All posts by bird-nerd

‘Millions are dying’: Disturbing photo shows what is killing our native birds

Nadine Carroll Yahoo News Australia 28 October 2019

A magpie has shocked wildlife carers after a clump of tangled plastic and rubber was found inside the sick bird.

The staff at Perth’s Native Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Native ARC) said the bird was “emaciated, lethargic and extremely unwell” when it was bought into the hospital.

After medical care, the bird shocked staff when it passed the large amount of plastic.

“This is what was pooed out by a Magpie in our hospital this week,” the Native ARC staff wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

“Upon inspection the item was a mix of balloon, plastic and rubber band,” the post continued.

The magpie was able to pass the large mass of intertwined rubbish after receiving medical care from the non-profit organisation and is on the road to recovery but Native Arc posted that the bird was one of the “lucky few that made it to medical care”.

The large clump of plastic that was passed by the magpie (left).

The magpie shocked staff when it passed a large clump of tangled plastic (left). Source: Getty stock/Facebook/Native ARC Inc

“It is estimated millions of birds die each year as a result of plastic ingestion,” Native ARC wrote.

The post urged people to do away with balloon releases and be more conscious of littering.

“This is a great example of why balloons and plastic should never be ‘released’ and why we all need to take care in how we dispose of waste.”

The post has been shared almost 1500 times and the majority of people seem to agree that there is nothing to celebrate when balloons are released into the environment.

“How sad. When will people realise how dangerous their abandoned rubbish is to our wildlife,” one person wrote.

“Releasing balloons is so wrong. What’s wrong with people… they only think of themselves and never the consequences of their actions,” another person added.

One person was shocked by how large the clump of rubbish was.

“That’s horrendous,” a user wrote.

“Poor little thing, what are we doing to our planet,” another added.

Bird and Nature Week 2016

Trawling for goshawks Karen Hunt

Funny to think this time three years ago I was on Christmas Island taking part in Bird & Nature Week and writing my first blogs for the Christmas Island Tourism Association. It was so much fun, I highly recommend it for everyone who loves birds. And the snorkeling is great too!

Here’s the links to the blogs (quite excited to see they are still on the site)

https://www.christmas.net.au/bird-n-nature-week-a-daily-blog-by-karen-hunt/

https://www.christmas.net.au/bird-n-nature-week-day-2-by-karen-hunt/ Trawling for goshawks

https://www.christmas.net.au/day-3-bird-n-nature-week-day-3-by-karen-hunt/ The Old Man of the Sea

https://www.christmas.net.au/bird-n-nature-week-of-dinner-guests-and-book-book-callers-a-daily-blog-by-karen-hunt/

https://www.christmas.net.au/bird-n-nature-week-boobies-noddies-and-extraordinary-tails-a-daily-blog-by-karen-hunt/

https://www.christmas.net.au/bird-n-nature-week-thongs-beyond-believe-a-daily-blog-by-karen-hunt/

Native birds in south eastern Australia worst affected by habitat loss

An Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis). More than 60 per cent of the birds of south-east mainland Australia have lost more than half of their natural habitat. Credit: Graham Winterflood.

New research has found that habitat loss is a major concern for hundreds of Australian bird species, and south eastern Australia has been the worst affected. The Threatened Species Recovery Hub study, featuring University of Queensland scientists, found that half of all native bird species have each lost almost two-thirds of their natural habitat across Victoria, parts of South Australia and New South Wales.

Lead researcher, Dr Jeremy Simmonds, said the team looked at both threatened and non-threatened birds, including common species.

“While more attention is usually paid to threatened species, common species, like many of our familiar fairy-wrens, pigeons and honeyeaters, are crucially important,” Dr Simmonds said. “Common species play a vital role in controlling insect pests and pollination and their decline through loss of habitat has implications for the health of ecosystems. Along with feral and invasive species, habitat destruction is among the greatest threats facing biodiversity in Australia, so it is important to understand how big the problem of habitat removal is: our research developed a method to do this, called the Loss Index. 

