Friday, November 30, 2012

Update on the Hoarded Birds / Now Available for Adoption

Update on the Hoarded Birds / Now Available for Adoption

Facility Visits, Examinations, and Disease Testing
In one of our previous blogs, I had written about the “Aurora Birds” which had been confiscated from a hoarding situation and were now being cared for by members of the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club Adoption Committee until they could be adopted. I had gone to the facility where they were housing the nearly 400 birds for a prescribed thirty day quarantine period. I checked out the birds, performed some disease testing (which all turned out negative), and found them to be in good health.

I went to the facility yesterday (11/28/12) to check the birds so that they could be released from quarantine and put up for adoption. The birds were found to be in excellent condition and are now eligible to be adopted. Details on how to adopt these birds follow in one of the latter sections of this article.

In addition to the “Aurora Birds,” I was contacted by Dr. Lisa Lembke, from McHenry County Animal Control, two weeks ago to evaluate approximately 50 birds that were also removed from a hoarding situation, this case in Woodstock. There was a wide variety of birds, ranging from a macaw, large and small parrots, quakers, cockatiels, parakeets,  canaries, and others. In order to properly have these birds adopted, I enlisted the Greater Chicago Caged Bird Club Adoption Committee once again and A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife. Both these organizations are not-for-profits, dedicated to caring for as well as finding loving homes for pet birds. Diana and Nancy from the GCCBC, Rich and Karen from A Refuge, and Christopher from Niles Animal Hospital, aided in the examination as well as the disease testing of these birds. The tests were submitted for analysis and all came back negative, so they are also available for adoption.

Yesterday (11/28/12), the aforementioned members of GCCBC, with the addition of Bob, Karen from A Refuge, and Christopher, came out to remove the birds from McHenry County Animal Control and take them to the adoption facilities.

The Birds Up for Adoption
The final tally of the birds up for adoption are:

“Aurora Birds” (held by GCCBC)
340 parakeets
36 cockatiels
1 sun conure*
3 jenday conures*
1 pineapple conure*
1 green cheek conure*
2 black cap conures*
*Note: The starred birds are not currently available for adoption. The original owner wants them back, so the final decision will be made after the court date of 12/4/12.

“McHenry County Birds”
 (held by GCCBC)                                                                  (held by A Refuge )
9 canaries                                                                                 4 cockatiels
1 pineapple conure                                                                   2 pineapple conures
1 rose-breasted cockatoo                                                         1 rose-breasted cockatoo
1 blue and gold macaw                                                 2 eclectus parrots (M & F)
3 sun conures                                                                           2 sun conures
2 ring-necked parakeets                                                           1 African grey
1 Senegal parrot                                                                       2 caiques
2 quaker parrots                                                                       1 diamond dove
13 parakeets
2 lovebirds
1 finch
1 jenday conure

The Adoption Process
The reason that these two organizations were selected to be involved in the adoption of these birds is that they have long-standing excellent reputations in the placement of birds. Both organizations are not-for-profit. They have strict standards which are adhered to because they do not want the birds to go to just anyone, they want loving homes, with people who will provide proper care for these birds. The birds will not be placed with “collectors” or into another “hoarding” situation. For both organizations an application form must be filled out before being considered as an adoptive home. Following the application, a home inspection is required before an adoption can be completed. If the adopter/adoptive home meets the standards of GCCBC or A Refuge, then an adoption fee is required to cover the costs of housing and any medical care/disease testing completed.

Some particulars about each group and the adoption process:
Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club
Current members of the GCCBC will have first choice of the adopted birds. Only members in good standing can serve as a foster home for any of these birds. The rules for adoption are that there is a limit to the number of birds adopted per household; 4 parakeets or 2 parakeets/1 cockatiel or 2 cockatiels or 1 large bird.

