Birds of New York City Get New Rehab Center

June 19, 2012 by  
Filed under News

New York City has opened its first wildlife rehabilitation and education center, a much-needed facility in a city that hosts more than 355 bird species on their annual migration along the East Coast flyway, in addition to the multitude of birds that are permanent city residents. The non-profit Wild Bird Fund and its team of dedicated volunteers has been providing emergency care for more than a thousand birds and animals each year in New York City. Working along with Animal General and the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine, licensed rehabilitation volunteers take the injured birds, squirrels, and other small creatures into their own homes to care for them. The new 1300-square-foot rehabilitation center on Columbus Avenue between 87th and 88th street will provide a temporary sanctuary, with the emphasis on rehabilitation for reintroduction into the wild wherever possible.

Rita McMahon and Karen Heidgerd started the non-profit Wild Bird Fund more than a decade ago, and the need continues to grow. Birds crash into windows, become disoriented, dehydrated or fall out of their nests. Others are victims of humans who simply don’t want the birds around. Some people coat their windowsills with sticky glue to discourage the birds, but the glue coats the birds’ feathers and causes them injury.

With the new facilities, the Wild Bird Fund hopes to expand its capacity for assisting injured birds by up to fifty percent. To meet this goal the organization is looking for additional volunteers to feed baby birds and carry out the many duties required to rehabilitate rescued birds. They also need donations to help toward obtaining the equipment and consumable supplies necessary to provide adequate care.

The center already has more than 60 birds and other animals to care for, and now that the first rehabilitation center has been established, McMahon hopes to fulfill her five-year plan of having intake centers in all five boroughs of the city. At the recent Wild Bird Fund gala, author Jonathan Franzen noted that “There are roughly 100 billion birds in the world, but the 7 billion strong human population is making it harder and harder for those birds to survive. Like it or not, we are the stewards of the birds now. We claimed the planet.” Food for thought indeed!

Mynahs as Pet Birds

May 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Mynah’s make fascinating pets and are the best mimics in the world of birds. Categorized amongst the softbills, these playful birds require special care, especially when it comes to diet. It is also important to note that they are very active birds and require a lot of space. If you think a mynah is the bird for you, then read on.

It is important that you obtain your mynah bird from a reputable domestic mynah breeder, so as to avoid supporting wildlife smugglers, who are responsible for the deaths of vast numbers of birds captured in the wild. Because mynahs can, and should, only be obtained through domestic breeders, it may be a challenge to obtain one; however, there are a number of online resources that will assist you in locating a good breeder.

The most popular pet mynah species are the Greater Indian Hill mynah and the Java Hill mynah. Java Hill mynah’s are the larger of the two and are notable for having a clearer, more human-like voice. On the other-hand Greater Indian Hill mynahs are known to be easier to handle. Mynah’s do well on their own, but a pair is also acceptable. They tend to make more noise when there are two, and do better in an outdoor aviary.

It is advisable to house your mynah in a large cage with a few perches made of natural branches, as they do not climb but only fly and hop. A cage with a grated floor is best as it allows for easy cleaning of the newspaper lined catch tray. A shelf and a nest box will make your mynah feel right at home. The mynah’s cage should be put in a busy part of the home as they are gregarious and enjoy company. Avoid drafty spots and direct sunlight. Include a bathing dish in the cage, along with a water bottle or dish. Be sure to keep both sources of water clean. Supply your very active bird with toys such as mirrors, bells, swings, bottle caps, paper and so forth. Be careful of rope toys as these may catch the tongue of your mynah.

Mynah’s require a specialized diet as hemochromatosis is common. This is a disease that causes too much iron to collect in the bird’s liver, resulting in the bird being poisoned. As such, the mynah must be fed a low iron diet, preferably softbill food that has been formulated to meet their needs. Avoid things such as parrot food, red meat, acidic fruits, seeds and live foods. Recommended fruits to accompany the pelleted diet include apple, banana, melon and grapes, with the seeds removed. Keep the food dishes clean and the cage free of uneaten food items that may spoil. You may wish to give your mynah distilled water if you are concerned about the iron content in your water.

