Natures Corner

Intelligence in animals in nature, our backyards, and our homes!

January 22, 2009

Frog BOOM!

-15 NEW SPECIES DISCOVERED IN TANZANIA-
22 January 2009

Research in one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world has revealed fifteen new species of amphibians and a chameleon species. The findings are a result of biological surveys carried out in the South Nguru Mountains, Tanzania.

Three of the new species were discovered by scientists working for the British volunteer organisation, Frontier. They include a bizarre toad which looks as though it has crawled straight from the pages of a Marvel comic.

The toad, which has yet to be given an official scientific name, is the largest forest toad ever described in the genus Nectophrynoides. Its size and massive glands makes it distinct from known species and it appears in a variety of colours including orange and black, yellow and green, and red. This species appears to be restricted to only a few remote valleys deep in the South Nguru forests. However, in the valleys where it is found it is the commonest amphibian, making its presence known with a distinctive 'echoing drip' or 'plink' call.

“As soon as we saw this toad we knew it was something special,” said Nisha Owen who led Frontier’s research program in South Nguru. “It’s such a strange looking beast, and its call is very distinctive.

Frontier’s other discoveries included a new species of tree frog with red eyes, which was added to the genus Leptopelis, and a burrowing toad with a distinctive long snout, of the genus Probreviceps. The findings were reported last month in the journal Acta Herpetologica.

A conservation plan is now underway in the area to address the threats to these unique animals, because the Nguru South area is not only home to colourful amphibians. It houses more than fifty villages, majority of which are dependent on agriculture. As a result the local fauna faces severe threats as the agricultural land encroaches on the forests.

“It’s really important that these forests are protected from further agricultural degradation”, says Owen, who is now carrying out doctoral research into human-wildlife conflicts at the University of Leeds. “The montane forests of Tanzania hold some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, but they are also under severe threat from deforestation.”

The research was an international collaboration between Frontier and the University of Dar es Salaam, the Tridentine Museum of Natural Science in Italy and the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group. Frontier’s research was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund as part of a wider survey programme in the Eastern Arc, the world’s ‘hottest’ biodiversity hotspot.

Citation: Menegon, M., Doggart, N., & Owen, N. (2008) The Nguru Mountains of Tanzania, an outstanding hotspot of herpetofaunal diversity. Acta Herpetologica: 3, 107-127

Further press information:
Emma Goodwin / Lucy Quilliam
KTA Public Relations
020 7352 1088

Posted by sue at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2009

A newborn aardvark

The Detroit Zoo welcomed a baby aardvark this month, born at 1:05 a.m. Dec. 8 to mother Rachaael and father Mchimbaji.
“This baby can only be described as hideously cute,” said Director of Conservation and Animal Welfare Scott Carter. Since the birth, Amani has more than doubled in size. Adult aardvarks can weigh from 90 to 145 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in length.

See the *ugly* ADORABLE photo and read the full story HERE.

Posted by sue at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2008

The Wolf That Changed America

NATURE

Bounty hunter Ernest Thompson Seton's 1893 pursuit of the elusive wolf, Lobo, paved the way for America's environmental movement. Revisit the intense hunt.

Watch the FULL show here.

Posted by sue at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2008

New Ad

See the ASPCA's new Christmas As here

Posted by sue at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2008

New Penguin that went extinct about 500 years ago.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Researchers studying a rare and endangered species of penguin have uncovered a previously unknown species that disappeared about 500 years ago.

The research suggests that the first humans in New Zealand hunted the newly found Waitaha penguin to extinction by 1500, about 250 years after their arrival on the islands.

Read the full story

Posted by sue at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2008

Right Whale Calving Season Begins

Right whale calving season starts off Georgia’s coastal waters in mid-November and lasts through mid-April, meaning area boaters should take care to steer away from the massive, endangered mammal.

Marine biologists will begin aerial watches of the mammal Dec. 1 and wrap up their surveys in April.

There are only an estimated 300 to 400 right whales left in the wild and about half of those migrate to the warmer waters off the coasts of Georgia and Florida each winter to give birth to calves
~
Right whales have no dorsal fins, which can make them harder to see from surface waters, and are about 40 to 50 feet long. They have a white mark on their head, called a callosity, v-shaped blow holes and blunt flippers.

Read Full Story

Posted by sue at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2008

Sex shy Pandas: Genetic?

Scientists in China have mapped the genome of the giant panda, which could yield a better understanding of why the endangered animals are so famously sex-shy, state media said on Monday.

"We hope the genome map could help genetically explain why giant pandas have little reproductive capability so that scientists can help them deliver more cubs,"

Scientists hope also to eventually gain a better understanding of why pandas subsist almost solely on bamboo, another factor viewed as inhibiting the species' range and adaptability.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2008

Geckos- Tails to Toepads Reaches Completion

gecko.jpg
Allenwood, PA- The fabrication team at Peeling Productions, the exhibit arm of Clyde Peeling's Reptiland, has been climbing the walls this year—they have been busy creating the world’s largest exhibition about geckos. Geckos – Tails to Toepads is the latest addition to a fleet of traveling exhibitions that visit museums, zoos, and science centers around the country.

“It’s been ‘all-geckos, all-the-time’ around here for months,” said Chad Peeling, co-creator of the exhibition. “Our staff pulled out all the stops on this project and we’re really proud of the results.” The exhibition took over two years to complete and includes 20 living habitats complete with naturalistic décor, filtration and life support systems and living geckos from around the world. Colorful graphic panels and interactive learning stations allow visitors to experience gecko night vision, explore the cutting edge science of gecko adhesion, listen to gecko voices, activate video clips of geckos in action, try to spot camouflaged geckos, and build a custom gecko for various environments.

Why build an exhibition around geckos? “Geckos are endowed with a charisma that marketing firms can’t resist and audiences can’t ignore,” notes Peeling. “GECIO’s animated character has made ‘gecko’ a household word, but the real animals are even more amazing.” Geckos are small, agile lizards - most have stout bodies, short legs, and specialized adhesive toepads. More than 1,200 species range from shadowy, nighttime hunters with bulging eyes and squawking voices to bold, nectar eaters that scamper around in daylight, adorned in neon colors. Geckos are incredibly adaptable and have conquered habitats from balmy tropical beaches and lush rainforests to frigid mountain slopes and parched deserts.

