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Jul 21, 2018

Ban on Antarctic krill fishing...

Photo: Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
Chinstrap Penguins (see photo above) in Antarctica, are one of many species that would benefit from a proposed ban on krill fishing in the region, that has now gained support from major fishing firms.
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Jul 20, 2018

(Motacilla alba)

Photo: Sebastien Gollnow / AFP / Getty Images
A White Wagtail flies from sheep's back to sheep's back in Herrenberg, southern Germany.   Wagtails are basically an Old World bird found in Africa, Asia and Europe.   The name comes from the bird's characteristic tail-pumping behaviour.
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Jul 19, 2018

2018 Audubon Photography Awards...

Photo: Livon Gertsman /
Youth Winner ~ Liron Gertsman
Cobalt-winged Parakeets
(Brotogeris cyanoptera)

Winning picture above was photographed in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador.

Illustration at left: Eduardo Brettas

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Jul 18, 2018

2018 Audubon Photography Awards...

Photo: Steve Mattheis
Grand Prize Winner - Steve Mattheis
(Strix nebulosa)
Teton County, Wyoming

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Jul 17, 2018

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Photo: Richard Keller / Alamy
Derek Nieman writing in last Thursday's The Guardian (online) states: "House Sparrows may mate up to 40 times a day, but it's always a quickie".   No doubt. 
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Jul 16, 2018

European Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur) in big trouble in England

Photo: Joe Blossom / Alamy
Britain's Turtle Doves down 93% in 24 years
The number of European Turtle Doves in Britain has dropped by 93% since 1994.   One of the largest populations of nesting doves in England is found on a Sussex estate of 3,500 acres; yet it is home to just 16 pairs of doves!   It has been transformed from intensively farmed agricultural land to one of the richest natural environments in the country.   Because so few Turtle Doves now exist and England is in such environmental  jeopardy for so many bird species, one ecologist, Penny Green, has described Turtle Doves as being "...caught in the crosshairs of time".
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Jul 15, 2018

Mourning Dove squabs...

Photo: Jpabello/Shizhao/Wikipedia
Zenaida macroura
Until today, I had never seen a live Mourning Dove squab or even a photograph of one.   But while reading about the plight of Turtle Doves in England and deciding to mention them in a blog, I thought about comparing the British Turtle Doves' drastically declining population with our Mourning Doves in Canada.   I will write about the Turtle Doves in a subsequent blog soon.   Today however, I discovered a photo on Wikipedia of two Mourning Dove squabs.   I was stunned and surprised at the same time to see these remarkable little hairy creatures.   They will grow up to join the other estimated 475 million Mourning Doves in North and Central America.  Because Mourning Doves are so prolific, they easily maintain their populations despite 20 to 70 million of them being shot by hunters every year.   They are rated at "least concern" by the IUCN 'Red List'.   Now, on to the UK's Turtle Doves.
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Jul 14, 2018


Baby Egrets ~ Baby Elephant
Seem to get along well together
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Jul 13, 2018

Richmond Hill Mill Pond - always interesting

 Photos by Barry Wallace
The Mill Pond on the north-west corner of Mill Street and Trench Street, north of Major MacKenzie Health Centre in Richmond Hill is transformed by the very attractive water fountain, now in operation.   It is an attraction for the almost 200 Canada Geese and three resident Mute Swans, as well as quite the experience for walkers and drivers trying to get past the constant ebb and flow of geese from one side of Mill Street to the other.   Cars are lined up, their drivers or passengers are out of their cars trying to round-up and direct geese off the road.  Many pedestrians are wary about parent geese protecting their young, which at this time of year are almost fully grown.   Mornings seem to be the most interactive time of the day.

Pictured above are 50 of the approximately 150 Canada Geese that were wandering east and west on Mill Street and back and forth from one side of the street to the other, last Sunday.   In the picture below, I not sure who the 'WAIT FOR GAP' sign is meant for: pedestrians, drivers, or geese, and what it means precisely.   All in all, rather amusing for the most part.

