Giant panda news update


This video is called Life of Giant Pandas – Full Documentary.

From Associated Press today:

China’s latest survey finds increase in wild giant pandas

BEIJING — Wild giant pandas in China are doing well.

The latest census by China’s State Forestry Administration shows the panda population has grown by 268 to a total of 1,864 since the last survey ending in 2003.

Nearly three quarters of the pandas live in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The remaining pandas have been found in the neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

“The rise in the population of wild giant pandas is a victory for conservation and definitely one to celebrate,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund.

Hemley credited efforts by the Chinese government for the increase. The survey shows 1,246 wild giant pandas live within nature reserves. There are 67 panda reserves in China, an increase of 27 since the last survey.

“The survey result demonstrates the effectiveness of nature reserves in boosting wild giant panda numbers,” said Xiaohai Liu, executive program director for WWF-China.

But the survey also points to economic development as a main threat to the rare animal. It says 319 hydropower stations and 1,339 kilometers (832 miles) of roads have been built in the giant panda’s habitat.

WWF said it is the first time that large-scale infrastructure projects such as mining and railroads get referenced in the survey. Traditional threats such as poaching are on the decline, WWF noted.

China began surveying its giant pandas in the 1970s. The latest census began in 2011 and took three years to complete.

The number of giant pandas in captivity grew by 211, more than double the previous survey figure, according to the census released Saturday.

Rare ring-necked duck in Spain


This video from the USA says about itself:

10 March 2011

A flock of Ring-necked ducks hung around the Palace Lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

From Rare Birds in Spain, on Twitter:

27.2.2015 Aythya collaris. 1 male La Massona, PN AIguamolls Empordà, Girona.

Aythya collaris means ring-necked duck. They are rare in Europe, not so rare in their northern North American homeland.

Bats of North Sea wind farms, new research


This video says about itself:

Male Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Bat singing

12 September 2014

At a large mixed maternity roost of Nathusius’ and Soprano pipistrelles in Northern Ireland, the males are busy trying to attract females with their songs. This boy had the cheek to sit right at the entrance to the roost so all the females had to go past him. He was a pretty loud and frantic singer so he probably got lucky.

You can see him opening his mouth as he makes each noise, but the camera could not pick up the very high-pitched sounds that he made.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

27 February 2015

You would not expect it, but bats also fly above the sea. Researchers have now shown that in the months of September and October they may even be found regularly in offshore wind farms. Probably the bats pass the windmills when they are migrating, but the researchers also conclude that they sometimes fly there from the continent to catch insects. Nathusius’ pipistrelle was most heard around the windmills, but signals were also heard from common noctule bats.

The study took place in two wind farms off the coast of Egmond.

Crows give gifts to little girl in Seattle, USA


This video, recorded in Seattle in the USA, says about itself:

The girl who gets gifts from birds

26 February 2015

Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it’s rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden – and they bring her gifts in return.

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection.

“You may take a few close looks,” she says, “but don’t touch.” It’s a warning she’s most likely practised on her younger brother. She laughs after saying it though. She is happy for the audience.

Inside the box are rows of small objects in clear plastic bags. One label reads: “Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014.” Inside is a broken light bulb. Another bag contains small pieces of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. “Beer coloured glass,” as Gabi describes it.

Each item is individually wrapped and categorised. Gabi pulls a black zip out of a labelled bag and holds it up. “We keep it in as good condition as we can,” she says, before explaining this object is one of her favourites.

There’s a miniature silver ball, a black button, a blue paper clip, a yellow bead, a faded black piece of foam, a blue Lego piece, and the list goes on. Many of them are scuffed and dirty. It is an odd assortment of objects for a little girl to treasure, but to Gabi these things are more valuable than gold.

Gabi's collection of crows' gifts

The BBC continues:

By Katy Sewall

She didn’t gather this collection. Each item was a gift – given to her by crows.

She holds up a pearl coloured heart. It is her most-prized present. “It’s showing me how much they love me.”

Gabi’s relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.

As she got older, she rewarded their attention, by sharing her packed lunch on the way to the bus stop. Her brother joined in. Soon, crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet Gabi’s bus, hoping for another feeding session.

Gabi’s mother Lisa didn’t mind that crows consumed most of the school lunches she packed. “I like that they love the animals and are willing to share,” she says, while admitting she never noticed crows until her daughter took an interest in them. “It was a kind of transformation. I never thought about birds.”

In 2013, Gabi and Lisa started offering food as a daily ritual, rather than dropping scraps from time to time.

Each morning, they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and cover bird-feeder platforms with peanuts. Gabi throws handfuls of dog food into the grass. As they work, crows assemble on the telephone lines, calling loudly to them.

It was after they adopted this routine that the gifts started appearing.

The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn’t a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically – anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow’s mouth.

One time it was a tiny piece of metal with the word “best” printed on it. “I don’t know if they still have the part that says ‘friend’,” Gabi laughs, amused by the thought of a crow wearing a matching necklace.

When you see Gabi’s collection, it’s hard not to wish for gift-giving crows of your own.

“If you want to form a bond with a crow, be consistent in rewarding them,” advises John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington. He specialises in birds, particularly crows and ravens.

What food is best? “A few peanuts in the shell,” he says. “It’s a high-energy food… and it makes noise when you throw it on the ground, so they hear it and they quickly habituate to your routine.”

