Raising a Chick at the Age of Sixty

March 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Wisdom’s first band was placed on her while incubating an egg in the year 1956, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been keeping an eye on her ever since. To be able to breed, a Laysan Albatross needs to be five years old, which now puts her age at an estimated sixty years. Wisdom is a celebrity of the North American Bird Banding Program, as she is the oldest bird on their records since the project was initiated ninety years ago. Now she is raising another chick, which brings her total number of chicks raised during her lifetime to approximately thirty to thirty-five. What is even more amazing, is the fact that these birds mate for life, meaning that her partner is either still accompanying her on her journey or she has outlived him.

The albatross has a long history with mankind, with sailors believing that each albatross was the soul of a lost sailor and thus they were extremely opposed to these birds being killed. The relationship between birds and humans might have changed somewhat, but they are still being studied and protected.

Not only is the new chick that Wisdom is raising a wonderful landmark event, but she has been a great source of information for researchers and scientists. Her estimated age is determined by the life cycle that the Laysan Albatross follows. Parents will raise a chick for an entire year, and once the chick is fledged, it heads out to sea for time period of between three to five years. These amazing birds will not touch ground during this time and are even able to take a small nap while they are flying. Due to these birds traveling a distance of around fifty thousand miles in a year, Wisdom has traveled an estimated two or three million miles already. She has most definitely used her wisdom to survive all these years.

Bruce Peterjohn could not be prouder of Wisdom, and as the North American Bird Banding Program chief, he was able to confirm that the second oldest Laysan Albatross that was recorded by the project was banded as a chick and lived to forty-two years and five months. And while Wisdom silently sits with her chick and continues on her journey, still looking fit and healthy, she has no idea what a stir she has caused amongst the humans who have been following her life and how proud and excited they are for her.

Nightingale’s Journey Provides Valuable Migratory Information

July 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

While being fairly nondescript in appearance, the nightingale is legendary for its amazing singing ability, which can often be heard at night, as well as in daylight hours. The name nightingale literally means ‘night songstress’ revealing the misconception early writers had that it is the female that produces the complex range of trills, whistles and gurgles, when in fact it is the male. It has long puzzled researchers as to where exactly in Africa these migratory birds spent the northern hemisphere’s winter months. Now thanks to technological advances, it has been possible for scientists in Norfolk to track a single nightingale’s 3,000 mile migratory journey, thereby providing invaluable information that will hopefully assist in halting the decline in numbers of this fascinating bird.

In April 2009, scientists from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) captured a male nightingale near Methwold Hythe in Norfolk and fitted it with a geolocator – a tiny device for tracking the bird’s position. This new technology has proven to be vastly superior in providing accurate information as compared to the method of ringing birds which has been used for decades prior to this. The information gathered helps scientist not only to examine threats to the wellbeing of breeding birds in their home territory, but also to evaluate whether migratory destinations of the birds are impacting negatively on their numbers.

Codenamed OAD, the nightingale left its home territory in Norfolk on July 25, 2009, arriving in southern France in mid-August. By September, OAD had arrived in northern Morocco, where it remained for around three weeks. The nightingale continued on to the Western Sahara, where it appeared to stop for a while before continuing to Senegal in November, and from there to Guinea Bissau where it remained until returning to Norfolk in February 2010. Due to the locator failing, the exact route of the return journey is not known, nevertheless it was captured by researchers about 50 yards from the spot where it was initially found in April 2009.

No doubt, the information gleaned from OAD’s epic journey will be of great value to BTO as they continue their work of understanding the pressures faced by birds migrating to Africa.

Osprey History in the Making

April 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

The Kielder Water and Forest Park is located in England. It is not only home to the country’s biggest forest areas, but the largest man-made lake to be found in northern Europe. Its remote location and breathtaking natural landscapes make the park a favorite amongst artists, hiking enthusiasts and cyclists. The park is also the perfect family escape. Animals and bird life play a vital role in the park, and recently the Kielder Water and Forest Park has taken on a conservation challenge that might just make history.

