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Animals > Birds of Prey

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message 1: by Clare (last edited Sep 12, 2018 10:48AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Let's share information about birds of prey, also called raptors, in this thread.
As these birds are at the top of the food chain, they are a signifier of the health of the lower trophic levels.

Birdwatch Ireland carried out surveys of Irish birds, and has been investing a lot of time and expertise in surveying merlins which are a small bird of prey nesting in wild countryside.
They have been training volunteers to find the birds' locations and report them. A breeding pair is the usual unit recorded as sadly, many juveniles never make it to adulthood.

Merlins can be found in this book.
The Sword in the Stone
The Sword in the Stone (The Once and Future King, #1) by T.H. White

message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken Kroes (ken_kroes) | 69 comments Here is an article on how raptors are used to get rid of pests instead of using poison.

message 3: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Thanks! They are quite often used at airports to scare off birds.

message 4: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Orkney, an island off northerly Scotland, has recently seen sea eagles return and this year the nest is believed to have chicks. Great news.

message 5: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Raptors around the world are endangered, more so than most birds as they are apex predators. The fastest declines are in Asia and are linked to deforestation and migratory habits.

message 6: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
This very nice little video shows how a farmer found a hawk in a water tank and saved it. I think it looks like quite a young bird which would account for its being fluffy when dry and reluctant to fly. Well done all.

message 7: by Jes (new)

Jes I was just reading an article posted by New Sciencist (article was posted Jan 2018, I'm behind the times) that was saying there are eye witness accounts of birds of prey using fire to flush prey. Saying that these birds (species mentioned were two species of kite and one falcon) were picking up smoldering sticks and dropping them in further fields.

message 8: by Jes (new)

Jes Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention, this is in Australia.

message 9: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1612 comments Mod
What a great story, Jes. I have never heard of such a happening before.

message 10: by Clare (last edited Oct 13, 2018 01:38AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Well observed! Thanks for telling us.

I found the article but if we want to read more than the first few paragraphs we'll have to subscribe.

Which is shortsighted of them, because we immediately search the web and find Nat Geo:

"We're not discovering anything," cautions co-author Mark Bonta, a National Geographic grantee and geographer at Penn State University. "Most of the data that we've worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples... They've known this for probably 40,000 years or more."

message 11: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Raptors have been hanging around airports, as opposed to the raptors used to scare birds from airports.
A screen showing two eyes is being tested to chase them off.
This has long been known to represent a predator to birds but that isn't mentioned.

And we know moths have come up with the two eyes illusion to chase off birds too, shown in the comments.

message 12: by Clare (last edited Jan 06, 2019 11:54PM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
The lengths we go to and trees we climb to save a species of hawk. Well done all.
This is the Ridgway’s hawk, a species found only on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. This island is divided between Haiti and Dominican Republic. Not mentioned is the vast deforestation of Haiti and illegal logging across the border into DR's national park.

message 13: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Burrowing owls thriving just past the runway at a busy airport.

message 14: by Clare (last edited Mar 05, 2019 01:24AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
See the difficulties involved in spying on large fierce raptors - such as the harpy eagle - in this book:
The Man Who Climbs Trees
The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred

message 15: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
White tailed eagles are being reintroduced to England.

message 16: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
We don't know anything about this bird for sure because it is a fossil. But it is now being classified as a giant parrot, which may have eaten prey, and possibly smaller parrots.

message 17: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Bearded vultures again soaring through the Alps.

message 18: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Like grey squirrels outcompeting reds when they invade, one owl is outcompeting another.

message 19: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
America is big enough that a hawk can move entirely outside her species' normal range, find food and stay - without a mate. When she manages to hybridise with a local hawk, a highly interesting juvenile results.

message 20: by Clare (last edited May 22, 2020 03:23AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
The hen harrier in Ireland has been threatened for some time. A programme to educate and reward farmers for creating the right habitat and managing it for the birds has borne fruit.

message 21: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
A loon killed a bald eagle.

Read the comments for more info than the story considers relevant about the birds.

message 22: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Vultures are not hunting birds but they do eat prey - just dead. They tidy up carcasses including roadkill and to do this, they hang around in the air taking advantage of thermal upwellings. They also have extremely well developed scent apparatus.

Griffon vultures have had a good year for chicks this year in Europe. Most of nature seems to be thriving when people are restricted in movement.

message 23: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
This is a look at the rewilding project which is protecting and increasing the numbers of black vultures and griffon vultures in Bulgaria and Greece.

One issue is that young birds travel long distances until they mature aged five.

message 24: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
The bald eagle is also having a good spring. This looks at nests in Massachusetts.

message 25: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Ospreys - they migrate! Sacha Dench is going to follow.

"Next year, as part of her three-year strategy as UN ambassador, she will take to the skies once again to follow ospreys migrating 7,000km across Europe and Africa. Every August, these birds of prey fly from their breeding grounds in Scotland, south to the Strait of Gibraltar and across the Sahara to Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Ghana in west Africa, where they spend the winter.

