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Two males for every female: Antipodean Albatross in breeding crisis

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 02:01

The “live slow, die old” strategy has been working for the Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis for millennia. Breeding exclusively on a few New Zealand islands, this majestic bird mates for life, laying a single egg with each breeding attempt. Since it takes a whole year to hatch the egg and raise the chick, they are only able to reproduce once every two years. But they don’t even start thinking about breeding until they are at least seven years old – sometimes more like twenty – and even then, the process entails a long and drawn-out courtship involving song and dance routines, and spanning over several years.

Coming home: the kulan of Central Kazakhstan

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 11:36

Danara Zharbolova from ACBK/BirdLife Kazakhstan recounts the promising first steps in an exciting project to establish a new population of Turkmenian kulan in Central Kazakhstan.

 

The Turkmenian kulan Equus hemionus kulan is a subspecies of onager, or Asiatic wild ass, native to Central Asia. And though it may not look it – with a diminutive frame 200-250 cm long and 100-140 cm tall – it is actually one of the largest onagers in the world. There was a time when the kulan’s distinctive light brown coat with patches of white on its on belly, back and sides was a familiar sight out upon the deserts, deltas and steppes between northern Afghanistan, southern Siberia and western China. But in recent years, its story has taken a sad turn.

Thinking outside the box: new ways to engage tomorrow's conservationists

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 02:01

As the Spring Alive season in Africa draws to a close, we can bask in the glow of a job well done. This year, we’ve thought outside the box to come up with innovative ways of getting children to really engage with the birds they share their day-to-day lives with. These have included our first ever children’s story book, a Spring Alive cuddly toy, and even a bird fact “advent calendar”. Here are three projects whose success has encapsulated this season’s achievements:

 

30 Days of Spring

 

How to highlight bird conservation and plastic waste? Enter Miss World

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 12:38

Alanna Smith works for Te Ipukarea Society (TIS – BirdLife in the Cook Islands), where she can often be found trekking through forest to protect birds, snorkelling the reef, encouraging tourists to donate to conservation work, handling worms on a compost heap, or delving through waste to show schoolchildren how to improve recycling. However, for a short while this year Alanna swapped her hiking boots and fins for a pair of heels: she was crowned “Miss Cook Islands” this summer, and then hastily rearranged her working schedule to attend the 2017 Miss World Semi-finals held in Sanya, China. This was a unique opportunity to extend awareness of the pressing conservation issues in the Cook Islands to the world stage.

New study: India may have even fewer vultures than we thought

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 14:54

Talk about no good deed going unpunished. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, South Asia’s vulture populations underwent catastrophic declines, the vultures dying while performing their most essential and valued ecosystem service to humans: disposing of cattle carcasses. These remains would otherwise be left to feed and boost the populations of problem scavengers like feral dogs, or cost the government untold sums to clean up. The main reason for these devastating deaths was a veterinary drug called diclofenac: a painkiller for cattle, but a poison to vultures.

New call for plant and coastal biodiversity conservation projects in the Mediterranean Basin

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 17:50

*Instructions en français ci-dessous*
*Instruções em português disponíveis abaixo*

More information: Conservation fund launches new investment to protect Mediterranean nature

Criteria: Projects must address issues in either Strategic Direction 1 (conservation in coastal areas) or Strategic Direction 4 (conservation of plants). Eligible countries: Albania, Cabo Verde, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco and Tunisia. Budget: Project budgets must be between US $20,000 and US $250,000.

CLOSING DATE: Wednesday 14th February 2018 (at midnight GMT) 

Clean Energy Package in the EU Parliament – Wrapping up for Christmas

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:38

As we all begin winding down for Christmas break, here at BirdLife Europe we have been taking stock of the developing position of the European Parliament on how Europe should progress with the energy transition out to 2030 and beyond.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to nature, and so BirdLife Europe is supportive of ambitious action to transition to renewable energy. However, not all pathways to reduce our carbon emissions are equal. A badly-planned transition with poorly sited energy developments and a focus on unsustainable technologies could lead to serious wildlife impacts.

Local guide looks after his stars

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 19:43

“Watch the White-starred Robin flash that star! Listen to the Crowing Crested Cobra!” says the publicity leaflet which introduces bird guide Peter Magosvongwe, nominated by BirdLife Zimbabwe as one of 2017's Nature's Heroes. The crowing call of the cobra, said by British settlers to be over 20 feet long and ornamented with the comb and wattles of a chicken, was eventually found to be the mating cry of the small and unobtrusive Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans, one of the birds which Peter Magosvongwe can help you find.

As the leaflet continues, Peter knows the special birds, and he knows their calls, and he can take you to the right places at the right time to see and hear them. And, he modestly adds, he does not know everything, and you can help him too.

How Small Actions Can Make A Big Difference

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 15:04
You wake up, what do you hear? You look out the window, what do you see?

Perched up high on its favourite branch as the sun rises, singing cheerily with its red breast, the robin feels part of your local landscape, or so much a part of your routine that you may barely notice it when you’re bleary-eyed and brushing your teeth.

But that little ball of feathers in your backyard is one of billions joining an annual global movement. It’s ingrained in its DNA—it’s even in its name: Turdus migratorius.

Every autumn, the humble robin gets a migratory itch, fattens up on juicy worms from your lawn and begins its long journey south. From northern Canada in the summer, to southern Mexico in the winter, the American Robin’s range touches almost all of the North American continent.

