Category Archives: Europe

Dutch Agency To Government: Migrating Birds Don’t Distribute Flu

There is no proof that migratory birds are involved in spreading the deadly bird flu virus H5N1. In a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives, bird advocacy group Vogelbescherming Nederland urged members of the house to stop making statements to the contrary without scientific proof to back them up.

Ten thousand migratory birds have been tested for signs of the virus, with no positive results so far. According to Vogelbescherming, it is much more likely that the flu is being spread by the transport of contaminated poultry birds or meat.

Virologist A. Osterhaus advised that the possibility of migratory birds contributing to the spread of the virus has also not been formally ruled out. The fast spread of the virus from China to Siberia in the direction of Eastern Europe does warrant further investigation.

Vogelbescherming points out that the spread of the virus has not followed normal bird migration patterns. The fact that the virus has so far not shown up in Africa, parts of South-East Asia and Australia is also in favor of their theory, as migratory birds from virus-infected lands would be wintering in those lands this season.

The main message that Vogelbescherming wants to get across is that politicians should rather concentrate on taking measures to control the movement of poultry birds and products across land borders rather than waste time inciting needless panic over the perceived dangers of wild, migrating birds.

Last week interior minister Veerman said that measures should be taken to prevent returning migratory birds from coming in contact with poultry birds in the spring in case they bring the bird flu with them. In principle, Vogelbescherming is not against the quarantining of poultry birds.

The animal protection group Dierenbescherming, however, is against any unnecessary quarantine plan for chickens and other domestic fowl. The protection it would offer the birds is miniscule, while the potential suffering (being kept indoors, in small cages, for example) would be great.

According to virologist Osterhaus, every week hundreds of wild birds are examined for traces of bird flu. Some mild versions of the H5 virus have been discovered in wild birds in Holland, but so far none have had the deadly H5N1 strain.

Source: ‘Trekvogels geen bewezen rol in verspreiding vogelgriep’

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Update: Polish Pigeon Fair Roof Collapse

The death toll in Saturday’s exhibition-hall collapse disaster in Katowice, Poland has risen to at least 67 62. On Monday, a 34-year-old man died in hospital from injuries sustained during the collapse.

The pigeon fair brought visitors from many European nations and among the dead were seven foreigners, including one person from the Netherlands. At least 140 people were injured. 91 of the injured remained in hospital as of Sunday. About 500 people were believed to be inside the building when the roof collapsed at about 5:00 p.m. local time on Saturday. It is estimated that fair attendance was as high as 4,000 people earlier in the day.

The last survivor was pulled from the wrecked building on Saturday night. By Sunday, rescuers stopped searching for survivors. The cause of the collapse is still under dispute. Local police have said that heavy snow on the roof caused it to collapse, but building officials stated that snow was removed regularly and the cause of the collapse was still unknown. Vibrations from loud music and the great difference in exterior and interior temperatures have also been named as possible causes. The exhibition hall was constructed in 2000.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski has visited the site, and declared a national period of mourning to last for three days.

Polish roof collapse kills at least 66 at racing pigeon exhibition
Dodental ramp Polen opgelopen
Tientallen doden door instorten hal Katowice
Roof collapse: ‘No more survivors’

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Roof Collapses At Polish Pigeon Fair

At least seven sixty people were killed Saturday in Katowice, Poland when the roof of an exhibition hall collapsed. Hundreds of people were inside the building at the time of the collapse, attending the Pigeon 2006 fair organized by the Polish Association of Racing Pigeons Breeders. Read more about the roof collapse at ABC News. An updated story can be found here on CNN.

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Pigeon Problems For Belgian Town

An abandoned building formerly used as a rest house by the nuns of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows convent in Beernem, Belgium, has become infested with a large population of pigeons.

At least one hundred pigeons now live in the building. The birds used to take sanctuary on the nearby city hall and in the church tower, but the city hall is under construction and the church tower has been fitted with anti-bird paraphernalia. Because their previous homes were being disturbed, the birds took up residence in quiet sanctuary of the rest house.