The exhibit premiers in mid-September at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, California. From there it will move to institutions in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. The exhibition will travel indefinitely, stopping to educate and entertain at museums and science centers across the country.

Posted by sue at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2008

rule to protect the North Atlantic right whale

The long-awaited rule to protect the North Atlantic right whale is coming soon, according to President Bush himself. Speaking at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on Friday, Bush briefly discussed the rule: "There are fewer than 400 North Atlantic Right Whales left in the world… And there are going to be new regulations that will be coming to be shortly that require ships to slow down as they approach seaports where these whales are likely to be."

Bush's pronouncement comes after the rule was stuck inside his White House for 573 days. In that time, the White House Council of Economic Advisors and the Vice President's office attacked the science behind the rule in attempt to derail it. Although the rule has not yet been unveiled, early signs indicate it may be somewhat weaker than what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration originally proposed.

Posted by sue at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2008

8 Hour Whale Rescue!

A young adult male was caught in shark netting Saturday in Australia.

More than 15 rescuers battled for eight hours on Saturday to release the distressed 9m whale from tangled netting, including up to 80kg in lead weights and an anchor caught around its tail fin.

See the Video HERE

Full Story and more links HERE

Posted by sue at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2008

China tries to restore panda program

CHENGDU, CHINA — Months after an earthquake devastated south-central China, scientists are struggling to restore the world's premier research program on the giant panda and assess the disaster's impact on pandas in the wild.

Nearly 70,000 people died in the earthquake that struck Sichuan province in May. The quake also disrupted research and breeding programs for the critically endangered panda and affected more than 80 percent of its wild habitat.

Months later, information is only beginning to filter in from field stations about the impact on hundreds of pandas living in the most heavily damaged areas.

"The situation for wild giant pandas was delicate even before the earthquake, so it's possible that the damage could threaten their long-term survival,"

Fewer than 1,600 wild pandas are thought to remain in remote sections of China.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 06:27 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2008

