Birds & Words #9

Eggs get stolen, sparrows drown, river terns are damned, and more.

Egg collection may be causing seabird decline
Seabird numbers on an island in the Indian Ocean have plummeted from 20,000 to less than a thousand in half a century. The most likely reason appears to be an illicit trade in eggs carried out by fisherfolk. The island was notified as a protected area in 2002 to save its nesting seabirds but a lack of regulation has defeated its purpose.

Fooling penguins into adopting a new home
To save the endangered African penguins, scientists want to give them a new home where there’s plenty of food around. But relocating comes with its challenges. Scientists are overcoming these with the help of penguin decoys, playbacks and a fence to secure the perimeter of their prospective breeding ground.

Bird tears don’t go to waste
This month’s featured video is of a moth drinking the eye secretions of an Amazonian antbird. The bird is unfazed by this. How so? The moth catches it in the right moment – at night when the bird is resting or asleep. And by perching on its back, the moth also escapes detection.

Inside the world of Helmeted Hornbills – and their trade
In this multimedia feature, a photographer and a wildlife crime reporter dive into the trade in casques of the critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill. A very moving piece.

Return of the river terns
Inspiring story about a researcher’s commitment to save the vanishing river terns of Cambodia. The terns face innumerable threats, including dams, but with the determination of a few individuals on the ground and with some outside help, they might just bounce back.

The first bird to potentially go extinct from rising sea levels
Saltmarsh sparrows nest in marsh grass between the highest spring tides. With rising sea levels though, the tides often drown their nests and newly-hatched chicks. The outlook is grim but there’s a glimmer of hope that the birds will find new marsh habitats as current ones prove to be unproductive.

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[Representative image is of a Humboldt penguin (not an African penguin mentioned here.)]