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.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has been in operation for more than 75 years and is actively involved in raptor conservation, public education and scientific research. This important refuge for birds of prey features an impressive number of falcons, eagles and hawks, lookout points, 8 miles of trails, an informative Visitor Center, a native plant garden and a bookstore. Visitors to the sanctuary can explore the trails by themselves or attend special weekend programs to learn more about raptors.

Situated in east-central Pennsylvania, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary covers an area of 2 600 acres. Add to this the 13 000 acres of public and private lands and the birds of prey are provided with a vast protected tract of contiguous forest. The varied topography of Hawk Mountain offers flora and fauna a variety of habitats. The main tree species growing there include Red Maple, hickory, birches, five oak species and Black Gum. Older sections of forest are the perfect haven for Pileated Woodpeckers and Winter Wrens.

Keen birders will certainly find Hawk Mountain Sanctuary a fantastic destination. Some 265 bird species have been documented in the area since 1934, with over 65 species regularly nesting there. The area serves as an important stopover habitat for some 100 migratory bird species, of which 16 are raptor species. Amongst the migrant birds nesting at Hawk Mountain are Wood Thrushes, Ovenbirds and Scarlet Tanagers. Broad-winged, Sharp-shinned, Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks have been seen nesting in the sanctuary, as have Great Horned, Eastern Screech, Northern Saw-Whet and Barred owls.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary does much to contribute towards raptor conservation. By means of their Conservation Science Program they seek to gain further insight into raptor migration, raptor population statuses, and how raptors live in the ecosystems where they reside. The Acopian Center for Conservation Learning was opened at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in 2002 and serves as a biological field station, as well as a training facility. Scientists, conservationists and the sanctuary’s personnel can work together here, making use of the GIS map lab, the world’s largest library of raptor literature, the archival storage room, a teaching lab, conference area and office spaces. Members of the public may only access the center on special occasions or by appointment.

Those who decide to visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary are advised to start off at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a number of interesting exhibits, including stunning carved replicas of Hawk Mountain’s most regular raptor visitors. As you browse through the displays you will learn about raptors, conservation and migration. The best time to visit is between the months of September and November, as this is when the greatest numbers of falcons, hawks and eagles are passing through. The trails at Hawk Mountain are open throughout the year (with a few exceptions), and from dawn until dusk. There is a trail admission charge for non-members, and this fee goes towards the maintenance of the sanctuary and its conservation programs.

13th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

December 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

What can visitors to the 13th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival look forward to? An exciting program featuring a silent auction, bird count list, art competition and over 70 exhibitors such as birding organisations, photography businesses, optics, nature-touring equipment, artists and more. Field trips as well as classroom presentations are also available. There will also be various opportunities to meet and mingle with like-minded individuals. Don’t forget to check out the “Behind the Scenes” tour of Florida Audubon’s Center for Birds of Prey.

Date: 27 January to 1 February 2010
Venue: Brevard Community College, Titusville Campus
City: Titusville, FL
Country: United States of America

Eagle Fest 2009

October 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The 12th Annual Eagle Fest, will be hosted by Soar South, which will see the team thrilling spectators with their presentation, from the 7th to the 22nd of November 2009. The Eagle Fest will kick off at the University of Wisconsin, and traveling to various other venues, such as the Midwest Museum of Natural History, the Crane Festival in Birchwood, Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville and the General Coffee State Park.

For specific times and dates for the various venues, visit the Soar South website at http://soarsouth.blogspot.com/2009/10/upcoming-programs-november-2009.html or email s.o.a.r.south@hotmail.com.

Date: 7 November 2009
Venue: Various
City: Various
Country: United States of America

Falcon Ridge Birds of Prey Show

October 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The Falcon Ridge Birds of Prey display centre, thrills visitors every morning, with a thrilling show, that highlights the intelligence, speed and unmatched power of these magnificent birds. Included into the show is an interesting talk on the history of Falconry and visitors will also learn how these predators of the sky use their mighty wings, powerful beaks and razor sharp claws.

Children are to be accompanied by adults, as some of these majestic birds are capable of attacking a small deer. For more information regarding the show and its schedule, contact Falcon Ridge show organizers directly on 082 774 6398.

Date: Every Day except Fridays
Venue: Falcon Ridge
City: Champagne Valley, Drakensburg
Country: South Africa

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