Urban birds conference, finish

The last lecture of the urban birds conference on Thursday was in the museum auditorium.

It was by Robert Kwak of BirdLife in the Netherlands.

(The name Kwak means in Dutch “black-crowned night heron“. Wild birds of this species breed in or near the zoos of Amsterdam and Rotterdam cities).

Robert Kwak’s subject was the situation of birds in urban environments in the Netherlands.

Some species, he said, were doing well, like ring-necked parakeet, goldfinch, and greenfinch.

However, breeding bird numbers of most species are going down in urban environments, compared to the countryside.

More and more buildings are built. Yet, species depending on buildings for their nests, like swift, starling, house sparrow, and black redstart, are not doing well. Because builders often do not take birds’ needs into account.

Also, dunnocks, which nest in bushes, are going down in cities. Because of predation by cats?

This is a video about crested larks near a petrol station in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

A pioneer species like the crested lark, which likes open sandy spaces where building often starts, is in trouble as well.

So, the situation for most urban breeding birds is not so good. However, as far as wintering birds are concerned, they are doing better in cities and towns than in the countryside. This is especially true for water birds (water in cities often does not freeze as soon as in the countryside).

After Robert Kwak’s lecture, Nico de Haan, well-known from Dutch radio and TV programs about birds, received the golden spoonbill award.

Leiden city received the Stadsvogelprijs, the award for local authorities which had done most for urban birds.

Nature in Leiden: here.

Best Urban Birding Locations: here.

Britain, November 2009. Cutting back hedges and bushes too early this year could starve birds of late autumn berries, says the RSPB. The mild weather has meant birds are feasting on insects later this year. They have not had to turn to autumn fruits yet, so many hedgerows are still bursting with berries. These sources of food are what birds rely on to set them up for winter: here.

Australia’s average surface temperature has risen more than 1 Fahrenheit degree since 1900. During roughly the same period, the body size of Australian passerine (perching) birds has declined by as much as 3.6 percent. Zoologist Janet L. Gardner of the Australian National University in Canberra and colleagues, who detected the shrinking trend in birds, suspect the two changes are no coincidence: here.

Research at the Lund University Vision Group can now show that the color vision of birds stops working considerably earlier in the course of the day than was previously believed, in fact, in the twilight. Birds need between 5 and 20 times as much light as humans to see colors: here.

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