L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Birds

Happy Feet, wayward emperor penguin found in New Zealand, is released

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — He needed a little push before speeding backward down a makeshift slide. Once in the water, he popped his head up for one last look. And then he was gone. The wayward emperor penguin known as "Happy Feet" was back home in Antarctic waters after an extended sojourn spent capturing hearts in New Zealand.

Happy Feet was released Sunday into the ocean south of New Zealand, more than two months after he came ashore on a beach nearly 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) from home and became an instant celebrity.

Speaking from a satellite phone aboard the research vessel Tangaroa, Wellington Zoo veterinarian Lisa Argilla said Happy Feet's release went remarkably smoothly given that the boat was being tossed about in 25-foot (8-meter) swells in the unforgiving Antarctic ocean.

Argilla said crew members from the boat carried the penguin inside his custom-built crate to the stern of the ship for his final send-off about 50 nautical miles (90 kilometers) north of remote Campbell Island. The crew had already cut the engines and put in place a canvas slide that they soaked with water from a hose.

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Bronx Zoo peahen is found in garage after escape

Bronx Zoo peacock

NEW YORK — A green peahen is back in the fold at the Bronx Zoo.

Weeks after a cobra escaped from her glass tank at the zoo's reptile house, the peahen made a break for it Monday and was spotted roaming the streets of the borough.

Zoo director Jim Breheny said the AWOL fowl was found Wednesday morning in the garage of a local business and safely captured.

The peahen, a female version of a peacock, had been examined by veterinarians and seemed to be fine, Breheny said.

The Bronx Zoo's peacocks and peahens wander freely but usually stay inside the zoo.

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America's oldest known wild bird, a Laysan albatross, is found alive after fears it perished in tsunami

Wisdom the albatross

HONOLULU — The oldest known wild bird in the U.S. has returned to a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands after surviving this month's tsunami.

Officials at the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes Midway Atoll, said Monday that they are thrilled that the Laysan albatross survived the March 11 tsunami. The albatross, named Wisdom, is more than 60 years old.

Complex project leader Barry Stieglitz says the survival of the albatross reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the seabird population.

The tsunami generated by the massive earthquake off Japan killed at least 2,000 adult and 110,000 albatross chicks.

Stieglitz says it is "humbling" that the 8-pound bird is still producing chicks.

RELATED BIRD NEWS:
Researchers say penguins are harmed by the tracking bands used to study them
Two unusual albino blue-winged kookaburra chicks found in Queensland, Australia

-- Associated Press

Photo: Wisdom the Laysan albatross with a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in February. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey / Associated Press

Your morning adorable: Enthusiastic bird Marnie celebrates his birthday with toys and waffles

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish one of our very favorite birds a happy belated birthday.

Marnie, a blue Indian ringneck bird with a deep and abiding love of stuffed animals, celebrated his fifth birthday on March 5.

We'd previously seen Marnie have a big reaction when he received a stuffed rabbit as a gift from his owner, YouTube user chesawoo, who has described the bird as "a natural charmer, a polite Casanova who is not shy to ask for what he wants...which is often a kiss!"

For his birthday (hatchday?), he got more plush toys and ate a celebratory meal of waffles. Not a bad way to spend one's birthday!

Indian ringnecks are one of several types of rose-ringed parakeet and are known among bird lovers for their impressive talking ability.

RELATED FUNNY BIRDS:
Video goodness: 'Dancing' hummingbird grooves to Al Green
Your morning adorable: Parrot holds her own spoon to eat peanut butter

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: chesawoo via YouTube

Wildlife experts suspect intentional cruelty behind recent string of seagull injuries in Orange County

Seagulls

Wildlife rescuers at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach say they suspect intentional cruelty to animals in the injuries of 22 seagulls found in Orange County over the past month. The birds were all found with broken wings -- the right wing in all 22 cases -- primarily in Huntington Beach, with a few cases in nearby Laguna Beach.

"These are healthy birds, and the bones look like they’ve just been grabbed and snapped," wildlife center technician Kelly Beavers told The Times' local news blog, L.A. Now.