Contact the GCCBC for more details and to obtain the adoption forms. If you are interested in adopting these birds and are not a member of the club, you can contact the club via email, or phone 630-640-4924. They have a waiting list of people who are interested in adopting. Strongly also consider applying for membership in the bird club as well in order to become an active supporter of aviculture. For the Greater Chicago Bird Club (GCBC) yearly dues are $20.00 for single memberships, $25.00 for family memberships, $15.00 for single seniors (62+), $17.50 for dual seniors, and $5.00 for juniors (18 and under). Check out their website for more membership information or to check out their various activities. The club website is

A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife
Visit their website at to obtain the adoption application form. In addition to the McHenry County Animal Control birds, there are many other parrots at A Refuge who are available for adoption and need a loving home.

Closing Comments
Some of you may be frustrated by having to fill out forms and be subjected to a home inspection; however, these steps are necessary to ensure that the birds will be placed in the proper homes. Birds are more than possessions or something to collect, they are living, loving, feeling, thinking individuals who need to be in a loving environment where they can get the attention they need/deserve.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Apes Can Suffer from a Mid-life Crisis Too!

Apes Have Midlife Crises Too

Reported by Dr. Nisha Nathan:

Sure, they may not be able to ditch their wives, buy a shiny red Ferrari, or pick up a 21-year-old at a bar. But apes have midlife crises too — at least according to a new study.

“The midlife crisis is real,” said Dr. Andrew Oswald, co-author of the study of 500 chimpanzees and orangutans published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Great apes go through it also, so it is inescapable for the average person.”

The term “midlife crisis” was coined in 1965 by psychologist Elliot Jacques to describe the time when  adults realize their own mortality, recognize that their existence is halfway over, and rush to make significant changes in core aspects of their day-to-day lives. And since the human species evolved from ancestors of modern apes, it would be reasonable to suspect that they have mood swings just as we do.

To see if this was actually the case, researchers asked zookeepers who had close relationships with their apes a series of questions to see whether the animals were happy or sad, if they enjoyed socializing, and how successful they were in achieving their “personal goals.”

As for what a personal goal might be for an orangutan or chimp, study coauthor Alexander Weiss of the University of Edinburgh said this included such lofty ambitions as climbing a rope, staking out territory, getting prized figs or bananas — or even hunting down and eating their distant monkey cousins.

Before you knock it, understand that these questions have been used before to assess ape aspiration.
“This questionnaire is a well-established method for assessing positive affect in captive nonhuman primates. There is considerable evidence for this measure’s objective validity,” the study says.

Finally, researchers asked the zookeepers the ultimate question: How happy would you be to switch roles with the apes for a week?

In other words, Weiss said, “How happy would the rater be to walk a week in the chimp’s shoes — even though chimps don’t have shoes?”

Looking at the zookeepers’ answers and the ages of the apes, the authors concluded that great apes have age and well-being highs and lows similar to those of humans — according to Oswald, a pattern that can best be described as a “U-shape,” with the high points early and late in life, and the nadir of existence in the middle. This U-shaped curve of human well-being as compared to age, in fact, has been well understood the world over.

As for exactly why this happens to be the case, who knows?

Oswald admits the study has limitations.

“It would be great if we could ask apes to fill out a questionnaire,” he said. “However this is a human’s assessment of an ape’s well-being and that’s what we are stuck with, being human.”

Despite the apes’ silence on the matter, psychological experts who were not involved with the research described the findings as “fascinating.”

“This is one more example showing that we may be more related to our non-human primates than we think,” said Dr. Nadine Kaslow, vice chair of the department of psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta. “It’s quite fascinating that this U-shaped curve is across species.”

For years, researchers have speculated that this U-shape is secondary to social, psychological, or economic explanation. Dr. Redford Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said this study seems to point at something much more inherent.

“It’s got to be biological,” he said. “It’s not just that you’re depressed because your earning capacity goes down in mid-life, because I don’t imagine that apes living in the zoo would have to worry about those matters.”

Williams said the study shows there is hope for us humans.

“Don’t worry if you are having a mid-life slump,” he said. “Don’t feel too guilty; it has to have a genetic basis. It’s not that you screwed up to cause it, because apes are having it too.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Something to Reflect Upon this Thanksgiving

I received this as an email from a friend of mine. I felt it was worth sharing.

