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Native Birds in and around Albany - Australian Pelican

The Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is a large waterbird of the family Pelecanidae, widespread on the inland and coastal waters of Australia. It is a predominantly white bird with black wings and a pink bill. It has been recorded as having the longest bill of any living bird. It mainly eats fish, but will also consume birds and scavenges for scraps if the opportunity arrises.

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The Australian pelican was first described by Dutch naturalist Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1824. Its specific epithet is derived from the Latin verb conspicere, meaning 'to behold', and refers to the 'spectacled' appearance created by its conspicuous eye markings. Australian pelicans feed by plunge-diving while swimming on the surface of the water. They work in groups to drive fish to shallower water, where they stick their sensitive bills in to snatch their prey. Some feeding grounds in large bodies of water have included up to 1,900 individual birds. They will sometimes also forage solitarily. Their predominant prey is fish and they commonly feed on introduced species such as goldfishEuropean carp and European perch. When possible, they also eat native fish, with a seeming preference for the perch Leiopotherapon unicolor. However, the Australian pelican seems to be less of a piscivore and more catholic in taste than other pelicans. It regularly feeds on insects and many aquatic crustaceans, especially the common yabby and the shrimps in the Macrobrachium genus. This pelican also takes other birds with some frequency, such as silver gullsAustralian white ibisand grey teal, including eggs, nestlings, fledglings and adults, which they may kill by pinning them underwater and drowning them.

The Australian pelican begins breeding at two or three years of age. The breeding season varies, occurring in winter in tropical areas (north of 26°S) and spring in parts of southern Australia. Breeding may occur any time after rainfall in inland areas. The nest is a shallow depression in earth or sand, sometimes with some grass lining.

Breeding Australian pelicans will lay one to four (typically two) chalky-white eggs measuring 93 mm × 57 mm (3.7 in × 2.2 in), which often appear scratched and dirty.[10] The eggs are incubated for 32 to 35 days. The chicks are naked when they hatch, though quickly grow grey down feathers. After they hatch, the larger one will be fed more, and the smaller one will eventually die of starvation or siblicide. For the first two weeks the chicks will be fed regurgitated liquid, but for the remaining two months they will be fed fish and some invertebrates. Feeding pods are formed within colonies when the chicks are around 25 days. The young pelicans fledge at around three months of age.

At Emu Point you can see them waiting for scraps as the fishermen come in with thier catch and fillet the fish in the special station for them.

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Still here: Night Parrot rediscovery in WA raises questions for mining

A group of four birdwatchers from Broome has photographed Australia's most mysterious bird, the night parrot, in Western Australia.

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The photo that confirms the Night Parrot’s existence in Western Australia. Bruce Greatwitch, Author provided
Robert Davis, Edith Cowan University

The Night Parrot is unquestionably one of Australia’s most enigmatic, elusive and enthralling species. The final frontier of Australian ornithology, this cryptic parrot eluded dedicated expeditions to find it for nearly half a century.

Last week, a momentous chapter in the Night Parrot story was written, with the first photograph of a live Night Parrot in Western Australia. The photos come in the wake of several other recent sightings, including the parrot’s rediscovery in Queensland in 2013.

Despite media reports, the parrot has never been officially listed as extinct, with sporadic evidence of its existence throughout the 20th century.

But now we know for sure that the parrots are alive and found across the continent, we can move on to making sure they remain so in the future.

Mystery bird

We know that Night Parrots favour spinifex or tussock grasslands, often close to inland wetland systems. But the areas of potential habitat are vast throughout inland Australia.

The Night Parrot has been listed as endangered in the Action Plan for Australian Birds since 1992. It is listed as endangered under federal legislation.

It has never been listed as “presumed extinct” or “extinct”. Reliable ongoing reports and the well-known cryptic nature of the species meant that the ornithological community considered it likely to have survived, albeit incredibly hard to spot.

The Night Parrot has been known to exist in WA since at least 2005, when a colleague and I clinched the first peer-accepted sighting in recent Australian history during an environmental impact assessment for the Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) Cloudbreak mine.

Fortescue Marshes, where the Night Parrot was first seen again in WA in 2005. Robert Davis

This was by no means the first sighting of Night Parrots in WA, with regular and reliable reports since at least the 1980s. But until 2005 none had provided sufficient detail to eliminate other possibilities. Further sightings have been monitored at another location in the arid zone since 2009 and that work is pending publication.

