Category Archives: birds

Development threatening endangered cockatoo


The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says better town planning is needed to maintain the habitat of the carnaby’s black cockatoo so that it does not become extinct.

The birds are found in the south-west of Western Australia, and the fund says numbers have fallen by more than 50 per cent in the past 45 years.

It blames the rising development in the area which is destroying the birds’ habitat.

The carnaby’s black cockatoo is listed as endangered by the Federal Government

Michael Roache from WWF says plants in the birds’ habitat need to be replanted.

“We don’t necessarily place the true value on environmental services or indeed habitat for biodiversity. In south-west WA we have so many threatened species because of those threats of development,” he said.

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More than 1,200 birds face extinction


About 1,226 of the world’s 9,856 bird species are edging towards extinction, according to the most recent avian status evaluation by BirdLife International.  

An additional 835 species are believed to be ‘near threatened’. All avian species considered at risk of endangerment appear on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the international authority that ultimately classifies species in terms of extinction risk.

Since 1500, 134 bird species have disappeared from the face of the earth, and four more occur only in captivity. Some 18 species vanished between 1975 and 2000, and three have disappeared since 2000.

According to the IUCN, there has been a steady deterioration in avian status globally in the past several decades. The main causes of species loss are the expansion of agriculture and logging. Invasive (non-native) species have caused the extinction of about one-third of those species that have vanished.

According to BirdLife International, many birds are being impacted upon by the “double whammy” of habitat loss and climate change. Severe droughts, such as Australia’s ongoing ‘megadrought’, are threatening an increasing number of avian species, when combined with habitat loss, says biologist Penny Olsen at the Australia National University in Canberra.

Climate change is predicted to worsen droughts in future.

Against such a discouraging backdrop, the IUCN maintains that a few cases in which the status of bird species has recently improved seems rather insignificant.

Contentious exemptions to the Ontario Endangered Species Act have come under fire from conservationists recently. New restrictions under that act come into effect June 30. They include banning of possession and killing of endangered wildlife; 24 species already listed and 10 additional species.

The new ESA also prohibits damage or destruction of the habitat vital to endangered or threatened wildlife.

But, that prohibition does not take effect until 2013. And the overall habitat-protection prohibition does not apply to the forestry industry at all.

According to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the forestry exemption should be withdrawn.

There is also a contentious hydroelectric generating station exemption that needs to be corrected, the FON says.

The new ESA was passed in May 2007.

Habitat loss is thought to be the primary reason for wildlife extinctions, with deforestation a common cause.
Ontario’s experimental ring-necked pheasant reintroduction program, started in the mid-1990’s, has failed. One of the two introduced stocks has disappeared (Lambton County) and the other is failing fast (Essex County).

Biologists say they are not sure why the program failed. But, it has long been known that in order for wild pheasants to survive winters, they need handy cattail wetlands for shelter.

Forty years ago, researchers established the link between pheasant survival and available cattail stands. Such critical areas are not common in either of the areas where releases took place, and in Essex County, only three per cent of the original  cattail wetlands remain intact.

Originally, it was recommended that wild-trapped winter-hardy stock from South Dakota should be used for the Ontario re-introduction. Instead, wild stock from Saskatchewan was used.

Ontario’s original ring-necked pheasant population died out in the 1980’s, destroyed by habitat loss and excessive hunting. That population originated from releases in the mid-1800’s and the population expanded east to Napanee, north to Barrie and most of southwestern Ontario.

The last few remnant flocks were near Windsor, Hamilton and in Toronto.

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Outrage as endangered eagle shot dead

CLARE PEDDIE – Adelaide Now

THE apparent fatal shooting of a white-bellied sea eagle has sickened environmentalists, who have raised serious concerns about the future of the endangered species.

The majestic bird’s carcass was found near Cape Bauer, on the state’s west coast over the Christmas period. It was taken to the South Australian Museum where a post-mortem examination found a likely bullet wound.

Friends of Sceale Bay convener Grant Hobson said the death was “sickening” and  “disturbing”, and is offering a $500 reward for information leading to a conviction under the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act.

