Parrot Fossil Discovered in Siberia Recently

Parrot Fossil

Parrot FossilParrot Fossil of a bird usually associated with the warmer climates was discovered recently in Siberia. Siberia, a place where only hardy wildlife such as brown bears, lynx and deer will survive is the source of this unique finding.

For the first time ever a parrot fossil has been found in Siberia and has now led to rethink about whether the tropical birds were once prevalent in Eurasia (this is the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia).

A single parrot leg was found on an island in the Baikal lake by researchers working for the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow. Experts believe it was a part of a small bird who lived between 16 – 18 million years ago. This is the furthest north a parrot fossil has ever been found.

This discovery adds more weight to the speculations that the ancient ancestors of the modern day parrots we know could have migrated from Asia to North America, across the Beringia land bridge which once joined up the two continents.

Today there are 400 species of parrots living across the globe in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Some parrots can be even found in not so warmer climates, such as parts of New Zealand and South America.

Parrot Fossil Study

The study which led to the discovery of the parrot fossil was led by Dr Nikita Zeleny and published in the prestigious journal  Biology Letters. Dr Zeleny said:

The presence of parrots as far north as Siberia supports their broad geographical distribution in Asia during Miocene and may have implications for the historical biogeography of Psittacidae.

A dispersal of parrots via Beringia during the late Early Miocene is not completely unexpected. Today hummingbirds, which are also mostly tropical in their distribution, reach as far north as Alaska and during the warmest phase of the Miocene a more northern distribution of parrots in Asia was likely possible.

Lake Baikal is a large lake in Siberia, north of the border with Russia and Mongolia and it is believed to be the deepest lake anywhere in the world. The lake is part of the popular Great Baikal Trail hiking route.

Parrot species threat by legal and illegal trade in Southern Africa

Parrot Species Threat

Parrot Species ThreatParrot Species Threat in Southern Africa.
As a result of the legal animal trade Southern African parrot species are under threat. This excludes poaching threat. There were around 18,000 protected species of wild plant and animal worth $340 million sold legally between 2005 and 2014.

At the top of the export list were live parrots. In 2005 the wild bird trade was at 50,000, and by 2014 it increased to over 300,000.

With 18 native parrot species in the SADC region, half have declining populations and three are globally threatened. The main exported species of parrot is the African Grey. This species is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. The African Grey is a popular pet in the US, Europe, and Western Asia. Due to the increase in legal parrot trade the African Grey population is decreasing.

The director of the Africa conservation programme at the World Parrot Trust, Rowan Martin, finds the level of trade in wild-sourced grey parrots extremely worrying.

With the exportation of captive-bred birds increasing at an alarming rate it further stimulates the demand for pet grey parrots. Uninformed buyers thus purchase wild-caught parrots, because they are cheaper.

Furthermore the export of wild-caught parrots is being executed under the veil of captive-bred parrots.

Beak & Feather virus breakthrough

Beak & Feather

Beak & FeatherPsittacine Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD) is a virus threatening the survival of rare Australian parrot species, including the western ground and orange-bellied parrots. These species have fewer than 50 birds remaining in the wild.

The disease, which can lead to starvation and death as feathers moult and beaks soften is one of the main threats to wild and occasionally captive kept parrots.

Last week a team for researchers led by Charles Sturt University revealed the molecular makeup of the deadly disease in the Nature Communications journal. The team has been working on finding a solution for this illness since 2009. SCU Professor in Veterinary Pathobiology Shane Raidal said the finding is a significant step towards finding new approaches to restore  threatened parrot populations.

“By confirming how the viral structure forms, we can begin to develop a vaccine to interrupt these processes, ” he said.

Barry Baker, Chair of the national Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team said, the virus has undoubtedly contributed to the Tasmanian species’ dwindling numbers.

“There was an outbreak a couple of years ago in the wild and we’re aware that some of the chicks had been affected by it and that certainly drove a lot of action to get on top of it”, he told AAP.

“A vaccine is a critical step that will make transferring brid from captivity to the wild a lot easier that it currently is.”

Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD)

The virus causing this disease is a member of the Circoviridae. The disease is thought to be specific to birds, with parrots known to be particularly susceptible to PBFD. The virus is most commonly seen in Cockatoos, Macaws, African Grey Parrots, Ringneck parakeets, Eclectus Parrots and Lovebirds, but it is not limited to these species only.