The arrival of a breeding pair of ospreys last year was an exciting event for the staff and rangers at the Kielder Water and Forest Park. It might not sound like a major event, but their sighting in the park marked the return of these magnificent birds to the Northumberland area in more than two hundred years. Ospreys are large raptors that feed on fish and are able to adapt to a variety of habitats, as long as there is water and enough food supply. Even though last year’s visitors did not nest in the park, it is hoped that they will return to the park this year, where a nesting platform will be waiting for them.

Ospreys are known to be very loyal to their partners, and more than often return to a nesting site. Rangers believe that by enticing a breeding pair to nest within the park, they will ensure the return of the birds and their young, and in future lure more breeding pairs to the park. The Kielder Water and Forest Reserve is the ideal location for ospreys, as the lake is able to provide them with both water and ample food supply. The park has now set up a nesting platform in a secret location that is situated deep within the isolation of the forest, and stands at a height of 18.2 meters. To capture the event, and allow visitors to be a part of the excitement, the park has installed CCTV cameras on the platform. This will allow the public to be a part of the excitement without any direct human interference. With all the preparations made, the Forestry Department and the Kielder Water and Forest Park will be waiting patiently to see the first signs of hope; namely the return of the male to scout for nesting sites.

Sugarcreek Bird Fair 2009

October 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The Sugarcreek Bird Farm specializes in the breeding, selling and care of exotic birds of all shapes and sizes. Not only can they assist in helping new owners choose the right bird for their lifestyle, but provide invaluable information on how to give your bird the best care. A few times a year, Sugarcreek hosts exciting bird events and fairs, that see breeders from all over the country bring their birds to showcase and on 15 November 2009, the Sugarcreek Bird Fair will again be an event of color and exotic splendor.

For more information in regard to the show, contact Sugarcreek Bird Farm directly on 937-848-4819, or visit their website at http://www.sugarcreekbirdfarm.com/default.asp.

Date: 15 November 2009
Venue: Sugarcreek Bird Farm
City: Bellbrook, Ohio
Country: United States of America

Hen Harrier to be Released into English Wilds

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

The hen harrier is one of the most endangered birds of prey in Britain. Their numbers have fallen incredibly in England in the past, with just ten breeding pairs having been counted last year. While this bird species was once very widespread across Britain, it now seems its domain is limited mainly to Scotland where there are about 630 breeding pairs.

The main reason behind the dramatic decline of hen harriers in England is systematic persecution – namely, the shooting of these birds in their natural habitats in the Pennines and the Peak District. This is an area where these birds come to prey on grouse chicks and it is here that they are most ruthlessly persecuted. However, it seems that government officials are not content to sit back and watch extinction in action. Natural England, a government conversation agency, has been hard at work at drafting up plans to save the hen harrier in England. They would like to reintroduce the bird into the ranges that it formerly inhabited, such as lowland farms, heathland and upland areas including the Exmoor, Dartmoor and New Forest areas. All this will hopefully take place during the course of the next two years. Until now their plans have been put forth somewhat clandestinely, with the proposals gaining approval from bird conservation organizations, environment ministers and moorland and country sports organizations. The detailed proposals will be officially released to the public in early April.

Why all the secrecy? It seems it is feared that there will be some opposition from certain conservationists and landowners. Caution certainly is the order of the day, since these birds can pose a threat to resident land owners in the proposed areas for release. Farmers in the area are already struggling with a surge in the number of sparrowhawks, red kits and buzzards and the addition of another feathered predator will no doubt only add to their worries. Some landowners use their estates primarily for pheasant and partridge shooting and are concerned that the birds could get in the way. Basically there are fears that the widespread and non-specific reintroduction of these birds of prey could cause havoc to a number of already established farm and gaming practices. What’s more, Scottish sheep farmers are already complaining about decreases in stock numbers due to the much higher numbers of hen harriers in those parts of the United Kingdom. While the reintroduction of the hen harriers to the English wilds is widely supported due to the fact that they are endangered, it seems it is hoped that conservation officials will choose wisely as to how many of these birds will be released and where they will be allowed to make their new home.

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