Moorhens in Sweden, videos


This video is about a moorhen in Sweden.

So is this video, featuring a nest at an unusual place.

Pigeons, young coots and herring gulls


Pigeons, 13 August 2017

13 August 2017. While we were on our way to a carnivorous plant exhibition in the Leiden botanical garden, we saw these domestic pigeons. Like all photos on this blog post, a macro lens photo.

Pigeon, 13 August 2017

While the pigeons looked for food on the bank, an adult coot swam in the canal with two youngsters. One of the chicks was obviously older than the older one, having already a white belly and being bigger. A man threw a piece of apple near the coots. Immediately, a herring gull dived to catch the apple. Also immediately, the parent coot drove away the herring gull.

Pigeons, 13 August 2017

Meanwhile, the pigeons kept looking for food.

Pigeons, on 13 August 2017

Domestic pigeons in various colours.

Pigeon, on 13 August 2017

Sometimes, many birds flew away, leaving only one.

Pigeon, Leiden, 13 August 2017

Herring gull, 13 August 2017

We continued, along another canal. There, we met two herring gulls. Maybe one of them was the gull we had seen earlier with the piece of apple and the coots.

Herring gulls, 13 August 2017

Maybe the bird on the left is the male of this couple; and the bird on the right the female (females being a bit smaller in this species).

We arrived at the carnivorous plants exhibition. So, stay tuned!

Leopard slug video


This 17 August 2017 video is about a leopard slug.

Marc Canton made this video near Arnhem city in Gelderland province in the Netherlands.

Alexandrine parakeets in allotment


This 17 August 2017 video is about a flock of Alexandrine parakeets.

Yenk Woudenberg made this video in his allotment in the Netherlands.

Originally, Alexandrine parakeets are an Asian species. They are named after Macedonian Greek king Alexander the Great who is said to have brought them to Europe. Now, various wild flocks live in, eg, the Netherlands.

Bulwer’s petrel nest discovery on Azores islet


This video says about itself:

Bulwer’s Petrel on its nest. Madeira, 2009.

From BirdLife:

14 Aug 2017

The mystery of the seabird that barks like a dog

Tânia Pipa from SPEA (BirdLife Portugal) shares news of a very happy discovery on the tiny islet of Baixo off the ‘White Island’ of Graciosa in the Azores.

‘Woof, woof, woof!’ – and so our story begins, back on a sunny June day in 2015 on the tiny Portugeuse islet of Baixo,…with a bark rather than a squawk. Not so surprising you might think, but this bark didn’t come from a dog – it came from a bird! The Bulwer’s petrel Bulweria bulwerii to be exact, named for the Scottish naturalist James Bulwer who first identified the species while living in Madeira.

Though this little petrel, with its remarkably long wingspan (an impressive 78-90cm for a body length under 30cm), is already known to frequent the Azores islets of Praia and Baixo off the beautiful ‘White Island’ of Graciosa, the distinctive ‘woof, woof, woof’ we heard that day was a very welcome ‘bark’ out of the blue. And for the simple reason that this sound – like the bark of a small dog – is only made by young petrels in the nest. Yet, until then, the only known colony of Bulwer’s petrel to have a breeding population was on the islet of Vila.

We were on Baixo that day to analyse the status of the Monteiro’s Storm-petrel Hydrobates monteiroi as part of SPEA’s work under LIFE EuroSAP – a three year collaborative project across ten countries, launched in 2015 to halt the population decline of sixteen iconic European bird species on a continental scale. Little did we know, we were about to make an unexpected discovery – but there it was, a Bulwer’s petrel right there on the rocks. However, at the time, we could not completely verify the presence of breeding pairs; although the barking surely endorsed suggestions put forward by researchers at the Portuguese Department of Oceanography and Fisheries (DOF).

Finally, this year, we were able to find more conclusive answers. As part of two new projects – MISTIC SEAS II (a continuation of our work for LIFE EuroSAP) and LuMinAves (to mitigate light pollution affecting seabirds in the Macaronesian archipelagos) – we returned to the islet, determined to solve the mystery of ‘The seabird that barks like a dog’.