“This act is likely to have caused the death of the chicks she was hunting for at the time and ostracised the bird’s life partner, removing an active breeding pair from the diminishing pool of breeding pairs in SA and significantly impacting on the viability of this endangered species,” Mr Hobson said.

And the group’s convener Dave Kirner blamed sea-changers: “This event is evidence of the mounting pressure on this wilderness zone which will continue to increase as people come into the Streaky area, this is indeed the unchecked grubby underbelly of the sea change phenomena, I think most West Coast people today would be disgusted by this cowardly act,” Mr Kirner said.

He called for greater protection of threatened and endangered wildlife. “We don’t need any more tourist roads bulldozed into remote coastal cliff areas or houses given planning approval on clifftops and sand dunes what we need is an extended coastal marine park system encompassing the four bays in the area, we have been advocating this to state government now for three years,” he said.”This adult breeding female and her chick’s death is a sad reminder of the urgent need to protect our remaining endangered species and to properly manage their shrinking habitat.”
The group is calling for greater protection of threatened and endangered wildlife.

The Environment Department’s regional conservator for the West Region, Ross Belcher, is calling for information from the local community to help determine the circumstances that led to the killing of the bird.

Anyone who can help should call Mr Belcher at the DEH office in Port Lincoln on 8688 3111.

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Extinction threat to Scots bird

BBC News

The Scottish crossbill, the UK’s only endemic bird which is native to the Highlands of Scotland, faces extinction, according to a new report.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warns that unless action is taken to halt a rise in global temperatures, the species is under severe threat.

The bird, which lives only in Scots pine forests, is already on the conservation body’s endangered list.

Other Scottish species, such as the capercaillie, could also suffer.

The Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds – published by the RSBP – shows that three quarters of all of Europe’s nesting bird species are likely to suffer declines in range.

The results of the study have hastened calls by the RSPB for urgent action to cut greenhouse gases.

Professor Rhys Green, an RSPB scientist and one of the authors, said: “Climatic change and wildlife’s responses to it are difficult to forecast with any precision, but this study helps us to appreciate the magnitude and scope of possible impacts and to identify species at most risk and those in need of urgent help and protection.”

Red and black grouse, ptarmigan and snow bunting are other birds likely to be affected in Scotland. The birds could be left with few areas of suitable climate and populations could drop.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “We must heed the wake-up call provided by this atlas and act immediately to curb climate change.”

He claimed that some investment should also be made to help wildlife adapt to an “inevitable” level of climate change.

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‘Vulture population declining alarmingly’

Nepal News

Four out of eight species of vulture found in Nepal are included in endangered list of the IUCN- the world conservation union. They are White Rumped (Gyps beldgalensis), Slender Billed (Gyps tenuirostris), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopteros) and Red headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus). Additionally, the first two are termed ‘critically endangered’.

White rumped Vulture (Photo Courtesy: BCN)

Following the warning from the IUCN over the possible extinction of vultures from Nepal, Birds Conservation Nepal (BCN) took several initiatives to increase the population of the birds here. Latest estimation show the number of nests found in west of Narayani River Chitwan National Park Buffer Zone Area and east Nawalparasi District  has doubled. President of BCN Shree Ram Subedi talked to Indra Adhikari of Nepalnews on the ongoing conservation efforts, causes of extinction and initiatives taken to increase their population. Excerpts:

What evidences show vultures are the endangered species of birds in Nepal?

We don’t have exact data to show how many vultures are found in Nepal. Practically it is impossible to maintain a reliable record. Yet there are few instances that show the number is declining at an alarming rate. In 2001 we counted 50 nests in Koshi Tappu. Next year it dropped to three and one in the following year. Since 2003, we have not found any nest in that wetland. Likewise, we had found 24 nests in Pokhara in 2004. This number dropped to 17 till 2006. Similarly, in the middle of the 1990s, these carnivorous birds could be seen in big flocks. This hasn’t been witnessed in recent years. IUCN conservationists have warned that population has decreased by 90 percent since 1990.