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Jul 12, 2018

Smallest bird in New Zealand...

Photo: digitatrails/wikipedia
(Acanthisitta chloris)
What a strange name for such a cute little bird.   The Rifleman, also known as Titipounamu, is the very smallest of all New Zealand's endemic birds.   There is nothing exotic or mysterious about its Rifleman name.   According to 'New Zealand Birds', the bird's English  name, rifleman, stems from a resemblance of the bird's plumage to the uniform of an early colonial regiment.   However a spokesperson for NZBirds, Stella Anderson says, 'because it follows a spiralling route when going over the bark for food, this little wren obtained its English name - 'to rifle' means spiral grooves as, for example, in a gun barrel."   Somewhat contrived, methinks.                                                  
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Jul 11, 2018

25 species of reed warblers...

                                                                                                                        Photo: YONHAP /EPA
A reed warbler sits in the shade of a white lotus flower in Incheon, a coastal city just west of Seoul, South Korea.  There are 25 species of reed warblers which are found in East Asia and from Africa to the south Pacific Ocean, including the ultra-remote Pitcairn Island where the Pitcairn Reed-Warbler is the only land bird and is endangered.
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Jul 10, 2018

Port of Rotterdam...

Photo: Alexander Schippers / EPA
Workers clean a swan at a bird shelter in the Netherlands after a tanker crashed into a jetty in the port city of Rotterdam, spilling 200 tonnes of oil into the harbour and affecting hundreds of the birds.
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Jul 9, 2018

IUCN Red List finds 26,000 species under extinction threat...

Photo: Greg Hume / Cincinatti Zoo
 More than 26,000 of the world's fauna species are now threatened, according to the latest red list of the assessment of the natural world, adding to fears the planet is entering the sixth wave of extinctions.   The Blue-crowned Laughing Thrush (Garrulax courtoisi) pictured above is one such species.   Jonathon Watts, writing in Britain's Guardian newspaper says scientists have warned loss of biodiversity is more of a threat than climate change because it erodes the earth's capacity to provide clean air, fresh water, food and a stable weather system.   The red list now includes 93,577 species, of which 26,197 are classified as vulnerable, critical or endangered.   Since 2017, six species have been declared extinct, taking the total to 872.   Another 1,700 species are listed as critically endangered, some possibly extinct.  Recent research showed the world's 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, yet have caused the loss of 83% of all the wild mammals and half of the plants.   Meanwhile livestock and pets abound.   The problem is in our laps, but the solution seems beyond every horizon.
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Jul 8, 2018

Plastic pollution putting New Zealand seabirds in peril...

Photo:  Getty Images / Visuals Unlimited
New Zealand - world's seabird capital
New Zealand is considered "the seabird capital of the world", says the country's Department of Conservation and has more penguin species than any country in the world.   There are 36 species of seabirds that breed only in New Zealand, with Mexico a distant second at just five species.   New Zealand's seabirds, like the albatross pictured above, are said to be more at risk of dying due to plastic ingestion than anywhere else in the world.   Experts say that plastic makes up 78% of all rubbish on New Zealand beaches.   Seabirds are also surface feeders and scoop up plastic before realizing it not food.   Eventually plastic fills their stomachs and they face starvation.   The banning of single-use plastic bags in stores in Australia has recently led to violent confrontations with protesting customers.
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Jul 7, 2018

Most of Europe's lakes and rivers fail quality tests...