All 22 of the birds were euthanized because their injuries were deemed too severe to attempt to keep them alive. The spate of seagull injuries is reminiscent of a similar series of incidents in 2008, in which 11 pelicans were injured. Ten of those pelicans did not survive.

A person found guilty of injuring seagulls could face a maximum of six months in jail or a $15,000 fine, according to L.A. Now.

The wildlife rescue center is asking anyone with information on the suspected seagull attacks to call (714) 347-5587.

RELATED BIRD NEWS:
Federal agency proposes voluntary guidelines for wind power developers to avoid bird deaths
Hawaii attorney scoffs at animal cruelty charge for client who beat peacock with baseball bat

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Seagulls in Huntington Beach in 2003. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Animals in unusual places: Owl in Brazil, dogs in Paris, camel on a donkey cart

Owl in Brazil

With Unleashed blogger Lindsay Barnett away on assignment, it seems as if the animal world has gone a little cuckoo waiting for her return. Above we see a tiny owl in front of Greenpeace activists who were arrested Thursday for raising an inflatable model of a wind turbine in front of Congress in Brasilia. It's a crime to give a hoot? Whoooo knew?

a white camel on a donkey cart in Somalia

Men transport a white camel via a donkey cart Thursday while fleeing from renewed warring between the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) backed government soldiers and the Al Qaeda-linked insurgents al Shabaab in Somalia's capital Mogadishu.

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Federal agency proposes voluntary guidelines for wind power developers to avoid bird deaths

Red-tailed hawk

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing voluntary guidelines for onshore wind energy developers to avoid bird deaths and other harm to wildlife as part of the Obama administration's big push for renewable and clean energy.

Bird advocates who had lobbied for mandatory standards warned that the new guidelines would do nothing to stem bird deaths as wind power builds up across the country.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that solar, wind and geothermal projects are built in the right way and in the right places so they protect our natural and cultural resources and balance the needs of our wildlife," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement Tuesday. President Obama has called for the nation to get 80% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035, and renewable sources are expected to play a key role in that effort.

The department is seeking public comment for its proposed guidelines, which are slated to be released later Tuesday, ahead of a two-day renewable energy conference in Washington. The agency is also proposing new voluntary guidance aimed at preventing deaths of bald and golden eagles.

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Photo surprise: The funniest duck we've seen all day

We've polled hairstylists featherstylists around the world, and they've unanimously decided on the recipient of the Well-Coiffed Duck of the Millennium award. And the winner is...

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Your morning adorable: Little penguin chick hatches at Cincinnati Zoo

Little Peguin

One of the youngest residents of the Cincinnati Zoo is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the cutest. A little penguin -- the name of an actual species, not just a phrase to describe its diminutive stature -- hatched there on Jan. 11 and was photographed during a checkup and weigh-in last week.

The chick weighs about a quarter of a pound now, and even when fully grown it will only weigh about 2 pounds or so. It's being raised by keepers, who feed it at two-hour intervals starting at 6 a.m. each day, aviculturist Cody Sowers wrote on the zoo's blog. When it's older, it'll join the adult little penguins in an enclosure at the zoo's section for children.

Little penguins, also called blue penguins or fairy penguins, are native to the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. To date, 22 little penguins have been hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo. See video of the newest chick after the jump!

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Hawaii attorney scoffs at animal cruelty charge for client who beat peacock with baseball bat

HONOLULU — The attorney for a Hawaii woman who bludgeoned a peacock to death says his client shouldn't be on trial on animal cruelty charges because peafowl are pests and the state doesn't require a permit to kill them.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Earle Partington told jurors in opening statements Wednesday that the case against Susan Maloney is "ridiculous."

Maloney has said she killed the bird on May 17, 2009, because she was tired of its constant squawking outside her condominium complex.

Maloney is charged with second-degree cruelty to animals. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

RELATED NEWS ABOUT ANIMALS AND THE LAW:
Long sentence for Puerto Rico man convicted of horse-dragging spurs debate
U.K. 'Cat Bin Lady' pleads guilty to animal cruelty charge for dumping cat in trash bin

-- Associated Press

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