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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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Rare Vietnamese Chicken Breed Has the Weirdest Legs You’ve Ever Seen

You might find its freakishly butch legs rather repulsive, but believe it or not, the Dong Tao chicken is incredibly popular in Vietnam. Once reserved for royalty and ritual offerings, the rare breed is now prized by chicken breeders and its meat is served in exclusive restaurants that cater to the wealthy.

An adult Dong Tao chicken can grow up to weigh three to six kilograms, with legs as thick as a human’s wrist. The hens are generally white, while the cocks have colorful feathers. Dong Tao meat is considered far more delicious than regular chickens, explaining its high demand and incredibly steep price tag.

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This Illinois Family is Being Harassed by a Swarm of Turkey Vultures

For the past month, a Southern Illinois family has been struggling with an unusual infestation of turkey vultures. Dozens of vultures are visiting their rural Buncombe home every single day, disturbing the family at odd hours and damaging their 2015 Chevrolet Silverado. The scavenging birds are also staining the entire area with their feces, and have completely ruined a newly built deck on the premises.

Rick Mize, who lives in the house with his wife, step-daughter, and their dog, said he isn’t sure how much it will cost to fix the damages. He revealed that the birds arrived at around the same time that a terrible stench enveloped the area surrounding their house. When asked to describe the smell, Rick said: “Ok, your cat died in your house and you found it five days later after being on vacation. And you walk into your house. That’s the stench, it’s just foul, death.” However, he hasn’t been able to locate any dead animals nearby.

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Alleged Pakistani Spy Pigeon Arrested in India

In a puzzling turn of events, Indian authorities have arrested a pigeon on the suspicion of spying for the Pakistani government.

The dubious bird is believed to have landed on the terrace of a barber’s home in the village of Manwal, four kilometers away from the India-Pakistan border. The barber’s 14-year-old son noticed an Urdu message printed on its feathers that read: ‘Tehsil Shakargarh, district Narowal’, along with a series of numbers. The boy immediately turned the pigeon over to the police, asking them to investigate its appearance.

Intrigued by the message and by a wire-like object found on its body, officers rushed the bird to a veterinary hospital in the town of Pathankot for inspection. X-Ray reports did not reveal anything abnormal, but the police said that they plan to detain the bird until they find out more. They do have a hunch that the digits in the message may be a telephone number in Pakistan’s Narowal district and the tension was further intensified by the fact that the bird made an appearance during a top-secret inter-state security conference in India. So the bird was listed in police records as a “suspected spy”.

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This Famous Dutch Owl Loves to Land on People’s Heads

A strange owl in the Dutch town of Noordeinde has become famous for its penchant for landing on people’s heads. It seems that the bird simply lands on people who happen to be walking by, for no apparent reason!

Apparently, a fence or a tree just isn’t good enough for the beautiful European eagle owl, weighing around six pounds. It only lands on people’s heads, staying perched for about a minute before flying off in search of its next target.

The residents of Noordeinde aren’t bothered by the owl one bit. In fact, they’re quite delighted with all the attention that their town is receiving, thanks to the wild bird. “I’ve seen photographers and birders from around the country, from The Hague to Spijkenisse, they come from everywhere to see the eagle owl,” a cheerful resident said. “Our village is finally on the map!”

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8-Year-Old Girl Feeds Neighborhood Crows, They Thank Her with Gifts

8-year-old Gabi Mann, from Seattle, has some very unusual friends who shower her with gifts almost every day. Ever since she started feeding her neighborhood crows, they began returning the favor and bringing back all kinds of trinkets.

Gabi’s unique relationship with the neighborhood crows began in 2011, when at age four, she was prone to dropping food. Soon, the crows were always watching for her, hoping to get a bite of the crumbs she dropped. As she got older, she began to feed them consciously – she would share her lunch with them on the way to the bus stop. It wasn’t long before crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet her at the stop.

In 2013, Gabi started feeding the birds regularly, instead of sharing her scraps with them. Along with her family, she would fill the birdbath in the backyard with fresh water every day, cover the bird feeder platforms with peanuts and throw handfuls of dog food on to the grass. Soon, the crows automatically lining up on the telephone lines, waiting for their treats.

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Fascinating Amazonian Bird Mimics Toxic Caterpillar to Fend Off Predators

While most young birds rely on their parents for protection, the chicks of the Amazonian Cinereous Mourner have their own survival tactic. In order to avoid being eaten by predators, they actually mimic poisonous caterpillars!

On hatching, the chicks are covered with bright orange, spiky feathers that make them look like massive caterpillars that use bright colors to warn predators of their toxicity. And to make their camouflage even more effective, they even writhe about much like caterpillars.

“These traits give it a resemblance to a hairy, aposematic caterpillar,” said Dr. Gustavo Londoño, a biologist at the University of California. “Because predation is the main cause of avian nest failure, selection should favor strategies that reduce the probability of nest predation. The caterpillar we encountered measured 12 cm, which closely matches the size of the L. hypopyrra nesting. The striking morphological similarity is the caterpillars’ orange ‘hairs’ with white tips, which match almost exactly the nestling’s elongated orange downy feather barbs with bright white tips.”

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This Adorable Bird Is Apparently a Vicious Brain-Eating Zombie in Disguise

The Great tit might seem like just a cute little bird, but don’t let its appearance fool you for. In reality, it is one of the most vicious creatures in the world. Also known as ‘The Zombie tit’, this chirping ball of feathers is a killing machine with an insatiable hunger for brains.

Scientists generally agree that modern birds are direct descendants of fierce dinosaurs like the T-Rex and Velociraptor. Of course, most of them are so small and their feathers so pretty that it’s hard for people to actually associate them with the monstrous creatures depicted in films like Jurassic Park. However, their predatory instincts have definitely passed the test of time, and this holds true for the tiny Great tit, as well. So what’s so scary about this seemingly harmless bird? Well, just that it is known to routinely seek out other birds and bats, crush their heads and feast on their brains!

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