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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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Citizen scientists surveying Canberra's gang-gang cockatoos

Hundreds of Canberrans are doing their part this week to map the distribution of the ACT's well known gang-gang cockatoos.;

The Canberra Ornithologists Group is currently mapping the regional distribution of the cockatoos and the group is partway through a week-long muster to gather data from the community.

The group's Chris Davey said it was part of ongoing efforts to fill in knowledge gaps about their breeding and nesting habits.

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Bird numbers down in Australia's east as big dry takes its toll

MARK COLVIN: A scientist leading an aerial survey of Australia's eastern waterbirds says there's been a significant decline in numbers since the boom after the Queensland floods three years ago, and the longer term trend is even more stark.

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Meet the birds of Cairns, in the 'burbs and the bush

Thirty-six hours travel without much sleep is not the best preparation for birding. But birding is, I find, a great cure for jet lag: it gets me outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, and helps me recalibrate my body clock. Even more crucially, I know I’ll be so overwhelmed with the amazing birds I see that I’ll be able to forget my exhaustion – or at least keep birding right through it.

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Speedy birds track down remote desert rain

Satellite tracking of Australian banded stilts reveals they fly massive distances at fast speeds after 'sniffing out' inland desert lakes, making them one of the fastest of the nomadic water birds.

The birds travel vast distances to capitalise on the short-lived food supplies and breeding opportunities provided by inland salt lakes, says Reece Pedler of Deakin University, who is studying the bird's movements as part of his PhD.

"They are nomadic species that go where the going's good," says Pedler.

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WA’s mine sites offer a saline solution for at-risk birds

West Australian mine sites are inadvertently creating sanctuaries for migratory shorebirds as their habitats across the world are being destroyed, according to new research from Edith Cowan University.

Industrial salt pans in the northern Pilbara region have ­become important feeding and roosting grounds for the shorebirds undertaking one of ­nature’s great migrations.

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Once bittern, twice shy for endangered bunyip bird

A Riverina ecologist has started crowdfunding in the hope of raising enough money to use satellite tracking on the endangered 'bunyip bird'.

Read more at the ABC Goulburn Murray website.

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Etheridge finch survey uncovers endangered bird movements

Ten volunteers searching for the rare Gouldian finch uncovered some interesting facts about finch populations around Georgetown in far north Queensland this month. Flat Creek Station owner Adam Utschink organised a survey two weeks ago to track the number of endangered birds on his property. Hundreds of black-throat, double barred and masked finches were counted over two days, but the illusive Gouldian finch wasn't spotted. Read the full story at the ABC Rural website.

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Longreach's love-hate relationship with corellas

The western Queensland town of Longreach is well known for its birds, even the streets are named after them. But there is one variety that makes its presence felt more keenly than others: corellas.

Read more at the ABC Western Queensland website.

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Birds in Backyards Data Intern Needed!

BirdLife Australia offers a limited number of internship placements each year. We work in partnership with a number of Australia’s leading universities and other partners to offer a select number of undergraduate, post-graduate and early career placements within our projects and departments.

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Deakin avian expert warns migratory birds are flying to Australia on just a wing and a prayer

Millions of migratory birds that fly tens of thousands of kilometres between their homes in Australia and Siberia are facing annihilation as development destroys the vital feeding grounds they rely on during their epic journeys, a Deakin University avian expert has warned.

Director of Deakin's Centre for Integrative Ecology Professor Marcel Klaassen has joined a growing chorus of leading scientists alarmed by a sudden and dramatic drop in the number of shorebirds finally arriving in Australia after their legendary flights across the globe.

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These birds are no bird-brains

WINGED creatures wreaking havoc on cars and properties across Bendigo are no bird-brains, according to an expert in animal behaviour. They might even lay claim to being among the smartest of any species of bird, says Dr Sonia Kleindorfer, a professor in animal behaviour at South Australia’s Flinders University. Dr Kleindorfer was responding to reports in yesterday’s Bendigo Advertiser of crows feasting on car windscreen wipers in an Eaglehawk Street. She says its likely some might have gone the early crow in identifying the culprits. 

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KEN SIMPSON 1938-2014

What man would have himself lowered into "the long drop" at Macquarie Island to recover a curious bird? The long drop is a 10-metre latrine used when the water supply to the toilet block becomes frozen. That man was Ken Simpson, one of Australia's most outstanding naturalists and author of the highly acclaimed Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. The year was 1965.

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Round aviary reshapes rehabilitation for birds of prey

While hunting, a peregrine falcon stoops at around 300km/h.

"If everything [in their makeup] is not absolutely perfect, they can't maintain those speeds, they can't maintain their hunting rates and they die," Peggy McDonald says.

