World Bird News June 2007

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2007 |  World Bird News June 2007

Dam raises global concerns over future of Fairy Pitta


The future of Fairy Pitta -among Asia’s most beautiful and enigmatic birds- is threatened by the construction of a dam that would flood 422 hectares of its forest habitat resulting in the destruction of a large part of the most important breeding area in the region.

The Hushan Dam Project, proposed for Taiwan’s Yunlin County, is the latest in a series of threats to the Huben-Hushan area which is listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International on account of Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha and five species found only on Taiwan Island.

150 Fairy Pitta are known to breed in the Huben-Hushan IBA during summer months, making it a site of international importance for the long term survival of this globally threatened species. Fairy Pitta is listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife on account of recent global declines owing mainly to extensive deforestation in its breeding range across other parts of China and Japan.

“It is a fact that the forests within the Huben-Hushan IBA, where the dam has been planned, support the largest known breeding population of Fairy Pitta anywhere in the world,” said Dr Mike Rands, Chief Executive of BirdLife International. “This makes the protection of this habitat a global issue, about which we express great concern.”

The IBA also provides habitat for other important species including the Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis and Swinhoe’s Pheasant Lophura swinhoii – both endemic to the island.The Huben-Hushan IBA has faced previous threats, most significantly from gravel extraction, an issue which WBFT, BirdLife International and local environmentalists successfully campaigned against, and halted, in 2000. The organisations at the time applauded the hard-line stance of the Taiwanese authorities on the issue.

BirdLife and WBFT join others locally in continuing to appeal that suitable alternatives to the Hushan Dam are sought. In a letter earlier this month to the Taiwanese authorities Dr Peter Schei, chairperson of BirdLife’s Council, asked that they: “respond positively to this appeal and consider alternatives to the current project in order to avoid the destruction of an area of habitat so critical to a species with such a threatened and fragile future.”
For further information on the Hushan Dam and advice on what you can do to help: visit

Putting the SPA into Spain: European Court calls for action


The European Court of Justice today found Spain guilty of breaching European nature conservation law. According to the Court, Spain failed to designate sufficient Special Protection Areas (SPAs) as required by the EU Birds Directive in seven of its regions, namely Andalusia, the Balearics, Canaries, Castilla-La-Mancha, Catalonia, Galicia and Valencia.

Spain, like other EU countries, has shown commitment to implementing the EU’s nature legislation and to work towards the EU-wide target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. But as the Court ruling shows, more needs to be done. Several bird species, like the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni (60% of the European population resides in Spain) or the Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata which only exists on the Canary Islands in the EU, are under severe threat from human activities and are reliant on protection under European law in order to ensure their survival.

The EU Birds Directive declares that each Member State has to designate the most appropriate areas for the protection of birds based on biological criteria. BirdLife International’s inventory of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) provides a reference list for this, as confirmed once more by the European Court today. In the case of Spain, IBAs cover 31.5% of the country’s territory, while so far only 18% has been designated as SPA under the Birds Directive. Therefore the European Court has ruled today that Spain has to close this gap and designate the remaining sites.
Alejandro Sánchez, Director of SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain), warned that: “Many unique sites still need to be designated and enlarged. Only then can we ensure the protection of rare and threatened species such as Spanish Imperial Eagle and steppe birds like Dupont’s Lark.”

Clairie Papazoglou, Head of the European Division at BirdLife International in Brussels, welcomed the decision of the Court stating that: “We are pleased that our list of Important Bird Areas for Spain has been validated once again by the European Court. BirdLife International recognises that Spain has already taken important steps to protect its unique natural heritage, but more needs to be done, as this Court ruling clearly shows.”

Yesterday the Commission stepped up its actions against infringements of bird protection laws by taking Germany, Austria and Poland to the European Court and by sending first warning letters to eight countries of the new EU Member States. Cyprus also received a first warning letter by the Commission for breaching the hunting provisions in the Birds Directive as it allowed spring hunting on the Turtle Dove last May. Click here for the full story.

Investment in albatross conservation crucial in tackling new trawling threats


An estimated 100,000 albatrosses die annually in the longline fishing industry, but recent research has highlighted that large numbers of albatrosses are also dying in trawl fisheries. In one recent study, 12,000 albatrosses are estimated to have died in the South African trawl fishery in one year.

As new threats for albatrosses emerge -heightening their risk of extinction- BirdLife International, in partnership with the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and working with collaborators across the world, are committing to raise £2 million over the next five years, doubling the capacity of its Albatross Task Force programme.