What are the causes of declining population of vultures?

Only in 1999, scientists came know that vultures are decreasing in this sub-continent. Since then, they explored to various studies and concluded in 2003 that diclofenic – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) – caused the death of these birds. Carcasses of the NSAID-fed animals were the major cause of death. When its complement – Maloxicam — was discovered, we lobbied for government ban on the use of diclofenic in 2006.

(Photo Courtesy: BCN)

Besides, use of pesticides by farmers, confinements of the nest colonies, lack of adequate food because people started burying dead animals and cutting down of the trees led to extinction of these birds. The practice of cattle rearing has decreased, causing scarcity of food, specifically safe food. The government lacks initiative to stop destroying forests where vultures live. All these are the major factors for decreasing population.

What is BCN doing for saving these birds from extinction?

We started ‘vulture restaurants’ in some nesting areas. This was meant to feed the vultures with safe food since this has become scarcer in recent years. We asked the villagers to provide us with old cattle. We rear the cattle and on their death keep in open places where the vultures can feed on. Similarly, we have improved coordination with the community forest user groups to protect the forests where the vultures nest. We successfully campaigned for ban in use of the diclofenic. Within a year, the use has dropped to 10 percent. Now, we have begun a new project to increase the vulture population – a breeding centre. To be located at an isolated place inside Chitwan National Park, a natural cage will be prepared where we project to keep 10 pairs each of the two critically endangered species.

Are the local communities cooperative to conservation?

(Photo Courtesy: BCN)
Slender billed Vulture (Photo Courtesy: BCN)

With efforts of BCN, WWF, IUCN and many forest user groups, awareness on importance of vulture among the villagers is increasing. In Nawalparasi where we have vulture restaurants, villagers supply us with old livestock. In few instances, we also bought animals. Many farmers have reported us about the chopping of big trees where vultures have nested. As we communicated the issue with ministry of forest, many vulture colonies have been saved from being destroyed.

Are conservation efforts for this endangered bird satisfactory?

Not much. Though the responses to our approach were positive, the government has not shown seriousness at par with the graveness of the situation. The government must be proactive. Since most forests have been handed over to the communities, the local communities have to be made proactive towards protection issue and increase their involvement. Derisory resources available with us also hindered conservation efforts. Jan 17 08

(Editor’s Note: Nepalnews will continue this column by talking to officials, professionals, politicians, businessmen, diplomats, those who make outstanding achievements in their chosen field and newsmakers. Please post your suggestions/comments to


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Study: One-quarter of U.S. bird species at risk

USA Today


Almost all of Hawaii’s non-migratory native birds are on a new watch list of the USA’s most imperiled bird species.

The list, released Wednesday by the National Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy, includes about one-quarter of the more than 700 species that breed in the USA.

The groups cited an array of human activities — habitat loss from urban sprawl and energy development, introduction and invasion of foreign animals and disease, and global warming — as key causes of declining numbers for 217 kinds of threatened and endangered birds.

Ninety-eight species are regarded at “imminent risk of extinction,” Audubon president John Flicker says. “The clock is ticking. Many will not survive unless we act to save them.”

The birds’ home territories range from tropical forests in Florida to eastern woodlands to the sagebrush deserts of the interior West. The most alarming location, however, is Hawaii. Thirty-nine of the 41 native species that live and breed only on the islands are on the list.

“Hawaii is way out there, so it’s out of sight and therefore out of mind in the continental U.S.,” says George Fenwick, head of the conservancy.

Fenwick’s group has petitioned the federal government to put two of those birds on the endangered species list, which would give them more protection. Six others are seldom-seen and may already be gone, conservancy vice president Mike Parr says.

“They are so fascinating and so little-known, we don’t even know if some of them are extinct, and yet (Hawaii) is one of the United States,” Parr says. “You expect that in the wilds of New Guinea or the Amazon Basin, but not in America.”

Those species may still live in remote parts of the islands. Parr says digital recorders are being tested there to try to detect the birds’ songs. He compares them to the ivory-billed woodpecker, a southern species long believed extinct until scientists spotted it in Arkansas in 2004.

