During our visit to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo earlier this month, we had a look at the bird enclosures. After viewing the penguins and seabirds, we headed to the McCormick Bird House, which is home to at least 28 species in several different exhibits.
A shorebird habitat housed a sunning American Avocet, a shy Red Knot and Piping Plover, and an extremely active Black-necked Stilt.
Separate enclosures housed more birds, including two endangered species which are part of breeding programs. The Guam Micronesia Kingfisher is extinct in the wild, with just 100 birds in zoos. The Lincoln Park zoo participates in a species survival plan in cooperation with other zoos.
The zoo also participates in a species survival plan for the critically endangered Bali Mynah, in cooperation with other zoos.
Many of the birds are housed in an open aviary, and visitors walk between the habitat with birds flying overhead or scurrying across paths.
We had fun watching an active Hamerkop gathering mud and debris for a humongous nest.
Before leaving the building, we stopped to peek inside the kitchen. What a complicated menu!
BirdLife International recently launched a new area on their website called BirdLife Community. The site, currently formatted as a blog, encourages discussion on “the latest news from the frontline in biodiversity protection.” In a recent post, readers are asked Alaotra Grebe extinction – Do you care? BirdLife International does a great job of reporting bird conservation news and I think sharing the latest developments in a blog format is a great idea. The Alaotra Grebe post has garnered 90+ comments already. BirdLife International further embraces social media with their newly created Flickr group.
Thirty years ago, the Crested Lark (kuifleeuwerik in Dutch) was an abundant species in the Netherlands. Today they are much harder to find in the rapidly developing Western European country.
23003 Kuifleeuwerik / Crested Lark by Vlaskop, Creative Commons on Flickr
Thirty years ago there were from three to five thousand breeding pairs of Crested Lark in the Netherlands. Today there are no breeding pairs left, according to Dutch bird research group SOVON. The preferred breeding grounds of the birds – flat, sandy patches – has been rapidly wiped out by industrial and new residential construction.
Source: Kuifleeuwerik verdwijnt uit Nederland
The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board will have a public hearing in Springfield on January 23rd at 12:00pm. The purpose of the meeting is to take public comments on proposed changes to the Illinois List of Threatened and Endangered Species.
Several changes are proposed, including removing three bird species from threatened status: Bald Eagle; Henslow’s Sparrow and Sandhill Crane.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by steveberardi, Creative Commons on Flickr
Participants must register if they would like to make a statement. More information, including registration instructions and a full list of proposed changes, can be found here.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker Research Project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will focus this year’s search in southwestern Florida. The search starts in January and goes through March and covers areas of Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and others.
Other groups will lead searches in the Florida panhandle, as well as Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and southern Illinois. Read more about the project here.
Yesterday a team of paleontologists from the Netherlands’ natural history museum Naturalis traveled to Mauritius on a new expedition. During previous expeditions the Dutch team discovered a mass grave of Dodo bones and they are returning to the site to do more intensive research. Within the bones that were previously discovered, two distinct different sizes of birds can be identified. This indicates more than one species of Dodo.
Scientists from Naturalis and the Natural Heritage Fund Mauritius speculate the Dodo may have experienced adaptive radiation, similar to what occurred with finch species on the Galapagos Archipelago. The difference in the found Dodo bone sizes might also indicate a difference in the size between males and females of the same species. The smaller bones are not likely to be from young birds as the birds matured to adulthood after a year. The team of scientists hopes to answer the question during their expedition.
During the initial discovery of bones on Mauritius in August 2007, a total of 80 large sacks of material was removed from the site. So far half of the material has been inspected. Besides a great number of Dodo bones, material from other animals and plants was also found in the mass grave.
The cause of death for the animals whose remains were found in the mass grave is still a mystery. After the current expedition, in July 2009 the grave will be further dug out.
The team will keep a weblog during their expedition, a portion of which is available in English.
Source: Op zoek naar meer dan één soort dodo
In October 2005 Dutch researchers discovered a mass-grave of Dodo birds on the island of Mauritius. In June 2006 an international team of scientists returned to the location for further study. A new party from the Leiden museum Naturalis plans to return to Mauritius in August 2007 for more research.
The Dodo grave on Mauritius may be the largest such natural cache of animal bones in the world. Few such graves are found on volcanic islands, making the Mauritius cache even more remarkable.
The team from Naturalis plans to further excavate the bones, which lie one meter underground, by draining the soil. This special method of excavation will allow scientists to determine the age of the bone cache with more accuracy.
Source: Nieuwe dodo-expeditie naar Mauritius
Conservation plans are urgently needed for at least 1,221 bird species identified as threatened with extinction. BirdLife International’s Red List update also indicated that over 800 additional species are considered Near Threatened.
Today, 22% of the world’s bird species are at increased risk of extinction. Vulture and albatross populations are especially under threat, along with other island-dwelling sea birds.
BirdLife programs have shown that conservation efforts can work in order to save threatened species. In recent years the Mauritius Parakeet and Spectacled Petrel have both been downlisted due to successful conservation plans to increase their populations.
Read more about the Red List update.
An automated birdwatching machine has been set up at a wildlife reserve in Arkansas to search for the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The bird was presumed extinct for decades but unconfirmed sightings beginning in 2004 have sparked great interest in the bird.
The electronic system uses two video cameras to capture images of the sky. These images are later scanned for evidence of the elusive Ivory-billed.
Read more about the robot.
The last Madagascar Pochard, a diving duck, was seen in 1991. This month a group of conservationists discovered a group of at least 25 pochards while searching for a rare hawk on the island.
Most ornithologists believed the duck, Aythya innotata, to be extinct. The living colony of pochards were found by a steep-sided volcanic lake, a different environment than the marshy lakes they were believed to prefer.
Read more about the rediscovered ducks.