Albatross Task Force members crucially advise fishing crews on the simple and cost-effective ways to avoid catching albatrosses that steal bait from the longline hooks. Measures such as weighting the lines, so they sink more quickly, or attaching streamer (bird-scaring) lines to the stern of the vessels have proved highly effective and have gained international recognition.

In the trawl fisheries, research has shown that albatrosses, and other seabirds, can become entangled and drowned in fishing gear. A vital part of the Albatross Task Force's work is to encourage crews to use effective mitigation measures, such as the bird-scaring lines.
Dr Ben Sullivan, BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme Coordinator said: “The Albatross Task Force members are doing incredible things working with the fishing industry in the Southern Hemisphere – advising and supporting mitigation techniques, raising awareness and ultimately, reducing seabird casualties.”

“But there are so many vessels and so many fisheries that we have yet to tackle, where seabirds are dying right this minute,” he said. “By expanding the programme we will be able to double the number of task force instructors and reach several new countries.”

The expansion of the task force should benefit a number of albatross hotspots, especially those along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of South America.

“To fully make the most of this expansion, continued support for the Save the Albatross campaign is vital,” finished Sullivan.
To find out more about the Save the Albatross campaign: visit

Commission puts its foot down on "failing" EU Member States


The European Commission took a strong stance today by stepping up ongoing infringement proceedings against ten EU Member States for failing to implement the EU Birds Directive.

Together with the Habitats Directive this law forms the cornerstone of EU action to address the decline of biodiversity, which in combination with climate change is seen as the most pressing environmental problem of the 21st century. EU governments have committed to halting the loss of wildlife by 2010, and to implementing its nature legislation.

Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager at BirdLife International in Brussels stated: “We welcome the legal actions announced today, but regret that so many governments need to be forced to turn their nice words into action. We hope the affected Member States will now speed up their efforts to comply with EU legislation. We need healthy and diverse ecosystems to ensure long-term economic development. After all, this is about the wellbeing of Europeans!”

The Commission decided today to take Germany, Austria and Poland to the European Court of Justice because of insufficient designation of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) as required by the Birds Directive. It was also decided to send first warning letters on the same issue to eight more countries that joined the EU in 2004. This means that apart from Estonia, all the new Member States from the 2004 round are in legal trouble on bird protection. Cyprus will receive a first warning letter related to bird hunting.
Izabela Flor, Director of OTOP, (BirdLife in Poland), declared that: “Poland’s joining the EU was not only about reaping the economic benefits of membership as one of Europe’s largest net recipients of funds but also about fulfilling our obligations to respect and implement the EU’s environmental law. Only this can guarantee the survival of the unique but threatened Polish wildlife, such as the Aquatic Warbler, White-tailed Eagle or Great Snipe."

“Our government should avoid being condemned by the European Court and protect the remaining sites immediately,” she added.

Commenting on the decision to take Germany to Court, Olaf Tschimpke, President of NABU (BirdLife in Germany) commented: “It’s a shame and not a good example to other Member States, that twenty-eight years after the unanimous adoption of the Birds Directive some German regions still have not designated sufficient sites. We can only welcome the decision of the Commission to refer this case to the Court.”

Rastislav Rybanic, Director of SOS (BirdLife in Slovakia) was also on high alert: “The site designation process in Slovakia has ground to a halt since last autumn with important nature areas lacking protection. SPAs in Slovakia support important populations of threatened species like Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon or Ferruginous Duck. The halt of the designation process has also meant that farmers and foresters are not able to benefit from EU Rural Development funds in Natura 2000 sites.”

Slovakia received another warning letter from the Commission for unjustified logging in the High Tatras National Park.

In addition to the above actions, the Commission today sent a first warning letter to Cyprus for not complying with the hunting provisions of the Birds Directive. Cyprus breached Community law by allowing spring hunting of Turtle Dove last May. Like Malta, which has already received a warning on this issue, the country risks being taken to European Court if it does not ban spring hunting once and for all.

New Caledonia latest to unveil IBA inventory


Société Calédonienne d’Ornithologie, SCO (BirdLife in New Caledonia) have unveiled their landmark inventory of important habitats for birds and biodiversity in New Caledonia.

Zones importantes pour la conservation des oiseaux de Nouvelle-Calédonie is the result of two and a half years of research, led by SCO’s Jérôme Spaggiari, working alongside other institutions, research institutes and major NGOs involved in biodiversity conservation on the islands.

