ME and Ophelia

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


And fewer small birds visiting here

Usually, there are lots of birds here by the seaside. Hundreds of seagulls perched on buildings all around. Dozens stomping on my rooftop at the crack of dawn. Tiny exotic and colourful birds often flit and dance along the balcony rail in front of me, while Ophelia sleeps. Her ears flicker the moment she hears one. Eyes zoom like paparazzi, whiskers curve forward, nose twitches, tail swishes, mouth opens and teeth chatter with a rat-a-tat-tat of the "killer bite" (sounds like kha/kha/kha - only the cats taught by their mothers do this). She pays no attention to the seagulls.

There's not much greenery by the sea, so I hang a bird feeder outside, filled with peanuts, along with a ball of mixed seeds and fat. They've turned all soggy. Not a single nut eaten. Twice I've refreshed the hangers. But still no sign of any birds. Not much noise from the seagulls either.

I'm wondering if some of the seagulls have been culled. No sight of dead birds. Maybe eggs have been taken from the seagulls' nests. Local newspapers regularly report that seagulls are becoming more aggressive and a nuisance to tourists. Swooping down and snatching holidaymakers' picnics, and ice-cream cones from kiddies in prams. Pecking holes in rubbish bags left out in street for collection. Strewing garbage along streets and pavements. Creating mayhem and loud shrieking whilst protecting their young.

Or maybe Ophelia is efficient in keeping her fab territory to herself. Somehow, I don't think so. She's a friendly cat. Wonder if others have noticed fewer birds around this past year. Maybe there's an environmental reason why the small birds don't stop by here anymore.
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One in eight of the world's bird species faces extinction

The following extracts, from a recent BBC report, state that birds are very good at revealing the health of the wider environment and show it is in trouble - and, because they are excellent environment indicators, what they are telling us is that there is a fundamental malaise in the way we treat our environment:

"A third of the world's most threatened bird species still need urgent action in order to survive, campaigners say. Half of Africa's key bird areas are threatened by agriculture. Europe's farmland birds have declined by a third in 40 years. The warning comes in a report, State Of The World's Birds 2004, produced by BirdLife, a global partnership of almost 100 conservation groups. The RSPB is its British partner.

The report shows that birds are excellent environment indicators and what they are telling us is that there is a fundamental malaise in the way we treat our environment. BirdLife's director, Dr Michael Rands, said: "State Of The World's Birds presents firm evidence that we are losing birds and other biodiversity at an alarming and ever-increasing rate.

According to IUCN-The World Conservation Union, 1,211 bird species are globally threatened, an eighth of the world's avian species. The BirdLife Partnership is directly helping to implement actions for 42% of globally threatened birds, but needs support from others, particularly national governments, both in terms of financial help and in establishing and maintaining protected areas.

BirdLife International and the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say 400 species still need help, which is often fairly simple to give. Many species already receiving help are responding, showing that help in time can help to prevent them disappearing. The two groups say birds are very good at revealing the health of the wider environment and show it is in trouble.

The report shows how acting in time on the basis of good science can reverse the slide to extinction."
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They use the roads, not just the sun

According to Marginal Revolution's blog, pigeons use their own navigational system when doing long-distance trips or when they do a journey for the first time. But when they have flown a journey more than once they home in on an habitual route home.

In short, it looks like it is mentally easier for a bird to fly down a road...they are just making their journey as simple as possible.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 3/09/2004
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