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Rescuing the Regent Honeyeater

They were once seen in flocks of thousands. Now no more than 500 cover an area from central Queensland to southern Victoria. The Regent Honeyeater is one step away from extinction. Matthew Crawford joins a team in NE Victoria releasing birds following a successful captive breeding program at Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

Listen to this story on the ABC's Science Show.

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Ban balloons to save birds, say scientists

Releasing balloons en masse into the sky to mark funerals and other ceremonies is killing birds, say scientists who have called for the practice to be banned.

"Balloons are a huge threat, not only to birds, but turtles and other marine life," said Fiona Maxwell, campaigner with the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

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Bird illustrator William Cooper dies at home in far north Queensland

Renowned wildlife illustrator William T. Cooper was once described by Sir David Attenborough as the best ornithological illustrator alive.

The artist, known to his friends as Bill, was even the subject of one of Sir David's films, Portrait Painter to the Birds.

Mr Cooper, 81, died at his home at Malanda, south-west of Cairns, in far north Queensland on Sunday afternoon.

Read the full story at the ABC News website.

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Call for volunteers as science takes the fight to invading myna birds

That ability to conquer natural bird populations could be increasing rapidly thanks to genes passed down through generations via natural selection.

Australian Museum principal research scientists Dr Richard Major explained yesterday that common mynas (often referred to as Indian mynas) arrived in Australia in the mid-1800s, but only really started to thrive from about 1975.

Common myna communities have since spread up and down the east coast of Australia, with their growth showing no sign of slowing.

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Dozens of birds suffocate on sticky gel at Coast home

DOZENS of tiny birds met a sad death when a careless Peregian homeowner poured a sticky gel around their property in an effort to deter larger birds from roosting.  

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has urged people to consider native wildlife when implementing potentially harmful pest control methods around their homes following a devastating result for a flight of swallows last week.

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Regent Honeyeater breeding program boosts population of endangered bird

The wild population of Regent Honeyeaters will swell by 20% this week when Taronga Zoo releases 77 of the critically endangered birds produced through its breeding program.

Distinctive for its embroidered yellow plumage, the honeyeater is considered a “flagship” species: the most marketable of a group of endangered animals that share a habitat.

The zoo hopes that attracting funding and attention to the honeyeater will also benefit animals such as swift parrots, squirrel gliders and orange-bellied parrots.

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Canberra's playful cockatoos and cheeky corellas ruffle a few feathers

With easy pickings of fruit, berries, nuts, bulbs and seed in Canberra, cockatoos and corellas have plenty of time left to play, a hallmark of their intelligence, according to avian experts.

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Swift parrot rapidly winging towards extinction

The swift parrot, Australia's fastest nectar-eater, is suffering such a catastrophic population decline that conservationist biologists are pushing for the brightly-coloured bird to be urgently listed as critically endangered.

The parrot lives much of the year in Victoria and New South Wales where it feasts on the nectar of flowering gums. But when it migrates to Tasmania to breed, it comes under attack from predatory sugar gliders, research shows.

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Scrunchies saving wildlife from being killed by cats: study

A fashion relic of the late eighties and nineties, the humble scrunchie has found a new lease on life preventing the slaughter of wildlife by domestic cats.

In a new study, West Australian researchers found putting a scrunchie-like collar on cats reduced the amount of native wildlife killed by more than half.

Murdoch University PhD student Catherine Hall spearheaded the research which observed the behaviour of 114 cats for two years.

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Cane toad has surprise effect on Australian ecosystem

The toxic cane toad introduced to Australia in the 1930s is causing ripples through the ecosystem in ways rarely seen when invasive species spread.

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'Wonder dog' sniffing out endangered birds

A one-of-a-kind dog has been specially trained to help conservationists find and protect endangered birdlife on the Gold Coast.

Penny the English springer spaniel is the first of a new breed of conservation detection dogs. Dogs work in a wide range of detecting roles: explosives, drugs, and quarantine. But Penny has been trained to specifically sniff out the endangered eastern bristlebird.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary trainer Shannon Maguire says it is a new field of conservation research.

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In search of Capricornia's rarest birds after Cyclone Marcia

During a cyclone many sea birds are caught up in the eye of the storm and are kept on the wing for hours and hours, ending up exhausted and far from home.

The strong winds also strip local trees of blossoms and food for some birds - as well as just falling over, so there are fewer places for birds to nest and shelter. Birdlife Capricornia have been out surveying the rarest of our local birds, the Capricorn Yellow Chat.

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Hundreds of migratory birds tagged on Western Australia's 80 Mile Beach by volunteer researchers

At this time of year the white sands of 80 Mile Beach, just south of Broome, are home to hundreds of thousands of migratory wading birds. The flocks spend weeks filling their bellies at the coastline's mudflats, before taking off on a route known as a flyway to travel to Siberia to breed.

However, there are concerns that development in Asia is destroying the birds' habitat at important rest stops on their journey. Numbers of some species, such as Curlew Sandpipers, have declined dramatically in the past 30 years.