Never take anything for granted, life is short, so enjoy every day, and be thankful for what you have.

How's this story for a reminder that "We don't know we're alive".
Her name is Katie Kirkpatrick, 21 yrs old. Next to her is her fiancĂ©, Nick, 23. This picture was taken prior to their wedding January 11th, 2012.  Katie has terminal cancer and spends hours in chemotherapy. Here Nick awaits while she finishes one of the sessions...
Even in pain and dealing with her organs shutting down, with the help of morphine, Katie took care of every single part of the wedding planning.  Her dress had to be adjusted several times due to Katie's constant weight loss.
An expected guest was her oxygen tank. Katie had to use it during the ceremony and reception.  The other couple in this picture is Nick's parents, very emotional with the wedding and to see their son marrying the girl he fell in love when he was an adolescent.
Katie, in a wheel chair listening to her husband and friends singing to her. 
In the middle of the party, Katie had to rest for a bit and catch her breath. The pain does not allow her to stand a long period of time.
Katie died 5 days after her wedding. To see a fragile woman dress as a bride with a beautiful smile makes you think... Happiness is always there within reach, no matter how long it lasts.  Let's enjoy life. Life is too short.  Work as if it was your first day.  Forgive as soon as possible.  Love without boundaries.  Laugh without control and never stop smiling.  Please pray for those suffering from cancer.  Keep this going.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Proof That Yawning is "Contagious."

Another article about yawns.....actually reinforcing what we already seem to know about yawning, that it is "contagious." Interesting to see that animals are affected as well.

  • Yawns Also Contagious in Bonobos

  • Analysis by Emily Sohn

  • Yawners-zoom
    For most people, witnessing a yawn -- or even thinking about yawning -- creates an irresistible urge to yawn, too. And contagious yawning, it turns out, is yet another feature we share in common with many species of primates.

    To investigate hypotheses about the cause of the phenomenon, Italian researchers looked at a group of 12 captive bonobos, which are highly social animals that cultivate strong relationships. Recent research also found that bonobo brains are relatively well developed in an area that detects distress in themselves and in others.

    NEWS: Why Is Yawning Contagious?
    Over three months of observation, the researchers recorded more than 1,100 yawns among the bonobo adults. After each yawn, observers recorded whether another animal yawned over the next three minutes. In total, the researchers recorded nearly 300 contagious yawns.

    Like in humans, the researchers report today in the journal PLoS One, most contagious yawns occurred within a minute after the original yawn.

    The closer two animals were to each other socially, the more likely they were to catch yawns from each other. And female bonobos produced more contagious yawns than males did. The results support the theory that contagious yawning is a form of empathy that is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history.

    BLOG: Yawning May Cool The Brain
    "Even though we are still far from a clear demonstration of a linkage between yawn contagion and empathy, the importance of social bonds in shaping bonobo yawn contagion seems to support the hypothesis that a basic form of empathy can play a role in the modulation of this phenomenon," the researchers wrote.
    "The higher frequency of yawn contagion in presence of a female as a triggering subject supports the hypothesis that adult females not only represent the relational and decisional nucleus of the bonobo society, but also that they play a key role in affecting the emotional states of others."

    Photo: Like humans, bonobos yawn contagiously, but yawns are only infectious between close friends or kin. Credit: Elisa Demuru

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Pets During the Holidays

    A very  pertinent discussion about making sure that your pets are safe this holiday season.

    Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Pets During the Holidays

    Peter S. Sakas DVM, MS
    Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center
    7278.N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714
    (847) 647-9325 FAX (847) 647-8498
    The holidays are joyous and active times for people and their pets. Our pets partake in many of the seasonal festivities with us which makes the holidays that much more special. However, many of the decorations and objects we have around the household during the holidays may be dangerous to our pets. By taking a few precautions, we can make this wonderful time of year a safe one for our pets.

