Japanese Fruit Farmers “Employ” Owls as Pest Control

Japanese field voles can seriously impact the profits of apple orchard owners, if left unchecked. For centuries, many farmers have relied on owls to keep vole numbers to manageable levels, and research has shown the night predators to be incredibly efficient.

Ural owls have been setting up their nests in orchards with high rodent populations for a very long time, but Japanese apple growers were the first to notice the beneficial effect the winged predators had on their orchards and actively try to use them as a means of natural pest controls. Apart from allowing the owls to set up nests in tree hollows, they also started installing man-made tree houses to encourage owls from settling on their properties. They soon noticed that the owls brought the vole population down significantly, which meant healthier trees and bigger profits.

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World’s Most Expensive Racing Pigeon Is Worth At Least $1.5 Million, Has Its Own Bodyguards

New Kim, a two-year-old racing pigeon from Belgium has recently been crowned the world’s most expensive pigeon after a South African collector bid a whopping 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million) in an online auction.

Hok Van De Wouwer, a renowned pigeon breeder in Antwerp, Belgium has recently put its entire collection of racing pigeons on sale this month. Father and son duo Gaston and Kurt Van De Wouwer have an enviable resume among pigeon breeders, winning numerous national ace pigeon titles and 1st place at nationals, so it’s no wonder that their birds are sought after in the still ongoing online auction. But even so, no one expected the star of the show, a two year-old female named New Kim, to break the world record for most expensive pigeon.

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Researchers Find Extremely Rare Half-Male, Half-Female Bird Specimen

Researchers at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania recently came across a “once in a lifetime discovery” – a half-male, half-female rose-breasted grosbeak.

Annie Lindsay and her colleagues at Powdermill Nature Reserve were catching and banding birds with identification tags on September 24, when a fellow researcher called her over via walkie-talkie to supposedly see something extraordinary. The moment she saw her colleague’s find, Annie knew what she was looking at, an extremely rare half-male, half-female creature known as a gynandromorph. The rose-breasted grosbeak exhibited male-characteristic plumage on one half of its body, and female coloration on the other.

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The Botanical Bird Art of Hannah Bullen-Ryner

Hannah Bullen-Ryner creates beautiful ephemeral artworks by arranging twigs, leaves, flower petals, and berries into detailed bird portraits.

A trained painter and a photographer, Bullen-Ryner found that going back to nature and channeling her creativity into ephemeral, botanical art was the perfect escape from her anxiety and the “chaos in her brain”.  Using only natural materials found locally and no permanent fixings, the artist creates hauntingly beautiful portraits of birds, complete with feathers made of twigs and tree leaves and eyes made of various berries.

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Man Leaves Window Open for Five Months, Finds Apartment Invaded by Pigeons

A UK student who left his apartment window open before going away for five months found his home covered in bird droppings after it was taken over by pigeons.

20-year-old Oluwageorge Johnson had to leave his rented apartment in Nottingham in a hurry back in March, after his parents turned up to take him home, because of Covid-19. He forgot a window open, and after seeing no activity for several days, pigeons decided to make the apartment their home. No one disturbed the birds for over five months, until a few days ago when accommodation workers heard some strange sounds coming from the flat and went in to investigate. They found the whole place covered in bird droppings, eggs in the kitchen sink and pigeon feathers everywhere.

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Finch Sitting – The Controversial Sport Where You Sit on a Chair And Count Bird Calls

Sports are usually associated with skill and effort, be they physical or mental, but in Vinkensport or vinkenzetting (literally ‘Finch Sitting), a traditional animal sport practiced in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, it’s all about sitting down and listening to birds singing.

In Vinkensport, small cages are lined up in a row about six feet apart on the street. Inside each box is a single male chaffinch whose job is to produce as many bird calls as possible in one hour. Sitting in front of the wooden cages are their owners, the vinkeniers (“finchers”) who tally the bird songs with chalk on a large wooden rod. Each chalk line represents one complete bird call which ends in a characteristic flourish known as a susk-e-wiet. Judges walk along the row of cages to make sure no one cheats. The chaffinch with the most bird calls in an hour is declared the winner. Vinkensport is a very passive sport, some would even call it boring, but it is also a very controversial one.

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World’s Largest Soaring Bird Can Fly 100 Miles Without Flapping Its Wings

According to a fascinating new study, the Andean condor spend almost all of their flying time in soaring mode, flapping their wings only 1.3 percent of the time.

Weighing up to about 16 kilograms and with a wingspan of roughly 3.3 meters, the condor is the largest flying bird in the world by combined measurement of weight and wingspan. With that in mind, it’s almost impossible to believe that it can stay airborne for at least five hours and cover a distance of over 100 miles without flapping its enormous wings once. But that was the most interesting finding of a study published by researchers at the University of Swansea after monitoring a group of condors for five years.

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Frillback Pigeons – A Fancy Pigeon Breed With Naturally Curly Feathers

Frillback pigeons are one of the most coveted breeds among pigeon fanciers, prized both for its relatively calm temperament and for their unique frills or curls.

Believed to have originated somewhere in Asia Minor, the frillback pigeon is the result of many years of selective breeding. Its distinctive features are the frill or curls on the wing shield feathers, as well as at the end of the foot feathers or muffs. Slightly larger than other pigeon breeds, with long tail and wing feathers, are considered some of the most elegant of fancy pigeon breeds and are very popular at pigeon beauty contests.