Co-author Greg Butcher of Audubon says the bird groups combined their efforts to create a standard list and to build better support and funding.

“People and birds share a need for clean water, for clean air and for a natural habitat,” Butcher says. “As we see bird populations that are out of kilter, there’s a sense the entire environment is out of kilter.”

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Macedonia set to protect endangered vultures

Skopje. Macedonia will protect the critically endangered vultures through assistance of a Spanish organization, Macedonian Makfax writes on Monday.
Macedonian Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning in co-operation with the Macedonian Environmentalist Association and a Spanish Foundation today will promote the project “Strengthening the National Capacity for the Protection of Vultures in Macedonia”. The promotion ceremony will take place in Kavadarci.
The project is funded by the European Commission – Consortium of NGOs. The Kavadarci-based Wild Flora and Fauna Fund will take part in the realization of the project.
Of the four species of vultures that used to net in Macedonia, the bearded and the black vultures have already extinct and the remaining two species are the white-headed and the Egyptian, both species facing extinction.
The white-head eagle lives in Demir Kapija area, the Crna Reka canyon near Tikves Lake, the Osogovo Mountain, Matka Lake and in Mariovo.

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Chinese Crested Terns Heading for Extinction – Yang Xi

The Chinese Crested Tern is the most endangered bird to date in China. This bird’s common name indicates its close relationship with China. In 1863 scientists gave the bird a Latin name – “Sternabernsteni” but Chinese also call the animal “Shenhua Zhinao” or the “Mythical Bird”, because it is rare and mysterious.

“There are less than fifty Chinese Crested Terns in China,” Chen Shuihua, deputy curator of Museum of Natural History of Zhejiang Province and also the most authoritative expert on Chinese Crested Terns research, said. He did not disclose the exact number. The number of Chinese Crested Terns around the world has reduced by half in the past three years, according to a survey.

The earliest record of the Chinese Crested Terns in China dates from 1863. In 1937, Chinese scientists collected 21 specimens of the birds, including 15 females and 6 males near Qingdao in Shandong Province. Few similar records were made in the following sixty-three years. Some scientists only kept minimal records without photos in the Beidaihe Region in Hebei Province (1978) and in the Yellow River Delta of Dongying in Shandong Province (1991). Many ornithologists believed that the birds were extinct.

Big surprise

Surprisingly, in June 2004 an avian photographer from Taiwan, Liang Jiede, took pictures and unexpectedly found four adult pairs of Chinese Crested Terns and four juvenile birds in his photos after developing his film.
In 2003 Chen Shuihua began to lead an investigation into propagating sea birds along the coastal areas of Zhejiang Province, while putting emphasis on Chinese Crested Terns.

Chen Shuihua led a group out to sea to start another investigation in June 2004 because he wanted to set a new record. “None of the ornithologists had gone to sea to do their investigations due to the danger and expense, so little investigation into sea birds in China has ever been carried out,” Chen said. Unfortunately, his investigation did not have a happy ending.

Chen Shuihua set out to the sea several times in 2004 during the sea birds’ breeding season from June to August. Chen’s group found almost twenty Chinese Crested Terns on August 1, 2004 in the central coastal areas of Zhejiang Province.

The main reason for the sharp decrease of Chinese Crested Terns is due to rampant collecting of sea bird eggs. These rare birds will go extinct in five years if such illegal practices are not forbidden, according to an article published by the Bird Life International.

Chen Shuihua has identified the Chinese Crested Tern as a flagship specimen of the marine ecosystem. He believes that the extinction of this bird would mean the destruction of the entire marine ecosystem, so he strongly advocates protecting all sea birds.
Bird Life International has suggested that the mainland and Taiwan should cooperate in rescue efforts directed at Chinese Crested Terns.

This July in Taiwan Chen Shuihua was invited to participate in a meeting that focused on how to create a cooperative effort to protect Chinese Crested Terns. Chen has worked out a five-year plan for their protection. “I hope that efficient measures can be enforced within five years to ensure the successful breeding and survival of these birds and that we can make more detailed investigations in order to obtain greater understanding about these birds,” Chen said.