Meeting the specific needs of raptors is a challenge she loves.

She's been rehabilitating and releasing birds of prey for more than 20 years and considers it a privilege to be so close to birds that are usually seen from kilometres away.

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Last ditch plea to protect pine forest adopted by Carnaby's black cockatoos

Conservationists have made a last ditch plea to the federal government to intervene to help prevent a species of cockatoo from becoming extinct due to the felling of its habitat.

Research  by BirdLife Australia found there are 3,922 Carnaby’s black cockatoos  in the large Gnangara pine plantation, north of Perth. This equates to around 10% of the global population of this endangered cockatoo.

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The mimics among us — birds pirate songs for personal profit

From Roman classics to British tabloids, humans have long celebrated the curious and remarkable ability of birds to imitate the sounds of humans and other animals. A recent surge of research is revealing how and why birds use vocal mimicry to further their own interests, as we discuss in Biological Reviews.

Far from being merely a biological curiosity, it appears that vocal mimicry plays a more central role in the lives of birds than we have given them credit for.

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Saving the Regent Honeyeater project showing results

A long-running project to re-establish habitat for the rare Regent Honeyeater is showing positive results, thanks to dedication of volunteers and community members over the past 21 years. 

Volunteers from Birdlife Australia and Taronga Zoo, as well as local residents and landowners gather in May and August every year to plant trees for the Regent Honeyeater and other threatened bird species. 

Now, Regent Honeyeaters have been officially recorded for the first time on one of the earlier planted sites. 

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Finding new nests for birds threatened by climate change

Rufous Scrub-birds have been calling loudly from the mountains of eastern Australia ever since Australia parted from Gondwana 65 million years ago. They are still there today – as noisy as ever, though incredibly difficult to see – but perhaps not for much longer.

Models predict that the climate of places like the Lamington Plateau in southeast Queensland will change to something quite unlike what is there at the moment. That is one of the scenarios described in the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Australian Birds.

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Slick solution as volunteers learn how to save oiled birds

Oil spills at sea can be devastating for seabirds, but a team of freshly trained Illawarra wildlife rescuers are ready to help save and clean our feathered friends.

Australia's first modified shipping container to clean oiled sea birds was in Port Kembla today to help train volunteers.

The course coincided with the launch of a First Responders Resource Guide for Seabird Emergencies book, pocket guide and DVD produced by Australian Sea Bird Rescue .

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Pelicans at risk from anglers

SOUTH Australia's recreational fishermen are more likely to accidently snag pelicans than any other marine birds, according to new research.

A study of 113 seabirds treated over a six-year period for 132 fishing-related injuries has been conducted by researchers from the University of Adelaide's School of Medical Sciences and the Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organisation (AMWRRO).

They've found that, contrary to public belief, "live" tackle being used by fishermen is resulting in the bird injuries, not tackle that's been thrown away.

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Scientist tracks eagles soaring to incredible heights

A young West Australian biologist is tracking wedge-tailed eagles to discover more about their range and flying habits.

Simon Cherriman is passionate about Australian wildlife, and his research focuses on the iconic wedge-tailed eagle. He has been studying the huge birds of prey for a number of years, but over the past twelve months he started a project that fulfilled a boyhood dream: tracking wedge-tailed eagles.

"I always wanted to know where eagles went when I wasn't watching them," he explains.

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Towra bird habitat in decline

A DECLINE in migratory birds using Towra Point Nature Reserve because of weed infestation and shoreline changes is an international embarrassment to Australia, experts say.

The reserve is in danger of receiving a second Grey Globe award, which is given to Ramsar Convention-protected wetlands throughout the world, which are considered to be "under threat". This award, which is at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Blue Globe that is awarded to sites in outstanding condition, was given to Towra Point at the last World Wetland Network conference in Bucharest in 2012.

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Jim Smart's feathered friends

On the wall is a water painting of a princess parrot – “very rare” – next to a picture of some fairy wrens.

Spread out on the floor are a dozen A3 sized photographs of birds taken from bushland around Kurri, that will be presented at the next meeting of the Hunter Bird Observer Club.

The book shelves sag under the weight. No, there’s no sign of John Grisham or Ken Follett or Tim Winton here, but reference books of birds – mostly Australian bird books, but sprinkled in among them are books on birds from New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia, India and England.

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Tim Low in Conversation with Richard Fidler

Naturalist Tim Low says Australian birds are noisier, more aggressive and more intelligent than in any other country in the world.

Tim is a biologist, environmentalist and prize-winning writer, and co-editor of Wildlife Australia magazine.

His latest book reveals some startling facts about the unique nature of Australian birds - they are distinctive and powerful, and exert more influence on forests than any other birds.

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