These Indian rose-ringed parakeets returned to their roosting and nesting hole high up in a tree in India’s Keoladeo national park, only to find that a Bengal monitor lizard had taken up residence. The birds immediately set about trying to evict the squatter. They bit the monitor lizard’s tail, hanging on for a couple of seconds at a time, until it retreated into the hole. They would then harass it when it tried to come out to bask. This went on for two days. Photograph: Ganesh H. Shankar

Why do we care about birds?

Well, apart from the fact that they’re awesome, of course.

The answer is simple:

Birds are quite sensitive to ecological changes. That sensitivity makes them ideal species for monitoring ecosystem shifts. By paying attention to bird populations, we can better understand how healthy our national marine sanctuaries are.

From the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in the northeast to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the National Marine Sanctuary System provides feeding and nesting grounds for many types of birds. Within national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, you can find all sorts of birds, from shorebirds to seabirds. 

What’s the difference?

Oh, and then there are songbirds, like this scarlet tanager, which stop in national marine sanctuaries on their long yearly migrations.

What’s your favorite sanctuary bird?


Growing up!

Meredith is a full 26 days old now, and due to fledge at any moment. Both of her younger siblings died of starvation, and she alone has persisted even as peregrine falcons snatch 4+ terns a day and an owl prompted abandonment by many of the adults. Because of that mass-abandonment, many nests are left with just one parent tending the chicks. About two-thirds of the birds we’re monitoring for growth have dropped over 20 grams following the owl invasion.

With a good bit of luck, she’ll fledge out of her fenced-in productivity monitoring plot, and then begin fishing on her own. From there, she must take the flight to Cape Cod, MA to stage for migration with tens of thousands of other terns. After that, it’s first migration down to Argentina! Good luck, little one.

Respiratory Diseases in Birds

Most common causes of respiratory disease

  1. Aspergillosis
  2. Chlamydia psittaci
  3. Airborne intoxications

Dyspnoea - emergency treatment required!

  • Warm incubator with oxygen flow at 5 L/min, in a dark quiet area
  • Bronchodilators (terbutaline) - 0.01 mg/kg IM
  • Analgesia/sedation/anti-anxiety (butorphanol) - 1-2 mg/kg IM
  • Fluids if needed
  • Then get history and regularly monitor bird from a distance
  • Treat (suspected) disease

Respiratory system can be divided into five sections

  1. Upper airway
  2. Large airway - trachea and mainstem bronchi
  3. Small airway - branches of mainstem bronchi
  4. Parenchyma - lung tissue
  5. Coelom - concurrent problem in coelom compressing respiratory system

Upper airway disease

  • Clinical signs: soft nasal sound, open mouth breathing, nasal discharge (w/ rhinolith), tachypnoea, no dyspnoea, sneezing, periorbital swelling
  • Differentials: Mycoplasma, Mycobacterium, Chlamydia, Aspergillus, Candida, Avipox virus, parasites, toxins, allergins, foreign bodies
  • Diagnosis
    • Flush nares and collect sample from choana for culture and sensitivity, cytology and PCR
    • Endoscopy (through choana) and biopsy
    • Gold standard = CT scan
  • Treatment
    • Treat underlying cause
    • Flush nares
    • Tylosin (if Mycoplasma), antibiotics, antifungals
    • NSAIDs
    • Only change diet once bird is feeling better

Large airway disease

  • Clinical signs: stridor, open mouth breathing, gasping, tachypnoea, dyspnoea, voice choice, lethargy, anorexia
  • Differentials
    • Post-intubation necrosis
    • Aspergilloma (fungal granuloma) - in macaws and owls
    • Foreign bodies - cockatiels aspirate seed husks
    • Mass - goitres (in budgies), neoplasms, oropharyngeal granulomas (Mycobacteria)
  • Diagnosis
    • Clinical signs 
    • Radiography
    • Tracheoscopy and tracheal wash
    • Foreign bodies - shine bright light at apteria (featherless part of neck) to identify FB in trachea
  • Treatment
    • Foreign bodies - stick needle attached to syringe through trachea below FB and expel air to blow FB up
    • Aspergilloma - surgery needed, stabilise with air sac breathing tube beforehand

Small airway disease

  • Clinical signs: soft wheezing sound, severe respiratory distress, open mouth breathing, gasping, abdominal effort
  • Differentials: toxins, allergens, granulomas (Aspergillus, Mycobacteria)
    • Macaw Hypersensitivity - allergy to feather dander of cockatiels
  • Diagnosis
    • History
    • Radiography –> to identify soft tissue infiltrate
    • Coelomic endoscopy via abdominal cavity
    • Blood test
      • If acute: heterophils
      • If chronic: monocytes
      • If Macaw Hypersensitivity: possibly eosinophilia
  • Treatment
    • Bronchodilators (IM or nebulised)
    • Antibiotics, antifungals
    • NSAIDs

Parenchymal disease

  • Clinical signs: no sounds, tachypnoea, severe dyspnoea, poor BCS, lethargy, anorexia
  • Differentials
    • Toxins - teflon, cigarette smoke, etc.
    • Cardiogenic pulmonary oedema –> increased hydrostatic pressure –> ascites
    • Aspiration pneumonia - due to crop feeding
  • Diagnosis:
    • Blood test
    • Radiography
    • Heart pressure monitor - from brachial artery on wing protagium
    • Echocardiography
  • Treatment
    • Oxygen therapy
    • Antibiotics, antifungals
    • NSAIDs
    • If pulmonary oedema: furosemide, 2-4 mg/kg IV

Intracoelomic disease

  • Clinical signs: no sounds, open mouth breathing, tachypnoea, dyspnoea, respiratory distress, distended coelomic cavity, systemically ill (nesting, laying, lethargy, anorexia)
  • Differentials: heart/liver disease, hypoalbuminaemia, peritonitis, neoplasia
  • Diagnosis
    • Radiography, ultrasound, CT scan
    • Coelomocentesis - from midline just below liver/umbilicus
    • Blood test
    • Endoscopy (not if fluid-filled coelomic cavity - fluid will enter air sacs)
  • Treatment
    • Treat underlying cause
    • Drain fluid

After debating with myself for a few days, I’ve decided to do this again. It’s still the monitoring special, but the guys are now appearing in public to see how the public reacts to their sudden appearance. It’s just too funny to not share. XD

There are a few separate locations where they shoot this segment. The first is Shibuya Mark City. The second is in a van somewhere in Odaiba, third is a H&M store and the final location is Musashi Koyama Shoutengai.

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