Tag Archives: birdwatching

‘Divide and rule’—raven politics

World of Birds

 Cognitive biologists now revealed that ravens use a "divide and rule" strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics. Credit: Jorg Massen Cognitive biologists now revealed that ravens use a “divide and rule” strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics. Credit: Jorg Massen

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups and they can gain power by building social bonds that function as alliances. Cognitive biologists of the University of Vienna now revealed that ravens use a ‘divide and rule’ strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics: Socially well integrated ravens prevent others from building new alliances by breaking up their bonding attempts.

Thomas Bugnyar and his team have been studying the behavior of approximately 300 wild ravens in the Northern Austrian Alps for years. They observed that ravens slowly build alliances through affiliative interactions such as grooming and playing. However, they also observed that these affiliative interactions were…

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Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrating birds

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video is about bird migration.

From BirdLife:

Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrants in the air

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 20/10/2014 – 08:18

On the weekend 4–5 October, over 23,000 people took part in the most exciting nature event of the autumn: the annual Eurobirdwatch. From Portugal to Kazakhstan, from Malta to Norway, BirdLife Partners invited people of all ages to discover and observe the fascinating migration of birds. The result of these two days of fun, exchange and learning was the observation of over 2.5 million birds as they migrated to southern countries in search of suitable wintering grounds.

In autumn, some species of birds, the so-called migratory birds, leave the north, where they breed in spring and summer and head to their wintering grounds in the south. The migration of several thousands of birds of different species is a unique spectacle; the BirdLife…

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Thousands of bird species live in cities

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from England says about itself:

London’s Birds

1) Black-headed Gulls, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Mute Swans on Hampstead Heath pond. 2) Blue Tit singing in a Finchley Park. 3) Great Tits and a Blue Tit on a bird feeder in Hampstead Heath. 4) Moorhen on a frozen pond and Coot eating grass in Hampstead Heath. 5) Robin feeding on the edge of a Brook near Finchley. 5) Robin singing in a Tree in a garden in Finchley. 6) Great Tit singing in London. 7) Robin singing in Dollis Brook Greenway, Whetstone. 8) Robin singing in London.

From the All About Birds Blog in the USA:

Not Just Sparrows and Pigeons: Cities Harbor 20 Percent of World’s Bird Species

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

By Andrea Alfano

Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows, and European Starlings are widely known as “city birds,” and with good reason. These three species…

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Bad weather causing problems for seabirds

Ed Brown Photography

Looks like a lot of seabirds around the coast of Wales are suffering due to the weather we’ve been having, this little guy was taken in Skomer, one of the areas affected and somewhere I hope to visit again later this year.

Atlantic Puffin - Fratercula arctica

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Big Garden Birdwatch 2014

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Pic: RSPB

More than half a million people are expected to be watching their garden birds the weekend (25-26 January), for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

It’s the biggest wildlife survey in the world and this year participants are being asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens too, including deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads.

Also new for 2014, is the RSPB’s LIVE bird counter, making it even easier to take part. The counter can be accessed from the RSPB website and doesn’t even need to be downloaded – simply take your laptop, tablet or smartphone to the window, enter the birds you see as you see them, while the clock counts down your hour.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director says: ”Winter has felt more like autumn for many of us and this could have a significant impact on the number of birds in our gardens.

“Birds come into gardens for food when they can’t find it in the wider countryside but if insects and berries continue to be available long into winter, numbers visiting gardens may be down. The Big Garden Birdwatch will be really interesting this year and will be a good indication of just how much the weather affects their behaviour.

“The key thing for the RSPB is that even if you feel you don’t have as many birds in your garden compared to normal, we still desperately need your results. We will be able to compare results to other mild winter years and compare regional trends, so if you don’t see many birds, we still need to know, it’s really useful information.

“The more people that take part, the greater our understanding of the threats and the solutions will be.”