Blue whales spotted off the Kerry coast-Ireland

Blue whales, the planet’s largest living animals, have been spotted off the west coast of Ireland in what experts say is the first validated sighting on record.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) confirmed today that one of its members had photographed the whales off the Kerry coast while on board a fishing vessel on Monday.

~~~~~~~
sightings of the creature are extremely rare as their numbers remain low as a result of decades of over-exploitation by commercial whale fisheries.

“So hopefully this sighting will herald the beginning of a new era, in which blue whales will continue to recover and begin to visit our inshore waters, in the same way as their smaller cousins, the fin and humpback whales,” the IWDG said.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2008

Japanese Whale Day (was Sept 3rd mark your calendar)

Every year, up to 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales are brutally slaughtered by Japanese fishermen. The dolphins are driven ashore and hacked to death in a horrific spectacle that is now hidden from public gaze.

Of the 20,000 animals killed each year, around 17,000 of these are from a single species - the Dall's porpoise, a small black and white whale that loves to bow-ride, making it a favourite of whale-watchers, but an easy target for the whalers.

Since commercial whaling was banned by international agreement in 1986, around 360,000 Dall's porpoises have been killed, that's a porpoise speared every 20 minutes of every day for the past twenty -two years, driving the Dalls porpoise population to extinction.

The meat from these unfortunate animals is often highly polluted with toxic contaminants such as mercury and PCBs, posing a serious health risk both to the animals themselves and the people that eat them.

Now. the Japanese Government is so desperate to expand the shrinking market for whale products in Japan that dolphin meat is now regularly included in school lunches.

Campaign Whale will be joining a global day of protest outside Japanese embassies around the world to peacefully protest against the relentless slaughter of dolphins and porpoises in Japanese waters.

You may read more articles here at Campain Whale

Posted by sue at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2008

Credit crisis forces pet owners to give up birds

Hundreds of pet owners are being forced to give up their birds because they can no longer afford to keep them.

About 800 unwaned parrots, budgies, cockatiels and macaws have been handed into the National Parrot Sanctuary since January.

Earlier this week, 1.6 million Britons admitted they have had to put down at least one pet dog or cat in the past five years as the bills have risen dramatically.

Read the Full Story

Posted by sue at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2008

Rare hummingbird Spotted

A bird feeder in Dennis has been attracting a very rare visitor: an adult, male Broad-billed Hummingbird.

rarehummingbird.jpg


The first record of this species for any New England state happened just two weeks ago when a lone bird appeared for a single day in Connecticut.

The Dennis bird, first appeared last Thursday when Ron and Marj Murphy realized they had a very different hummingbird visiting their hummingbird feeders. For confirmation, they called some birding neighbors, Sandra and Charles McGibbon, who were amazed. The bird was still being seen infrequently yesterday.

Read the Full Story. Links to videos as well!

Posted by sue at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2008

Newest Video

see it here

Posted by sue at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2008

Christian the Lion - the full story

Posted by sue at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2008

7 pandas remain at famed breeding center in China


BEIJING (AP) — Only seven pandas remain at China's most famous breeding center, after a final group of 13 animals were transferred from the earthquake-damaged facility, an official said Tuesday.

Most of the pandas at the Wolong Nature Reserve, tucked in the lush mountains of Sichuan province, had already been moved following the powerful May 12 quake that rattled Sichuan province and killed nearly 70,000 people.

The quake killed at least one panda and left the Wolong center vulnerable to aftershocks and landslides.

The 13 giant pandas arrived at the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base in the Sichuan province town of Ya'an on Monday night, said Li Desheng, research director at Wolong. Only seven 1-year-old cubs remained at the center.

"This is because the staff at Wolong really loves pandas, and they wanted to keep some little ones," he said in a telephone interview. "They are the hope for the future reconstruction of the panda base."

There were 63 pandas living at the Wolong center when the quake struck. The others have been moved to Bifengxia and a breeding center in the provincial capital of Chengdu. Facilities in the Chinese capital of Beijing, the eastern province of Fujian and the southern province of Guangdong are also keeping Wolong pandas.

The Wolong reserve is at the heart of China's effort to use captive breeding and artificial insemination to save the giant panda, which is revered as an unofficial national mascot. Plans for the facility's reconstruction have not been decided, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, an 8-year-old panda evacuated from Wolong gave birth to a set of twins on Monday at her new home in Bifengxia, state broadcaster CCTV reported. News footage showed a staffer holding a newborn panda, hairless and squirming, in an incubator.

Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in Sichuan. An additional 180 have been bred in captivity, many of them at Wolong, and scores have been loaned or given to zoos abroad, with the revenues helping fund conservation programs.

Posted by sue at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2008

Fisherman and rescuer dolphin die together

Central Philippines: After a fierce battle with last week's storm in central Philippines, a dolphin and a shipwrecked fisherman eventually died as they reached the shore of Bacolod City, in central Philippines, a local government's report said.

"They were still breathing, but they eventually died," said the report which quoted fisherman Roberto Caratao as saying.
Full Story

Posted by sue at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2008

Jet, the Faun

Early in the morning on Sunday, May 4, my husband was on his way to work when he came back and woke me up. Cradled in his arms was a newborn fawn! Its mother had been hit by a car, and Mike had found this little guy in the ditch on the side of he road, still covered in the uterine fluids.

As it was obviously an orphan and too young to take care of itself, Mike gathered it up and brought it home. It was either that or leave it to die. My husband just couldn't do it... so he was a wee bit late to work...

When the fawn came home, it was too weak to raise its little head. It just lay curled in a blanket - a nest to keep it warm.

faun1.jpg

Please read the rest of the story, see ALL the pictures and watch the Movies!

Posted by sue at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2008

Japan threatens to resume commercial whaling

Japan has threatened to resume commercial whaling after a suspension of more than 20 years, in a gesture of defiance towards conservationists and antiwhaling governments.

whale-diving.jpg

The threat came with a demand for progress at the International Whaling Commission talks in Chile this week. The unexpectedly blunt ultimatum follows a winter whaling season of high maritime drama and bitter diplomatic rows.

In light of Japan’s threat, some fear that the commission may be in danger of total collapse unless it can rebuild its function as a constructive forum for debate on the whaling issue.

Read Full Story

Posted by sue at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2008

Clyde dolphin 'unlikely to live'

Video of Dolphin swimming up the river, and full story here.

Patrick Pollock, a fellow in equine surgery at Glasgow University, made the assessment after inspecting the Risso's dolphin from a fire brigade dinghy.

