Early results from last weekend’s back yard bird count organized by the Belgian group Natuurweekend are in. The average number of birds counted in Flemish back yard feeders was 43.7, up from an average of 31 last year.
The higher number of birds counted this year does not necessarily mean that there are more birds in general in Flanders. A spokesperson for the group Natuurpunt noted that birds are more likely to be found at back yard feeders in times of extreme cold weather, which has been the case this winter.
This was the sixth year that the back yard bird count has taken place.
Source: Veel meer vogels in Vlaamse tuinen dan vorig jaar
Poultry companies are advised to keep their free-range chickens away from areas where waterfowl are known to congregate. The Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen University advises poultry concerns to make a strong statement among their ranks, or to even make strict controls.
Chickens without shelter or a fence to protect them are exposed to several risks. The birds can intermingle with wild birds, increasing the chance of illness.
Source: ‘Buitenlopende kippen liever niet in buurt watervogels’
Last month’s oil spill off the coast of Estonia is now believed to threaten up to 35,000 birds, significantly more than the early estimates of 5,000 birds. As of today more than 3,000 dead birds have already been collected in the spill area. The cause of the leak is still under investigation; Estonian authorities admit that the ship which caused the spill may never be indentified. Read Elizabeth Davies’ story Estonian oil spill threatens 35,000 birds in The Independent.
Britain’s great ornithological mystery of recent years, the vanishing of the familiar house sparrow, may finally be solved. A postgraduate researcher in Leicester conducted a study of sparrow chicks and discovered that their food supply in their first few days of life is critical, and the recent scarcity of protein-rich insects in Britain may be contributing to the sparrow’s demise.
Read Michael McCarthy’s story Revealed: why the sparrows are dying out in The Independent.
The number of resident birds in the natural area Buurserzand in the province Overijssel, the Netherlands, has strongly increased in the past years. The number of different species as well as individual breeding pairs has seen an increase.
According to the organization Natuurmonumenten, the increase in birds here is in large part due to the successful management of the area. In several parts of Buurserzand more water has become available for wildlife. Approximately 30 hectares of the former private holding Rietschot were added to the Buurserzand protected area in 2005 and since then the number of waterfowl species in the area has increased from six to ten. The number of individual birds has increased from 26 to 88.
Source: Stijging broedvogels in het Buurserzand
There is nothing wrong with providing food to migrating birds who are temporarily residing in the lowlands, according to a press release from the Royal Belgian Group for the Protection of Birds on Thursday. If the right type of food is provided, it can even save the birds. Extra, human-provided fodder does not insure that the birds will stop their natural migration.
The group did, however, caution that overfeeding of birds should be avoided, because wild birds will seek a balance in food sources. Several studies have indicated that birds prefer to find their food naturally, if the circumstances are favorable. Providing food in the winter time temporarily improves the birds? food situation in time when finding food naturally is more difficult, for example when it is freezing or natural food sources are covered in snow. Seeking food naturally in these circumstances is more difficult for the birds and thus will save the animals energy if people provide them with food.
Source: Vogels voederen verstoort het migratie-evenwicht niet
After four years of protection, goose hunting is again legal in the northern Dutch province of Friesland. The government there has granted 1400 permits to hunt geese.
Each winter geese come to the Netherlands, some after a journey of thousands of kilometers, to spend the winter in the milder climate. According to the province, the hunt will protect agricultural lands from damage caused by the birds, although it will be allowed to shoot birds in flight as well as those residing in farmers? fields. Also according to the province, the birds who survive the hunt will learn which in which fields they should not land.
Source: Friesland als eindstation
Forty songbirds found dead in Vienna, Austria last month were killed after slamming into windows while flying under the influence of fermented, rotten berries. Read the AP story Birds die from flying ‘drunk’ into windows.
A 20-ton, 35-kilometer long oil spill off the coast of Estonia could kill up to 5,000 birds, according to environmentalists. The spill occurred on Saturday. By Wednesday more than 800 dead birds were found along the Estonian coast. Birds coated in oil have also been found on the southwest coast of Finland. Read more about the spill and about the dead birds on Yahoo! News.
A short circuit caused a four-alarm fire in the Belgian town of Lovendegem Monday night. The fire began in an unoccupied garden shed. But next to the shed stood a pigeon house. Fortunately, the pigeons were saved.
According to the homeowner, “We were sitting at the table when our youngest son came to tell us that smoke was coming from our shed. At first we did not believe him.” The child persisted and the homeowners finally saw the smoke for themselves.
The family tried to put out the fire themselves by beating the flames. There were two garden hoses in the yard, but one was too short and the other was completely frozen.
Meanwhile, some flames reached the trees and shrubs around the shed. The fire threatened the nearby pigeon keep, where the innocent birds sat behind locked doors.
The homeowners continued their effort, trying to keep the flames from reaching the pigeons. Neighbors informed the fire department, who arrived with four fire trucks. Two police cars were also at the scene.
The fire department got the fire under control and the pigeons were saved. Unfortunately, the family lost all of their garden furniture and some other personal belongings.
Source: Duiven gered van vuurdood