    Holiday Food/Cooking

    Food is a very important aspect of our holiday celebrations as many human waistlines can attest. Unfortunately, many of these foods can cause serious problems in our pets and as any veterinarian will tell you, this is the time of year that we see numerous gastrointestinal problems in pets.
    Food Preparation -The preparation of food can be a problem, especially for pet birds. Birds have a very effective respiratory tract and coupled with their relatively small size are susceptible to toxic elements in the air. During cooking if food burns or smoke is produced, any birds nearby the kitchen could be at risk of fatal smoke inhalation. If non-stick cookware is used there is another risk for pet birds. Under normal cooking conditions, the cookware is safe but if polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coated products (such as Teflon, Silverstone, and Supra) are overheated (over 530 degrees F), they can emit toxic fumes which are fatal to birds. PTFE coated drip pans achieve high temperatures under normal usage so they should not be used around birds at all. If your bird has been exposed to smoke or fumes get them to an area of good ventilation and seek veterinary care.
    Holiday Food/Leftovers -Avoid the temptation to feed your pets leftovers from your holiday meals. Many of these foods are rich; especially those that are high in fat, and can often cause severe gastrointestinal disturbances in pets which could prove fatal. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) is a very common disease of dogs and is frequently caused by the eating of table scraps. The pancreas plays a role in digestion of food but when an animal eats a rich or fatty meal, the pancreas is 'overstimulated' and the organ oversecretes enzymes leading to inflammation of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting and abdominal pain, sometimes quite severe. The condition is very uncomfortable for the pet and sometimes can be fatal. If you notice these type of symptoms seek veterinary care.
    Be cautious with any bones provided to your pet. Sharp bones, especially from chicken or turkey, may become lodged in the mouth or throat of your pet. If the bones move further into the digestive tract, there is a risk that the bones could perforate the stomach or intestines. This situation may require surgical removal and if they do not receive veterinary attention, they may die. Provide your .pet with commercial chew toys to avoid any potential problems.
    Be cautious with guacamole around pet birds. Most bird owners know that avocado is extremely toxic for birds and severe reactions can lead to death. However, some people forget that avocado is the key ingredient in guacamole. When you are having holiday parties and with all kinds of appetizers available, such as chips and dips, be careful if there is guacamole around with your pet birds present. They may decide to sample some of the dip, or an unknowing houseguest may innocently provide a taste of the dip to one of the birds with potentially tragic results.
    Chocolate - Providing a piece of chocolate to a pet may seem like an act of kindness but there is a risk that this treat could have serious consequences. Chocolate may be fatal to your pet, especially dogs, because they are sensitive to theobromine, a compound in chocolate. Dark chocolate has the highest levels of theobromine. It may cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart irregularities, muscle tremors, seizures and coma, sometimes with fatal results. Cats are rarely poisoned due to their more 'discriminating' habits. Keep those chocolate goodies out of the reach of your dog. If your dog accidentally eats some chocolate, seek veterinary care immediately.

    The Christmas Tree

    Decorations go up once a year and for a brief period of time. Your pets will be very interested in new and unusual objects scattered around the house believing that these are special 'toys' for their own use. Often these playthings end up lodged in the intestinal tract causing a blockage. Many dangers lurk on the Christmas tree. Overzealous dogs or cats have felled numerous wonderfully decorated trees. Support the tree securely with a sturdy stand and wires.

