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September 29, 2010
David Attenborough discovers rare bird

September 24, 2010
Stowaway owl burrows onto cruise

A burrowing owl determined to go on a luxury vacation moved into a mini-golf course on a cruise ship about to set sail from Port Everglades, Fla.

A worker with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission needed 30 minutes and a butterfly net to remove the little guy.

September 23, 2010
Afghan eagle finally bound for U.S.

A happy ending is in sight for a steppe eagle wounded on a firing range in Afghanistan last summer.

U.S. soldiers had been lobbying for months to win approval to have 'Mitch' brought to Berkshire Bird Paradise in Petersburg, N.Y., for rehabilitation, saying the injured bird would die otherwise. Now Mitch's paperwork is done and he will be arriving in the U.S. in early October.

Mitch's wing was shattered in June by an Afghan soldier taking pot shots and the bird was rescued and cared for by Navy SEALs. Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer smoothed the way for Mitch's immigration.

(Photo by

September 22, 2010
Parrot "busted" for tipping off drug runners

This we now know: Some parrots are exemplary citizens. Others, sadly, live a life of crime.

The latest example of good avian citizenry is Jack, a sun conure who apparently bit one or more burglars who broke into Hobday's Pet Shop in Coventry, England.

The shop's owner and police praised Jack as a good guard bird, saying he probably prevented a bigger loss in stolen animals. The agitated bird was screaming and had blood and bits of cloth in his beak when the owner discovered the break-in. Police expect to find the thieves based on DNA.

On the wrong side of the law is Lorenzo, the drug-running Amazon. Colombian police who "arrested" Lorenzo claimed he acted as a lookout for a drug cartel, exclaiming, "Run! Run!" when cops were nearby. Lorenzo was handed over to animal authorities in Barranquilla, described as a staging area for drugs being smuggled into the U.S.

Colombian officials say over one thousand trained "lookout" birds have been confiscated from criminals.

September 21, 2010
Chickens borrow beauty queen secret

Did you ever wonder why some chickens are so, well, shiny? Us neither. But now that we know the answer it's hard not to think of the moist smiles of Miss Universes down through the ages: it's Vaseline. Also vegetable oil and methylated spirits.

Brian Tiyce, an Australian who breeds show roosters, really knows how to buff his birds out to a high gloss. For extra-shiny feathers, he rubs the chickens with a silk cloth that's been soaked in metho and allowed to dry.

To add luster to the legs, the veteran exhibitor applies a bit of petroleum jelly. Finally, to deepen the redness of the comb, a drop of oil or vinegar. Then Tiyce's roosters are ready to strut their stuff.

If only looking good were this easy for the rest of us.

September 20, 2010
Why Dawn reigns as bird cleaner

Every time there is a major oil spill you can be fairly certain of two things: there will be oil-covered birds, and they'll be cleaned with Dawn, the dishwashing liquid. The Proctor & Gamble product has practically become synonymous with bird rescue.

But why dishwashing liquid, and why Dawn?

It's a long story, according to a recent Chicago Tribune article, but one worth telling now that other companies are squawking to get their detergents used on oiled birds.

Dawn has been the choice of the nation's bird rescue organizations for going on 30 years because it works better than anything else, says Jay Holcomb, executive director of the International Bird Rescue and Research Center. According to the article, Dawn's superiority has been borne out repeatedly in the field and in independent tests of more than 200 products conducted by the Tri-State Bird Rescue in Delaware.

According to Holcomb, at first the IBRRC had to beg Procter & Gamble to donate Dawn because the company feared it would be accused of capitalizing on tragedy. Now, P&G is one of the IBRRC's biggest contributors of both detergent and cash, and crows about its role in saving oil-slicked wildlife. Apparently the accolades are well-deserved.

(Photo: Still from 2010 Dawn commercial.)

September 16, 2010
Barf reveals chill Jersey birds

Warning: the following might cause loss of appetite.

Bird barf has become a reliable way for scientists to determine the health of flocks - and the environment in general - in various parts of the country. For instance, researchers at the University of Virginia say birds that live in New Jersey are healthier and happier than New York Harbor birds. They know this because city birds consume more mercury-laced fish and have weaker feathers.

And just how is the upchuck collected? Hold on to your cookies: glossy ibis and double-crested cormorant chicks vomit as a defense mechanism. Scientists visit the nests, bag the barf and whisk it back to the lab to study fish consumed and contaminants. Fault bars - thin patches - in collected feathers corroborate the poor diets suggested by the barf studies, say the scientists.

Excuse us while we press a cold washcloth to our brow. (Photo: Charles Clarkson analyzing regurgitation, courtesy of University of Virginia.)

September 15, 2010
9/11 Memorial traps birds

It's an eerie sight in the night skies: birds circling giant beams of light like disembodied souls.

Lost souls might be a more accurate description, says the Audubon Society. Every Sept. 11, birds become confused and endlessly circle the Tribute of Light, a memorial light show staged by New York's Municipal Art Society. When the memorial coincides with a heavy fall migration as it did last Saturday night, up to 10,000 birds can become trapped and deplete precious reserves needed to complete their journeys, say Audubon officials.

The MAS responded this year by shutting off the lights for 20 minutes at a time, allowing disoriented birds to fly away. The MAS plans another light tribute next Sept. 11, the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and after that hopes to make the Tribute of Light a permanent memorial.