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Back from verge of extinction only to face a new threat

The Scotsman – John Ross

A FARMING crisis in Scotland could again threaten a rare bird that has fought back from the brink of extinction.

Corncrake numbers have risen to their highest in nearly three decades of monitoring, according to RSPB Scotland.

The population here now stands at 1,273 calling males, but bird numbers have seriously declined throughout most of western Europe.

The turnaround in Scotland follows a recovery programme started by the RSPB and crofters in 1993, when there were only 470 calling males in the UK and the species was in danger of being wiped out.

But experts say the species continues to be threatened by changes to agricultural support systems and a growing crisis in Scottish livestock farming.

The environmentally-fragile, peripheral areas in the north and west, particularly the islands, have already suffered some loss of cattle farming, as it has become ever more economically marginal and, in some cases, unviable.

The June agricultural census shows the number of cattle in Scotland has fallen to 1,898,280, from 2,078,900 in 1997. Sheep numbers have also dropped, from 9,563,190 to 7,490,870.

The RSPB says the environmental consequences of losing cattle from these areas would be severe. In addition to the grazing benefits these systems of farming produce, loss of cattle also means declining hay production and mixed farm practices, depriving corncrakes and other wildlife of the food resources and habitats they need.

Livestock diseases, and the restrictions that have resulted from disease control elsewhere in the UK, along with uncertainty for the future of support systems, are threatening to accelerate the decline into a “freefall”.

Stuart Housden, the director of RSPB Scotland, said: ”

The corncrake and many other important species are very much dependent on extensive cattle rearing practices that characterise much of the Highlands and Islands.

“This type of farming has become ever more economically marginal because of changes in agricultural support systems. If we are to see this wildlife flourish, funding streams like the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme and Rural Stewardship Scheme must be both retained and targeted to ensure that these extensive farming systems continue to produce benefits for the rich array of species and biodiversity found here.”

The corncrake’s strongholds are in the inner Hebridean and Argyll islands. Tiree’s population of calling males has increased by 23.4 per cent from 316 in 2006 to 390 in 2007.

Together with Coll, Iona, Mull, Oronsay, Colonsay and Islay, this area accounts for 59 per cent of the total Scottish population. The calling male population in the Outer Hebrides was also up by 22 birds, compared with last year.

• CORNCRAKES migrate to Scotland in April and May from sub-Saharan Africa, where they spend the winter.

They are found in herbs and tall grass, particularly in hay meadows.

Numbers of the birds began to fall towards the end of the 19th century. Although it was recognised that numbers varied from year to year, a link was noticed between the decline of bird numbers and the increase in the mechanisation of mowing.

By 1972, the corncrake had disappeared from most of mainland Britain, and population declines continued, except in Lewis, Coll and Tiree, where suitable hay meadow habitats and late mowing dates allow successful breeding.

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Resort Threatens Last 100 Grenada Doves

 Plenty mag

It sucks to be a country’s national symbol. Around the world, the plants, birds and animals that many nations call their national symbols are, ironically, at risk. The US managed to save the bald eagle, but other species, such as New Zealand’s kiwi, could soon face extinction. Now comes news that Grenada’s national symbol, the critically endangered Grenada Dove, could be wiped out so Four Seasons can build a big resort.

With less than 100 Grenada Doves left, every bird counts. The dove has only one major nesting ground, in a 155-acre national park which was created to protect the species. Unfortunately, last April, Grenada’s government approved an amendment which allows them to sell off their national parks to any private interest.

That amendment makes it possible for developers to destroy as much as half of the dove’s previously protected national park so they can build a luxury resort for the Four Seasons chain. The American Bird Conservancy submitted a critique of the development plans, along with a plan to help protect the dove, but the developers have completely ignored them and are moving ahead, un-phased and unchallenged.

So yes, we may soon be saying good-bye forever to Grenada’s national symbol. But hey, at least Grenada will get a new golf course out of it.

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