||Thursday, Jul 22, 2004
A Swedish mystery: 1,500 homing pigeons go missing during race
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Organizers of a race for homing pigeons were still scratching their heads in wonder Thursday after about 1,500 of the birds, famous for their ability to find their way home, went missing during the contest.
Of the 2,000 pigeons let loose last week, only about 500 have returned to their lofts after the 150-kilometre flight between the cities of Ljungby and Malmoe in southern Sweden, said Lars-Aake Nilsson of the Malmoe Homing Pigeon Club. "The weather was perfect - no rain, no thunder and no strong winds," he said.
In past races, the birds, all of which sport electronic identification tags around their feet, made the journey in about two hours.
But at Sunday's race, something went wrong.
"I have worked with pigeons since 1960 and have never experienced anything like this," Nilsson said, adding that the birds might have been thrown off course by subtle changes in the earth's magnetic field.
The pigeons have a natural homing instinct and are believed to navigate by the sun and the magnetic waves of the earth, Nilsson said.
"And even though some are lost to hawks or hazards like power lines along the way, many more should have made it back home. It's a mystery," he added.
He said there have been no reported sightings of the missing birds anywhere in southern Sweden. He declined to say how much the birds were worth.
"It's not so much the economic value as it is a loss to the sport," Nilsson said. "It takes about two years to breed a racing pigeon."
© The Canadian Press, 2004
Saturday, Jun 12, 2004
California man who attacked parrot sentenced to community service
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) - A man who attacked his pet macaw, breaking its beak and leg, must complete 120 days of community service and take anger management classes, a judge ruled Friday.
Anthony James Ellis, 53, had been sentenced to 120 days in jail but Orange County Superior Court Judge Susanne Shaw said she would allow him to complete the sentence as community service.
Shaw also ruled that Ellis must pay $3,577.26 US in restitution for surgery and care of the bird and cannot have pets or consume alcohol during three years of probation.
Ellis was convicted April 27 of felony animal cruelty and abuse of an animal.
Witnesses testified that Ellis punched the bird - named ``Johnny'' - and slammed its head against the deck of his boat outside the Newport Harbor Elks Lodge, where the parrot was the mascot.
Ellis testified that the bird, which he had owned for 11 years, was injured after it bit him on the arm and he fell down, and that witnesses outside the lodge misunderstood what they saw.
The parrot survived the March 2003 attack and was adopted by an animal care agency.
© The Canadian Press, 2004
Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004
Ingredients in place for huge, deadly flu pandemic: WHO
TORONTO (CP) - An outbreak of deadly avian flu in Vietnam which may have killed as many as 12 people could be the precursor to an influenza pandemic, experts admitted Tuesday.
"The ingredients are there that the pandemic can occur," Klaus Stohr, project leader of the World Health Organization's global influenza program, said in an interview from Geneva. "We can hope for the best but we are preparing for the worst."
Public health authorities have been predicting for some time that the world is overdue for a new pandemic, which would sweep the globe, killing millions and causing far-reaching social and economic disruption.
The most deadly example of an influenza pandemic was the Spanish Flu of 1918-19, which killed between 20 million and 40 million people worldwide.
Recent outbreaks of avian influenza of the H5N1 subtype in South Korea, Japan and now Vietnam - and repeated transmission of the virus to humans - may be laying the groundwork for that dreaded event, influenza experts warned.
"The more times that there are outbreaks amongst poultry and the more times that there are human exposures and human cases of H5N1, the more opportunities there are for this influenza virus to mutate to the point where it is well adapted for human-to-human
transmission," noted Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza specialist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.
Health Canada is maintaining a high level of vigilance, monitoring the situation on a
constant basis, said Dr. Arlene King, director of the immunization and respiratory infections division.
"Certainly it represents a concern and a health threat. And that's why we take these things
Two southern provinces in Vietnam are in the grips of an H5N1 influenza outbreak among poultry stock. The virus, which is fatal in virtually all chickens it infects, has killed about 40,000 chickens so far, WHO says. The Vietnamese government is culling an additional 30,000 birds in a bid to contain the outbreak.
But in other parts of Vietnam, the virus has attacked humans. Laboratory testing has confirmed H5N1 infection in two children and an adult in the capital, Hanoi.
WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said the organization is investigating a total of 14 suspected cases of bird flu in humans in Hanoi and surrounding provinces. All but one of the cases
were children. Twelve of the 14 cases - including 11 children - have died.
Officially, the WHO says there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of this strain of influenza, though Stohr admitted there may have been "some very inefficient transmission from human-to-humans."
But some of the infections date back to late October, a worrisome sign. The longer bird flu
is in contact with humans, the greater the chance it will acquire the ability to spread
And WHO is aware that these 14 cases may not be the entire iceberg.
"There is a concern that there could be more cases out there, both in humans and in
chickens," Thompson admitted, saying the WHO has asked other countries in the region to be on the lookout for "any unusual patterns of death in chickens or humans, influenza-related."
