News & Notes

News and Notes is a feature that shares new information on issues involving the biology and conservation of the herons of the world. You are invited to contribute notices by scrolling to the bottom of the page and using the comment function. Please use the format of the previous notes.

Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia
The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia by Michael C Jennings was published in July 2010 as Volume 25 of Fauna of Arabia by the Senckenberg Institute, Frankfurt A.M. and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh. This book includes a summary of the status of herons in Arabia. Orders can be addressed by email to the attention of Ms. Andrea Murdoch (a.murdoch@libri.ch) or by the electronic order form on the Karger Libri website (http://www.libri.ch/App_Web/DE/services/faunaofarabia.aspx#03).

Reddish Egret Conservation
The status of the Reddish Egret has become a matter of concern in North America. Clay Green (claygreen@txstate.edu) has been conducting inventory and banding studies of Reddish Egrets in Texas, Mexico and the Bahamas. Please report marked or banded birds to him. The Reddish Egret Working Group was established in 2005 under the leadership of Stefani Melvin (stefani_melvin@fws.gov). The working group is currently finalizing the Species Recovery Plan for the Reddish Egret.

Reddish Egret Satellite tracking
Clay Green (claygreen@txstate.edu), Texas State University and Bart Ballard (bart.ballard@tamuk.edu), Texas A&M University-Kingsville deployed satellite transmitters on juvenile and adult Reddish Egrets in the Laguna Madre of Texas during the summer of 2010. To date, juvenile birds, fledged from Texas colonies, have dispersed as far east as Panama City, Florida and as far south as Tamaulipas, Mexico. Adult birds with transmitters have migrated to wintering grounds as far south as the Bay of Campeche on the Yucatan peninsula and on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Heron Range Expansion in the United Kingdom
The Little Bittern and Purple Heron are the latest European herons to add the United Kingdom to their nesting range. Purple Heron nesting has been reported in Minsmere in Suffolk in 2007 and Dungeness in Kent in 2010, both on reserves protected by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The Little Bittern nested in 2010 at the RSBP’s Ham Wall Nature Reserve in Somerset, the only previous record was in 1984 in Yorkshire. The Little Egret began nesting in England in 1996 and the Cattle Egret in 2008. Climate change may be one factor in this modern range expansion, but certainly the fact that these recent records are on RSBP reserves cannot be coincidental. RSBP’s continued engagement in conserving the wetlands of the UK should get much of the credit for these expansions and will likely be the most critical factor in the continued status of these species in the UK. Unfortunately the Dungeness site is under threat by development for an airport.

Cory’s Bittern in Paraguay
Rob Clay (rob.clay@birdlife.org) reports on the record of Cory's Bittern in Asunción in April 2010. The bird was photographed and a fuller report is in preparation. The last record for the species in Asunción was 2002. Cory’s Bittern is (likely) a color form of the Least Bittern having dark chestnut undersides. There is a need for an updated review of the status of the Least and Striated bitterns in southern South America.

Status Update on White-bellied Herons
The White-bellied Heron is one of the most critically endangered, known to be nesting on only one area, in Bhutan, threatened with loss from a planned river dam. Tshewang Norbu (tnorb@rspnbhutan.org) reports that in 2010, he monitored three nests. One nest had three chicks, one with two chicks and one with two eggs that did not hatch. Unfortunately all chicks were lost. It is not certain why, but predators are suspected.

Videotaping Heron Foraging
Jeffery Martin (pelicanday@aol.com) is conducting a program to videotape foraging behavior of wading birds. He has excellent and interesting footage on DVD of 17 North American wading birds. He is willing and interested in collaborating with heron specialists in this program.

Kenya Herons Under Severe Threat
Don Turner (mat@wananchi.,com) reports the sole major nesting colony for herons in Kenya, the Garsen heronry in the Lower Tana Delta, is facing destruction due to the area being turned into a giant bio-fuel plant. Although local conservation groups had won a court decision, plans are proceeding anyway and if this development fails, other developments are on the table. Elsewhere, the degradation of Lake Naivasha, historically the principal waterbird site of all Kenya, continues. The lake, a RAMSAR site, is now on the Montreux List of threatened wetlands. Pollution from human activities is so severe that nearly all herons have disappeared from the site and have not nested there for over ten years. Several hundred miles north of Naivasha, Lake Baringo, was once a major breeding site for Goliath Herons. They no longer breed there and the Lake too has been placed on the Montreux List. The critical wetlands at the Ethiopian/Kenya border (Omo Delta, Lake Turkana wetlands) are threatened by the building of a hydroelectric dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia, which will lead not only to destruction of these wetlands but ultimately to the drying of Lake Turkana itself.

Malaysian Waterbird Group Formed
The Malaysian Nature Society has established a Wadingbird Group. One of the first priorities is to conduct a census of heronries in the country. Contact David Bakewell, Chair of MNC BCC Waterbird Group (digdeep1962@yahoo.com).

