Help migratory birds in your garden

This video says about itself:

Birds at Birdlife Malta‘s Reserves

4 April 2009

This video shows that birds can be enjoyed in the wild state in the Maltese Islands. Creating habitat, like Birdlife Malta did at the reserves at Simar and Ghadira helps birds to find refuge during their migration and breeding seasons.

From BirdLife:

Make Spring come Alive in your garden or balcony this year!

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 20/04/2015 – 16:01

The arrival of migratory birds signals a change in seasons, when life is in full swing. Use this cue to get out and enjoy nature, and at the same time give something back. Follow our advice and make simple changes to make your garden, balcony, or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive this year.

Spring Alive is a movement started by a BirdLife, organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) to encourage children and adults to take action for the migratory birds they learn about. This season, Spring Alive has provided easy-to-use information and directions to help you to help birds. Whatever time you have and whatever size space, you can take action for birds in your garden. Whatever country you live in, you can also get in touch with your local BirdLife Partner for local advice for benefitting birds in your garden and get involved with local Spring Alive events.

Pretend your garden or balcony is your own nature reserve, and you are the warden. If everyone in Africa and Europe makes their garden bird-friendly, imagine how much better birds and biodiversity will do! You might be lucky enough to get a visit from Spring Alive migratory bird species and be able to help them rest and refuel, but you will be sure to be rewarded by local wildlife thriving in your garden too.

Cuckoos are not garden birds, so how can I help them?

Make your garden friendly for species such as Dunnock and Robin, who are host species for cuckoos. Also, grow honeysuckle, nettles and sallow which are all good for caterpillars including some hairy ones, which Cuckoos love! Cuckoos are therefore a great example of how our gardens are part of the wider ecosystem – what we do between our fences may affect species that don’t even use that space.

Visit the Spring Alive website for more advice and get in touch with your local Spring Alive / BirdLife Partner.

And once you have done it – share it – show and tell us about your achievements on the Spring Alive facebook and flickr pages!

If you build it, they will come!

Cuckoos flying back from Africa to Britain

This video series from Britain is called Cuckoo Tracking.

From Wildlife Extra:

Bookmakers lay odds on arrival of tagged cuckoos

Bookmakers William Hill has teamed up with naturalist and Springwatch presenter, Chris Packham, and the British Trust For Ornithology (BTO) to offer odds on the arrival of the first cuckoo to migrate back to the UK from Africa to breed.

The joint project is called ‘The Great Cuckoo Race 2015’, and followers can get updates on the live tracking system they can find on the BTO website –

Altogether there are 17 birds to watch, each carrying a high tech satellite tracking device to monitor their progress.

The furious flapping contest is building to a climax with Dudley, a 20/1 outsider from Sherwood Forest at the start of the race, in a commanding lead.

The goal of the cuckoo tagging project is to help raise awareness about the iconic birds and their plight.

Since tracking started in 2011, 17 cuckoos that have been tagged are still active, but 33 have either perished or been lost.

“Dudley was a real outsider to be the first bird back, but he’s soared into a strong lead and he will take some catching,” says William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.

The latest signal from Dudley’s tracker put him on the border between Spain and France, just south of Bordeaux, while all of his rivals are still in Africa. ‘Chris the Cuckoo’ who is named after Chris Packham is unfortunately trailing behind at this stage.

“Chris the Cuckoo would need to fly like a superhero to win the race now,” says Ivan-Duke.

Cuckoos fly from West Africa, crossing over jungle, the Sahara Desert, the Mediterranean Sea, continental Europe and the English Channel before making it back to the UK.

Dudley is now the odds-on 1/5 favourite to be the first cuckoo home.

Latest William Hill odds on The Great Cuckoo Race 2015 are: 1/5 Dudley; 10/1 Stanley; 10/1 David; 12/1 Derek; 12/1 Emsworthy; 20/1 Ash; 20/1 Hennah; 25/1 Chris; 33/1 Livingstone; 33/1 Jake; 50/1 Chester; 50/1 Fred; 100/1 BB; 100/1 Peter; 100/1 Skinner; 100/1 Waller; 100/1 Whortle.

Cichlid fishes evolution

This video is called African Cichlid Species List.

From Scientific American:

The Extraordinary Evolution of Cichlid Fishes

Cichlid fishes have undergone a mind-boggling degree of speciation. New research is revealing features of their genomes that primed them to diversify so spectacularly

By Axel Meyer

Africa’s Lake Victoria is home to one of evolution’s greatest experiments. In its waters, what began as a single lineage belonging to the cichlid family of fishes has since given rise to a dazzling array of forms. Like Charles Darwin’s famous finches, which evolved a wide range of beak shapes and sizes to exploit the different foods available in the Galápagos Islands, these cichlids represent a textbook example of what biologists term an adaptive radiation—the phenomenon whereby one lineage spawns numerous species that evolve specializations to an array of ecological roles. But the Lake Victoria cichlids far surpass Darwin’s finches in the astonishing speed with which they diversified: the more than 500 species that live there and only there today all evolved within the past 15,000 to 10,000 years—an eyeblink in geologic terms—compared with the 14 finch species that evolved over several million years.

Lake Victoria is not the only locale cichlids call home. Other tropical freshwater lakes and rivers in Africa, as well as the Americas and the tip of the Indian subcontinent, harbor their own cichlids. All told, the family is estimated to comprise more than 2,500 species. Some, such as the tilapias, are farmed for food and are among the most important aquaculture species in the world. Most, like the oscars and angelfish, are popular with aquarium enthusiasts because they are beautiful and have many interesting courtship and parenting behaviors. Many species have yet to be formally described. The cichlids share their lakes with other families of fishes, but only cichlids have managed to speciate so extensively and so fast. Indeed, no other group of vertebrate animals can rival the cichlids in terms of sheer number of species and variety of body shape, coloration and behavior. At the same time, however, evolution has often repeated itself in these fishes: a number of the same adaptations have evolved in parallel in the separate cichlid lineages—a curious trend.

