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Each week we will be featuring amazing news stories from all corners of the British Isles and around the world about birds in the news. To read the full news story just click on the title of that article.

22nd April

BBC News              Wading birds' tastes in Hebridean machair revealed

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-32397019

Northern_LapwingWading birds' preferences for the grassland types that make up Hebridean coastal meadows have been revealed in a new report. The Scottish Natural Heritage-commissioned study suggests different species favour different areas of the meadows known as machair.

Lapwings, oystercatchers and ringed plovers tended to be concentrated in the more fertile grassland.

Oystercatchers avoided tall vegetation, while redshanks favoured it.

Ringed plovers and oystercatchers were also found to prefer areas of farming activity, but redshanks and snipes tended to avoid those areas.

 

KToo News               Migrating birds may carry viral baggage

http://www.ktoo.org/2015/04/21/migrating-birds-may-carry-viral-baggage/

USGSflywaysRight now, a lethal strain of bird flu is wreaking havoc across the Southern United States and parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It’s clear that migrating flocks have something to do with spreading the illness between farms and across continents — but exactly what is still fuzzy.

A remote spot in Southwest Alaska may hold some clues. The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is pretty far off the road system. Izembek provides wonderful staging habitat for large numbers of migratory birds both from Eurasia and North America,” says Andy Ramey, a geneticist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “So there’s potential for viruses to mix and be spread among birds at that location.”

Over four years, the researchers collected almost 3,000 swabs and fecal samples. None of them contained deadly flu but Izembek did show an exact match for a harmless strain of bird flu that’s only been found in China and South Korea. After some genetic tests, Ramey says, “what we found was these viruses were sort of hybrids that when mixed with local bird viruses appear to have created the deadly bird flu virus that is killing tens of thousands of birds across Asia and the USA.

Results of further bird flu tests from this region in Alaska will appear on the website over the coming weeks.

Each week there are hundreds of amazing stories about birds. If you read or hear about a story that we have not featured then please e-mail us immediately.