Scientists work to help rare Virginia bird

Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology, extracts a 7-day-old red-cockaded woodpecker out of its nest May 20 to put bands on a leg at Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex County.(Photo: AP)

Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology, extracts a 7-day-old red-cockaded woodpecker out of its nest May 20 to put bands on a leg at Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex County.(Photo: AP)

WAVERLY – Flopping around on a towel on the floor of a pine forest, a tiny chick represented hope — if hope can be blind, pink and naked.

This object of optimism, no more than a blob with a beak, was a baby red-cockaded woodpecker, one of the rarest and most peculiar birds in Virginia.

Using climbing gear and an aluminum ladder that he stacked in three 10-foot sections, biologist Bryan Watts had reached the chick’s nest hole in an old-growth pine and extracted the bird with a snare-like tool. Continue reading

‘Extinct’ South Island kokako could still be alive

The South Island kokako. - Source: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The South Island kokako. – Source: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

A native New Zealand bird previously declared extinct could still be alive after a sighting was confirmed near Reefton.

Len Turner and Peter Rudolf claimed to have seen the South Island kokako near Reefton in 2007.

The sighting has been accepted by the Ornithological Society’s Record Appraisal Committee, which monitors the status of rare and endangered birds. Continue reading

Endangered Houbara bustard bird making return

Nature authority: Presence of an extremely rare bird has increased by 10 percent in comparison to last year.

The endangered Houbara bustard. Photo: Assaf Moroz

The endangered Houbara bustard. Photo: Assaf Moroz

The presence of an extremely rare bird – the Houbara bustard – in Israel has increased by 10 percent in comparison to last year.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority counted 192 individuals on Friday in the Hatzerim area, west of Beersheba.

One of the largest, rarest and most impressive birds in Israel, the Houbara bustard tends to prefer a desert environment and many of its behaviors are still not completely known, the INPA said.

In 2001, there were only about 500 Houbaras in the country, nesting predominantly in the Negev and the Arava. Over the past decade their population decreased by 20 percent and therefore became critically endangered, the authority said.

“The Houbara serves us as a kind of indicator for loss of soil and desert shrubbery and is of course a flag-bearer for preserving these habitats,” the INPA said.

During the Houbara mating period, the male performs a unique “bridal dance,” during which he runs hundreds of meters while drumming his legs – raising his head backwards and inflating the plumes on his chest, making him appear like a ball of black and white feathers, the INPA said. Like cranes, which are distant relatives of the Houbara, this bird flaunts its beauty during mating season, and males define their territory of up to several kilometers wide.

When not in courtship period, the Houbaras are well camouflaged and are typically light brown in color. Only when they rise into the air and unveil their black and white wings are the birds easily visible during this time, the INPA said.

Source: Jpost.com

Release of 44 rare birds ‘historic’

THEY'RE OFF: Taronga Zoo's Michael Shiels points out one of the just-released hihi.

THEY’RE OFF: Taronga Zoo’s Michael Shiels points out one of the just-released hihi.

One of New Zealand’s rarest birds has taken to its new home at Bushy Park with a song.

Forty-four of the hihi or stitchbird – 22 male and 22 female – were released into the park yesterday morning to make it one of only three mainland hihi sanctuaries nationwide.

The birds were captured on Tiritiri Matangi island near Auckland last Saturday by a team of 13, including Department of Conservation and Massey University researchers and staff from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

It’s believed there are less than 3500 left in New Zealand.

Around 100 people turned out in the brisk morning air to see the birds released from their transport boxes, including Bushy Park Trust chairwoman Liz Tennet. She said once the birds flew into the bush several of them began to sing.

“It was awesome, and it was such a historic moment as there’s only two other places where the hihi have successfully been transposed onto the mainland.

“I think them singing to us like that is a good sign.”

The hihi project, which has been led by former trust chairman Allan Anderson, had been underway for about five years.

“Today has been the fruition of the process. We’ve installed food stations and nesting boxes for them which has been done by volunteers, and we’ve had to ensure they’re able to enter a disease-free environment.

“We had a delay about a year because one of the birds was diagnosed with salmonella, but after some testing we established that wasn’t a problem. It still set us back for a while.”

Ms Tennet said many Wanganui businesses and individuals had contributed, as had a crown Prince from Abu Dhabi, but more donations would be needed.

“We’ve attached little radio transmitters to some of them, that cost about $10,000, and we’ll be using aeroplanes or helicopters to monitor where they go. All the ongoing costs will need to be met somehow and we’re always happy to hear from people who want to help with money or time, even if it’s just two hours a month,” she said.

Guardians of the Hihi is a new initiative where a single hihi is sponsored for $55 or a pair for $100 and the donor receives a personalised certificate.If you want to volunteer or donate call Liz Tennet 027 295 0928.

source : wanganuichronicle.co.nz

Afghans welcome NGO’s protection of exotic birds

An Afghan man with a falcon at a refugee camp near Radja Bahoudine.

An Afghan man with a falcon at a refugee camp near Radja Bahoudine.

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan – Afghan National Environmental Protection Agency Director-General Mustafa Zahir March 17 expressed support for a UAE-based organisation’s protection of rare Afghan birds, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported March 22.

ahir attended a March 17 Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province, ceremony at which the group, Nada Al-Sheba Lel-Hayat Al-Bariya, released 30 Afghan birds into the wild. Authorities seized the animals from Middle Eastern smugglers, who sell them to wealthy bird-lovers. Last year, smugglers shipped 5,000 wild birds out of Afghanistan, Zahir said. The smugglers reputedly favour falcons, hawks and geese.

The UAE group has opened a wildlife research farm near Mazar-e-Sharif to help protect Afghan birds of prey. It is likely to open similar centres in Nimroz and Helmand provinces, Zahir said.

“The smuggling of birds that is continuing from Afghanistan must stop,” he told RFE/RL. ( centralasiaonline.com )

Pateke numbers through roof

The amount of pateke flocking at east coast Whangarei sites indicate the brown teal is fighting back from being New Zealand's most endangered waterfowl.

The amount of pateke flocking at east coast Whangarei sites indicate the brown teal is fighting back from being New Zealand’s most endangered waterfowl.

The rarest waterfowl in New Zealand is thriving in predator-control areas on Northland’s east coast.

The annual count for pateke, also known as brown teal, turned up record numbers along the coast between Teal Bay and Matapouri, the area taking in well-populated pateke habitats such as Mimiwhangata and Whananaki.

The highest single-day count by Department of Conservation staff and volunteers was 616 birds, a significant increase from last year’s total of 391 birds.

The densest population was at Whananaki North and South, where flock sites numbered up to 146 birds, DoC ranger Tiff Browne said.

In recent years it was thought there were only 2000 to 2500 of the small waterfowl left in the wild.

Last month’s high count on Whangarei’s northern coast suggests pateke had a good breeding season last year and fledged enough juveniles to bump up the numbers at flock sites, Ms Browne said. Also, dry conditions mean more birds will be at flock sites, rather than on individual territories.

The count is welcome news for DoC and locals as it shows that predator-control in place along the coast is providing enough protection for pateke to thrive when the conditions are right, she said.

The main predators are stoats and cats.

Pateke, like kiwi, are active at night, and therefore are vulnerable to being run over by cars.

sources : northernadvocate.co.nz