Bird protection: kakapo, southern takahe and migratory birds

Eighteen takahē – large, flightless birds were released in the Lake Whakatipu Waimāori valley on New Zealand’s South Island. They haven’t been seen there for about 100 years. This is an excellent success in efforts to restore one of the rarest creatures in the world. These birds were officially declared extinct in 1898. They were rediscovered 50 years later, and now their number is approximately 500 individuals. Takahē evolved in an environment without native land mammals and adapted to fill niches in the ecosystem mammals occupy. They are about 50 cm tall and have lived in the New Zealand mountains since at least the Pleistocene era.

A multi-year effort in New Zealand has brought flightless kākāpō parrots (Strigops habroptila) from the brink of extinction to a population of 252 individuals. It was possible thanks to collecting DNA samples from 169 live birds and previously collected preparations. Scientists from the University of Otago looked at the genetic diversity of the entire species. They identified specific DNA sequences associated with traits that may influence the animals’ survival, such as the growth of chicks and disease susceptibility.

Artificial light at night disorients migratory birds and causes the death of millions of birds each year. Thanks to weather radars, American scientists predict bird migrations and introduce “Lights Out” programs. These include cities and states where unnecessary lights are turned off during peak bird migration. Illuminated skyscrapers and communication towers pose a particular threat.

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