The transmission of the virus from one individual to another is mainly through direct contact, inhalation or ingestion of aerosols, crop-feeding, infected fecal material and feather dust. It can also be transmitted via contaminated surfaces such as bird carriers, utensils, feeding dishes, clothing and nesting materials.

The main symptoms of the virus are irreversible loss of feathers and softening of the beak. In most cases the outcome is fatal to the bird and leads to premature death by the secondary fungal infections.

Prevention

Strict isolation of all diseased birds to halt the spread of the disease. DNA testing of all birds of susceptible species to rule out latent infection. DNA testing of aviary equipment and environment to test for possible contamination.

At present there is no know treatment for the virus.

Source: http://www.avianbiotech.com/

 

Cockatiel – Profile & Care Guide

Cockatiel

Common name: Cockatiel
Latin name: Nymphicus hollandicus
Length: 29-33 cm (11-12.9 in)
Weight: 80-100g (2.8-3.5 oz)
Life Span: 15 to 20 years
Origin: Australia
Noise Level: Moderate. Males usually sing to attract a mate or at the beginning and end of the day, while females chirp to get the attention of their owner or mate.

Cockatiel       Cockatiel       Cockatiel
Cockatiels – Browse our selection of Food, Toys, Cages & Accessories suitable for this species by clicking HERE

INTELLIGENCE

These tiny crested birds have charmed the hearts of humans worldwide based solely on their level of intelligence. Cockatiels are extremely intelligent and very social. They are curious and playful in nature, enjoying interaction with their human “flock”. They are master communicators using their crest to express surprise, interest, or anger. When properly stimulated, they are relatively easy to care for and make wonderful companions. Cockatiels that are constantly ignored can also become cage bound, lonely or depressed. While bored birds can start plucking out their own feathers, a depressed one can even starve itself to death. As bird owners ourselves we cannot stress how important socialisation and attentiveness is for your Cockatiel. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep your Cockatiel entertained and to fill their cage with variety of mind teasing toys. Furthermore, well – trained Cockatiels become extremely devoted to their human counterparts, and are even disciplined enough to enjoy riding around on your shoulder for most of the day. They are very fascinated by shiny objects such as earrings and various pieces of jewellery. They are also intelligent enough to remove these without your notice, so ladies watch out!

TALKING ABILITY

Cockatiels have a moderate talking ability with a 25-word vocabulary which is said to be the average. Most males can learn to say a few human words quite effectively such as ‘hello’ or ‘pretty bird’. Once they have completely learnt these words you will most likely find them attempting to join your conversations. These parrots will imitate household noises such as the hum of a microwave, telephone ringing or a dog’s bark. Males are known for being more vocal than female cockatiels, whose chirping is softer. Although the sound of a cockatiel talking is more unclear and muffled when compared to the sound of larger parrots like an African Grey, it’s still incredibly entertaining to hear. The fact that these birds are extremely intelligent and are master imitators means they can eventually be taught various phrases, as well as songs. Check out this little guy for instance whistling the Darth Vader them song from Star Wars:

This little guy is even more impressive singing the theme song to The Adams Family, Darth Vader, and even saying ‘what you doing’:

FEATHER PLUCKING

Feather plucking is a very common complex problem indicating either a physical or psychological problem with your Cockatiel. The causes of feather plucking can be due to disease, allergies, skin toxins, dietary requirements, or parasites. Some plucking is even due to a behavioural response. Observation is key when dealing with a feather plucker. You should bathe your feathery friend frequently to minimise any bacteria or irritants. Avoid giving them any attention for plucking, and that includes distracting them to avoid plucking. Rather commend your Cockatiel when they are playing quietly or when they are resting peacefully. Due to their intelligence, cockatiels need mental stimulation from you and from their environment, so make sure your birds have an assortment of toys to keep them playing. A mirror or two wouldn’t hurt either.  There are also a variety of skin soothing products and supplements you can invest in to make sure you cross out any skin related causes of feather plucking.