The significance of the latest find is immense. A dedicated team of birdwatchers (Adrian Boyle, Bruce Greatwich, Nigel Jackett and George Swann) has confirmed the existence of a population in WA. The discovery, resulting from a well-planned expedition, is the start of a real dialogue about Night Parrot conservation in WA.

The latest record cements the fact that Night Parrots are present at several locations in WA and potentially throughout arid Australia, including in regions rich in mineral resources.

In contrast to the Queensland populations, which have so far been found in national parks and pastoral leases, the WA situation sets up a quandary for how to manage development, Night Parrots and mining.

Mining and conservation

Our 2005 sighting was important because, given the parrot’s endangered status, FMG was required to provide offsets for potential disturbance to Night Parrot habitat. The offsets included avoiding areas of likely habitat on the Fortescue Marshes, and funding follow-up surveys throughout the areas surrounding the proposed mine. These unfortunately did not find further evidence of Night Parrots.

Research offsets from FMG also funded the writing of a national research plan for Night Parrots. This was later followed by on-ground research on Night Parrots at Pullen Pullen Reserve in Queensland, the population found by naturalist John Young in 2013.

Recent developments by other WA resource companies have seldom considered Night Parrots. My personal experience is that surveys usually look for endangered mammals such as Northern Quolls and Bilbies, but rarely search properly for Night Parrots. This is likely due to two main reasons.

The first is the incredibly cryptic nature of the Night Parrot. Clearly the species has evaded detection for so long because it is difficult to find.

The second is what I term “the Thylacine factor”. The only equivalent species in Australia that has the same degree of scepticism and mythology is the Thylacine.

Thylacines have (so far) not been rediscovered. But developers, consultants and regulators take the same attitude to Night Parrot sightings. The parrots are often seen as a mythical animal that doesn’t exist. The idea of looking for them is met with mirth.

Finding the parrots

Recent findings from research by Steve Murphy in Queensland, and other recent work in WA, are slowly providing us with the tools to overcome both of these issues. With better knowledge of their specific habitat requirements, including a need for long-unburned grasslands close to water sources, we can reduce the daunting challenge of Night Parrots potentially existing anywhere that spinifex is found.

Fire is one of the threats facing the Night Parrot. Robert Davis

The recent release of calls from the Queensland population and a new recording of calls from the WA population provide the most powerful tool yet for doing surveys. Playing back the calls can be used to elicit a response from any Night Parrots in the area. The call can also be used to identify calls from deployed remote recording devices.

As more populations are discovered and more evidence becomes available, this will help convince the public and decision-makers that the parrots are (hopefully) found across a wide range and need careful management, despite the difficulty of observing them.

The ConversationLet’s hope government bodies will strongly enforce the requirement to search for Night Parrots in all areas of potential habitat within their known current and historic range. This should ensure that we don’t lose any parrots before they are even found.

Robert Davis, Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Biology, Edith Cowan University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Bee battles: why our native pollinators are losing the war

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Bumble bee. Photo credit: dnydick, CC BY-NC
Kelsey K Graham, Tufts University

As global commerce grows, the movement of goods is occurring at ever-faster rates. And with increased global trade comes the spread of non-native species. This includes invasive insects that are making life difficult for domestic bees.

Non-native species get introduced both intentionally and accidentally. However they migrate, though, their spread can lead to devastating results. Non-native species can dramatically reshape their invaded habitats and disrupt the interactions between native species.

After direct habitat loss, invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity. Biodiversity is crucial to a healthy ecosystem, providing us services such as food, the natural resources that sustain our current lifestyle, and the building blocks of medicines.

Invasive species come in all forms – plants, animals and microbes – but all share common traits: they are non-native, they are increasing in prevalence, and they negatively affect native species.

Native bees in North America are declining drastically. Habitat loss is the number one reason for bee decline, with pesticide use, invasive species, and climate change also playing a major role. With the growth of cities and farms, habitat suitable for our native bees shrinks. And with competition and habitat degradation from invasive species, suitable habitat becomes even less.