According to city council members, the situation is unsafe, because a pigeon can produce up to 14 kg of waste per year. Council member Lauwers also mentioned that the pigeon situation provided an increased risk factor in bird flu.

Other buildings in the West Flanders town of Beernem also have a problem with excessive bird droppings. A public square in front of the new “OCMW” building suffers from the waste of a colony of 20 doves living in a cedar tree. The mayor, Walter van Parijs, recognizes there is a problem, but acknowledges there are no easy solutions. “Shooting (the birds) is not possible in a neighborhood (where people live).” Council member Ingrid Vanhaecke offered this tongue-in-cheek solution: “Maybe the sisters can give the pigeons birth-control pills, but is that in accordance with God’s (law)?”

Source: Duiven bezorgen zusters kopzorgen

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Sacred Ibis Threatens French Coastal Birds

Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) birds were introduced to the French Atlantic coast in the mid-1970’s, when a pair was released in a nature park in southern Brittany. Today, experts believe there are over 3,000 birds living on the French coast in Brittany. The birds are dangerous for native species as they can be aggressive. Two year ago a group of ibis was seen destroying the nests and eggs of about 40 couples of sandwich terns. Read the story FRENCH BIRD-LOVERS CALL FOR ERADICATION OF SACRED INVADER at The Tocqueville Connection.

Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) by Lip Kee, Creative Commons on Flickr

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Indian Native Among Top-Seen Birds In Britain

The parakeet (psittacula krameri), native of India, is now the 20th-most-spotted bird in Britain. In some areas of London, the bird is in the top 10 most spotted. The current population of 13,000 birds is estimated to approach 50,000 by the year 2010. Read the story Indian Bird Among Top-Seen Birds In Britain at, but bear in mind that the RSPB is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, not the Prevention of Birds as mentioned in the article!

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Birds Leave Frigid Ukraine For Turkey

Severe cold weather in the south of the Ukraine has caused migratory birds to fly south to Turkey. This might lower the risk of bird flu in the Ukraine, but what does it mean for Turkey? Bird flu has been detected in 23 districts in the Ukraine so far. Four people have died of bird flu in Turkey this season.

Source: Frosts drive birds to Turkey from Ukraine

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Local Government Debates Over Gull Nuisance

The problem of aggressive, loud and annoying gulls has been on the political radar of Leiden, the Netherlands since 1988. That was when the fox population of the nearby sand dune area Meijendel was displaced. Because the gulls built their nests in the Meijendel sand, they were easy prey for the foxes. Since there are no foxes in the area anymore, the population of gulls in the dunes has increased so much that individuals must seek shelter elsewhere. So the gulls came to Leiden.

The gulls cause the most nuisance during their breeding season, when they make the most noise. They shriek the loudest at possible predators or behaviors they regard as potentially dangerous. The gulls can become aggressive if they feel threatened enough. The breeding season begins in mid-April.

In April 2005 the local government issued a statement with recommendations on how to reduce the nuisance caused by the gulls. The most significant recommendation was to reduce the amount of garbage on the city streets, which the gulls forage for food. “A clean city insures less annoyance.”

This year another proposal has been given. Leiden council member Sabine Verschoor from the political party D66 is promoting the shaking of gull eggs in order to limit the population and therefore the nuisance caused by the cacophonous birds. Thus far, shaking has been prohibited as the gull is a protected bird. Verschoor hopes that a pilot phase allowing shaking will bring clarity to the situation: “Now you cannot do anything, while half of Leiden suffers from the nuisance.”

D66 Leiden has proposed another solution for dispersing the annoying birds: placing wires on rooftops which will make them undesirable places for the birds to roost.

According to council candidate Aad van der Luit, a solution such as this will only work if entire streets will participate in the program. If the birds are able to find an alternative rooftop on which to land nearby, the wire program will fail.

Source: Raadslid wil proces over illegaal schudden meeuweneieren

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