While there are number of considerations to take into account before bringing a pet mynah into your home, if you do decide to do so you will find it a truly rewarding experience.

Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival

September 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The 19th Annual Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival will be a fantastic event for all bird lovers. Friday kicks off with keynote speakers Michael male and Judey Fieth. The resto of the schedule offers a great line-up, including an exhibition, vendors, wildlife watching at Cape Charles, the Family Passport Program, a fun run and more. Be sure to catch this great festival.

Date: 7 to 9 October 2011
Venue: Cape Charles Volunteer Fire Department Building
City: Cape Charles
State: Virginia
Country: United States of America

Explore the Birds of Vermont Museum

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Through its displays of superb wood-carvings, representing close to 500 birds from 258 species, the Birds of Vermont Museum offers visitors the opportunity to discover the diverse birdlife of the State of Vermont. The life-like carvings are displayed in settings closely resembling the habitats each species would favor in its natural surroundings. As a non-profit organization, the museum is dedicated to educating the public, while encouraging an appreciation of the environment and the wildlife, particularly of the feathered kind, that depends on the environment remaining intact.

Most of the museum’s birds have been carved by Robert Spear, Jr., a local naturalist and author who founded the museum to pursue his goal of using biologically and anatomically accurate wood carvings to teach both children and adults about the essential role birds play in the ecosystem. The museum’s collection is arranged in four major groups in accordance with their habitat – Wetlands in Spring and Fall; Endangered and Extinct; Special Exhibit; and Nesting Birds and Raptors.

The Wetlands in Spring and Fall category features a loon family, spring and autumn migration scenes, and two wetland dioramas. The Endangered and Extinct category features a range of birds, as well as an Archaeopteryx – a genus of theropod dinosaur controversially believed to have been the oldest known bird. The intricately carved California condor is one of the largest of Bob Spear’s works and took him more than 500 hours to complete. The Special Exhibit located near the Autumn Migration Diorama consists of a Turkey which took the meticulous artist two years to complete. The Nesting Birds and Raptors display is in the main gallery and features all the nesting birds of Vermont in their respective nests displayed in more than 120 glass cases, while raptors in flight hang from the ceiling overhead. A Winter Diorama displays birds that only visit the area during the wintertime, and then only if their food supplies have run out in their northern habitats. The balcony off the main gallery features hawks and their prey, as well as a magnificent Bald Eagle.

The Birds of Vermont Museum is located in a 100-acre nature conservation area, and in addition to viewing the wood-carved birds, visitors can stroll along the various trails and participate in early morning Bird Monitoring walks, and students can sign up as volunteers to assist with various projects. This unique and fascinating museum is an enduring testament to the efforts of a group of people dedicated to sharing nature’s wonders with others.

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.

Wind Power Threat to Birds

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Every country around the world is looking for alternative energy sources that will not harm the environment, as conservation of our planet has been at the forefront of many political discussions. Even though new technologies are being developed, every change made does have an impact on the environment in some way. Creating energy from wind also poses danger to the wildlife, especially to the lives of birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States has asked government to implement guidelines to energy developers, as rising bird deaths are causing great concern.

Wind energy operations could lead to the deaths of millions of birds if the correct guidelines are not put in place. In the year 2005, a report was released to highlight the threat to birds through manmade structures such as wind turbines, towers, power lines and telecommunication towers. The numbers were staggering, estimating that more than five hundred million birds were being killed by collisions with these structures in one year in the United States. The 2009 report released by the Fish and Wildlife Service showed that wind turbines were the causes of approximately four hundred and forty thousand bird deaths. Protecting vital bird species, such as bald eagles and golden eagles, is essential and the deaths of so many other birds are creating an imbalance in sensitive ecosystems. Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, commented on the guidelines proposal by saying: “We have a responsibility to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are built in the right way and in the right places so they protect our natural and cultural resources and balance the needs of our wildlife.”