We depend on native bees, like our humble bumble bees (Bombus spp.), to pollinate native flowers and crops. Bumble bees pollinate tomatoes, peppers, blueberries and many more of our favorite food items. Honey bees, which are widely used in agriculture and are suffering from colony collapse disorder, are a non-native species, and can’t replace the pollination services provided by native bees such as bumble bees.

But one invasive species in particular is threatening the livelihood of bumble bees.

New bee on the block

The European wool-carder bee was first discovered in North America in 1963 near Ithaca, New York, and since then, its impact has been felt from coast to coast. Wool-carder bees get their name from the nest building behavior of the female bees. Females collect plant hairs, called trichomes, by cutting them with their mandibles. The up-and-down motion they use during trichome collection to cut the hair-like fibers and ball them up is reminiscent of carding wool.

My research has shown that carding behavior induces chemical changes in the plant similar to what occurs when insects eat plants. These chemical changes signal other wool-carder bees, attracting them to the plant, which causes further damage.

In addition to damaging plants, female wool-carder bees compete with our native bees for flowers. Bees depend on nectar and pollen from flowers for food, and increased competition from invasive species raises concerns over the future of our native bees.

But the behavior of male wool-carder bees appears even more sinister. Males aggressively defend flower patches in order to attract mates. Males use evolved weapons on the base of their abdomen to attack any interloper who isn’t a potential mate, often causing severe injury or even death to the attacked bee. By decreasing competition for flowers, the male wool-carder bee hopes to entice more female wool-carder bees to visit his patch, thus increasing his chances of mating.

Male wool-carder bee. Photo credit: Ilona L

Of all our native bees, bumble bees (Bombus spp.) receive the brunt of attacks from male wool-carder bees. Therefore, my research focuses on the impact of these attacks on bumble bee well-being. My preliminary research shows that bumble bees avoid foraging for nectar and pollen in areas with wool-carder bees - likely to avoid attack. Because they stay away from areas defended by wool-carder bees, the number of flowers available to bumble bees decreases.

As bumble bees are already facing a shortage of flowers due to habitat loss, this additional restriction on flower availability is causing serious concern about the sustainability of local bumble bee populations. Because the population of wool-carder bees is growing, my current research is trying to determine the extent of the negative impact they are having on our precious native pollinators.

Native pollinators, such as bumble bees, cannot easily be replaced by other species. This is because our native bees perform a special form of pollination, buzz pollination, where they use a unique vibration pattern to shake loose pollen from flowers. Many of our native crops, such as tomatoes and blueberries, need buzz pollination for efficient pollen transfer. So for the health and well-being of our native plants, we must care for our native bees.

So what can we do?

There are a number of pollinator-friendly actions each of us can take.

  1. Plant native wildflowers – Ornamental non-native plants are often easy choices for the garden, but they promote the spread of invasive species such as the wool-carder bee, and often go unvisited by our native bees. So while you may think you are helping the bees by planting flowers, make sure that you are planting flowers that our native bees will actually visit. Native wildflowers help mitigate the effects of urbanization on our native bees by increasing the availability of food in an otherwise challenging urban environment.

  2. Opt for a more natural yard – Treating our yards with herbicides and cutting the grass very short can lead to a perfectly manicured lawn, but at what cost? Lawns with no flowers are food deserts to our bees. Allowing wildflowers such as clover to blossom in your yard provides much-needed resources for our native bees. If you absolutely can’t give up the manicured look of your lawn, opt for a wildflower garden at the perimeter of the yard instead. The bees will thank you!

  3. Buy organic – Pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, have devastating effects on bees, and are linked to the decline of both bumble bees and other bee species worldwide. Lessen your pesticide footprint by buying organic produce when you can.


    The ConversationTo read more about bees and pollinators, see:

Kelsey K Graham, PhD Candidate in Behavioral Ecology, Tufts University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Go native: why we need ‘wildlife allotments’ to bring species back to the ‘burbs

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Native plants don’t need much space really. Simon Pawley/Sustainable Outdoors, Author provided
Lizzy Lowe and Margaret Stanley

As urban populations around the globe skyrocket and the demand for housing grows, space is increasingly at a premium in cities. Unfortunately, despite some notable efforts to include green space in cities, native wildlife is not often a priority for urban planners, despite research showing the benefits it brings to both people and ecosystems.

