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.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Migration makes breeding harder for seabirds


Study reveals migration behaviors of puffins for the first time

Date:  November 30, 2017
Source:  University of Oxford

An international collaboration has for the first time revealed the key drivers of seabird migration. The new study suggests that puffin colonies that travel great distances during the winter often find it more difficult to breed than others, and that escaping your habitat with far flung migration therefore carries a cost.

Published in Current Biology, the work was led by researchers from the Department of Zoology of the University of Oxford and conducted in collaboration with eight international partners, including the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, the University of New Brunswick in Canada and the South Iceland Nature Research Centre.

Over the course of eight years the team studied the seasonal behaviours of a wide range of puffin colonies across the species' range, covering 270 individual birds in total. By combining data from multiple colonies the researchers were able to build an accurate picture of the migration behaviours of Atlantic puffin colonies across the world.

While previous research has focused on individual colonies and seabird species, the study marks the first time that seabird migration behaviour has been studied on this scale in such comprehensive detail.


Early avian evolution: The Archaeopteryx that wasn‘t


Date:  December 4, 2017
Source:  Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)

Paleontologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich correct a case of misinterpretation: The first fossil "Archaeopteryx" to be discovered is actually a predatory dinosaur belonging to the anchiornithid family, which was previously known only from finds made in China.

Even 150 million years after its first appearance on our planet, Archaeopteryx is still good for surprises. The so-called Urvogel has attained an iconic status well beyond the world of paleontology, and it is one of the most famous fossils ever recovered. In all, a dozen fossil specimens have been assigned to the genus. Archaeopteryx remains the oldest known bird fossil, not only documenting the evolutionary transition from reptiles to birds, but also confirming that modern birds are the direct descendants of carnivorous dinosaurs. LMU paleontologist Oliver Rauhut and Christian Foth from the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde in Stuttgart have re-examined the so-called Haarlem specimen of Archaeopteryx, which is kept in Teylers Museum in that Dutch city and has gone down in history as the first member of this genus to be discovered.


Pigeons can discriminate both space, time


Finding underscores that animals beyond humans and primates show abstract intelligence

Date:  December 4, 2017
Source:  University of Iowa

Pigeons aren't so bird-brained after all.

New research at the University of Iowa shows that pigeons can discriminate the abstract concepts of space and time -- and seem to use a different region of the brain than humans and primates to do so. In experiments, pigeons were shown on a computer screen a static horizontal line and had to judge its length or the amount of time it was visible to them. Pigeons judged longer lines to also have longer duration and judged lines longer in duration to also be longer in length.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

The other Dodo: Extinct bird that used its wings as clubs


By Rory GallowayScience writer
2 December 2017

The extinct Dodo had a little-known relative on another island. This fascinating bird ultimately suffered the same fate as its iconic cousin, but we can reconstruct some of its biology thanks to the writings of a French explorer who studied it during his travels of the Indian Ocean.

In the middle of the 18th Century, at around the time the US was signing the declaration of independence, a large flightless bird quietly became extinct on an island in the Indian Ocean.
Today this bird is all but forgotten.

Early explorers to Rodrigues described a "Dodo" living on the tiny forested island. Males were grey-brown, and females sandy, both having strong legs and long, proud necks. But despite outward similarities to the iconic Mauritian bird, this wasn't in fact a Dodo, but the Rodrigues solitaire.

If you look up Rodrigues in satellite images, you can see a huge ring of submerged land around the central island, over 50% of the original dry land is thought to have been lost under the waves due to sea level rise and the island subsiding into the bedrock. That was the stage for the evolution of the huge bird, over millions of years.


How UK's birds are being affected by a changing climate


By Helen BriggsBBC News
5 December 2017

Migratory birds are arriving in the UK earlier each spring and leaving later each autumn, a report has confirmed.

Some visitors are now appearing more than 20 days earlier than they did in the 1960s, according to the state of the UK's birds 2017 report.

The swallow, for instance, is arriving 15 days earlier than 50 years ago.

