‘Invasion’ of blue-footed boobies excites SoCal bird-watchers

A blue-footed booby hangs out at the International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro, where it was taken after being found waddling along a sidewalk near 2nd and West Slauson avenues near downtown Los Angeles. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times /September 17, 2013)

A blue-footed booby hangs out at the International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro, where it was taken after being found waddling along a sidewalk near 2nd and West Slauson avenues near downtown Los Angeles. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times /September 17, 2013)

High-diving seabirds known as blue-footed boobies have been popping up all over Southern California and as far north as Marin County in recent weeks.

Bird-watchers are intrigued and delighted by the boobies, which rarely venture north of Imperial County’s Salton Sea, but some experts wonder what it might mean, environmentally.

Members of the large bluish-gray species with a long serrated beak, absurdly short legs and bright blue webbed feet have been spotted more than 30 times recently. They include six seen relaxing on the breakwater at Marina del Rey.

A similar wave of the birds hit Los Angeles County beaches, lakes and streams in the early 1970s.

“This is the first invasion of boobies since the numbers of birders have swelled,” said Kimball Garrett, manager of the ornithology collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “So, there’s a lot of happy bird-watchers seeing them for the first time.”

Bird experts speculate that the visitors, most of them juveniles, may have been driven north in search of prey fish.

The sightings include one reported to Los Angeles Animal Services after a bird was observed waddling along a sidewalk near 2nd and West Slauson avenues south of downtown. On Tuesday, the emaciated juvenile was recovering in a spacious waterfowl pen at the International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro, gulping small fish by the dozens.

“He’s still really skinny,” Kylie Clatterbuck, a rehabilitation technician at the facility, said as the booby preened nearby. “We’re going to fatten him up a little bit, then find a nice spot to release him.”

Source: LAtimes.com

Rains bring back birds to Bhitarkanika

th_2993d502a5f3e080a8fc57aba2bd413e_1313825510Creeksbhitarkanika (1)KENDRAPADA: Monsoon showers have given a new lease of life to Bhitarkanika National Park in the district. A large number of birds flock the mangrove trees for nesting.

“About 12,000 birds have already laid eggs at Bagagahan within the park. Hatchlings would come out from the eggs after two weeks,” said Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, the divisional forest officer (DFO) of the park, on Wednesday.

For the winged beauties, this place is a heaven. Bird watchers and ornithologists have often termed this place as “paradise”. Birds have started building their nests on trees, indicating their keenness to either stay put or for the periodical nestling to breed and lay eggs. This year, birds are coming in good numbers following heavy rains, the forest officer added.

“Thousands of birds step up nesting activities and are known for breeding during monsoon. Over 14 species of resident birds have already arrived in Bagagahan areas for laying eggs. This area is spread over an area 20 acres surrounded by Bhitarkanika river on the east, Suajhore creek on the northern and Pitijhore creek on the southern side.

Large numbers of egrets, herons, storks, cormorants, darters, spoon bills and ibises etc are now breeding in Bhitarakanika. The forest officials will conduct a bird census during the second week of August, said the forest official.

Thousands of birds have set up their nests at the mangrove trees. The nests are large ones and made of reeds piled loosely together, set on a foundation of water-weeds heaped high to keep the eggs from getting wet. Officials said not an inch of space is left at the mangrove trees and many birds have lined up, waiting for their turn to set up the nests. The entire nesting area is covered with features and droppings of thousand of birds. The birds live free from the rapacity of man, a forest officer said.

Bhitarkanika also offers sanctuary to many wild creatures, particularly the birds, who thrive in and around water. Abundant fish in the river and creeks and distance from human habitation has made it a suitable congenial breeding place of thousands of birds. One more attraction in Bagagahan during breeding season is congregation of crocodiles, water-monitor and snakes. They come in large numbers in quest of their favourite food, birds’ eggs as well as the young birds, the forest officer said.

“In 1981, noted ornithologist Dr Salim Ali visited Bhitarkanika and suggested the government to declare it as a ‘biosphere reserve’ and get it surveyed by scientific organizations. But little has been done to in that direction in the three decades,” said Sudhanshu Parida, the secretary of the district unit of Peoples for Animal.

