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December 20, 2010
Your Birds photo contest winners!

Just in time to merry up your Christmas, some beautiful images grace our January-February 2011 photo contest. (2011?! Really? Really.)

Congratulations to first-place winner Christina Ehlers of Louisiana for a stunning portrait of Ray, a blue Indian ringneck parakeet, shown here. Christina wins $50 in bird supplies from Windy City Parrot.

Second place and a $25 gift certificate to Windy City Parrot go to Jonathan and Tracy Gourd for their companionable picture of Ollie, a severe macaw.

As always, we got some great photos from the rest of you, so many we wish we could give everyone a prize!

See the rest in the January-February 2011 Your Birds slideshow. Deadline for the next contest is Feb. 10!

December 8, 2010
New York falcon star of new documentary

The Legend of Pale Male celebrates the life of and (ongoing) obsession with Palemale, one half of a pair of red-tailed hawks that nest on Fifth Avenue.

November 28, 2010
Student steals museum birds to make flies

A music student bent on financing his flute lessons broke into the British Natural History Museum in the middle of the night and stole valuable taxidermied birds, reports the MailOnline, some dating from the 1800s. He then used the feathers to make and sell expensive collectors' fishing flies.

November 26, 2010
Woman spent 6 years in car with cockatoo

A Nevada woman lived in her 1991 Isuzu with her cockatoo for six years, until a local family invited the two to stay with them, said the Pahrump Valley Times. Carol Oxley said her 13-year-old bird, Angel, was a good travel companion. They slept together under blankets, and the bird talks, sings and dances. Just before Thanksgiving, Shaylyn Bayer told her parents about seeing the woman at a local laundramat and the family tracked her down to offer help. Now Carol and Angel are living in a cozy trailer on the Bayers' property and have meals with the family of seven, who rescue horses, dogs, chickens and other animals.

November 24, 2010
Happy turkey day

Today was like any other for turkeys who live at petting zoos and rescue farms. Just another pleasant day being fed and receiving admirers.

November 9, 2010
The useful oxpecker

African cattle, antelope and even predators, such as lions, are tick-alicious fare for the oxpecker, a bird with an unfortunate name but scrupulous work ethic.

A single oxpecker can eat up to 13,000 ticks a day. Unfortunately, decades ago ranches started dipping their cattle in pesticides to control ticks, and the oxpecker, with its bright red beak and hearty appetite for bloodsuckers, has all but disappeared, the victim of a poor substitute for its services.

Unlike the ubiquitous cattle egret, oxpeckers form true symbiotic relationships with mammals. Not only do they remove ticks, they perform other handy services, such as cleaning wounds.

Now, the Endangered Wildlife Trust hopes to save the oxpecker from extinction by reminding game and cattle owners how efficient the birds are at their jobs, and how much less expensive they are than chemicals, says this AP story. The organization is distributing oxpeckers to game parks and private cattle ranches, which in turn promise not to use the poisonous dip. Good luck, oxpecker.

November 8, 2010
Owls not safe in India

Bird-napping kids who want their own "Harry Potter bird" are the reason behind India's plummeting owl population, says that country's environment minister. It would be relatively nice to believe that the birds are winding up as the pets of children who like to read. But the more likely culprit is India's occult rituals practiced in observation of the Hindu celebration of Diwali, which use owl body parts in ceremonial sacrifices.

November 7, 2010
A Happy Hut for humans

Introducing the Nestrest, a suspended pod designed by German woven outdoor furniture maker Dedon. We don't know how much one costs or where we can buy one. We just want to hang one from the nearest branch and crawl inside.

November 3, 2010
Chrome dome

Look closely: those aren't orange feathers. It's the bare noggin of Pyrilia aurantiocephala, the world's only bald parrot. Extremely rare, it lives only along two rivers located in Brazil.

November 1, 2010
Amazing bird photos that look fake

Photographer Gerry Sibell's pictures of birds in flight look like paintings but they're not. They're the real thing, captured by special camera setups. Enjoy the rest of his work on Flickr.

October 25, 2010
Your bird photographs!

Announcing the winners of the November-December 2010 Your Birds photo contest!

Congratulations to first-place winner Kimberly Santiago of Long Island, who captured a great photo of her conures, Charlie and Allegra, playfully wrestling. Kim wins $50 in bird supplies from Windy City Parrot.

Second place and a $25 gift certificate to Windy City Parrot go to Nikki Reynolds of Florida for a nice shot of her white-bellied caique, Augie, playing the part of a feathered Atlas.

We received a lot of terrific work this time around, as you'll see in the rest of the slideshow. Keep those photos coming - the next contest deadline is Dec. 10.