What a terrible idea. As some have already noted, it's foolish for a city to spend millions of dollars a year on a light display when the money could be used for more practical purposes, such as building a permanent memorial at Ground Zero. The light show seems especially ill advised considering it needlessly hurts wildlife.

What do you think? Let the MAS hear from you at

September 14, 2010
Big Foot of woodpeckers in "new" photos

The ivory-billed woodpecker was - perhaps still is - an extraordinary American bird. Every few years one is sighted, but most ornithologists believe that the biggest woodpecker in the United States is extinct.

That's why photos of the ivory-billed are more precious than ever. Especially rare are photos of fledglings.

The September 2010 issue of features newly found black-and-white pictures of a young ivory-billed taken in 1938 by ornithologist James Tanner.

On a field expedition to find evidence of the bird, Tanner discovered a nest 55 feet off the ground and accidentally flushed a fledgling. The 72-year-old photos show a young woodpecker the size of a duck clamboring over Tanner's guide after falling out of the hole. The pictures were found last year in Tanner's home by writer Stephen Bales, whose book Ghost Birds is being published this month.

September 13, 2010
Lost parrot? Site broadcasts worldwide alert

A lost pet can be traumatic for all concerned. The newly launched offers bird owners the hope of finding and reclaiming missing pet parrots quickly using an international alert system.

When a bird is lost, owners can notify the site and it will alert all registered users who live in the immediate area the bird was last seen. Registration is free and requires only an e-mail address and zip code.

September 10, 2010
Birds go for a song

If you had to sing a snippet of a bird-themed song right now, could you do it?

It's not easy coming up with something off the top of your head, is it? Here's one: how about "Free Bird"?

That's what people got - a free cockatiel, a free parakeet or a free finch - when they showed up recently at a Minneapolis-area animal shelter and sang or whistled a bird-related song. Bird calls were accepted, too.

The reason for the big bird giveaway? The shelters had just received over 234 cockatiels and budgies from one pet owner and 20 finches from another.

For a list of bird-related songs, check out's Popular Songs About Birds. You never know - it just might come in handy. (Photo courtesy of i Hanna's Blog).

September 9, 2010
Get on board parrot lovers' cruise

Take a big boat, experts who can talk about birds, and exciting bird destinations, and what have you got? A Caribbean cruise for parrot lovers.

The World Parrot Trust's 2010 Parrot Cruise: Southern Caribbean, is set to sail Nov. 7 from San Juan, Puerto Rico. There will be six ports of call, including three shore excursions especially for bird brains: the Vivaldi Aviary in Puerto Rico; Amazon and conure nesting sites on the island of Bonaire; and Dominica's Morne Diablotin National Park, home of a rare Amazon parrot called the sisserou. In between stops, parrot trainer Steve Martin and naturalist Steve Milpacher will be on board to talk about parrot conservation.

Princess will donate a portion of the cruise to The World Parrot Trust, which is a non-profit specializing in saving rare and endangered parrots.

So if you've always wanted to try a cruise, here's your big chance to see some cool parrots and help a worthy bird group while you're sightseeing. Bird voyage.

September 8, 2010
Job opening: assistant parahawker

Check this out. Because this is possibly the coolest bird job in the world. To qualify you must be 1) comfortable handling large birds and 2) willing to relocate to Nepal., an adventure tour group, seeks a raptor wrangler for its two Egyptian vultures.

What is parahawking, you might ask (guess "paravulturing" doesn't really cut it). It's basically tandem paragliding with raptors. The pilot blows a whistle to cue the raptor, the rider offers meat on an outstretched gloved hand, and a trained vulture lands and plucks the tidbit in mid-air. Falconry and paragliding all rolled into one.

Back to the job: you'll have to feed and care for the vultures and give daily one-hour educational talks to customers. Parahawking flights run from November to March; the rest of the year raptors are molting or in training. Easy, right?

Parahawking donates a portion of each customer's fee to the Himalayan Raptor Rescue, which is where these guys get their vultures to train. So a good deal all around.

Let us know if you get the job because we'll be soooo jealous.

September 7, 2010
The Top 10 best pet birds for kids

September 2, 2010
Polly wanna witness protection program

Dominican Today reports that an Amazon parrot has been "arrested" and placed in protective police custody as a possible witness to a murder in Santiago. Relatives of the victim claim the bird is repeating the names of suspects. Police say they're questioning people but deny they're getting tips from the bird. In the meantime, the parrot has changed its name from Ricardo to Michael Smith and rented an apartment in Miami where it will start a new life.

Got a bird news item or photo for The Daily Bird? E-mail us.

September 1, 2010
Parrot poachers bird-napping Quakers?

Somebody is trying to steal the wild monk parakeets of Brooklyn. For what purpose nobody is quite sure, but residents have spied two men with nets and long poles skulking at night around the birds' huge nests built at the top of light posts. It's against park rules to trap animals, but then Quakers are invasive species not protected by state law - though BrooklynParrots' Steve Baldwin is trying to change that, according to BoroPolitics.

Got a bird news item or photo for The Daily Bird? E-mail us.

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  Can birds get carsick?
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  It's a bird! It's a plane! Flying with a parrot
  Converting your bird to a water bottle
  Yes, parrots love meat - and that's okay!
  Neutering isn't an option for parrots
  Can your baby get sick from the bird?
  Tail bobbing? Get your bird to the vet!
  Birds blush but not from embarrassment
  Harness training your bird
  Height dominance is a myth
  Is it healthy to share a room with a bird?
  Enrichment: the more mirrors the better

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