How puffins catch their food


This 2009 video says about itself:

Puffins | National Geographic

In Iceland’s remote Westman Islands, warming weather is threatening a beloved mascot: the Atlantic puffin.

From the University of Liverpool in England:

How puffins catch food outside the breeding season

July 17, 2019

Little is known about how seabirds catch their food outside the breeding season but using modern technology, researchers at the University of Liverpool and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have gained new insight into their feeding habits.

Seabirds, including puffins, are often elusive and spend much of their lives at sea, feeding exclusively there. The period outside of the summer breeding season is particularly mysterious as the birds spend their time far away from land.

Using depth recorders, researchers compared the feeding behaviour of puffins with two closely related species, guillemots and razorbills, to find out how deep and how long they dive for during the non-breeding period.

They fitted data logger to seabirds breeding on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve in south-east Scotland. These birds were then recaptured the following breeding season, when they returned to land again after months away at sea.

Puffins are excellent divers and, in a similar way to penguins, use their wings to “fly” underwater to catch their prey.

Yet the study found that despite this great diving ability, both common guillemots and razorbills can dive for even deeper and longer than puffins can and continue to do so outside the breeding season. As well as these important species differences, the study also found that the diving of all three species changed over the course of the year.

Lead author of the study, Ruth Dunn, a PhD student in the University’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Whilst we already knew that these birds are able to dive to great depths during the breeding season, in this study we found that after they left the breeding colony they didn’t dive as deeply as expected, often reaching depths of less than 15 meters, possibly because they were catching different prey.

“Despite these shallow dives, birds were very busy, particularly in in mid-winter when they were working harder than in the autumn and spring.”

Researchers also found that some birds were busier than others. Immediately after leaving the breeding colony, guillemot and razorbill fathers both dived more than their female partners.

This is because male parents accompany their chicks to sea and continue to feed it for several weeks after the breeding season has ended. Male birds therefore had to dive more frequently in order to catch enough fish to not only feed themselves, but to also meet the nutritional demands of their growing chicks.

In contrast with the other species, puffin chicks go to sea on their own. Therefore, the adults dive at a similar intensity throughout the post-breeding period, because there is not another hungry seabird beak to feed.

Francis Daunt of CEH, a co-author on the study, said “These insights into the winter feeding behaviour of puffins are extremely valuable since this species has shown marked declines in recent years, linked to higher mortality rates of adult birds in certain winters. These data show that the middle of winter is when birds are working hardest, which suggests that over-winter survival may be closely linked to the ability to find sufficient food.”

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London house sparrows in trouble


This 3 March 2019 video from England is called Feeding House Sparrows – London – I do this every day – Passer domesticus.

From the Zoological Society of London in England:

Avian malaria behind drastic decline of London’s iconic sparrow?

July 16, 2019

London’s house sparrows (Passer domesticus) have plummeted by 71% since 1995, with new research suggesting avian malaria could be to blame.

Once ubiquitous across the capital city, the sudden, and unexplained decline of the iconic birds led a team from ZSL (Zoological Society of London), the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the University of Liverpool to investigate if parasite infections were involved.

Researchers collected data between November 2006 and September 2009 at 11 sites across London. Each site was centred around a single breeding colony and spaced at least four kilometres apart to ensure that birds from different groups didn’t mix. The team estimated changes in bird numbers by counting the mature males and took tiny blood and faecal samples from sparrows, carefully caught and soon released, to monitor infection rates and severity.

Of the 11 colonies studied, seven were declining. On average 74% of sparrows carried avian malaria — a strain that only affects birds — but this differed between groups with some as high as 100%. However, it was infection intensity (i.e. the number of parasites per bird) that varied significantly and was higher on average in the declining colonies.

Former ZSL Institute of Zoology researcher and lead author Dr Daria Dadam, now of the BTO, said: “Parasite infections are known to cause wildlife declines elsewhere and our study indicates that this may be happening with the house sparrow in London. We tested for a number of parasites, but only Plasmodium relictum, the parasite that causes avian malaria, was associated with reducing bird numbers.”

Professor Andrew Cunningham, Deputy Director of Science at ZSL said: “Although we found that nearly all sparrows carry Plasmodium, there was no association between the number of carriers and local sparrow population growth. Infection intensity, however, was significantly higher in young birds in the declining populations with fewer of the sparrows monitored in those groups surviving from year to year.”

The malaria strains the study identified are widespread and infect multiple bird species. They are, therefore, likely to have been native to the UK, and to house sparrows, long before their numbers started to fall. The parasite is spread by mosquitoes, which transfer it when they bite to feed. It has been suggested that avian malaria will become more common across Northern Europe due to climate change as higher temperatures and wetter weather favour mosquito reproduction, and more mosquitoes will help the disease to spread. Researchers think this could be behind the sudden change.

Dr Will Peach, Head of Research Delivery at RSPB said: “House sparrow populations have declined in many towns and cities across Europe since the 1980s. This new research suggests that avian malaria may be implicated in the loss of house sparrows across London. Exactly how the infection may be affecting the birds is unknown. Maybe warmer temperatures are increasing mosquito numbers, or the parasite has become more virulent.”

ZSL works to protect wildlife health and understand how animal diseases spread between populations and habitats. Diseases, like avian malaria, are a significant cause of wildlife decline, a direct threat to a number of endangered species and can infect domestic animals too. Only by understanding the mechanisms of infection and the effect that these diseases have can we can put in place strategies to mitigate them.

House sparrows

House sparrows (Passer domesticus) are small, grey-brown birds native to much of Europe and Asia but now widely introduced elsewhere. They are opportunistic feeders and found in a range of habitats, often living closely with people. House sparrows were once one of the most abundant birds in the UK, but their numbers have fallen drastically. Their current UK population is estimated to be 5,300,000 breeding pairs.

Avian malaria

Avian malaria is most commonly caused by a parasite called Plasmodium relictum. In a similar way to human malaria, it is spread only by mosquitoes which transfer the parasite to healthy birds when they feed. The parasite reproduces in red blood cells and other tissues, and in severe cases can be fatal. Avian malaria is not a danger to people.

Good rare Bolivian parrots news


This April 2014 video says about itself:

The Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw is found in only one place on earth: the Beni Savannas of Bolivia. This complex ecosystem of grasslands, marshes, forest islands and gallery forest is largely in the hands of cattle ranchers and every year untold habitat is lost to intentional burning for pastureland. Today, less than 400 Blue-throated Macaws remain.

Rainforest Trust, in conjunction with American Bird Conservancy and our local partner Asociación Armonía Bolivia, helped create the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, the first and only protected area for the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw.

Artis zoo in Amsterdam in the Netherlands reports today that a record number of young threatened Bolivian parrots have fledged this nesting season.

This is the blue-throated macaw species.

It is endemic to Bolivia. Traditionally, it only nests in holes in urucuri palm trees.

Bolivian landlords had logged many urucuri palm trees for ranching. It was thought the species had become extinct in the 1980s.

Fortunately, some birds were discovered. There is a nestbox campaign to help them, which works.

This nesting season, the record number of 12 young blue-throated macaws have fledged.

Slowly, the population is increasing again.

Extinct giant eagles, giant sloths, more giants


This 14 July 2019 video says about itself:

Check out these GIANT Extinct Versions Of Modern-Day Creatures! From the biggest deep-sea creatures to other gigantic prehistoric animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago, this top 10 list of largest creatures that ever lived will amaze you!

Including New Zealand’s Haast’s eagles, giant sloths and more.