Upland birds

New Zealand's national icon, the kiwi bird, is in steep decline

The kiwi (Apteryx haastii) is in swift decline, disappearing at a rate of 2 per cent per year. Around 200 years ago, millions of kiwi inhabited New Zealand, but in 50 years’ time there may be none left. Old Mout Cider has joined New Zealand-based charity Kiwis for kiwi in the fight to help save this extraordinary species — a nocturnal, colour-blind bird that has survived millions of years against the odds. In fact, its heritage is special: the kiwi shares DNA with the tyrannosaurus rex.

Exposure of hummingbirds and bumble bees to pesticides

New research reveals that hummingbirds and bumble bees are being exposed to neonicotinoid and other pesticides through routes that are widespread and complex. The findings are published in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. To measure exposure to pesticides in these avian pollinators, investigators made novel use of cloacal fluid and fecal pellets from hummingbirds living near blueberry fields in British Columbia. They also collected bumble bees native to Canada, and their pollen, and blueberry leaves and flowers from within conventionally sprayed and organic blueberry farms.

Spain's most endangered birds

Recognisable by its black plumage and striking red beak, the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) is found in low numbers all over the planet. European populations migrate to Sub-Saharan Africa in the winter and during the summer an estimated 470 pairs can be found in Spain, a large proportion of which are found in the north of Extremadura. They are threatened.

Half Scotland’s upland birds suffer significant long-term decline

More than half of Scotland’s upland birds, including the curlew and lapwing, have suffered a “significant long-term decline”, according to official statistics published yesterday. Scottish Natural Heritage’s latest Index of Abundance for Scottish Terrestrial Breeding Birds, reveals that ten of the 17 upland species fell in numbers between 1994 and 2016, contributing to an 16 per cent decrease among upland birds over the period.

Snowy Owl classed as Vulnerable for the first time

Striking, widespread and widely recognised, thanks in part to the Harry Potter books, the Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus was previously listed as Least Concern, the lowest threat category of the IUCN Red List. However, this assessment was based on earlier figures that estimated the global population to number around 200,000 individuals, and the absence of evidence of significant declines.

Warning sounds for charismatic kea

New Zealand’s charismatic kea (Nestor notabilis) - and 2017‘s Bird of the Year - has just been reclassified to “endangered” by global conservation group BirdLife International. The alpine parrot was upgraded from “vulnerable” to “endangered” in BirdLife International’s reassessment of the threat status of birds for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

New VCE study reveals population health of mountain songbirds

A 16-year study of mountain forest songbirds across New York and New England, including thrushes, warblers and other iconic species, has documented their population changes. Although species like Black-capped Chickadee and Swainson’s Thrush have thrived in the mountains during recent decades, some species that depend on the region’s evergreen forests of spruce and fir – notably Blackpoll Warbler – appear to have undergone substantial declines.

Long-term decline in red grouse numbers in British uplands

It is hard to believe now, but red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica)- the bird that is synonymous with heather moorland and the Glorious Twelfth of August - were once spotted in Leeds. It was after a severe January snowstorm back in the 1880s when, according Thomas Hudson Nelson’s The Birds of Yorkshire (1907) “large packs of birds came down into the lowlands.” Others were seen around the villages of Arthington and Weeton in Lower Wharfedale. As many as 500 of them were counted in one day, and a decade later similar hard weather forced them to scratch for food in fields around Harrogate.

Bird populations in steep decline in North America

North America has more than a billion fewer birds than it did 40 years ago, with the snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) and the chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica) just two of the better-known species in dramatic decline across the continent, a recent survey has found. The total number of continental landbirds stands at about 10 billion, down from about 11.5 billion in 1970.

Neonicotinoids: Systemic Insecticides and Systematic Failure

The widespread adoption and use of neonicotinoid compounds originally considered to be environmentally benign can now potentially be considered to be an environmental catastrophe. While the generational development and production of neonicotinoids has focused on making these insecticides more potent to their target organisms at very small dosages, their adverse environmental consequences have largely remained overlooked. Imidacloprid was the first generation neonicotinoid to receive widespread attention for its environmental consequences.