Astounding Research into Great Snipe Migration

May 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

There are twenty-five species of wading birds that fall under the Scolopacidae family, and the great snipe is one of them. Generally recognized by their long bills and plumage coloring that allows it to blend in with its surroundings, there is a magnificent talent that the snipe possesses that has been recently been uncovered. This beautiful shore bird is quite small and its stocky body, which they ensure carries enough fat by August, assists them in their migration. But until recently, their migration patterns were a mystery, and the information revealed by a project started in 2009 has uncovered breathtaking details.

Raymond Klaassen, a biologist from the Lund University in Sweden, captured ten great great snipes and managed to tag them to collect information in regard to their migration. Captured and let go on the western coast of Sweden, three birds returned and were recaptured to have their tags removed, revealing the most staggering information. For the first time ever, the migration of great snipes could be put on record, but even for scientists and biologists, the information received from the tags was overwhelming. It seems the great snipe tops all other birds when it comes to migration as it is able to fly an impressive four thousand miles without making any stops to eat, drink or sleep. Not only was the flight astounding, given that the great snipe is able to fly ninety-six hours non-stop, but they also averaged speeds of fifty miles per hour. The flights were compared to wind charts showing that the birds had almost no tail winds during their migrations, meaning that they are able to make the flights and maintain high speeds on their own.

One of the recaptured tagged birds completed a migration of three thousand eight hundred miles, while the other two had migrations of two thousand eight hundred miles and four thousand two hundred miles. The first trip took eighty-four hours, while the others took forty-eight hours and eighty-four hours. Klaassen commented that the reason why the great snipes do not stop on their flights is unknown, but it is suspected that this is the unique migration strategy of the great snipe. Even though there are other birds that are also able to travel vast distances, it is the speed the great snipes are able to travel at that has astonished researchers, as their wings are not the most aerodynamic of the bird kingdom. But it seems the fat they store before a migration gives them enough energy to maintain speed and cover large distances. According to this new information and studies, the great snipe can officially be called the king of bird migrations.

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park – Haven of Tranquillity

May 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, or KL Bird Park, is located in the Kuala Lake Gardens, which is an approximate ten minute drive from the bustling city limits of this Malaysian metropolis. It is situated in one of the most tranquil settings that visitors are likely to find, and the bird park covers such a large area, that it was necessary to divide the park into four zones. The 20.9 acres of the park is home to over three thousand birds, that belong to an estimated two hundred bird species, giving visitors the opportunity to see birds they have never been able to view before.

The most extraordinary and unique feature of the bird park, in zones one to three, is that the birds here are not kept in cages, and the valleys and vegetation are near perfect replicas of their natural habitats in the wild. This means that the birds are able to fly around freely, and engage in activities that they would normally do if not held captive, such as breeding and interacting with other birds. Visitors will pass through different landscaped areas, that are unique to the needs of certain birds in the park, such as fallen trees, a tropical rainforests and thick piles of leaves on the forest floor that have been left as they would be in the wild. Birds of all colors and sizes fly overhead or comfortably perch themselves around the park, not giving the human visitors much attention. Birds such as peacocks, egrets, yellow-billed storks, ibises and doves live peacefully at the KL Bird Park, and special areas around the park are as breathtaking as they are educational, such as the Flamingo Pond, Bul Bul Land, Bird Gallery and Educational Centre, Love Aviary, Waterfall Aviary and Amphitheater. There are also other activities to thrill visitors with, such as the daily bird show, children’s playground, shelters and places for visitors to rest while bird watching, restroom and prayer room.

The park is not only proud of the wonderful variety of free-flying birds, but also their breeding program that is assisting greatly in the repopulation of various species. The KL Bird Park Breeding Program includes birds such as Emu, African Grey Parrots, Yellow-Billed Storks, Silver Pheasants, Red Lory, Indian Blue Peafowl, Milky Stork, Eclectus Parrot, Straw-Headed Bulbul, Malay Peackock Pheasant and the Red Junglefowl. The KL Bird Park also has a gift shop and restaurant for visitors to buy souvenirs and get refreshments, and each visitors’ presence assists the park in creating a future for the birds of Kuala Lumpur, and species of various other countries.