He said the mammal was "emaciated" and had a "nasty laceration" to its head.

The 10ft-long creature first appeared on Sunday and has been swimming further inland. So far, all attempts to usher it back out to sea have failed.

Posted by sue at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2008

Birds on a wire

THEY'RE one of Victoria's most popular tourist attractions and this year they are being watched closer than ever.

The Phillip Island Nature Park is using satellite tracking devices to monitor its penguin colony as two major infrastructure projects impinge on the birds' territory.

The dredging of Port Phillip Bay has been conducted in one of the penguins' feeding areas, while the full effects of the proposed desalination plant near Wonthaggi, closer to their island home, are unclear.

This week, seven birds have had the satellite devices — which look like small black bugs — attached to their backs with waterproof tape.

Read the full story

Posted by sue at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2008

New African Grey Book and Puppet!

A talking bird with Whidbey roots is the star of a new book and the model for a new African Grey parrot puppet.

Pierre is an African Grey parrot who lives part of the year in Langley with his owner, psychologist Dr. Fran Smith, her husband Dr. Bob Smith and their poodle, Cosette. The bird charmed his way so far into his owner’s heart, she decided to write a book about him.

Smith has created a delightful and informative portrait of Pierre’s family life in her recently self-published children’s book, “Friendly Feathers: Life with Pierre, an African Grey parrot.” The book features vibrantly colored illustrations by local artist Deon Matzen.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2008

Pandas Survive the Quake

Posted by sue at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2008

Endangered Calf Disentangled

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA) - An entangled humpback whale calf was freed from approximately 150 feet of rope on Sunday afternoon by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies' (PCCS) disentanglement team.

whale-tangle.jpg

The team recovered the grapple with about 40 feet of the entangling rope attached. The team reset the grapple into one of the trailing lines and attached a buoy to the rope to add some resistance. The mother remained calm throughout the disentanglement effort, while the calf reacted by swift changes in direction and high speed swimming. The drag of the buoy and the movements of the calf allowed the remaining rope to untwist and the calf was freed. All rope was recovered and the calf was documented to be gear free. The humpback mother and calf pair was last seen swimming at high speeds to the south.

Rest of the story and visit the site!

Posted by sue at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2008

Climate change hitting bird species, shows study

By Madeline Chambers BONN, Germany, May 19 (Reuters) - One in eight of the world's birds are at risk of extinction as climate change puts birds under great pressure, a leading conservation group warned on Monday. The population of rare birds such as..

The 2008 "Red List for Birds" report, published on the first day of a May 19-30 U.N. conference about biodiversity in the German city of Bonn, said 1,226 species of bird were now threatened.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2008

Avian PDD Breakthrough

Schubot Center Announces PDD Breakthrough

Dr. Ian Tizard of Texas A&M's Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center
announced on 19 May 2008 that they have made a breakthrough in
development of a diagnostic test for Proventricular Dilatation Disease, PDD.
Dr Tizard reports they have developed a serologic test
that seems to be absolutely specific for PDD (no false positives),
although it is not yet fully sensitive (three false negatives out of
about 20 biopsy-confirmed positives). Further work remains to
identify exactly what the causative organism is and to improve the
test's sensitivity, but these results are still a tremendous
breakthrough in the battle against this horrendous disease. The
American Federation of Aviculture is proud to be one of the
supporters of this PDD research at Texas A&M through its Avian
Research Grants Program and invite all bird lovers to help the
Schubot Center continue this work by donating to AFA's 2008 Avian
Research Grants Program. Tax deductible donations may be made online
at http://www.afabirds.org/2008AvianResearchGrants.shtml
Donations may also be made by check to "AFA Avian Research Grants
Program" and mailed to American Federation of Aviculture, Inc.
P.O. Box 91717
Austin TX 78709-1717

AFA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax
deducible to the full extent of the law.

Posted by sue at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2008

Fate of the Panda's in the wake of China's Quake

Please visit Panda International for ongoing updates.

Earthquake Updates — Earthquake in China

"While we do not know much — we wanted to update everyone concerned about the pandas — regarding the earthquake in China.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit in Sichuan Province on Monday afternoon at 2:29 pm local time. The quake struck 57 miles north-west of the city of Chengdu Monday. The epicenter of the quake was in Beichuan County China. This is considered a Major quake.

As of 11:00 Mountain time Chinese report the death toll at about 9,000. The death toll has been steadily increasing, raising concerns that the number could go far higher.

The Chengdu airport has been closed. The Chengdu Panda base is on the outskirts of the City of Chengdu. The Wolong Panda Center is in Wenchuan in Sichuan Province very close to the epicenter and about 55 miles from Chengdu. Officials are struggling to assess the full scope of the damage in Wenchuan and elsewhere because of the disruption in communications caused by the earthquake. More than 2,300 cell phone towers were knocked down by the quake, according to China Mobile, the country’s top carrier.

We have heard that the road to Wolong is heavily damaged, so access has been cut off. Roads are blocked so emergency rescue workers can not get in. This is a very mountainous region.
Will update as we gain information

The needs in the area to help the pandas and the care takers will most likely be great. We will let you know what the needs are as soon as we know."

Posted by sue at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2008

Dolphin Dies During Performance

The dolphin, a 30-year-old female named 'Sharky' collided in mid-air, head on, with her co-performer 'Tyler', a 13-year-old male, during a live show at the park on Saturday April 26. Sharky died a short time later after suffering head injuries. Tyler was not injured, but is still being observed closely.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2008

China to build world's largest panda-breeding center

The world's largest panda breeding centre is being built in southwest China, an official at the country's biggest sanctuary for the notoriously sex-shy animals said Tuesday.

panda-mom-cub-lg.jpg


The new centre, which will house 200 pandas, will be an extension to current facilities at the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan province, reserve official Zhang Hemin told AFP.

"It will be the world's largest panda research centre based on its area and functions," Zhang said. "The first period of construction will be finished by the end of this year."

Besides pens for feeding and breeding, the base will also include a playground measuring 19,400-square-metre (210,000-square-foot) , Xinhua news agency said.

Pandas, one of the world's most endangered species, are a rare national treasure in China.

The rest of the story

Posted by sue at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2008

Dolphin enjoyed our dip

From the Metro UK.

Two swimmers accused of endangering a dolphin when they went for a drunken dip in the sea yesterday told a court the animal 'enjoyed itself' during the incident.

