Tag Archives: birds

Nordmann’s Greenshank bird on endangered list


New Delhi: Nordmann’s Greenshank, a beautiful Russian shorebird which migrates annually to many south Asian countries, including India, is listed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The key threat to the bird is the rapid rate of reclamation and development of coastal wetlands throughout Asia for industry, infrastructure and aquaculture, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature, world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation.

Pollution in coastal wetlands, hunting and human disturbance also threaten this species, and the degradation of its breeding habitat is caused by grazing reindeer, the IUCN said.

A few protected and non-hunting areas have been established in Russia and along the migration route of the bird, also known as Spotted Greenshank.

According to Birdlife International, breeding adults of Nordmann’s Greenshank are boldly marked with whitish spots and spangling on blackish upper side, heavily streaked head and upper neck, broad blackish crescentic spots on lower neck and breast and darker lores.

“In flight, it shows all-white upper tail-coverts and rather uniform greyish tail. Toes do not extend beyond tail tip,” it said.

“Conservation priorities include establishing further protected areas in its breeding grounds, as well as at important sites in the winter range, drafting management plans for coastal wetlands to promote their conservation, banning the hunting of all shorebirds in its breeding grounds and providing full legal protection throughout the range,” the IUCN said.


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Endangered Icelandic swans shot during migration


Poachers are shooting hundreds of endangered swans during their annual migration across the North Atlantic. The news comes via a new report from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Scotland, which said that nearly a third of Bewick and Whooper swans that arrive in the United Kingdom each autumn have pellets embedded in their skin.

The two species, which are known to spend their summers in Iceland, are protected by law throughout their journey.

Julia Newth said on behalf of the WWT, “Both species are completely legally protected in every country they fly through and there should be a zero percentage being shot. It is incredible that we have 13.6 percent of Whoopers and almost 33 per cent of Bewicks being shot. It is likely hundreds are being killed – birds that die are not often retrieved. But if we are looking at 33 percent wounded and still alive, you image a great many more being shot dead,” the Scotsman news agency reports.

Newth said that some of the Bewick swans are probably shot by British hunters, or those in countries along the route, including Latvia, Russia and Estonia.

“But the Whooper swans only migrate from Iceland where they breed over the summer and make their way to Britain and Ireland. It means they are being shot in Britain, Iceland or Ireland,” she said.

“They haven’t far to go and they are being shot close to home. Although 13 percent carrying shotgun pellets in their bodies sounds a lot lower than the rate for the Bewicks, it is baffling when you consider their migration route.”
Read more: http://www.icenews.is/2012/11/10/endangered-icelandic-swans-shot-during-migration/#ixzz2CBD3j5wC

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Global bird extinctions are increasing warns new research


The rate of bird extinctions is accelerating at an alarming rate according to a new paper by BirdLife International and Charles Darwin University.

Global Patterns and Drivers of Avian Extinctions at the Species and Subspecies Level, published in PLoS One, reveals 279 bird species and subspecies from across the globe have become extinct in the last 500 years. The study shows that species extinctions peaked in the early 20th century, then fell until the mid-20th century, and have subsequently accelerated.

“Until this study it had been hoped the rate of extinction was slowing”, said lead author Dr Judit Szabo of Charles Darwin University.

“Historically most extinctions have occurred on islands, particularly those in the Pacific, but most of the really susceptible species are long gone.”

The study shows that the destruction of native habitat for agriculture is currently the main cause of extinctions. Unsustainable hunting and the introduction of alien species, such as cats and rats, have been the main causes of extinctions in the past.

“Humans are directly or indirectly responsible for this loss”, Dr Szabo said.

The world’s nations had agreed through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to slow biodiversity loss by 2010, and having failed to reach this goal, the target has now been adjusted to 2020.

Report co-author Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s Global Research Coordinator, said many species survive only because of conservation interventions.

“This list would have been much longer were it not for the work being done around the world to stop extinctions. But we need to scale up our efforts substantially to avoid further human-induced extinctions”, said Dr Butchart.

“Our analysis provides the most detailed picture to date of recent extinctions and will help us identify strategies to tackle the loss of biodiversity and halt future human-induced extinctions. The Conference of the Parties of the CBD that starts today in Hyderabad, India will need some firm action to achieve its target of achieving this by 2020.”

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Fears for endangered parrot as numbers drop


This year’s winter conservation count for one of Australia’s rarest birds has returned the lowest number of sightings since counting began.

It is estimated there are only about 50 orange-bellied parrots left in the wild.

About 20 parrots were seen in last year’s winter counts across South Australia and Victoria, but this year only one bird was spotted.

Count coordinator Bob Green says there could be a number of reasons for the decline.

“Numbers were down generally this year. The birds were a lot harder to find,” he said.

“Conditions were pretty good so there was a lot of seed out there and I think that just because of that, the birds had a lot bigger areas they could choose to feed in.

“We’ve always found it really hard to get a good population estimate from the winter counts.”

Mark Holdsworth from the Orange Bellied Parrot Recovery Program says the focus is now on bolstering the insurance population in captivity.

Once that happens birds will be released into the wild, but he says the wild population needs to hold on.

“Those captive birds need to learn from the wild birds, learn how to migrate, learn how to forage,” he said.

“We’ve got over 200 birds in captivity at the moment and ultimately those birds will be used to repopulate the wild.

“So we’ll be building the population up to 350 over the next year or two and we’ll be releasing hopefully large numbers of birds back into the wild.”

Wild birds are due to migrate to Tasmania for the breeding season within the next few weeks.

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Action crucial to save kea from extinction


Known as a cheeky character and scourge of the skifield, the kea certainly has its own brand of charisma but there are now fewer than 5000 of the endangered mountain parrots left in the wild.

