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“Bird-Catcher Tree” Lures Birds with Free Meals, Then Accidentally Kills Them

Pisonia Brunoniana is a species of small flowering trees native to tropical regions from Hawaii to New Zealand, and as far west as India. The pisonia tree has soft brittle wood with large glossy leaves and a dark secret. If you search among its roots and branches, you’re likely to find thousands of delicate bones and tiny mummified corpses. It is this macabre feature that gives the tree its creepy nickname – “the birdcatcher tree”.

The pisonia tree produces long seed pods coated with a thick sticky mucus that entraps insects and the birds tempted to feast on them. The ensnared insects look like easy pickings to unsuspecting birds, but if they’re not careful, they can easily get entangled in the sticky seedpods themselves. Too many seeds caught among their feathers can weigh the birds down and prevent them from flying off the tree. If they’re not picked off by a passing scavenger, the birds are doomed to a slow death by starvation. Often, the birds die without ever escaping the pisonia’s branches, which means their withered corpses are left dangling like some strange fruit or a creepy Christmas ornament. In what can only be described as a vicious cycle, birds of prey tempted by the trapped birds sometimes also get entangled in sticky seeds and become trapped themselves.

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The “Gangs of Urban Turkeys” Terrorizing Massachusetts

After being nearly wiped out from New England in the 1800s, wild turkeys are apparently turning the tables on their human oppressors, wreaking havoc on the streets of Boston and other urban areas of Massachusetts. The number of residents attacked by the aggressive birds has increased dramatically in the last year, police say.

Wild turkeys once dominated the forests of the Northeast, but they seem to have taken a liking to cities and towns in Massachusetts, where finding better foraging beside dumpsters and in people’s backyards than in the woods. They’ve become so at home among humans that people have started referring to them as “urban turkeys”. They can be seen strutting their feathers on sidewalks, pecking shiny objects, blocking traffic, chasing after smaller pets and, in rare cases, even attacking people.

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“Birdman of Gujarat” Has Been Feeding Around 3,000 Birds Every Day, for 17 Years

Harsukh Bhai Dobariya, of Gujarat, India, is very popular with birds. Every day, between 2,500 and 3,000 parrots and sparrows visit his 4-acre farm to feed on tasty millet cobs and build their nests away from predators. Nicknamed “The Birdman”, Dobariya has spent the last 17 years of his life looking out for the birds and transforming his land into a safe ecosystem for them.

It all started in the year 2000, when Harsukh Bhai Dobariya suffered a leg fracture on his property in the Junagadh district of Gujarat, and had to spend most of his time in bed. After a neighbor came to buy some pearl millet from him, he had the idea to hang a millet cob on his balcony, which soon caught the attention of a parrot. The next day, two parrots came to feast on the delicious treat, then three, four, and within a month, there were already 100-150 parrots and sparrows visiting him every day.

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UCLA Researcher Grows Colony of 200-Plus Hummingbirds Outside Her Office

Melanie Barboni, an assistant researcher at UCLA’s Earth, Planetary and Space Science department, is known as an expert in geology and volcanic activity among her colleagues, but those who haven’t worked with her before know her only as the “hummingbird whisperer”. She has always been fascinated by the tiny birds, and after moving to Los Angeles, she has nurtured a colony of over 200 hummingbirds right outside her office window.

Growing up in Switzerland, a country with an almost non-existent population of hummingbirds, Melanie Barboni admired the colorful birds in books, but dreamed of one day seeing them up close, so when she learned that her next job assignment would lead her to Los Angeles, California, where hummingbirds live all year round, she was overjoyed. She has spent the two years since developing a colony of 200-plus hummingbirds right outside her office window, by hanging four nectar-filled feeders for them. Melanie has gotten so close to her hummingbirds that she “cannot go to a place where they are not there”.

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The Alaskan Town Where Bald Eagles Are as Common as Pigeons

The majestic bald eagle is the national bird of the United States, but most Americans are lucky to see one first-hand during their lifetimes. Unless they live in the town of Unalaska, Alaska, where bald eagles are as common as pigeons are in other human settlements.

Unalaska is home to around 4,700 people who have to share their space with over 600 beautiful bald eagles. It looks and sounds like something out of a fairytale, but it turns out that sharing your home with territorial predators also has its downsides. For one thing, you’re more likely to get attacked by a bald eagle in Unalaska than anywhere else in the US, and locals constantly have to keep an eye out for the birds, especially when going near their nests. They apparently hate it when people get too close.

