Nighttime Lights Reset Birds Internal Clocks

Researchers at the University of Memphis have documented hormonal changes in western scrub-jays that could interfere with reproduction.

Researchers at the University of Memphis have documented hormonal changes in western scrub-jays that could interfere with reproduction.

Streetlights and the light from shopping centers, stadiums, and houses turn night into day, a “loss of night” that is shifting the internal clocks of birds worldwide. Now, scientists are trying to understand how artificial lights are affecting birds’ songs, mating, and reproduction.

High on bluffs overlooking the Pacific, Dominik Mosur was strolling along at 2 a.m. searching for owls. Darkness enveloped the Presidio, a historic military encampment turned national park, as Mosur made his way through cypress-scented fog. Continue reading

Birds Appear to Lack Important Anti-Inflammatory Protein

Crow. From bird flu to the West Nile virus, bird diseases can have a vast impact on humans. (Credit: © pink candy / Fotolia)

Crow. From bird flu to the West Nile virus, bird diseases can have a vast impact on humans. (Credit: © pink candy / Fotolia)

From bird flu to the West Nile virus, bird diseases can have a vast impact on humans. Thus, understanding bird immune systems can help people in a variety of ways, including protecting ourselves from disease and protecting our interests in birds as food animals. An important element in the immune system of many animals’ immune systems — including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and most animals with a backbone — is a protein called tristetraprolin, or TTP. TTP plays an anti-inflammatory role, largely through keeping another protein, called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), in check. Studies have shown that mice bred without TTP develop chronic inflammation that affects their entire bodies. Even animals missing TTP in just one immune cell type develop a catastrophic and deadly inflammation when they’re exposed to tiny amounts of a molecule from bacteria, underlying the importance of this protein. And yet, researchers have not been able to find TTP in birds. Continue reading

Environment Concern: Save Trees to Save Parrots


The most beautiful and celebrated parrots, the South African Cape parrots are becoming the endangered species like many other creatures. Their numbers are reducing so fast that scientists concern in future they’ll be just stories, once lived on this earthen world. The Cape Gold parrots enlightened many forests, specially “Yellowwood” forests are dying without proper food or proper reproduction. The human society is flourishing at alarming rate influencing normal habitat of many creatures along with birds. Scientists say, we need to save trees to save these parrots.

According to the explorers only 800 to 1000 parrots are left on that forest regions and the left ones are not healthy enough. The Cape parrots really struggle to survive.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Steve Boyes is trying to pull the Cape parrot back from the brink of oblivion.

Boyes has a plan to restore the endemic yellowwood forests that once flourished across a wide swath of the southern tip of Africa, giving the parrots and other species that depend on the trees a chance to rebound. The plan involves many local communities that also stand to benefit from the return of the forests. It’s a strategy in which villagers, parrots, and yellowwood trees share a healthy ecosystem for the benefit of all. He is even organizing “naming” ceremony of baby parrots to attract children and teens that they try to save the parrots. Boyes himself learns village customs to cooperate villagers with him. He thinks, birds have great role on our ecosystem and we must not ignore them. Losing birds is truly an environmental concern we have to cope up with.

They want those forests back, especially as they watched them being torn apart during the years of apartheid by companies exploiting them and not sharing the proceeds with the local communities. The older people have stories and traditions about their forests. Some are concerned to save the parrots.

The Cape parrot is the only parrot endemic to South Africa. It is the most beautiful parrot in South Africa. It’s green and gold, the colors of South Africa’s national athletic teams. We need a national sports team to adopt the Cape parrot as its mascot, like rugby has the springbok. It’s as simple as that in conservation; if people care about it, good things will start happening. And finally we’ll be able to restore and save trees along with parrots.

Cape parrots have survived the destruction of their ecosystem even while many other species of the ancient yellowwood forests have disappeared. An ancient bird that has survived all that’s happened must be very special. Of course we must try to save them.

We must take it a plus point that beak and feather infections among the birds are coming down. If they get a bit care from all, the decreasing concern should be prevented. We have already lost many species, we don’t want to lose such colorful chirpy friends.

We need support, financial and otherwise, to reestablish the forests. Only NGO is doing this. The government is not doing this. We all need to join hands to restore our trees and parrots.

We have to bring these forests back, and with them the parrots and other animals that depend on the trees. It is really a dream is to see flocks of a thousand parrots or more flying over reestablished forests. So we must save trees to save parrots, most chirpy, colored friends ever!!


Jayeeta Shamsul

Pedalling for protecting birds’ paradise


SURAT: While the urban planners are yet to initiate any concrete measures to protect the wetland at Gavier, Nature Club of Surat has organized a bicycle rally to spread awareness about preserving the wetland. The rally will be held on June 5 which happens to be World Environment Day.

The wetland spread in more than seven hectares in Gavier village is home to more than 100 species of migratory birds including grassland and water birds, nesting birds, over 60 species of butterflies and more than 50 species of wild flowers and plants. It is facing a threat as the urban planners have proposed a draft town planning (TP) scheme that will have a serious impact on the entire ecological system of the area.

In the proposed scheme number 32, which covers areas like Gavier, Dumas and Vanta, Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has divided the wetland falling in Gavier village in two parts with a nine meter wide road in between. The urban planners also propose to have two roads of 18 metre and 8 metre width on the periphery of the wetland. Nature lovers feel that the roads will spell doom for the wetland.

The wetland was adopted by Nature Club volunteers in 2003 as a part of its wetland conservation project. They say that before they stepped it, the wetland was home to the bird poachers, illegal fishing and was covered by Gando Baval weed.

It took more than four years for the volunteers to restore the wetland. The latest bird census carried out in January 2013 states that there are more than 600 water birds of over 40 species including migratory birds that were spotted at the Gavier wetland.