For a pandemic to occur, a strain of influenza which has never before circulated among
humans has to break out of nature and develop the ability to spread not just from animals
to humans, but from human to human as well. Virtually no one would have any real immunity to such a virus, meaning it would spread like wildfire around the globe, rendering huge
numbers of people sick.
Most people recuperate from influenza. But some go on to develop pneumonia and die, as Canadians have been reminded this severe flu season. Health Canada estimates between 9,000 and 51,000 Canadians could die in the next pandemic, if a vaccine is not available.
Such widespread illness and death would cause massive disruption to the health-care system and would tax the ability of governments around the globe to maintain essential services,
"A pandemic of influenza will make SARS look like a cakewalk in comparison," Skowronski said.
There are two ways an animal influenza virus can acquire the ability to spread within the
human population - through a chance mutation that would give it that skill, or by what's
called reassortment. If a person who was sick with a human influenza virus also became
infected with the H5N1 virus, the two could swap some genetic material, and a new and
deadly human virus could be formed.
Given that it is currently influenza season, that second option is particularly worrisome.
"It's a bad time for this to be happening," said Richard Webby, a leading influenza
virologist based at St. Judes Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
"It's very, very concerning."
Stohr said the WHO has alerted its influenza network to the situation and will begin work
on vaccine development within days. That process automatically kicks in when two or more
human cases of avian influenza are discovered.
Some facts about pandemic influenza:
What is it? Flu pandemics occur when a new influenza virus arises and acquires the ability
to spread within the human population. The entire global population could be susceptible.
Huge numbers of people fall ill and millions die.
How often do they happen? Pandemics are unpredictable. But experts estimate about three per century.
When was the last? 1968-69.
When was the worst? The notorious Spanish Flu of 1918-19, which is believed to have killed
20-40 million people worldwide.
When is the next due? No one knows. But experts believe one could occur anytime.
What will it mean? Huge portions of the population will be sick, virtually at once.
Hospitals will be swamped. Staffing essential services will be a serious challenge. It's
estimated between 9,000 and 51,000 Canadians could die, if a vaccine is not developed in time.
Quote: "My view is that in the course of the last few years we have seen an acceleration of
events with pandemic potential. And with this H5N1 virus, which has a high propensity of
mutating, spreading relatively rapidly in an unprecedented way in Asia and which has been
causing death and disease in humans in the course of the last few years . . . there is good
reason to be concerned." - Klaus Stohr, project leader of the World Health Organization's
global influenza program.
© The Canadian Press, 2004
Last Update: Monday, April 28, 2003. 4:11pm (AEDT)
WHO to develop vaccine for European bird flu
Western European countries are on red alert as an epidemic of highly contagious bird flu - which has reportedly killed one person after crossing the species barrier - continues to take its toll on Dutch and Belgian poultry farms.
The Netherlands and Belgium are slaughtering chickens to prevent the spread of the avian influenza and the Netherlands has ordered an investigation to assess the impact on people of the viral disease.
Experts say that the current outbreak, caused by the virus H7N7, is not dangerous to people but it could mutate, triggering a potentially dangerous influenza epidemic.
The World Health Organisation is preparing a test kit and developing a vaccine for the disease.
"Persons in contact with H7N7-affected poultry flocks should be on guard for any signs and symptoms of respiratory disease," a WHO spokesman said.
WHO says a 57-year-old Dutch veterinarian, who died on April 17 of chronic pneumonia, may have had bird flu after traces of the virus were found in his lungs. However, this death appears to be an isolated case.
A further 83 people in the Netherlands have been diagnosed with mild conjunctivitis and flu-like symptoms that have been traced to H7N7, but their cases are not serious.
The Dutch health ministry says it will examine 5,000 people who have had contact with infected birds and recommend blood tests.
The disease outbreak started in the Netherlands in late February.
More than 18.5 million of the Netherland's 100 million chickens have been culled, likely to rise to 25 million.
Belgium is likely to destroy up to two million chickens, having just slaughtered 700,000 in one week.
Germany and France are also on guard against a possible spread of the ailment.
The European Commission has extended bans on the export of live poultry, eggs or fresh bird meat from the Netherlands and Belgium until May 12 and May 10 respectively.
Parrot Poop Deadly
AMSTERDAM Police suspect that a man found dead in his home Wednesday was poisoned by ammonia gas from the excrement of his pet parrots and ferrets who had been badly cared for. The man reported feeling unwell early in the morning in his house in the town of Tegelen in North Limburg.
An ambulance reached his home by 7am, but he was already dead. A post mortem is to be carried out on his body to confirm the cause of death, newspaper De Telegraaf reported. A spokesman for the emergency services said it appeared the victim had not cared for his parrots and ferrets well and ambulance workers were struck by a "penetrating odour" when they entered the house.
It is suspected that the animals' excrement was allowed to accumulate in the building over a long period of time and that it began releasing toxic amounts of ammonia. Normally, police seal of a property where a person has died in suspicious circumstances, but in this case the windows and doors were opened to clear the ammonia vapours. Locals reported the parrots' screeching was heard all around the town.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news
Parrot stuck in tree swore at birds that attacked him
A parrot which got stuck in a tree in Canada swore at other birds which tried to attack it.