Source: Timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Summer-time bird migrants to Nepal sighted

KATHMANDU, March 26: With the beginning of the spring season, migratory birds from India and Southeast Asia have started to enter Nepal for the summer. A couple of varieties of summer migrants were noticed in Chitwan National Park in the first week of March.

The chestnut-headed bee-eater has always been among the earliest summer migrants to reach Nepal. The bird species was identified in early March this year at Chitwan National Park, states a press release issued by Himalayan Nature on Monday.

With the appearance of the chestnut-headed bee-eater, other bird species are also expected to enter Nepal soon.

The Asian paradise flycatcher, one of the more attractive birds that migrate to Nepal every spring, has also made its way to Chitwan early, according to Hem Sagar Baral, technical advisor to Himalayan Nature.

The organization, which tracks bird activity in the country, expects a variety of cuckoos to show up in Nepal between the last week of March and the second week of April.

“The Asian koel has already reached Kathmandu and will stay here throughout spring and early summer,” reads the statement.

Asian Paradise Female in nest.

Asian Paradise Female in nest.

The pied cuckoo, which covers the longest journey among summer migrants to Nepal, has also been seen in Kathmandu this season. Some of these birds come from Sub-Saharan Africa — a journey of more than 5,000 km one way.

Every year Nepal witnesses two kinds of bird migration, winter migration and summer migration. While 150 species or more enter Nepal during winter, some 30 to 40 species arrive in the spring and stay here till October.

In the winter migration, birds come from the north soon after completing their breeding cycle. By contrast, nearly all summer migrants come to Nepal for breeding and most of them are from south India and Southeast Asia.

Researchers say that the bird species have been following their migration routines for millions of years, in search of easy food, good weather and a place where there is less competition from other species.

source : myrepublica.com

New homes for birds at Williamson Park

Park staff and Friends of Williamson Park prepare to install 50 new bird boxes in the Fenham Carr area of the park.

Park staff and Friends of Williamson Park prepare to install 50 new bird boxes in the Fenham Carr area of the park.

Birds at Williamson Park can look forward to feathering their nests in brand new homes this year thanks to the 50 new bird boxes recently installed in trees at Fenham Carr.

Lancaster City Council initiated a project for prisoners from HMYOI Lancaster Farms to make the boxes during the winter and they are now ready to be put in place.

Coun Ron Sands,said: “The hard work of the young offenders will contribute to the woodland improvements that are ongoing in Williamson Park to which many members of the local community have also contributed. With the recent installation of a bird hide in Fenham Carr, this area of the park is quickly becoming an ideal spot for bird watchers.”

Governor of HMYOI Lancaster Farms, Stephen Lawrence, said: “Williamson Park is a great feature of Lancaster and we are pleased to have had this partnership opportunity to help with the woodland improvements. Many of the staff at Lancaster Farms live within the area and will be part of the community who benefit from the project.”

source : lancasterguardian.co.uk

Development & illegal poaching threatening spoonbills’ existence in Fujian


The number of black-faced spoonbills – an endangered species – found locally has fallen by 11percent in the past year, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society found.

In its latest survey, the society counted 351 of the large wading birds – which are found only in East Asia – down from 393 last year. The survey was done from January 11 to 13, with the help of more than 100 volunteers.

The total number of black- faced spoonbills rose by 1.2 percent to an estimated 2,725 globally. Society researchers said the rise in the figure this year is not significant and the total population remains steady.

“Unlike Hong Kong, there is a continuing increase in both the number and proportion to the global population of spoonbills in Taiwan, which is due to their efforts in wetland conservation,” society research manager Yu Yat-tung said.

He said it is uncertain why numbers in Hong Kong and Shenzhen have fallen for three consecutive years, although in coastal areas of the mainland they increased 10.7 percent, to 363 birds this year.

Yu said the biggest threat to the survival of spoonbills comes from the deterioration and destruction of their habitat.

The spoonbill feeds on fish and shrimps in shallow water, mainly in coastal areas.

Yu said development and illegal poaching are threatening the bird’s existence in South Korea, Macau, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hainan. Five of the birds, for example, were confiscated from a restaurant in northern Vietnam in December 2010, he said.