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Brazilian Church “Hypnotizes” Pesky Pigeons with Colored Bullseyes

The Nossa Senhora da Consolação church, in downtown Sao Paolo, Brazil, used to have a serious pigeon problem. The pesky birds would fly through the place during sermons, poop on  the benches and leave feathers everywhere, but ever since they had these colored circle panels installed in the windows and doorways, no pigeon gets close anymore.

Regular parishioners at Nossa Senhora da Consolação describe the pigeon situation as a “real hell”. Dozens of birds had made the place of worship their home, flying in and out whenever they pleased, making a lot noise during mass and dropping stones and bits of plaster on people. Every morning, the floor and wooden benches had to be cleaned of bird droppings, and at one point it all became too much to bear. The church wanted to find a humane way of driving the pigeons away, but they never imagined hypnosis would be the answer.

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Japanese Professor Claims That Crows Respect Written “Do Not Enter” Signs

When a friend and “crow expert” told Katsufumi Sato to hang some “do not enter signs” on the outside of a building to keep pesky crows a way, the Japanese professor thought he was only kidding, but after three years of employing the bizarre strategy, he says it works perfectly.

Sato, a professor of ethology, hanged his first “crows do not enter” signs at a university research center in Otsuchi, Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, in 2015, at the the advice of his friend, Tsutomu Takeda, who he regards as an expert on crows. The birds had been targeting the insulation material covering the building’s pipes, ripping it with their beaks and flying away with bits of it to use for their nests. He was desperate to keep them away, so even though he though the idea of hanging written signs for crows funny, he was willing to give it a try.

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Lord of the Birds – Indian Man Dedicates His Life to Saving Endangered and Abandoned Birds

Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji has recently been recognized by Guinness Book of Records for housing the most bird species under a single roof, 468. He is not a collector who takes pleasure in depriving exotic birds of their freedom, but simply a compassionate man who rescues endangered, injured and abandoned birds from around the world and offers sanctuary in his aviary.

Swamiji, the founder of Avadhoota Datta Peetham ashram, in Mysuru, India, has been passionate about birds for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Mekedattu woods, on the shores of the Cauvery river, he remembers spending much of his time watching many species of birds as they took shelter in the trees outside his house. But it was an accident in 2011 that made him understand his purpose in life – to save as many endangered and abandoned birds as possible – and build his 21-acre aviary in the forests of Mysuru.

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You Might Not Want to Go There, but North Korea Is One of the World’s Last Havens for Birds

North Korea may be one of the world’s least tourist-friendly countries on Earth, but its strategic location along the avian East Asian Australasian Flyway and complete lack of development is preventing the extinction of several once plentiful species of migratory birds.

Around fifty million birds, from tiny song birds to cranes, journey across the East Asian Australasian Flyway every year, and eight million of them are shorebirds or waders. For many of these, North Korea’s west coast is the only stop for tens of thousands of miles, which means that without it, they would probably couldn’t finish their epic trip. But what makes this otherwise inhospitable place so important to birds?

A group of New Zealand bird watchers asked permission from the North Korean government to enter the country and observe the migratory birds. Armed with binoculars, powerful telescopes and cameras they counted the birds making their stop from the southern hemisphere all the way to the top of the northern one. “As we lose habitat elsewhere, the birds are going to get more and more pushed into remaining habitat, which by default means North Korea,” birder David Melville told the BBC. Because the shorelines of neighboring countries China and South Korea have witnessed rapid developments, with most of the mudflats having been converted to dry land for agriculture and industrial projects, the birds have virtually no place to stop and refuel.

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The Wild Parrots of Brooklyn – New York’s Cutest Immigrants

Among the brightest of Brooklyn’s diverse inhabitants are Quaker parrots – tropical green birds with blue wing tips, measuring about 12 inches from beak to tail. Although they’re native to the generally hot regions of central and southern Argentina, they’ve successfully managed to colonize the relatively colder New York borough over the past four to five decades.

