Poor little spotted kiwi! Like all of New Zealand’s national birds, it used to be super-duper endangered. Then the Department of Conservation established new colonies in areas without predators in the ’80s, and the population boomed. But a recent analysis of these colonies reveal a serious problem with the little spotted kiwis. Per Becky Crew at Running Ponies:
[T]he birds upon which all hopes of substantial genetic diversity rested – had never actually bred. They didn’t even produce one chick. Which means that all the little spotted kiwi on the planet, from every population, have come from the five birds that were originally put on Kapiti Island in 1912.
Genetic diversity is vital to a species’ survival. So what are scientists going to do about it? First, further analysis. They might have to revert the little spotted kiwis’ status back to endangered. If only all humanity had left New Zealand alone. We might still have moa!
[Photo of little spotted kiwi chick by Andrew Digby via Running Ponies]
Twit Twoo… How many owls can you spot? A tiny owlet is almost invisible at first glance as it blends into the feathers of its mother. Even wildlife photographer Marina Scarr only realised she had taken pictures of two owls after she looked at the image on her camera while taking pictures in Desoto Park, Florida. Photograph: Marina Scarr/Caters News Agency
Taken from picture desk live: follow the best news pictures of the day from conflict-stricken regions to the lighter side of life chosen by the Guardian’s award-winning picture team
Amazing! I can’t even tell where that little owlet starts!
Parrot is rescued from near death, wears handmade sweaters. »
This is Charlie, in his “jumper,” as the British press calls it. Charlie was neglected by his previous caretakers and almost starved to death. During his neglect, he plucked out nearly all of his feathers (some sites say he was attempting to eat them in desperation). Thankfully, he was rescued and taken in by Safehaven Parrot Refuge. A vet recommended euthanasia but the rescue coordinator Rebecca Blagg took Charlie in herself and spoon-fed him back to health.
Besides being weak and hungry, the poor naked boy was shivering from the cold. So Blagg knit him some custom-fit sweaters! And now Charlie wouldn’t be caught without one: “If we take them off him for good, he gets very cross. He stomps about, he shouts, he gets very agitated. So we just stopped trying.” How cute! I want a parrot! I also just realized I don’t say “cross” enough. Or “stomps about.” Today’s agenda is now set.
Apparently, it’s not uncommon for parrots to find themselves in need of refuge. The lifespan of an eclectus parrot like Charlie is 65-85 years, so it’s very possible for them to outlive their owners. If you want to help Safehaven, here are some ways to do so.
Video: Starlings return to Israel in amazing murmuration »
This formation is called a “murmuration” of starlings, and while we understand why the birds do it—to search for food and defend against predators—per Wired, we don’t understand “what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds.”
Until science figures it out, we can certainly appreciate it as part of the magic of nature, which is pretty incredible.
Here’s the story, of a crow named Walter, who was living with three very lovely humans! (I can’t think of the rest but we had a nice thing going.) Watch the video, it’s pretty amazing. Paul Shapiro had this as his video of the week on Friday but I didn’t embed it because it was on the CNN site and therefore cumbersome. I found it on YouTube, though, so let’s all watch it together!
How much do you wish you had a pet crow who would drop in during recess? Then maybe I wouldn’t have been that shy girl in the corner, but rather that popular crow-girl!
Conservation Biologist Thor Hansen explains why feathers matter »
This week on Fresh Air, Terri Gross interviewed Thor Hanson, a conservation biologist and author of the newly published Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle. As part of his research, he plucked a dead wren to count its feathers. It had 1,500. A tiny wren, like the Australian white-winged fairy wren in the photo!
In the interview, which you can listen to on NPR, Hanson discusses the biological makeup of feathers, why he thinks birds evolved feathers, and how they adapted them to flight. The first feathered animals might’ve used them primarily for insulation, and now, every single individual flight feather is an airfoil, while being part of the airfoil that is the bird’s wing. Double-airfoil action for maximum flight!
Animals are amazing! So is science!
[white-winged fairy wren photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography, via Flickr]
Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday, with Mark! »
You guys, video games get me really stressed out. So much so that sometimes I can’t sleep after playing. That’s when I have to start looking at beautiful things to calm me down, like this flooded meadow in Austria. Okay, stop reading here for a second, watch the video, and then let’s talk about it!
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
Did you watch the video? No, dude, did you watch it? It is BEAUTIFUL! I don’t know if it is wrong to find wrecked things this beautiful, but when I saw the video I tried to wake Allen up so that he could watch it with me and then we could plan a trip to Austria to dive there in person, but he just kicked me. Then I realize how expensive equipment and learning I dive would be so I gave up on that dream as well, but I think that along with the salt flats of Bolivia, this is one of the top five places I would like to go someday but probably never will because I hate outside.
Hating outside pretty much means I also do not enjoy many of the animals that can come visit me in my home (I do in they, but I’m not going to go out and look for them). I have also never found birds (except the Mockingjay, holla!) to be particularly cute or exciting, but then Buzzfeed ran a piece on fat birds and I was in LOVE. Look at these gorgeous monsters! They’re fat, they’re proud, and they look like they want to give me some serious cuddles followed by one hell of a pecking! Not that I’m going to go out and look for them, though. Fuck outside!
And fuck zoos! Fuck zoos with a rock! That’s right, zoos are the worst and this polar bear is going to show you what’s up by cracking the glass in his enclosure with a rock. And then he is going to eat you and cuddle with me. And the birds.
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
That’s it for this week! Please send me links and PS3 recommendations for next week, and have a harpy-free Wednesday!
[image via Buzzfeed, uncredited because that’s how Buzzfeed rolls.]
It’s Alex, the genius African grey parrot! It’s not a new video but I saw this on Pawesome today and it’s just so amazing, I had to share. Poor Alex though, he wants to go back! Prob a little shy or tired.
I know most of us don’t like animal testing even of this nature but you still have to marval at the results. Animals truly are the awesomest!
NYC: Party for the birds on Tuesday, April 3! »
The Wild Bird Fund is hosting a fundraiser to raise money for the city’s first wildlife rehabilitation and education center! There’s going to be cool stuff you can read about below but I should tell you first: THERE’S GOING TO BE BABY BIRDS AND SQUIRRELS! BABY ANIMALS OMG WTF! And an owl—I have never met an owl. That’s a damn shame. This will not stand! We must go and meet squirrels and owls.
The Wild Bird Fund is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) charity located at 558 Columbus Ave. (inside the Animal General clinic), New York City. In 2011, the WBF rehabilitated over 1,400 birds and mammals and responded to over 4,000 calls. While the fund usually deals with mostly pigeons (as they seem to be the most common bird brought in), some of the other other types of animals treated are gulls, sparrows, hawks, owls, and squirrels.
The gala will take place at the beautiful and historic “Birdie” Vanderbilt Mansion, and will feature a speech by best-selling author Jonathan Franzen and a performance by Dzul Dance. Wine and vegetarian hors d’oeuvres will be served, and guests will be able to meet a few of the feathered rescues from the previous year.
In conclusion, baby squirrel from the Wild Bird Fund’s FB page:
The Upper West Side has a Rufous hummingbird! The bird is normally a west coaster and not one for winter, but it’s been so mild that she’s done OK! She hangs out at the Museum of Natural History because she’s totally funny. That’s totally where a Rufous hummingbird should hang out!