“The conservation of black- faced spoonbills has a long way to go since the Shenzhen Bay area, north of Hong Kong, is undergoing massive development.”

The bird, with a body length of 75 to 80 centimeters as an adult, has a black beak while the rest of its body is white.

In Hong Kong, they can usually be found in the Mai Po Nature Reserve, Lok Ma Chau and Nam Sang Wai in Yuen Long. Some have also been sighted in Tai Po and Cheung Chau.

SOURCE: thehkstandard.com.hk

Kestrel gets a boost, one box at a time

Trail of roadside nesting sites expected to help falcon’s numbers rise across Ohio

An American kestrel in flight

An American kestrel in flight

Ask bird-watchers about the American kestrel, and they’ll describe how this smallest of falcons perches on wires or atop poles, or hovers, facing the wind, flapping and adjusting its long tail to stay in one place.

And they’ll describe how this colorful raptor’s ferocity belies its size, as it preys on insects, small mammals, snakes and even songbirds.

They know these things because there are more kestrels than any other type of falcon in North America. They’ve seen thousands of them over the years.

Then again, they’ll likely tell you that it has been a while since they last saw a kestrel.

Nationwide, the kestrel population decreased by 47 percent from 1966 to 2011, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Across Ohio, the number of kestrels has decreased by 43 percent since 1991.

One reason, said Matt Giovanni, the director of the American Kestrel Partnership, is that that many of the old trees where the raptor nested in woodpecker holes are gone.

“When it comes down to it, first and foremost, if kestrels don’t have cavities, then they don’t breed,” Giovanni said.

That’s why the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative, the Ohio Ornithological Society, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the state Department of Transportation have created a trail of nest boxes.

So far, 25 boxes have been placed on the backs of ODOT signs along Rts. 23 and 30 in Wyandot County, said Amanda Conover, program coordinator for the Bird Conservation Initiative.

“Hopefully, we are taking a big dead zone, kind of like a Bermuda Triangle, and putting in the right ingredients to grow kestrel numbers, and then their offspring will radiate out from there,” said Jim McCormac, an avian expert with the Division of Wildlife.

The boxes, put up in November and December, are at least a half mile apart and near open fields.

The Ohio project was funded by a $1,000 grant from the American Kestrel Partnership, which has helped put up more than 1,000 nest boxes in 26 states, Giovanni said.

“Nest boxes are pretty much, hands down, the most effective and successful conservation method for kestrels,” he said.

McCormac said many factors have contributed to the waning kestrel population. They include predation by bigger hawks, insecticides that reduce insect and small-mammal populations and, most devastating, loss of hunting and nesting habitats.

Ohio is a priority area because the Great Lakes ecosystem has seen one of the steepest declines, Giovanni said. He said nest box trails have helped boost the number of kestrels in other states and that he has high hopes for Ohio.

Ohio birders “are one of a select group that has totally taken the bull by the horns to make this happen at the local Ohio level but also help with research at the national and even continental scale,” Giovanni said.

One volunteer who led the effort is Charlie Zepp, who built more than half the boxes, which are 15 inches tall and 10 inches wide, for the Ohio trail.

Zepp also has built more than 5,000 bluebird boxes and frequently starts those trails around the Dublin area, where he lives. He said he remembers seeing many more kestrels when he was younger.

“With my bluebirds, that was a bird that was in huge trouble and you barely saw any of them, and now they are almost common,” said Zepp, an environmental specialist for the state fire marshal’s office. “Hopefully, that will happen with the kes trels.”

The kestrel breeding season begins in the next few weeks, and three students from the University of Findlay will monitor the boxes from the end of March through June.

They will track how many boxes are used and the number of eggs and eventually hatchlings. Conover said she would consider it a success if one-third of the boxes are used this first year.

“Hopefully in 50 years the bird population will be healthy and you won’t have to watch them anymore,” Zepp said. “That’s the goal, to not have to watch them anymore.”

Conover said there are plans to expand the Ohio trail next year.

McCormac said he is hopeful as well.

“Kestrels are very charismatic — they’re a bird we really want to keep around because they are such a great way to get people interested in nature and engaged in conservation,” he said.