Ongoing monitoring is essential to track the future effects of a changing climate on birds, says a coalition of wildlife organisations.

The report is by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) , the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the UK's nature conservation bodies. It pulls together data from the latest bird surveys and monitoring studies.

The report warns that there will be winner and losers in a changing world, with opportunities for some bird species but higher extinction risks for others.

Some, such as the night heron, are breeding in the UK for the first time as their range expands north, while others, such as the snow bunting are in decline.

Dr Daniel Hayhow, lead author of the report, said familiar species such as swallows and sand martins are changing their migratory behaviour.

''We need to take that almost as a warning sign,'' he told BBC News.


Penguins move in to Lotherton Hall


New colony of Humboldt penguins in the new Costal Zone at Lotherton Hall.

21st November 2017.
Published: 14:34 Wednesday 22 November 2017

There was cause for Happy Feet at Lotherton Wildlife World this week as its newest residents celebrated the opening of the first phase of the £1.2m redevelopment of the attraction. The colony of 17 Humboldt penguins are now nicely settled in to their new home at the Aberford estate’s Coastal Zone after moving in from their previous homes, zoos in Dudley and Newquay, a few weeks ago.

New colony of Humboldt penguins in the new Costal Zone at Lotherton Hall. Coun Lucinda Yeadon feeds the penguins. 21st November 2017.


Lotherton Hall’s huge new 120,000 litre penguin pool, complete with above and below water viewing areas, gives the creatures plenty of opportunities to show off their swimming skills to visitors. Leeds City Council’s animal curator, Peter Quince, said: “It’s been great to see the penguins settling in so well to their new home and they really are a fantastic addition to the Lotherton family.

Friday, 8 December 2017

A yellow-eyed penguin that was caught in a net.

Yellow-eyed penguins at risk due to set net fishery


FOREST & BIRD

Almost half the breeding population of yellow-eyed penguins on Codfish Island, west of Stewart Island, have disappeared at sea, most likely because of commercial set nets, Forest and Bird says.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the group was calling on the Government to gather those who work to protect the penguins, but also the fishing industry to agree an immediate set of actions to eliminate the risks from set netting in the penguins' feeding area.

"Unlike previous years where disease and high temperatures caused deaths on land, this year birds have disappeared at sea. There is an active set net fishery within the penguins' Whenua Hou foraging ground, and the indications are that nearly half the Whenua Hou hoiho population has been drowned in one or more of these nets.

"We are asking DOC and MPI what they intend to do to save our hoiho from extinction, because at current rates of decline we are on track to lose hoiho completely from mainland New Zealand. We have also written to the Minister of Conservation, expressing our concern."

However, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it is stepping up monitoring of the set net fisheries.

 Almost every penguin killed in the set net fishery was killed on a boat that had an official observer on board, Hague said.

The first step was to get more observers onto set net vessels and prioritise putting cameras on set netting boats, he said.




Rare Tūturuatu washes up in Hawke’s Bay


Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 12:09 pm
Press Release: 
Department of Conservation
17 November, 2017
Rare Tūturuatu washes up in Hawke’s Bay

One of New Zealand’s rarest animals the tūturuatu or shore plover is now even closer to extinction after one was found dead in Westshore this past week.

The bird – named Obow after her leg bands - was found by a member of the public - all the way from her Waikawa Island home off the tip of the Mahia Peninsula.

At times these birds like to visit the shores and rivers of the greater Hawke’s Bay area.

After Obow was handed over to Department of Conservation staff, she was sent to Massey University where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.


Arctic shorebird decline noted by study


Conditions at migratory stopovers or overwintering sites in east Asia driving poorer survival rates for Arctic breeding shorebirds

Date:  November 20, 2017
Source:  Wildlife Conservation Society

A new study co-authored by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) addresses concerns over the many Arctic shorebird populations in precipitous decline. Evident from the study is that monitoring and protection of habitat where the birds breed, winter, and stopover is critical to their survival and to that of a global migration spectacle.