In the bleak midwinter

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 08:31

In his editorial for this month’s edition of the Europe & Central Asia newsletter, Christopher Sands looks for rays of hope to brighten up ‘the bleak mid-winter’…

 

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Christina Rossetti (1872)

Plastic killed albatross chick on nest, bycatch a huge threat at sea

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 06:56

Over the last few weeks in the UK, Blue Planet 2 has led us on an incredible journey of discovery. We’ve encountered bizarre and uncanny creatures from the deepest oceans. We’ve been astonished by previously unknown behaviours, including a particularly ingenious octopus who disguised itself with shells to evade a shark. And we’ve been provided with new nightmare fuel in the form of the voracious Bobbit worm… 

For me and many other viewers, the stories that linger longest are the ones showing the huge impact we humans have on our oceans. I will readily admit to being reduced to tears more than once watching the Pilot Whale mother cling to her dead calf (possibly been poisoned by her toxic milk), the sperm whale trying to eat a bucket... and the majestic Wandering Albatross chick killed by a plastic toothpick.

Clones vs drones: Tahiti battles nine invasive species to save iconic bird

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 13:07

When its recovery program started in 1998, conservationists were only able to locate 12 Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra individuals. We already know that invasive species are a huge problem for island birds, but on its home island of Tahiti, the Monarch was cursed with not one, but nine invasive menaces, all ranked among the 100 most invasive species on the planet.

Against such staggering odds, some conservationists might have declared the beleaguered passerine a lost cause: with the population so low, and the predators so unmanageable, they might have argued that the cost of saving it was too high.

Stars of the Red List: two kiwi species are no longer Endangered

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:27

Whoever said dinosaurs are extinct has never seen a kiwi. As dusk approaches, you can hear their calls echoing from New Zealand’s native forest. As you venture in, you spot their large, three-pronged footprints imprinted in the earth. And there’s nothing to prepare you for the sight of this unique flightless bird. Eyewitnesses have said that the only real way to describe a kiwi is like a vestige from the Jurassic era: big and heavy, it moves in a completely unique way, swaying its hindquarters to power its thick, strong legs. It’s a surreal sight.

But unlike its dinosaurian ancestors, it doesn’t look like the kiwi needs to fear extinction any time soon. Thanks to nearly 30 years of dedication from government bodies, local conservation groups and the Maori community, two species of kiwi have become the stars of the 2017 Red List: Rowi Apteryx rowi and Northern Brown Kiwi A. mantelli have just been downlisted from Endangered to Vulnerable.

Fly with Greater spotted eagles!

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 13:14

Eight Greater spotted Eagles tagged in southern Belarus started their autumn migration in September. Now you can watch them online!

 

Where do birds go in winter?” – as children, all of us probably asked our parents this question. Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the answer is but a click away. This year, APB-BirdLife Belarus invites you to fly alongside – not one, not two…but eight – Greater spotted eagles throughout their autumn migration.

Cackling Goose

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 07:55
'Through the Lens', Fujingaho Magazine, December 2017

Click here to view pdf

Tangled and drowned: new study links penguin declines with fishing activity

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 02:01

Long-time followers of BirdLife’s work will be very familiar with the ongoing issue of accidental seabird capture (or bycatch) in fisheries, which has driven declines in many globally threatened marine species. For over a decade, we have made remarkable progress in reducing albatross bycatch in collaboration with fishermen through our Albatross Task Force, both by designing and testing innovative solutions at-sea (such as bird-scaring lines), and through our advocacy work, which has helped to pass new national laws which have turned some of the world’s most deadly fisheries, such as those in Namibia, ‘seabird-safe’.

Is this Guam bird coming back from extinction in the wild?

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 09:32

Earlier this year, the world held its breath as North Korea’s crosshairs were aimed towards the tiny island of Guam, an overseas territory of the USA in the Western Pacific. International media hastily referred to Guam as a strategically important US military base, but this volcanic coral island is of course also home to 184,000 Guamanians (US citizens, including native Chamorro people of Austronesian descent); a bustling tourism hotspot (particularly for Asian tourists); as well as habitat for a whole legion of animals and plants. Except for the Guam Rail Hypotaenidia owstoni, that is...

Winner of the Pablo Canevari Award 2017: Wayne Burke of Barbados

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 18:49

On behalf of Manomet, administer of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Executive Office, we are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Pablo Canevari award is Wayne Burke! The award was announced during the 7th Western Hemisphere Shorebird Group meeting in Paracas, Peru.

Wayne’s early life centered on the beach, where he learnt about shorebirds from his father. After a varied career as a surfer, yachtsman and blacksmith, and a spell in Canada where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Geography, Wayne became the wetland manager and naturalist at the Graeme Hall Swamp. During this time he also led the identification of Important Bird Areas and wrote the Barbados chapter for the Caribbean IBA book.

Wayne's early life centred on the beach, where he learnt about shorebirds from his father

Important new breeding sites of mythical ibis discovered

Fri, 11/24/2017 - 10:24

As the day drew to a close, the orange light reflecting from the Atlantic seemed to soften the texture of the sun-baked Moroccan cliffs so much so they looked like they could crumble in an instant. There the birds were: perched on a couple of sloping, sandstone ledges, an entire colony of about 20 settling in for the night, low squawks and rustles heard above the scouring waves only a few metres below. Birds often nest in precarious places, and despite the cliffs in Tamri, southwest Morocco, actually being pretty strong, by knowing this species’ Critically Endangered status, you cannot help but feel a little worried for these large, iridescent-black creatures.

The Bird Bulletin: Europe & Central Asia

Fri, 11/24/2017 - 08:13

The Bird Bulletin – bringing you beak-sized updates from across Europe & Central Asia and beyond.

 

One fine day in Poland… – BirdLife applauds the EU Court of Justice ruling that Poland is subject to a potential daily fine of €100,000 if they continue illegal logging in Europe’s last primeval forest, Białowieża.