HOUSING FOR YOUR COCKATIEL

  • The cage that you purchase must be as large as possible.
  • As a rule of thumb, the cage size should be a minimum of 24″ x 18″ x 24″.
  • The bar spacing is very important and it should be more than ½” to 5/8” (1.3 – 1.6 cm).
  • Ideally locate it in a quiet corner away from busy or noisy parts of the house. From there they can see people coming and going but aren’t surrounded by activity and noise, as cockatiels are afraid of loud noises.
  • Cockatiel cages with horizontal bars on the sides are nice because these little birds love to climb.
  • Locate it out of direct sunlight and draughts.
  • Variety of toys should be available for your playful cockatiel. They enjoy a variety of toys such as seed treats, swings, ladders, bells, and mirrors. Tree branches and wooden chews provide excellent exercise and keep the beak trim. Bright shiny plastic toys are for parakeets, not cockatiels! Never give them rubber toys!
  • They should be allowed out of cage on daily basis, so they can play around and stretch their wings.

FEEDING YOUR COCKATIEL

  • A commercial cockatiel seed mix is generally regarded as suitable along with a good vitamin supplement.
  • Pelleted diets will also provide a fairly balanced feed, however it does not contain the phytonutrients (antioxidant pigments) that are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds, so should be supplemented.
  • You can supplement your cockatiel’s diet with green foods such as dandelion leaves, weeds, carrot tops, celery, watercress, spinach, peas, seedling grasses, and millet.
  • Various fruits will also be enjoyed such as apples, oranges, bananas and others.
  • Cuttlebones are recommended to help provide calcium and to help keep the beak trim.
  • Proteins can be offered in the form of mynah pellets, game bird starter, dog food, and even mashed hard-boiled eggs.
  • Grit should not be provided. Although it was previously thought that grit was needed by cockatiels, it has been found that they do not need grit and can actually cause problems if given to cockatiels. Parrots that eat seed whole without shelling it first require grit, but cockatiels shell their seed before eating it, so don’t need grit.
  • Fresh clean water should be available at all times. You can also add soluble vitamins and minerals to the water.
  • Food and water dishes should be washed daily.

Summary

Most handfed Cockatiels have a very sweet, even temperament, and will exhibit a rather curious and inquisitive nature. They can bond closely with their owners and can be extremely affectionate. Small, intelligent, and easy to care for, Cockatiels have graced the homes of bird lovers for many years.

Their engaging personalities and high trainability have put them near the top of the list of the most popular pet bird species.

When cared for properly, Cockatiels can be affectionate and fascinating pets. They are a wonderful species for inexperienced bird owners because of their natural friendly dispositions and curious playfulness. Their dispositions are sweet and convey emotions with their crest.

Of all the parakeets Cockatiels experience the most bird dander or dust. This is indicative of a healthy bird and the ‘powder’ makes their feathers silky-smooth.

These birds are particularly frightful and may have night frights which may cause potential injury. Providing your Cockatiel with a night light is a great mechanism to let them know what’s happening in their surrounds. Remember, like any parakeet – treat your cockatiel like a child, alas a very intelligent child!

CITES upgrades African Grey Parrots to Appendix I

African Grey Parrots

African Grey Parrots’ status was upgraded to “Appendix I”.

African Grey Parrots FeedingIn a meeting held in Johannesburg in September 2016, the U.N.s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has banned the global trade in wild African Grey Parrots. The species is highly prized as pet for its ability to imitate human speech all over the worlds. The legal and illegal trade of African Grey Parrots has led to a decline of almost 90% in population over the last two decades. The decisions to place the species in “Appendix I” was taken on the first ever secret ballot of CITES members, during the two-week long convention. This decision is non-binding for the domestic markets of birds as CITES only regulates international trade in wild flora and fauna.

Inclusion in “Appendix I” is in the best interests of the conservation of the species as it faces both habitat loss and rampant illegal and unsustainable trade for the international pet trade, said vice president and head of the Wildlife Conservation Society delegation Susan Lieberman.

African Greys, usually bred in captivity and sold as pets were first listed on “Appendix II” in 1981, which includes species which trade must be limited.

Loss of habitat, poor regulation of trade and increased trafficking for the pet industry are the main reasons for the decline of these magnificent birds.

Breeding and trading of African Grey Parrots in captivity could continue under the guidelines of the convention, which regulates trade in more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

Image source: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/