Michael Jukes and Daniel Buck said they swam with the female bottle-nosed dolphin – known as Dave – last June after she approached them.

Jukes denied reports by witnesses that he had grabbed hold of the dolphin's dorsal fin and tried to climb on top to ride on its back.

Full Story

Posted by sue at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2008

Conservationists Helps Rare Parrot Once Feared Extinct

(the newspaper www.proaves.org has this story in Colombian.)

American Bird Conservancy's partner group Fundación ProAves has established the first private protected area for the critically endangered Fuertes's Parrot. The species, whose population size is estimated at just 160 individuals, lives only in a small area in the Andes of Colombia that is heavily impacted by deforestation.

fuertesparrot.jpg

"Until recently, the Fuertes's Parrot was feared to be extinct," said Paul Salaman, American Bird Conservancy's Director of International Programs. "The species inhabits a cloud forest threatened by clearance for cattle ranching and agriculture. By conserving the remaining patches of forest and taking other steps to help this species, we hope to see its numbers rebound."...

In 2002, Fundación ProAves' President Alonso Quevedo found a flock of 14 Fuertes's Parrots (or Indigo-winged Parrots), and confirmed the survival of a species that had last been seen in 1911.

The 1,500 acre reserve is in the same area, and at the core of a site identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) as essential to maintain this species. The AZE, a coalition of biodiversity conservation organizations from around the world, prioritizes protection for endangered and critically endangered species, such as the Fuertes's Parrot, that are in their last remaining refuge.

The reserve, a joint project of American Bird Conservancy, ProAves, and IUCN NL/SPN, sponsored by the Netherlands Postcode Lottery, and supported by Robert Giles and Robert Wilson, consolidates a 5,000 acre zone of protected lands with the municipality of Genova in the department of Quindío. A management plan and guidance on how to conserve the Fuertes's Parrot have been developed for the area, and an education and outreach program to local communities is underway.


"Public education together with forest protection is critical for the long term conservation of the Fuertes's Parrot," said Alonso Quevedo. "Since 2005, the ProAves 'Parrot Bus' has brought the conservation message to communities across the Central Andes, the priority zone for threatened parrots and biodiversity in Colombia."
The Parrot Bus has proven to be a practical way of reaching the remotest rural communities and represents an important mechanism for gaining support for conservation actions.

The Parrot Bus helps to protect Fuertes's Parrot and acts as a mobile environmental education classroom. Since its first tour in 2005 it has reached over 70,000 children and adults who have attended demonstrations and workshops, and received information on the conservation of birds and their habitats. This education project has been made possible by support from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund

Posted by sue at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2008

White Wale in Alaska

News Release: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA)

Scientists aboard the NOAA research vessel Oscar Dyson in the North Pacific have sighted a creature of great rarity and even myth: a white whale. The white killer whale was spotted with its pod about two miles off Kanaga Volcano, part of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, on Feb. 23.

At the time, Kodiak-based Oscar Dyson was on a research expedition for NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, assessing pollock fish stocks near Steller sea lion haulout sites. The white whale is a fish-eating type of killer whale, as were all the killer whales photographed on the expedition. Fish-eating killer whales are the most frequently seen whales around the Aleutian Islands during the summer. The winter sightings represent important evidence that they may be common year-round.

Holly Fearnbach, a research biologist at NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, was able to photograph the whale’s white fin and back. “With hundreds of killer whales documented around the Aleutian Islands, this was equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack,” she said.

“Despite the typical stormy weather that makes research operations very difficult in the winter, the scientific team on Oscar Dyson has been pulling in a huge amount of planned research data,” said Alaska Fisheries Science Center director Doug DeMaster. “Extraordinary sightings like this white whale are icing on the cake.”
Few white killer whales have ever been seen, according to Fearnbach, much less scientifically documented. Continue reading and see High Resolution pictures here.

Posted by sue at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2008

Red Panda fossil found

redpanda.jpg
Media Credit: Photo courtesy of ETSU Photo Lab
Larger skull pieces being held together

Additional funding provided for essential laboratory and field personnel at the new East Tennessee State University and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site has already paid off with a significant one-of-a-kind find - a nearly complete skeleton of the fossil red panda (Pristinailurus bristoli)...

Posted by sue at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2008

1 little two little 3 little whales....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
UPDATE:A record number of whales were sighted yesterday (feb 24th) during the Pacific Whale Foundation's 2008 Great Whale Count on Maui, which recorded a total of 1,726 whale sightings in a three-hour period.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MAUI
Volunteers being sought for annual whale count

Maui residents and visitors may sign up to participate in the Pacific Whale Foundation's Great Whale Count on Feb. 23.

About 135 counters participate each year at 12 shore-based counting stations along Maui's south and west coast, from Makena to Kapalua, and at Ho'okipa Beach Park on the north shore.

The counting is limited to animals sighted within three miles of the shoreline to ensure more accuracy and to allow the counters to best determine the whales' pod composition and behaviors, according to the Pacific Whale Foundation.

In 2006, there were 1,265 humpback whales counted, an all-time high.

Training at each site will begin at 8 a.m., with the official counting from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

To sign up, call the foundation's volunteer coordinator Kelly Vough at 800-WHALE-1-1 or 244-8394.

Posted by sue at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2008

It is the kakapo--

Please visit the website here: http://www.kakapoencounter.com/

Photo Credit: Spirit and Nature Photography, Simon Stockdale

Get your map, mark your calendar and dust off your intrepid adventuring cap. From September 8-October 22, 2008, you have a date on New Zealand’s Stewart Island with one of Earth’s most unusual and fabulous creatures.

Stewart_Island-41.jpg

Imagine: the dense forest of a remote Antipode island, night. Silvery moonbeams filter through the fern trees, and in the lacy light a mossy green shadow appears. It is the kakapo--a nocturnal, flightless, enormous parrot who roams the forest floor, nibbling berries, climbing trees, nesting in burrows, and dancing with others in a primeval avian ballroom. This strangely-sweet-smelling, owl-faced bird emits an unearthly squawk, stretches his beautiful wings, and shuffles forward to peer into your eyes...

A tale spun by Lewis Carroll? A Jim Hensen Muppet show? Magical Tolkien lore? Believe it or not, the kakapo really truly exists. But just barely. This marvellous bird has been fighting back from the brink of extinction for decades.

Today, there are 86 known kakapo remaining on Earth (and this number has come up from a decade ago!). Once prevalent throughout New Zealand, kakapo now reside on the predator-free islands Codfish and Maud under the care of the Kakapo Recovery Programme. Typically only scientists involved in the programme have had the opportunity to behold this rare and mysterious bird. That changed last year with the inception of Kakapo Encounter. In the Spring of 2006, the Ulva Island Charitable Trust hosted Kakapo Encounter on Ulva Island (Ulva is a predator-free island in Stewart Island’s Paterson Inlet) and invited the public to come observe a kakapo.