Rico, a South American parrot, became frightened after a ride on a merry-go-round so he flew into the tree and wouldn't get down. Owner Melanie McCarthy, of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, eventually called the fire department who hosed Rico out of the tree.
The police, members of the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals and firefighters had already tried to coax him down.
"He sat up there for a couple of hours talking away to us, saying 'Come here, come here, go home'," Melanie told the Canoe website. She stayed with Rico all night while he was eyed up by bald eagles. In the morning he was attacked by crows and used a two-word expletive to drive them away.
"We usually tell him those are bad words," said Melanie. She added: "Firefighters hosed him out of the tree and in full flight a raven or crow dove on him and grabbed his body just above the tail feathers, just enough to draw blood. But he was really happy to get home. He said 'Hello Hi'."
Story filed: 21:33 Wednesday 30th May 2001
Parrot turns air blue
An animal sanctuary warden was embarrassed when a parrot she'd taken home for the night repeated her sex talk.
Oliver started squawking kisses and phrases like "God-o-God", "Bouncy boo" and "how do you like it" when Wendy bel returned him to the Gentle Shaw Bird of Prey and Animal Centre in Eccles.
The 39-year-old told the Sunday People: "As soon as I heard what he was saying, I raced over to quieten him down. I knew exactly where he had picked up all that rude stuff - and so did everyone else."
Her boss Rob Smith said: "Oliver's attention to detail left nothing to the imagination - it sounded like he was reliving every moment from the night before." Wendy's partner Neil Tatler said: "It was certainly a passionate night. When I heard what had happened I thought it was hilarious."
The blue and gold macaw is now being kept away from visitors while Wendy tries to make him forget what he has learnt.
Story filed: 11:29 Sunday 19th May 2002
Alcoholic parrot being put back on the wagon
An alcoholic parrot is being weaned off the hard stuff by its Romanian owners.
Bobby flew straight over to a pint of beer for a sip the very first time he was let out of his cage at their home in Bucharest.Owner Maria Radoi says he went on to develop a taste for it and moved on to whisky, vodka and brandy.
She initially thought it was doing Bobby no harm as he became more talkative after a drink, but now it has become an addiction. Maria said: "He would say really nice things like, 'Kiss me mum'. But lately he has become very demanding and chants 'beer, beer, beer' over and over again."
The pensioner told Romanian newspaper Libertatea: "The first time we let Bobby out of his cage he flew straight over to a pint of beer that my husband was drinking. He took a real liking to it. After that he moved on to the harder stuff - whisky and brandy. Now we can't stop him."
The elderly couple plan to get their parrot a mate to keep him company, once they get him sober. Maria said: "We'll take it one day at a time. Everyday we'll give him less and less until he gets used to life without alcohol."
Story filed: 12:24 Tuesday 16th July 2002
Swearing parrot causes stir in West Yorkshire church
A parrot has moved into a West Yorkshire church and has started swearing at passers by. The escaped African Grey is roosting with a flock of pigeons in the bell tower of St Mary's Church in Mirfield.
The Reverend Peter Craig-Wilde has been inundated with complaints from passers-by who have been verbally abused by the bird. He first became aware of the bird when he heard a voice from the tower teling him to "F*** Off."
Mr Craig-Wilde said: "It's very friendly but that's causing the problems. It doesn't just sing, it wolf whistles at people as they walk-past, especially me. "Most people find this very funny but we are a working church and when it flies about at funerals it can cause problems."
The Daily Express says the bird may have been taught to swear by its previous owner.
Story filed: 09:17 Wednesday 27th November 2002
October 09, 2003
PARROT BREAKS SILENCE TO FOIL BURGLARY
A parrot is believed to have foiled a burglary by breaking a year of silence
to shout, "Stop! I'll shoot". The parrot, owned by a retired police officer,
reportedly foiled the break-in after his owner left his flat in Kiev, Ukraine, for a few
Parrot's parody of damsel in distress brings rescuers running
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - _ A parrot's parody of a damsel in distress caused quite a commotion.
Tucson police and firefighters broke down a door after being called to a house and hearing a woman's screams coming from inside. But police soon realized that the sounds weren't coming from a woman in woe.
"The parrot's screams sounded identical to those of a distressed adult female," Officer Andrew Davies said in his report. The ruckus was the work of Oscar, a 2-year-old yellow-naped Amazon parrot. Police found him intermittently making laughing and screaming sounds as he sat inside his large white cage.
The mix-up began on Saturday when a 911-hang up call was made from the house.
Police arrived to find the house locked with bars on the windows.
Hearing what they thought was a woman's voice, police called the fire department. Crews used a pry bar and a battering ram to get through a door.
Police asked a neighbor to call Dana Pannell, the homeowner. The neighbor said he was home at the time but didn't make the emergency call. Although the dialer remains a mystery, the parrot is seemingly off the hook. Pannell's wife, Judy, said Oscar doesn't know how to use a phone.
But Oscar - named after the Sesame Street character because of his sometimes foul moods - does have his talents, she said.
"He sings in Spanish," she said.
Fri, August 29, 2003
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