Our world of nature

Our world of nature

Goodbye Charlie, good flamingo friends, good riddance pesticides…

Sad news for Sam: In August Sam Neill lost a close mate: his duck, Charlie Pickering. Instagram followers of the Kiwi actor will know of the beautiful bird who, in Sam’s words, was “an affectionate friendly little creature”. It has been reported that Charlie’s friends on the Neill farm are coping with his loss in their own ways. Angelica the kunekune pig, Michael Fassbender the rooster and Helena Bonham Carter the cow appear to be getting on with life.

Pesticide ‘cure’ worse than the disease. A recent Salon article highlights the scourge that pesticide use has visited on bird populations in the United States. A sudden drop in bee populations over the last decade was discovered to be the result of neonicotinoid use, a class of insecticides toxic to insects. Now a new study has shown that as this toxin moves up the food chain it’s killing birds too. The report states, “In counties where neonicotinoid use declined, bird populations actually increased.” There’s still hope.

Five flamingos a’frolicking. More interesting research has emerged recently – this time on the social bonds formed by flamingos. Over a five-year study scientists discovered that, despite their appearance in large flocks, the birds actually formed strong bonds with other individual birds and at times groups of three or four. They also established that individual flamingos avoided others (they apparently wouldn’t stick their neck out for them, perhaps?) These findings are important for birds in captivity, particularly when it comes to breaking up relationships with relocations.

Hello darkness, my old friend… A new study out of Norway shows that changing the colour of one blade on a turbine from white to black results in a significant drop in bird deaths, with 70% fewer in the (admittedly small) trial. While it’s far from conclusive these early results could show the value in extending the trial across further sites internationally. We wonder if New Zealand will take part in it?

Service Dogs