Downeast Spring Birding Festival 2013

April 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

The 10th annual Downeast Spring Birding Festival will be taking place on Memorial Day Weekend, offering hikes, boat tours, presentations, and more. Visitors can expect to see puffins, bald eagles, nesting waterfowl and spring migration visitors aplenty. For more information visit the Downeast Spring Birding Festival Website.

Dates: 24-27 May 2013
Venue: Cobscook Community Learning Center
State: Maine
Country: United States

Making a Difference with Bird-Safe Buildings

April 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Completed in 2010, the Aqua skyscraper in Chicago has been applauded for its revolutionary design and aesthetic appeal, but what is of particular interest to bird conservation groups is the fact that the building is bird-safe. Garnering the approval of PETA and the American Bird Conservancy, the 86-floor building is designed in such a way as to minimize the risk of birds colliding into its windows – a major cause of bird deaths and injury in metropolitan areas. This is achieved, in part, by the undulating concrete terraces which, along with ceramic in the glass, break reflections off the windows. The building is reportedly being reviewed for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Although the New York City Audubon Society in 2007 published a set of guidelines related to designing bird-safe buildings, research has revealed that these are seldom taken into account even when designing environmentally friendly buildings. Even LEED, which is fast becoming a sought after certification for green buildings, only awards one point for the bird-safe factor of a building and does not make it a stipulated requirement. Toronto and Chicago are among the cities promoting bird-safe building design, but as yet there is no nationally recognized certification or requirement for this.

With more and more birds being forced to adapt to city living as their rural territory is encroached on by development, environmentalists are tallying up the casualties, estimating that throughout North America up to 100 million birds are killed every year as a direct result of colliding with high-rise buildings, and even more than that number are injured. Moreover, in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, some architects attempt to make the most of natural light by installing larger windows, thereby creating even more of a hazard to birds. Some progress has been made in producing window glass or glass coatings to reduce the risk, such as the German-made Ornilux, but for any meaningful change to come about architects need to seriously take the welfare of birds into account when designing new buildings.

Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival 2013

April 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

Taking place on 8-13 May the Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival 2013 includes tours, lectures and a banquet with the keynote speaker Mark Obmascik sharing his vast knowledge. A silent auction and artshow, as well as personalized tours by birding experts are other features of the event. For more information visit

Dates: 8-12 May 2013
Venue: Cortez Cultural Center
City: Cortez
State: Colorado
Country: USA

Santa Cruz Nature & Heritage Festival 2013

April 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Events

This exciting wildlife festival includes two birding trips to Mexico and five trips in the Southern Arizona region where birders will have the opportunity to see a host of nesting migratory birds, particularly hummingbirds, along with permanent feathered residents. For more in formation visit

Dates: 2-5 May 2013
Venue: Rio Rico
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Flightless Birds of New Zealand

April 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

There are around forty species of flightless birds in the world today, with New Zealand being home to the greatest number of these species. Among New Zealand’s flightless birds are the kiwi, takahe, kakapo and several species of penguins. It is thought that these New Zealand birds never developed the ability to fly because they had no land-based predators to escape from – until the arrival of human beings. Isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years, these flightless birds adapted to their environment in a way that would most benefit them.

Endemic to New Zealand, the kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is a flightless parrot with nocturnal habits. Its speckled yellow-green plumage acts as a camouflage for the ground-dwelling herbivorous kakapo. It is the world’s only flightless parrot, as well as being the heaviest parrot in the world, and very possibly the longest-living bird with an average life expectancy of 95 years. It is also the only parrot to have a lek courtship and breeding system, where males gather in an arena and compete with one another to attract available females. The female chooses her mate, presumably based on his performance, they mate and go their separate ways, with the female raising the young. Up to three eggs are laid on the ground or in cavities of tree trunks, with the female incubating them. As she has to leave the eggs at night to search for food, they are subject to plundering by predators, and embryos may die of cold. Chicks that make it through to see the light of day are also vulnerable and remain in the nest until 10 to 12 weeks of age. They stay with their mother for the first six months of their lives. The kakapo is listed as ‘critically endangered’ by the IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Once thought to be extinct, and rediscovered in 1948, the takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) is another of New Zealand‘s flightless birds. Primarily deep purple-blue in color, the adult bird has a red frontal shield and reddish-pink bill, with pink legs. These monogamous birds are very territorial, laying their eggs in nests under bushes. Conservationists have relocated small groups of the birds to some offshore islands – Kapiti, Maud, Mana and Tiritiri Matangi – considered to be predator-free, where birding enthusiasts can view them in the wild. Thanks to intervention by conservationists, this unusual bird has made a comeback from near extinction to being listed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN red list.

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