Even though the American Bird Conservancy knows that the guidelines will not eliminate bird deaths completely, it will save millions of bird lives as the wind industry grows. Vice President of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, commented: “Let’s not fast-track wind energy at the expense of America’s birds. Just a few small changes need to be made to make wind bird-smart, but without these, wind power simply can’t be considered a green technology.” Bird groups and foundations are hoping that their guidelines will be taken seriously by the government, in order for technology to develop without damaging the environment.

41st Annual Rivers and Wildlife Celebration

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Presented by Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Bird Partnership and Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, the Rivers and Wildlife Celebration sees bird and wildlife enthusiasts gathering to celebrate the migration of waterfowl and 500 000 sandhill cranes through central Nebraska. Visitors to the event can enjoy crane viewing, excursions to wetlands and lakes and The Wild Experience Room. Keynote speakers will be David yarnold, Dr. Richard Beilfuss and Rick Wright.

Date: 17 to 20 March 2011
Venue: Holiday Inn Convention Center
City: Kearney
State: Nebraska
Country: United States of America

Stanford Strettons Bird Fair 2010

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The Stanford Strettons Bird Fair 2010 is an event that birding enthusiasts in South Africa should not miss out on. It is a weekend filled with magnificent activities and workshops, that not only highlight the breathtaking bird life of the region, but the wildlife and natural wonders of the Western Province. Self guided tours will be available for bird lovers to enjoy, as well as a fascinating talk by Naas Terblance called The Sound of Birds, gin tastings, photography competitions, boat trips and much more.

The Stanford Birding website has all relevant information available in regard to the bird fair and can be explore at http://www.stanfordbirding.co.za/.

Date: 1 – 3 October 2010
Venue: Various
City: Stanford, Cape Town
Country: South Africa

Intrusion Costs Louisiana on Many Levels

May 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Nearly 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt walked amongst the thousands of shorebirds nesting and roosting in the rookeries along the United States’ coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Due to his conservation efforts, and those of the conservationists of his time, Breton Island and the Chandeleur Islands, barrier islands off of the Louisiana coast, became protected habitats for shorebirds. The Breton National Wildlife Refuge was established during the presidential administration of Roosevelt, in 1904, and was subsequently visited by him in 1915.

Eroded and battered by hurricanes and other forces of nature, these islands, today, face another obstacle to survival. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, and injuring many more. The rig, 50 miles off the shore of Venice, Louisiana (the southeast “toe of the boot” of Louisiana’s geographical imprint), eventually sank and started spewing crude oil from the bottom of the Gulf – over 200,000 gallons a day, by some estimates. There is never a good time for a disaster such as this – but this happens to be the approach of the peak migratory and nesting season for many species of indigenous shorebirds.

British Petroleum, the holder of the contract for exploration and production at the site, has been reluctant to estimate the amount of oil being released, but has worked feverishly to minimize damage to the environment. Still, efforts by BP and the United States Coast Guard have not been enough to hold back the tide of crude creeping toward the shores of these protected jewels.

One would assume that everything that can be done is being done, for now – but what about thinking ahead to the future? There have been reports of cautionary flags raised hours before this catastrophe. Only time will tell if there were any signs of things to come, and, if there were, how warnings were heeded or disregarded.

It seems that the benefits of prevention would far outweigh the temporary profits realized from ignoring a dangerous situation; unfortunately, too often, it takes a disaster to bring thought and common sense into operations. In the end, it’s not the disaster that really matters, but the costs involved to remediate the damage done as a result of bad decisions.

Costs in cleanup will be tallied, lawsuits will be filed, and court cases will be settled. In the end, there will be a substantial monetary price to be paid. Ultimately, though, there will be the reality that not every cost can be covered by any amount of financial reparation.

There will be lingering effects on the environment and on the humans and wildlife dependent on that environment for survival. Human lives have been lost; ecosystems are being damaged; and wildlife is being killed. We will never have an accurate tally on the true costs of this disaster; but, hopefully, the pecuniary calculations that will take place might make decision makers cognizant of the consequences of their actions, or their lack thereof.

Article contributed by Cory Turner

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

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