    The Tree -There are several factors to consider with the tree. The trunk of a live tree is often coated with chemicals, such as fertilizer or insecticide. When the tree is placed in the stand and watered, the chemicals from the trunk contaminate the water. If your bird, dog or cat drinks it, they may become sick. The needles begin to fall out as the tree ages and dries. The needles are not poisonous but are very sharp, can puncture the skin and produce abscesses. If your pet tries to eat them, the needles can cut the tongue, lips and gums. If swallowed they are relatively undigestible and can actually pierce the lining of the stomach and intestines or cause a blockage.
    The branches from artificial trees can be easily pulled out. The artificial needles can be sharp and are always non-digestible. If you pet chews on the branches, they might take in some of the needles. Just like the needles from the live tree, they can cause gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding and blockage.
    Lights -The lights pose many dangers. They often get very hot after being on for a while and could burn your pet if they are touched. For some strange reason pets seem attracted to wires and like to chew on them. So keep a watch on your pets for this type of activity and check the lower strings of lights for evidence of chewing. You might want to ‘pet proof’ the tree by keeping objects, such as lights and ornaments, at heights that your pets cannot reach. If you want lights all over the tree, then string them on the lower branches, but place them away from the tip of the branches. The pets will have a more difficult time reaching them if they are placed on the inner portion of the branches.
    Electrical Cords -Electrical cords often seem delectable to many pets, especially cats and young puppies. Chewed cords can cause severe burns and sometimes fatal, electrical shocks. If your pet seems overly interested in electrical cords, string or tape them in a position that is inaccessible to your pet. If that does not work you can cover the cords with hot pepper sauce or use bitter tasting commercial products sold in most pet stores.
    Ornaments -Avoid using glass ornaments around pets. They are fragile, break easily and the shattered pieces are sharp. If any of the pieces are swallowed, the glass can puncture the intestines, which could lead to peritonitis and possibly death. Ornament hooks are also very sharp. They can be picked up and swallowed, resulting in gastrointestinal problems such as obstructions and punctures.
    Be cautious with 'edible' type ornaments. Sometimes the store-bought varieties may not be edible and contain hardening agents/preservatives that could be toxic. If you make your own edible ornaments, your pet may try to eat them. They may knock over the tree trying to get a string of homemade popcorn or a gingerbread ornament.
    The safest ornaments are one-piece, non-breakable and made of non-toxic material. They should be too big to swallow. Also, have them out of the reach of curious beaks, mouths and paws.
    Tinsel -One of the most dangerous materials to put on a Christmas tree is tinsel. Animals are attracted to its bright finish and flexibility. Cats are especially attracted to tinsel and if you have a cat, it is recommended that you do not use tinsel on your tree. If your pet eats tinsel, there is a good chance that it will become wrapped around the tongue. As the pet struggles to remove it, the tinsel gets stretched out and wraps even tighter. It can cut sensitive tissues in the mouth and stop the circulation of blood to the tongue. If a strand is swallowed it can bunch up and block the intestine. If this occurs, surgery is usually required to remove it. The best advice is, if you have pets, do not place tinsel on your tree. You may lose the aesthetics of the icicle effect, but your pets will be much safer.

    Holiday Decorations/Packages

    Many people place decorations throughout the house including lights, evergreen branches, holiday knickknacks and other assorted objects to provide a festive environment. We have discussed some of these dangers previously. Lit candles can burn a curious pet or could be knocked over and start a fire. Centerpieces of dangling streamers and feather fronds are enticing to the curious pet. If chewed and swallowed, these materials can cause an intestinal blockage. Icicles and tinsel draped on a mantle are as dangerous as tinsel on a tree. Monitor your pets and watch out for any evidence of chewing on these objects.

    Wrapped presents can pose a hazard to pets. They are attracted to the decorative bows, ribbons and other frills placed on the packages. If your pet would chew and swallow these materials, there is a risk of intestinal blockage. Food packages wrapped as gifts and left under a tree can entice a hungry animal. With their keen sense of smell they can sniff these out and decide to have a feast. Exercise caution with these types of presents around pets, especially dogs.

    Poisonous Plants

    Many homes are decorated each year during the holiday season with poinsettias and mistletoe. These plants do represent the season; unfortunately they are toxic for our pets and represent a problem for curious dogs, cats and birds. Poinsettias produce a milky sap that is irritating to the skin and eyes on contact and to the gastrointestinal tract if eaten. It may cause irritation and blistering of the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach. Intake of large amounts of mistletoe may cause nausea, vomiting and gastroenteritis. Make sure that these plants are kept out of the reach of your pets. If you do catch you pet eating a poinsettia or a few loose mistletoe berries, seek veterinary care immediately.