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Lifetime fascination with Australian birds leads to prestigious award for amateur ornithologist from Queensland's wet tropics

Lloyd Nielsen grew up fascinated by birds, but never imagined he would contribute so much to the knowledge and understanding of some of Australia’s most elusive birds.

The self-taught ornithologist is the first Queenslander to receive the prestigious J.N Hobbs medal for outstanding contribution as an amateur scientist, just don't dare call him a 'twitcher'!

Read or listen to the full story on the ABC Rural website.

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Bird enthusiasts flock to see Australia's largest owl devour ringtail possums, sulphur-crested cockatoos in suburban Canberra park

Bird enthusiasts are in a flutter after a rare sighting of Australia's largest owl, the powerful owl, spotted devouring ringtail possums and sulphur-crested cockatoos in a suburban Canberra park.

The owl has taken up long-term residence in Haig Park near the CBD, and bird watchers from across the country and even overseas have flocked to catch a glimpse of it. 

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North-west African bird spotted on Kimberley island

A rare sighting of the Eurasian Hoopoe bird in Australia has been captured on an island off Western Australia's northern coastline.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife has recorded vision of the African bird on Aldolphus Island, two kilometres north of Wyndham.

It's only the third time the bird has been spotted in Australia.

It was first recorded in Australia in 2011 at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse in the west Kimberley. Last year it was spotted at Galiwinku on Elcho Island in the Northern Territory.

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Gang-gang: Canberrans search for rare right-handed cockatoos

Australia's honour-winners are in the news and we're moved to think that if our city ever had a Faunal Canberran of the Year (and why don't we?) this year's would be the famous Powerful Owl at Turner.

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Waverley cemetery: suburban wildlife haven for high-flying raptors

A group of silent overseers is keeping watch above the Waverley cemetery. 

Situated high on a cliff-top, the 137-year old graveyard overlooks the ocean between Bronte and Clovelly beaches in Sydney's eastern suburbs. In the cemetery, amongst the white-marbled gravestones decorated with Victorian and Edwardian monuments, one can easily feel alone. But visitors to the cemetery are under the close watch of a higher presence with a corporeal purpose. 

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Myna reduction encourages return of native bird species

There are just wars and unjust ones and one of the just ones is the ongoing war here in the ACT against the Common Myna (aka the Flying Cane Toad), an introduced brute introduced to the ACT in 1968.

Successful massacres of the species (the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group reported 3551 captures in 2012-2013 alone) have been waged not out of malice but on behalf of native species, like the Australian Owlet-nightjar peering out at you from our picture.

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Hooded plover count reveals rare bird boost on Yorke Peninsula

A survey of Yorke Peninsula's hooded plover population has found increased numbers of the endangered birds.

More than 230 of the rare birds were spotted during a survey of a 320 kilometre stretch of coastline where the birds nest.

Natural Resources community team leader, Deborah Furbank, said these numbers show a five year high in Yorke Peninsula's hooded plover population.

"Two years ago in the last survey we counted 212 birds, and two years prior to that we counted 156.

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Arctic visitor has twitchers in a flap

A RARE sighting has twitchers flocking from around Australia to Lake Wollumboola.

The last time a white-rumped sandpiper (calidris fuscicollis) was spotted in NSW was in November 1977 near Pitt Town.

Ornithologist Joy Pegler said the bird has been caught up in the wrong migratory fly way ending up on the Australian coastline from Alaska.

Read more at the website of the South Coast Register.

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International birds flock to Canberra for remaining section of yellow box, red gum corridor

Birds from as far afield as Papua New Guinea have flocked to Canberra to visit some of Australia's last remaining patches of yellow box and red gum woodlands.

Cicadas have swarmed to the woodlands in large numbers in the warmer months, attracting both local and international birds. But environmental planner and ecologist Dr Michael Mulvaney said the endangered habitat on Mount Ainslie on the ACT's suburban fringe needed a lot of human intervention to survive.

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Brisbane's brush turkey explosion heads south

The number of brush turkeys has exploded in Brisbane and they have got their eyes on Sydney.

Behavioural ecologist Professor Darryl Jones said nothing - not cats or cars - was stopping the rise of the birds, which are also commonly known as bush turkeys, in urban Brisbane.

"They've increased by 700 per cent in the last 20 years [in Brisbane]," he said. The birds had gone from being unknown in Brisbane except in a few parts, to owning virtually every suburb.

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Bird tree of life shows ‘explosive evolution’

Today’s land birds, from ducks to eagles, shared a common ancestor after dinosaurs went extinct – just one finding from bird gene studies published in journals, including Science and GigaScience, today.

Genetic data of 48 bird species were sequenced in a massive international collaboration to create a new and detailed version of the avian tree of life.

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Orange bellied parrots' wild population doubles after scientific recovery program

One of the world's rarest species, the orange bellied parrot, has bucked its long-term trend of decline and almost doubled its wild population.

The critically endangered birds, which spend winter in South Australia and Victoria, have just migrated to the remote Melaleuca outpost in Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area for the breeding season.

Last November, fewer than 10 wild breeding pairs returned to Melaleuca, prompting a recovery program to arrange for the population to be artificially increased.


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