Cocoi Heron Diet
Adolfo Beltzer (inali@arnet.com.ar) of the Universidad Nacional del Litoral and National Institute of Limnology in Santa Fe, has been directing student in studies of the biology of various herons in Argentina. Maria de la Paz Ducommun (ducommunpaz@yahoo.com.ar) studied the diet of the Cocoi Heron. Marcella Tittarelli (mtita15@hotmail.com) and Carman Saigo studies feeding behavior of Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Black Crowned Night Herons.

Cattle Egret Decreases in Australia
Max Maddock (maxandheather@bigpond.com) reports on the results of his long term censuses of Cattle Egrets at the Seaham colony, part of his long-term Project Egret Watch. The population decreases continue from their 1988-89 baseline. In 2009/10 there was no nesting for the second year in a row. Little Egrets and Intermediate Egrets also continue their decrease. Patterns appear to be similar for New South Wales as a whole. Max is continuing his evaluation of heron populations assessing what data are available from long term data sets.

Second Nesting Site for Cape Verde Purple Heron
Tim Dodman (tim@timdodman.co.uk) reported a second nesting colony site for the Cape Verde Purple Heron was found in 2006 on the island of Santago in the Cape Verde Islands. This is one of the most endangered heron populations, and until this discovery was known to nest at only one site. The nesting attempt was successful. Site protection of course is critical to its survival as is community awareness, a program being undertaken after a heron was shot by a member of the local community. There also is a need for a better understanding of feeding and feeding habitat needs, as these are totally unknown. The report was published by D. Cesarini, A. Boughtflower, and A. Furtado, 2008, Malimbus 30:145-155.

Least Bittern in Canada
Vincent Carignan (vincent.carignan@ec.gc.ca ) provides an update on the Least Bittern Recovery Team in Canada. The team has been active producing the Recovery Strategy, including identifying critical habitat at 99 sites in southern Canada. The Strategy is scheduled to be available for comments on the Species at Risk Public Registry. A final version is expected by next summer. He also reports that Bird Studies Canada is developing a banding, telemetry and tissue sampling protocol.  

Mixed-species Colony Census in Portugal
Fernando Canais (fcanais@hotmail.com) is censusing a complex mixed-species colony at the Paul do Boquilobo Nature Reserve, Portugal. He is interested in advice and information on counting, especially on sampling options.

Monitoring Herons in Croatia
Tibor Miksuka (tibor.kopacki.rit@gmail.com) of the Croatian Society for the Protection of Birds and Nature is responsible for heron colony census in Croatia and is also conducting a color marking study on Grey, Great, and Purple herons.

Identification of Striated Herons on Christmas Island
John Fellowes (jrfellowes@yahoo.com) reports that David James (burunglaut07@yahoo.com) and others were trying to determine subspecies identification of the Striated Herons that are turning up on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean south of Java.

Heron Research in Algeria
Samraoui Boudjema (bsamraoui@yahoo.fr) is conducting banding studies of colonial herons and also reproduction and diet of herons in Algeria.

Wetland Management in Indonesia
Rob Stuebing (rs888@aol.com), Head of Conservation for REA Kaltim Plantations is responsible for management of substantial wetlands in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. He is interested in maintaining linkages on heron conservation management in such wetlands.

Australian Bittern in New Zealand
Australasian Bittern in New Zealand, although widespread, is thought to be decreasing, but its status and even range needs better documentation. Colin O’Donnell (codonnell@doc.govt.nz) is conducting a research program on this population.

Status of Chinese Herons
He Fen-qi (cn_0707@hotmail.com) serves on the CITES scientific authority for China and is concerned with the White-eared Night Heron, Japanese Night Heron and Chinese Egret. Please communicate information of value.

Purple Heron Satellite Tracking
Taej Mundkur (taej.mundkur@wetlands.org), the Flyways Program Manager at Wetlands International, reports that the Purple Heron satellite tracking project has successfully tracked birds from Europe to Africa. Present status of the project can be found at www.followthebird.org.

Status of Herons in United Arab Emirates
Christophe Tourenq (Ctourenq@ewswwf.ae) of the Emirates Wildlife Society –WWF has updates on the status of herons in the United Arab Emirates region.

Heron Research in China
Xiaolin Chen (xlchen@xmu.edu.cn) of the School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, continues his research and that of his students in herons in China, including the Chinese Egret.

Reddish Egret Conservation
The status of the Reddish Egret has become a matter of concern in North America. Clay Green (claygreen@txstate.edu) has been conducting inventory and banding studies of Reddish Egrets in several countries. Please report marked or banded birds to him. The Reddish Egret Working Group was established in 2005 under the leadership of Stefani Melvin (stefani_melvin@fws.gov).