In preparation for the four-month Flight of the Osprey expedition, Dench is speaking to British ambassadors in every country along the route. With help from scientists at Cardiff University, she is developing a protocol for aerial photo surveys of macroplastics, and will log manatees, humpback whales and other marine mammals she sees from her paramotor. As she flies, her motor turned off as much as possible as she catches thermals as ospreys do, her support team on the ground will sample water quality and test for pollutants, pesticides and microplastics, and assess the state of seagrass – an important habitat for the fish ospreys eat and also a great carbon store."

message 26: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Andean Condors, which are detritivores (they eat dead matter)
and a new study.

"In the most extreme example, an Andean Condor spent five hours in the air without having to flap, during which time the bird covered 106 miles (172 km). David Lentink, a biologist from Stanford University who wasn’t involved in the new study, described the results as “mind-blowing,” as he told The Guardian.

As the data showed, around 75% of the flapping that did occur happened as the condors were taking off. This points to a big physical cost to the birds and a good reason for them to avoid unnecessary landings and takeoffs."

message 27: by Mark (new)

Mark Regan | 14 comments I seriously love red kites and run outside when ever I hear one—which is often. No longer clinging on in Wales, red kites are now poised to invade London. Already inside the M25 spreading down from around the Chilterns.
They are staggeringly beautiful birds, especially in large groups. I love them so much they star in three chapters of my eco-fiction novel. They deserve to be.
I hope FB links works to the video. I could not see a YouTube like for this BBC video.

message 28: by Clare (last edited Aug 22, 2020 01:45AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Thanks Mark! Keep sharing information.

I've seen red kites a couple of times, easily distinguished by their tails from buzzards.

message 29: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon
On the Wing To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon by Alan Tennant

Fantastic book about flying along with tagged Peregrines to see where they go in the Americas.
The naturalist found an eye-opening story.

message 30: by Clare (last edited Jul 21, 2020 09:44AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
An article about the success of reintroduced Red Kites in Britain.

"In July 1990, a British Airways plane flew from Spain to the UK carrying some very unique cargo: 13 red kites.

The birds launched a landmark effort to reintroduce the iconic raptor to England. When they landed, the only red kites in all of the UK were a few breeding pairs in Wales. Now, there are around 1,800 breeding pairs across the whole country, and you can see them in almost every English county, according to a government press release. This July, wildlife advocates are celebrating the 30th anniversary of that fateful flight.

"In a few short decades we have taken a species from the brink of extinction, to the UK being home to almost 10% of the entire world population," Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) operations director for Central and Eastern England Jeff Knott said in the press release. "It might be the biggest species success story in UK conservation history.""

message 31: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
New study:

"Expert knowledge assessment of threats and conservation strategies for breeding Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl across Europe"

The study finds that just designating an area as protected is not enough to help birds of prey. BirdWatch Ireland contributed and has a discussion of the study's work and findings. They quote one of the experts:

"We contacted experts across Europe to bring together their findings. European Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl populations are highly connected, so we need to share information internationally when it comes to their conservation.”

Experts were asked to rate the importance of different threats to Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls in their areas. “Most populations of both species are affected by ecological factors (such as predation or extreme weather), changes in land use (like habitat loss or agricultural intensification), and accidental nest destruction by humans. Despite broad similarities, some threats are more specific to some areas; for example, habitat loss due to commercial forest plantation is perceived as a major threat to Hen Harriers in Ireland, while in the UK these same birds are most threatened by shooting and poisoning,” said Dr Fernández-Bellon."

message 32: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Eagle owls - the big ones - reintroduced to the Danube delta.

"Supporting the restoration of more complete species guilds through wildlife comeback is a core element of Rewilding Europe’s work. Eagle owls were once found right across Ukraine, but the country’s last breeding populations are now restricted to the Polyissa region in the north and Donbass region in the east. Today it is a very infrequent visitor to the Danube Delta.

This decline is mostly attributable to a deliberate eradication campaign (which ended in 1969), disturbance of female birds at early stages of incubation, and collisions with power lines. While the eagle owl is now making a natural comeback in many parts of Europe, hunting pressure in Romania, Ukraine and Moldova means the likelihood of an unaided recovery in the Danube Delta is uncertain. As the eagle owl is a resident and non-migratory species, the newly released birds are expected to stay within the safe confines of the Danube Delta area, where hunting is prohibited.

Keeping track
Fitting the two juveniles with GPS transmitters will allow the Rewilding Ukraine team to monitor the birds as they settle into their new home, providing valuable insight into dispersal and preferred habitats for foraging and roosting.

Results from monitoring, together with prey composition (analysed from owl droppings), will allow further refinement of the reintroduction programme going forwards."

message 33: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
The work that has to be done to reintroduce vultures. The cinereous vulture.

