Scientists have found that pigeons recognise ‘friendly faces’ who are much more likely to feed them and gravitate towards them…instead of wasting time on the people who are likely to just chase them away!
Up to 28 million pigeons live in Europe, with the majority in urban areas surrounded by humans who provide the majority of their food. In an experiment, the birds quickly learnt to differentiate between a ‘friendly’ feeder and an ‘agressive’ one who would chase the birds away, even when they swapped coats! This implies the pigeons are using distinctive human characteristics to tell the people apart.
Posts Tagged ‘neighbourhood’
You wouldn’t want to bump into one when you’re barefoot in the garden…but these prickly little critters are facing a population crisis. Recent research suggests numbers are down as much as 25% in the last 10 years. It’s thought the increase in farming and forgotten hedgerows mean they are more isolated than ever before. But a new scheme hopes to help them…Hedgehog Street! Find out how you can your garden can become a haven for hedgehogs with some simple changes
Photo : Andrew Milligan/PA
There are often problems where wildlife and humans’ paths cross…so Slovakian conservationists are going to great lengths to learn how we can live together. The bear population there has thrived but this also means they’re wandering out of their normal forest life and instead raiding people’s bins for food! But these brown bears who have lost the natural fear of humans are providing useful information. Scientists capture bears mid-raid, tranquilise them then fit them with a GPS collar to track their every move. The bears aren’t harmed and the batteries last for four years, giving the scientists invaluable information on what attracts them to the cities in the first place.
The RSPB are encouraging people to help their local wildlife…by providing mud! After such a hot and dry Spring so far, some birds are finding it hard to build their nests without the necessary mud. Swallows and martins use mud to build delicate nests and without the sticky mud, the nests are liable to dry out and fall from the wall, often with the chicks inside.
To help, the RSPB suggest putting mud in a shallow container such as a bin lid or creating muddy patches at the edges of ponds or borders.
Apologies for the bad pun…but the British Waterways association are asking people to head down to their nearest waterway to see if they can spot any wildlife. As the wildlife’s habitats are increasingly shrunk to make way for other developments, canals are proving to be a ‘corridor’ for animals to use between the landscape. They are particularly useful for the country’s 17 species of bat as the bridges provide the perfect dark hunting ground at night.
Phil Chandler is determined to help save the declining populations of bees in the country. His book, The Barefoot Beekeeper, shows how we need to return to the basics of how bees used to live; inside hollowed out trees and not wooden hives with wax sheets. He claims the pesticides regularly used by beekeepers to kill mites might actually be damaging in the long run as mites evolve to be more resistant.
This spring the National Trust are running Battle of the Birdsong!
Listen to their beautiful songs then vote for your favourite on their website. Maybe you’ll go for the swift’s chorus that epitomises Summer, the incredible 100 or so phrases of the song thrush…or maybe, like me, you’re currently enjoying the return of the blackbird and its lyrical outbursts at dawn and dusk.
Britain could be under a raccoon invasion as abandoned pets are dumped in the countryside. Legislation changed in 2007 so people no longer need a licence to keep them as pets. But when inexperienced owners can’t cope with the change in temperament when they reach sexual maturity, they panic and release them into the wild. Experts are warning of a similar population explosion to the non-native grey squirrel…now one of the most ubiquitous critters in the UK!
There’s a lot to be worried about, in 1934 a pair of raccoons were released in Germany to ‘enrich local fauna’ and for sport…now there are an estimated 500,000 – 1 million raccoons and a decrease in bird numbers as the bandits raid their nests for eggs.
It’s a bit grey and overcast over here…so I’m staying in and keeping an eye on a beautiful mallard duck as she keeps her 14 eggs warm! She’s built a nest in the Wildlife Whisperer’s headquarters under a little wooden bridge and they’ve put in a live webcam so you can keep track on her progress. Their breeding season is from early March to late April, so she’s in the earliest phase of the season when it’s still quite cold. She will incubate them for around 28 days for them to hatch then 50-60 days for them to fledge. The chicks can swim and feed themselves as soon as they hatch, but they stay with their mother for warmth and protection.
Keep up to date with the mallard at the Wildlife Whisperer’s site…and have a look at their other webcams, there’s a rather fluffy bluetit that comes to roost every night as well as some cheeky fat mice.
Now is a brilliant time of year to spot fluttering moths, including the precisely named ‘March Moth’. When I spoke to Ray Mears the other month, he said butterflies and moths are some of the easiest kinds of wildlife to start studying. Despite their reputation, not all moths are grey and boring…like the beautiful delicate Broad-Borded Bee Hawk moth above! As they’re drawn out by the moonlight, the best chance to catch them is by a full moon.