The response was phenomenal: people travelled from all over the globe to view this extraordinary bird. Prime Minister Helen Clark herself spent some “face time” with the lovable parrot Sirocco, and remarked that the Kakapo Encounter was a “world class” operation. Due to the success of the event, Ulva Island Charitable Trust is excited to announce that Kakapo Encounter is back! This year the Trust is making an effort to get the word out early, as many overseas bird enthusiasts expressed disappointment they didn’t have enough notice to plan a trip to New Zealand last year.

From 8 September to 22nd October 2008 Kakapo Encounter invites the general public to view a kakapo. Sirocco, an exceptionally personable bird, will return to his special retreat on Ulva. Trips will depart in small groups every evening from Stewart Island’s Halfmoon Bay Wharf. The guided tour includes a boat trip through Paterson Inlet to Ulva Island, and a walk to Sirocco’s enclosure where he can be observed close-up. Sirocco’s pen has been specially constructed with his safety and comfort in mind.

Posted by sue at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2008

Local Owl..

well to me, here on Cape Cod, MA. 2 saw whet owls get the care they need. Full Story

saw-whet.jpg

Posted by sue at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2008

Is it animal cruelty? What to do..

~Sent by a friend of Natures Corner. ~

If there is a problem with an animal’s care, the basic question is whether it’s “animal cruelty” or the less serious, “failure to provide adequate care.”

A Police Officer says that the department gets lots of calls from well-intentioned citizens who feel sorry for dogs that are chained out in hot or cold weather. “If the dog is fed and watered, has shelter, and no evidence of ill health, it’s likely there is no neglect,” he said.

According to state law, he said a dog only needs to be fed once every 24 hours and watered, every 12.

In more serious cases, police have their work cut out for them. When an animal is obviously abused, police will take pictures of the animal and it surroundings. They will perform an evaluation of it, and give it a score of 1-10. Hubble said they would check for things such as dehydration, exposed ribs and other obvious signs of abuse or neglect.

Then he says everything must be documented as well as it can be. The animals are usually confiscated and taken immediately to a vet – not only for the animal’s well-being, but to further document any potential crime.

In the end he says it will be up to a judge or a jury to decide if there is sufficient evidence that the animal was abused that the owner failed to provide adequate care.

Posted by sue at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2008

License Please! says MO Government/all pets must have permit!

We just became aware of a bill that has been proposed in the Missouri state legislature to force all bird owners and others who have pets that are designated as “wild by nature,” whether bred in captivity or the wild to have to register for a permit to have them on a yearly basis.

Please let everyone you know be aware of this very scary bill.

Posted by sue at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2008

Meeting is for the Birds!

The 2008 hunting and trapping seasons and limits hearing of the Pennsylvania Game Commission on Sunday was nearly a carbon copy of similar meetings over the past several years.

For more than a quarter of the 50 or so speakers throughout the afternoon, however, deer weren't even on the radar.

It was the nanday conure that brought them to the meeting.

Please read full story here.

Posted by sue at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2008

DREAMWORLD’S BLUE EYED KOALA BRANCHES OUT INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

January 15, 2008 .... He may have been christened “Logan”, but as soon as Dreamworld’s newest koala emerged from his mum’s pouch and took a first glimpse of the world late last year, he was dubbed “Frankie” for his extraordinary blue eyes.

Dreamworld's_young_blue_eyes_-_Frank.jpg


“He’s a little puff of fur with intense blue eyes,” said Dreamworld’s Life Sciences Supervisor, Michelle Barnes. "I have worked with koalas for 14 years and have never seen a blue eyed koala before.”

Australian Koala Foundation’s (AKF) CEO, Deborah Tabart was also at a loss to explain the unusual eye colouring. “In the 20 year history of the AKF, this is the first we have heard of a blue-eyed koala in captivity. It certainly appears to be a once in a lifetime event.”

Visit the site If the link does not work for you.. copy and paste this into your browser: www.themeparksgoldcoast.com.au

Posted by sue at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2008

Be a parrot toy angel

Contact Lynn Williams at www.parrottoyangels.com to see what YOU can do to help rescued and sanctuary birds have handmade toys that they so desperately need to keep them healthy and happy while not in a home/family environment.

Posted by sue at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2008

Companion Birds treat recall

Stealth Recall: United Pet Group Pet Treats
Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2008 at 7:00 am in National Dog, Cat & Pet Info, Other Pets, Pet Food Recalls & Safety.
By Emily Huh

On the FDA’s Enforcement Report, dated December 26, 2007, there was a recall involving various United Pet Group products. United Pet Group owns various brands including 8 in 1, Dingo, Tetra, Nature’s Miracle, and Marineland.

Here are the details from the report:
FDA Enforcement Report December 26, 2007

PRODUCT
a) Wild Harvest Fruit and Honey Cockatiel, Recall # V-021-2008;
b) Ecotrition Tropical Fruit and Honey Bars, Recall # V-022-2008;
c) Wild Harvest Hamster, Gerbil, Mouse & Rat Honey Cakes, Recall # V-023-2008
CODE
a) Lot: 07096 and Lot: 07108;
b) and c) Lot: 07096

RECALLING FIRM/MANUFACTURER
United Pet Group Inc., Cincinnati, OH, by telephone and letter. Firm initiated recall is ongoing.
REASON
Pet treats were imported from China. LOS-DO sampled the treats and they were positive for melamine. The shipments were placed on hold for redelivery and was erroneously shipped into commerce.
VOLUME OF PRODUCT IN COMMERCE
54,178 units

DISTRIBUTION
AZ, CA, FL, MI, NJ, NY, TX, and WA
We contacted United Pet Group, but we did not receive a response from the company in time for press.
Also, Menusux pointed out that these products have showed up several times on the FDA OASIS Refusals Reports for September, October, and November of 2007.
Source: FDA Enforcement Report, FDA OASIS Refusals

Posted by sue at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2007

Alex the Grey and Washoe the Chimp

From the NY Times.

There is, no telling what tales they had to tell, the two greatest nonhuman linguists of our day: Washoe, the sign-language-wielding chimpanzee with an intense footwear fetish; and Alex, the wildly outspoken parrot, an African gray known to regularly order about his human researchers and to purposely give them the wrong answers to their questions just to alleviate his boredom. After all, we only ever gave them our own words to work with.

Please read the full story

Posted by sue at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2007

a *shocking* Christmas tree

In a small aquarium in Hokkaido, an electric eel is lighting a small Christmas tree. metal sensors in the tank are activated when it detects the eel's bioelectric discharges.

eel.jpg


This will turns on the tree's lights. Visitors can watch the eel snake around and see the tree light until Christmas.

Posted by sue at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2007

School has an Ace on it's sleeve!

quaker_in_school.bmp

If you step inside AlWood Elementary School and hear the screeching of a bird, do not call animal control.

It’s just Al, the school’s pet Quaker parrot and unofficial school mascot.