It may seem that bringing biodiversity back into cities would require large areas of land set aside for habitat restoration. But it is possible to use relatively small spaces such as transport corridors, verges and the edges of sporting grounds. Think of it as “land sharing” rather than “land sparing”“.

The idea of transforming public areas in cities into green space is not a new one. Allotment vegetable gardens, which have long been a staple of British suburban life, are enjoying a revival, as are community gardens in Australia.

These gardens are obviously great for sustainable food production and community engagement. But we think similar efforts should be directed towards creating green spaces filled with native vegetation, so that local wildlife might thrive too.

Benefits for biodiversity

Cities can be hostile environments for wildlife, and although some rare species are still present in some cities, the destruction of habitats and growth of built-up areas has led to many localised extinctions. Often, species are left clinging on in particular reserves or habitat remnants. "Green corridors” through the built environment can link these habitat fragments together and help stop urban species from being marooned in small patches – and this is where native gardens can help.

Cities are often built in fertile areas on coasts, and because of their fertility are often home to large numbers of species, which means that planting native vegetation in public spaces can potentially help a wide range of different species.

A study in Melbourne found that native vegetation in urban green space is essential for conservation of native pollinators, as introduced plants only benefit introduced bees. But with the right habitat, even small mammals such as bandicoots can survive in urban areas.

Benefits for people

Native green space in cities can also be used to educate communities about their wildlife. Community gardens can be a very effective way to bring people together and create a sense of identity and cohesion within a community.

Native landscaping in playgrounds. Simon Pawley, Sustainable Outdoors

Many people in cities have little or no contact with nature, and this “extinction of experience” can make them feel apathetic about conservation. Green space lets city dwellers connect with nature, and if these spaces contain native rather than introduced plants, they have the added benefit of familiarising people with their native flora, creating a stronger sense of cultural identity.

Where to share

There are many places in urban areas that can be tinkered with to encourage native species, with little or no disruption to their intended use. Picture the typical Australian park, for example: large expanses of grass and some isolated gum trees. Biodiverse systems are more complex, featuring tall trees, smaller ones, shrubs, herbs and grasses, which together create diverse habitat for a range of species. So by building native garden beds around single trees, at the park’s edges, or within designated areas (even among playgrounds!), we can gain complex layers of habitats for our native animals without losing too much picnic space.

We think of verges as places to park our cars or wheelie bins, but these grass borders are another underused area where we could plant native gardens. This not only improves the aesthetics of the streetscape but also reduces water use and the need to mow.

Verge gardens. Simon Pawley, Sustainable Outdoors

Australia is a sporting nation and our sports grounds are cherished features of the urban landscape, yet there are plenty of opportunities here for native vegetation. The average golf course, for instance, only uses two-thirds of its area for actual golf (unless you’re a very bad shot). The out-of-bounds areas nestled between the fairways offer plenty of space for native biodiversity. Likewise, the boundaries of sporting ovals are ideal locations for native vegetation borders.

Even infrastructure corridors such as train lines, electricity corridors, and the edges of highways have the potential to contribute to the functioning of local ecosystems.

Making it happen

As the existence of community gardens and Landcare groups shows, there is already a drive within local communities to make these ideas a reality. In fact, some groups of “guerrilla gardeners” are so passionate about urban greening that they dedicate their own time and resources towards creating green public space, often without permission.

But urban gardening doesn’t need to be illegal. Many councils in Australia have policies that encourage the planting of native plants in private gardens, with some even offering rebates for native landscaping projects.

The ConversationUltimately we need to both share and spare urban landscapes. By conserving habitat fragments and planting native gardens to connect these patches, we can bring native plants and animals back into our cities.

Lizzy Lowe, Postdoctoral fellow and Margaret Stanley, Senior Lecturer in Ecology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

K-9 Spots Abandoned Puppies While On The Job And Does The Sweetest Thing

This K-9 provided just what the puppies needed after being dumped.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

The K-9s that aid law enforcement on a daily basis are truly amazing animals, as they show both extreme professionalism while also being very compassionate while working. These incredibly intelligent dogs typically have a keen sense of each situation and how to handle it, and that was exactly what Tek the German Shepherd did when he and his human partner, Trooper Jordan Ennis, came across some abandoned puppies.