October 23, 2010
Monkey on his back

Real? Or 'shopped? We choose to believe that a spider monkey and a blue-and-gold macaw really have become such close friends that the monkey hitches rides. Read more. (Thank you, Marguerite Floyd, for this awesome item, authentic or not.)

October 19, 2010
Beatle draws a bird tat for Emma

Ecorazzi reports that Emma Stone, cutie-pie ingenue of Zombieland and Easy A, asked Paul McCartney to design a tattoo for her: "two little bird feet," because he wrote "the song." We're assuming she's talking about Blackbird.

If McCartney's squiggles are anything like Lennon's, that should be one classy tramp stamp.

October 11, 2010
Now you've really hurt my feelings!

October 10, 2010
How to band a hummingbird

Barbara Robinson and her husband, Duane, catch, examine, band and release hundreds of hummingbirds each year. Their central California home of Mariposa is the hub of the 30-site Hummingbird Monitoring Network, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to studying and preserving the tiny species.

The delicate work of a hummingbird bander requires a steady hand - and an optivisor to read the microscopic numbers on the leg bands.

October 1, 2010
Mom, apple pie, and wasting pigeons

This Sunday, unless fate or demonstrators intervene, Pennsylvania once again will indulge in a pastime now banned in 49 states: shooting live, trap-released pigeons.

According to and other sources, the typical pigeon shoot destroys thousands of birds. The pigeons are collected weeks ahead of time, usually through a broker who raises or receives captured birds, and are weak from malnourishment by the time they flutter into rifle range.

Shooters send their teenaged children out to collect the dead and dying birds. The kids finish off survivors by stomping on them or wringing their necks. The bodies are thrown into the trash.

At some shoots, such as the Philadelphia Gun Club's Bensalem event held next to the Delaware River, wounded pigeons fall into nearby bodies of water and drown. At others, dying birds are found days later in yards and parking lots.

Understandably, these private gun clubs prefer not to publicize the date or location of a planned shoot lest it draw too much bad publicity and protestors ruin the fun. (The Daily Bird had to search high and low before finding the location of the upcoming Oct. 3 event.) In January, a man who was videotaping a Bensalem shoot was tackled by one of the shooters, a lawyer named Sean M. Corr, who later paid a fine of $187.

The most famous pigeon shoot in the United States, the Hegins, Pa., Labor Day event held every year from 1934 to 1998, was shut down after years of public outcry. Sometimes, protesters are able to stop a shoot at the last minute. But blasting away at canned birds apparently continues apace in Pennsylvania - and other states on the sly - with the NRA's blessing.

For the most part, mainstream print media has covered pigeon shoots with the seriousness the problem deserves. It's too bad the "Animal Files" story filed last night by CNN was not the hard-hitting expose that animal-protection groups like SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) had hoped for. Instead it was oddly perky and dismissive-cute, even as wounded birds were shown flopping on the ground. Would CNN cover a dog or cock fight with the same lightheartedness?

The Pennsylvania legislature has tried repeatedly to outlaw pigeon shoots only to have bills die in committee, usually amid allegations that a congressman has been influenced by campaign contributions from the NRA. According to SHARK, current Pennsylvania state law already clearly makes the practice illegal; as Section 5511 regarding cruelty to animals, reads: "A person commits an offense if he wantonly or cruelly ill treats, overloads, beats (or) otherwise abuses any animal or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care." Also illegal is to "shoot, maim or kill any homing pigeon either while on flight or at rest".

Shoot fans steadfastly defend their pastime as harmless fun. As the Pennsylvania NRA explains on its Web site, "For over one hundred years, shoots have been held in Pennsylvania by law-abiding, ethical shooting enthusiasts, hunters, and sportsmen who would not tolerate an activity that would constitute cruelty to animals."

We get it, we really do. Some "animals" don't count. It's not like you're shooting puppies in a barrel - now that would be unsportsmanlike! Who cares about pigeons anyway? They're just sub-sentient winged rats that carry disease. Besides, dominion over animals is your God-given right. Giving the kiddos a piece of the action teaches them who's at the top of the food chain.

Keep telling yourselves that, guys. Keep wearing those patriotic t-shirts proclaiming your town is still a place where "flags and feathers fly".

Just know that when others watch your despicable hobby, the only vermin we see are the morons holding the guns.

To object to this weekend's pigeon shoot in Lykens, Pa., send the Erdmans Sportsmens Club an e-mail at, or call (717) 365-0960. Better yet, grab a friend and show up en masse to peacefully protest. Get the News At 7 choppers circling.

You can also e-mail Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell's office or call (717) 787-2500.

WARNING: the following video shows animal suffering.

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