“We looked at how the amount of habitat available for each of Australia’s 447 different land bird species had changed since 1750. In places like Queensland’s south-east and the Wet Tropics, each hectare of forest cleared can affect up to 180 different native bird species. 

“Habitat loss has been particularly devastating for birds from south-east Australia; more than half of the 262 native birds in this region only have a small fraction of their natural habitat remaining in this part of the country. Northern Australia and Australia’s arid zone have had the least habitat loss, as there has been much less vegetation clearing across that region. We also looked at different bird groups and found that Australia’s parrot species are more impacted by habitat loss, compared with birds of prey, like eagles and owls.”

Dr Simmonds said the index provided a tool for conservation managers and planners to better understand how habitat loss affects all birds, and not just the endangered ones.  

 “It helps to show that every hectare of native vegetation that is removed chips away at remaining habitat for dozens and sometimes hundreds of species, including common species which typically do not receive conservation attention,” he said. The quality of the remaining habitat is often reduced, due to weeds, grazing and changed fire patterns, such as more and hotter fires, and this can further reduce the number and type of birds that an area can support.“

The Loss Index can also be applied to other species like mammals or plants.

The research was conducted by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program, a national initiative to undertake science to help save Australia’s threatened species.

It was published in Conservation Biology (DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13331).

Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria.

Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys.

Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock.

Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said.

“Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region.

The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote.

“As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”


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Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Updated yesterday at 4:46pm

Close up of a wedge-tailed eagle skull in a green paddock

PHOTO: The discovery was described by one official as “horrific”. (Supplied: DELWP)RELATED STORY: Farm worker jailed for 14 days and fined for poisoning 406 wedge-tailed eagles

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria.

WARNING: This article contains images that people may find disturbing.

Key points:

  • More than 100 animals, mostly wedge-tailed eagles, found in varying stages of decay during raid in regional Victoria
  • Police also found dead joeys, a kookaburra and a cockatoo in a freezer
  • Residents want harsher penalties for people found to have killed native animals for financial gain

Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys.

Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock.

Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said.

“Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

The skeleton of a native bird in a green, leafy paddock

PHOTO: Some of the skeletal remains found on a property at Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region.

The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote.

“As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”

Person with blue gloves loads feathered remains of eagle into a grey plastic bag

PHOTO: Investigators collected the remains of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles. (Supplied: DELWP)

The group’s chairman, Doug Robinson, said he was happy to see something being done, but that authorities needed to listen more to communities that feared native animals were being killed.

“I think it has just left people feeling powerless, that they suspected and reported it and not seen action take place [for years] as a result,” he said.

“In that sense we are delighted that the department has responded so effectively in this case now.”

He said the group wanted formal inspections and warnings for those suspected of breaking the law, as well as harsher penalties, including bans on farmers growing crops or livestock, if they’ve been found to have killed native animals for financial gain.

Discovery horrifies neighbours

Violet Town resident Libby Woodward said she was “horrified” by the discovery.

“I hope the people responsible are caught and punished, and I hope that that will be a lesson to other farmers not to do it,” she said.

“Mostly I just want them to stop, because it’s just a terrible blight on our lives.”

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Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Updated yesterday at 4:46pm

Close up of a wedge-tailed eagle skull in a green paddock

PHOTO: The discovery was described by one official as “horrific”. (Supplied: DELWP)

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria. Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys. Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock. Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said. “Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

The skeleton of a native bird in a green, leafy paddock

PHOTO: Some of the skeletal remains found on a property at Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region. The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote. “As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”

Person with blue gloves loads feathered remains of eagle into a grey plastic bag

PHOTO: Investigators collected the remains of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles. (Supplied: DELWP)

The group’s chairman, Doug Robinson, said he was happy to see something being done, but that authorities needed to listen more to communities that feared native animals were being killed.

“I think it has just left people feeling powerless, that they suspected and reported it and not seen action take place [for years] as a result,” he said.