Marzluff, and his colleague Mark Miller, did a study of crows and the people who feed them. They found that crows and people form a very personal relationship. “There’s definitely a two-way communication going on there,” Marzluff says. “They understand each other’s signals.”

The birds communicate by how they fly, how close they walk, and where they sit. The human learns their language and the crows learn their feeder’s patterns and posture. They start to know and trust each other. Sometimes a crow leaves a gift.

But crow gifts are not guaranteed. “I can’t say they always will (give presents),” Marzluff admits, having never received any gifts personally, “but I have seen an awful lot of things crows have brought people.”

Not all crows deliver shiny objects either. Sometimes they give the kind of presents “they would give to their mate”, says Marzluff. “Courtship feeding, for example. So some people, their presents are dead baby birds that the crow brings in.”

Gabi has been given some icky objects. Her mother threw out a rotting crab claw, for example.

Gabi points out a heavily rusted screw she prefers not to touch. It’s labelled “Third Favorite.” Asking her why an untouchable object is in the favourites, she answers, “You don’t’ see a crow carrying around a screw that much. Unless it’s trying to build its house.”

Lisa, Gabi’s mom, regularly photographs the crows and charts their behaviour and interactions. Her most amazing gift came just a few weeks ago, when she lost a lens cap in a nearby alley while photographing a bald eagle as it circled over the neighbourhood.

She didn’t even have to look for it. It was sitting on the edge of the birdbath.

Had the crows returned it? Lisa logged on to her computer and pulled up their bird-cam. There was the crow she suspected. “You can see it bringing it into the yard. Walks it to the birdbath and actually spends time rinsing this lens cap.”

“I’m sure that it was intentional,” she smiles. “They watch us all the time. I’m sure they knew I dropped it. I’m sure they decided they wanted to return it.”

North American animals in winter


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black-Capped Chickadee Calls and Sounds – Fee Bee Call, Chicka Dee Dee Dee Call and a couple of others

An amiable sight to behold at winter backyard feeders, chickadees are a delight to watch as they fly with their happy, bouncy flight back and forth to feeders collecting seeds to eat elsewhere or to hoard away for later feeding. But most delightful of all is hearing their “chicka dee dee dee” call, in the quiet and desolate feeling dead of winter their call stands out and begs to be heard, like a song of promise for bright sunny days to come.

The black-capped chickadee may be the most incredible of all winter survivors. These little birds have evolved an unusual means of saving energy and coping with cold weather—they actually lower their body temperature! Click here to get the story of how a tiny bird is able to keep the elements at bay.

It’s been a cold winter across the US and many of us are struggling to stay warm. Animals have special adaptations to survive the cold. There’s a lot we can learn from Arctic Foxes, Ptarmigans and even Polar Bears. Read on to find out how YOU can stay warm too.

When winter arrives in the Arctic, the Wood Frog responds accordingly. That is, it freezes and becomes, basically, a frog-shaped Popsicle. But when spring arrives, an interesting thing happens: the frog thaws and is soon hopping, croaking, mating—enjoying all the amphibian pleasures life has to offer. How is this possible? Read on to learn more about this deep frozen frog.

Bears have an interesting problem as they hibernate through the winter. Where and when to go to the bathroom? As with many such quandaries, nature has evolved a clever solution to a potentially messy problem. Read onto get the scoop.

Do you know how animals cope with winter’s severe conditions? Test your winter wildlife knowledge by taking the quiz.

Baby woolly rhino discovered, first time ever


This video says about itself:

FIRST BABY WOOLLY RHINO FROM MORE THAN 10,000 YEARS [OLD]

FEBRUARY 25, 2015

Siberia: For the first time the remains of a baby woolly rhinoceros were discovered in the permafrost of Siberia.

The extinct woolly rhinoceros that has been called “Sasha” [is] at least 10,000 years old according to the experts and thanks to the ice he still has his hair and [people are] hoping to extract DNA.

The remains of the rhinoceros were found by a hunter beside a stream, in the largest and coldest region of Russia, the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, in September.

See also here. And here. And here.

Bird-friendly gardens not attracting more predators


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

18 February 2014

Redondo Beach resident Carl Leach talks about his bird friendly garden and reasons why you should build one.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Do Bird-Friendly Yards Attract More Predators?

As more bird enthusiasts replace their lawns with bird-friendly plantings like trees and shrubs, they might be concerned about attracting nest predators into the area. Though nest boxes can be equipped with predator guards, most open cup nests, like those of Northern Cardinals and American Robins, cannot be.

Researchers from The Ohio State University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology investigated whether there was a link between woody vegetation (i.e., trees and shrubs) and predator activity by conducting a study in several Ohio neighborhoods. The researchers surveyed for common nest predators in backyards, and looked for a relationship to the amount of woody vegetation. Common nest predators at the studied sites in Ohio included Eastern gray squirrel, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Blue Jay, and domestic cat (among others).

What they found was unexpected. Even though many nest predators use woody vegetation, bird-friendly landscaping did not attract predators. Yards and neighborhoods with more mature trees and shrubs were no more likely to have high predator activity than yards without. Their findings suggest that increasing the amount of shrubbery and trees in suburban yards does not encourage increased activity of nest predators. So with that in mind, feel free to check out our tips for landscaping for nesting birds.

Reference: Malpass, J.S., Rodewald, A.D., and Matthews, S.N. 2015. Woody cover does not promote activity of nest predators in residential yards. Landscape and Urban Planning 135: 32-39.