Conservation and Status of the Great White Heron (Great Blue Heron)
The conservation status of the large white Ardea (considered to be Ardea herodias occidentalis) from Southern Florida, USA, and the Caribbean has been a matter of great concern. The US Fish and Wildlife Service funded surveys to evaluate apparent declines in the population in the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge of the lower Florida Keys, USA. The surveys were managed by Stafani Melvin (stefani_melvin@fws.gov) and Tom Wilmers (Tom_Wilmers@fws.gov.), who was responsible for identifying the possible decrease through his long term aerial surveys. Much remains to be understood about this form, including its actual distribution through the Caribbean. The appropriate taxonomic status of this form remains in question.

Little Blue Heron in Ireland
The first record of the Little Blue Heron in Ireland (fourth from Palearctic) was documented by the photography of Ronald McGlaughlin, which can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronanmclaughlin/2922628026. This was the first record of this species bird in Britain or Ireland.

Concern for Little Egrets in the Caribbean
Little Egrets made their range expansion into the Caribbean in the past couple of decades or so. Although they are appearing with frequency in the area, they are known to nest in only two locations, Graeme Hall Swamp in Barbados and McKinnons Pond in Antigua. Both sites are gravely threatened by development, and it has been reported that those on Barbados have been subjected to killing for food by visiting workers. As far as is known the entire Western Hemisphere population nests in a few trees at these two site. Joseph Prosper (prosperj@myway.com) and Brian Cooper (brian.cooper.ag@gmail.com) on Antigua and Edward Massiah (ebmassiah@hotmail.com) in Barbados and Jim Kushlan (HeronSpecialistGroup@earthlink.net) are among those familiar with the situation. The situation could not be more serious. If this species is to persist in the New World, and protection of these site is essential.

Banded Great Egrets in North America
Chip Weseloh requests reports of color-banded Great Egrets (Egretta alba). Since 2000, more than 1,000 YOY Great Egrets have been color-banded with red leg bands --with white alpha-numerics--on the Great Lakes, North America. The bands may be on either the left or right leg and they may be above or below the "knee" or both. Reports of any color-banded individuals, should include place and date of sighting, the location of the band and any inscription on the band. Send to chip.weseloh@ec.gc.ca or (1) 416-739-5846.

Green-backed Heron Conservation in Tahiti
There is considerable interest in the conservation and management of Striated Herons in French Polynesia.  In Tahiti, the birds are being severely impacted by the introduced Swamp Harriers. Issues include contaminants, reproductive success, and habitat alteration by river mining. Work is with Manu, the local ornithological group from Tahiti, which is also charged with managing the region's endangered species. Contact Dylan Kesler keslerd@missouri.edu, Tom Ghestemme (tghestemme@manu.pf) or Jérémie Demay (jeremie.demay@gmail.com).
Mid North America Guide to Waterbirds
In the mid North America the Great Plains Nature Center has recently completed A Pocket Guide to Great Plains Waterbirds. It covers over 40 species commonly found in the Great Plains region of North America. An electronic version can be seen at < http://gpnc.org/waterbirds.htm>. Hard copies can be received by contacting Suzanne Fellows (Suzanne_Fellows@fws.gov).

Surveys in Suriname

Arie L. Spaans reports that he continues to monitor scarlet ibises, herons, and North American shorebirds in Suriname .He recently published a book on the waterbird s of coastal Suriname. For information contact a.l.spaans@planet.nl or vriendenvanstinasu@planet.nl.

American Great Egret in the Azores
Both American Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons straggle to the Azores. The Great Egret is usually identified by having all dark legs, as contrasted with the European Great Egret, and so records are not totally confirmed. There have been 19 such records of American Great Egrets. In 2005, a banded Great Egret was reported. It had been banded in Canada (Georgian Bay, Ontario), thus being of indisputable North American origin. There are 23 records of Great Blue Herons and one record of a Little Blue Heron from the Azores.

Chinese Egret Colony near Shangdong
Chinese Egrets were found nesting on a small island of Hailu Dao, 1.6 km NE of Rongcheng City, Shangdong, China. The birds were found in 2006, but local residents indicated they began nesting in 2001. The colony was discovered on a seabird survey sponsored by a RSPB Research grant.

Waterbirds of Cuba Book
The book Aves Acuaticas en los Humadales in Cuba has been published. Authored by Lordes Mugica and others, it summarizes in Spanish the status of waterbirds, including herons, in Cuba and provides considerable information of value in environmental edication in the country. It is available through the Natural History Book Service. Contact Lourdes Mugica (lmugicava@yahoo.es) or David Wege (david.wege@birdlife.org).

Madagascar Pond Heron Species Action Plan

The Species Action Plan for the Madagascar Pond Heron was derived from a workshop in Nairobi in 2008 attended by all range states. It was organized by BirdLife International and the AEWA Secretariat. The Plan is available on this website, see tab on Action Plans.
So far progress in implementation is limited. There is a yahoo discussion group (madagascarpondheron@yahoogroups.com). Asity Madagascar received funding for training on identification and is compiling a database of records. A captive population exists at Weltvogelpark Walsrode. Contact Roger Safford (roger.safford@birdlife.org).

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Species Updates