It was a regular Monday workday for the pair when they decided to head out to a known dumping ground for stolen cars to see if they could locate any cars or catch someone in the act. They never expected to come across an adorable trio of puppies waiting for them.

“[Ennis] was driving in an abandoned subdivision when he saw three puppies that had been dumped in a briar patch,” the Georgia Department of Public Safety said in a post on Facebook.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Ennis pulled over and immediately knew that these puppies had been dumped there. Their sad faces said it all, as they likely watched what they thought was their human drive away without them, never to see their mother again. Luckily, the puppies were all old enough to live on their own, and Ennis decided to bring them to Headquarters.

As he loaded them up, Tek moved aside for the newcomers and even stayed with each one as they were individually loaded. He provided some comfort to the babies, who just as easily could have found their end in that horrible dumping ground. On their ride to Headquarters, the puppies turned to him for support and he assured them that everything would be all right by remaining confident and relaxed on the drive.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Not surprisingly, as soon as the puppies were brought in, they found homes. In the Facebook post, they said,

“[Ennis] and his K-9, Tek, brought the puppies to Headquarters where they were all promptly adopted. A Trooper never knows what he may encounter on a shift, but a day with puppies is a good day.”

Though, of course, it isn’t actually a “good day” when any animal is abandoned. It’s good because everyone got to interact with the puppies and they all found forever homes, where they will never be abandoned again. The person who dumped the puppies has yet to be found.

Sadly, these instances of abandonment happen all too often, but this can serve as a reminder that it is just as easy to leave unwanted animals in front of a shelter if you don’t feel you have the time to properly surrender them, rather than just leaving them where they may never be found. The extra effort can go a long way.

Read More: http://www.trueactivist.com/k-9-spots-abandoned-puppies-while-on-the-job-and-does-the-sweetest-thing/    

At HideAway Haven we believe all life is precious and we are committed to the welfare, rescue and rehabilitation of all animals.

Get Rid Of Weeds Without Hurting The Planet

If you're looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go

Image Source:  Garden Answers

Image Source: Garden Answers

It’s been said that weeds are just plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered, but if you’re tired of waiting to find out what those virtues are, you might want to use one of these homemade herbicides instead of the chemical versions.

Pesticides – including weed killers, fungicides, insecticides, and rodenticides – can be highly toxic to birds, both by directly poisoning them and by altering the ecosystem they depend on for survival.  Avoid large-scale spraying of any chemicals in your yard, even those considered organic or nontoxic. Birds’ respiratory systems are far more sensitive than ours, and they can easily be harmed by fumes.

Many common weeds can be either food, medicine, or unwanted visitors to the garden, depending on the varieties and how you view them. But if you’ve eaten all of them you can, and you still need to get rid of weeds in your yard, it’s far better for you, your soil, and your local waterways to choose a more environmentally friendly herbicide than those commonly found in the home and garden centre.

Strong chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can end up polluting our drinking water, our groundwater, and surface water, so it’s important to consider the longer term effects of using them, and to instead make the choice to use a gentler herbicide, which won’t contribute to the larger issue of water contamination.

The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds is to pull them up, dig out the roots, let them dry in the sun, and then add them to a compost or mulch pile. However, that method can also take quite a bit of time, so if you’re looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go.

[N.B.: Just because these are ‘natural’ or homemade herbicides, that doesn’t imply that they couldn’t harm your soil, your garden, or your person. An herbicide is a “substance that is toxic to plants,” which means that your garden plants are just as susceptible to these treatments, they could have a negative effect in the soil if applied in large quantities, and they may cause human injuries if misused.]

Drench with boiling dihydrogen monoxide: (that’s a fancy way of saying water)

This homemade herbicide is by far the simplest to prepare, and unless you happen to spill boiling water on yourself, is also the least harmful to both people and the environment. Simply bring a big pot of dihydrogen monoxide ( to boil on your stove, and then pour it over the leaves and stems of the weeds you wish to get rid of. Using boiling water is an effective method for killing weeds in places such as sidewalk or driveway cracks, or over a larger area that you’d like to replant after the weeds are gone, as it doesn’t leave any residue or have any harmful long-term effects. As with all of these homemade herbicides, it’s still important to only apply it to the plants you wish to get rid of, as they can easily also kill your flowers or vegetable plants.