"“Our survey established that the reintroduced vultures will have sufficient food available in the Rhodope Mountains, both in terms of livestock carcasses and wild ungulates (hooved animals) killed by wolves,” says Ernesto Álvarez, President of GREFA. “We also managed to locate an area of large trees where the birds could build their nests in the core of the rewilding area.”...

"As a keystone species which inhabited the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria before the impact of man, the cinereous vultures will enhance local food chains and join the populations of griffon and Egyptian vultures already living here.

“Each vulture species has a different scavenging role,” explains Saavedra. “While griffon vultures take care of most of the meat and intestines, cinereous vultures eat the tendons and other harder pieces of the carcass, and Egyptian vultures take smaller remains.”

"The insulation of powerlines prevents vultures and other birds from being electrocuted."

message 34: by Clare (last edited Aug 12, 2020 03:00AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Ospreys are returning to Poole harbour on the south west English coast. A release programme was started and this is the first time a migrating bird returned.

A backpack maker called Osprey is partnering with the programme. Great news for all concerned.

message 35: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
A Raptor Persecution UK blog exists. I just found a post.


"A Government-commissioned report published in 2017 showed how almost one-third of all satellite-tagged golden eagles in Scotland (41 of 131 eagles) had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances between 2004-2016, many of them vanishing in particular clusters on or close to driven grouse moors.

So far, three of ‘our’ tagged eagles have vanished in suspicious circumstances on or next to driven grouse moors – there was Fred in 2018 who disappeared from the Pentlands and whose tag last transmitted 10 miles offshore in the North Sea where we believe the tag, and perhaps Fred, had been dumped (here), and then there was Adam and Charlie who both disappeared within hours of one another on the same grouse moor in Strathbraan in 2019 (here).

Now another one has gone.

His name was Tom, and he hatched in Argyll in May 2019."

message 36: by Heather (new)

Heather C (hevm) If you live in the UK please can you consider if you haven't already, following this link to SAve Our Sky Dancers
Since 2018, 43* hen harriers have been confirmed killed or missing.
We’re calling on our governments to take urgent action now to protect the wildlife and habitats of our uplands, for nature and for people.
It's really quick & simple to do - thank you

message 37: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Thanks, Heather.

In Ireland we are re-educating people in the countryside, because we have also had problems with raptor persecution. The EU will fine Ireland 600,000 euros per day if the number of hen harriers drops below the present level. At least, that was the case ten years ago.

message 38: by Clare (last edited Aug 22, 2020 01:35AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
News about eagles in UK.

"Today marks a notable day for the White-tailed Eagle project – it is exactly a year since we released the first six birds on the Isle of Wight in partnership with Forestry England. Four of the young eagles have survived their first twelve months and their satellite transmitters have provided a very detailed insight into their movements. These data, coupled with our own field observations, and those of others around the country, have shown how the young birds are living successfully in the English landscape.
Over the last few weeks we have been pleased that one of these birds, G274, has joined the newly-released juveniles at the release site. This is an extremely encouraging sign because this older bird will act as an excellent role model for the youngsters. "

Tracking: "He had covered a total of 490 km (305 miles) in six days. "

message 39: by Heather (new)

Heather C (hevm) I've just been watching some of the events here & they talk about books about nature too, lots of events happening & can be watched for up to 3 months after they've been broadcast too:

Virtual Bird Fair

It has a variety of events from nature writing, to information about birds & climate too, well worth a look, I believe.

message 40: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Thanks Heather!

message 41: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
"A pair of sea eagles have successfully bred in Royal Deeside for the first time in 200 years, according to Cairngorms National Park.
The two chicks have been fledged after the pair nested on the Mar Estate in Aberdeenshire."

message 42: by Clare (last edited Sep 24, 2020 08:13AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Wow, a griffon vulture. And he's been rescued.

Thanks to Costa News for this Spanish story.

message 43: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Wonderful, wonderful story.
A young griffon vulture saved from starvation by a drone. A top-secret, new-tech army drone, and a VR company.
Watch the video.

message 44: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Lily the barn owl helps Bristol University understand flight dynamics in gusty winds.

message 45: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Wonderfully, barn owls are on the rise again in Ireland as efforts are made to provide nesting spaces for them.

message 46: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Hedwig the snowy owl - or a lookalike - arrives in New York's Central Park. Maybe climate change or habitat disruption pushed this bird out of its range. Or maybe the reduction in human visitors made the green space attractive.

"The last reliable snowy owl sighting in Central Park was in 1890, according to a tweet from American Natural History Museum ornithologist Paul Sweet."

message 47: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
This golden eagle has gone missing. I'll post any updates.

message 48: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Here's a wonderful post with spectacular photos of a harpy eagle or two. Sadly, not all the birds are alive.
The article explains why people have been shooting these birds or preserving them.

message 49: by Clare (new)

message 50: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6636 comments Mod
Putting a camera on a falcon.

They had fun!

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