Visit the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary

January 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

Established in 2006, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary in South Africa cares for more than 180 birds representing 50 different raptor species. The sanctuary’s permanent residents have either been bred in captivity, or have sustained injuries which significantly limit their chances of survival in the wild. Located close enough to both Durban and Pietermaritzburg to allow easy access for a day trip, the sanctuary offers unique insight into South Africa’s amazing predatory birds which is both educational and entertaining.

The sanctuary’s permanent residents include vultures, eagles, falcons, kestrels, goshawks, sparrowhawks, buzzards, hawks, kites and owls. Many of the birds have been named, with a record of their rescue story available to visitors. Eagles are rightly viewed as the mightiest of the birds of prey and the sanctuary’s Eagle Alley allows visitors a close up look at some of these majestic birds. Other sections of the sanctuary are Hoot Hollow for the owls; Honeycomb Habitats housing diurnal raptors; and the Vulture Hide with its eight indigenous vulture species, all of which are considered to be threatened.

In addition to being a popular tourism attraction, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is dedicated to ongoing research, including breeding and rehabilitation projects, with a view to conserving the birds in their natural South African environment. The Raptor Rescue operation run by the sanctuary is kept separate from the public area and is not open to visitors. If rescued birds are to be rehabilitated and released into the wild again, it is in their best interests not to be exposed to too many people. In addition to being stressful for them, too much interaction with humans could make the birds tame, thereby hampering their chances of survival in the wild. For research purposes birds are ringed before being released into a suitable habitat, if possible where they were found.

One of the most exciting features of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is the flying display, and visitors should be sure to plan their day to include one of these demonstrations, bearing in mind that they are weather dependent. Flying display times are Monday to Friday at 10:30am, and at 10:30am and 3pm on weekends and public holidays. As a privately funded conservation initiative, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary relies on entrance fees to continue their work. So, why not support this worthy cause, and enjoy an outing you are not likely to forget.

Winter Wings Festival

January 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Presented by the Klamath Basin Audubon Society, the Winter Wings Festival is the country’s oldest bird festival. The festival will include field trips, family events, workshops, bird banding, photography, dining and more. Keynote speakers will include Kenn Kaufman and Darrell Gulin Be sure to visit the Winter Wings Festival website for a full view of the schedule and to register for events.

Date: 17-19 February 2012
Location: Klamath Basin
City: Klamath Falls
State: Oregon
Country: United States of America

Florida Scrub-Jay Festival

January 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

The Florida Scrub-Jay Festival is a free family event that focuses on this threatened bird species. During the day visitors will find out more about the bird’s habitat, enjoy presentations and join in on guided nature walks.

Date: 4 February 2012
Time: 10 am
Venue: Oscar Scherer Park
Town: Osprey
State: Florida
Country: United States of America

Parrotlet Color Mutations

January 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Parrotlets are sweet, feisty little birds with a love for life. These little guys come in a range of colors. Hopefully after reading this you will have a better idea of these mutations and will appreciate them.

Blue
The blue mutation is one of the more popular and common color. As the name implies, these parrotlets are an attractive light blue. Sometimes referred to as ‘Mountain Blues’, these little guys are easy to find and beautiful.

Dilute Blue
These parrotlets are less common and are commonly mistaken for white parrotlets. They are mostly white; however, they have a tiny hint of extremely pale blue around their eyes, which you can use to differentiate between the two types. They are less common, so you may need to go to a breeder to get one.

White
As the name implies, these parrotlets are pure white. They are much like the Dilutes – but without the blue. They are uncommon, but can be found in some breeders’ aviaries. Males, when placed under ultraviolet light, have blue edges on their wings.

Albino
Albino parrotlets are almost exactly the same as the White, but they have red eyes due to lack of pigmentation. These parrotlets are semi-rare so you may need to do some searching for them.
Their wings do not turn blue under ultraviolet light.

American Yellow
These parrotlets are some of the few colors to be developed in the Americas and not in Europe. A bright yellow, they have black eyes. There is a variation of these with red eyes referred to as Lutinos. Both of these are somewhat uncommon.

Dilute
Dilute is a darker version of the normal green found on parrotlets. It has a gray hue and is actually a very attractive color on them. It is extremely rare and only found on Green-Rumped parrotlets.

Fallow
Fallow is a beautiful color mutation. These birds look much like normal parrotlets but with a yellow face and red eyes. These are extremely rare, and you may not be able to currently obtain one.

Dark Factor
Dark Factor parrotlets are the newest color mutation. These birds are a brown-green color with black flight feathers. Since these have just been discovered, they are still very rare and hard to find.

European Yellows
These birds are the cousin of the American Yellows, but look different – having spots of greenish feathering, not ha consistent yellow like the Americans. These are hard to find without a little searching.

Hopefully this article has cleared up your understanding of parrotlet colors. If you would like one, contact a breeder. Mutations are not commonly found at rescues or shelters.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

DNA Research Reveals Lifespan Link

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Glasgow have determined in a study of the DNA of a captive population of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), that just one specific piece of genetic material in a bird’s cells can reveal how long it is likely to live. Called telomeres, these portions of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which mark the ends of chromosomes are found in almost all higher animals and plants. Telomeres help to protect the ends of chromosomes as they divide, preventing them from fusing with one another, or unraveling. After time, telomere ends become shorter and no longer protect chromosomes, resulting in cell damage and deterioration.

It has long been suspected that telomeres decline and the ageing process are closely linked, but this has not been proven in humans, and studies thus far have relied on limited monitoring during a lifespan. This recent study started measuring telomere length when the zebra finches were twenty-five days old and continued periodically over the course of the birds’ lives. The results, which were published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed a close association between telomere length and longevity. Although the results in this study are very convincing, ecologist Pat Monaghan of the University of Glasgow notes that this does not necessarily hold true for humans, and telomere researcher Duncan Baird of Cardiff University agrees.

Zebra finches were chosen for the study as they breed well in captivity and have an average lifespan of nine years, allowing researchers to draw conclusions in a relatively short space of time when compared to humans, while at the same time not being as short-lived as mice. A total of ninety-nine finches were used in the study and it was noted that the association between lifespan and telomere length was strongest at twenty-five days of age. This is a time in the bird’s life when it is almost fully grown, but still sexually immature and reliant of its parents for sustenance. This age would be roughly equivalent to a prepubescent human.

More research needs to be done to determine the significance of the results, as it is known that telomere length is not exclusively genetically determined and can be shortened by stressful events. Baird also noted that the data doesn’t reveal whether telomeres are driving the ageing process. Moreover, the results were for the entire population of birds being monitored, individual results may present a different picture.

Next Page »