Starlings hit an all time low in the 2013 Birdwatch with their numbers sinking by a further 16 per cent from 2012. Numbers of house sparrows, which are of high conservation concern, dropped by 17 percent in gardens compared to 2012, whilst numbers of bullfinches and dunnocks were down by 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

The data gathered on the mammal and amphibian species will be shared with conservation partners so they can add it to their own records and will be used to help the RSPB tailor its advice on giving nature a home so people can help their wild visitors nest, feed and breed successfully.

To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time of the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local outside space at anyone time. They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online or in the post.

Participants don’t have to actually count the other species like hedgehogs and frogs during the birdwatch hour; just tell the RSPB whether they have ever seen them in their gardens, at any time of year.

House sparrow numbers stabilise

Country Diary : Two male house sparrows

Pic: Alamy / The Guardian

There was some good news last week when new figures from the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey revealed that the decline in house sparrow numbers appears to have levelled off.

Populations of house sparrows across the UK have fallen from about 12 million pairs in the 1970s to between 6 and 7 million pairs today, with a greater reduction in urban and rural areas than in suburban ones.

But the latest data from the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Garden BirdWatch, a citizen science survey in which birdwatchers and householders monitor gardens across the country throughout the year, suggests that the decline in gardens has stabilised since 2009.

Figures from the trust show that in 1995, the proportion of gardens reporting one or more house sparrows was about 80%. This fell steadily to 60% in 2009, and has remained at the same rate since.

“It’s too soon to say that they are increasing but the decline has definitely levelled off since 2009 and hopefully this means they’ll start to increase again,” said Clare Simm, BTO’s Garden BirdWatch development officer.

The house sparrow is a “red-listed”conservation species which has been in long-term decline, particularly in urban environments. Its populations across Britain have been hit by a loss of nesting sites and food sources, especially insects to feed their young.

In rural areas, changes in farming practices are thought to have affected house sparrows. But in urban and suburban areas the causes have been more complex, with everything from cats to air pollution and pesticides being blamed.

The BTO has recommended five simple measures for gardeners to encourage house sparrows:

• Let an area of your garden go wild to encourage insects.

• Plants like hawthorn and ivy provide thick vegetation for sparrows to hide in.

• Provide them with a home, using either a house sparrow terrace or nest boxes near the eaves of your property.

• Feed them with a suitable seed mix that includes large grains.

• Regularly clean your feeding stations to prevent disease.

UK’s endangered turtle doves given Hope!

Turtle dove

Turtle doves are one of the most endangered birds in the UK, but the population here has been given a boost by the creativity of a 6-year-old girl from Sheffield.

Operation Turtle Dove, a partnership project to save this bird on the brink of extinction, launched the competition to find names for their two logo birds. And thanks to Alice Stavert-Dobson, they are now christened as Heart and Hope.

Alice (pictured below with her sister) said: “I chose ‘Heart’ to represent love and ‘Hope’ because I hope turtle doves will still be here in the future. I was really pleased to win the competition and I can’t wait to go and see the turtle doves this summer in Pensthorpe Nature Reserve.”

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Turtle doves are currently embarking on a long journey back to the UK after spending the winter in Sub-Sarahan Africa and should  arrive back in the UK around the middle of April. The threat to this iconic bird is real. Changes in modern day agricultural practices have been attributed to the loss of arable plants in farmland, which produce the early seed source turtle doves need on their return to the UK.

Alison Gardner from the RSPB said: “It is distressing to learn that we have lost nearly 60 per cent of our turtle doves in the five years to 2010.  If this decline continues we could be down to fewer than 1000 pairs by 2020, with complete UK extinction a real possibility.

“The fantastic work of Operation Turtle Dove aims to make a real difference. Project partners are working with farmers to implement a bespoke seed rich mix which will be available to turtle doves on their return in Spring. Our new turtle dove logo names reflect these birds so beautifully and we want to secure their future so children like Alice and her sister Thea will be able to enjoy their gentle ‘purring’ way into their adulthood and beyond.”