2011 State of the Birds Report

May 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

In the United States there are more than a thousand bird species, and of that number, two hundred and fifty-one species are either of conservation concern or on the endangered list. The release of the 2011 State of the Birds Report did bring some good news to the table in regard to the preservation of these threatened species. It researched a staggering 3.5 million square miles across the ocean and 850 million acres of open areas and public spaces, studying the bird populations and their habitats. Even though many bird species do nest in public spaces, it does not protect them from threats.

According to the 2011 State of Birds Report, the reserves, parks and wildlife refuges that provide protected areas for wildlife are assisting in preventing the decline of numerous species, and keeping them away from endangerment. There are, however, a few points that the report tries to highlight, as public awareness of these facts could help birds in the future.

The report states that the United States’ publicly owned land covers nearly one-third of the land, and includes marine protected areas, wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks and national parks. It also states regarding the habitats of ocean birds, of which there are 173 coastal species and 86 species that are ocean birds, that thirty-nine percent of these species are declining and the ecosystems are greatly stressed. When looking at the aridlands, it was found that thirty-nine species here were of great conservation concern and that approximately seventy-five percent of the species found here were also on the decline. Hawaii was red flagged as an area where birds were at a high risk of extinction and that almost eighty percent of the forest birds depended on state land for their survival. The wetlands have seen an increase in the waterfowl population, while grassland birds are under the most threat as only thirteen percent of their habitat is publically owned and populations are therefore in great danger of declining.

Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, released a statement to the press in regard to the State of the Birds report, saying that the report assists authorities in knowing if conservation efforts in water and on land are being fulfilled as best as they could. He went on to say that even though the report does show that progress is being made, that there was still a way to go and room for improvement. Salazar acknowledged that due to the birds making use of public land, conservation projects can be intensified and save numerous birds from extinction.

Rat Poison a Danger to Birds

May 10, 2011 by  
Filed under News

It is a fine line between getting rid of pesky rodents and in doing so, attributing to the deaths of birds of prey. Researchers have been working tirelessly to try and determine which bird species are more susceptible to the poison and which birds are affected immediately, as well as trying to find ways to curb the accessibility of poisoned rodents to birds of prey. Their studies have had some remarkable and disturbing results, showing that less poison than previously thought is enough to cause serious damage.

It has been an ongoing study to figure out exactly how much rat poison is fatal for birds, and it seems that it does not take much to cause major harm. For years it has been known that wildlife is exposed to rat poisons through affected rodents. As rats were becoming resistant to the old poison formulas, new ones were created, but these poisons also pose a great risk. To understand the risks, a group of scientists from Environment Canada, with Philippe Thomas leading, began researching the effect rat poison had on birds by analyzing the livers from dead red-tailed hawks and great horned owls that they had found across Canada. It was important to the group to try and determine an estimated mortality rate for the birds, the rats and the population. It seems that some poisons do not kill rats immediately. Rats are still able to function for several days after poisoning, but as the poison begins to take its toll, rats become disorientated and easier prey for birds such as the great horned owl and the red-tailed hawks.

While studying the great horned owls, it was found that they were at serious risk of being fatally effected by the secondary digestion of rat poisons. The owls that were analyzed showed a higher percentage of poison in their livers than the red-tailed hawks, and their livers showed the presence of bromadiolone and brodifacoum. Scientists speculate that this result could be due to the different feeding habits and dietary needs of the birds. The lethal poisons that are in question are SGARs, or Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides. While it is understood that rats are pests and should be controlled, the team has stressed the urgency of educating the public on how to use these poisons safely, to pose as minimum a threat to wildlife as possible.

2011 HummerBird Celebration

May 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

With loads of activities for the entire family, the annual HummerBird Celebration offers families a great opportunity to introduce children to the joys of the outdoors and wildlife. James Currie of Nikon Birding Adventures TV-fame will be the keynote speaker at the event. Together with Mike Freiberg of Nikon, he will be filming the activities at the 2011 HummerBird Celebration.

Dates: 15-18 September 2011
Venue: Rockport-Fulton
State: Texas
Country: United States of America

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