Passenger arrested at Cuba airport with 66 tiny birds sewn into his trousers

The man was arrested at a Cuba airport for attempting to board a flight to America with 66 birds sewn inside his trousers

The man was arrested at a Cuba airport for attempting to board a flight to America with 66 birds sewn inside his trousers

A man has been arrested in Cuba – for attempting to board a flight to America with 66 birds sewn inside his trousers.

The bird man was seized at Ignacio Agramonte International Airport in the Cuban city of Camaguay and was picked up because of the curious bulges in his trousers.

After being stopped by customs, the man bizarrely claimed he was only concealing a pigeon as a gift for his grandson. Continue reading

Greenpeace calls for Galilee Basin halt until threat to rare birds is assessed

The endangered black-throated finch. Photograph: ABC

The endangered black-throated finch. Photograph: ABC

The federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, must demand a coal company halt plans to conduct seismic surveys in the Galilee Basin, Greenpeace has said, so the government can make an environmental assessment of “substantial threats” to an endangered species of finch. Continue reading

Cops in China replace guard dogs with geese


Xingjiang – Police in rural parts of China’s Xingjiang Province have replaced the use of guard dogs. Instead, they are using flocks of geese to warn them if there is an intruder.

How effective is using a flock of geese instead of guard dogs? In a recent report in June, one gaggle of police geese reportedly managed to snare a man who had broken into the local police headquarters to take a motorbike, the People’s Daily reported. After drugging two police dogs and climbing over the wall, the man was about to make his getaway when he came face-to-face with some 20 feathered “gatekeepers.” The geese fanned their wings and began shrieking when they saw the stranger causing the security guard on duty to wake up and bag the burglar.

Mr. Zhang, the local police chief, says “In some ways, they are more useful than dogs. A household normally keeps one dog [but] an intruder can throw a drugged bun to kill the dog. Geese are normally kept in groups and they have poor eyesight at night making it very difficult for intruders to [poison them].”

National Geographic spoke with Patrick Cumins, director of bird conservation at Audobon Connecticut, to acquire more information about just how effectively a geese can function as a security guard dog.

Cumins says that birds have amazing hearing and in the day time they have amazing eyesight. Human eyes have three different color sensors that combine to build the picture in our brain. Birds have a fourth, ultraviolet. They have a much wider range of wavelengths which allows them to see things more sharply and can also pick out smaller things as well as tiny movements.

Geese are also very territorial and seem to recognize the policemen and security guards as part of their flock. The downside to this though would be that if a burglar dresses like a policeman, the geese would probably not be able to differentiated a real policeman from a fake policeman.

Cumins also adds that you can give some steak to a dog and have them be a little distracted. It is hard to give geese something that is going to distract them enough where they wouldn’t make a noise. Food causes the geese go nuts and is hard to quite them down afterwards.

Xinjiang is one of China’s most volatile regions. In recent years the province has suffered repeated outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence between Han Chinese and Uighurs, a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking group who make-up nearly half of the province’s 22 million population. In the wake of the latest round of violence, units of heavily armed police have reportedly flooded parts of Xinjiang and the province’s geese officers have not been tasked with confronting simmering ethnic tensions.


Japanese pigeon bravely flies to Canada, owner won’t pony up dough for its return

In a rare feat of feathered flight, a racing pigeon from Japan has managed to somehow traverse the entire Pacific Ocean and wind up on the west coast of Canada. Sadly, the pigeon’s original owner wasn’t willing to pay to have the brave bird brought back, but things have ended up working out well for the little guy.

According to an AFP interview with Reg Westcott of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the bird may have been thrown off course by violent weather and wound up heading over 7,000 km to Canada. Over the course of the two or three week journey it must have used cargo ships to rest on.

The pigeon was discovered on the grounds of the Royal Canadian Air Force looking exhausted and gaunt from its trip, and after being treated was put in the custody of Mr. Westcott’s Society.

Being a racing pigeon, this bird came with a leg band attached bearing the phone number of its owner in Japan. The Society contacted the person but they were reluctant to pay for its unexpectedly expensive return delivery.

Frequent RocketNews24 readers may recall that in Japan it’s possible for pigeons to be sent by courier, but it Canada there doesn’t seem to be such a service, and after a quick look online it would seem that UPS and FedEx Canada have no-animal policies. Canada Post does allow some animals to be delivered, but no warm-blooded ones. Interestingly enough parasites are okay under the right circumstances.

There are likely some smaller companies there who cater to pigeon enthusiasts, but they probably don’t operate internationally. In this case, the owner would have to have the bird flown over on a commercial flight which between Canada and Japan can get rather steep.

Anyway, although the plucky pigeon was shunned by his previous owner he was eagerly taken in by a nearby pigeon racing association. They hope to breed him and produce offspring well-suited for long distance racing.

So, after surviving his long ordeal, this little pigeon may now live out the rest of his days getting it on with exotic foreign female pigeons. Endings don’t get much happier than that.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

Researchers study migratory shorebirds; say numbers look good following Sandy

22275395_BG1-vertMIDDLE TWP. – Following Hurricane Sandy, many were wondering how migratory shorebirds that stop along South Jersey’s beaches during their annual trek, might be affected. Researchers who have been studying the endangered birds for nearly two decades, got back to work in Cape May County.

It was a frantic scene as researchers collected more than a hundred migratory shore birds on the beach in Pierce’s Point. Mainly red knots and ruddy turnstones, these endangered species will help provide insight on how the populations are doing. “Delaware Bay is one of the most important shorebird stopovers in the world,” said Biologist Larry Niles, who works for both the American Littoral Society and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

And every year, volunteers from around the world help collect data, tag the birds, and even take blood samples. “That way we can determine when, how long they survive,” said Niles, “and when you add all the birds together you can determine something called survival rate.”