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Pakistani Villager Demands Return of Pigeon Detained in India for Spying

Last week authorities in India announced the capture of a suspicious pigeon believed to be a spy from neighboring Pakistan. Now the bird’s owner is demanding that his bird be set free…

The alleged spy was captured on Sunday by villagers in the disputed region of Kashmir, between India and Pakistan. The pigeon caught the people’s attention right away, because of its unusual pink color and a ring with a strange code around one of its legs. They immediately called the regional police, who detained the bird on charges of spying while they tried to decipher the code on its ring. Now a Pakistani villager has come out to dispute the charges, saying that the pigeon was his and the ring around its leg isn’t an elaborate code, but his phone number, in case something happened to the bird.

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The Sad Truth Behind the “Funny Hairdo” of Crested Ducks

If, like me, you spent a fair bit of your childhood on a farm, or if you’re simply fascinated by domestic birds, you’ve probably seen a crested duck at least once in your life. Their fluffy headgear is a adorable to look at, but it comes with some severe side-effects.

First of all, the funny-looking plumage on the heads of crested ducks is just a genetic defect, and one that has some serious health implications. The fluffy hairdo actually grows out of a section of fatty tissue that covers a gap in the duck’s skull. Not only does this defect make it dangerous for a female crested duck to mate – especially with a particularly aggressive drake – but it has also been linked to seizures, neurological problems and early death. Unfortunately, the photos of cute crested ducks circulating on social media these days don’t come with information about these issues, which only makes the ducks sought after as pets. That leads to another serious problem, breading…

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Woman Hatches Duck Egg by Carrying It in Her Bra for 35 Days

A California woman is being praised for going above and beyond to ensure that a cracked duck egg she found in a park hatched, by incubating it in her bra for over a month.

Betsy Ross, an independent contractor from Visalia, California, was walking with her family in a public park when her kids noticed that someone had maliciously smashed up all the duck nests that were there. Miraculously, one of the duck eggs had survived the massacre with only a small crack. It wasn’t leaking, so the kids begged her to save it and try to help it hatch. She had never hatched and egg before, and she didn’t think she could save it, but the children were already upset because of the nests, so she said yes. That was the start of a remarkable journey that saw the young mother of three carrying a duck egg with her everywhere she went for 35 days.

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Born to Fly – The Bird That Spends Up to 10 Months Without Landing

Scientists have long suspected that some species of birds can eat drink, mate and even sleep while flying, but even they were stunned when data showed that one such species could go up to 10 months without landing.

As its name suggests, the commons swift (Apus apus) is a common bird that lives all across Europe and much of Asia, but their flight time is anything but common. This medium-sized bird currently holds the record for the most time spent in the air per year, with data showing that some specimens can spend up to 10 months out of 12 without landing even once. They drink and eat in the air, feasting on any insects that they can capture in flight, they can mate in the air as well, and, like the much larger frigate birds, they can also sleep in the air by gliding on warm air currents known as “thermals”.

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World’s Smallest Bird Lays Its Eggs in a Nest the Size of a Quarter

Only slightly larger that the insect it’s named after, the Bee Hummingbird weighs no more than two grams and lays eggs roughly the size of coffee beans. It is officially the world’s tiniest bird.

Found only in Cuba, the Bee Hummingbird is extremely small even for a hummingbird, so much so that people often mistake it for an actual bee when they see it hovering over flowers. But this tiny flier not only looks like an insect, it also competes against them for resources. It is the result of a phenomenon scientists call “island dwarfism”, where certain species have problems competing against larger species for resources, so they get smaller and smaller over evolutionary time to avoid running out of food and start competing against other categories of organisms.

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The Tailor Bird Uses Its Beak as a Needle to Literally Stitch Up Its Nest

As children, we learn that birds build their nests out of twigs and dry grass, but the truth is that bird nest architecture varies greatly, as demonstrated by the tiny Tailor Bird, which uses as its beak as a needle to stitch a protective nest out of leaves.

Orthotomus sutorius, or the Common Tailor Bird, is a small, warbler-like songbird that lives in tropical Asia, but it’s not its singing that’s intriguing, it’s the bird’s nest building skills. It stitches one or two solid tree leaves together to create a cup that provides both a comfortable shelter and camouflage from predators. And when I say stitches, that is exactly what I mean. The female tailor bird uses its sharp beak as a needle to first pierce the leaves, then takes cobwebs or plant fibers and guides it through the holes as thread, until the pouch is nice and secure. It’s unclear how the tailor birds picked up this talent for sewing but it’s clear that it is passed on genetically.

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The Amazingly Realistic Paper Bird Sculptures of Diana Beltran Herrera

Colombian artist Diana Beltran Herrera creates incredibly realistic bird sculptures by carefully attaching bits of colored paper.

To say Diana Beltran Herrera’s hands are super-precise instruments would be an understatement. The talented artist uses her innate dexterity and years of practice to create amazingly-detailed models of various birds, from the common sparrow to tropical parrots, out of bits of glued paper. To represent the birds as they are in nature, Herrera makes her sculptures life-size. Over the last decade, she has created paper sculptures of hundreds of bird species.

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