No one knows exactly how these colonies of exotic birds came to live in the Big Apple, but as with all mysteries, there is a lot of speculation surrounding their existence. The most popular explanation has to do with an accident at JFK Airport, during which a number of birds escaped from broken shipping crates and ended up making a home for themselves in the city. Others believe the real answer to this mystery is much less dramatic, and actually has to do with clumsy bird owners. Quaker or Monk Parrots were very popular pets during the 70’s as they were very cooperative and easy to train, so it’s easy to assume that some of them escaped and founded the colonies that today exist all over New York – in Pelham Bay in the Bronx, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in eastern Queens in Howard Beach, throughout Staten Island, and sometimes in Central Park.

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Danish Artist Travels the World Building Thousands of Scrapwood Birdhouses for Urban Birds

Thomas Dambo, an artist from Denmark, is using his sculpting skills to help thousands of urban birds around the world. Fueled by the belief that humans should coexist peacefully with other species, he makes use of scrap wood to build houses for birds everywhere he goes.

“Over the last 7 years I have made more than 3500 birdhouses in various projects all over the world,” Dambo wrote on Bored Panda. “Birds are some of the few animals still living in our cities, and I began this project because I thought that it was important to make sure that they can continue living here. It’s about creating a shelter for birds and also about reminding us that it’s important to leave room for birds in the urban world.”

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Man Takes Perfect Photo of Diving Kingfisher after Six Years and 720,000 Tries

It’s a trite saying, but ‘Try, try until you succeed’ does hold true even today. Case-in-point is Scottish photographer Alan McFadyen, who spent six long years trying to get the perfect shot of a kingfisher diving into water. 720,000 tries later, he finally succeeded!

Alan, 46, was adamant about getting the shot in memory of his late grandfather Robert Murray, who often took him to see the kingfisher nesting spot at the beautiful lakeside near Kirkcudbright, Scotland, when he was about six years old. In fact, those childhood treks actually inspired him to take up photography at age 40.

“As a small boy of about six, I remember my grandfather taking me to see the kingfisher nest, and I just remember being completely blown away by how magnificent the birds are,” Alan said. “It was extraordinary how quick they flashed into the water with their brilliant blue colors – they didn’t look real, they were like a bullet they were so quick. So when I took up photography, I returned to this same spot to photograph the kingfishers.”

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Connecticut Turkey Farm Always Colors Its Birds for the Holidays

Every holidays season for the past six decades, Gozzi’s Turkey Farm in Guilford, Connecticut, has been drawing visitors young and old with its host of decorative turkeys dyed in bright hues of purple, orange, yellow and green.

Bill Gozzi, the farm’s third generation owner, says that the tradition of putting live colored turkeys on display for visitors dates back to the 1940’s, shortly after his grandparents opened the place. It was originally a treat for neighborhood kids, but it grew into something more, and soon visitors from far and wide started visiting the farm to see the dyed turkeys during the Holidays. “My grandmother started it years ago as a fun thing for the kids in the neighborhood, and it caught on and just busloads of kids come now,” Gozzi said. “It’s a tradition for a lot of people. I get a lot of people saying, ‘My grandparents brought me here, and now I’m bringing my kids.'”

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The Birdman of Chennai – Indian Man Feeds 4,000 Parakeets Every Single Day

62-year-old Sekar has earned himself the nickname ‘Birdman of Chennai’ for his remarkable generosity towards thousands of parakeets. Every day, he hosts a grand feast for 4,000 of the exotic birds at his home in Chennai, India.

Sekar’s unusual interaction with the birds began after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. He had noticed a pair of displaced parrots near his back porch, and proceeded to feed them some rice from his kitchen. This continued for a few days and the birds nested nearby, eventually multiplying to thousands.

Sekar, a camera repairman by profession, now spends about 40% of his income feeding the birds. He rises early every day to cook giant pots of rice, which he then spreads on special wooden planks laid in neat rows on the roof of his house. 

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Tiny Bird Mimics Other Birds’ Warning Calls to Confuse Predators

Despite its tiny size, the brown thornbill is quite capable of protecting itself in the wild. Its survival strategy is simple yet effective – it scares other birds away by ‘crying hawk’!

It seems that most birds use certain calls to warn their kin of impending danger, especially when hawks and other birds of prey are approaching. The thornbill is not only aware of this fact, but can reproduce the danger signals of several species, including the much larger pied currawong. Predators are fooled by the false alarm, and the thornbill earns its chicks a few extra seconds to escape.

The thornbill’s talent for mimicry was discovered by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU). “I am amazed that such a tiny bird can mimic so many species, some much bigger than itself. It’s very cunning,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Branislav Igic.

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