To understand why arctic shorebirds are declining and the role humans may be playing, Dr. Rebecca Bentzen of the WCS Arctic Beringia Program and her colleagues set out to quantify adult bird survival.

The scientists collected and combined data across nine breeding sites in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic in 2010-2014, engaging in unprecedented levels of collaboration as part of the Arctic Shorebird Demographic Network.

Sites included the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Six species of shorebirds were represented in the study -- American golden-plover, dunlin, semipalmated sandpiper, western sandpiper, red-necked phalarope, and red phalarope.

Testing how ecological and human-related variables affected the adult annual survival of the birds, the scientists observed few breeding ground impacts, suggesting that shorebird declines are not currently driven by conditions experienced on the Arctic breeding grounds.

"In a positive sense, our estimates for adult survival were substantially higher than previously published across five of the six species," said Bentzen. "This is good news; we seem to be doing the right thing in the Arctic as far as conserving these birds."


Thursday, 7 December 2017

How dinosaur scales became bird feathers


By Rory GallowayScience writer
22 November 2017

The genes that caused scales to become feathers in the early ancestors of birds have been found by US scientists.

By expressing these genes in embryo alligator skin, the researchers caused the reptiles' scales to change in a way that may be similar to how the earliest feathers evolved.

Feathers are highly complex natural structures and they're key to the success of birds.

But they initially evolved in dinosaurs, birds' extinct ancestors.

Leading the study, Professor Cheng-Ming Chuong told the BBC that this discovery links important recent palaeontological finds with modern biology, in understanding feather evolution.

Birds have had feathers for as long as they have existed as a group and Professor Chuong couldn't study primitive examples of feathers in any living animals.

"In today's existing reptiles, the one more similar to dinosaurs is actually the alligator, belonging to the Archosaur group," said Prof Chuong from the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

Dinosaurs and birds also belong to this wider group of "Archosaur reptiles"; Prof Chuong wanted to investigate whether the feather-forming genes he had identified in birds could change those scales into feathers. So he set out to turn on these genes in the skin of alligator embryos.

"You can see we can indeed induce them to form appendages, although it is not beautiful feathers, they really try to elongate" he explained of the outcome. They are likely similar to the structures on those feather-pioneering dinosaurs 150 million years ago.


Read on  

Climate change models of bird impacts pass the test


Date:  November 22, 2017
Source:  University of Adelaide

A major study looking at changes in where UK birds have been found over the past 40 years has validated the latest climate change models being used to forecast impacts on birds and other animals.

Led by the University of Adelaide, in collaboration with an international team of researchers, the scientists compared forecasts from ecological models with observed changes to the bird populations -- and found the latest models were working well.

"Models have been developed in recent years to predict how the area where a bird species lives -- known as its range -- will change as the climate does," says lead author Dr Damien Fordham from the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute.

"The results show that the enormous effort being invested into improving tools for forecasting the effect of climate change on species range movement and extinctions is working.

"We are now a lot more confident in what models should be used, and when, to provide a more accurate picture of biodiversity loss from climate change. While this study was on UK birds, we expect these results will also hold for many other birds and animals."


Farmland bird decline prompts renewed calls for agriculture overhaul


Official figures show a 9% decline between 2010-15 in birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland

Press Association
Thursday 23 November 2017 16.39 GMTLast modified on Monday 27 November 2017 11.56 GMT

Birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland have seen numbers decline by almost a tenth in five years, official figures show.

Farmland bird populations have declined by 56% since 1970, largely due to agricultural changes including the loss of mixed farming, a switch to autumn sowing of crops, a reduction in hay meadows and the stripping out of hedgerows.

While the majority of the decline happened in between the late 1970s and 1980s as farming practices changed rapidly, there was a 9% decline between 2010 and 2015, the statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show.

The latest figures have prompted renewed calls for an overhaul of farming as the UK leaves the EU and its system of agricultural subsidies, to support wildlife and farming.

The data showed some “specialist” species, those restricted to or highly dependent on farmland habitats, have seen precipitous falls.

