Global bird news: 14 August 2009

tring-specimens1Natural history museum at Tring robbed

The Bucks Herald

The Natural History Museum at Tring has been targeted by thieves who have stolen a number of bird ‘skins’ from the ornithological collections. They were found to be missing following a break-in on Wednesday June 24. The specimens stolen comprise a number of brightly-coloured tropical birds, some of which are uncommon in collections and, therefore, of special scientific concern. The Museum is working with the police and the Wildlife Crime Unit on the matter. Professor Richard Lane, Director of Science at the Natural History Museum, commented ‘The birds that were stolen formed part of the nation’s natural history collection, painstakingly assembled over the last 350 years. [more here]

masked-boobyExtinct booby rediscovered in laboratory

The Hindu News

London (IANS): A seabird thought to have been driven to extinction by hungry European sailors in the late 18th century has been rediscovered, in the laboratory. It turns out the ‘extinct’ species is actually a sub-species of a bird very much alive. Tammy Steeves, Marie Hale and Richard Holdaway are part of a team of scientists from across New Zealand and Australia who have used an innovative approach to resolve the taxonomic status of the “extinct” Tasman booby (Sula tasmani). It is the first study of its kind to report the rediscovery of an extinct bird using classical paleontological data combined with ancient and modern DNA data. [more here]

superb-fairy-wrenClimate change might be shrinking Australia’s birds


MELBOURNE – Australian birds have shrunk over the past century because of global warming, scientists have found. Using museum specimens, researchers measured the size of eight bird species and discovered they were getting smaller in an apparent response to climate change. Australian National University (ANU) biologist Janet Gardner said modern birds were up to four percent smaller than their forebears, a discrepancy she said was statistically significant. “Birds, like other animals, tend to be smaller in warmer climates, because smaller bodies lose heat more quickly than larger bodies,” she said. “As a result, individuals of the same species tend to be larger near the poles and smaller near the equator.” She said the study showed that modern birds in Sydney had shrunk to the same size as those previously found in sub-tropical Brisbane, some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) north and seven degrees of latitude closer to the equator. [more here]

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