Color Loss in the Strawberry Finch or Red Avadavat

Red Avadavat MaleIn addition to gorgeous coloration, the Strawberry Finch (Amandava amandava) possesses just about every other quality one could ask for in a finch.  Both males and females sing sweetly year-round, and also amuse keepers with a variety of unique buzzing sounds and low “growls”.  Their courtship and breeding behavior, which is displayed readily, is among the finch world’s most interesting.  Small wonder they are perennial favorites in both the pet and zoo trade.

Range and Habitat

The three subspecies of Strawberry Finch occupy a huge range that extends from southern Nepal and Pakistan through much of Southeast Asia to Indonesia.   It is a bird of marshes, swamps and other habitats near water, but also visits fields, gardens and farms while foraging.

The Strawberry Finch’s popularity has resulted in a number of intentional and accidental introductions.  It is now established in such far-flung locales as Hawaii, Spain, Egypt, Fiji, Singapore and Puerto Rico (I imagine that a diligent search might turn up a few in Florida as well!). Read More »

Homemade Holiday Treats for Pet Birds (and Their Wild Cousins)

Pine Cone Treat A variety of nutritious holiday bird treats are very simple to create, and offer the added advantage of keeping your pets occupied and engaged (a plus for you and them!).  The ingredients of those listed below can be modified to suit pets ranging from finches to macaws, and outdoor visitors of all sizes and shapes.

Stuffed Pine Cones

Pine cones are an old holiday standby for both pet and wild birds, and are used in zoo enrichment activities as well.  What’s more, they offer one of the quickest options for those beset with holiday chores (or, should I say, other joyous activities!).  Simply jam the pine cones’ nooks and crannies with natural peanut butter, and roll in dried fruit, seeds, nuts, crushed popcorn or other goodies.  Read More »

Camera Trap Films Possums and Stoats Killing Rare Kea Chicks

KeaNew Zealand’s endemic parrot, the Kea (Nestor notabilis), was nearly driven to extinction by ranchers who believed the bird was a threat to their sheep (please see below).  Hunting is now outlawed, but the Kea’s troubles are not over – a recent study has documented that stoats, possums and rats, all introduced from elsewhere, are eating chicks and attacking adults. Read More »

The 111th Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count – an Update

Last winter I wrote about the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC), which is the world’s longest running volunteer wildlife survey.  Now in its 111th year, this winter’s effort promises to be both enjoyable and of vital importance to birds throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Today I’d like to highlight last year’s amazing successes, and once again remind all how easy it is to participate.

A Record-Breaking Bird Count

Last year’s CBC ran from December 14, 2009 to January 5, 2010, and surpassed all previous ones on every level.  The turnout was incredible… 60,753 people counted nearly 56 million individual birds representing an astounding 2,319 species.  The species count shattered the previous year’s record by 200 species.

Observations were made in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, Guam, Bermuda, Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Mariana and Virgin Islands.  Spearheaded by birders in Columbia, several Latin American countries joined in as well. Read More »

Conservation Setback – Confiscated African Grey Parrots Returned to Dealer

African GreyMany countries have placed an outright ban on capturing wild parrots (Mexico, most recently) and, as in the USA, require proof that birds offered for sale have been bred in captivity. Abuses occur, but rarely on the scale exhibited recently in the central African nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Major conservation groups are outraged at the behavior of the DRC government, which seems to be in collaboration with parrot smugglers. Read More »

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