Corn buntings, grey partridge, turtle doves and tree sparrows have all suffered declines of more than 90% since 1970, though others such as stock doves and goldfinches saw populations double.

For turtle doves in particular, dramatic falls continue, with numbers down 71% between 2010 and 2015.


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Important new breeding sites of mythical ibis discovered

24 Nov 2017

It has had a dramatic history and was almost lost to extinction. Now this Critically Endangered bird is bouncing back with record breeding success in Morocco in 2017.

By Shaun Hurrell

As the day drew to a close, the orange light reflecting from the Atlantic seemed to soften the texture of the sun-baked Moroccan cliffs so much so they looked like they could crumble in an instant. There the birds were: perched on a couple of sloping, sandstone ledges, an entire colony of about 20 settling in for the night, low squawks and rustles heard above the scouring waves only a few metres below. Birds often nest in precarious places, and despite the cliffs in Tamri, southwest Morocco, actually being pretty strong, by knowing this species’ Critically Endangered status, you cannot help but feel a little worried for these large, iridescent-black creatures.

Throughout history, Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita has had a turbulent relationship with humans. This mythical bald bird with a punkish crest once had an extensive range that spread across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and has been idolised by humans as symbols of fertility and virtue, even mummified to accompany Ancient Egyptian royalty.

Today, almost all remaining wild birds are restricted to Morocco
Yet it has lost its feeding areas to land-use changes, its nest sites have been built on or disturbed, and it has also been poisoned by pesticides, hunted, persecuted, collected in a gold rush for museums, and a dramatic range-reduction resulted in an all-time population low at the end of the 20th century with only 59 breeding pairs remaining in 1997. Today, almost all remaining wild birds are restricted to Morocco.


Read on  

New York lights strongly affect migrant birds

19/11/2017

A new study has presented convincing evidence that night lights cause serious altered behaviour among night-migrating birds.

Scientists from the University of Oxford, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and New York City Audubon examined migrating bird behaviour over seven years at a special location, the ‘Tribute in Light’ in New York City. The tribute is held to commemorate the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

During the tribute, two strong beams of light, each with 44 xenon bulbs of 7,000 watts, pierce the night sky, replicating a light-image of the ‘twin towers’ of the World Trade Center, where nearly 3,000 lives were lost.

"We found that migrating birds gather in large numbers because they're attracted to the light," says Benjamin Van Doren of Oxford University, a lead author of the study. "They slow down, start circling, and call more frequently. They end up burning energy without making any progress and risk colliding with nearby buildings or being caught by predators."

The New York City study has been a rare opportunity to witness the impact of powerful ground-based lights on nocturnally migrating birds, according to co-lead author Kyle Horton, now with the Cornell Lab but working at the University of Oklahoma during the study. "This analysis would not have been possible without the help of tribute organisers."



Shag diet diversifies with rising sea temperatures

20/11/2017

A new study has found that sea surface temperatures have a direct impact on the diet of European Shag, highlighting problems that future climatic warming and resultant sea surface temperature increases might impose on its populations.

Long-term changes in climate are affecting the abundance, distribution and phenology (or seasonal timing of life habits) of species across all trophic levels (or discrete hierarchies in an ecosystem). Short-term climate variability is also having a profound impact on species and their interactions. Crucially, species will experience long- and short-term variation simultaneously, and both are predicted to change, yet studies tend to focus on only one of these temporal scales. Apex predators are sensitive to long-term climate-driven changes in prey populations and short-term effects of weather on prey availability, both of which could result in changes of diet.

The study investigated temporal trends and effects of long- and short-term environmental variability on chick diet composition in a North Sea population of European Shags between 1985 and 2014. The proportion of their principal prey, Lesser Sandeel, declined from 99 per cent (1985) to 51 per cent (2014), and estimated sandeel size declined from 104.5 to 92.0 mm over the same time period.

Monday, 4 December 2017

The big moment: Nepal releases its first ever captive-reared vultures

20 Nov 2017

Watch as conservation history is made: six captive-reared Critically Endangered White-rumped Vultures venture out into the wild. This comes at a time when the world is finally waking up to the plight of vultures.