“In that sense we are delighted that the department has responded so effectively in this case now.”

He said the group wanted formal inspections and warnings for those suspected of breaking the law, as well as harsher penalties, including bans on farmers growing crops or livestock, if they’ve been found to have killed native animals for financial gain.

Discovery horrifies neighbours

Violet Town resident Libby Woodward said she was “horrified” by the discovery.

“I hope the people responsible are caught and punished, and I hope that that will be a lesson to other farmers not to do it,” she said. “Mostly I just want them to stop, because it’s just a terrible blight on our lives.”

Wildlife officer wearing black gloves takes photos of a plastic bag held up by second wildlife officer.

PHOTO: The dead birds were discovered during raid on a property near Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Ms Woodward said farmers needed to be better educated about the role eagles played in the ecosystem.

“The eagles do more good than they do harm, because they kill rabbits and hares and young foxes and feral cats,” she said. “The fact that we have less of them is just a terrible thing because we have more problems with rabbits and hares. It’s causing us to have erosion and all sorts of problems because they’re missing, and farmers need to be educated that they’re not the problem that they think they are.”

Eagle deaths harm environment

The native wedge-tailed eagle — a legally protected species — is on the endangered species list due to a negative stigma that has seen it butchered by farmers in the past. All native birds are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and deliberately killing them carries a penalty of up to $39,652 and/or six to 24 months’ imprisonment.

Mr Chant said there was a common misconception that the eagles swooped down and carried livestock away, adding that he was concerned the killings were impacting the bird population.

“I’d like to think this [is the only case], because if it’s more widespread than we think, well the impact it’s having on wedge-tail populations in Victoria might not be sustainable for much longer if we keep seeing these mass killings.”

He said he believed that in the absence of the dominant eagle, other birds were attracted to the area which was causing more birds to die.

“It’s horrific. Our officers have taken this job on because they have a love and a deep appreciation for nature, and to be walking across paddocks and finding the iconic eagle species dead and curled up in paddocks, it’s quite difficult.

“We’re very keen to determine why these eagles died or how they died, and we are very determined to find out who is responsible for this activity.”

No charges have been laid and the department is still investigating.


ARTIFICIAL TREES CAPTURE NEW BIRD SPECIES ON CANDID CAMERA

The Australian National University, Canberra

An experiment from The Australian National University (ANU) using artificial trees has attracted birds and other wildlife never before seen in a damaged Canberra landscape – catching them on camera at the same time.   

The experiment is a collaboration with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and uses a series of power poles and translocated dead trees erected in landscape under regeneration.

The ANU researchers saw a four-fold increase in bird species on five recently erected power-poles. There was also a seven-fold increase in bird species across five re-purposed dead trees.

In a separate project on the same site, the birds were captured on motion-sensitive cameras hidden in the artificial structures, with the footage providing a public database for species activity.

Associate Professor Philip Gibbons from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society wanted to test whether artificial structures could be used to provide a home for birds and other wildlife when mature trees were cut down for residential and other development.

He says the artificial trees work better than he “could have ever hoped for”.

“Even if we plant new trees elsewhere to replace those we knock down they take a century to mature and develop suitable habitats for birds and wildlife,” Associate Professor Gibbons said.

“Globally, mature trees are in decline and we’re going to see an absence of mature trees in some landscapes by the end of this century. So these artificial structures are really key to filling that gap to preserve the ecosystem.

“And from what we can see they work. Not only did they attract birds to the landscape, but they also provided a home for ladybirds, wood spiders and microbats.”

Associate Professor Gibbons said the artificial trees weren’t a “cure-all”.

“The structures can only do so much and we found 37 per cent of bird species that live in mature forests did not venture into the artificial structures,” he said.

“We need to preserve as many mature trees as we can, continue to plant more new seedlings for the future and then raise these artificial structures if we are to mitigate this deficit of mature trees for future generations.

“At the end of the day, you can’t beat real trees. But they can take years to grow. So this is a great option in areas needing regeneration or while you wait for trees to mature.”    