Photo: Nigel Bowles/Alamy
A swan (above) swims in the rubbish and pollution thrown into the River Thames in London.
Damning new report on European waterways
The vast majority of Europe's rivers, lakes and estuaries have failed to meet minimum ecological standards for habitat degradation and pollution, with England one of the worst offenders.   Only 40% of surface water bodies, of 130,000 waterways surveyed, were found by the EEA (European Environmental Agency) to be in good ecological states.  Andreas Baumueller, WWF Europe's head of natural resources, states: "This report shows that we are nowhere near halting biodiversity loss by 2020".   The EEA survey revealed a divide between chemical pollution in ground and surface water sites.   Three-quarters of groundwater sites were of good quality, but 62% of rivers, estuaries and lakes were not.   Mercury contamination was one of the most common problems, followed by pesticide overuse, inadequate waste treatment plants and tainted rainfall.
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Barry Wallace

Jul 6, 2018


 Photo by Barry Wallace

Birds share birdbath with hot toad
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Jul 5, 2018

Phoenicopterus ruber

Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP /Getty Images
Pink Flamingos are seen at Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in Yucatan, Mexico.   At least 21,960 nests were recorded in this nesting season, a historic figure, according to Mexican authorities.   Pink Flamingos are also known as Caribbean flamingo and greater flamingo.  It is the only flamingo that naturally inhabits North America. 
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Jul 4, 2018

Loves fish...

                                                                                       Photo: Jane Barlow / PA
An Osprey (a.k.a. sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk) catches a rainbow trout in a loch near Aviemore, in the Cairngorms mountain range, in the eastern Highlands of Scotland. 

Jul 3, 2018


Photo: Martin Cushen / Alamy
Eurasian or Common Coot chicks (Fulica atra) are seen at Pitsford Nature Reserve in Northamptonshire, England.  Once again, and as mentioned on June 19th in this space, these young birds have a head that only a mother could love.
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Jul 2, 2018

Worldwide investigation by Interpol hugely successful...

Photo: AP
Young hatchlings of an unidentified avian species are seen as they were being smuggled out of Mexico recently. Interpol said a giant operation against illegal trade in wildlife and timber resulted in millions of dollars worth of seizures and the identification of 1,400 suspects around the world.   The month-long operation in May involved 93 countries.   Interpol is a police network of 190 countries around the world.
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Jul 1, 2018


Photo: Tony Karumba / AFP / Getty Images
Flamingos are seen at Lake Amboseli during a trial run for the national park's aerial animal census in Kenya, Africa.
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Jun 30, 2018

One in eight bird species threatened with extinction...

Photo: Rex / Rick Dobson
Startling claims in new 'Birdlife' report
The Independent newspaper in England has stated recently that one in eight of the world's bird species are threatened with extinction.   The Independent was quoting a new report by Birdlife International's State of the World Birds analysis of five years-worth of data.   Among birds threatened with extinction are Snowy Owls and Puffins.   In recent decades the populations of a number of species have declined by 90% or more.   In all, 13% of avian species worldwide (1,469 of 10,996) are described as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered by the ICUN (International Union of Conservation of Nature).   75% of threatened species have been hit by agriculture expansion, the report said, due to land clearance and deforestation required for new fields, which is occurring most rapidly in the tropics.   Neonicotinoid pesticides "...clearly pose a serious risk to migrating seed-eating birds", researchers said, adding that "There is also concern that they may build up along food chains and be retained by soils and plants for may years'.   In the case of the critically-endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting, it has been said it was one of the most numerous species in Eurasia.   But since 1980, its population has plunged by 90% and its range has dwindled.   The report stated "Although oficially banned, large-scale hunting of the Chinese delicacy continues.   In 2001, an estimated 1 million buntings, a.k.a. the "Rice Bird", were consumed in Guangdong province alone".   The document also highlighted vulture disappearances from large parts of Africa, with numbers of seven species falling by 80 to 97% in the past 30 years.  Overall, 40% of species were in decline, compared to 44% that were stable, with 7% on the rise and 8% with unknown statistical trends.
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Jun 29, 2018

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak back at feeders

    Photos by BarrytheBirder
 The female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have returned to the feeders after a 3-week absence.   They've been busy no doubt raising nestlings with soft food but are now in search of seeds and nuts, as well as buds, fruit and arthropods.   It nice to have them in the yard again.

