Great tit gathers nesting material


This 28 March 2017 video shows a great tit gathering hair as nesting material.

Ciska van Geer in the Netherlands made this video.

Young tawny owl video


This 28 March 2017 video shows a young tawny owl which has left its nest but cannot fly yet.

Kcanneke Verheij from the Netherlands made this video.

Wall lizards get used to humans


This video from France shows a common wall lizard.

From FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology:

Wall lizard becomes accustomed to humans and stops hiding

March 27, 2017

Summary: Habituating to predators or fleeing and hiding are tactics that vary between species. Scientists have observed that adult male common wall lizards sharing their living spaces with humans become accustomed to them and hide less when humans approach them. Yellow lizards were the most ‘daring.’

Habituating to predators or fleeing and hiding are tactics that vary between species. Scientists from two research centres in Italy and Spain have observed that adult male common wall lizards sharing their living spaces with humans become accustomed to them and hide less when humans approach them. Yellow lizards were the most “daring.”

Humans have an increasing presence in different species’ natural habitats. For this reason, scientists are investing much time in studying wild animals’ capacity to tolerate these disturbances. Lizards are an appropriate model for research into this subject, as they can be found in high densities in many environments and are relatively easy to observe in the field and handle in laboratories.

Scientists from the Eco-Ethology group of the University of Pavia (Italy) and the National Museum of Natural History (CSIC) in Spain used the lizards to analyse their reactions to attacks by human predators and the strategies they adopt, depending on the local risk level. To do this, they simulated human attacks on two populations in completely different settings: rural and urban habitats.

“The species we used in the study was the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis). The main aim was to detect the possible influence of urbanisation on their antipredator response in terms of activity, time spent hidden in refuges after attacks and habituation to predators after repeated attacks,” Sinc was told by Jose Martín of the Spanish National Museum of Natural History and co-author of the paper, published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

The findings show that urban lizards spend less time in their refuges following simulations of predator attacks and that the[y] become habituated, as their successive hiding times decreased faster than those of the rural lizards. This detail suggests different levels of caution against potential predators. “The study has important implications for our understanding of humans’ effect on animal populations and animals’ resp[onses to them].

The explanation for this is that for prey, the majority of humans they come across represent “ineffective, dangerous predators” that rarely attack and are easily escaped from with low-intensity, low-cost antipredator responses. In this way, they save themselves always having to respond with high-intensity antipredator strategies, which can be very costly in terms of lost time and energy.

Red lizards cower when threatened

As this species displays polychromatism (there are individuals with yellow, red and white bellies), which has an important role for the species, the researchers also took individual colouration into consideration in the study.

“Independently of whether the population was rural or urban, yellow lizards gradually decreased the time they spent in their refuges compared to the other two morphs,” Martín explained. “On the other hand, red lizards progressively spent longer periods before emerging from their refuges after successive tests, suggesting growing sensitisation to potential attacks by predators.”

Previous studies had found differences between differently coloured lizards in terms of stress and haematological profiles, for instance, as well as in immune response, female reproductive strategies and males’ chemical signals.

“By using a lizard species as a model, we shed light on two key points of evolutionary ecology, concerning both antipredator response optimisation and factors enabling polymorphism to be maintained,” the researcher concluded.

Adder wakes up, video


This 28 March 2017 video shows an adder which has woken up after hibernation, and looks for a sunny spot to warm up.

Gerrit Kamphuis from the Netherlands made this video.

Woodpecker making nest, video


This 21 March 2017 video shows a male great spotted woodpecker making a nest hole.

AG Hols from the Netherlands made this video.

New Zealand seabird news


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

6 May 2012

A kakapo named Crusty Bum has joined seven other kakapo on Little Barrier Island, north of Auckland.

From BirdLife:

27 Mar 2017

Lessons from Little Barrier Island

Alanna Matamaru-Smith, from our Cook Islands’ BirdLife Partner Te Ipukarea Society finds out more about seabird conservation during a recent visit to Little Barrier, an island off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Alanna Matamaru-Smith, from our Cook Islands’ BirdLife Partner Te Ipukarea Society finds out more about seabird conservation during a recent visit to Little Barrier Island, off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

I’d never been to an island that was solely dedicated to being a nature reserve, but once I landed on Little Barrier Island, known as Hauturu in Māori language, it didn’t take long to realise I was in a Garden of Eden. Straight away I could see kākā and kākāriki flying overhead, tūī and bellbirds trying to out-sing each other, and kōkako bouncing across the ground nearby.

In the Cook Islands the closest we have to a nature reserve is Suwarrow, our national park, which is is 825km north-west of Rarotonga and home to millions of seabirds, thousands of huge coconut crabs, hundreds of sharks, and rare species of turtles. Suwarrow was predator-free until last year when one of the rangers noticed rats on one of the islets (Motu Tou).

A team is to return there this year to complete a rat eradication programme. Back on Hauturu, my first week involved helping Dan Burgin, of Wildlife Management International, and Leigh Joyce, DOC’s assistant ranger on Hauturu, conduct a population survey on the taiko/Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni.

I got a real hands-on experience holding these big seabirds and carefully learnt how to direct them in and out of their burrows. After handling the bird, with Dan banding it, we checked its nest for eggs or chicks. My second week involved a New Zealand Storm Petrel project with the Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust.

It was interesting to see how these birds were caught through the use of high beam lights, mesmerising the small petrel towards the ground. I was told back at home, old mamas on Mauke, one of our outer Cook Islands, used this technique too, but that was for chickens!

I had the job of placing captured birds into their new artificial burrows. Walking by myself in the dark forest to the burrows some 200m away, I saw what I thought was a kiwi but it turned out to be a kākāpō right there in the middle of the track. We both stood still for a good eight seconds before the kākāpō realised I had spotted it and headed off into the nearby bush.

After that, I had a lot more helpers join me on my walks to the burrows! Having arrived back home, I’m looking forward to utilising my skills learnt on Hauturu. For instance (funding dependent), I hope to work on a new project surveying and monitoring the herald petrel population on Rarotonga.

Little is known about this species, which is a major obstacle to developing a conservation plan and starting predator control work. There has been little recent activity in terms of seabird projects being conducted in the Cook Islands. So, with my new passion and drive for seabird conservation, I hope to jump-start a bit more excitement within this area, especially among our young people.

BIRDLIFE IN THE PACIFIC

BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, with 120 partners worldwide. BirdLife’s Pacific Partnership includes national conservation groups from New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Palau, and Australia.

The Pacific has more threatened bird species per unit area of land, or per person, than anywhere else in the world. There are 34 critically endangered bird species in the region that are on the brink of extinction, with many more edging closer to being wiped out every year. Do you want to help? Head to our Support Us page.