The study area, a 50-hectare site at Barrer Hill in the Molonglo Valley, has been set aside for regeneration to offset mature trees and other native vegetation cleared for new suburbs.

The final piece of the restoration project was a “living art sculpture” created from a 400-year old yellow box tree cut down in a nearby suburb and re-erected in the offset site.

Dr Mitchell Whitelaw from the ANU School of Art worked with American architect Joyce Hwang from University of Buffalo and Darren Le Roux of ACT Parks to install motion-sensitive cameras into the tree-sculpture.

They’ve captured images of more than 23 bird and animal species using the structures including a peregrine falcon, nankeen kestrel and tawny frogmouth.

More common species such as crimson and eastern rosellas, starlings, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, galahs, red wattlebirds, willie wagtails, red-rumped parrots, kookaburras, bats and marsupials are also using the structures.  

See Dr Whitelaw’s database of pictures and videos on the Molongolo Life website.

People can watch and contribute to the content by tagging and identifying species.

“As well as some delightful and beautiful images, we’ve caught footage of a currawong raiding a starling’s nest. This is the sort of action in nature people just don’t get to see every day,” Dr Whitelaw said.

“The database is a real-time record of the restoration of an ecosystem. We want people to feel connected to these public places and the wildlife in them.”

White-tailed eagles return to southern Britain after 240 years

Patrick Barkham The Guardian

A white-tailed eagle, Britain’s largest bird of prey.
 A white-tailed eagle, Britain’s largest bird of prey. Photograph: Mike Crutch/Forestry England/PA

White-tailed eagles are gracing the skies of southern Britain for the first time in 240 years after six eaglets were released on the Isle of Wight.

The huge birds, which are fitted with satellite tags, are expected to disperse along the south coast of England in a scheme backed by the environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, who welcomed the return of the “majestic” species.

It is hoped Britain’s largest bird of prey will eventually breed in the wild and mirror the success of the reintroduction scheme in Scotland.

The birds, which grow to have a wingspan of up to 8ft (2.4 metres) and are also known as sea eagles, were persecuted to extinction across Britain by the start of the 20th century. It took several decades after chicks from Norway were returned to Scotland in the 1970s before the birds bred and expanded their range. There are now 130 breeding pairs across Scotland, and the six young Isle of Wight birds were taken from Scotland under special licence.

“This release is a great opportunity for the Isle of Wight to expand its ecotourism market, creating wealth and jobs in the local economy,” Villiers said.

The Scottish reintroduction, which centred on the Isle of Mull, was found to have bolstered the local economy by up to £5m a year.

In the five-year reintroduction programme led by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, up to 60 white-tailed eagles will eventually be released. At first they will be offered food at feeding stations to encourage them to settle along the south coast.

Roy Dennis, founder of the foundation, said: “I have spent much of my life working on the reintroduction of these amazing birds and so watching them take to the skies of the Isle of Wight has been a truly special moment.

“Establishing a population of white-tailed eagles in the south of England will link and support emerging populations of these birds in the Netherlands, France and Ireland, with the aim of restoring the species to the southern half of Europe.”

Tony Juniper, the chair of Natural England, which is licensing the trial, said: “The return of these spectacular birds to England is a real landmark for conservation. I very much hope that it will also provide a practical demonstration of the fact that we can actually reverse the historic decline of our depleted natural environment.

“It will also show how helping the recovery of our wildlife can be done at the same time as bringing benefits for people, in this case by offering a boost to the local economy through wildlife tourism.”

Moves to reintroduce white-tailed eagles into East Anglia 10 years ago were defeated by opposition from local farmers, who feared the birds would terrorise young pigs and take lambs.

The Isle of Wight was chosen as the location to reintroduce the species because its quieter coasts, cliffs and woodlands provide potential nesting and resting sites, while the Solent and surrounding estuaries offer plenty of food, with fish such as grey mullet and water birds forming the bulk of the eagles’ diet.