The colour book offers information on all 32 of the islands’ Important Bird Areas (IBAs), eight of which have specific significance for the presence of colonies of mixed seabirds including boobies, terns, frigatebirds and tropicbirds.

“This book is definitely a great achievement for the SCO and for birds, but also for conservation as a whole in New Caledonia. It will strengthen our capacity to handle major threats to the avifauna but also to sensitise people and particularly local communities,” said Vivien Chartendrault, the new SCO Coordinator.
With the release of the IBA inventory, SCO—supported by the Northern Province, the Packard foundation, the British Birdwatching Fair and Conservation International—are to develop site conservation work at a number of New Caledonia’s IBAs, undertaking practical fieldwork and working with local communities on several IBAs within the New Caledonian lagoons, two forested IBAs of the Grande Terre, and on Ouvéa Island.

Don Stewart, Head of BirdLife's Pacific Division, speaking at the ceremony, applauded the SCO’s achievement: “The SCO must be congratulated as regards an excellent example of how the concentrated efforts of a small, but completely devoted conservation organisation, can greatly influence efforts to save the planet’s most threatened species.”

Research confirms extent of Europe’s disappearing farmland birds

New research has shown that Europe’s farmland birds have declined by almost 50% in the past 25 years – a trend caused by EU-wide agricultural intensification being driven by a policy in need of urgent reform.
The results, released today, bring together the most comprehensive biodiversity indicators of their kind in Europe, collated by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) - a partnership led by scientists from the European Bird Census Council, BirdLife International, the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and Statistics Netherlands.
The data was collected from 20 independent breeding bird surveys across Europe over the last 25 years, all of which were coordinated thanks to the concerted efforts of national programmes involving thousands of dedicated volunteer birdwatchers.
The results confirm the extent to which farmland birds have declined. Across Europe as a whole from 1980 to 2005, common farmland birds have on average fallen in number by 44%–the most severe decline of the bird categories monitored.
“Birds can be vital barometers of environmental change – their declines are clear evidence of the environmental degradation that has occurred across European farmland,” said Dr Richard Gregory, Chairman of the European Bird Census Council, and Head of Monitoring and Indicators at the RSPB. “The data are staring us in the face: many farmland birds -and the species and habitats with which they coexist- are under serious threat.”
Species like Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis, Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra, Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus are familiar names in the long list of declining farmland bird species.
The bird organisations involved in the study are calling for a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a system of European Union subsidies and programmes that has led to considerable agricultural intensification in EU Member States. Although this drive has lessened with successive reforms, the CAP still appears to fail farmland birds and the European environment in general.
“These results show how urgently we need a complete reform of the Common Agriculture Policy, to deliver targeted support for high nature value farming systems and farmed Natura 2000 sites, and to support farmers in delivering environmental improvements throughout the countryside,” said Ariel Brunner, BirdLife’s EU Agriculture Policy Officer, based in Brussels.
Most concerning is the likelihood of rapid farmland bird declines in new EU Member States that hold some of Europe’s largest concentrations of farmland birds. The study indicates that declines in farmland birds in new EU Member States mirror those declines of more established EU Member States. The fear is that EU accession may accelerate and worsen the situation.
“The EU has made encouraging strides forward in environmental legislation, yet for farmland -which accounts for nearly half of the total land surface of Europe- we are working to an outdated policy that still encourages unsustainable intensive farming, while failing to support those extensive farming systems that are vital for biodiversity conservation and rural economies,” said Brunner.Findings from the study also show declines for forest birds: across Europe as a whole from 1980 to 2005, numbers of common forest birds have fallen on average by 9%.
The researchers highlight that the speed with which forest ecosystems react to changes in management are much slower than in farmlands, so this decline may carry a very serious warning. They are now urging for further studies to investigate the driving factors, management regimes in particular.
Forest bird declines have been particularly severe in the boreal forests of Northern Europe, where they are thought to be threatened by highly intensive forestry exploitation.
"We have the data and the knowledge to help farmland and forest birds, but we need urgently to look deeper into the reasons behind these declines – and to design effective policies that will ensure further losses do not occur,” said Dr Gregory.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2007 |  World Bird News June 2007

add this






Today' Best Deals
Lizard Bird Diary

Lizard Bird Diary


Compact Mini Rubber 8 x 21 Kids Binoculars



Rare & Collectible Books at

Valid CSS!