Light ’em up with fire:

The application of direct heat to the foliage of weeds will cause the plants to immediately wilt, and repeated applications will kill any leaves that may resprout from the roots. A flame-weeder tool is available from home and garden stores, which allows you to apply flame and heat directly to the weeds without catching the whole neighborhood on fire. In fire-prone areas, weeding with flame needs to be done with some extra precautions, as dried weeds and grasses can easily catch fire and get away from you.

Douse with sodium chloride: (common table salt)

Sodium chloride,  is an effective herbicide, and has some historical notoriety for possibly being used to lay waste to the soils of conquered peoples (salting the fields prevents plants from growing there). Because salt can have a detrimental effect in the soil, it’s important to only apply it directly to the leaves of the weeds, and to not soak the soil, especially in garden beds with other, more desirable, plants. Dissolve 1 part salt in 8 parts hot water (it can be made stronger, up to 1 part salt to 3 parts water), add a small amount of liquid dish soap (to help it adhere to the leaf surfaces), and pour into a spray bottle. To apply, cover or tie back any nearby plants you don’t want to kill, then spray the leaves of the weeds with the solution. Be careful to not soak the soil, and keep this mixture away from cement sidewalks or driveways (it may discolor them). Multiple applications may be necessary.

Pickle ’em with vinegar:

OK, so it’s not exactly pickling, but by applying this common household item, white vinegar, to weed leaves, they’ll die off and make room in your yard for more desirable plants. The white vinegar sold in grocery stores is about 5% acetic acid, which is usually strong enough for most weeds, although a more industrial strength version (up to 20% acetic acid, which can be harmful to skin, eyes, or lungs) is available in many garden supply stores. The vinegar can be applied by spraying full strength onto the leaves of the weeds, being careful to minimize any overspray on garden plants and nearby soil. Repeated applications may be necessary, and the addition of a little liquid dish detergent may improve the effectiveness of this homemade herbicide.

Season them like chips:

Another common homemade herbicide recipe calls for combining table salt or rock salt with white vinegar (1 cup salt to 1 gallon vinegar), and then spraying this mixture on the foliage of weed plants. Adding liquid soap is said to help the efficacy of this weedkiller, as is the addition of certain oils, such as citrus or clove oil.

Harness up the 20 mule team:

Borax, which is sold as a laundry and cleaning product in many grocery stores, might not actually get transported by a 20 mule team anymore, but it could help lend a hand in the yard as an herbicide. Add 10 ounces of powdered borax to 2.5 gallons of water, mix thoroughly, and use a sprayer to coat the leaves of unwanted weeds in your yard. Keep overspray off of any plants you want to keep, avoid saturating the soil with the solution, and avoid contact with bare skin.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below and share this news.

This article (Six Homemade Herbicides: Get Rid Of Weeds Without Hurting The Planet) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and Treehugger.

 

Why you shouldn't feed bread to ducks or birds

Feeding bread to ducks and other birds is actually a nightmare for everyone.

We’ve all done it: gathered up our stale bread, walked to our nearby park that has a pond, and thrown pieces of bread to ducks that follow us around there. If you haven’t done this, then kudos to you, but for most people this was a childhood pastime that they then grew to teach their kids as well.

Though it may seem like a win-win situation because humans can get rid of their old bread and ducks can indulge in a snack, it turns out that it’s bad for humans, ducks, fish, and the park when bread is thrown into the water.

It should come as no surprise that bread has little to no nutritional value to it for humans and therefore ducks are even less equipped to process such processed foods. While humans are used to these types of carbohydrates making their way into our diets, a duck’s digestive system is not. S0 feeding bread to ducks can not only fill them with unhealthy carbs but also make them ill.

Something that some people might understand but not exactly worry about is the ducks’ reliance on human-sourced food, which usually tends to be the bread but can also be chips, popcorn, crackers, and other snacks that humans might have on them. Needless to say, these other snacks are even worse than bread, but the dependence on human food in general is the over-arching problem. Since the ducks rely on human food, which is often plentiful because of the many visitors to neighborhood parks, they don’t attempt to hunt for their own food, which actually has nutritional value and is sustenance that the ducks need.