By Jessica Law

The moment has finally arrived. Bait is placed outside the entrance of the pre-release aviary, and the door is opened from a remote hide. As wild vultures descended to feed, five out of our six yellow-tagged protagonists are lured outside to join in in the scrum. Soon they are squabbling and interacting with them as if they’d always been part of the gang. And, in a way, they had – in the weeks before their release, they had been socialising with wild vultures through the wire while exercising their wings.

It’s been a fantastic couple of months for vultures. In October, the ambitious Multi-species Action Plan to save 15 vulture species over 128 countries was endorsed with enthusiasm at the Convention on Migratory Species Conference of Parties in Manila. At almost exactly the same time in India, the Madras high Court ruled to uphold the dosage restriction on vulture-killing drug diclofenac. And last week, in Nepal, six captive-reared White-rumped Vultures were finally released into a wild that, for the first time in decades, could be truly vulture-safe.


EU trade ban brings down global trade in wild birds by 90 percent


Date:  November 22, 2017
Source:  Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

Trade of wild birds has dropped about 90% globally since the EU banned bird imports in 2005. A study published in the journal Science Advances demonstrates how the EU's ban decreased the number of birds traded annually from about 1.3 million to 130,000. International trade of wild birds is a root cause of exotic birds spreading worldwide. The study was led by scientists from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen and CIBIO-InBIO Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto.

Birds are the most traded animals in the world. Historically, Europe has been the main importer of wild birds globally. Before 2005, when the EU banned trade of wild birds, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain accounted for the import of two thirds of all wild birds sold on the global market. The birds mainly came from West Africa, with 70% of exported birds coming from Guinea, Mali and Senegal. Diederik Strubbe from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, elaborates,

When wild birds are caught and sold to another country it has consequences in both areas. In the country the birds are captured, it can lead to biodiversity loss. Likewise, our study shows that international bird trade is a main cause of exotic birds spreading around the world. The birds can damage local ecosystems, destroy crops and outcompete local birds. The EU trade ban, and the following dramatic drop in the number of traded birds, has strongly reduced this risk across most of the globe.



Helpers at the nest may allow mother birds to lay smaller eggs


November 23, 2017

Cooperatively breeding birds and fish may have evolved the adaptive ability to reduce the size of their eggs when helpers are available to lighten the parental load, a new study suggests. The findings indicate that in some species, the social environment may influence female reproductive decisions even prior to the birth of offspring.

According to the research from the University of Cambridge, females in species such as the sociable weaver, superb fairy-wren and daffodil cichlid fish, tend to produce smaller eggs when help with rearing offspring is at hand compared to when parents are on their own.

The authors of the paper, which was published today in the journal PeerJ, looked at data from 12 studies on 10 species of cooperatively breeding vertebrates in order to analyse the relationship between the number of helpers present and egg size. The reduction in egg size in relation to helper availability was stronger in species where mothers also reduce the energy they put into post-natal care when other members of the social group are available to help protect, incubate and feed offspring after laying.

The findings suggest that breeding females, by laying smaller, less energy-consuming eggs and providing less food to offspring at the nest, may conserve energy to increase their own chances of survival to the next year or to have the next set of offspring sooner. If helpers compensate for the reduced investment into the current offspring, this could lead to females producing more offspring in total over the course of their lifetimes.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

The straw that broke the Bulbul's back


Illegal trade in melodious Straw-headed Bulbul driving populations to critically low levels
The beautiful, melodious song of the Straw-headed Bulbul may very well be its downfall, as trapping for the Indonesian songbird trade is driving populations to critically low levels.

A newly-published journal paper in Bird Conservation International The final straw? An overview of Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus trade in Indonesia" shows that the species is still very much in demand for the songbird trade.

Market inventories in Kalimantan and Java between July 2014 and June 2015 recorded a total of 71 individuals in 11 markets in eight cities; this includes five birds that were kept as pets and were not for sale. Comparing this against historical literature, researchers found that as numbers in markets decreased, prices soared to over 20 times those recorded in 1987. This availability-to-price relationship suggests that the inflation in prices is linked directly to the rarity of the birds in the wild.