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if you wish.


Jun 28, 2018

Quiscalus quiscula

Photos and limerick by BarrytheBirder

A noisy bird is the grackle
Squawks and shrieks and raises its hackle
With its yellow eye glares
At anyone who stares
Then defecates a large spackle

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Jun 27, 2018

Near the Bay of Bengal...

Photo: Asit Kumar / AFP / Getty Images
A pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna javanica), a.k.a. Indian Whistling Duck, search for food in the polluted Daya River, on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar City in Odisha, India.
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Jun 26, 2018

Eurasian Blue Tit

    Photo above: Kay Roxby / Alamy  
Photo below: Francis C. GFranklin:
Above is a fledgling Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) clinging to a garden ornament in Stirlingshire, Scotland, United Kingdom.   At right is an adult.
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Jun 25, 2018

Taking the sun in South Africa...

Photo: Kim Ludbrook / EPA
Egrets bask on trees as they warm up in the morning sun at Zoo Lake, in the centre of Johannesberg, South Africa.

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Jun 24, 2018

Honeycreepers in the Pacific...

Photo: Alamy Stock Photo
A male Scarlet Honeycreeper (Vestiaria coccinea) is pictured on a bottlebush tree in Brisbane, Australia.  Honeycreepers originated in Hawaii, at the islands developed into their chain, eons ago.
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Jun 23, 2018

First UK Swift Awareness Week

All photos: Nick Upton / NPL 
These excellent photos by Nick Upton were featured in a story this week about the first ever UK Swift Awareness Week.

A Swift chick calls for food

Feeding an orphaned Swift chick

Orphan Swift chick ready to fly

Massive Swift nesting tower in Cambridge

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Jun 22, 2018

Avian mutations...

 Photo Jeremy Black
The yellow Cardinal (above) was spotted earlier this year, in the backyard of Charlie Stephenson in Alabaster, Alabama.  Best guess as to an explanation is a genetic mutation called xanthochroism.   Other causes could perhaps be  environmental stressors of poor diet. 

Photo Brian Peer
Also of interest to birders might be a Northern Cardinal with half female and half male plumage which was observed  and photographed many times, between 2008 and 2010, near Rock Island, Illinois, about 200 kms. west of Chicago.   The cause in this case of feathered fantasy is said to be a condition known as bilateral gynandromorphs.
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Jun 21, 2018

Please excuse the momentary change of pace dear reader...

Photo: Chris Kleponis/Pool-Getty Images

Thank God!
Maybe now he will
pick on people his own size.

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Jun 20, 2018

Home to 30,000 puffins...

Photo: Rebecca Naden / Reuters
(Fratercula arctica)
An Atlantic Puffin, a.k.a. the common puffin, is seen above, on the island of Skomer, near Pembrokeshire, Wales, carrying sand eels in its bill.   The island is the breeding ground for more than 30,000 Atlantic Puffins.
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Jun 19, 2018

Common Moorhen chicks...

Photo: Willem van den Noert / Alamy
Photo: Shantanu Kuveskar
Here's another one of those photos (above) depicting babies, of questionable beauty, that only a mother could love.

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Jun 18, 2018

Not surreal birds - but 5" mayflies...

Photo: Zsolt Czegledi / EPA 
Freshly hatched Tisza Mayflies (above) crowd the surface of the River Tisza, near Tiszacsege in north-east Hungary.   The Tisza is the longest mayfly in Europe - up to 12 cm...almost 5".
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Jun 17, 2018

The one and only Mandarin Duck...

Photo: Yuri Smityuk / Getty Images
Mandarin ducklings are seen (above) on the Solyonaya Protoka River, outside of Vladivostok, Russia.   Below is a family of Mandarins.   The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) is native to east Asia and closely resembles the Wood Duck of North America.   The two ducks are the only members of the genus Aix.

Photo:  Christopher Smith
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