Dutch reed warblers depend on African rainfall

This video is about a young cuckoo, fed by its foster parent, an Eurasian reed warbler.

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

When it rains in the Sahel more Eurasian reed warblers survive

Friday, March 20th, 2015

About various migratory birds including the purple heron and the sedge warbler it was already known: if there is enough rainfall in the autumn in their wintering grounds in West Africa, it increases the likelihood that they will survive the winter.

An analysis of reed warblers captured in the Netherlands shows the same effect. How many reed warblers return to the Netherlands therefore depends in part on the amount of precipitation that falls in West Africa. This is reflected in the Breeding Birds Report 2013 published today by SOVON.

Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders dons blackface

This video from Belgium is called ‘Deplorable': Foreign Minister Under Fire for Blackface.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Blackface makeup Belgian minister angers people

Today, 21:32

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has caused a stir with a special outfit. Reynders this Saturday celebrated the Brussels festival of the Noirauds (‘Blackies’) and had blackface makeup on.

The controversy arose after a French journalist who made a TV item about the tradition, expressed his outrage on Twitter: “Folklore, charity, or colonialism, the Brussels notables are face painting themselves as Africans?”.

In the report by France 2 also Reynders’ fancy dress was discussed.

Quickly more people responded on Twitter. A director of Human Rights Watch said that the minister should be ashamed of himself: “will u wear #blackface outfit 2 next meeting w African leaders?”

Actress Mia Farrow called it shocking and shameful.

Nigerian writer Chika Unigwe, who lives in Belgium, writes that in any other decent country one’s political career would be over. Nothing has changed since the days of Leopold, she added.

Unigwe alluded to the time that Belgium colonized Congo. The years under the reign of King Leopold II are characterized by enslavement, murder, torture and rape.

The ‘Noirauds’ festival started in 1876, with well off Brussels bourgeois donning blackface.

Sign Petition: Belgian Blackface minister must resign – Stop Blackface: here.

Two lion subspecies in Africa, new research

This video is called Lions Documentary National Geographic – The Kingdom of Lion.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

African lion has two subspecies

The traditional separation of lions in an African and an Asian subspecies is unjustified, says biologist Laura Bertola. In Africa two subspecies live. PhD defence on March 18th.

Unique position

Lions are found in virtually all of Africa and a small part of India. Until now, they were divided into two groups: an African subspecies, Panthera leo leo, and an Asian subspecies, Panthera leo persica. This format is not correct according to Laura Bertola. They examined the DNA of lions in Africa and India. The animals in West and Central Africa are more like the Asiatic lions than like other African lions. Bertola: “They are clearly different from the lions in the rest of Africa. You can speak of two African subspecies. The unique position of the lions from West and Central Africa calls for even better protection. Especially because these populations are under great pressure. ”

Separated by rainforest and desert

Changes in the African climate over the last 300,000 years separated certain populations,” says Bertola. “The expansion of dense rainforest and dry desert formed a barrier to the lions. The historical isolation which arose so, is still visible in the DNA. From the DNA we can deduce what groups recently have been contacted and which groups have long been separated in their mutual evolution.”

Save West African seabirds

This video says about itself:

Thousands of seabirds take to the sky

You’ve never seen so many seabirds in one place! A tiny island off the South African coast is the location of one of the biggest gannet colonies on earth! Watch the birds take flight in this HD video.

From BirdLife:

Conservation plug-in charges efforts to save West Africa’s seabirds

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 20/02/2015 – 09:44

Efforts to save West Africa’s disappearing seabirds are to be given a boost thanks to an ambitious monitoring initiative which will help identify and protect the areas in which they forage and overwinter.

The Alycon Project, a collaborative conservation initiative first taken on by The FIBA Foundation, aims to identify critical sites for seabirds, including a host of threatened albatross and petrel species. Though the project began in 2013, the day-to-day running of the project will now be taken on by BirdLife.

West Africa’s seabirds face a familiar problem. Though they spend much of their time on shore protected within Marine Protected Areas, the areas in which they forage are largely unknown, often existing outside of protected waters. Palaearctic migrants are an additional concern, given that so many are known to overwinter in unprotected coastal wetlands. Identifying the sites of value to West Africa’s seabirds is a vital first step in their conservation.

By taking on management of the project, BirdLife will channel its existing expertise in monitoring seabirds and designating Marine and Important Bird Areas – a wise use of vital conservation resources. Extra staff will join BirdLife to ensure that new sites identified receive the protection they deserve, plugging into BirdLife’s existing Global Marine Programme.

Possible threats to West African seabirds from local fisheries

And how about threats to West African seabirds from non-local non-African corporate fisheries?

Adult and juvenile European seabirds at risk from marine plundering off West Africa ocean: here.

will also be investigated, with an opportunity for further African countries to work in a way that is modelled on BirdLife’s Albatross Task Force.

BirdLife International would like to thank the MAVA Foundation, and in particular the former FIBA staff members who have supported our efforts and collaborated so openly, to effect a seamless transition for Alcyon to BirdLife International”, said Dr Ross Wanless of BirdLife South Africa. “We look forward to continuing a productive relationship and working towards the improved conservation of the marine biodiversity of the West African waters.”

Namibia on-board with BirdLife to end seabird bycatch in world’s worst fishery: here.