Schoolgirl Falconer Solves Town’s Crow Problem

Sometimes kids can solve problems that adults have no idea how to tackle. 17-year-old Misato Isibashi is a fine example of this. The third year student at Takeo High School, Takeo City, has come to be known as Japan’s only ‘schoolgirl falconer’.  Takeo city is located in the Saga Prefecture, a place plagued by flocks of crows that attack farms and trash around office buildings, and cover everything in bird droppings. Powerless against this flying menace, the government of Saga has hired Misato to solve the problem.

Misato and her 7-year-old pet falcon, Momotaro, form a dream team that has proven pretty effective in getting rid of the pesky crows. When Momotaro is released, the crows simply burst out of trees and fly away to hide elsewhere. And they don’t come back for a long time afterward. A test flight was held on the evening of April 4th at the prefectural headquarters and it was confirmed the crows are quite frightened of the mighty male falcon.

Read More »

Man Spends a Year Living as a Turkey to Prove They’re Not Dumb

We’ve all heard the popular myth about turkeys being so stupid that they will look up at the rain and drown. Well, naturalist Joe Hutto’s year-long experiment living as a turkey proved it wrong, along with any other myths that suggest the stupidity of the bird. On the contrary, he says that turkeys are born with an “innate understanding of ecology” and have a complex vocabulary to communicate with each other.

Hutto, an ethologist who lives in Florida, has always been interested in the phenomenon of imprinting – in which young birds and animals identify the first moving object they encounter as a mother or a caregiver. So when a local farmer left a bowl-full of wild turkey eggs at Hutto’s doorstep, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. He began his scientific experiment by choosing to imprint himself as the mother turkey. Hutto placed the eggs in an incubator and waited for them to hatch. When the cracks began to appear, he had to act fast, since imprinting occurs only in the first few moments after hatching. He placed his face close to the eggs and when the first poult came out, there was immediate eye-contact and the establishment of a bond. “Something very unambiguous happened in that moment,” he said

Read More »

Indonesia’s Laughing Cock Craze Is No Laughing Matter

Roosters being sold for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars might sound like a joke to you, but in many parts of Indonesia it’s very serious business.

They look like ordinary cocks, but it’s only when they start crowing that people realize just how special they really are. Instead of the normal “cock-a-doodle-do”, these birds make a sound similar to human laughter, which earned them the name “laughing cocks“. Trained and raised to make this special sounds, laughing cocks are source of pride for their owners, who feed them only the best foods, and pamper them with large, ornate cages. This breed of chicken originated in South Sulawesi, where it was known as ayam raja (king chicken), because only Burgis kings were allowed to breed them.

Nowadays, anyone who can afford is allowed to breed laughing cocks, and while they are very valuable, they’re also extremely sensitive. They have to be fed properly and their big cages have to be cleaned twice a day, because these birds tend to become ill very easily. But the high maintenance cost is easily covered by the profit of selling laughing cocks or winning regional laughing contests. A day old chick sells for Rp 100,000 ($12), while a 3-month old bird goes for Rp 300,000 ($36) to Rp 500,000 ($59). But it’s the mature laughing roosters that bring the most profit, as the price of a 9-month bird ranges between Rp 3 million ($354) and Rp 5 million ($590).

Read More »

Real Birds Tweet on Twitter

A Latvian magazine thought it wasn’t fair that real twitting birds didn’t have the chance to do it on Twitter so they set up a service that allows them to share their thoughts with the world.

Voldemars Dudum, the founder of BirdsOnTwitter.com, has always been a big bird lover, and while feeding them pork fat one winter, he came up with a brilliant idea to give them the chance to tweet for themselves. By fixating small pieces of unsalted pork on keyboard keys, feasting Tomtits type their own messages on the popular social networking platform.

The fat is attached to the keys with small stainless steel screws which increases the sensitivity of the strokes, since Tomtits are too light to press a real key with their beaks. The bird tweeting station is set up in the small Latvian village of Sarnate, where winter temperatures drop to a whopping -20 degrees Celsius. Eating the pork fat helps the chirping birds survive the harsh temperatures, and now gives them the chance to send messages worldwide.

Read More »

City Hires Chicken Chasers to Round Up Feral Fowls

When people are to scared to walk their pets around the city streets because of feral chickens, you know you have a serious problem on your hands. Welcome to Lakeland, Polk County, a city terrorized by chicken.

Now we’re not talking about a small group of rogue chickens causing mayhem around the city, authorities say there are around 600 chickens free running around the streets of northwest Lakeland. You’re probably thinking the only harm they’re capable of is defecating in public places, but it seems some of the locals have actually complained about the birds attacking their children and household pets, forcing local authorities to take desperate measures.

They’ve hired a company called Squeal Deal Animal Control to help catch these feathered villains and are paying them a fee for every bird they bring in. Representatives of the company say the task is a lot harder than it sounds, because the chickens are fast and quick to hide in their surroundings. This is their woods,they go underneath houses and cars and in trees. They know where to escape from you.” ” chicken chaser Clayton Keene said.

Nobody knows exactly how the chickens got on the streets in the first place, but according to urban legends, some locals who raised chickens in the city released them from their cages, allowing them multiply at an alarming rate.

Read More »

Carpenter Builds the Most Amazing Birdhouses You’ve Ever Seen

John Looser, a skillful carpenter from Toronto, Canada, builds regular wood mansions for birds.

The 46-year-old carpenter used to work on human houses, but he had to retire after 20 years, due to to a serious car accident that left him with a terrible condition – fibromyalgia. The pain associated with it has no boundaries and most people describe it as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, stabbing and intense burning. The stiffness and pain are worst in the morning and in muscle groups that are used repetitively. Although he had to retire as a house builder for humans, John Looser kept working in residential construction, only his new clients were birds.

“Building birdhouses helps keep my mind busy so that I don’t notice my pain so much,” says John. “As long as I can stay busy, I don’t feel like my muscles are going to seize up and stop moving.” says John, who also suffers from sleeplessness, getting up at 6 am and  working for 8 – 10 hours a day. The small size of his beautiful birdhouses, in comparison with human buildings, allows him to exercise his passion for building houses.

Read More »

World’s Most Expensive Book Sold For $11.5 Million

Birds of America“, John James Audubon’s unique sample of nature, art and craftsmanship wrapped in a beautiful album was sold at Sotheby’s last auction for the staggering price of  $11.5 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. This is one of just 11 copies owned by private collectors.

Audubon, a 19th century French-American naturalist and painter, gathered 500 breeds of birds, all illustrated in 1000 hand-painted life-size images, in his extraordinary book, which took 12 years to complete. A rare book dealer from London, Bernard Shapero , explains:  “His big thing was the one-to-one ratio. Everyone else cropped the birds. If an eagle is 6 foot, he was going to paint it 6 foot.  He scaled back the wings, but it was life size. That was his cachet.” The so-called “father of ornithology” would hunt down the birds, shooting them before propping them on wires to paint. Each drawing took around 60 hours to complete. Sadly, many of the birds in his book are now extinct and exist only in his drawings and as stuffed museum exhibits.

American society wasn’t very interested in his work but that didn’t stop him, and his ambition got him all the way to Britain where his work gained success amongst the aristocracy.

The book is not only beautiful but also very impressive with its 3ft by 2ft pages, and although it wouldn’t fit on most bookshelves, it must be any collectors dream. The previous record was also held by a copy of this unique album, sold in the year 2000 for $8,8 million.

Read More »