Vulnerable to threats by exotic pests, toxins such as lead, and sometimes human cruelty, the kea has an ally in the Kea Conservation Trust, which aims to protect the species by pinpointing local threats and increasing awareness.

Trust chairwoman Tamsin Orr-Walker says the Watson brothers’ ambitious 21 peaks in 21 days fundraising expedition is a “creative and inspiring” way to address the plight of the kea, which could become extinct in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

“The brothers’ efforts will not only raise awareness of the issues facing kea in Nelson Lakes National Park and throughout the South Island, but will also raise vital funds to help us continue our work to save kea.”

Trust research in the late 1990s showed Nelson Lakes had a stable population but new studies between 2009 and 2012 have shown kea declined by 80 per cent during a decade.

The trust surveyed about 14,000 hectares of the national park and found just three resident pairs, only one of which was breeding at an average of two chicks a year.

In the 1990s there were 11 confirmed pairs over 7000ha producing 10 chicks on average each year.

To combat the alarming decline, the trust is working with the Conservation Department’s St Arnaud branch, by setting up pest control around nests.

Intensive yearly nest monitoring is being done.

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Endangered hornbill confiscated in Boracay


BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines (Xinhua) – Environment officials confiscated today a writhed-billed hornbill put on display in a mini zoo owned by a German national.

“The colorful writhed-billed hornbill has been considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to be one of the critically endangered species in the Philippines,” said Dr. Enrique Sanchez Jr., national president of the Philippine Initiative for Conservation of Environment and the People Incorporated (Philincon).

Sanchez said the German national, a resort owner in Boracay, voluntarily surrendered the hornbill to the environment department after weeks of negotiation.

“Upon confiscation, we will document first the hornbill and we expect to release the same bird to the forest of Antique hoping that it would grew its numbers,” he said.

The writhed-billed hornbill, locally known as “dulungan” or ” kalaw” and found in central Philippines, has been hunted down by poachers who sell them to private collectors.

Some resort owners in this island have mini zoos, using them to attract tourists.

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National bird faces extinction


(CNS):The Cayman parrot is facing a combination of threats which an international expert says could see the bird extinct within forty years if action is not taken to preserve the habitat the parrots need. Frank Rivera-Milán from the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been counting parrots in the Cayman Islands since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. During a presentation of his work here over the last eight years, Rivera-Milán issued a stark warning about the national birds and the threats they face which could in the face of another catastrophic event see them disappear.

Speaking at the Department of Environment on Wednesday, the bird expert noted the local parrots’ recovery in the wake of both Hurricanes Ivan and then Paloma on the Brac, which demonstrated their relative resilience to face what nature throws at them, but the birds are struggling in the face of hunting and development.

He pointed to the population on Cayman Brac, which is a sub species and on its evolutionary way to becoming a species of its own, but is at particular risk because of the rapid development of roads and subdivisions on the Brac that are destroying its already very limited habitat.

“Cayman Brac is going down the drain as development is going too fast,” Rivera-Milán warned as he pointed to the significant amount of clearance of the birds’ habitat in the last few years. He warned that there are an estimated 465 parrots left on the island but only 66 breeding pairs. He explained the rest of the birds are known as ‘floaters’, which are not yet producing offspring.

While the breeding pairs have remained relatively constant over the last 20 years, the decline in floater numbers, which would replace any loss of breeders, is a significant problem for the future population if there was to be another major storm, he said.

“We are losing floaters and once that starts to happen extinction is not very far away. We have a very volatile situation with the parrot population,” he warned.

The situation on Cayman Brac is compounded by the significant lack of habitat which is suitable for parrots. The birds colonize only around 4,000 hectares of the island, so even when a small amount of the trees and scrub where the birds live, and more importantly nest, are removed their survival becomes ever more tenuous.

Warning that the birds could be gone in less than four decades, he said the government needed to intervene with management policies, such as preserving existing nesting areas and breeding hot-spots, introducing nesting boxes, as well as preserving and planting key food sources for the parrots and enforceable legislation to protect them from trapping and hunting.

“The more habitat that is lost, the more the recovery from the storms is hampered,” he said, adding that there seemed to be no need in many cases for the development of such large roads he saw on the bluff during this visit. “The Brac population is literally hanging on. We are really in trouble.”

He lamented that land was stripped bare in order to make subdivision without retaining any of the natural habitat and wondered why the roads accessing sub divisions were so wide. He described the new public highway to the Agricultural Pavilion as more fitting for a major US city than the tiny island. The impact on the habitat from roads is not just limited to the area cleared but, he explained, it also knocks into that on the edges of the road because of the pollution and wind shear.

Although the national bird is protected under the animals law, wildlife experts here say that legislation has no teeth and that is why the parrots, like the rest of Cayman’s indigenous wildlife, is in desperate need of the National Conservation Law. No one has ever been prosecuted for taking or killing a parrot and there are no statistics revealing how many birds are killed or trapped each year.

In Grand Cayman the bird is considered a pest by many farmers. The pressures of development are driving the birds from their natural habitat into the farms and suburban areas to find food as a result of the dwindling supplies in the wild. Although Rivera-Milán said the food supply on Grand Cayman appeared to be slightly better than on the Brac, the parrots there are still at risk.

The biologist’s latest visit was focused on Cayman Brac and so his figures regarding Grand Cayman were, he said, best estimates but he pointed to around 4,000, which included 500 mating pairs. Rivera-Milán warned that these figures were still a major concern given the rate of development and the lack of any meaningful protection.

For the birds on both islands, Rivera-Milán said the habitat loss was dramatic and although it was still possible that both the Grand Cayman and the Cayman Brac parrots could make it, their survival depends very heavily on the will of government to make the right decisions regarding management and put the necessary policies in place to preserve the country’s national bird.

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