“This is my 17th season helping study the shorebirds,” said Clive Minton, who flies in from Australia each year for the month of May. The reason why volunteers from all around the world come here to the South Jersey Delaware Bayshores is because this is where the birds come this time every year to fatten up before continuing on their massive trek.

“Delaware bay has the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world,” explained Niles, “and there are so many crabs that when they lay their eggs about 6 inches down into the sand, crabs will dig up other crab eggs and they come up to the surface and the shorebirds can eat them.”

But following Hurricane Sandy, many worried about how the battered beaches would potentially impact the entire cycle. “We were expecting to come to devastation,” said Minton, “and wondered how the knots were gonna manage, how the horseshoe crabs were gonna manage this year.”

Just two months ago, an emergency beach replenishment project spread 36-thousand cubic yards of sand on these beaches, just in time for the horseshoe crab’s breeding season. “Having these beaches restored was a really big deal for the birds and the crabs,” said Niles, “but I think it’s really early in the season, so it’s really hard to tell, but so far, so good.”

With these birds now documented, they’ll double their weight before taking off to their Arctic breeding grounds.

Researchers, many of which have been returning here for the past 17 years to continue this work, hope they’ll one day see them again, as they continue to monitor these small birds that travel great distances.

Biologists say the birds travel amazing distances in their lifetimes…one documented bird even flew the distance to the moon and halfway back.

If you’re interested in learning more about these incredible species, this weekend, the Wetlands Institute will hold the first annual shorebird and horseshoe crab festival with many different activities and lectures.


Britain’s best-loved species in terminal decline?

The British countryside is facing unprecedented change with “wildlife in crisis”. In a special series – Green and Pleasant Land – Channel 4 News finds iconic species and habitats facing wipeout.


The sweeping sky full of skylarks, the swirling of thousands of starlings, the coos of turtle doves through the air, the fluttering of butterflies across the wildflower meadows. It is a world I have never fully experienced, and so never realised I missed, writes reporter Rachel Seifert.

And then I embarked on this journey for Channel 4 News to discover what is happening across Britain, and found that even within just my lifetime the decline has been astonishing – and happening in front of my eyes.

I know about the near extinction of some of the world’s great species, like the tiger, and the rapid felling of the tropical rainforests, the melting of the arctic icecaps. But what I did not realise is that similar changes to our own wildlife and landscape are happening here and now – right on our own doorstep.

“Our wildlife is in crisis,” according to the head of the RSPB, Martin Harper, the UK’s biggest wildlife conservation charity – and the latest figures show a world in freefall. In just a few decades, we’ve lost 44 million birds from our skies, with some species plummeting as much as 90 per cent and facing a very real extinction.

Over 70 per cent of our butterfly species are in decline, as well as our bugs and insects on which our whole ecosystem depends, with only 2 per cent of our wildflower meadows still remaining. And the hedgehog is facing the same rapid decline as the tiger, dropping from 36 million in 1950 to just 1 million today.

These are breathtaking figures and a new report from 40 top environmental scientists is a wake-up call showing us that the Britain that we know and love is in flux, with changes to our much-loved countryside taking place at an unprecedented rate. Travelling across Britain, I witnessed some of our most treasured habitats under threat.

Standing on the mountain tops in the middle of Scotland, a place more breathtaking than many of the more exotic places I have seen on my travels, I saw for myself how it is not only the arctic ice which is melting, but our Scottish snow beds.

This is pushing the tree line higher, the vegetation up the hills, and with them the specialist montane birds which are rapidly being lost on the lower slopes as they are moving further and further up the mountain to keep within their climatic zones. I was faced with the stark realisation that these birds would soon simply have nowhere to go. With 25 per cent of all British species under threat based in Scotland, there is a real concern that the rate of change will cause the loss of some of our most iconic habitats.


Springtime out of sync
These changes are also being seen on our coastline, the habitat which defines us as an island and provides breeding grounds for internationally important seabird colonies.

In the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, I saw first-hand the effects of the last 12 months of extreme weather. The lengthy harsh winter, with the coldest March on record for 50 years, saw the worst seabird wrecks for decades, with thousands of dead malnourished puffins and shags washed up on shore.

The shag population was decimated, with a 60 per cent decline in numbers, and the puffins were already struggling due to the unseasonably wet Spring last year which flooded 90 per cent of their burrows.

Orchids are not flowering at the right time for their pollinators, birds are not nesting when the caterpillars that they feed on are out, and hedgehogs and bats are coming out of hibernation at the wrong time of year.
With more extreme weather predicted, there are only so many bad seasons these creatures can take before their populations are laid waste, and these wonderful sights around the British coastline are a thing of the past.

But travelling across our green and pleasant countryside, one of the most shocking realisations was how the perfect harmony of our natural world is starting to unravel. Orchids are not flowering at the right time for their pollinators, birds are not nesting when the caterpillars that they feed on are out, and hedgehogs and bats are coming out of hibernation at the wrong time of year. With our temperate and defined four seasons becoming more like two extremes, the synchrony of our ecosystem is collapsing and its natural processes and cycles slowly being pulled apart.

We often take for granted the fact that we rely on the natural world and a carefully-balanced ecosystem. Not only is the decline of iconic species and habitats a real loss for our culture and identity, but it is also a serious wake-up call to us as humans. The stark realisation is that this is happening here and now – in our lifetimes.