Photo: Eric Vanderduys/Stop Adani [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr.
The black-throated finch has been voted “bird of the year.”
In Australia for 2019, helping draw attention to the species’ decline as human activities increasingly threaten its habitat. The finch’s victory was reportedly driven by support from conservationists, who connected its plight to deforestation and bushfires in Australia, as well as opposition to the Adani coal mine.
The finch won the online vote in a landslide, The Guardian reports, noting it received 11,153 votes in the final round of 10 birds, or about 35% of the total. That put it 7,802 votes ahead of the tawny frogmouth, which came in second. Third place went to the superb fairy-wren (2,875 votes), followed by the magpie in fourth (2,725) and the laughing kookaburra in fifth (2,650).
Black-throated finches once inhabited dry, grassy woodlands throughout northeastern Australia, gathering in small flocks to forage for seeds and insects. They experienced steep declines in the 20th century.
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.
A recent expedition in Bolivia by the conservation group Asociación Armonía, revealed a wonderful surprise for the future of the rare blue-throated macaw: a newly discovered nesting area.
As with many macaw species, the illegal pet trade has devastated wild populations. Only an estimated 200-300 individuals remain in the wild. Where they breed and nest has been a mystery — until now.
The expedition team discovered a handful of nests with breeding pairs, including two nests near a populated farm where the secretive birds seemed unbothered by proximity to humans.
The expedition team hopes that the discovery will also help reveal information about the blue-throated macaw’s breeding behavior and life cycle.
American Bird Conservancy reports, “It’s too early to know for sure whether the macaws found during the expedition are the same birds that visit Barba Azul Nature Reserve in the dry season or whether they constitute a separate population.”
A bearded vulture has been seen flying once again over Romania, for the first time in 83 years, according to a statement of the Romanian Ornithological Society.
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the four species of vultures that used to live in Romania.
However, the vulture was last seen on Romanian territory in 1933.
The vulture that is now flying over Romania is named Adonis and is one of the birds that were supposed to contribute to the restoration of the bearded vulture population in France.
The vulture was released in the Massif Central in France in 2014, but didn’t stay there.
The bird left France and flew over several countries such as Denmark, Slovakia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, and now Romania.
A satellite transmitter tracks the bird’s route. The bearded vulture is a diurnal bird of prey, characteristic to mountain areas, being typically present at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 meters.
However, it was also found at 7,500 meters altitude, in the Himalayas. It is 105 –125 cm long and weights between 4.5 and 7.8 kg. The female is slightly larger than the male. The wingspan is between 235 and 275 cm.
A juvenile yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) pecks at a ginkgo tree at BBG. Photo by Steven Severinghaus.
by Joe Giunta.
What do the wolf, the beaver, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker have in common? Each is a keystone species, that is, a species that by its actions may affect a whole community. In many cases, other species greatly depend upon their actions for food, shelter, and habitat.
As a predator, the wolf keeps certain animal populations, like deer, from becoming overabundant and destructive to the surrounding habitat. The beaver creates habitat for songbirds, ducks, and muskrats by building dams.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker provides not only habitat but also food for other species.
This medium-sized woodpecker is what’s known as a primary cavity-nesting bird. It makes—by drilling into a somewhat decayed tree—a cavity where it can build a nest and raise young.
The next year, secondary cavity-nesting birds like swallows, chickadees, and bluebirds can then move in to nest there and raise their own young.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker is also a great provider of food. It drills many “wells” in living trees that bleed throughout the year. The sap attracts insects, and the sapsucker feeds on those as well as the sap itself.
Other small birds like warblers and hummingbirds, as well as butterflies and bats, also come to these sap wells to feed.
Sapsucker wells have been found in over a hundred species of trees, but the sapsucker seems to prefer trees that bleed more than others, such as red maple and birch.