The Straw-headed Bulbul’s IUCN Red List conservation status was revised from Vulnerable to Endangered in 2015, but the authors believe that a Critically Endangered status more accurately reflects the situation.

"Just 71 animals over a year seems miniscule when compared to tens of thousands of birds traded in the Indonesian market. However, each animal taken is one too many for a rare species that has disappeared from most of its original range, and whose survival is now hanging by a thread," said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for Southeast Asia.

The species has most likely vanished from Myanmar, Thailand and Java, but small pockets remain in Sumatra, where there has been only one recent reported sighting since 2009. Populations in Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia have also greatly declined.


Appeal after rare bird of prey goes missing from Cumbria


The bird had been satellite-tagged as part of a protection project

Police and the RSPB are appealing for information following the disappearance of a satellite-tagged bird of prey in Cumbria.

The hen harrier, named Manu, was one of a nest of two chicks monitored and protected by the Northumberland Hen Harrier Protection Partnership and tagged as part of the RSPB’s EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE+ project in July this year.

Manu’s tag had been functioning perfectly until it suddenly stopped on the morning of October 18.

Data from Manu’s tag indicated he had been in the same location near Denton Fell, on the Cumbria/Northumberland border, for around three weeks.

However, the last signal was sent from Blenkinsopp Common, east of Brampton, shortly before 10am and he has not been seen or heard of since.


Albatross populations in decline from fishing and environmental change



The populations of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses have halved over the last 35 years on sub-antarctic Bird Island according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research, led by scientists at British Antarctic Study (BAS), attributes this decline to environmental change, and to deaths in longline and trawl fisheries (known as bycatch).

Albatrosses are the world's most threatened family of birds. There are 22 species; according to the IUCN Red List, 17 of these are 'Threatened with extinction' and the remaining five are considered to be 'Near-threatened'. BAS scientists at Bird Island have been monitoring the populations since 1972.

By analysing the breeding histories of more than 36,000 individually ringed albatrosses, researchers have found decreases in the survival rates of both adults and juveniles, causing serious declines in population growth rates with long-lasting effects.

Continued  

Friday, 1 December 2017

Birds of a feather feed together as cranes pass food to wild heron


By NAOYUKI MORI/ Staff Writer
November 22, 2017 at 18:05 JST

HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--A pair of cranes are causing amazement by feeding a wild gray heron through their enclosure by the beak, a rare sight even for experts.

The act of compassion between species at Himeji City Zoo here has drawn a crowd at weekends.
The young gray heron appears almost daily in front of the cranes’ pen around 11 a.m. when the captive birds are fed treats of mackerel.

“I have never heard of such a story,” said Hiroyuki Masatomi, an expert in Japanese crane biology.

“(Feeding) is supposed to be an act between parents and their offspring. The cranes probably treat the gray heron as a substitute.”

The female crane, Ku, and male Sho are both 30 years old, a very advanced age in human terms.
The pair previously started to pass food to another wild gray heron around summer 1993 until the bird stopped visiting them around 2011.

The gray heron that is being fed is thought to be a different individual. It started to visit the cranes in late October, and has continued to return ever since.

“We want visitors to witness this rare sight with warm eyes,” said a zookeeper.


A Village where birds are nurtured like babies!



Udaipur : About fifty kilometers from Udaipur, this village in Vallabhnagar block of the district sets an example of how birds and humans can co-exit in complete harmony. Menar village is not a reserved bird area, but avian community freely live and co-exist with the locals. Two water bodies in the surrounding areas, too, one each falling in Chittorgarh and Pratapgarh districts,  have become homes for dozens of species of both migratory and resident birds. More than 35 species of resident and 50 varieties of terresterial birds can be seen here.  