    Relieve Pet Stress during the Holidays

    The holidays are stressful times for all of us. The commotion in decorating, purchasing gifts and entertaining friends/relatives can be overwhelming to many people. Our homes can be filled with people, especially young children. Many pets, even if not aggressive or territorial, are stressed by the increased numbers of strangers 'intruding' in their domain. The high activity level of children can be a new and stressful experience for many pets unaccustomed to this behavior. Birds can become especially upset during the holidays, particularly the larger varieties of birds. Routine is very important to birds and if that routine changes, they can become frustrated and engage in abnormal behavior. These types of behavior include, aggressiveness, screaming, biting or development of vices such as the picking off or chewing of their own feathers in frustration, which if allowed to continue can become a habit.
    If possible, try to provide your pets with a consistent level of interaction with you so they do not feel left out. This is especially important with parrots. Try not to let the pandemonium of the holidays lead to stress in your pets. If you feel that your pets are uncomfortable around new people, it may be best to separate them from the holiday activity. Provide your pets with an area where they can 'get away from it all' and be alone. Cats may enjoy an intricate 'kitty condo' set up or even a cardboard box or paper bags in which to hide. For pet birds that are nervous, you might have to place the cage in a quiet room or, if that is impossible, partially or completely cover the cage so that the bird has the ability to 'hide.' Make sure that your young guests understand that they must let the animals rest when they are put in their area of 'refuge.
    I hope that this discussion will assist you in keeping your home safe for your pets during the holidays. During all the activity, we must not forget the welfare of our pets and our responsibility to keep them free of danger. If you practice the proper preventative measures, the holiday season for your pet will be as happy as it is for you and your family.

    The preceding discussion was garnered from several excellent sources including:
    Your Healthy Pet by Amy Marder, VMD
    A Dog for All Seasons by Jane Leon,

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Classical Music De-stresses Dogs

    For what this is worth.....interesting.

    Study: Classical music de-stresses dogs

    Classical music might be the best way to calm an anxious pooch, a new study finds.

    Lead author Lori Kogan of Colorado State University found that Mozart, Beethoven and the like may reduce stress in dogs, according to a study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. The study found that classical music was more soothing than "psychoacoustic" music or specially-made Pet CDs that were designed to calm animals.

    Kogan said the study may be helpful for the welfare of animals in stressful shelter environments.
    "Social isolation or restriction, a major stresser for many dogs, can lead to the development of both physiological and behavioral problems," Kogan and her two research partners, Regina Shoenfeld-Tacher and Allen A. Simon, wrote in their research summary.
    Their research analyzed the behavior of 117 dogs of various breeds, all from one kennel; 83 were boarders (dogs that are temporarily housed for a fee) of different breeds and 34 were rescued dachshunds. Kogan and her researchers did thousands of behavioral assessments over the period of four months.

    The dogs were exposed to 45 minutes of three different genres of music while their behavior was recorded every five minutes.

    Classical music was linked to more relaxed and restful behavior, while heavy metal was linked to greater anxiety and unrest.

    "It does fly in the face of what [Pet CD advocates] talk about, which is that more simplistic music should be more relaxing. The plus side is that you can download classical music for free," Kogan told the Canadian-based Leader-Post.

    © 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Update on the Hoarded Birds from Aurora

    As many of you know there was a tragic situation in Aurora, Illinois, where hundreds of birds were being hoarded. These birds were kept in filthy, non-hygienic conditions, and unfortunately over one hundred of the birds were found dead in the home.  The remaining birds were confiscated by health officials.

    The problem was, what to do with all these surviving birds. Fortunately, an organization came to the rescue, the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club, which has had a very successful pet bird adoption for several years. The birds were turned over to the club who now have the birds in their possession.

    The club has done an excellent job taking the birds and setting up an infrastructure to care for them. They have rented a store front facility and used it to set up the large number of cages to house all the birds. The birds currently in their possession include over 340 budgerigars (parakeets), 1 canary, 8 conures, 3 diamond doves, 1 button quail, 1 finch, and 2 cockatiels. They have an organized group of dedicated unpaid volunteers who are there each day making sure the birds are fed, watered, cleaned, and observed for any signs of illness. Quite an undertaking and they should be applauded for their efforts.