Al’s been living at the school for a year and a half and has made quite an impression on teachers and students.

Please read the fullstory from The Register-Mail Click on the picture on the site to see more!

It's nice to be able to post about a Quaker that is not in danger!~sue

Posted by sue at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2007

Chimps beat humans in memory test

From the BBC:
Chimpanzees have an extraordinary photographic memory that is far superior to ours, research suggests.

chimp.jpg


Young chimps outperformed university students in memory tests devised by Japanese scientists


Read the full story

Posted by sue at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2007

PARROT FESTIVAL 2008


HOUSTON , TEXAS
January 25, 26, & 27, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR VENDOR INFORMATION:
Cheryl Rose; 979-234-7869, 713-557-BIRD (2473) or cherylrose2000@yahoo.com


Presented by: National Parrot Rescue & Preservation Foundation
9th Annual Educational Conference www.parrotfestival.org

FEATURED SPEAKERS:
Dr. Natalie Antinoff, Rebecca Fox, Dr. Susan Friedman, Barbara Heidenreich, Dr. Debra McDonald,
Leslie Moran, Dr. Geoff Olsen, Nancy Speed, Dr. Ian Tizard

LOCATION:
Doubletree Hotel Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
15747 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Houston, Texas, 77032 800-222-TREE or 281-848 4000
BOOK ONLINE! See our website for details.
Room Rate For Parrot Festival - $99.00 per night Each room booked benefits NPRPF!!
FREE PARKING!! FREE AIRPORT SHUTTLE from IAH

CONFERENCE/PRE-REGISTRATION:$150.00* - Includes admission all three days to all lectures

presented by our Featured Speakers, admission to the Getting to Know Your NPRPF Forum, The Forum Panel, entry into the Friday evening VIP Meet & Greet, a Treasure Map & access to all Vendors and Exhibitors. (Ask about special group rates). *Registration will be $175 after 1/5/08 & at the door...

"PARTY IN PARROT-DISE" VIP MEET & GREET: Friday - 7:00PM - 10:00PM - Registered attendees, vendors & supporters are invited to join our Featured Speakers & Staff in the Ballroom for the President's VIP Meet & Greet generously sponsored by BIRD TALK MAGAZINE! Wear your best "Parrot Wear" or Tropical Island Attire! Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed in each category! Complimentary Food, Cash Bar, Contests, Prizes & More!!

BANQUET:$40.00 - Saturday - Cocktail Hour begins at 6:30 PM - Be sure to attend this fun "Blue Jeans to Black Tie" charity event! Enjoy a three course meal and have the opportunity to bid on fabulous items offered in the Silent & Live Auctions. All proceeds go towards helping companion parrots through NPRPF.


VENDORS/EXHIBITORS: $5.00 per adult (no charge to registered attendees) - Saturday & Sunday

Visit each of the shops featuring quality vendors from all over the United States. Enjoy fabulous deals on parrot-related merchandise & bird supplies including T-shirts & apparel, antiques & collectibles, jewelry, artwork, ceramics, home décor, cages, toys, toy kits, pellets, treats, supplements, gourmet bird food, publications, videos & more!

TREASURE CHEST DRAWING : - Sunday - Reserved for Registered Attendees - Get your Treasure Map and visit each of the booths & shops featuring quality vendors from all over the United States. After visiting all of the vendors, turn in your stamped Treasure Map at the registration table for a chance to win the Treasure Chest contents contributed by each of the Vendors.

SPONSOR A SPEAKER: In order to keep registration & other fees low, NPRPF depends on individual sponsors to defer the cost of bringing in the Featured Speakers. Expenses for eachFeatured Speaker are $1000 to $1500. Speaker Sponsors at the $100.00 level & above receive acknowledgement in the Program Book, from the stage, and on the marquee of the Featured Speaker you choose to sponsor. You may also contribute to the general fund.

HOW TO REGISTER :Visit www.parrotfestival.org to download a form. Mail the completed form & payment to NPRPF/Registration, 6942 FM 1960 E, #415, Humble, Texas, 77346. To request a form, please call or email.


Posted by sue at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2007

Another White House Pardon

white_house_Pardon_07.jpg
President George W. Bush offers an official pardon to May, the 2007 Thanksgiving Turkey, during festivities Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007, in the Rose Garden of the White House. In pardoning May, and the alternate, Flower, the President said, "May they live the rest of their lives in blissful gobbling. And may all Americans enjoy a holiday full of love and peace. God bless you all." White House photo by Chris Greenberg

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. Though live Thanksgiving turkeys have been presented intermittently to presidents since the Lincoln administration, the current ceremony dates to 1947, when the first National Thanksgiving Turkey was presented to President Harry Truman.

The presentation at times has brushed against broader history. For example, the November 1963 event was one of President Kennedy's last in the Rose Garden. The first President Bush conducted the 1990 ceremony just before leaving for Thanksgiving with the troops in the Persian Gulf region. President Clinton in 1996 returned from an Asian summit and literally went directly to the ceremony.

The 2007 National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate are from Dubois, Indiana and were raised under the direction of National Turkey Federation Chairman Ted Seger. The 21-week old turkey, will weigh about 45 pounds, when he is driven to Washington...

The National Thanksgiving Turkey was raised using normal feeding and other production techniques. The one exception is they were provided increased interaction with people so that they would be prepared for their role at the White House Ceremony.

Presidents traditionally have granted the National Thanksgiving Turkey a "pardon". After the presentation, the turkey will be flown first class to Disney World in Orlando, where he will be the grand marshal of “Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” After the parade, guests will be able to visit the bird in the backyard of Mickey’s Country House in Magic Kingdom Park.

Posted by sue at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2007

Artist Inspired by Parrots, New Zeland.

grant_tilly.jpg

Grant Tilly spreads his wings with a new exhibition called Parrot Fashion at Pataka. After working the last couple of years with native New Zealand birds as an inspiration, Tilly wanted to spread his wings a little and take on the majestic world of parrots. Tilly quite liked the idea that an exhibition could be called Parrot Fashion. They fascinate him with their glorious colours and their cheeky characteristics. The Pacific rim is particularly rich in examples of these intriguing birds.
Read the rest of the story from New Zeland

Posted by sue at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2007

Japan whale expedition condemned

The hunting fleet has instructions to kill up to 1,000 whales. Humpback whales will be hunted for the first time in over 40 years.

Japan says the hunt is for research purposes and that numbers are too small to have a major impact on populations.

New Zealand PM Helen Clark said this claim was "deception" and that the whalers should not have left port.

_humpback_.jpg

The Japanese whaling fleet set sail on its five-month mission from the southern port of Shimonoseki on Sunday.

As well as up to 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales, it will kill up to 50 humpback whales for the first time since a moratorium was introduced in 1963.

The species had been hunted almost to extinction before the ban.

Please read the full story here

Posted by sue at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2007

The Beauty of Ugly

"NATURE" travels the world for close encounters with repellant pigs, beastly birds, frightful fish and other repulsive creatures when "The Beauty of Ugly" premieres on PBS Sunday, November 18, 8PM (check local listings). The globetrotting ugly pageant reveals the vital functions behind the vile features in the animal kingdom.