The unique thing about Menar villagers is that they are extreme bird lovers and they call themselves ‘Pakshi Mitras’. Youths, kids and elderly people are so enthusiast about conservation of these birds that they have made teams to guard the waterbodies and prevent poaching or fishing here. Due to a wide variety of rare birds including Great crested grebe (water birds that breed in himalayas) this place attracts lot of tourists and bird watchers every year. Some of the star migratory birds that arrive here are Demoiselle Cranes, Canary Flycatcher, European roller, Rosy Pelican, Pied Avocet, Sandpiper, Painted Stork, Flamingo, Bareheaded Geese, Spot Bill Duck, Blackheaded Ibis, Mallard Common Teal, Common Pochard, Pin Tail, Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Brahmini Ducks, Coots etc. Of these, Bareheaded Geese, Coots, Demoiselle Cranes and Brahmini Ducks arrive from Tibetan Plateau, whereas others come from the far end of Asian continent and Europe.


Climate-influenced changes in flowering, fruiting also affect bird abundance, activities


Date:  November 8, 2017
Source:  USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station

A new study has documented shifts in Hawaiian bird abundance, breeding and molting based on climate-related changes to native vegetation. Researchers with the US Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station recently reviewed extensive climate, vegetation and bird data collected between 1976 and 1982 at a 40-acre monitoring site about 5 miles outside Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Hawai'i Island. The study is featured in this month's issue of Ecology.

"You are what you eat" might give way to "you are when you eat," based on a new study tracking shifts in Hawaiian bird abundance, breeding and molting based on climate-related changes to native vegetation.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Acoustic monitoring provides holistic picture of biodiversity


Soundscapes are allowing researchers to understand the spread and diversity of birds on Japanese island

Date:  November 6, 2017
Source:  Springer

Ecologists are using a network of "outdoor recording studios" to better monitor the subtropical Japanese island of Okinawa. Now a pilot study, in which more than 1,100 hours of birdsong were analyzed, is available in the journal Ecological Research which is the official journal of the Ecological Society of Japan and is published by Springer.

The research was led by both Nick Friedman of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan, and Samuel Ross of the University of Leeds in the UK. The soundscapes they analyzed reflect how human activity influences the occurrence of species such as the Okinawa Rail and Ruddy Kingfisher on the island.

In this acoustic monitoring study, five pilot recording sites were set up in three city parks, a forest and a forested suburb on Okinawa, which is the largest and most inhabited island in the Ryūkyū archipelago. Together with nineteen other sites, these are part of the Okinawa Environmental Observation Network Churamori Project which monitors the island's plants and animals -- many of which are either endemic or threatened.

Indices from the recordings were calculated to reflect aspects such as the composition and complexity of the soundscape. The range of frequencies of the bird song were monitored as well as different sound intensities within a recording, as an indication of the diversity of birds present in an area.

The presence of five different bird species were also automatically detected using machine learning methods. The Okinawa Rail and Ruddy Kingfisher were, for example, most often heard in forested areas. This reflects the impact that urban development is having on the location of endemic species.

The research team recorded the influence that rainy weather and seasonal changes have on birdsong and the soundscape in general. They also learned when to start listening for different bird species. The Ruddy Kingfisher's song is, for instance, almost exclusively heard during the morning, while the Jungle Crow is audible throughout the day. The Okinawa Rail is the most silent.



RSPB Scotland conservationists fear for seabird populations as £2 billion Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm approved for the Firth of Forth


16th November


CONSERVATIONISTS have called for changes to the planning system after a £2 billion offshore wind farm project was given a green light despite expert advice warning against the scheme.

RSPB Scotland said that its defeat in a long-running legal battle against the giant Neart na Gaoithe wind farm in the outer Firth of Forth could set a “dangerous precedent” where Scottish Government Ministers ignore the advice of environmental groups.

The charity learned last Tuesday that the UK Supreme Court had refused permission to grant an appeal against the decision of Scotland’s top civil court that the development could go ahead.

The wildlife campaigners say that the project, which will be built 30 kilometres north of Torness and will be visible from the county coast, threatens thousands of puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.

Their concerns over the planning system have been echoed by the National Trust for Scotland.