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Hot weather 'causes Australian zebra finch eggs to hatch earlier than normal'

Very hot weather causes the eggs of Australia's desert-dwelling zebra finch to hatch earlier than normal, research has found.

This upsets the normal competition between baby birds and means some do not get enough food to survive, researchers say.

A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Open Science, is the first to show how hot weather can affect the incubation of a bird species, Macquarie University ecologist professor Simon Griffith said.

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When it storms, where do the birds go?

When rain, hail or lightning hits, we typically run for shelter indoors and wrap up in cosy attire. But what happens to birds?

Well, they "batten down the hatches too", according to Birdlife Australia manager Dr Holly Parsons.

"A bit of rain doesn't worry many birds but in a particularly bad storm, birds are going to seek some shelter — so they're going to pop up on your back deck," she said.

"They're going to find some dense shrubs and they'll be going into trees close to tree trunks and holding on tight."

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Why some female birds don't sing...

When you hear a bird warbling, you probably think the crooner is a male. And chances are if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you would be right. But females also evolved to sing, and many still do—although generally less than the males. One reason may be that it’s more dangerous for them to sing especially when nesting, scientists report today. At least, that’s the case for female fairywrens, the most vocal of which are the most likely to have their eggs and chicks eaten.

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Plovers’ season breeds dismay

PROTECTORS of the endangered hooded plover are documenting senseless acts by beachgoers that are threatening breeding birds.

The plovers each year struggle to breed on Mornington Peninsula beaches with an ever decreasing number of their chicks ever taking flight.

Dr Grainne Maguire of BirdLife Australia’s beach-nesting birds’ team said data shows that without preventative action hooded plovers will be extinct in the region “in the next 25 years”.

 

Read more here.

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Mistletoe: the kiss of life for healthy forests

In many parts of the world, Christmas and mistletoe are inextricably intertwined. So, as December 25 draws nearer, now is a good time to remind ourselves about what mistletoe is and why we associate it with plum pudding and Santa.

There’s also been some recent discoveries about the role mistletoe plays in boosting biodiversity and improving ecosystem health.

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Waterbirds in eastern Australia at lowest breeding level on record

A stocktake of waterbirds in eastern Australia has shown the lowest breeding level on record.

The annual aerial survey, conducted by the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, confirmed a dramatic long-term decline in the number of waterbirds.

Director Richard Kingsford said that over 33 years of counting, average numbers had fallen more than 60 per cent.

The trend continued in 2015 with a further drop compared to the previous three-to-five-year period.

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Cities support a greater number of threatened species than non-urban areas

The earth is facing a catastrophic species extinction crisis. The dominant approach to conservation has been to focus on protecting pristine environments, but new research from Australia demonstrates that on average, urban environments contain disproportionately more threatened protected species in a given area than non-urban environments. Investigators looked at the distributions of 1,643 protected species in Australia, and counted up the number of these species that occurred in square-kilometer units across the continent.

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Regent Honeyeaters’ eggs under attack

 Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeaters are being preyed on by an unlikely source. High-tech video surveillance cameras have revealed for the first time that some marsupials may be significant predators of the threatened honeyeaters’ eggs.

The video monitoring is being undertaken by PhD student, Gemma Taylor, from the Zoological Society of London.

“We’ve positioned remote video cameras near nests to learn more about their breeding, so you can imagine our disappointment when gliders started eating their eggs,” Ms Taylor said.

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Australian birds a lot smarter than we might think

Australian birds have a lot to teach us about living long and happy lives according to Professor Gisela Kaplan from the Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour at the University of New England.

"There are various levels at which we've grossly underestimated the intelligence of animals," she said when speaking to ABC Central Victoria.

Professor Kaplan has studied countless birds, including her own 75-year-old galah, and said that many shared similar traits to humans.

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DNA analysis sheds light on early evolution of birds

The massive meteor strike that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago may have sparked a rapid evolution of bird species over just a few million years. The few bird lineages that survived the extinction bottleneck gave rise to stunning diversity, resulting in the more than 10,000 species alive today.

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Student wanted: Powerful Owl project - Masters or Honours

DISCOVERING THE SECRETS OF THE POWERFUL OWL 

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Knights in Shining Fur: The Fight to Save Australia's Littlest Penguins

Most dogs harass nesting birds. But maremma dogs helped revive a penguin colony off of Australia's coast.

Read the story at the Audubon Society website.

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Beyond black and white: The secret life of Australia's marvellous magpies

Australians may think they know everything there is to know about the magpie, but there's a lot hidden under the surface: from the intricacies of their mating habits to why their numbers are in decline. Ann Jones investigates.

Read or listen on the ABC's Off Track website.

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Cotton wool could save endangered Australian bird

Cotton wool could be the missing ingredient in the fight to save one of Australia's most endangered animals.

A new study has found tiny fly larvae are killing the forty-spotted pardalote, and it's hoped the cotton can be used to prevent the small bird disappearing completely.

From Hobart, Richard Baines reports.

Read or listen to the full story on ABC Radio's AM Program website.

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Gould's petrels back from the brink

The discovery of breeding pairs of Gould’s petrels on Montague Island signifies the success of two conservation projects separated by hundreds of kilometres.

RARELY DOES THE person who helps to list a species as endangered get to witness that population begin to recover and then see it removed from the list, all within 20 years. Yet this is exactly what conservation scientist Nicholas Carlile and his colleagues achieved with the Gould's petrel.

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Night parrot capture and tagging hailed as 'holy grail' moment for bird lovers

The elusive night parrot, a species thought to be extinct for about 100 years, has finally been captured and tagged by scientists as part of a pioneering project to safeguard the remaining ground-dwelling birds.

Following an 18-month search for a night parrot, ornithologist Steve Murphy netted one of the birds on 4 April. Feather samples were taken from the bird, and a small tracker, with a battery that lasted for 21 days, was placed on its leg to gain greater insight into the habits of the mysterious creature.

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Australia's only cassowary rehabilitation centre to close

A north Queensland vet says he could be forced to euthanise injured and orphaned cassowaries after the closure of the only rehabilitation centre for the endangered species.

The Department of Heritage Protection has announced the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre in Mission Beach would close once three birds now in care were ready to be released.

Dr Graham Lauridsen, who is involved in the program, says he'll have nowhere to take birds that have been injured or orphaned by cars.

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State of Australia's Birds report released: common birds facing declines

BirdLife Australia has today released the 2015 State of Australia’s Birds Headline Report that shows a number of Australia’s best-loved birds species are declining in some regions. 

Launched today at Melbourne Museum by Environment Minister the Hon Greg Hunt MP, this report is part of Australia’s most comprehensive series tracking bird populations and health.

“Birds tell us a lot about our natural world,” said Paul Sullivan, CEO of BirdLife Australia.

“The Australian Bird Index is a nationwide health-check of Australia’ s birds and their environments. 

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Current strategies not doing enough to protect our threatened species

 

Governments across Australia are being urged to do more to protect endangered species, amid warnings land clearing and mining are threatening key habitats.

The criticism from conservationists comes as the Federal Government prepares to release a new Threatened Species Strategy.

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