Snehal Patel, president of the Nature Club told TOI, “Through the bicycle rally, we want to spread awareness on the protection of the wetland and the greenbelt at Gavier which may get destroyed by the TP scheme. It is the only wetland in the city which is home to birds and several other insects and animals.”


420 bird species found in Abu Dhabi

A view of a mangrove with birds off the Eastern Corniche Road in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

A view of a mangrove with birds off the Eastern Corniche Road in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: About 420 bird species were found in Abu Dhabi emirate last year, according to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi’s (EAD) Annual Report for the year 2012.

This shows that most of the bird species among a total of 452 species recorded in the UAE are found in the emirate, according to experts.

EAD monitored wild birds throughout the emirate at nearly 60 sites including various habitats in different terrains and on an average 42,000 birds were recorded every month.
Nearly 12,000 breeding pairs of globally threatened Socotra cormorant were recorded at five to six small islands in the emirate.

In the summer of 2012, the Greater flamingo successfully bred once again at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve with 17 chicks fledging successfully.

The report released by Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Secretary General, documents its efforts in protecting the environment of the emirate.

It highlights the measures taken in environmental regulatory and policy framework, conservation of ground water and biodiversity, ensuring clean air and minimising climate change and its impacts, and promoting sustainable communities.

The agency succeeded in protecting approximately 60,000 square metres of mangroves on Al Reem Island after learning of a developer’s illegal attempt to clear the area.

An environmental protection and awareness plan at the Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi was also implemented last year. Two patrols are operated in the area daily to monitor the ecological conditions.

Mohammad Al Bowardi, EAD’s Managing Director, said : “Today, the emirate of Abu Dhabi is witnessing a development boom, thus EAD has further strengthened its regulatory and enforcement framework that focuses on tackling the main issues, in partnership with governmental institutions and non-governmental organisations as well as the academia and private sector.”

The EAD secretary general said: “The report highlights how working towards sustainable development is at the very core of our operations. The year 2012 saw us introduce new scientific methodologies and advanced technologies to better address the environmental challenges facing the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” Al Mubarak said.

The EAD has designed a public health recreational beach water quality monitoring programme for continuous monitoring of the beaches. It monitors water quality weekly at popular swimming beaches.

An Emergency Operations Centre to deal with environmental hazards was also unveiled.
Construction of 22 (of a planned 30) solar desalination plants in different locations was also completed, which use innovative zero-carbon technology to transform brackish saline water into fresh potable water.

The agency successfully trans-located 20 Arabian oryx to Wadi Rum, Jordan, as a continuation of the General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Reintroduction Initiative.

Four dugongs from Al Yasat Marine Protected Area and Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve were successfully tagged for tracking for further studies. Paperless Day was commemorated on November 21 and saw close to 300,000 participants save nearly 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

EAD continued its campaign against plastic bags, urging the public to switch to reusable bags and reached out to more shoppers in key malls.
A bilingual enviro-portal was also introduced to give users access to spatial environmental information that EAD has been collecting since the early 1990s.


  • About 420 bird species in Abu Dhabi
  • 452 bird species in UAE
  • 42,000 birds recorded every month
  • 12,000 breeding pairs of Socotra cormorant
  • 22 zero-carbon solar desalination plants
  • 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions saved with paperless day

Major Measures for Abu Dhabi’s environment
Some other actions taken by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in 2012.

  • Efforts to protect emirate’s rich biodiversity included implementing conservation plans for protected areas, monitoring endangered species and collecting information about the emirate’s terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • EAD also worked with partners to compile an inventory of Abu Dhabi’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It added 10 more stations to the existing air quality monitoring network
  • It stepped up efforts to fulfil Law No 6 of 2006 to conserve groundwater through the regulation of wells and well drilling.
  • As an active educator in the community, EAD worked with schools, universities, businesses and government organisations to raise awareness in the community.
  • Agency issued 1,427 environmental permits and 259 permits for chemical traders. It also conducted 676 inspections of permitted facilities and 133 inspections of groundwater wells to ensure that permit conditions were being met.
  • Successfully finalised the permitting process following meetings and workshops with the Etihad Rail team. EAD carried out several joint surveys to address the environmental impacts and mitigation measures of the project, especially in the Baynounah Forest Protected Area.



Great Knot, Calidris tenuirostris

The Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) is a small sized wader, although, it is the largest of the calidrid species.

The Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) is a small sized wader, although, it is the largest of the calidrid species.

The Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) is a small sized wader, although, it is the largest of the calidrid species.

Their breeding habitat is tundra in the northeast parts of Siberia. They nest on the ground, laying about four eggs in a ground scrape. They are strongly migratory, wintering on the coasts in southern Asia through to Australia. This species forms extremely large flocks during the winter. It’s a rare vagrant to western Europe.

This bird has short dark legs and a medium-length, thin, dark bill. The breeding adults have spotted grayish colored upperparts with some reddish-brown feathering. The face, throat and breast are heavily mottled with black, and there are also some streaks on the rear belly. During the winter, the plumage becomes consistently pale grey above.

The Great Knot is closely related to the more largely dispersed Red Knot. In breeding plumage, the Red Knot has a distinctive red face, breast and throat. In other plumages, the Great Knot can be recognized by its larger size, deeper chest, longer bill, and the more streaked upperparts.

These birds hunt for food on beaches and mudflats, probing or picking up food utilizing their sight. They mostly eat insects and molluscs.

The Great Knot is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies to.

Great Knots aren’t listed as threatened on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

In the state of Victoria, Australia, the Great Knot is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988). Under this Act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of the species has not been prepared. On the 2007 advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in the state of Victoria, this species is classified as endangered.

Image Caption: Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), Laem Phak Bia, Ban Laem, Phetchaburi, Thailand. Credit: JJ Harrison/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)