Warblers and turtle doves join RSPB list of birds at risk of dying out

The turtle dove could be extinct in the UK within a decade. Photograph: Alamy

The turtle dove could be extinct in the UK within a decade. Photograph: Alamy

Any true love who wants to give their significant other two turtle doves to celebrate the second day of the 12 Days of Christmas may soon be looking for an alternative gift.

In a move that will dismay ornithologists and poets alike, the bird, immortalised in verse by Shakespeare and Wordsworth, could shortly find itself on the near 100-strong list of the rarest birds in the UK as compiled by the RSPB’s rare breeding birds panel – a sign that its numbers are plummeting by such a degree that there are fears it could become extinct in the UK within a decade. Continue reading

Wild Birds’ Songs, Feather Colors Changed by Mercury Contamination

WAYNESBORO, Virginia—Standing in the woods along the South River, Kelly Hallinger held the microphone up to capture the cacophony of songs, one at a time: the urgent, effervescent voice of the house wren; the teakettle whistle of the Carolina wren; and the sharp, shrill notes of the song sparrow. (Read More Here)

 

Chemical Pollution and Climate Change Threatening 1,300 Species of Birds

 Queensland stakeholders welcome feds inquiry on Wild Rivers Act


Queensland stakeholders welcome feds inquiry on Wild Rivers Act

More than 1,300 species of birds are threatened with extinction, with chemical pollution and climate change two major culprits. Because of these and other dangers, the status of most of the endangered species is deteriorating, according to BirdLife International.

In the majority of cases, the blame lies with humans, with loss of habitat and chemical contamination of the environment posing a serious threat to birds. The destruction of wetlands, forests and plains has also diminished birds’ food supply, according to Environmental Health News. Continue reading

Exotic European birds to settle in UK as it gets warmer

 A bee eater Photo: Ian Reditt/Nationalt Trust


A bee eater Photo: Ian Reditt/Nationalt Trust

Rare birds that have not bred in the UK for decades have produced clutches of chicks, as experts predict the warm summers could mean more exotic European species will colonise Britain.

Four bee eater chicks have been born in the Isle of Wight, the first time the birds have bred for 12 years, while two black winged stilts have produced young successfully this year, the first time in almost 30 years.

Two rare glossy ibises, native to the South of France, also set up a nest and started to show signs of getting ready to breed in the UK – the only time this has happened since records began.

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Pollen on birds shows feeding grounds

 Female blackcap with pollen around beak.

Female blackcap with pollen around beak.

Encrusted pollen on migrating birds’ heads can shed light on where they’ve taken a break from migration to refuel, scientists say.

They found that many of the warblers trapped and ringed at Portland Bill in Dorset carry traces of pollen from the eucalyptus and citrus plantations of Spain and Portugal – a food source that hasn’t been there until recently.

The findings may help protect threatened songbirds; they suggest that commercial and garden tree species may be more important as a food source for migrating birds than previously suspected. Many of these birds are already under pressure from changes in the climate and in the habitats they need to feed and reproduce; we might be able help more of them survive migration by planting the right species along the way. Continue reading

The ABC’s of animal speech: Not so random after all

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songbird

The calls of many animals, from whales to wolves, might contain more language-like structure than previously thought, according to study that raises new questions about the evolutionary origins of human language.

The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed the vocal sequences of seven different species of birds and mammals and found that the vocal sequences produced by the animals appear to be generated by complex statistical processes, more akin to human language.

Many species of animals produce complex vocalizations – consider the mockingbird, for example, which can mimic over 100 distinct song types of different species, or the rock hyrax, whose long string of wails, chucks and snorts signify male territory. But while the vocalizations suggest language-like characteristics, scientists have found it difficult to define and identify the complexity. Continue reading