July 21st, 2011
Peregrine Falcon, known as the Peregrine, is a common bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, adults are blue-gray above, with barred underparts and a dark head with thick sideburns. Peregrine Falcon is often stated to be the fastest animal on the planet in its hunting dive.
Peregrine Falcons catch medium-sized birds in the air with swift, spectacular dives, called stoops. In cities they are masterful at catching pigeons. Elsewhere they feed especially on shorebirds and ducks.
The Peregrine Falcon became an endangered species because of the use of organochlorine pesticides, especially DDT, during the 1950s to 70s. Pesticide biomagnification caused organochlorine to build up in the falcons’ fat tissues, reducing the amount of calcium in their eggshells. With thinner shells, fewer falcon eggs survived to hatching. In several parts of the world, such as the eastern United States and Belgium, this species became extirpated (locally extinct) as a result.
You can find Peregrine Falcons perching or nesting on skyscrapers, water towers, cliffs, power pylons, and other tall structures.
July 19th, 2011
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has added the St. Vincent Amazon or the St. Vincent Parrot as being vulnerable in its list of endangered species. Included in the Appendix I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES, this beautiful West Indian parrot has been facing the threat of extinction since the recognition of its vulnerable status in 1970.
The remote valleys of the St. Vincent in the St. Vincent and Grenadines are home to one of the rarest species of birds on the plant, the Amazona guildingii or the Amazon Parrot. It is a beautiful multicolored parrot found only in the eastern and the western ridges of the St. Vincent. Only 40 cm long, it is mostly green with a blue green head. The upper body is greenish-bronze colored and the wings are violet bluish green. Adults can be distinguished from the young ones in having reddish iris as compared to brown in the young ones. This little bird is noisy and can be heard making a number of calls. The species is found at an altitude of 125-1,00o meters. The parrot feeds on a a number of different seeds, flowers and fruits.
The St. Vincent Amazon is considered vulnerable due to ongoing illegal pet trade where these birds are caught and smuggled into North America and Europe as pets. The exclusivity of the parrot to the St. Vincent is a major concern since the population is found only in a small geographical area and, thus, is more susceptible to habitat loss. This manifested itself in the 1980s when they suffered from the two major natural disasters in St. Vincent, a hurricane preceded by volcanic eruption.
The parrot suffered a serious decline in its population in the early 20th century, right up to the year 1980. Hunting the bird for food and illegal pet trade were the major causes of the rapid loss of these beautiful parrots. With the onset of the deforestation to clear land for banana plantations as well as for charcoal production, it was classified as being endangered by the IUCN. However, steps taken by the St. Vincent government resulted in the increase in population from around 370-470 individuals in 1982 to an estimated 734 in 2004.These steps involved preserving the habitat and raising the public awareness about the endangered status of these birds.
Reference: Illustrated Encyclopedia of endangered animals.