check out NATURE's ugliest animal photo competition. To learn more go HERE

Posted by sue at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2007

Victims of oil spill

From San Jose Mercury News
FRANTIC RESCUE EFFORT QUICKENS AS OIL SLICK TAKES TOLL ON AVIAN LIFE

oily_loon.jpg
CORDELIA - The oil-smeared duck lived long enough to pull himself onto Stinson Beach. He was still alive when found by volunteers Saturday morning, and survived their rushed trip to veterinarians here at the Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center.

But by afternoon he was just one more casualty of the black tide that spewed out of the damaged container ship Cosco Busan into one of the richest avian regions on the Pacific Coast.

Please read the full story at the link above!

Posted by sue at 06:10 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2007

stuck squirrel

A squirrel got into a wire bird feeder and ate so much.. it got stuck!

"After the squirrel had stuffed itself with nuts it had a stomach too large to escape the feeder"
RSPCA inspector Graham Hammond

squirrel.jpg

Read the Press Association story here

Posted by sue at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2007

Animal Acres: FIRE EVACUATION FUNDING

animal acres.jpg

Dear Friend of Animal Acres,

We are writing to APPEAL for your help for the safety of the sanctuary animals. Animal Acres is located in a high fire area, and yesterday, a major fire broke out less than 1/4 mile from the sanctuary.

We had already started working on developing an evacuation site, and raised sponsorship funding for one transport trailer. After loading half of the sanctuary animals before the fire was brought under control, it became very clear that we will need to have sufficient vehicles and transport trailers to evacuate ALL of the animals at once. To do this, WE NEED YOUR HELP.

FIRE EVACUATION FUNDING NEEDS:
Transport Trailers: We need a minimum of three large transport trailers, and currently, only have one. We are ordering the trailers THIS WEEK. We are purchasing a 30' trailer & gooseneck hitch ($24,500) and a 16' trailer ($11,000).

firealert.jpg


Evacuation Site: We are setting up an evacuation center with fencing, temporary housing, housing sheds, feeding & watering equipment, and a caregiver trailer so we have access to a SAFE EVACUATION SITE 24/7. The cost of the evacuation site will be approximately $15,000.

Your donation to the EMERGENCY EVACUATION FUND is urgently needed. Please give a donation of any amount to help us TODAY. We, and our farm animal friends, are counting on you, now, more than ever. Please click here to make a donation and write for Emergency Evacuation Fund in the donation notes box...

FIRE EVACUATION VOLUNTEER NEEDS:
1. We need help SETTING UP THE EVACUATION SITE. If you can help, please come to the sanctuary any Saturday. We are asking volunteers to arrive by 11 a.m. and commit to 3 hours of work so we can carpool to the evacuation area. Volunteers are also needed other days of the week to clear out brush on the Animal Acres property - please email us the date(s) you can join us.

2. We need more volunteers to serve on our EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM. ERT volunteers must commit to evacuation training sessions and/or volunteer for animal health check days so you can learn how to properly move animals and become familiar with the sanctuary animals and property. ERT volunteers will also need to have a cell phone and should be able to respond immediately 24/7.

The next evacuation training day will be held on September 30 at 11:00 a.m. Please email us if you would like to be a part of the ERT Team.

Thank you from ALL of us at Animal Acres.
Lorri Bauston, President
Animal Acres
Animal Acres is a Los Angeles farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate living center directed by Farm Sanctuary co-founder Lorri Bauston. Thank you for your support.

© 2006-2007 Animal Acres. All rights reserved. ANIMAL ACRES
5200 Escondido Canyon Road Acton, CA 93510
Phone: 661.269.5404 Fax: 661.269.0194
Email: info@animalacres.org
Website: www.animalacres.org

Posted by sue at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2007

'Protein pill' saves parrot in peril

SCOTTISH scientists have helped to save one of the strangest and most endangered birds in the world from extinction.

The kakapo, the world's only nocturnal and flightless parrot, was facing extinction due to man's invasion of its habitat, in New Zealand.

kakapo.jpg

But experts in Glasgow have been instrumental in helping to boost its numbers by developing a food supplement to improve its breeding potential.

Environmental factors such habitat clearance and the introduction of predatory animals caused numbers of the breed to dwindle to only 51 in 1995.

Another problem is that kakapos breed infrequently. This is because they feed their young on the fruits of the pink pine and rimu trees, which produce fruit every two to six years - so kakapos only breed then.

During the years in between, the kakapo's natural diet consists of coarse leaves, grasses and herbs, which lack adequate nutrients for rearing chicks.

David Houston, professor of zoology at Glasgow University, has worked for ten years developing methods of helping endangered bird species.

He has developed a "protein pill" to supplement the kakapo's diet, helping it to create more and better quality eggs.

"We had been looking at the factors that influence the number and quality of eggs," he said. "While domestic chickens receive all the nutrients they need for egg production in their daily food, wild birds set them down in their body over a period of time. I became interested in the kakapo because I was convinced its eggs have been affected by its diet." ...

In collaboration with the New Zealand Board of Conservation, which has spearheaded efforts to save the kakapo, a pellet consisting of various amino acids needed for strong egg production was devised. It also includes crushed almonds and dried egg.

The first trial feeds were carried out in 2002, and Prof Houston said: "There was real concern over whether or not they would eat them, because they are the sole breed of parrot that eats nothing but foliage. But the pellets were put in hoppers, from which the birds ate them without any trouble."

Within the first year, there were measurable results: they had gone from low numbers of eggs being produced and poor chick survival, to the production of 64 eggs, 30 of which hatched healthy chicks. The supplement has since helped further boost the number of kakapos, which now stands at 86.

While they have been unable to speed up the breeding cycle - it is thought to be tied to visual cues from the fruit trees - it is hoped numbers will pass the 100 mark in a few years and that the kakapo will eventually lose its endangered species label.

Colin Oulton, head keeper in the bird section at Edinburgh Zoo, said of the kakapo: "Its massive size and flightlessness make it a very unique bird.

"It has only been down to the fantastic work of the conservationists, moving them to safe islands and monitoring them, that has helped save the breed from extinction. It is a very strange bird with a strange story."

• THE kakapo parrot was able to fly. In prehistoric times it arrived on the uninhabited islands of New Zealand.

Lacking predators, the "owl parrot" as it is also known - due to its nocturnal habits and owl-like face - lost the ability to fly, and took to living on the ground among foliage.

It can run fast for great distances and climbs high trees, using its wings to "parachute" down.

The intrusion of humanity to its habitat brought with it cats, rats and other predators that nearly destroyed the species.

Efforts to rescue the species from extinction have been made since 1890, but only began to succeed in the 1980s, with the setting up of suitable habitats for the birds on four predator-free islands.

Unlike other parrot species, kakapos are described as being easy- going and friendly.

This article: http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1287182007

Posted by sue at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)