found there to begin with? And what would happen if you didn’t fence the island off and keep pesky humans out, but let people – school groups even – tramp through the grounds? 

Across most of our planet, truly wild, unmanaged places are a thing of the past.Onnie Byers

“We are deliberately aiming not to recreate an ecosystem, but to create an ecosystem anew,” says Jonathan Wilcken, the director of Auckland zoo. “We don’t frankly care very much whether those species existed on Rotoroa Island.”

Wilcken’s words – a shot across the bow of traditional conservation – marks just how radical and interesting the experiment on Rotoroa Island has become. The zoo has partnered with the island’s private mangers, the Rotoroa Island Trust, to conduct this wild endeavour: creating a new, managed ecosystem on a patch of land rising from the North Island’s Hauraki Gulf. 

Wilcken adds: “Nor do we care very much if the species could sustain themselves if we weren’t there to manage them.” 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Planners give green light for office and bird sanctuary development

Marjo Distribution applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council for permission to build new offices in Third Drove, alongside an eco-friendly bird sanctuary.

Marjo, which employs eight people, told the council that it has been based in temporary offices for 15 years and wished to expand into a more permanent location.

And, together with the new offices, Marjo said it wanted to build “a hub” for surrounding wildlife.

Although Little Downham Parish Council was apposed to the plans, saying that it constituted development in the countryside, East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Rebecca Saunt disagreed and backed the proposal.

Marjo told the council: “We wish to create a bird sanctuary and building that re-encourages the now diminishing local bird population.

“The droves used to be a hive of bird activity but changes in agriculture have led to a huge decline in various birds. With the help of the RSPB, which has advised on the project, we wish to plant the necessary vegetation to reinstall the habitat that would be ideal for various local birds.

Carmichael mine may push rare bird to extinction, scientists warn Greg Hunt

Scientists say clearing the largest remaining habitat of the black-throated finch to make way for coalmines will have ‘irreversible consequences’

Friday 24 April 2015 06.43 BSTLast modified on Friday 24 April 201508.31 BST
The creation of Australia’s largest mine will have “serious detrimental and irreversible consequences” for the endangered black-throated finch and may even push it to extinction, a recovery team for the species has advised Greg Hunt, the federal environment minister.

Poephila cincta -Baltimore Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland, USA-8a.jpgThe black-throated finch recovery team, comprised of scientists from the CSIRO and James Cook University as well as representatives from Townsville council, have written to Hunt and the Queensland government to warn of the impact of the $16.5bn Carmichael mine, set to be situated in the Galilee Basin region.

The letter states that there are only two remaining habitats where significant populations of black-throated finches remain, with the largest of these areas to be cleared to make way for the network of open-cut and underground mines that will make up the 455 sq km Carmichael project.

The clearing of 87 sq km of prime finch habitat will pose a “serious risk” to the future of the species, the recovery team warns, while plans to mitigate the threat are “inadequate”.

Friday, 24 April 2015

'Flameproof' falcons and hawks: Most polluted bird on record found in Vancouver

April 22, 2015

McGill University

A Cooper's hawk, found in Greater Vancouver, is the most polluted wild bird that has been found anywhere in the world. A team of Canadian researchers made this startling discovery while analyzing liver samples from birds of prey that were discovered either injured or dead in the Vancouver area.

The levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the contaminated Cooper's hawk were 196 parts per million, significantly higher than those recorded in birds found either in cities in California or in an electronic waste site in China. PBDEs are a group of chemicals that act as flame retardants and were once used widely in computers, stereos, televisions, vehicles, carpets and furniture.

A focus on flight: Birds use just two postures to avoid obstacles during flight

April 23, 2015

Harvard University

A new study shows birds use two highly stereotyped postures to avoid obstacles in flight. The study could open the door to new ways to program drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles to avoid similar obstacles.

Songbirds Emerge for Spring, But Is the Timing Off? (Essay)

Naomi Eide, University of Maryland, College Park | April 23, 2015 04:15pm ET

Naomi Eide is a master's student in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Just before dawn, birds wreak havoc on the stillness, cackling and calling to the world that spring has arrived and that it is time to mate. It's 6:32 on Easter morning, the sunrise is 14 minutes away, and the world is a hazy mosaic of muted colors, too pale to call yellow or orange. 

A golden-crowned sparrow sings its three descending notes, sounding mournful in a minor key among the cheerful songs of avian neighbors. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's guide, many say the golden-crowned sparrow's whistles sound like a phrase, such as "I'm so tired" or "Oh, dear me." The air is bustling with the songs of flirting birds, yet sleeping houses remain blissfully unaware that nature's instinct has taken over with the change in day length.