2011 Urban Bird Festival

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The Urban Bird Festival is a four-day event that will appeal to adults and children alike. This is an opportunity for new and experienced birders to gather and discover the many birds in the Twin Cities. Hosted by the Saint Paul Audubon, the festival includes day and evening bird walks, as well as other events to be held at Fridley’s Spingbrook Nature Center.

Date: 12 to 15 May 2011
Venue: Fridley’s Springbrook Nature Center
City: Fridley
State: Minnesota
Country: United States of America

Wind Power Threat to Birds

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Every country around the world is looking for alternative energy sources that will not harm the environment, as conservation of our planet has been at the forefront of many political discussions. Even though new technologies are being developed, every change made does have an impact on the environment in some way. Creating energy from wind also poses danger to the wildlife, especially to the lives of birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States has asked government to implement guidelines to energy developers, as rising bird deaths are causing great concern.

Wind energy operations could lead to the deaths of millions of birds if the correct guidelines are not put in place. In the year 2005, a report was released to highlight the threat to birds through manmade structures such as wind turbines, towers, power lines and telecommunication towers. The numbers were staggering, estimating that more than five hundred million birds were being killed by collisions with these structures in one year in the United States. The 2009 report released by the Fish and Wildlife Service showed that wind turbines were the causes of approximately four hundred and forty thousand bird deaths. Protecting vital bird species, such as bald eagles and golden eagles, is essential and the deaths of so many other birds are creating an imbalance in sensitive ecosystems. Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, commented on the guidelines proposal by saying: “We have a responsibility to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are built in the right way and in the right places so they protect our natural and cultural resources and balance the needs of our wildlife.”

Even though the American Bird Conservancy knows that the guidelines will not eliminate bird deaths completely, it will save millions of bird lives as the wind industry grows. Vice President of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, commented: “Let’s not fast-track wind energy at the expense of America’s birds. Just a few small changes need to be made to make wind bird-smart, but without these, wind power simply can’t be considered a green technology.” Bird groups and foundations are hoping that their guidelines will be taken seriously by the government, in order for technology to develop without damaging the environment.

Pet Bird Beak Health and Trimming

February 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The practice of beak trimming is somewhat controversial, and in making up your mind as to whether or not to trim your bird’s beak, it may be helpful to look at why a bird’s beak may need to be trimmed. The beak of a bird is made up of the jaw bone, which is covered by a sheath of keratin known as rhamphotheca. Keratin is the substance that our fingernails are made up of, and just as our fingernails continue to grow, a bird’s beak continues to grow throughout its lifetime. In the wild, this growth is worn down through the bird foraging for food, eating a hard diet, using its beak to climb, grooming activities and rubbing its beak on abrasive surfaces.

To ensure a healthy beak, provide your pet bird with a range of toys to chew, preferably something with different textures, such as a rope with pieces of wood, mineral blocks, pieces of leather and tough fabric attached to it. Most pet stores have these types of toys for sale, or you could make your own. Providing a cuttlefish is always a good idea. While some may advocate the use of sandpaper perch covers, others are against them as they may be too rough for the bird’s feet and cause problems. Rather see if you can find a cement perch, which is made specifically to ensure beak and nail health. Be sure to house your bird in a sturdy cage appropriate to its size, as biting through flimsy bars of a cage can cause damage to your bird’s beak. However, despite taking all these measures, at times a bird may develop problems with its beak overgrowing, and when this happens, it is imperative to go to an avian vet for an assessment and treatment, as there are some medical problems which can cause beak overgrowth.

Bearing in mind that the beak is used for climbing and playing, as well as for eating and obtaining nutrients for overall health, if a bird is developing beak problems, the quicker it is dealt with, the better. It is a good idea to check your bird’s beak on a daily basis, taking note of any cracks, discoloration, flaking or overgrowth. If your bird’s beak appears to be growing unevenly it could be an indication of an imbalance of nutrients in its diet, or even an underlying problem such as a liver disease. Even if the overgrowth has no medical cause, trimming a bird’s beak is best left to an expert to ensure a minimum of discomfort to your bird.

Should you be concerned about any aspect of your pet bird’s health, including beak overgrowth and abnormalities, nothing can substitute for the care and advice provided by a qualified avian veterinarian.

Crows Know How

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Researchers and scientists have been studying the New Caledonian crow for a number of years now. It has proven to be a bird with extraordinary capabilities, able to solve problems and use tools to gain access to food. This remarkable talent has led to numerous papers being published in regard to the intelligence of the crow. It seems that researchers wanted more and believed that the crows’ problem solving skills could be pushed a little further, and they were right. New tests have shown that crows are able to devise plans and show extreme caution in unfamiliar circumstances.

The first round of research was done to see how crows make use of tools to forage. Researchers gave the crows a three phase puzzle which was solved successfully. They first used a short stick to retrieve a longer stick, which they then had to use to get to their food which was placed in a hole. This test already stunned researchers, but the crows have now shown that they use tools for various other actions as well.

Over and above using sticks to find food, it seems that New Caledonian crows also use sticks to look at objects they deem to be potentially dangerous. Instead of inspecting it closely, they make use of their sticks to take a look around first before approaching something they are unfamiliar with. Dr. Joanna Wimpenny, a research zoologist on the team is very excited about the new findings, saying: “Evidence is building up that they’re able to plan their actions in advance, which is very interesting from a cognition point of view. It isn’t just that they’re responding in a pre-programmed sort of way. It seems possible they may potentially view a problem and know what the answer is.”

To test this, a rubber snake was used in one instance. The crow moved a little closer, but showed signs of being hesitant. He then used a tool to prod the snake a few times and after seeing no movement, he quickly pulled on the tail while jumping backwards. Once he was sure that the rubber snake posed no danger, he approached completely and began pecking on it. These tests and research prove that crows have an intricate thought process. Further behavioral studies are underway to find out more about these fascinating birds and their intelligent problem solving abilities.

2011 San Diego Bird Festival/Audubon California Assembly

February 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Taking place concurrently, the 2011 San Diego Bird Festival and the Audubon California Assembly will run from 2 to 6 March 2011. The entire festival will consist of 17 Assembly events, birding trips, workshops, mixers, and the Birding & Optics Expo. The Keynote Speaker for the event will be Peter Harrison.

Date: 3 to 6 March 2011
Venue: Marina Village Conference Center
City: San Diego
State: California
Country: United States of America

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