Once again, the Monteiro’s storm-petrels showed us the way. We decided to change strategy and place our mist-net at the site of our first happy ‘accident’ in 2015. Within one hour, we heard a ‘bark’ and spotted our first nest and two birds on the net. We began imitating the call, and over the following nights we found 13 more nests. Upon closer inspection, we found Bulwer’s petrel eggs – finally confirming their breeding presence on the islet.

Now, we must wait for the chicks to hatch (any day now!) and watch them venture out into the ocean come late September and hopefully returning to the colony with three years. In the meantime, this exciting discovery will hopefully inspire a new impetus to protect a species which is rare in Europe.

Tânia Pipa is responsible for the conservation and management actions of SPEA’s After-LIFE Project on Corvo Island.

With special thanks to the the Natural Park of Graciosa for their support and collaboration, and also the researchers (DOP, Luís Monteiro, Joel Bried and Verónica Neves, amongst others) who have generously shared their expertise in contributing to our greater understanding of the species of the Azores.

Beautiful bird courtship videos


This video from Cornwall says about itself:

The Most Beautiful Peacock Dance Display Ever – Peacocks Opening Feathers and Bird Sound HD

Peacocks are large, colorful pheasants typically blue and green and known for their iridescent tails. Many people ask if peacocks are birds of paradise, to which the answer is no – a bird of paradise belongs to a totally seperate family of birds. These tail feathers of the peacock, or coverts, spread out in a distinctive train that is more than 60 percent of the birds total body length and boast colorful “eye” markings of blue, gold, red, and other hues. The large train is used in mating rituals and courtship displays. It can be arched into a magnificent fan that reaches across the bird’s back and touches the ground on either side. Females are believed to choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of these outrageous feather trains.

The term “peacock” is commonly used to refer to birds of both sexes. Technically, only male bird is a are peacock. Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl.

Suitable males may gather harems of several females, each of which will lay three to five eggs. In fact, wild peafowl often roost in forest trees and gather in groups called parties.

Peacocks are ground feeders that eat insects, plants, and small creatures. There are two familiar peacock species. The blue peacock lives in India and Sri Lanka, while the green peacock is found in Java and Myanmar (Burma). A more distinct and little-known species, the Congo peacock, inhabits African rain forests.

Peacocks can be noisy, they have a very loud high-pitched meow like sound. They call a lot during the mating season. Dawn and late evening is a favourite time for this.

Filmed at Trevarno Gardens on 18th April 2010.

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

From BirdLife:

16 Aug 2017

7 stunning bird courtship displays that’ll make you swoon

Before sex, first comes the courtship period – and few know how to catch the eye quite like birds. Male birds have evolved an array of dazzling displays designed to attract females, strengthen pair bonds and prove they’re made of the right stuff to raise their would-be partner’s young. Here are seven that caught our eye.

By Alex Dale

The Eyes Have It

Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus (video at top of blog post)

In most bird species, the males are the flamboyant sex, and the females are the ones who do the choosing. This arrangement has come about because the process of producing eggs involves a great amount of energy on the female’s part, so she is extra careful to ensure that these efforts aren’t expended on a male who will produce weak offspring.

Females take the business of selecting a mate seriously, scrutinising their calls and their plumage for any hints that can tell her about his strength, health or vigour – traits, after all, that will be passed on to his young. Thus, to maximise their chances of spreading their genes, in some species the males have developed flashy courtship displays to show off their charms in the best possible light, and woo females away from their rivals.

Traits preferred by the female of the species are exaggerated over time. There is no better, or more famous, illustration of the evolutionary cost of this process for the male than of the peacock – encumbered, thanks to many generations of sexual selection, with an impossibly ornamental tail, which it flares in spectacular fashion in its attempt to court a peahen.

This video is called A male capercaillie on a lekking place in the south of Norway.

Flash mob

Western Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus

In species where the male plays little or no part in raising the young, females can afford to be extra picky, and males will often gather to forest clearings – or ‘leks’, to engage in a communal mating display. This competitive behaviour is known as ‘lekking’.