    I went over to the facility on October 31st to inspect all the birds and evaluate their health. I was very impressed by the way the operation was being conducted by the Greater Chicago Bird Club volunteers. The facility was clean, no odor, and the cages were very well maintained. As I went through and checked out the birds I was pleasantly surprised to see that the birds were generally in excellent health. I took some random samples of droppings as well as conducting some disease testing. Thus far everything is turning out just fine. The birds will be held in quarantine for thirty days and after this period will be available for adoption, most likely starting December 1st.  

    As for the adoption process. Members of the Greater Chicago Bird Club will obviously have first crack at the birds. So it would be advantageous to become a member to be able to participate in their adoption program, but there are so many advantages of having membership in a bird club, that if you are a bird fancier consider joining this or a bird club in your area. Bird clubs have all sorts of activities including educational programs, speakers, bird fairs, fund raisers, socialization opportunities, as well as loads of fun.

    For the Greater Chicago Bird Club (GCBC) yearly dues are $20.00 for single memberships, $25.00 for family memberships, $15.00 for single seniors (62+), $17.50 for dual seniors, and $5.00 for juniors (18 and under). Check out their website for more membership information or to check out their various activities. The website is

    If you are interested in adopting these birds and are not a member of the club, you can contact the club via email, or phone 630-640-4924. You can obtain more details by contacting the club. They have a waiting list of people who are interested in adopting.

    I would also like to mention that Sun Seed and Kaytee generously have donated food for the birds.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification

    New information about bird evolution from Yale University.

    Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification

    New Haven, Conn. — A Yale-led scientific team has produced the most comprehensive family tree for birds to date, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context.

    Analysis of the family tree shows when and where birds diversified — and that birds' diversification rate has increased over the last 50 million years, challenging the conventional wisdom of biodiversity experts.

    "It's the first time that we have — for such a large group of species and with such a high degree of confidence — the full global picture of diversification in time and space," said biologist Walter Jetz of Yale, lead author of the team's research paper, published Oct. 31 online in the journal Nature.

    He continued: "The research highlights how heterogeneously fast diversifying species groups are distributed throughout the family tree and over geographic space. Many parts of the globe have seen a variety of species groups diversify rapidly and recently. All this leads to a diversification rate in birds that has been increasing over the past 50 million years."

    The researchers relied heavily on fossil and DNA data, combining them with geographical information to produce the exhaustive family tree, which includes 9,993 species known to be alive now.

    "The current zeitgeist in biodiversity science is that the world can fill up quickly," says biologist and co-author Arne Mooers of Simon Fraser University in Canada. "A new distinctive group, like bumblebees or tunafish, first evolves, and, if conditions are right, it quickly radiates to produce a large number of species. These species fill up all the available niches, and then there is nowhere to go. Extinction catches up, and things begin to slow down or stall. For birds the pattern is the opposite: Speciation is actually speeding up, not slowing down."

    The researchers attribute the growing rate of avian diversity to an abundance of group-specific adaptations. They hypothesize that the evolution of physical or behavioral innovations in certain groups, combined with the opening of new habitats, has enabled repeated bursts of diversification. Another likely factor has been birds' exceptional mobility, researchers said, which time and again has allowed them to colonize new regions and exploit novel ecological opportunities.

    In their analysis, the researchers also expose significant geographic differences in diversification rates. They are higher in the Western Hemisphere than in the Eastern, and higher on islands than mainlands. But surprisingly, they said, there is little difference in rates between the tropics and high latitudes. Regions of especially intense recent diversification include northern North American and Eurasia and southern South America.

    "This was one of the big surprises," Jetz said. "For a long time biologists have thought that the vast diversity of tropical species must at least partly be due to greater rates of net species production there. For birds we find no support for this, and groups with fast and slow diversification appear to occur there as much as in the high latitudes. Instead, the answer may lie in the tropics' older age, leading to a greater accumulation of species over time. Global phylogenies like ours will allow further tests of this and other basic hypotheses about life on Earth."