Up to one billion birds are killed annually in the U.S. when they crash into glass buildings. The spring and fall migrations are especially treacherous times. Developers of New York’s planned 1,776 foot Freedom Tower, to be built on the former site of the World Trade Center, have enlisted an industrial ornithologist to advise them on making the new building bird-friendly. Recommendations include using less reflective glass and dimming the lights at dusk to avoid nighttime collisions by migrating birds. Read more about the Freedom Tower plans in the article Freedom Tower May Be Lifesaver for Birds.
Category Archives: Aside
“Two sub-species of a singing bird have met in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. the first sighting since the eastern and western winter wren split apart during the last Ice Age. Up until last year, scientists weren’t even sure if the two populations co-existed since nobody had ever been able to find their elusive contact zone.” Read about the discovery by zoology professor Darren Irwin at Canada.com.
“Estimates suggest that 100,000 albatrosses are inadvertently killed each year by long-line fishing boats, particularly from boats in the Southern Ocean catching highly-prized species like tuna, toothfish and swordfish.” Speaking at a premiere for the film ‘Race to Save the Albatross’, the Prince of Wales spoke of his support for BirdLife International’s campaign to save albatrosses from extinction. Read the full story.
“A rare sighting of a North Pacific bird has attracted more than 1,500 birdwatchers to a Devon seaside town. Enthusiasts from as far as Durham and Manchester have come to Dawlish for a glimpse of the Long-billed Murrelet. Devon Birdwatch Preservation Society spokesman Mike Langman said it was the first ever sighting in the UK, and the second in Europe.” Read more about the murrelet at the BBC.
An unconventional trial is taking place in south-west Victoria, Australia in a bid to save a dwindling penguin colony on Middle Island. A maremma sheepdog will be brought to the island in order to protect the birds from foxes. During the trial period, which will take place from 13 November until 8 December, a sheepdog will try to keep the colony of about 100 birds from becoming prey of local foxes and dogs. The colony numbered 5,000 birds just five years ago. Sheepdogs have been used with some success to protect chickens from foxes in the past. Read more in the article Sheepdogs to protect Aussie penguins.
Parsis, a religious minority group living in Mumbai, India, are facing a crisis. The group is suffering declining numbers worldwide: there are an estimated 130,000 left in the world, 43,000 of whom live in Mumbai. And now an important part of their religious faith is being questioned – the way they dispose of their dead. Their age-old tradition calls for corpses to be left as carrion for vultures. In Mumbai, corpses are brought to the Towers of Silence, but today they are left to rot as the vulture population on the subcontinent has been in decline for years. In Mumbai, vultures are virtually extinct, which means that the Parsi corpses are taking months to decompose as they are left out to the elements. Read more about the controversy at the BBC.
Worldwide, 90 countries have adopted a national bird, from the Bald Eagle in the United States, to the Frigatebird of Antigua and the Kiwi of New Zealand. Scotland may soon join those ranks as it is considering naming the Golden Eagle the Scottish national bird. Read more about the process in the Scotsman news article.
Golden Eagle 3a by ahisgett, Creative Commons on Flickr
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that modern British gardening habits, including paving of front gardens and deck construction, are contributing to a decline in the bird population. By reducing lawns and plants, the availability of insects that birds need when raising their chicks has been limited. The RSPB says this links directly to the dramatic decline of the house sparrow. Read more, including what you can do to stop the trend, in the Telegraph article RSPB links decking to decline in birds.
Evidence of a so-called “terror bird” has been found in Argentina, scientists revealed last week. The bird, part of a family of flightless carnivores called phorusrhacids, reached up to three meters in height and was among the top carnivores in South America. Mammals hold that distinction in all other parts of the ancient world. Read the full story Big bird had swift legs at Nature.com.
Leighton Moss, a nature park in Lancashire, has seen its most successful breeding summer for the rare Bearded Tit in recent years. About 30 pairs of birds nested in the park this year, rearing about 80 chicks. Wardens at the park have distributed grit and erected wigwams in order to entice the British rarities to make the park their home. Read the full story Rare birds thrive at nature park at the BBC.
bearded tit by Mostly Dans, Creative Commons on Flickr