One of the most famous lekkers, peacock aside, is the Western Capercaillie, a grouse that calls the conifer forests of Eurasia its home. The male, twice the size of the female, expends an incredible amount of effort trying to attract a mate during lekking season, puffing its chest out, fanning its tail into a semi-circle and extending its neck high in the air.

These displays serve to determine the pecking order, and since the spoils go to the alpha male, capercaillie gents go to great lengths to assert their dominance, with many dying as a result of fighting wounds, or simply collapsing from exhaustion.

This video says about itself: ‘Move over, James Brown. When looking for a mate, the male red-capped manakin snaps his wings and dances on a branch to catch a female’s eye.’

Man-akin in the Mirror

Red-capped Manakin Ceratopipra mentalis

While lekking is most commonly associated with Galliformes, the behaviour can be observed in many different bird species, from waders to hummingbirds. They are not always social gatherings, such as with the Indian Peafowl. In ‘exploded leks’, the males remain out of the line of sight of their competitors (but within earshot), calling out to try to entice a female into evaluating his display.

Exploded leks tend to be more elaborate than classical leks, as males work to develop ever-more intricate displays in an attempt to persuade females that he’s got the goods. In the case of many species of manakins – small forest birds found in the American tropics – the ‘goods’ the ladies are looking for are acrobatics and motor co-ordination – signs the male can pass down genes to their offspring that will aid them in evading predators.

The Red-capped Manakin of Central and South America has one of the more eye-popping displays – it snaps its wings and shimmies up and down its branch, moving its feet at such a pace it gives the illusion that it is performing Michael Jackson’s trademark move, the moonwalk.

This video is called Japanese Crane Dance.

The snow ballerinas

Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis

For some species, displays and mating dances are an opportunity to strengthen pair bonds, and to stake their claim on a nesting territory. The Red-crowned Crane of East Asia mates for life, and in Japan it is seen as a sacred symbol of fidelity and longevity.

To maintain their bond, crane pairs perform an elaborate, synchronised dance, which is rather freeform, but usually begins with the pair throwing back their heads and letting out a loud bugle-like call. They then bound and skip around each other in energetic fashion, periodically stopping to bow to each other. Although this ritual is most commonly seen during breeding season, it is performed all year round, with the sight of this Endangered crane prancing in the soft snow in their wintering grounds being particularly iconic.

This is a western grebe video.

Walking on water

Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis

The grebe family is notoriously fussy when it comes to choosing a mate. Before agreeing to pair up, potential couples put each other through the paces in a series of complex courtship rituals to determine whether their amore’s stamina matches up to expectations. One of the Western Grebe’s trials is particularly biblical: they sprint across the water at a distance of up to 65 feet (20 metres), keeping themselves above the surface by slapping their feet against it at a rate of around 20 steps a second.

This is a bald eagle video.

Rough and tumble

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Despite being an American icon of freedom, the Bald Eagle is pretty keen on the ol’ ball and chains – they mate for life, with an estimated ‘divorce rate’ of less than 5%. But they only tie the knot after tying their talons together and engaging would-be suitors in a death-defying test of strength. Potential pairs soar up to high altitude, lock talons, and then go into freefall, clutching each other in a death grip as they cartwheel towards Earth. It’s a (sometimes deadly) game of cat and mouse, as the pairs test each other’ fitness and bravery, only breaking off the grip at the last possible second.

This video is called Mating dance of lesser flamingos.

The pink parade

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

Although flamingos are socially monogamous, pairs only stay together for the duration of a single breeding season. Which means when next year swings around, it’s time to put yourself back on the market all over again. And that means reaching for your dancing shoes. The only problem: you’re two-stepping in competition against the entire flock.

What follows is one of the more mesmerising – and amusing – sights the Avian Kingdom has to offer, as groups of 50-100 flamingos, of both sexes, stretch out their necks and form an impromptu marching band, strutting around as one as they jerk their heads from side to side in an attempt to catch someone’s eye.

Research suggests that the dance moves play a similar role in sexual selection as a songbird’s song. The birds that perform the most complex dance manoeuvres are more likely to convince others that they have accrued the experience and ability to raise their hatchlings – in the same way that a songbird with a wider variety of tunes shows that it has the skills to hold down its territory.