In the wild, ducks typically eat small fish and their eggs, snails, worms, grass, algae, frogs, seeds, fruits, nuts, and other types of food found outside. When they stop attempting to scavenge for their own healthy food, the problem of only eating bread becomes even more monumental.

Credit: Wabby Twaxx/Flickr

Credit: Wabby Twaxx/Flickr

Environmentally, the problem of bread in the water is also a total nightmare. Any bread that goes uneaten can rot in the water, making the fish in the pond sick and causing the nasty-smelling algae that often surfaces around the edges of the pond.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Instead, here are some other food suggestions to bring to the park with you if you find that you must feed the ducks: halved seedless grapes, any type of bird seed mix, cut up earthworms, cooked rice, oats, corn, chopped lettuce, and many other healthy choices.

Please be conscientious when feeding ducks and other animals in the future. Just as you wouldn’t want your pets to consume the wrong foods for the entirety of their life, you shouldn’t inflict the same on ducks.

Credit: Crafty Morning

Credit: Crafty Morning

Would you take this advice into consideration next time you think about feeding ducks? Please share, like, and comment on this article!

Street Artist Uses Amazing Murals To Highlight Collapse Of Bee Colonies

The death of bees can be a warning that something is wrong with our agricultural practices.  We need bees to pollinate plants so that we can produce food for consumption and with less bees, or even worse no bees, we seriously risk our food production systems.

Bees are dying and colonies collapsing and many believe that the finger of blame points at the toxicity of pesticides and the way that we use them.

Everyone can do their part to help salvage what's left of the bee populations. 

Credit: Louis Masai Michel

Credit: Louis Masai Michel

Bees are dying rapidly and it’s mostly because of human activities: these are the sad facts about the collapse of bee populations worldwide. It’s a truth that many people have either not paid any attention to or one that people know about but have yet to realize how significantly their lives would be impacted if all of the bees were to suddenly die off.

Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith

Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith

While few people around the world continue to help bees in any way they can, such as through creating safe homes for solitary bees or by designating public land for prairies for bees, many more are engaging in activities everyday that harm bees.

The main factors that contribute to the rapidly decreasing number of bees are the use of pesticides, major habitat loss, and climate change. All of these are caused by humans, but there are still ways to help that might seem minor but can make a major difference for bees. One such way is to raise awareness about the plight of their populations, which is exactly what street artist Louis Masai Michel from London is doing through the beautiful murals he creates.

Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith

Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith

In a campaign he has simply dubbed #SaveTheBees, Michel has taken to the streets to create photorealistic murals of bees that sometimes include brief messages to bring attention to the issue. What started as a campaign in London, sometimes in collaboration with fellow artist Jim Vision, quickly evolved into a project that has taken Michel to other parts of England and even stretched into Italy, the U.S., and Croatia.

Michel uses the simple premise that no bees means no food, which means no humans. Bees help pollinate over 70 of the top 100 food crops that humans produce for consumption and they are responsible for 80% of the world’s pollination. To say that without bees food supply would suffer immensely is an understatement. It is absolutely imperative that humans take action to save bee populations and these murals are a compassionate and beautiful way of focusing on the issue. View the photos below to see more murals from Michel and Vision.

What are your thoughts on these murals? Please share, like, and comment on this article!

 

Birds at HideAway Haven - Red-eared firetail

The Red-eared Firetail is a mainly brown bird with fine black barring (called vermiculations), but punctuated with splashes of colour: a bright-red bill, ear-spot and rump, and a striking black-and-white belly. It also has a bright-red ear-spot, rump and beak, as well as a black-and-white spotted belly.  It is a very pretty bird.

Red-eared Firetail at HideAway Haven

Red-eared Firetails are endemic to the south-western corner of Western Australia.

They generally forage on the ground, among grasses or in shrubs, where they eat seeds. They very occasionally also eat small insects, which are pecked from the leaves of plants. They forage singly or in small flocks, and occasionally in congregations comprising dozens of birds; they very occasionally feed in the company of other seed-eating species, especially parrots.  

At HideAway Haven we often see them in the feeder with the parrots sharing the seeds.

Red-eared Firetails have been described as “the most solitary of the Australian grass finches” and they generally remain sedentary as mated pairs within a small territory of only 100-200 metres.

We are proud of the environment we have created at HideAway Haven with bird-attracting trees, shrubs, and other plants.